Saturday, November 28, 2009


My family is not going to be happy with me when they get up - especially those who are sleeping downstairs (or trying to, anyway). You see, according to my daughter, when someone moves around up here - even if they tiptoe - it sounds like a herd of marching elephants to those downstairs. And I have done a lot of tiptoeing around this morning. A whole lot.

First, there was the usual shuffling around in the kitchen, getting a pot of tea made and setting the steel cut oats to simmering. Then there was tripping over John's laptop cord in the dark about six times, which he left draped across the path to my sunrise meditation spot, and barely catching it each time before it flew off the table.

Just as I got settled into my chair with a steaming mug of blood orange tea, it occurred to me that I really should be sipping it from one of my lovely winter-greenery mugs, but of course, that whole set of dishes needed to be run through the dishwasher before I could start using them again. Plus, they were in a cabinet that will be really hard to reach once the boys set the tree up later today. So, it only made sense to begin pulling them out of the living room cabinet, right then and there, at 5:45 AM, and transferring them to the dishwasher. Which led to pulling a bunch of dishes out of the kitchen cabinet, so I'd have a more accessible place to put the others once they were clean.

Then, of course, I had to find a place to store those non-winter dishes, and decided that if I'd just go ahead and pull out my Christmas teapots and snow-globes from under the kitchen hutch, I'd have plenty of room to store the spare dishes there. Ahhh. So glad I simplified recently, by purging my dishes down to the barest essentials. Aren't you? Now that all that is taken care of, I'm ready to snuggle in, focus on the sunrise, and sink into my morning meditataion.

But wait, what is that noise? Do I hear people shuffling around and slamming doors downstairs? What on earth are they all doing, getting up at the crack of dawn? Don't they know how important it is for me to have my quiet time each morning? I swear, some people!

Friday, November 27, 2009


Those piles of stones contain all the stuff they are pulling out of the beds, not putting in - one laboriously pick-axed and levered piece at a time. Looks like they'll be around for quite some time.


Want a super easy, fail proof, gourmet caliber holiday meal? Try this one, which I nabbed from Bon Appetit a while back. Magnifique!

Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry and Roasted-Garlic Sauce
(6-8 servings)

1 head of garlic
3 T. olive oil

1-1/2 cups cranberries
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
4 T. sugar, divided
1 tsp. finely grated orange peel

1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 1-lb. pork tenderloins, trimmed

1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place head of garlic in small ovenproof dish. Drizzle with olive oil; cover with foil. Bake until tender, about 1 hour. Cool; peel cloves. Reserve garlic oil. (this part can be done 1 day ahead - just cover separately and chill)

Boil cranberries, OJ, 3 T. sugar, and orange peel in medium saucepan until berries begin to burst, about 5 minutes. (this can also be done a day ahead - just cool slightly, cover, and refrigerate)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Whisk flour and next 5 ingredients in small bowl to blend. Brush pork with 1 T. reserved garlic oil. Rub pork with spiced flour. Heat 2 T. reserved garlic oil in large nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Cook pork until browned on all sides, about 3 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and roast pork until thermometer inserted into center registers 145 F, about 13 minutes. Transfer pork to platter; tent with foil.

Add roasted garlic and cranberry mixture to same skillet over medium-high heat; simmer 1 minute. Add vinegar and remaining 1 T. sugar; stir until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Cut pork into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange on plates, pour sauce over, and serve. The sauce would also be delicious alongside roasted turkey, roasted chicken, or lamb chops.

Wish I had taken a photo for you, of the two sliced tenderloins arranged on my platter, with the ruby red cranberry sauce drizzled down the center. The presentation was FAB-u-lous. You can see a bit, on individual plates, in yesterday's post. Try it! You'll like it!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Work on the Mexican Hacienda Courtyard Kitchen Cantina Garden is suddenly picking up speed. Setting the cedar fence posts took forever, and the electrical work even longer - without much visible progress to report. The stonework, however, seems to be zipping right along. They managed to pave the bridge, and almost complete the pathway that will connect it to the porch, in just a couple of days. And, while they were doing that, a wrought-iron gate and sconces just appeared out of nowhere! So, pretty much all that's left now is forming the terraced beds, and backing the fence with hog panel - to deter the smaller critters that might be tempted to squeeze through the posts and raid my garden. After that, I guess the rest is up to me.

Yikes! That's a scary thought, considering the way I've been building up everyone's expectations. The truth of the matter is, my gardening skills are extremely rusty. In fact, "gone" would probably be a better word. You know the old saying "Use it, or lose it"? Well, I didn't, so I did.

Back when we lived in Dallas, I sort of went mad for gardening. Seriously. I read every gardening book or magazine I could get my hands on, but that just wasn't enough. So, I joined the organic gardening club, the herb society, and the native plant society. Nope, still not enough. Then I enrolled in the horticulture program at the community college. Nyet. That still didn't cut it. Finally, I went to work for a landscape architect who was a fountain of knowledge and experience, and that finally did the trick. I soaked up everything I possibly could from her, and eventually felt worthy of being called a gardener.

Then, we moved to Houston. Time to forget most of what I'd picked up, and learn instead how to garden in a rain forest! Once my tropical paradise was designed and established, I went out looking for work, and landed a peach of a job as Visual Merchandiser at Buchanan's Native Plants. It was a fabulous way to stretch and strengthen my creativity, but I was so busy doing displays that I never had time to concentrate on the plants, or get any practice using what I had already learned, so the knowledge began to slip away.

Next, we stumbled across our heart's home here in Wimberley, bought it, and decided to ditch the tropical paradise house, and rent a townhouse with a couple of pots on the porch instead. For five years now, I've been a woman without a garden, and it seems as if everything I ever knew on the subject has been lost. So, here I am, starting from scratch once again, in another new climate zone, under conditions which I know nothing about, and having to deal with deer, raccoons, skunks, rattlesnakes and armadillos, on top of everything else.

Well, here goes nothing. Guess it's time to put on my big girl panties and deal with it!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


My friend Paula has had a truly crappy month, filled with so much sadness amongst the people she works with and cares about. In an email she sent a few days ago, she wrote, "I do not journal or take pictures, but you made me think about my old gratitude journal and how your blog is often like that. So, I have been trying everyday to find one thing I would take a picture of, if I had a gratitude blog. One day it was a glass of good merlot in my new waterford wine glass."

This got me to thinkin' - about my blog and its purpose (I hadn't realized until then that it actually is a "gratitude blog"!), and about all the many things I have to be thankful for this year. And, of course, being the kind of person that I am, I felt compelled to make a list:

Things I Am Thankful For

  • This blog, and the lessons it has taught me.
  • The brand new, very pretty, 100% recycled journal that I just cracked open this morning, a smooth-flowing gel pen, and the seemingly endless supply of words I manage to produce with the two.
  • Excellent vision, thanks both to contact lenses, and to the new way I have learned to look at the world, since moving to the Hill Country.
  • Siblings, to share both the joy and the sadness connected to our parents' aging and passing.
  • Two wonderful kids, who never caused us any truly serious distress, and who (miracle of miracles) still seem to enjoy spending time with us.
  • A loving husband, who takes delight in watching me grow and change, and who has never tried to "keep me in my place."
  • Becoming Re-Connected: both to new friends I have made here in Wimberley and through the blogosphere, and to old ones who bothered to stay in touch through all our years of nomadic wandering; to a community; to those who grow and produce that which I consume; to those who have come before me, and who were brave enough to forge a better life for their children and grandchildren, and to those who will come after me, for whom I wish to do the same; to this tiny bit of earth, upon which we have made our home; and to the larger Earth, and the need to keep it habitable.
  • Becoming more self-sufficient - rediscovering the joy to be found in doing and making, rather than just watching and taking.

What about you? What's in your gratitude journal?

Monday, November 23, 2009


Wow - sorry about that! Never meant to go four days without checking in. As I've mentioned before, John and I usually take turns visiting each other - he comes to spend a long weekend with me here in Wimberely, and then a few days later, I go to spend a long weekend with him in Houston. Works out pretty well, since we aren't usually apart more than four days at a time, and in those four days, we can each concentrate on our individual endeavors without distraction, and without the nagging guilt you often feel when you ignore your loved ones for hours at a time.

So, this weekend it was my turn to be in Houston...only I left a day earlier than I usually do, since we had a function to go to on Thursday evening...and I had Lex with me this time...and Austin and Guinness were there too...and we were on the cusp of the holidays...and there were new movies to see...and restaurants to go to...and shopping to be done...and kids and doggies and hubbies to love on...and...and...and..somehow, I just never made it over to the computer, or pulled that camera out of my purse, the entire weekend. But I thought about you, a lot. Honest!