Wednesday, July 27, 2016

YOU THINK THERE'S NOTHING SCARIER THAN HAVING A SICK CHILD...

but then you have a sick grandchild. Not only will your heart be wrenched by what your poor grandchild is going through, but also by the agony which you know your son or daughter will be experiencing. My friend Paula warned me about this a while back. Now I know it to be true. 

Little Goober woke up on Monday with a bit of fever. Lex wasn't too worried, since that is fairly common 24-72 hours after a baby's first round of vaccinations, which Goobs had received on Friday. However, after spending half the day doing nothing but eating and going right back to sleep, she decided to call the pediatrician. They said it was a bit late to be a result of the vaccines, and since all fevers in a baby this young are taken very seriously, they advised her to take him to the ER at Dell Children's, to have some blood work done.


After a couple of hours of waiting, they found out that he appeared to have some sort of bacterial infection, which they should be able to take care of with a strong infusion of antibiotics. But, first, they had to rule out the possibility of meningitis. Unfortunately, there's only one way to do that -- with a lumbar puncture. With great hope in my heart, I texted a nurse friend, asking if they'd managed to improve those over the years, making them totally painless. "I don't want to tell you." Then later..."They do numb them first, but..." Thankfully, they kicked Lex and Nate out of the room, so they didn't have to witness the procedure.

Then there was more waiting for the results of that test, and much floor-pacing and prayer-requesting on the part of this grandma. The results finally came back negative a few hours later (Whew!) but then they had to wait around for his antibiotics infusion. Throughout this whole process, we kept offering to come join them at the hospital, but they kept thinking they were about to be released, and would be on their way home by the time we got there. Little did they know! They finally made it home to their own comfy beds around midnight, and I was able to stop my pacing.

The next morning he was taken to his pediatrician for a thorough examination, and were told that he should be fine now, and just to keep an eye out for any signs of fever, inconsolable crankiness, or extreme lethargy. I'm happy to report that he has been fever free ever since, and seems to be back to his happy little self!

However, having dealt with these pesky infections before, continued prayers couldn't hurt, right?

Monday, July 25, 2016

A PARALLEL UNIVERSE

"Tea planters don't encounter much feminine company, as you can imagine -- at least, not the eligible kind. It takes a special kind of woman to make a good planter's wife. Debbie Ashton is a good example. She is independent, free-spirited, and revels in adventure. Other wives adapt best as they can. Some suffer and survive, some run away." ~ Teatime for the Firefly, by Shona Patel


Not long ago I got a message from my sister Poo saying I really needed to read a book called Teatime for the Firefly, by Shona Patel. I figured she recommended it because she knew I loved reading about other cultures, places and times. Little did I know, I was about to relive my own life, and those first days of marriage on the other side of the globe. 

Although it took place in another time and country, the main character and I had much in common.
  • Both of us were terribly sheltered and naive, having been raised in a very "homogeneous" community, where everyone lived and thought in much the same way. 
  • Both of us married guys we hadn't laid eyes on in over a year (though our relationships had deepened during that time, thanks to the introvert's gift with pen and paper) and were immediately whisked off to a place we knew nothing about, where we would be surrounded by people we had very little in common with.
  • Both of us had to grow up fast, and learn to do things such as entertaining the boss, and managing household staff who were older and knew more than we did, so tended to manage us instead. Plus, they were always there, when every introvert's worst nightmare is to be surrounded by strangers all day every day, with never a moment to oneself.
  • Both had to learn to deal with our hubby's wild bachelor friends and all their tales of adventures past.
  • Both of us learned that danger and tragedy go hand in hand with moments of breathtaking beauty, when living in an untamed place.
About six years ago I finally got around to writing down all the stories I could remember, with the help of those letters, photos, and friends, in the form of a blog called Miss Becky Goes Abroad. I figured someday the kids and grandkids might enjoy reading them. It took me at least a year to get them all down, since they covered about six years in all, in three different places, some as newlyweds and some with elementary-aged kids. Once I was finally done I just walked away, never looking back. But this book...well...it awakened an urge. An urge to go back, and relive it once more.


Read the book for yourself, then click on the link above to read about my very first days of marriage, and see if you find any similarities.  I'm hoping one day Little Goober will want to read some of these stories. Maybe then he will understand why we call his grandpa Adventure Boy, and why I've already got this t-shirt stashed away, for when he's ready to do a bit of adventurin' himself!



Friday, July 22, 2016

A TACO-LOVIN' TEXAN

When you were a kid, did you ever do that thing where you asked each other, if you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one food for the rest of your life, what would that be? No question here. Tacos! But not the ones with bland ground beef and slimy lettuce in a stale cardboard shell. Never touch the things! No, I'm talkin' bout the kind of tacos we discovered living down in south Texas, in King Ranch country, not too far from the border. So, it's no surprise that, a while back, when I came across one of those "10 tacos to try before you die" lists, I took notes!

Meanwhile, ever since Little Goober arrived, we've fallen into the habit of popping in to see him on most Wednesdays. The night before I usually make a double batch of whatever we're having for dinner, and pack up what's left to take to Lex and Nate for their dinner the next day. Then, on the way over, we stop and grab something quick for all of us to share for lunch. Since Nate is usually working from home, it makes for a fun party. This week, when we were trying to think of somewhere different to stop for lunch, I suddenly remembered that one of the tacos on my must try list was at a permanent food truck called Valentina's Tex-Mex, just down the road from the kids at 7612 Brodie, on the parking lot of a liquor store/filling station.





The two guys went for chopped brisket sandwiches, and Alexis chose the sliced brisket.


I, of course, chose the smoked brisket taco from my must-try list, topped with sea salt lime guacamole and tomato serrano salsa. I'm so glad I did!


The queso and the smoked corn were mighty tasty too! We even took home a bit of their smoked jalapeno sausage to have for our dinner that night.


Then we spent a couple of hours lovin' on the Goobs...


so  Little Mama could relax or work on projects, such as this amazing color-mad blanket she just started crocheting.


We love our Wednesdays!

If you ever happen to be in the Austin area, and find yourself craving a great taco, here are a few to try before you die...
  • the lengua taco at La Posada, 6800 West Gate (does lengua mean what I think it does?)
  • the Space Cowboy taco at Tacodeli, 7301 Burnet Rd.
  • the fish taco at Tamale House East, 1707 E. 6th
  • the Gringa taco at Rosita's Al Pastor, 1911 E. Riverside Dr.
  • The Asadero taco at Matt's El Rancho, 2613 S. Lamar
  • The green chile pork taco, missionary style, at Torchy's
  • the barbacoa taco at Jo's Coffee, 2305 E. 7th
  • the migas taco at Veracruz All Natural, 4208 Manchaca
  • the tacos al carbon at Fonda San Miguel, 2330 W. North Loop
or in San Antonio, try...
  •  the paquetes de jicama y camaron at Rosarios, 910 S. Alamo
While we're on the subject of Tex-Mex, check out the latest daily special we stumbled upon at Hays City Store.

Roadside Chicken with Mexican Street Corn
Are you drooling yet?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

TO GRANDMOTHER'S HOUSE WE GO

Last weekend I ran into to town to run some errands. While I was checking out at the grocery store my phone rang, but I let it go to voicemail. After I got home and had put everything away, I finally remembered to check my messages, only to discover my daughter had called. She said they were just wondering what we were up to, as they were itching to get out of the house. They thought they might bring Little Goober for his first visit to Grandma's, if that was OK with us. What a silly question!

A few minutes later Hubby came up from the man cave, took one look around our living room, and burst out laughing. "I guess you got the message, huh? If I didn't know better, I'd say you've been looking forward to this moment." Ya think?

At last, we get to try out the baby gym our besties passed on to us! At first he wasn't sure what to think...


but once I turned on the music and twirly parts, he became mesmerized.



It kept him entertained until he suddenly realized he was waaay overdue for a meal, and we had a bit of a meltdown. Once that was taken care of, he was back to his happy little self.


So happy and content, in fact, that we decided to risk taking him into town to the place recently voted #1 Italian Restaurant in Wimberley. Of course, it's our only Italian restaurant in Wimberley, but that's neither here nor there. 


We spent the whole meal just staring at Little Goober...


And then we walked down to the frozen yogurt place, and did it some more.


It was a very good day.
  

Monday, July 18, 2016

TIME FOR A NUDGE

Is there anything better than finding something like this on your doorstep, upon coming home from a hectic day?


I could see that big bold BLICK from quite a distance and, in case you are unaware, that word just screams art supplies! Believe it or not, what with double weddings, the birth of our first grandbaby, and a sister with health issues, I haven't picked up a sketchbook or paintbrush in several months. Not that I'm complaining. It's been one helluva year! Still, one can only let these kinds of lapses go on for so long, right? Therefore, when I saw something on facebook saying that Paper Paintings artist Elizabeth St. Hilaire was coming to New Braunfels in early August to teach a three-day workshop, I just had to sign up. I knew it would be just the nudge I needed, to get back into my daily art routine.

There's nothing like having a good excuse to order a few art supplies...


only thing better being if you also happen to have a nice fat Blick gift card that Santa brought, which you never got around to spending!

I discovered a new love for collage when I was working on these pages in my travel journal, and found myself picking up bits of colorful paper to glue onto my sketches.


The only thing I didn't like about it was having to use thick, stiff, opaque "scrapbook" paper to get the variety of colors and patterns I wanted.


So, when I discovered that St. Hilaire would first teach us to paint our own collage papers using things like those big rolls of rice paper above, as well as decorative papers such as this Lokta paper below...

Lokta Paper
along with the geli plate and huge stash of stencils I already had? Well, a gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do!

Two and a half weeks, and counting...

Friday, July 15, 2016

THE THINGS THAT DREW US BACK

The hills and the valleys, the sunrises and sunsets, and the star-filled skies at night...


the rivers and creeks...

 

and the sharing of laughter, adventures, great stories, and good food with interesting, open-minded people...


these are the things that grabbed us as young college kids...

 UT Dorm Advisors Weekend Spent at 7-A Ranch Here in Wimberley
kept us coming back over and over throughout our marriage and while raising our kids -- even when we lived halfway around the world...

One Last Lane-Sanford River Trip, Before Heading Back to Indonesia With Our Kids
A Three-Generation Family Meet-Up in Hunt, TX

and shaped our plans for how and where we wanted to live, once we finally settled down for good.

Yesterday, in Outdoor Woman's Backyard
This is what it means to us, to be "Livin' The Good Life".

Have you taken the time to figure out what it means to you? You will never get there, if you don't.
  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A TALE OF TWO SAUCES, AND THE BLOGS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE


One thing I always order from The Bountiful Sprout during the warm season is a big basket of assorted tomatoes. Each time I order it, it's completely different. Sometimes it's filled with big beefy slicing tomatoes just oozing with flavor, and the less you mess with them, the better they taste. That's when I turn to my recipe for Jewel's Uncooked Tomato Sauce, grabbed from one of the first blogs I ever got addicted to -- Jewel's blog Eyes of Wonder . This blog was so visually stunning, and about such an unusual family, that I had to go all the way back and start from the beginning, to see what I had missed.

Later in the season, when the basket tends more towards roma tomatoes, which are better for cooking than for eating raw, it's time to pull out my recipe for Cafe Lago's Roasted Tomatoes, which I'm pretty sure I found on a blog called Orangette -- another that was so visually stunning and had such an amazing backstory about how this blog brought two people on opposite sides of the country together and turned them into a magnificently food-obsessed family/food dynasty, that of course I had to go back to the beginning, to see what brought it all about.

Hadn't realized until that day that my very favorite colors were both tomato colors and Bakelite colors!
When my basket is filled mostly with wee little cherry, grape and pear tomatoes, then we make a lot of salads, or I fix those baked cherry tomatoes with goat cheese that I mentioned not long ago. Basically, it's all about making the most of what's at hand -- a common theme running through my new favorite blog, introduced to me by daughter Lex, Assortment. Another one that makes me want to go back to the beginning, to see how it all started!

Thinking about these blogs, the first of which is no longer being written but still available in archives, and the second being barely written now that she's busy writing books and opening restaurants and raising a child, made me stop and think about what drew me to them in the first place. It's not that I had any desire to live their lives. It's just that they all made me examine my own life, and really think about how I wanted to live it, what kind of home I wanted to create, what kind of food I wanted to eat and share with others, how I wanted to spend my time, and what kind of community I wanted to be a part of. Right now I am in a serious dry spell when it come to blog-reading, and could really use some good recommendations, if you have any!

Now, for some recipes...

Jewel's Uncooked Tomato Sauce

Combine in a large bowl 7 large ripe tomatoes, diced; 6 or so garlic cloves, minced; 1/2 cup firmly packed fresh basil, scissor-snipped in a mug. Add about 1/2 cup good extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle over 1/2 - 1 tsp. good sea salt and some freshly ground pepper. Cover bowl with a plate and let sit for several hours. Serve over hot, buttered pasta and top with grated parmesan. Could add olives or sauteed mushrooms, or serve with Italian sausage.

Cafe Lago's Roasted Tomato Pasta

1 cup olive oil, divided
2 lbs. plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise and seeded
1/2 T. dried oregano
3/4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. minced parsley
1 lb. penne pasta
freshly grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 250 F. Pour half of oil in 9x13 glass baking dish. Arrange tomatoes cut side up in dish. Drizzle with remaining oil. Sprinkle with oregano, sugar and salt. Bake one hour. Turn tomatoes with tongs. Bake one hour longer. Turn again. Bake until deep red and very tender, 15 - 45 minutes longer. Transfer to plate. When cooled somewhat, gently peel off skins. Transfer half of tomatoes and some of the oil to a bowl and gently chop with a dull knife. Add garlic and parsley and mix. Cook penne. Drain, reserving some cooking water. Add pasta to tomatoes. Mix in enough cooking water to loosen sauce. Top with grated parmesan and serve. Refrigerate remaining tomatoes in their oil, up to 5 days. Could serve some with toasted baguette and some goat cheese, with a fried egg, or even on a burger!

Speaking of food, and the people you want to share it with, I guess I'd better go get busy. One of The Muses has invited Hubby and I over this afternoon for a couples-float in their creek, followed by a fajita pot luck. Does it get any better?