Wednesday, December 13, 2017

FEELING BROKE, OVERWHELMED AND EXHAUSTED?

I shared a Facebook meme the other day that really struck a chord with me. It was a reminder that we are "not obligated to continue holiday traditions that leave us broke, overwhelmed or exhausted". I couldn't agree more. Over the years, my side of the family has gone from giving gifts to every single person, to drawing names, to doing a white elephant grab and swap kind of thing, and from very elaborate feasts on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to something much more casual.  No matter how we do it, we always have a great time when we're together. The same is true with our little family unit. There were times when we were alone in a foreign country, missing out on all the family get-togethers. That's when our friends became our family, forging bonds to last a lifetime, and we ended up having some of the best celebrations ever. When all the kids in our family grew up, things morphed yet again. We started celebrating as a group in mid-December, so that the kids and grandkids could each celebrate in their own homes on Christmas day.

The first time Hubby, the kids and I celebrated alone here in Wimberley, a new tradition was born. The flagship Whole Foods store had just opened in downtown Austin, and the four of us decided to go down there on Christmas Eve to see what all the hoopla was about, and to gather delicacies for our Christmas feast. Oh my, what fun we had! Over the years however, when they added a skating rink and lots of other stuff for the holidays, the crowds grew and grew, until it finally became more hassle than fun. Then there was a period where we went to the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar each year. The last two years we got together here, at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar...




which worked pretty well with an infant/toddler in a stroller.




Next year, with an almost-three-year-old, that may not be true. But that's OK. We'll adjust. You see, the tradition isn't about where we go. It's about being together, doing something fun.


Because the holidays aren't about doing everything just the way your mother or grandmother did it, upholding all the traditions that were important to them back in their youth. They are about being with those you love now, creating memories and traditions that will be meaningful to them. And, which won't leave you broke, overwhelmed, and exhausted!


Monday, December 11, 2017

NIGHT SHOTS AT THE PEARL

Hubby and I had a fun little adventure Friday night. He has a group in Austin that he meets up with periodically for photo walks, and this month they decided to do a night walk at the Pearl Brewery complex in San Antonio. Knowing how much I love San Antonio at Christmas time, he invited me to tag along, and we booked a room for the night. Not, however, at the amazing Hotel Emma, there in the complex. It's just a tad pricey. First stop upon arrival? Mi Tierra cafe, in El Mercado, for a cup of their delicious Mexican hot chocolate, to warm us up. (It's not on the menu. Just ask for it.)


Now, I'm sure that all the professional photographers got some amazing shots, considering all the equipment and tripods they were lugging around. But since all I had was my little point and shoot, and John didn't show me how to set it for hand-held night photos until the end of the evening, well, mine weren't so great. Nevertheless, I still had a lot of fun just soaking up the sights and sounds.



A Close-Up of the Tree Above

We made our own tapas-style dinner off of the appetizer menu at The Boiler House.  The cheese and charcuterie platter was good...


but the Buffalo Meatballs and the House Chicharones & Hot Sauce were moan-inducing!


The next morning, after checking out of our hotel, I assumed we would go to our usual Mexican place or Guenther House for breakfast. But, just for the fun of it, hubby used his phone to see what all was in the area, and discovered this -- La Boulangerie

Love these cups that keep your knuckles away from the hot cup. We had our choice of dark or sweet hot chocolate. I think the dark is probably better for dipping something sweet into.


The $14 combo included coffee or tea, yogurt with fruit and granola, orange juice, toasted baguette with honey, butter or jam, and your choice of pastry (he chose a chocolate croissant).
Croque Monsieur
Picture me desperately trying to think of any excuse to return to San Antonio in the very near future!
 

Friday, December 8, 2017

LET IT SNOW

For those of you who are already sick of snow, I hope you will forgive my giddiness. But, waking up to scenes like these? Well, that's a once-in-a-lifetime here in central Texas!










 
Hard to believe that, just a couple of days ago, it was 80 F. out, and I was wearing sandals!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

GUINNESS THE WONDER DOG

We babysat our grand dog Guinness a few weeks back and boy, am I glad we did!


John had been out working in the yard all morning, using his manly blow torch gizmo to kill weeds in the gravel paths, and around the edges of our parking pad. He came inside, got cleaned up, then we fixed some lunch and sat down to watch a movie. Midway through, Guinness suddenly went berserk, barking her head off and spinning in circles. I figured she must have seen a deer or a delivery man in the driveway, so I poked my head out the door to check. Guess what I found?


Our yard was on fire! Thank heaven she alerted us when she did, else we might well have lost our garage and both cars...


not to mention the unoccupied house just beyond those trees!

My hero, always on the lookout for danger!


 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

THE GANG'S ALL HERE

Well, almost.


This year we were so excited that ranching-electrician-nephew Kevin and his wife Goya were finally going to take time away from their animals in order to join us for an early Christmas celebration with all my siblings and their kiddos. Unfortunately, just a few days prior to the gathering, brother-in-law Bud got word that his mother had passed away, so he and sister Kathy headed up to W. Virginia instead. They were sorely missed, but we still managed to have a pretty good time, thanks to our little goobster Calvin!


First, there were the spicy pork tamales that Kevin and Goya brought with them -- probably the best I've ever had. Turns out they're even good for breakfast! Thankfully, they brought enough to stock my freezer for a while!

Calvin's New Best Friend

Then there were all the electrical chores Kevin took care of for us while he was here, including the installation of USB outlets in the kitchen (moments before I was supposed to start cooking for the gang) and changing the burned out lightbulbs in our garage that require a 20 ft. ladder to reach!


We did a white elephant gift exchange -- the kind where you can pick a gift from under the tree, or steal one from someone else.


Everything went great until niece Merrit traded that makeup for this.


When that motorized pile of poop suddenly took off at warp speed, it freaked poor little Calvin out so badly that he had a total meltdown!

 Fortunately, he forgot all about it when he saw the fire truck...


and WWII pilot gear...

There was even a full outfit plus bomber jacket, and a wonderful book to go with it!
just like the ones greatgrandpa George is wearing in the photo on our wall!


It was a very good weekend!
  

Thursday, November 30, 2017

AT LONG LAST, IT'S BACK!

Hubby had a late afternoon dermo appointment in San Marcos yesterday, so he suggested I tag along, then we'd have dinner there afterwards. We were thinking about going to a steak place as we hadn't done that since, well, I can't even remember when! On our way there, however, Hubs decided to swing by the old River Pub, to see how the reconstruction was coming along. But it wasn't coming along. It was done. They were open!  Needless to say, we never made it to the steak place.



Now, one never really went to the River Pub for their food, which was just so so. You went for the location, which is right above the San Marcos river, at the chutes and shuttle pick-up spot where all the toobers and kayakers congregate -- which is why it was so heartbreaking to see that primo spot sitting vacant for so many years. I am happy to report that the open air deck where we always sat is still there, and better than ever.



There weren't many people out on the water this time of year, but I did enjoy watching this paddle-boarder with his little doggie...



and these little college boys in their wet suits.



The inside bar and restaurant are way spiffier than the originals, which had more of an old-time-scuzzy feel to them.


We decided to start with basic burgers, figuring that would be a good barometer for the rest of the food.


My Hickory Burger, With Crispy Fried Onion
They weren't as good as Hays City Store, but they weren't bad. Next time I think I'll try some barbecue. They had a whole separate menu just for that, so I'm guessing that's their primary focus. They also had all the down home favorites like chopped steak, chicken fried steak and fried catfish. Just don't go if you're trying to stay lean and clean!

Can't wait until spring, when all the college kids will be back on the river!

 
Welcome back River Pub. You have been sorely missed!