Friday, March 26, 2010


Know what I love? Dance Halls! The kind that look like they've been around for a hundred years or more, hosted most every important occasion in the community, and whose floors have been scuffed by a million twirling boots. Places like

Gruene Hall over near New Braunfels, and Fischer Hall not far from Wimberley (where we went to that great anniversary shindig last spring).

It always breaks my heart when one has to shut down, but thrills me no end when one gets rescued. This one, Sengelmann Hall (est. 1894), in the town of Schulenburg, TX, has recently been brought back to life. I pass by there every time I go back and forth between Houston and Wimberley, and finally took the time to stop and check it out. Unfortunately, dance halls aren't usually open at nine in the morning, so I couldn't get any pictures of the inside for you. Maybe next time.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Just when I'm really getting into shoveling dirt, and have a whole day with nowhere I need to go and nothing I really need to do, we get a rain day. You can't work with dirt when it's wet. Well, you can, but it's a baaad idea. Not only is it heavy and difficult to handle, you also risk destroying all those nice little air pockets that are a necessary part of its structure. So, I had to stay indoors all day yesterday, just reading and writing and knitting. Poor me. (Can you believe I managed to type that with a perfectly straight face?) Always happy for rain though. Gotta keep that big ol' tank full, ya know!

The sun is out this morning, but I'm not sure how long it will take for the soil to dry out. Sure hope I can get the rest of it out of my truck and spread this afternoon. Otherwise it's gonna have to sit there until Monday! My oldest sister has decided to sell her house and move into something smaller, so I'm off to Dallas for a sibling meet-up. Time to sort through all Mom's stuff that is still piled in her garage. Should be fun. NOT! Lex is happy though. She's got an old high school buddy coming to town, so they get the house to themselves.

Oh well, as long as I have to wait for the soil to dry out, I suppose I could always wander over to King Feed, see if there are any new plants that I just gotta have...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


We had a brief dip down to freezing temps again this week, but everything seems to have survived OK. In fact, I noticed leaves coming out on the live oak and Texas persimmon this morning, and did a little happy dance. Between the record heat and drought of last summer, record cold this winter, and the construction that went on all about their feet recently, I wasn't sure they'd make it. I'm foolishly certain that this was our last freeze of the season, and am giving myself permission to proceed full steam ahead!

The leafy winter veggies I planted a few weeks ago are growing like crazy! Each time I go check on them, they seem to be a couple of inches taller (those are just rain drops on their leaves, not anything nasty). The strawberries in the Topsy Turvy have a few blooms on them too. Unfortunately, the asparagus crowns I planted are showing no signs of life whatsoever. Perhaps I kept them indoors in their little paper sack a mite too long, before I finally got around to planting them?

This week was spent removing about 6 inches of the existing soil from one and a third more beds (I've moved over to the other side of the steps now, and those beds are looooooong!), fluffing and picking a million rocks out of what was left, raking it all smooth and putting down weed-block paper, fetching a half yard of Rose Soil from Gardenville (the extra acidity helps balance the alkalinity of the native stuff) in my itty-bitty truck, and then hauling it one bucket at a time, up the steps, to be dumped into the new beds. Good exercise!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Remember the cookbook Lex got for Christmas? The one called Jamie's Food Revolution? I shared a few of his recipes with you back in January, and now that we've switched to DST (making it much easier to capture good food photos with natural light at dinner-time) I plan to share a few more.

Do you also remember my telling you about all the amazing things Jamie had already done in Great Britain, even before writing that cookbook? Like, setting up a training program for at risk kids in his restaurants, convincing the school system to start feeding their kids real food instead of all the processed, chemical-laden crap, and, most recently, going into homes (via this cookbook) to show homemakers that it's really not that difficult to fix quick, delicious, healthy meals for their families. He feels that if he can just teach a few people a few easy recipes, get them over their fear of cooking and feeling comfortable in their own kitchens, and then get them to "pass it on" to a few more people and have them do the same, together we could revolutionize the way the world is eating - and dying! You do know, don't you, that somehow we have managed to get so far off-track, that our kids are expected to be the first generation EVER to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents? Despite all our whiz-bang medical advances?

I sort of figured Jamie would be ready to slow down his frenetic pace after accomplishing all that, rest on his laurels a bit, start taking it easy. I was wrong. Dead wrong. Is he content with revolutionizing the way G.B. cooks and eats? Noooooooooo. Now he wants to tackle the U.S.! We got a sneak preview of what he's up to on Sunday evening, but the real show starts this Friday, on CBS I believe. Check your local listing for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. You won't wanna miss this!

Good luck to ya, Jamie m'boy. You're gonna need it!

Monday, March 22, 2010


People have been joking with us, telling us that it was probably a good thing that the kids boomeranged back when they did. Otherwise, John and I might have become a wee bit too accustomed to each living on our own, and having our own way all the time. Ya know what? They could be right!

Being apart really isn't anything new for us. John has always traveled a lot, sometimes being gone for weeks at a time. In fact, there were several periods when we were even apart for a few months. And, as hard as it was to say good-bye each time he left, it was sometimes even harder on the other end - the getting reacquainted part. Just ask any military spouse, who's had to handle every crisis and all of the child rearing completely on their own while their spouse was deployed, what it feels like for their partner to finally show up, shower the kids with gifts, toss all your rules and routines out the window, and get to be the perpetual good cop to your bad cop.

Add to that the fact that John and I are polar opposites in most of our likes and dislikes, and you have to wonder, how did we make it through? I guess you could say we had three saving graces - the first being that we were smart enough to spend time with a good counselor when the going got rough. Second would be the fact that we are both pretty laid back and flexible. Most important of all? Our sense of humor. You just gotta be able to laugh at yourself and your situation sometimes!

Of course, it was probably having the kids around all the time that kept us so very flexible. Once they were gone, and we each had our own ship to command, so to speak, I noticed us getting more and more set in our ways - used to having everything arranged just the way we like it, eating and doing what we want, when we want it. When the "maybe a year at most" separation stretched into two years, and beyond, well, I started gettin' kinda worried!

Then, the kids showed up - just in the nick of time. They were the ideal solvent - the perfect thing to loosen us up a bit and return us to our formerly pliable state. They will both be out on their own again by the time John retires this summer, but their work is done. After this, the rejoining of our two households should be a piece of cake. We'll just put all of John's stuff in a storage facility, and continue doing everything here my way... KIDDING!!! (tee-hee)

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Howdy Ya'll! Just got back from Houston. We had a rare opportunity when both kids would be available to hang with us this weekend, so we took advantage of it to begin surveying the contents of the townhouse, to see who wants what. We made a very sad discovery in the process. We're not near as hip as we thought. We've got old people furniture, and they don't want it! I'm absolutely crushed. Anybody need some lovely wicker wingback chairs or chaise longue from Indonesia (slightly gnawed around the edges)? If only we could use them on the porches. Unfortunately, they are not weatherproof, and our porches are not deep enough to protect them. Everything we've put out there so far is very much the worse for wear.

While in Houston, we got to go see where Austin's new apartment is located, though we couldn't get inside of it yet. Not only will he be within walking distance of all my old favorite hangouts, including a Saturday morning farmers' market, he'll also be within spittin' distance of the Belgian cafe we discovered a few weeks back. Since the kids had not yet been there, we decided to drop in for lunch after seeing his apartment. It did not disappoint! We feasted on Salade Nicoise, Mussels in Curry Sauce, a Flemish Beef Stew, a scoop of vanilla ice cream with that yummy Belgian chocolate sauce, and this amazing Crepe Normande, with caramelized apples baked right into the batter. I love it that each beer on tap is served in a different, specialized glass. Though they don't care much for our choice in furniture, the kids gave our choice of restaurant four thumbs up!