Friday, August 13, 2010


I guess I'm just not a beige kinda gal.


You guys better pray my camera problem gets fixed soon, cuz otherwise I might have to go back to my old way of doing things. You don't know how lucky you are that I finally got into taking photos for this blog, and learned how to mince my words. I've used up all my "thinkin'" posts for the week, and would normally be filling in with some "lookin' " posts about now. However, since I can't do that without photos, I thought maybe I'd go back in the archives and pull something from that very first summer after we bought the place, to remind you (and myself) just how far we've come.

But Holey Moley, those posts were long - and with hardly any photos at all to break them up! There's some good stuff in them, about hurricanes and tow trucks and trips to the ER, and a one hour trip that somehow took us five hours, overcoming arachnaphobia, and my parents' one and only visit here. If you're interested in any of that, feel free to click on the period labeled Nov. and Dec. of '07. That's not when we first bought the place, that's just when I finally got around to taking my handwritten stuff and transferring it to blog form. Since I've already reached my current average of around two paragraphs per post though, I think I'll forgo tacking on another 5 or 6 paragraphs for you to read here. Maybe I'll just add a few "before" pictures of the house instead.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


How many times have you heard someone say "Oh my gosh, I can't believe it. I've never won anything in my life!" Well, that's not me. I win stuff all the time.

  • In 1st or 2nd grade I went to a birthday party where we had to guess the number of jellybeans in a jar. I won, my guess being only a few beans off. The next week I went to another party, where we played the same game. I decided I might as well use the same guess as last time, and hit the number right on the nose.
  • In 3rd grade a Hollywood producer waltzed into my classroom and said "You, you and you, come with me, and the next day I was riding the merry-go-round on the set of the movie State Fair, and getting paid $24 for it!
  • I won the door prize at my senior all-night party - a "hot pants" outfit.
  • My sister used to play bingo at this place in Dallas all the time, and never won a thing. The one and only time she made me go with her, I walked away with $500.
  • When my kids were small, a friend told me to go stick my name in a drawing box at the grocery store. They were giving away 4 tickets to Six Flags every day, and not many people were bothering to enter, so the odds were good. A short time later they called to tell me I did not win the four tickets. I won the Grand Prize - four tickets, plus hotel, plus air fare to any of the Six Flags parks in the country.
  • When we lived in Indonesia, a lot of our friends were ordering gorgeous handmade furniture from this guy in Singapore, but it was way too expensive for my blood. When John saw one of their fold-out bars though, he fell in love with it, and pestered me until I agreed to order one. A few weeks later I got a letter in the mail saying they'd entered all their clients' names in a drawing, and I'd won one of their fold-out bars.
The list goes on, but I think this is enough to get my point across. I'm lucky. When people hear about any of this, the first thing they always say is "Then why the heck won't you ever buy a lottery ticket?" Honest answer? Cuz I'm scared to death I might actually win. Then everything I've worked for, everything I value, everything I've tried to instill in my kids, would go straight to hell in a handbasket. Don't believe me? Go read any of the reports that are starting to surface now, about how "happy" most of the winners have ended up. Yeah, I'm lucky all right. Lucky to be smart enough to have figured that out on my own.

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

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I am not, and never have been, one of those "women who lunch." I hate shopping en masse, love sitting in Mima's alone with a crossword puzzle, and don't even mind going to a movie alone now and then. When I used to be a mystery shopper for Whataburger, it just floored me how often I would see a woman eating in her steaming hot car, rather than be caught eating alone at a restaurant. I started working retail at 16, and since employees must always take their breaks one at a time, you just get used to eating alone. Besides, I like my own company, and could easily become a hermit, but for one saving grace - The Muses and all their predecessors.

Ever since my first child was born, twenty seven years ago, I have always had a group of women friends that I have met with about once a week. These women have provided support, friendship, child-rearing advice, inspiration, and so much more. Now that I think about it, they were probably my surrogate extended family, filling in for the grandmothers, mothers, sisters, cousins and aunts that I would have turned to for advice and support, had we not pulled up stakes and become a traveling show. Now it is the Muses and my Blogging Tribe, in Plano it was the Bagel Babes, in Midland it was the Friday Lunch Bunch, and that very first one in Houston, so long ago, was called Share Group.

Flashing back on all these groups got me to thinkin', and I decided to do a little research on the subject of small groups. One article I came across, Group Dynamics and Community Building by Jerry Hampton, had this to say: "A small group is one where a group of people commit to meet together periodically to share their lives with each other in authentic communication. In doing so, each person can grow and learn from the others, as well as contribute meaning to the group." He went on to add that the advantage of a group like this is having a safe place to practice how to live with each other and learn about yourself, but one goal must be learning to accept and transcend differences, regardless of the diversity of individual backgrounds. If you can do this, in time a group can learn how to drop their pretenses, overcome obstacles and reach out to help or emotionally support one another and, in the process, find surprising strength, tolerance and acceptance. This collective spirit often emerges during a crisis. It is also known as "community." I call it "finding your tribe", and am so thankful to have found both the Muses and my blogging community.

Once you have a tribe like this, there is no end to what you can accomplish. Why, just think about those consciousness-raising groups that started back in the 60's, and ended up becoming the backbone of the feminist movement. Small groups of maybe a dozen women would get together to discuss a designated topic each week - anything from dating and child-rearing to abortion and economic dependence. They would take turns going around the circle, each speaking about the topic (this way no one dominates the discussion, a common problem in every group I've ever belonged to!), and at the end, they would discuss what they had learned.

In doing so, says Linda Napikoski in her article Feminist Consciousness-Raising Groups Collective Action Theory Discussion, they created a sense of sisterhood and made women more aware of widespread discrimination. By allowing them to verbalize feelings they might have suppressed, they ended up destroying the isolation that men used to maintain their authority and supremacy. Much more than psychological therapy, these small "share groups" were a valid form of political action that would end up being seen as a radical action to be feared and criticized by the powers that be.

Fairly awesome, don't you think?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


is that hereabouts, the gift of a carton of eggs, from a friend with chickens, is valued just as much as, if not more than, a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates!

Monday, August 9, 2010


I took some great color-mad pictures for you this weekend, but then my computer wouldn't let me download them. Dear Hubby swears that this - and the fact that my computer will no longer stay connected to the internet, and must be reconnected every five minutes now - has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he was messing around with my computer again this weekend! Know what? I don't even care. It's just so good to have him back in Wimberley again!

Sooo, until we figure out what the problem is, I'll have to draw photos from my archives. See this beautiful tea cozy here? I first spotted it a couple of years back on one of my favorite blogs, Eyes of Wonder (sadly, no longer active, though it's worth perusing the archives - an amazing photographic stroll through Jewels' world, almost through another era), and something about the colors and shape, and the way it symbolized warmth and coziness and simple living, just really grabbed hold of me. Later, I discovered that the tea cozy had been gifted her by a blog friend in New Zealand, Little Jenny Wren. When Jenny then became one of my blog friends, she offered to send me her knitting pattern for that cozy, and that's when I decided it was time to learn how to knit, and that's how most of the womenfolk in my family came to receive handmade tea cozies for Christmas last year - though none as beautiful as this one. Isn't the blog world an amazing place?

P.S. News Flash! For those of you who are former fans of Eyes of Wonder, when I made the link to her blog just now, I discovered that there was a new post up!


In case you haven't noticed, unlike most bloggers, I am a very low-tech person -- which might explain why I never bothered to label any of my blog posts. You see, when I first saw that "label" space down at the bottom of the page, I figured that was where you were supposed to describe your pictures or something. Then later, when I found out differently, I just wasn't sure I understood the need, so didn't bother. Now that I'm approaching my three-year blogging anniversary, however, I'm beginning to see the light.

Which is why there is a new feature over on the right-hand sidebar there - something I believe they refer to as a label "cloud." Eventually, this cloud will enable you to see at a glance how many posts I have written on any particular subject, and if you were to click on one of those topics - say, "to-do" perhaps - a link to every single pictorial To-Do List I have ever posted would then pop up for your perusing pleasure, thus saving you from having to scroll back through all nine hundred and twelve posts in search of them. It also gives a new-comer a pretty good idea what this blog is all about.

Yep, you read that right. We're coming up on one thousand posts. Yeah, Ba-bee! Exciting, non? But a bit of a problem when it comes to going back and labeling them all. I'm trying to do a few more each day, but you know how that goes. You have every intention to give them only a quick scan, just enough to figure out how to label them, but then you get sucked in, and the next thing you know, you've lost an hour or two! Hopefully though, by the time I hit the big one-triple-oh, in three months or so, I will be all caught up, and we will have double cause for celebration. In fact, I think I feel another give-away coming on!

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I got a beautiful eggplant from Bountiful Sprout this week, and when I was trying to decide what to do with it, I suddenly remembered this dish that I had made many years ago. It comes from the amazing cookbook Tout de Suite a' la Microwave: A gourmet's cookbook of French, Acadian & Creole recipes, by Jean K. Durkee. I'm not sure if it's even still in print, but it would have been worth haunting your used bookstore for, just for the praline recipe alone (see sidebar - favorite recipes). Now that I've rediscovered this recipe - the only way I've ever managed to slip eggplant past my husband - I'd say it's a must have!

Eggplant and Rice Casserole (my Cajun friends call it "dressing")

Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6-8

2 medium eggplants, peeled and diced
2 T. water
1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery (I didn't have any, so I added some bell pepper for crunch)

1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup chopped parsley
4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 lb. lean ground meat or 1 lb. raw peeled shrimp (I used 1/2 lb. of Buddy's Natural Chicken Sausage Links this time, jalapeno variety, diced, and it was quite tasty)
2 cups cooked rice
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/8 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, depending on how spicy you like things
seasoned bread crumbs (or crumbled crackers)
Parmesan cheese
Optional: 1/2 cup of something tomatoey - catsup, marinara, whatever. This was not in Durkee's recipe, but was in a meat dressing that a Cajun friend cooked for me once, and I liked it.

  • Place eggplant and water mixed with salt in a 2 qt. dish. Cover and cook on HIGH for 7 minutes. Stir and drain. Set aside.
  • Melt butter in a 3 qt. casserole. Saute' onion and celery on HIGH for 5 minutes.
  • Add green onions, parsley and garlic. Saute' on HIGH for 3 minutes.
  • Stir in ground meat or shrimp, mix well. Cover and microwave on HIGH for 10 minutes, stirring twice. Drain off fat. Add rice, eggplant, salt and peppers. Stir to mix. Top with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Cover. Microwave on MEDIUM for 5 minutes, or until heated through.
P.S. Many thanks to for the above image.