Friday, November 12, 2010


My oldest sister is what Fly Lady refers to as "Born Organized." I drive her nuts. When she packs for a vacation or prepares for a party, she starts at least a week in advance. I've always been more of a "morning-of" kinda gal. But get a load of this! My little tea-party-on-the-porch isn't until next Tuesday, and already I've got all my serving pieces pulled together. What is more, due to my newly established Fly Lady routines, I am free to go out of town for a few days between now and the party, instead of staying here for my usual 2-day house cleaning marathon. All I need do is my weekly one-hour "house-blessing", and I'm good to go!

I know what Big Sis is thinking right now. She's asking "Who are you, and what have you done with my baby sister?" Aren't you Carolyn?

Thursday, November 11, 2010


When we were at the festival this weekend, I was chatting with the people next to me about the long lines, and our fear that everyone would be out of food before we made it to the front of the line. Then I smiled and said, "Oh well. As long as I get a couple of good photos for my blog, it won't be a total loss." To which the young lady replied "You've got a blog? I love reading blogs! What's it about?" ARRGH! There it is again, that question that always gives me so much grief!

Despite all the effort some of you put into helping me come up with an "elevator pitch", I still get brain freeze whenever someone asks me that question - which is why John was so shocked to walk up just then and hear us talking about it. I almost never mention it to strangers, for that very reason! As usual, I hemmed and hawed, then rambled about saying "Well, it's about living the good life here in the Hill Country, and about our transition from big city suburbanites to Hill Country Characters. It's about all the interesting places we discover, and the people we meet, and... Somehow I managed to interest her enough to ask for my card, but still...

So, remind me again please. What are the most critical items I should cover when asked this, in that tiny window allowed me before their eyes start to wander or glaze over? If you will help me out once more, I promise that this time, I will practice reciting it over and over in front of a mirror, until it's forever etched in my brain!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


This is my front yard. The native grasses are more lush than I've ever seen them before--so tall we can barely spot the deer as they stroll across. A magnificent, undulating sea. Easy to imagine great grass monsters slithering along beneath those rippling waves. Which is why I won't set foot out there right now. I don't go ANY-place where I can't see my feet!

We'll be spending Christmas here this year, with just one sister and brother-in-law as house-guests (and our two kids and granddog, of course!). I'm getting pretty excited about it. When we have all of my siblings, sibs-in-law, nieces, nephews and their spouses and pets together for several days at Christmas, eating all our meals together, trying to choose a movie or entertainment that everyone can agree on, even trying to all be together in the same house on Christmas morning for Santa and stockings, etc., it can get kinda crazy. After one of those years, we tend to swing to the opposite extreme, and opt for a quiet Christmas at home with just the five of us. But, then we find ourselves thinking "Wow, this is too quiet. Things are going too smoothly. It just doesn't feel like Christmas!"

Sooo, when my middle sister called to say they were going to be kidless this Christmas, and how did we feel about a couple of houseguests, it got me to thinkin'--about how nice it will be to have this extra festivity in the house, without being pulled in too many different directions. We will go to Dallas for one night the week before Christmas, for the whole family dinner at a favorite restaurant (probably Mexican) followed by desserts and gift exchange back at big sis' house, but then in Wimberley we can stick with our own special traditions, and then focus on doing just the things we know this one couple will most enjoy. I'm thinking this could be the perfect compromise between two extremes, and that it might just be one of the best holidays in years! So, which of our kin wants to sign up to be next year's special guests?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


As I mentioned in my Gypsy Picnic post, Austin is the dog lovin'est town in Texas. Houston passed laws where you can't even have leashed dogs on the sidewalks, deck or patio of a cafe. In Austin, however, people wouldn't think of going to brunch on Sunday without their beloved pets. Or to a festival. I'm fairly certain there were almost as many dogs at the Gypsy Picnic as there were humans.

Walking back to the parking garage afterwards, we noticed that one whole block of 2nd Street had been cordoned off, and there were lots of people milling around, so we decided to check it out. Turns out we had stumbled upon the Barkitecture extravaganza, an event where local architects, builders and interior designers compete to build the ultimate doghouse. All are then auctioned off to benefit several animal rescue groups. They even have a doggie fashion show.

A doghouse complete with green roof and water catchment system? Only in Austin!

Monday, November 8, 2010


Last time I went to Houston, I cleared out the big coat closet where I stored a bunch of gift wrap and floral supplies. Unfortunately, our coat closet here is half the size, and is already filled with coats, vacuum cleaners, ironing boards, etc. As I

walked into the house carrying these glittery orange twigs, I happened to notice the two pots on the porch, with the ebon-leaved ornamental peppers in them. The one with the perfectly round peppers is called "Black Pearl." Isn't she magnificent? Anywho, it suddenly occurred to me that if I just stuck these twigs in those pots, I could call it fall/Halloween decor, and it would give me several weeks reprieve before I had to find a permanent home for them. It ended up being my very favorite Halloween decoration this year. OK. So it was my only Halloween decoration this year. I still say it was downright spiffy!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Turns out, John had been playing with the new camera he gave me for my birthday (was there something wrong with the old one?) and set it so high that blogger couldn't accept any of the photos. That boy! Luckily, he figured out how to save the photos, and his hide, by emailing them to me, thus reducing their size. Fingers crossed!


  1. Austin loves good food.
  2. Austin loves good music.
  3. Austin loves a festival.
  4. Austin is willing to brave huge crowds and loooooong lines to get the good food and free music at said festivals.
  5. Austin is the dog-lovin'est town in Texas.
  6. Austin is the bike-lovin'est town in Texas.
  7. Austin loves anything weird or unusual, which makes it a truly great town for a people-watcher like me.
  8. Austin knows how to cut loose and have a good time.
  9. Austin knows that when the going gets tough, the tough get creative.
"Like my great-grandfather, and like many of the trailer food vendors I know, I took a leap of faith and quit my job to embark on new territory. I had no money and no road map. What I did have was an authentic desire to find a better way...We let go of models of 'work' that weren't working in order to chase dreams. We got creative in a down-economy. We talked to people about life at the farmers' markets. We made lunch. The people who constitute our trailer food communities in Austin are inspiring, risk-taking, rebel entrepreneurs who represent dreams in action." ~ Tiffany Harelik, Trailer Food Diaries

Soon as I saw the very first ad for Austin's first ever Gypsy Picnic Trailer Food Festival, I knew it was going to be a big success. I just had no idea how big! John and I chose to go at an off time, midway between lunch and dinner, figuring it wouldn't be very crowded then. The minute we exited I-35, encountering bumper to bumper traffic, and noticed the hordes of foot traffic on either side of the road, all headed in the same direction, I knew I was sadly mistaken.

Between trying to find a downtown parking lot that wasn't full, hiking from there to Auditorium Shores, standing in lines, taking a few pictures, and hiking back to the car, we invested about three hours in this event. Know how many food trailers we actually made it to? One! And yet, somehow, it was worth it. Does that make me a true Austinite now, as well as a Hill Country Character?

At least it was the one trailer I was most anxious to visit--Gourdough's Big. Fat. Doughnuts. John ordered the Cherry Bomb, and I chose the Flying Pig, which looked kinda scary when it came out, and gave me second thoughts. One bite erased all of my fears, and sent me into a bit of a swoon. Picture a breakfast of pancakes with maple syrup and a side of crispy bacon, then imagine all those flavors swirled together into one perfect donut! I sampled John's Cherry Bomb as well, but it was so sweet it made my teeth hurt.

So. Will I brave the hordes to try again next year? Probably not--unless this turns out to be like childbirth, and we somehow forget the worst parts before the next one rolls around. I will, however, spend a good bit of time perusing my new issue of Trailer Food Diaries magazine, and make more of an effort to seek the trailers out in their usual locations, throughout the year. Perhaps I'll see you there?

P.S. Having some technical difficulties this morning, and can't get any of my photos to download. Will post them later, if I ever get it to work. Many thanks to and for the images above.