Wednesday, May 27, 2015

WIMBERLEY UPDATE & A LITTLE MORE WEIRDNESS

I guess just about everyone has heard about sad little Wimberley, now that we've made national news. Here's what little I know:

The good news is that we managed to go 24 hours without rain, which allowed the search efforts to continue for the 13 people who are still missing. They could really use some more hearty volunteers, able to walk at least seven miles in rough conditions.

According to TxDOT, the RR12 bridge over the Blanco River is now open, but with one-way, alternating flow until repairs can be made to the bridge's guardrails.

A photo lost and found has been set up at the Wimberley Village Library, so that people who lost most everything might be reunited with a few of their most treasured possessions.

The state of Texas has a team assigned to debris collection, but if you know anyone whose home was flooded, they could probably use your help hauling stuff to the curb and sorting it into the three separate categories mandated for pick-up.

Wimberley businesses need you! Most are back open now, and desperate for customers. They depend on income from summer tourists to get them by the rest of the year. Please come show them some support.

If you are looking for a place to send donations, The Barnabas Connection is a local non-profit that has been here for a long time, and whom I trust to see that the money will go where it's needed most.

One thing I know for sure is how much I love this little town, and the way everyone steps up to bat when one (or many) of their own is hurting.

And now, on a lighter note, shall we visit another of Austin's Weird Homes? Yes? Well, let me introduce you to "Sharon's House" -- the one where, as we entered, we found a guy coming out clutching his chest. He said the house was giving him a bit of an anxiety attack. Here's why...

Front Yard
Formal Living Room, I think. Hard to tell.
Kitchen
The one bathroom that's actually useable.
Family Room?
Side Yard

I must admit, I do love this quirky shopping cart grouping in the back yard.


Lexi says "Whew! That's a lot of stuff!"

Monday, May 25, 2015

WEIRD HOMES: PART I

Hubby and I met up with Lex and Nate Saturday morning, to take part in Austin's 2nd Annual Weird Homes Tour. Lucky for us there was a lull in our epic weather of late, and we managed to squeeze in seven out of the ten houses before the bottom dropped out again. Unfortunately, these seven houses resulted in about a zillion photos, and there's just no way to condense them down to one post. Instead, I think I will have to do one house per post, and spread them out over the next few weeks.


The first house we went in, Freeman House, was actually my favorite, and yet it's the one I took the least pictures of. Guess I was just too busy soaking it all in. I don't know that I'd even call it "weird". Instead I'd classify it as "unique but liveable", and that photo above pretty much says it all -- colorful, but serene.


The main building was built somewhere else back in the 40s, then later moved to this spot on Tisdale Dr. Behind that was another building which housed the wife's acupuncture studio, and behind that was the husband's art studio. Connecting them all was this amazing tropical garden...


a whole lotta barbecue thingamajigs...


and chickens!


I just can't believe I didn't take any pictures inside, for it was the one house where we all walked in and said "Hey, I could live here!" It was swathed in vivid color on the walls and in the tile work, which served as the perfect backdrop for a carefully curated, minimalist collection of well-aged and patinaed furnishings. By the time we left, the kids' heads were spinning with ideas for their future home.


So, while this was the house we all voted "most liveable", the next one we visited would have to be the one most likely to cause claustrophobia and anxiety attacks. Stay tuned!
 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

SUNDAY'S GRATITUDE: HIGH AND DRY

 
We went to bed last night with our phones shrieking flash flood alerts, and woke up a short time later when Hubby's C-PAP machine (for sleep apnea) stopped working, due to lack of power.  When I got up a few hours after that, the rain had finally let up, but there were no lights to be seen anywhere for miles around, except for one right at the end of our street.


As soon as it was light enough to see where he was going, Hubby followed the light to its source. There he found several members of Kyle's rescue team, in their big truck with search lights, waiting for the water to go down. They had rescued several people and made it here to higher ground just in time, before "the big wave" -- caused when the Blanco river rose more than 40 feet -- came rushing through.




When we went back down a few hours later, our usually-dry-creek had finally subsided to what you see in the pictures here, and the rescuers had gone back to work.


We are lucky. We may have lost power and water for a while, but our house sits high and dry, and we are very, very grateful for that. Many others were not so fortunate. I'm not sure about lives yet, but I know many homes were lost.


I am also very grateful that our power has now come back on, and for a day without any rain in the forecast. Tomorrow? Well, that's another story, with a 90% chance of more thunderstorms.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

SIMPLY SCRUMPTIOUS: OPEN FACED


I have often told people that I am not a huge fan of sandwiches. However, when I stumbled across this wonderful little article on Facebook yesterday, I realized that wasn't actually true. What I'm not too crazy about is the typical American sandwich, with packaged cold cuts slathered in mayonnaise, between a gob of mushy white bread. On the other hand, that article reminded me that what I do love is a well made, flavorful, open-faced sandwich, made with a good, hearty bread. When I was in France I fell in love with the Tartines mentioned in the article. On trips to Denmark our former exchange student Eric taught us to love Smørrebrød. And, when I bought my copy of Giada De Laurentiis's Everyday Italian cookbook, I fell madly in love with things like crostini topped with roasted red peppers and mozzarella cheese, or even Nutella. Now, one of my very favorite breakfasts/pantry dinners -- a quicky I can make from things I usually have on hand -- is Giada's Italian Egg Sandwich. Hubby likes it too!

ITALIAN EGG SANDWICH
(1 serving)

3 teaspoons olive oil
1 large egg (I recommend farm fresh, pastured eggs)
1/8 tsp. coarse salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 slice rustic white bread (1/2 inch thick)
1 garlic clove
1 T. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (not the stuff in the green can!)
1/4 cup warm chunky Marinara Sauce (Giada uses homemade, drained of excess liquid) or Pizza sauce

In a small, heavy skillet, heat 2 tsp. of the oil over a medium flame. Crack the egg into the skillet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the white is firm and the yolk almost set, about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast the bread until golden brown. Brush the remaining 1 tsp. of oil over the toast. Rub the garlic over the toast, then sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Spoon the drained marinara sauce over the Parmesan and top with the cooked egg. Serve immediately.

Buon Appetito!

P.S. This recipe got me to thinkin' that I should probably share more of my favorite recipes -- the kind that are super simple to make, utilize fresh local ingredients, and are packed full of flavor. In other words, recipes that are "Simply Scrumptious." Be on the lookout!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

ADVENTURE TIME

I think I married my dad!
It's been a few months since Hubby and I have been on an adventure with our BFFs, Toad and Mimi. This time we decided to introduce them to another favorite spot, but one that is the polar opposite of the fancy schmancy hotel in Houston's City Centre where we met up with them the last couple of times. In fact, it's really just a bar/cafe in Port Aransas, with a few rooms to rent.


Why would we take them there? Primarily because it's not just near the beach, it's actually on the beach, and beaches just happen to be our friend Toad's fav-o-rite places to be in the whole wide world. Plus, if you go while school is in session? In the middle of the week? Well, you've got the place pretty much to yourself. Why do we love this particular place so much, when the rooms are just boxes with built in furniture covered in tile (so they can hose them down to get rid of the sand), without any closets or wi-fi or mini-bars? For starters, there's the view from the rooftop deck.


There's rolling out of bed, pulling on my swimsuit, and heading out the door for my morning walk...


then coming back to join the sleepyheads on the cafe porch, while they wake up with their morning coffee...


coming back there in the middle of the day to cool off with an iced tea or soda...


and winding down there at the end of the day, visiting with whatever interesting people Mr. Toad has struck up a conversation with. (The man never met a stranger!)

There's breakfast tacos at Cancun, fried oysters at Giggity's, trying one of Texas Monthly's top 50 burgers at Port Aransas Brewing Co., an afternoon gelato at Coffee Waves, and a scrumptious seafood dinner at Shell's, followed by live open-air music at The Back Porch or down by the marina.




You can even top it all off with a bit of dolphin spotting down by the jetty!



What more could one ask for in an adventure?


Saturday, May 16, 2015

AUSTIN'S MINI-MAKER-FAIRE

Today we met up with the kids in Austin for an event that was just so...well...so Austin! (although I'm sure they probably have them in other cities as well) When Lex first asked me if we wanted to go, I thought she was talking about a craft fair of some sort, where people sell stuff, but it was not that at all. Instead, it's where you go to experience things, and make some yourself. Here is a very small sampling of those experiences:

You could ride a bat bike...


or a, well, I'm not sure what this is, but it looks fun!


You could see a 3-D printer in action...


or a MakerBot Replicator.


You could learn how to build your own Tiny House...


build something from Legos...


try your hand at felting, spinning, or screen printing...


or even fly a drone!



There were robots to play with, all kinds of fun summer camps to sign up for, and even some pretty cool stuff to buy, such as neat little electronic kits, and these wonderful True Beauty dolls, which started out as those garish Bratz dolls, but were refurbished to look more like actual little girls. I love them so much!


Last, but certainly not least, there was this:


I finally got to try me some Kimchi Fries and Bulgogi Tacos, and they were goooood!


All I can say is, why didn't they have one of these maker faires when my kids were younger! If you missed it today, live anywhere in the Austin area, and have a kid, or one you can borrow, you really need to head over the Palmer Event Center tomorrow to check it out for yourself. If you do, be sure to say hi to our Alexis, who should be volunteering somewhere in the fiber arts section.

P.S. Won't be able to blog for the next few days, but never fear. I'll be back!