Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Hubby and I just got back from our latest adventure -- a trip to Havana! Hotel Havana, that is, in San Antonio, Texas. And, from what I've heard about hotel prices in Havana, Cuba, from a friend who just booked a trip there, I'd say we got quite the bargain!

That's Hotel Havana, peeking through the trees.
It's located on one of the more secluded bends of the river walk, near the Tobin Center for Performing Arts and Southwest School of Art, and, after seeing the amazing classes SSA has open to the public, I'm wondering if Hotel Havana might offer me a deal on an extended stay!

We like to stay in places with character and history, which is why we tend to choose small boutique hotels over homogeneous chains. This one was just oozing with personality!

The resident ghost, leading us up the stairs?
Yes, there is an elevator.
We splurged and booked one of their suites, still less than $200, which is always nice when one of you is an early riser and the other is not.

Favorite thing about the room? The vintage fridge they use for a mini bar!

On the down side, there were no shutters or shades on the windows between the bedroom and sitting area, which meant no flipping on the lights in the wee hours of the morn.  Also, the food was a bit disappointing.  Loved the atmosphere in Ocho...

where the weather was perfect for dining with the "garage doors" up, overlooking the river. And you gotta love this fun little patio, which leads to the atmospheric basement bar, and where they were showing films on the wall...

but breakfast cost fifty bucks for the two of us, and was just so-so. The biggest disappointment, however, was the churros -- the ones with cajeta and mocha café con leche dipping sauces that I've been dreaming about for almost a year now, and which were the main reason we wanted to check out this hotel. This time they served them with a blob of whipped cream and some lemon curd to dip them in. Lemon Curd! Not only that, although they were hot and crispy on the outside, they were kinda cold and doughy on the inside. I was crushed, I tell you. Crushed. Gotta wonder if they changed chefs or something.

Still, I'd come back to this hotel in a heartbeat. Just wouldn't plan on eating much there.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


When we first bought this place in the Hill Country, sold our last house in the 'burbs, and rented a townhouse to work from in Houston until we were both ready to retire, I got rid of a ton of holiday decorations. I was no longer that person who thought you needed a tree in every room and a wreath on every door, for every season! I ended up quitting my job a couple of years before Hubby, and moved up here full time to start turning this weekend place into a full-time home. In the process, I went through even more of a metamorphosis, and even more detritus got carried away. When we finally merged those two houses into this one -- one of the most difficult tasks we've ever undertaken -- most all of the remaining decorations went by the wayside. Just about the only things left are the tiny bits that can be tucked below in the cabinet where I display them, such as this...

and this...

No more hauling crates full of stuff down from the attic for every season!  Well, except for these guys, which we discovered in the mystery space above the garage when we hauled the cradle down for Little Goober.

I was planning to haul that whole crate of stuff off to the thrift store when it got closer to Halloween, but then Little Goober actually arrived, and I decided I'd better give that crate one more looksee before I dropped it off and, well, these two pieces decided they really needed to stay here with him.

Can you guess what my very favorite piece of fall decor in my whole house is? One I love so much it stays out year-round?

Bakelite! Still making my heart go pitter-patter, every time I walk through that kitchen.

And now we're off for a belated celebration (5 months belated) of our 41st anniversary. Hotel Havana, here we come!

Friday, October 21, 2016


Well, I decided to let Stitch Fix take another stab at becoming my fashion soul mate last week. The first time I gave them free reign, but this time I got a little more specific. I told them I could really use a lightweight, waterproof jacket for travel -- one which wouldn't take up too much space in my suitcase -- and that I'd love a Frenchy top and scarf combo.

When I opened the box, I was simply delighted with what I found.

Still, there were some issues. First of all, skinny jeans again? Seriously?? Well, at least I could get these on and zipped, but that did not prevent them from making my legs look like chicken drumsticks. So, no. Just. NO!

The cargo jacket was pretty cute, and would look great over either top, but, as with the little sundress they sent me last time, the waistline sat more at "empire" level instead of my natural waistline.  Don't know if these are "Junior" sizes, or if it's just my long torso and larger-than-average chest, but that was another "NO!" (Plus I'm fairly certain it wasn't water resistant either, which would kinda defeat the use I had in mind for it.)

The third problem was that, cute as it was, the little French sailor top was kind of spandexy, and really hugged all of my curves and bulges. I look so much better in tops that are, not big and flowy, but which just sorta skim my curves.

You'll be happy to know, however, that I did actually keep two things this time -- the slouchy grey-green sweater, and the beautifully soft-but-not-itchy scarf, so we're makin' progress!

And, now that they are helping me define just what I want and don't want, I'm thinking I might be able to go out and find the perfect jacket all on my own. 

Now, if only I had bought one of those cute French sailor tops when we were actually in Marseilles!


Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Many moons ago, when I first moved up here full-time and started blogging about our adventures here, a local chef and cooking instructor left a comment on one of my posts. She said she enjoyed reading my blog because it reminded her of what it felt like when she first moved to the Texas Hill Country -- when everything was new and exciting, and she could not wait to explore it all. I remember feeling sad that she had somehow lost that fervor, but couldn't imagine it ever happening to me!

One of My Early "To-Do" Lists
Back then, I was all about learning to live "The Good Life" -- making my own cleaning products, hanging my laundry on a clothesline, cooking with real food and getting to know the people who raised it and grew it, maybe even growing a bit myself, and, in the process, finally finding a tribe who cared about the same things I did. Most of all, I was obsessed with exploring my new environment and having adventures as often as possible!

So, I got a bit melancholy a while back, when I realized how long it had been since we'd taken a day-trip just to go splorin', and how set in our routines we had become. Whatever happened to that girl in my early blog posts? Well, she's ten years older, for one thing, and came close to losing her hubby several times. Our kids turned into adults who married and started families of their own. Change is inevitable, no? But, often, change is just what you need.

Remember this grandma journal I made at Lucky Star Art Camp last fall? Well, ever since Lex announced that we were to be grandparents, I've been jotting down notes about fun things that my friends do with their grandkids -- things like High School Debbie's Grandma Camp, and my BFF's list of rainy-day activities.

Which led to thinking about other things I want to do with Little Goober some day, like taking him to the Blue Hole, or going over to Outdoor Woman's house to gather some eggs, so we can cook together.

And, it was as I was transferring all these notes over to Mima's Journal that I suddenly realized something. I was once again feeling that same sense of exhilaration and anticipation that I used to feel in those early days! Why? Because I knew I would be seeing it all again as if for the very first time, through HIS eyes.

Monday, October 17, 2016


My hubby just doesn't play fair. We rarely ever fight or argue, but I do occasionally get into a seriously self-righteous snit -- usually when his hoarding habit starts encroaching into my personal territory. It's no big deal, it's no big deal, and then one day I wake up, and suddenly it is a big deal, and I get gloriously grumpy. This time it was the little balcony porch where my BFF and I always go to sip wine or a mug of hot tea, whilst sorting out all the problems of the world. Hubby claimed the downstairs porch and the stone patio, but this little space just off the kitchen is mine, and I went to a lot of trouble to get it decorated just so. But then he started using it as a dumping ground for this and that. And he filled all the cute, colorful flower pots with really ugly, half-dead plants. Then he used my precious vintage lawn chair as a potting bench, and left if filled with dirt. And then, well, then I turned into the Wicked Witch of the West, and let me tell you, it felt good. But then he had to go and spoil it all by doing this!

Apparently he had already ordered these hanging baskets, and was going to surprise me with them.

Dirty Pool, John Lane. Dirty Pool!

Friday, October 14, 2016


Have you ever heard of Stitch Fix ? It's an on-line fashion business that has you fill out a questionnaire with all the details regarding your size, shape, best and worst features, likes and dislikes, personal style, budget, etc. Then, based on that information, one of their stylists will hand-pick five items, meant just for you, and ship them out to you. The more information you give them, the better your selections will be, so they even ask you to link them to your Pinterest fashion boards, if you have them (I just happened to have a Bohemian Hippy Gypsy Cowgirl board from several years back). I have always heard about fancy department stores with personal stylists, but never dreamed it would be within my realm of possibility. Finally I caved in and placed an order.

On the plus side, they send you this great card showing different ways to wear and accessorize each piece they send you, with both casual and dressier options. On the negative side, pretty much everything in my box was a bust.

My most fervent wish was that their stylists would be so savvy that they could look at my personal details and know exactly which styles would show them off to their best advantage. When I opened my box to find a mini dress that stopped several inches above my knees and a pair of skinny jeans, my little balloon of hope went pop!  Fairly certain I mentioned being sixty two, and having short chunky legs that looked best in straight or boot cuts. Another disappointment was that there wasn't a natural fiber to be seen, and everything had to be hand-washed or dry-cleaned. I do not do dry-cleaning anymore!

The purple shruggy thing was kinda cute, but only went with one thing in my closet, which you see behind me. Since that 2'x5' space has to hold everything I own, for all seasons, plus shoes, hats, purses, ironing board, suitcase and a bunch of old slides and photos, every piece of clothing simply must be multi-purpose!
The biggest disappointment, however, was realizing that they were not going to be teaching me much of anything about what styles would bring out the best in me (if anything, it would be me teaching them), and that's not really their primary goal. I think they are more about trends, and convincing you to keep up with them. Out with the old! In with the new! I happen to have a problem with that. In fact, that's probably why I ended up leaving fashion merchandising -- my original path -- and wound up merchandising plants and garden accessories instead. I like working with things that last. I also believe in that old saying, "Support your local businesses, else you won't have any!"

So, I only ended up keeping the one black patterned top, since I had lots it would go with. The good news is that you only pay for what you keep. The rest goes into the pre-paid priority mail bag that comes in your shipment, and you just drop it off at the post office. There is a $20 styling fee, but that is applied towards anything you do buy. I also appreciate the fact that, when you check-out online, you are encouraged to tell them what you liked and didn't like about everything in the box. I gave them an earful!

And, since I get really irritated with people who make snap judgements about food and restaurants without really giving them a fair chance, I decided to place one more order. But first, I went back to an article in one of their newsletters, about all the things you can do to help their stylists make better choices for you, and this time, I actually did them. I'll let you know how it turns out. Next box should be arriving today!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


We may be expecting temps in the lower 90s all week, but that does not mean that fall has not yet arrived in our little town. Au contraire! To tell you the truth, the less cooperative Mother Nature happens to be in your neck of the woods -- say you live in a country like Indonesia, where the only two seasons are rainy, and not-so-rainy -- the more vital it is to help her along by creating your own seasons.

We've got this!

Only thing better is when all of this segues into millions of tiny twinkle lights dripping from the eaves of every building in town!