Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Quickie Mart, or Whip Inn? Anyone care to join me for a "panaani"?

I rest my case.


As many people know, the city of Austin has a motto: Keep Austin Weird, Support Local Businesses. It is due to this motto that I usually have much to blog about, after one of our family outings to the city.

I mean, which would you rather see photos of? Wal-mart's toy department, or Toy Joy?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


John brought me a little present the other day, in a grubby brown paper bag. Somehow he must have read my mind, for without even knowing it, he hit upon the most meaningful thing he could have presented me with... the one which I had already determined would be the very first thing to be planted in our new little garden... asparagus crowns!

Planting asparagus is no casual fling. It's not like tossing out a few seeds then forgetting about them. Entering a relationship with asparagus has meaning. It has heft. It implies that you're planning to stick around for a while... put down some roots. I've only done it once before, and I have to tell you, it ended badly.

I planted some at our Dallas home, in a big whiskey barrel planter, right after my husband told me we'd probably live there until he retired. Then I nursed them tenderly for more than two years - the allotted time you are supposed to wait before harvesting any spears. We'd had maybe one or two meals off of them when hubs came home and said "Guess what? We're moving to Houston!"

Within a few weeks the house had been sold, the kids and I had moved into temporary digs to finish out the school year, and John was on his way south. My only consolation, in leaving that garden behind, was knowing how much pleasure it would surely give the new owners. Sooo... imagine my distress, upon driving past the house one last time to bid it adieu, only to find my asparagus planter sitting out by the curb with the garbage, waiting to be hauled off to the dump!

But not this time sucker. No-siree-bob! This time we're seein' it through to the end, so help me God! Guess I'd better get cracking, then. Gotta get this weed barrier down... get some compost hauled in. These babies need to go in the ground!

P.S. Many thanks to for the above image.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Not only did I give handmade this Christmas, I also received quite a bit as well: a gizmo made by son Austin, that will monitor light and moisture for the seedlings I will be starting soon; a wonderful painting (newly framed) which my daughter did in high school, entitled "Your Face'll Stick Like That"; assorted handmade soaps, lotions, balms, sachets, and darling knitted scrubbies that hold a bar of soap; fancy bookmark, beaded knitting needles and a cute little tin for holding knitting accessories, all made by my SIL, who is a whiz with polymer clay; hot cocoa mix and decorated mug from Tiny Monkey Industries (a.k.a. niece Megan & hubby Ben).

What about you? Did you give or receive anything handmade? If so, I'd love to post it here for all to share. Please email your photos with a brief description to becky.lane(at)vownet(dot)net


Recently a young friend, not yet 30, who already has multiple degrees as well as very impressive job and military experience under her belt, posted something about needing to "figure out what I want to be when I grow up." Well, I've got news for you Jen - you don't have to! At least, not in the way that our grandparents did, where they trained for a job right out of high school, then stuck with it for their entire lives. Perish the thought!

What's the most wonderful thing about our extended life-expectancy? The opportunity for reinvention! We have time to concentrate on different priorities, depending on our life-stage (nest-egg building, parenting, self-expression and fulfillment) and can adjust our career path accordingly, if the glove no longer fits. Plus, the broader your set of job skills, the better your chance of supporting yourself should you ever choose to leave the urban jungle, or should you be caught in a disintegrating economy (ahem!).

In their book Moving To A Small Town: A Guidebook For Moving From Urban To Rural America, Wanda Urbanska and Frank Levering remind us that in major metropolitan areas, a great many jobs are narrowly defined, but in small towns, very few are. Thus, broadening one's resume' by adding new, and developing existing, skills is the best means of building long-term professional security. "Often, people in small towns don't do just one thing, they do seven...piecing together an income from multiple jobs." Take my friend Joyce, for instance, the nightclub singer/comedienne/stained glass artist/shop owner, or, my nephew Kevin, the electrician/chicken rearer/goat wrangler/master barterer/God-only-knows-what-else, who was bound and determined to get out of Dallas and carve a life in the country, and by golly, he did it. Kudos to you Kev! I couldn't be prouder of you.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


My daughter accumulated a bunch of reward points. She spent them on certificates to a restaurant. A sushi restaurant. She really does Not. Like. Sushi. Guess she really must love us!

Saturday, December 26, 2009


So what, you wondered, have my knitting needles been up to these past few months? Tea cozies! There are several people I owe a huge debt of gratitude to, for I have never had such a relaxing, rewarding holiday season - and it's all thanks to those babies pictured above, and several more just like 'em.

A year and a half ago, I had never picked up a knitting needle, nor did I have any desire to! Then, in my blog wanderings, I stumbled upon Eyes of Wonder, and found this cozy, made for Jewels by a blog friend in Tazmania, named Jenny. I remember thinking that it was so darn cute, it almost made me wish I could knit. Not long after that, my sister-in-law and her daughter-in-law were here for Thanksgiving, and they were both working on baby hats while we sat and visited - one knitting, the other crocheting. I told them I was kind of jealous, not having anything to work on myself, 'cause it seemed like they were having more fun than me. Before I knew what hit me, Jessica had me knitting and pearling! Turns out it's not all that difficult. The hard part came the minute she left, when I ran into my first problem - and had absolutely no clue how to fix it or get around it. "Well," I thought, "that's the end of that!"

But then Lexie came home for Christmas, re-taught me, and stuck around long enough to see me through the completion of my first scarf. By then I was pretty well hooked. A few months later, I stumbled upon a blog called Little Jenny Wren, and whilst browsing through her photos of all the precious Waldorf-style dolls she creates, and the darling wee outfits she hand-knits for them, it suddenly hit me. "I think this is the same Jenny who made that adorable tea cozy for Jewels! I wonder if she'd share the pattern with me?"

I left her a note, and the next thing I knew, I was up to my eyeballs in cozies, and having the best holiday season of my life. So thank you Jess and Lex, for being such kind, patient teachers, and thank you Jewels and Jenny, for being the wonderfully generous, sharing, creative, inspiring bloggers that you are!

Next, (as soon as I nab some good photos of them) I'll be sharing with you some of the amazing hand-made gifts I was on the receiving end of this year. Then, it's your turn - I want to see what you got, or gave, that was handmade. I need ideas for next year! You can email your photos, along with a brief explanation, to me at: becky.lane(at)vownet(dot)net

Thursday, December 24, 2009




I can't believe it. It's finally Christmas Eve. I guess some things never change. Just like when I was a kid, I still spend most of the month thinking "Will it never arrive? Isn't it time for the kids to be out of school yet, so we can start having some fun? Is John ever going to start his vacation, and get his butt to Wimberley, so we can get this party rolling?" Then all of a sudden, BAM! It's here! And then I'm all, like, "Whoa, hold on a minute! I'm not ready for it to be over with yet! Can't we please drag this out a wee bit longer?"

So, this is it. BAM! It's here! Which is why I was reaching over to jiggle John's shoulder in the wee hours before dawn, saying "Psssst! John! Wake up! It's Christmas Eve! We've got to make every minute count! You don't want to waste it away just sleeping, do you?" Apparently, he does. He just groaned, gathered the covers about him, and rolled to the far side of the bed, forming a cocoon as he went. Sheesh. What a waste!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Ya think maybe we're wearing the poor guy out?


Normally, I walk the trash down our very long, very steep driveway. Good exercise - especially the coming back up part. However, when we have more trash than one person can handle, or if it is especially heavy, drippy and generally skanky, we employ this method. Coming up with the bags-out-the-window method was easy. Figuring out how to then get out of the car, without dropping the bags and risking explosive spillage, was a bit harder.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Like John's sci-fi family outing, Austin and Alexis each have must-do Christmas traditions as well. Yesterday, we did both in one day. For Lex, it was the annual excursion to the gargantuan Whole Foods store in downtown Austin, where we all split up to shop for our individual contributions to Christmas dinner. I'm doing the main course - beef tenderloin with smoked-paprika mayonnaise, John is in charge of beverages and appetizer, Austin is doing side dishes, and Alexis shopped for bread and dessert. The place is such a feast for the eyes during the holidays that I became mesmerized by all the displays and tidbits to be sampled, and completely forgot to take any pictures for you, until it was too late. So sorry!

For Austin, it just wouldn't be Christmas without tubas. He played tuba all through high school (and was definitely the star when it came to tuba-dancing, in my completely unbiased opinion), using a school-supplied tuba, since tubas are priced a bit on the exorbitant side. Every Christmas they allowed him to check it out for a few days, so that he could join a couple of hundred other tuba-players in whatever city we happened to be living in at the time, for Merry Tuba Christmas. This year involved a couple of firsts for us all: the first time to attend the one held on the steps of our state's capitol building, and the first time for Austin to be in the audience with us, rather than performing, since he no longer has access to a tuba. I think the poor kid must be suffering from withdrawal, because mid-show he pulled out his i-phone and started looking up "used tubas." Feel free to let us know, if you've got any leads!

Monday, December 21, 2009


Poor Austin. He had just enough time, after he arrived here yesterday, to unload his car and gulp down a bit of lunch, whilst we loved on his puppy, before we threw him back into the car and headed off to Pflugerville to see a movie. Why Pflugerville, which is somewhere north of Austin? Well, because that's the nearest theatre with digital projectors - the only kind John felt were worthy for the ultimate 3-D viewing experience of this particular movie, Avatar.

Now, I'm not near as crazy about sci-fi/fantasy as John and the kids, but I must admit, I loved this movie. All three hours of it! It's kind of a futuristic version of what happens to native populations each time white men invade a new land - only this time, Whitey gets way more than he bargained for! The imaginary world they created for this movie was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, and the colors? Simply orgasmic.

From there we went to try a Chinese restaurant that had been recommended by some foodie friends. It's next to an Asian market, and I knew we'd hit the jackpot the minute we entered the place and took a couple of breaths. Almost simultaneously, John and I turned to one another and said, "Smells just like Singapore!" It looked just like our favorite cafes in Singapore too, with lots of large families grouped about big round tables with lazy susans full of food in the center. The other sure sign that we were in for a quality experience? We were just about the only anglos in the whole darn place! There were so many yummy sounding choices that we ended up ordering way more than we could eat. Guess we will be having Chinese for dinner again tonight, but that's OK. We don't mind one little bit!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Here are three things that made me smile this week:

  • The little baby marigold who poked her head through the concrete a while back, and unlike her larger, more pampered sisters, is still going strong despite a couple of hard freezes.
  • Finding the perfect spot for these two bracelets of my mom's. Don't the colors blend beautifully? I have a thing for color, ya know.
  • This precious little heart that magically appeared, after I dropped a pat of butter in my oatmeal, then sprinkled it with cinnamon. In fact, I'm still smiling about that one!


For a special girl - one who finally found out, after weeks and weeks of waiting, that she is officially a Licensed Interior Designer...who can now sign letters after her name! In case you're wondering, there was not a single question on the grueling two-day test about how to pick out wallpaper. It was one full day of questions about building codes, problem solving scenarios, business contracts, insurance and construction responsibilities, followed by a full day spent at the drafting table. Not exactly a piece of cake.

So, what better place to celebrate than her favorite cafe, The Leaning Pear? She had one of their yummy soups with a tomato caprese pannini, and I had the special of the day - prosciutto wrapped chicken stuffed with locally grown mushrooms and brie. Unfortunately, the lighting in the cafe is very mellow - not the best for food photography. Trust me when I tell you, it was delicioso! I especially loved their holiday decor - small wreaths on the windows, and gilded pears hanging on ribbons from the rafters. Simple, yet elegant, is it not? We are soooooo, so lucky, to have them here in Wimberley.

Friday, December 18, 2009


We're heading into the final countdown now - only seven brief days to go. I've reached that magic point - as I do every year, tho at varying times - where I finally wake up to the fact that, this is it. I've done all the damage I can, or want, to do. The house may not be decorated to the hilt, but it's nice. It has a warm, cozy glow to it. The family may not be getting everything they want, but they are certainly getting all that they need.

The handmade gifts are done, and out of town gifts are winging their way to their destinations. The gift fund I have been squirreling away all year long has been depleted, so there's no point in looking at all those Christmas ads that come with the paper. I've bought all I can buy, wrapped all I can wrap, and am delighted to say that there will not be one penny of credit card debt hanging over me like a cloud, when all is said and done.

And so, it's time to let go. Slow down. Savor. Connect. Remember. Soak it all in. Time to the moment...right this very second. Don't let it all rush past you in a blur!


Know what I love about those twinkle lights he's stringin' in that tree? There gonna stay up. All. Year. Long! (now you know why my ring tone is Redneck Woman)

P.S. My daughter just walked up behind me, peeked at the computer screen, and let out at gasp. "That's Santa? He looks just like my Daddy!" Oops. Cat's outta de bag now!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Nests, that is. Just nests. You know what those are, don't you? We talked about them here. A nest is that spot in your home where you feel most cozy and protected. Or, perhaps it's your favorite spot for curling up with a good book. Or maybe it's the spot where you feel most creative. Whatever it is, I want you to send me a picture of it, along with a few words describing what it is that you love about it. My house is very small, and there's only so many things I can photograph for you, so I thought it was time to branch out, do a little sharing, maybe even have it a regular feature. Yes, that's the ticket! We could have a "Sharing Sunday", and I could post something from one of you each week. But first, you must take photos! You can send them to me at becky.lane at vownet dot net.

I'll get the ball rolling, OK? Here you see my winter knitting and reading nest. I love it because it has great lighting, a place to prop my feet, a small table to stack must-read books on, a snuggly shawl knitted by my daughter, a coaster for my tea, and a place to lean my head when my eyelids get heavy. Perfect. Now it's your turn!