Monday, September 16, 2019

FOR ALEXIS: MRS. EVERYTHING

Our daughters don't know -- what it was like growing up female in the 50s and 60s, and just how limited our options were. They think they do, but not really. To tell you the truth, I didn't fully understand myself, until I read this book, just how much things changed between the years when each of my sisters and I graduated from high school, in '64, '67 and '71.


I didn't get why the oldest felt her options were so much more limited than mine ..why all she wanted was to get married and have babies...why my middle sister switched her major from accounting to teaching, because that would be easier when she had kids...why I told my mom midway through college, after taking an abnormal psych class, that I didn't think I even wanted to have any kids, and aimed instead for a glamorous career as a buyer for Neiman Marcus, and to travel the world. Oddly enough, much like the two sisters in this book, we somehow switched paths along the way. They both ended up with the glamorous careers, while I opted to be the stay-at-home mom! But, at least it was by choice.

Our daughters though, they really have no clue why we fought so hard just to have the right to choose, and for equal rights and equal pay, and to have control over our own bodies. They never had the humiliation of walking into a store to purchase a washing machine, only to have the condescending old salesman suggest that I should come back later and bring my husband, to help me make such an important decision. My reply? "Why? It's not like he ever uses one of these things!" Lest you think poorly of him, he does do all his own laundry now, but that was a different day and age.

I used to think we had made great progress and that much had changed. Now, I'm not so sure. Which is why I'm hoping my daughter will read this book, then share it with all her friends -- so they can see for themselves just how far we have come, and just how much they stand to lose, if they don't actively participate in the decision-making process!

Monday, September 9, 2019

MY FRENCH GIFT TO YOU


Two of our kiddos just returned from an amazing journey that began in Barcelona and ended in Paris,  with a leisurely road trip up through Provence in between. They are now basking in the giddy afterglow, pouring over photos, telling stories, trying out recipes, etc. I remember that period well, after we did our Viking River Cruise through Provence. Paris was gorgeous, but Provence? Well, it was so much more than a bunch of famous landmarks to have your photo taken in front of. It's about a certain way of living -- the way we were hoping to live here in the Texas Hill Country, and our reason for choosing this as our forever home.




After that trip I was even more obsessed with that way of life, and may have gone a bit bonkers in my efforts to hold onto that glow. I read books set in Provence, bought French cookbooks, poured over all the photos we took and wrote blog posts about it all.




Even the pages in my art journals around that time were all about Provence!

Then, just as the afterglow was beginning to fade, I discovered a blog called My French Corner. It's not specifically about Provence, but it is about the French way of life -- about how they eat and shop and cook, what they think about exercise and skin care and clothes, how they decorate and celebrate, etc. It's actually written by an American teacher whose sister married a Frenchman and went to live there permanently. The teacher then began spending her summers there and fell madly in love with the French way of life. When she had shared all that she had learned, she stopped writing the blog. But, it is still out there, just waiting for you to stumble upon it as I did, start from the very beginning and work your way through to the end.




 
 Bon Voyage!
 

Monday, September 2, 2019

A KNIGHT'S TALE

Perhaps you remember, long long ago when our grandson was just a baby, how his silly Mimi went out and bought this amazing book about all the wonderful things you can make from cardboard.


Of course, he was nowhere near ready to do anything like that, so I stashed it away in the secret closet and all but forgot about it. Same thing happened when Hubby came home wagging a little box of wooden blocks that you could build castles with. We couldn't even get him interested in the giant colorful baby blocks a friend had passed down, so he'd probably be a tween before he'd be interested in these. Into the closet they went. Then, just this past week, I was in my favorite consignment store -- the one with lots of books and toys -- and saw that they had brought all their Halloween costumes out. Hanging on the end of the rack was a little knight's breastplate and shield set, for only $6.99. I was oh-so-tempted to buy it, but Calvin didn't have a clue what a knight was, what they did, or where they lived, so why bother? Besides, the secret closet (aka the linen closet) was running out of room! So I let it go.

Wouldn't you know, the very next day my daughter sent us a photo of Calvin playing with the little cardboard castle and catapult set he had built from this month's Kiwi Crate (Thank you Aunt Kathy!). He was having a blast using the catapult to knock the castle down, then getting to set it up again, over and over. In the blink of an eye I was running back to the thrift store to see if the armor was still there. It was.


Unfortunately, it didn't come with a sword, so he grabbed a squishy Batman baseball bat to use as his weapon. But then I remembered that amazing cardboard adventures book I had stashed away, and we made our own sword!



Then it was on to some castle-building with Papa John.



Know what I like most about little knights in shining armor? They just love being helpful.


And, speaking of shining armor, I'm thinking that on his next visit, we just might need to make this jousting helmet. Wouldn't you agree?


Papa got me plenty of duct tape on his last excursion to Ace Hardware. Now all I need is some cereal boxes!

 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

A NATURAL HIGH


We have a thing for the Bunkhouse Group, owners of some of our favorite hotels, motels and coffee shops.  Many are out of our price range, but a few are not -- especially when they offer you an end of summer bargain rate. Which is how we ended up meeting our BFFs at Austin Motel this weekend, for one of our 24 hour Lanford Adventures. When staying there in the past we've always been in one of these little rooms.


However this time, since we were getting such a good rate, we went for the larger poolside rooms, with their own covered parking spaces and a great view overlooking the pool area. Check-in time wasn't until 3:00, so we went to lunch first at Home Slice Pizza, and followed that up with some Amy's Ice Cream.

One thing we were a bit miffed about was that they were holding some kind of fundraiser event at the pool that afternoon, so we wouldn't have it all to ourselves. We started out just sitting on our private terrace overlook -- nice and shady and the perfect place for the boys to smoke their cigars.




But, the music was so good, and everyone was having so much fun, that, before we knew it, we were headed down the stairs to join them!


First we got to join in on some water aerobics led by a gorgeous redhead, and guess who was dancing around and having more fun than anyone? No, not me. Mr. Toad Sanford! I came in second. Then they cleared us all out of the pool so we could watch a water ballet performance by a local group of ladies.




I thought the announcer called them the So. Co. Hos, but surely that can't be right? Speaking of the announcer, turns out she is part of a group called Mama Sana -- a local nonprofit that provides midwifery services to help combat the fact that the US has such a high infant and maternal mortality rate, especially among working class women of color. We felt honored to participate. Funny, too, that the thing I was miffed about ended up being one of the best parts of our adventure! Just shows to go you, right?

After several hours of way too much fun and sun, we finally went inside to get cleaned up for dinner, then headed down S. Congress to try and choose between a plethora of wonderful options.


We were about to choose one of several good Italian spots when we decided to pop across the street to peek inside the new S. Congress Hotel, to see what options they had. Turns out their Central Standard Bar & Grill was participating in Austin Restaurant Week, and was offering a 3-course meal for $35. How could we resist?


We each started with our own platter of delicious wood-fired flat bread topped with all kinds of yumminess, then we had a choice between a roasted chicken entre or pork chops. I chose the chicken. YUM!


For dessert we had to choose between a whiskey cake with caramel and ice cream...


or this frozen lemon, cream cheese, and blueberry bar .


We wandered around S. Congress afterwards, trying to walk off some of those calories, then it was back to our poolside aerie.


The next morning I was up at the crack of dawn, headed for my favorite hangout, Jo's Coffee. I love just sitting there, watching the town come to life, with a constant stream of people stopping by to grab a cup of jo while they walk their dogs, do their jogging, or head off to work. When everyone else was finally awake, Hubby came to fetch me and we all went to have brunch at the new-to-us Joann's -- also owned by Bunkhouse I think -- which took over an old diner space right next to Austin Motel, and now connects to its lobby.



Alas, all good things must come to an end, but it's pretty amazing, just how much fun you can pack into a mere 24 hours -- especially when you're with the right people. In fact, there may even be a video floating around, of Miss Paula and I gettin' jiggy on our pool top overlook. Who could resist, when they crank up the volume on Play That Funky Music White Boy? Some might wonder if there was alcohol behind our dancing, but I promise, there was not. We were simply high on life, and gratitude!

Monday, August 19, 2019

CALVIN'S BIG ADVENTURE

We only have five weeks left until Goobster's little sister Rowan is due to make her arrival, so we decided it was time to have big brother over for another sleepover with Mimi and Papa. As soon as his mama goes into labor we will pick him up and bring him here to stay for a couple of days, and we want him to see it as just another big adventure, rather than feeling as if he's being ousted from his home to make room for someone new. We'd been making plans for weeks, but you know what they say about the best-laid plans...

One Step Closer To Looking More Like A Preschool Than A Living Room
First we set up the easel Papa surprised me with some months ago. Calvin's really getting into art at home now, so we thought he might be ready for this. He was very excited to see it, spent about five minutes drawing on it, then it was back to the trucks and trains.


One thing that was a huge success was letting him help me "cook" for the first time. We tried making the strawberry and blueberry Ladybug Pops recipe I found in my Giada's Feel Good Food cookbook, and he was one happy little guy!


They DO look like ladybugs!
Of course, he loves building everything from train tracks and trucks to ferris wheels with Papa and his little pal Will.





Things that didn't go quite according to plan? Getting him to sleep alone on the sofa bed in the living room, and his very first "Back to School" shopping adventure with Mimi and Papa. He was not the least bit interested in looking at clothes. He grabbed the first t-shirt he saw with a truck on it, Papa grabbed a Pink Floyd tee for him (just out of principle, he said) and I grabbed a pair of soft black skinny jeans, and then we were off to the book department. Now this kid loves his books, but did he want to shop for one? No way! He did spot a Dora the Explorer video that he was interested in, having just been introduced to the TV show, so we grabbed that. The entire adventure lasted about fifteen minutes. Perhaps it was my fault for choosing a store that also has a toy department. I will know better next time.

On the plus side, for his Mama and Dada at least, what he missed in the way of sleep at our house, he's more than made up for since he's been home. Mimi and Papa are still trying to make up for it as well!

 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

COUSINS, THEY'RE TWO OF A KIND


It seems that daughter Alexis and niece Megan are more alike than we knew. Which is odd, since they haven't even lived in the same state since Lex was about a year old, which means they haven't spent all that much time together. They are both sassy, spunky, a bit quirky, and super creative. And, they both love  mid-century modern design. Lex and I were both drooling with envy when we saw exterior photos of an adorable mid-century house that Megan and her partner Dave were trying to buy. Their offer wasn't the highest, but Meg happens to be a very good writer, and when she sent a heartfelt letter to the previous owner, that sealed the deal.


So here you go Lex, pictures of the interior! As you can see, it was as if Megan had been accumulating furnishings for this particular house her entire life!




The curio cabinet is a new addition. Megan took up taxidermy as a hobby a while back, and needed a place to display her work, and keep it safe from their two new kitties!





As with most of the houses I've seen in Ohio, this one sits on the side of a hill, and has a lower level that opens up to a huge backyard and the nature reserve just beyond it. When heading downstairs to the rumpus room, as we used to call them back in the 50s, you will first be greeted by about 50 more kitties.


You'd be amazed at the variations you will see, when 50 different people paint the very same paint-by-number project!



Know what's really amazing? Unbeknownst to each other, Lex and Meg even drive the same car, in the very same color! One thing I know for certain. Their grandmother Theda, who was quite the spunky creative gal herself, would be mighty proud of them both!