Saturday, December 10, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011


The tree at my favorite "open air" shopping center, Town & Country.
The coziest place to kill time, while waiting for the bookstore to open?  La Madeleine!
They make a darn good cup of hot chocolate there.
Whoever does the container gardens and seasonal color at this shopping center does a fantastic job.  I should know.  That's what I did for a living when we lived in Dallas!
This is where I met my boys for lunch.  Hmm, we seem to have a "French" theme going on here today, don't we?
The French have this cozy thing down!
Ooh la la!  My son's French Onion Soup was to die for!  I've got the onions.  Has anyone got a great recipe?
Bistro Provence is where my hubby used to take me for romantic celebrations, when we lived nearby.
Last stop of the day was Cornelius Nursery.  Not as cool as Buchanans, where I used to work, but a fun place to browse. Too bad they'd already sold out on most of their Christmas decor -  by the first week in December!!!


If you live anywhere in southernmost Texas or the south-coastal U.S., now is the time when fresh citrus abounds.  We don't, but we happen to have a really nice contractor that we've enjoyed working with on several remodel/repair projects.  He showed up on our porch out of the blue the other day, with a bushel basket in his arms.  Guess what was in it?  This!
Lemons and oranges and limes, oh my!  Not to mention all the grapefruit, and three avocados (one of which was served as "avocado vinaigrette" with our dinner last night).  With just the two of us here, I'm not so sure we can eat our way through all of this before it starts to go bad.  So I was wondering, anybody got some great recipes or ideas for using any of this, other than the following one?

Thursday, December 8, 2011


The first day I was in Houston, I dropped my hubby off at work, spent an hour or so at my favorite bagel joint, then headed for Memorial City Mall.  Why would I spend most of the day at a mall, when I don't even like to shop?  Because I love, love, looooove to people watch.  And take pictures.  Not long after I got there, I paused to gaze at a window display (I'm an ex-merchandiser, if you recall) when suddenly I heard a jingling noise approaching.  I spun around just in time to see this guy go by.  Instead of spurs on his heels, he had bells!  I decided to follow him.
 I followed him past the most magical indoor playground I've seen in any mall...
past the little choo-choo train, whose overall-clad engineer had just hung a "be right back" sign on it and snuck out the door, before I could nab a picture of him...
and past the most inviting fireplace I've ever seen.
I got distracted for a bit, watching some skaters practice their leaps and spins.  I thought I had lost him!  But, then, I saw this:
So, what would induce parents to take time off from work, just to stand in a line still so long that some of those toddlers were sure to suffer meltdown long before reaching their destination?  This:
Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.  The most beautiful, authentic Claus ever!  No padding, nor wig, nor beard did he don.

The whole experience reminded me of one of the things I am so very grateful for these days: the gift of freedom -- the freedom to avoid the chaotic craziness of weekend shopping, and to visit a mall mid-week instead...when all is calm...all is bright!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I should have been hiking up Enchanted Rock with the Muses last Saturday, to celebrate Outdoor Woman’s Big-Six-Oh.  Thankfully, um, I mean regretfully, we got rained out and had to postpone it.  Since we couldn’t let the day go uncelebrated, we had to come up with Plan B on the fly.  A volley of emails and phone calls bounced back, forth and diagonally across the Wimberley valley, with everyone tossing out suggestions, until finally O.W. said “I hope this isn’t too much to ask, but to tell you the truth, my favorite place to dine is Chez Becky.  Would you consider making some more of those Havarti-Pecan Quesadillas for us, and letting us just hang at your place?”
Well, to be perfectly honest, my first impulse was to say, “Are you nuts?  With no advance warning and only two or three hours to get ready?  Not only no, but hell no!”  You see, all those great housekeeping routines that I was learning from Fly Lady, around this same time last year, sorta went by the wayside when hubby moved up here full-time.  He’s just so darn good at being spontaneous, and suggesting activities that sound so much more enticing than mopping or dusting (which more than makes up for him being not so good at putting things away when he’s done with them). Then, however, I remembered!  Just the day before I had decided “Enough with the clutter!”, and finally got around to clearing the dining table of our various projects and detritus, packed up the Christmas wrap crate and hid it in a corner of our bedroom, and pulled out the beautiful red and sage green jacquard tablecloth that I treated myself to in Provence.  I’d even cleared off the kitchen counters!
Better yet, I actually had 3/4 of a bacon and arugula quiche in my fridge, leftover from our dinner, and just enough of my homegrown tomatoes to make some more of the baked tomatoes and goat cheese with the crunchy, garlicky breadcrumb topping that I had served with it.  Why, I even had some vanilla bean ice cream in the freezer, and bottles of Cassis and Kahlua that we could drizzle over it.  A little voice started whispering “Becky, you can do this!”, and before I could change my mind, I shot off an email to them all which read “You’re on!  12:00!  My house!”
I got dressed and went to Mima’s, where I enjoyed a yummy breakfast taco and a crossword puzzle, and picked up a dozen of their fluffy, handmade tortillas to take home with me.  Next stop was the grocery store, where I nabbed some more Havarti and a bottle of O.W.’s favorite wine.  Last stop was the Sugar Shack, where I picked up a little mini version of their fabulous chocolate-espresso cake -- the same one they make for The Leaning Pear Cafe.
Once home, all I had to do was pop the quiche and tomatoes into the oven, pull out the wonderful winter dishes I stumbled across in an Indonesian market about 20 years ago (the irony of that still puts a smile on my face each time I use them) and grate the cheese.  When the girls arrived, I sipped wine and supervised while they assembled and sauteed their own quesadillas, and I came off looking like Martha-Freakin’-Stewart. My Momma woulda been so dang proud!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Believe me, I'm not about to complain about all the rain we've had lately, but there is one teeny tiny downside.  It has a bad habit of knocking out my internet connection!  I wrote a nice long blog post for you this morning, but before I could push the publish button, I lost my connection.  Kept hoping it would come back before we headed off to Houston, but it never did.  (I decided to tag along with my hubby to do a couple of days of Christmas shopping while he does a couple of days of work.)  Guess the blog post will have to wait until I get back.  See ya soon!