Saturday, December 31, 2011


Oooh!  I almost forgot to tell you!  Way last Thursday, when Lex first came over for the holidays, before things sort of fell apart on us, we spent a really fun day together, doing some of our very favorite things.  One of those things was to check out a couple of new Trendmaker model homes that just popped up out on RR12, right next to Wimberley Glass Works.
Now, I really wasn't the least bit envious of the houses themselves, and their location butt-atop a busy highway left a lot to be desired. But the colors, fabrics and textures inside?  Oh my my, those caused me some serious pangs of lust!
This entire house was done in shades of apple green and rich chocolate brown -- a new take on the rich earth-tones I have always favored.
The walls in every room were a combination of white beaded board wainscoting and green horizontal paneling that gave it a bit of a rustic, cabin-like feel.
You'd have to be careful with that apple green though, or it could be way too cutsey!  Using a soft, muted shade of it, and then adding all the fabulous, rich textures of the woodgrains, cork, bamboo and textiles, is what saves it from irritating perkiness.
As is customary with model homes, everything was decorated and landscaped to the hilt, and I'm sure almost everything was considered an "upgrade" or additional cost on top of the list price.
We didn't even ask what the list price was, or how large the lots were.  I suspect that these pavilions and water tanks were just fluff, to add atmosphere, and that once they start building out the neighborhood, you will be sitting on your back porch, looking out on a bunch more houses rather than this lovely scene.  Again, we didn't even ask.  All we really wanted to know was, where did you get all these luscious fabrics and furnishings.  Of course, that's the one question the salespeople couldn't answer!
I'm pretty sure this headboard was made out of cork.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


John was getting very upset with me earlier this week, for, though I had made sure the kids opened all their Christmas gifts, I still hadn't opened any of mine.  I kept thinking he'd be released, and we could open all of ours together, at home.  Finally I caved to the pressure, gathered up all but our biggest ones, and hauled them to the hospital.  It just so happened that I was wearing this newish, cedar-green top that day.
Well, guess what was in the very first package I opened that morning?  Do you remember my telling you about the lady who came on board our riverboat in France, to talk to us about the silk-screen industry in Lyon?  I really wanted to buy one of her gorgeous scarves, but before I had a chance, they announced that all wishing to accompany the chef on a tour of the indoor market needed to leave immediately!  So I did -- but my hubby did not.  And this is what I got:
It contains the very same cedar-green color as my blouse and its matching fringed jacket, so I immediately tucked it beneath the collar of the jacket and let it hang down on each side in front.  Gorgeous!

The next gift I opened was from my sister-in-law Priscilla, a crafter extraordinaire!  She started out working with miniatures, then segued into polymer clays.  What I hadn't realized, though, was that she was now dabbling in wire and beads.  Check this out:
You can't really tell it from these photos, but the scarf contains all the same colors as my new bracelet and earrings, so of course, I put those on too.  Outrageous!  Suddenly I was wearing a fabulous Bohemian-Hippy-Gypsy-Cowgirl ensemble -- my favorite kind -- and I didn't have to lift a finger to pull it together!  Don't you just love it when something like that happens?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Basically, what it boils down to, is that we just missed out on Christmas and spent five days and a bazillion dollars in the hospital for...well, for nothing.  John received no treatments of any kind while he was there, no therapy, and no medications other than the ones he was already taking, and, after undergoing a half-dozen outrageously expensive tests (CAT, MRI, EKG, TEE, Carotid Artery Sonograms, etc.), the only thing they came up with was "He had a stroke."  Well, I hate to tell you this guys, but we knew that much before we ever walked through your doors!

I suppose it's good to know that his carotids showed no signs of plaque build-up, and they saw no abnormalities in his heart that could have caused the stroke, and that he recovered so well that he has no restrictions on his activities.  Still, if they can't tell me exactly what caused this one, how on earth do we keep him from having another one?  One that might not be nearly so kind?

There is one good thing that came out of this though.  I think John is a lot more afraid of ending up like his dad than he is of keeling over from a heart attack, so even though by-pass surgery wasn't enough to make him change his ways for long, maybe this will be.  If not, it appears that I now have two strong compadres who have stepped up to the plate, to relieve me of some of my nagging duties.  When we got home from the hospital, we discovered that the kids had taken it upon themselves to rearrange the furniture down in the Man Cave. His leather recliner has been relegated to the corner, and his exercise bike has taken its place in front of the TV, but that wasn't all.  Lex bought a program and installed it on his computer, which will cause the screen to go black whenever he's been sitting there for more than an hour, and Austin gifted us with two of his favorite "Clean Eating" cookbooks!  While my hubby would have been majorly pissed had I taken it upon myself to do any of this, he thinks it's kinda funny and sweet that they cared enough to go to all this trouble.  I shoulda put them in charge of nagging years ago!

Now, this is not to say I wouldn't rush right back to the hospital if he showed any signs that he was having another one.  In fact, this time I wouldn't wait around for his cardiologist to call us back, and I wouldn't bother driving him all the way to Austin myself.  I'd dial 911 right off the bat and have an ambulance get him there as fast as they possibly could, for you see, the one thing we did learn was that, when it comes to strokes, time is of the essence.  There is a special medication that they can administer, to help minimize the damage, but only if they get to you within three hours of the incident.  After that it's too late.  So let me pass on to you what at least 4 or 5 people in the ER tried to press home with me:  When it comes to any kind of one-side-weakness, slurred speech, or any other symptoms that might lead you to suspect a stroke, you are NEVER over-reacting if you call 911!


I did it!  I finally did it!  I actually blew my hubby away with a wonderful Christmas present that he had no clue about!  And I didn't just shock and amaze him.  I made him Boo Hoo!  What was this splendiferous gift you ask?  Well, first you need some background.

If you recall, in the post called My Sentimental Soulmate, I told you that John hangs onto every memento, and I don't save much of anything.  I just can't see the point in having all that clutter spilling out from every available space in our small house.  I write stories and take pictures instead.  Last summer however, while at a party at High-School-Debbie's house, I happened to notice that my hubby was mesmerized by something of hers -- something which I had admired myself.  I called her a short time later and got the low-down on it, then Lexie and I went to work.

OK, somebody really needs to give me a lesson on how to photograph stuff that's behind glass with my little point and shoot camera!
Lex came over one day and we went on a little treasure hunt down in the Man Cave.  We dug through every one of my hubby's little hidey holes, pulling out a photo and a set of dog tags here...
a turquoise bracelet and a couple of glamorous cigarette holders there, then we loaded up our booty and took it over to our new artisan friend in San Marcos, to let her work her magic.  Here is what we ended up with:
All those little gee gaws have morphed from mere dust-catchers to works of art -- art which I am proud to have on display, and which brings a tear to my hubby's eye each time he sees it.  Best of all, it's art that tells a story.  It reminds my kids that their grandparents were so much more than the sick, feeble, somewhat grumpy people they remember, and someday it will tell our grandkids a bit about who and where they came from.

Though John didn't get to open them on Christmas, they did make a pretty dang wonderful Welcome-Home-From-The-Hospital gift. There's just one problem.  How will I ever top, or even come close to, this gift in years to come?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


As fun as it is to sit and watch my three nerds play with their various gizmos for hours on end, and as much as I've been enjoying the not-so-gourmet meals that the hospital has been cranking out in those trailers on the back lot, while their kitchen and cafeteria undergo a complete overhaul, yesterday at lunch I finally decided that I was ready for a brief change of scenery.  Since the kids and I were craving us some fajitas, we decided to head over to the old, original Chuy's -- just up 1st Street from the hospital, on Barton Springs Rd.

This place is Color-Mad!
Did you know that Chuy's has a secret salsa, one that you have to ask for?  It's that creamy jalapeno sauce hiding beneath Lexie's wrist, and it's uber yummy on both chips and fajitas!
The Elvis shrine in their entryway.
Love, love, love those gazing balls embedded in the wall, and those old drive-in-movie speakers mounted along the railing!
Could there be a better place to put a smile on all our faces?

Well, guess it's time to step away from the computer and head back down to the hospital.  They are doing another kind of echocardiogram on John this morning -- a TEE, or Transesophageal Echo.  Same type of ultrasound picture, but this one is taken from inside the chest, rather than out.  Anyhoo, I sure don't want to miss out on hearing what the doctors have to say about it, so guess I'd better skeedaddle!

Monday, December 26, 2011


I never thought I'd say this but, thank God for geeky gifts!  Turns out they are just the thing to help cheer up a nerdy guy who's had some rather disappointing news.

If you are a fan of the TV show Big Bang Theory, as we are, perhaps you will recognize "Soft Kitty",  given to Lex by her dear brother.  It actually sings Sheldon's favorite lullaby!
You see, one of the partners from our cardiologist's group did finally take a look at John's echo but, unfortunately, he thought he saw something around one of John's valves.  Keep in mind that the following message came to me second-hand, via someone who was trying to convince me, and himself, that he should be allowed to check out of the hospital for a few days and come back later. "He said chances are it didn't have anything to do with causing the stroke, but he won't know for sure until he does another test.  Trouble is, they can't get it scheduled before Tuesday at the earliest.  He said it's up to me if I want to check out and go home until then."  I stared at him for a minute, until he finally went on, saying "Well, he did say he would prefer it if I stayed in the hospital, since we lived so far away. That way if anything did happen, I'd already be here."  We opted to stay.  Now the kids and I just have to figure out how to keep him entertained today, so that he doesn't pull out what little hair he has left.  If only he liked playing cards!

It looked like an ordinary blue stress ball at first, except that it was encased in black netting.  When you squeeze it, big green puss-like globules bulge out through the netting, then return when you release.  So very disturbing!
The "Trouble with Tribbles" is that, once they get to vibrating and making all their Tribble noises, they can launch themselves right outta your lap, and when you're laughing so hard you can barely breathe, it's very difficult to catch those critters and find their cut-off switch!

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Well, it certainly wasn't the Christmas we had planned...
but it turned out too be a pretty darn good one, nonetheless. Thursday evening daughter Lex and I were both rubbing our hands together in glee, saying this was going to be the best Christmas ever -- she because of the very special someone she'd be sharing it with, and I because of the fabulous surprise gifts I came up with for my hubby.  The very next morning hubby woke up with numbness down the entire right side of his body.  Well, we all knew what that meant, and it's pretty much our worst nightmare, considering how his poor dad spent his final years.  We rushed him straight to the hospital over in Austin.

They did CAT scans, sonograms of carotid arteries, and finally, an MRI, which verified that he had indeed had a mild stroke.  The good news was that he was still completely lucid, could talk, and could walk around on his own.  The neurologist said there wasn't anything he could do for him, so he gave orders for a physical therapist to come evaluate him.  We sat around the hospital all day yesterday waiting for that, chomping at the bit to be home with the three kids and grand dog who were now there.  No one ever showed up though, and my hubby was one sad puppy when I left the hospital last night.

This morning we decided that, if he couldn't come home for Christmas, we'd just have to take Christmas to him -- at least the stocking part, which he loves most of all!

John scurries around, adding to the various stockings all the extra stuff that he picked up after we agreed that they each had enough, and we were done shopping!
Nothing makes that man happier than watching his loved ones open their prezzies!
Guess who showed up while we were there?  The therapist!  She made him walk all around the hallways unassisted and climb some stairs, tested the strength in his hands, arms and legs, asked him a million questions, then pronounced that he needed no therapy and had a clean bill as far as she was concerned. Woohoo!  The doctor at the hospital ordered an "echo", to make sure none of this has affected his heart.  The only problem now is getting someone in to "read" the test.  They weren't wanting to do that until tomorrow, but John's doctor is doing his best to find someone who will go ahead and do it today, so they can let that boy come home and open those super-duper presents that are still waiting for him here.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Our first kiddo arrives today, and apart from a bit of baking, which she will gladly help me do...

(Remember my super-duper ideas for presents that will finally manage to blow my hubby away, for the first time in 40 years?  They are hiding under this quilt, in the back of my little car!  Shhh, don't tell!)

 well, I guess we're as ready as we'll ever be.  Up, up, and away!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Lex, making Burgundy Beef for us last Christmas -- she was a wee bit nervous about setting it aflame!
I woke up in a bit of a panic yesterday morning.  It must have suddenly come to me in the middle of the night that, though I usually just have my kids and any Christmas house-guests here for three or four days at most, this year is going to be a little bit different.  Lex is coming over early, possibly tomorrow or Thursday, while Austin is coming in at the last minute, but will probably stay through New Years.  Plus, we may have one or both of their special friends here for part of that time, and maybe our friends the Sanfords.  Anywho, the thought that jolted me awake that morning was, what can I feed them for all that time, without having to be in the kitchen, all day, every day?

We have a beautiful beef tenderloin that will be our main Christmas dinner, and it's so big that I should be able to slice several steaks off of it before roasting it, with which I can make John's favorite Steak au Poivre another night.  I don't mind cooking.  In fact, I'm quite fond of it.  I'm not, however, quite as fond of cleaning up one big mess after another, and I'd rather spend more of my time enjoying these friends and family, and not so much by myself in the kitchen (my kitchen only has room for one or two people at a time).  So, here's what I'm wondering.  What are your very favorite things to cook for a crowd -- easy things that you can prepare in advance, or which freeze well, so you can pull them out again later on and have a ready-made meal, or things from which you can use the leftovers to make something totally different, so it won't seem like you are eating the very same thing two nights in a row?  My sister-in-law Priscilla is a pro at this, I know, for when she still worked full-time, she said she only cooked from scratch a couple of nights per week, but they managed to eat quite well off of it all week long.  I'm hoping she will be the first to contribute some good recipes!  What about the rest of you?

Monday, December 19, 2011


I happen to know a very talented young designer, Alexis Lane of Lane Design Studio.  She made an exciting discovery recently, which she wished to share with you:

Growing up I heard more than once that I look just like my mother. My favorite story to tell is about a woman who stopped the two of us at a shopping center and said “Well don’t you two just look like Pete and Repeat!” I more than just look like my mother, though. We share quite a few personality quirks, one of which is that I get a little Color Mad myself. 
As a kid my favorite activities always involved paint, markers, or anything else bright and shiny I could get my hands on. When trying to figure out what career path to take without becoming a starving artist, it was Mom who steered me in the right direction with “Uh, Lex, did you consider Interior Design?” So, yes, I have a bit of a thing for color.
I hope you understand, then, when I say that I got a little misty eyed when I discovered the website Design Seeds. This website by Jessica Colaluca creates beautiful color palates inspired by photographs taken from nature and other fun images. The results are breathtaking. I have a feeling a few of these might work their way into some of my designs very soon! 

Sunday, December 18, 2011


I'm almost there, but not quite.  As soon as Mr. Santa heads off to do some Santa-y things for a few hours, I should be able to finish up, and then I can get this...
 and this...
 and this...
 and this...
outta my bedroom!