Saturday, October 23, 2010


John and Austin (and Guinness, of course) came in yesterday evening, to help me celebrate an early birthday by finishing That Dang Wall for me. Woohoo! Unfortunately, I woke up to the sound of pouring rain during the night, and it looks like we may get some more today. Since that wall happens to be a cinder-block retaining wall, that means there will be water seeping through it for the next couple of days, from the sodden soil behind. And, I reckon that means any paint we tried to apply to it right now would probably not stick too well, huh? Well! Doesn't that just chomp big green boogers? Ah well, it's the thought that counts, right?

Hmmm. Here's a thought! Maybe I could talk them into fetching me a truck load of mulch to spread in the perennial beds instead, and maybe a little straw for the veggie beds? Yeah, that's the ticket! Meanwhile, this looks like it's gonna play out to be the perfect kind of weekend to curl up with a great classic movie - perhaps one containing "visions of domesticity."

According to Jane Brocket, author of The Gentle Art of Domesticity, "Sometimes, there is nothing better than a couple of hours' quilting or knitting or crochet in front of a favorite film. When I know I am going to treat myself to this luxury, I choose my film carefully. Nothing too tense, dramatic, searing or frightening (Rear Window, 1954, is about as far as I can go, and that's mainly so that I can be reminded of James Stewart's stunningly blue eyes and Grace Kelly's outrageously beautiful couture dress)." The following films are the ones she watches over and over again - the ones that make her feel good about domesticity:

  • Brief Encounter (1945)
  • Young at Heart (1954)
  • I Capture the Castle (2003)
  • Houseboat (1958)
  • Amelie (2001)
  • Little Women (1949)
  • Brodeuses (A Common Thread) (2004)
  • Sense and Sensibility (1995)
  • The Sound of Music (1965)
Have a great weekend!

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

Friday, October 22, 2010


Looking for a good book to curl up with on a cozy fall day? Jane Brocket, author of the book that I told you about just recently - The Gentle Art of Domesticity, is a big fan of the domestic novel. "It gives a story to so many untold lives, and a meaning and significance to generations of women who were expected to live quietly domestic lives, but who were often far from dull and domesticated. Domestic novels reveal the textures of women's lives and the infinite possibilities and permutations of the domestic space. They also give contemporary women the chance to reflect that we are fortunate in not being compelled to live in that way unless we choose to do so, which makes domesticity a potentially enriching way of life, not a reductive one." Here are some of the books she chooses to read when in need of inspiration, encouragement and laughter:

  • Mrs. Miniver, by Jan Struther (1939)
  • They Knew Mr. Knight, by Dorothy Whipple (1934)
  • Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte (1847)
  • Family Roundabout, by Richmal Crompton (1948)
  • Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell (1853)
  • The Diary of a Provincial Lady, by E.M. Delafield (1930)
  • The Home-Maker, by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1924)
  • At Mrs. Lippincote's, by Elizabeth Taylor (1945)
I don't know about you, but I plan to work my way through the entire list! I've read Jane Eyre several times, and I watched a mini-series on PBS called Cranford, which was probably based on this book, but the rest will be totally new to me. I'm fairly certain I will love them. I guess I have a voyeuristic streak. When I tour a famous home like Biltmore, Monticello, or some palace in Europe, I'm not the least bit interested in seeing the formal spaces that they present to the public. I want to see the kitchens, the pantries, the bathrooms, the servants' quarters. I want to know how these people lived, and that's what a domestic novel tells us.

My very favorites have always been the ones about the women who left everything that was familiar to them and went off to live in a foreign place - books like The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley and Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen - and I loved them even before I did that very thing myself! What about you? Do you ever immerse yourself in domestic novels? If so, won't you share some of your favorites with us, maybe even write a mini review of one? I would sooo love to post it here and share it with others, if you would!

P.S. Many thanks to for the image above

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


This is a great house and I adore it, but it's not the ideal party house. For one thing, there's very little parking, and what we do have is rather precarious to back out of, especially in the dark. But that's ok with me. Now I have a legitimate excuse for not throwing any big parties. I did it for years, but it was always to please my hubby or because I felt I was supposed to, and never because I loved it.

What I do love is intimate, simple, seasonal gatherings, and my very favorite time of year for doing this is fall. The weather is divine, the salvias are in

full bloom, the hillside is covered in lush grasses, the pink muhly grass in my beds is fixin' tuh do its thang, and my favorite tree by the stone terrace is getting ready to catch on fire!

This time last year I celebrated by having the muses over for a gnocchi-making party, but even four people in my wee kitchen is a pretty snug fit. Sooo, I've been sitting here this morning, trying to think of some simple way to entertain a few friends - something that won't stress me out or cause me to do what John refers to as "switching into Maximum-Martha-Mode." Know what I'm thinkin'? I'm thinkin' tea! Not high tea for the queen. Just something simple for me and a few friends, at least once a season, if not more often, locations to vary according to the time of year: fall on the stone terace; inside by the fireplace in winter; out on the balcony porch in spring...yeah, that's the ticket! Best of all, it gives me the excuse to bake something yummy, which I won't ever do for just John and myself. Who knows? If things continue to go well with my new Fly Lady cleaning routines, I may even get to the point where I can do it spontaneously, on the spur of the moment!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Have I mentioned lately how much I love having my daughter just an hour away, rather than halfway across the country, as she was for four years? I can't believe that at the end of this month, she will have been back in Texas for a full year! How is

that possible? Believe me when I say, I'm not even close to feeling blase' about it yet, or taking it for granted in any way.

Take this weekend. Lex has always been a huge fan of the Texas Renaissance Festival that is held for about six weeks, down near Houston, each fall (any ol' excuse to wear a costume). So, when she found out that my friend Fiber Woman has a permanent booth there, she badgered FW into letting her help out on the weekends this season. Lex is loving every minute of it, but by the time she gets back to Austin each Monday, she is absolutely wrung out! That's why I was so surprised when she went to the trouble to stop here on her way home yesterday, just to say hi to dear old mom. She was so pooped that she decided to curl up on the sofa for a minute before heading home, maybe watch an episode of Smallville that I had recorded for her. Several episodes later, I said "I've got some prosciutto and arugula that I was going to use on a pizza bianca for supper tonight. Care to share it with me?" By the time we had finished eating, Lex had realized that a couple of our very favorite shows to watch together would be on shortly, and by the time Castle ended at 10:00, well, it only made sense for her to sleep over, and to head home first thing in the morning when she was more alert.

It got me to thinkin' this morning, and I realized that I should probably be grateful for that period when I only saw her a couple of times per year. Without having experienced that, I would not be nearly as appreciative of the way things are now, or so aware of what a gift it is to have a an adult daughter who still enjoys curling up on the sofa with her mom, sharing laughs, a pizza, and maybe even a sappy made-for-tv movie.

Well, time to shut this computer down. It's Tuesday dontcha know. Meeting of the Muses day. Now that I've heard Alexis' Ren Fest tales, it's time to get the other side of the story from FW. Rumor has it, she has some juicy tidbits to share!

Monday, October 18, 2010


I just looooove crotons. Some people think they're too common these days, but I'm fascinated with the way each individual leaf is a unique combination of all my favorite colors. Guess it's time to move mine inside to the dining porch for winter. It was dipping down into the 40s most nights last week, and was even down as far as 41 one morning. Sure would hate to lose it, just when it's getting so big and beautiful!


Yesterday I decided to take a day off from "shoulds", and concentrated on "coulds" instead. As soon as I finished posting the pics from Saturday evening's festivities, I threw on some clothes and headed out for Austin. First stop? A 10:15 (bargain-priced) showing of Secretariat. What a wonderful, inspiring story - made even more enjoyable by treating myself to one of those little kid's snack-packs that comes with a bit of popcorn and a wee cup of soda, all in a cute little box with a handle. I love tiny stuff.

After the movie I wandered through several stores, looking for a few of the things I still need in order to complete my handmade Christmas gifts. I really needed to go to Hobby Lobby, but of course, they are closed on Sundays. Still, I did manage to score one of the main ingredients, and it was a very pleasant way to pass the time until 3:00, when it was finally OK to go have my lunch/dinner at Mama Fu's. Why 3:00, you ask? Cuz that's when Happy Hour starts! Which means anything you order from the appetizer menu is only half price. And that means I got a mini order of pot stickers, that lovely sesame-crusted ahi tuna draped over a yummy asian slaw, and a big ol' glass of tea, all for about seven bucks. What a deal, Lucille!

Since I ate so early, I then had a long, lovely evening ahead of me, which I spent puttering in the garden and watering plants, starting the new book by Audrey Niffenegger - Her Fearful Symmetry, knitting, and watching some of the Doc Martin: Season Two video that I got from Netflix. Ahhhhhh. My kind of day!

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

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I have three good friends named Debbie here in Wimberley, and I ran into one of them - High School Deb - at the grocery store not long ago. When she said "My daughter Karly loves to cook, and we thought we'd do a little "Autumn Dinner" together on the 16th. Why don't you join us?", I had no idea what a magical evening was in store for me.

It's a funny thing about this Deb. We call each other "the-high-school-friend-I-didn't-know-in-high-school." Fortunately for us, though, the Jerseylicious Ms. Sarah Morgan knew us both. When she stumbled across my blog

and realized I was living in the same wee town as her best friend Deb, she hooked us up.

The first time Deb and I actually sat down together in Mima's (we'd probably seen each other there a hundred times before, but had no clue we'd gone to school together), she said "I've found your blog now, and you know that list of books that inspired you? I've read pretty much every one of those. You wanna talk about "living the good life"? Let me tell you about the time Tom and I took off for the forests of Idaho, built our own house from scratch, and started living off the land!" Since that day, we have enjoyed discovering one commonality after another.

Take last night, for instance. The "little get-together" turned out to be much larger than I was expecting - at least two dozen people, plus several babies. When Deb announced that we'd be eating outside, I thought she meant for us to just grab a spot on the porch somewhere, so I headed out there to set my drink down, before coming back to fill my plate from the sumptuous spread they had prepared for us. However, when I caught a glimpse of what actually awaited us there, I almost dropped my goblet! I ran back to the kitchen, shrieking "Oh My Gosh, Deb! Do you have any idea how long I've been dying to go to one of those Outstanding In The Field dinners?" "You too, huh?"