Saturday, January 14, 2012


Oh my, my.  I can't believe I never got around to sharing these pictures from the second model home that Lexi and I toured on our little outing last month.  Guess it was all those "distractions" that popped up right around Christmas!
This one was kind of strange.  It looks like a two-story doesn't it? Well, it's not, unless Lex and I somehow missed the stairs altogether (we went around twice, just to be sure).  In fact, it had just two bedrooms, and one living area, with no office or study -- kind of odd for such an upscale house.  What it did have going for it were the two wonderful porches outside...
gorgeous colors and lush fabrics inside...

Love the antique door used as a headboard
More of the rich earth tones that I love so much.
and a couple of pieces of furniture that I would give my eye teeth for -- the funky chair below, and the matching credenza-like thingy pictured in the first photo above.

It sits low to the ground, like my comfy adirondacks.
Not only did they both make me a wee bit color mad, I just can't stop thinking of different ways in which I could use them.  For instance, the cabinet thingy could be a potting bench of sorts, on the little porch in front of my someday utility room/potting shed.  Or, I could put the chair there instead, as a comfy place to relax with a cool beverage between chores. Or, I could put them both on my balcony porch, to use as a buffet and extra seating when we dine out there. Or, what about on the porch down by the Cantina Garden!  Or...oh my.  I do so love a versatile piece of furniture!

Friday, January 13, 2012


We had some gorgeous, sunny days in the 70's this week, which prompted me to get out in the garden and do a little winter housekeeping.  It was an excellent opportunity to see which plants looked best in winter, and which ones had really grown a lot this past year.  For instance, those red yuccas in the big pots started out as small centerpieces which I surrounded with lots of other plants, but now they pretty much fill the pots all on their own.  All they need is some sort of trailing plant to spill down the sides of the pots --  if only I could find one that deer didn't love!  Since repetitive chores like trimming back clump after clump of ornamental grasses, inland sea oats, flopping asparagus fronds and mushy succulents is just the kind of activity that always causes my brain to switch over to its right-side, contemplative, creative mode, I soon found myself receiving spurts of inspiration, picturing which new plants would be perfect for a particular spot, or which plants could be moved closer to certain others, so that their colors and textures could play off of one another.
Since deer love most of my usual winter-color plants, like pansies and such, I instead added several ornamental cabbages and kales to my lettuce and herb beds this year, for extra pops of color.
Last year I was inspired to plant redbor kale next to my red-veined sorrel.  Loved it, so of course, added more this year.  Recently I brought several new plants home to test, favorites of the Arnosky's out at their flower farm.  They're a dianthus called Amazon.  None have bloomed yet, but the stems have taken on a beautiful magenta color.
Unfortunately, I planted them on the opposite side of the garden from these beautiful magenta cabbages.  I'm not sure what color the dianthus blooms will be, but if they are in the pinky-purple-burgundy (or maybe even peachy-coral?) family, and if they don't prove to be too much of a deer magnet (deer aren't supposed to like dianthus much, but you never know) then there will definitely be a lot more of them in the garden next year, mixed in amongst these cabbages and kales! Also, if these gorgeous yarrows and lambs' ears manage to survive our fetid summer ok, there will be a lot of them mixed in those beds as well.  They've added a lot of lush texture to the winter beds this year, and their lovely greys and greens would be a perfect backdrop for those electric pops of fuchsia, don't you think?
The next morning when I went out to snap these pictures, I found someone there, surveying my work.
She looked straight at me, then nodded her head several times, before turning to walk away.  She might have been saying "Good job, Beck!  It looks much neater now."  But, most likely, it was more along the lines of "Mmmmmmm.  Yummy!"

Thursday, January 12, 2012


The Muses celebrated another birthday this week, and you know what that means -- good food and good galleries!  It started with an awesome exhibition at the Blanton called El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa...
ended with a Will Klemm exhibition at a neat little gallery down on 6th Street...

Wow, those mannequins look so lifelike!
and in between, we took a trip back in time at Nau's Enfield Drug.
Cherry-Limeade For Me
Root-Beer Floats For Them
My peeps?  They know how to celebrate!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Guess what I got for Christmas?  A farm!  A mushroom farm!! An oyster mushroom mushroom farm, to be precise (my very favorite kind) albeit, a somewhat compact one.  Wanna see it?

According to the package, I should be able to grow up to 1 1/2 lbs. of tasty oyster mushrooms right from this box.  All I have to do is remove that little perforated section of cardboard, cut a "+" in the soil bag (actually, they use recycled coffee grounds for soil), mist it with water a couple of times a day, et Voila!  In about 10 days or so, we'll be savoring delicious oyster mushrooms sauteed in butter, garlic and a splash of vino for supper.  At least, I hope we will.
When I've harvested all from that first crop, I should be able to flip the box around, punch out the panel on the other side, and do it all over again for another crop!  How fun is that?  Of course, the sweet friend who gave this to me probably paid more for the kit than it would cost to buy an equivalent amount of mushrooms at the farmers' market, but, hey!  You can not put a price tag on this kind of giddiness, now, can you?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Frustration!  Lots and lots of frustration.  Though all the tests at the hospital, and all the doctors and therapists who conducted them, agreed that my hubby had lost no strength in any of his muscles as a result of his stroke, and that his eyesight had not been affected in any way, we were still rather shocked when they didn't think he needed any physical therapy.  The truth is, he's still suffering from some numbness in his face, hand and foot, and it looked like nobody was going to do a thing about it!  Numbness which makes it just a wee bit harder to tell exactly where things are, which in turn makes it just a wee bit easier to trip on a rug, a threshold, or one's words, and just a bit easier to let something slip from your hand, because you only thought you had a good grip on it.  Of course, each time it happened, it pissed him off royally!  And, as if that isn't enough, his senses of taste and smell are a bit out of whack as well, so nothing tastes right.  As you can well imagine, the first few days home from the hospital were filled with colorful language.

Then we went to see John's own cardiologist, and the first words out of his mouth were "How's the therapy going?"  When we told him it wasn't going, at all, he was incensed.  "That's ridiculous!  You've got to start it as soon after the event as possible -- you can't delay!  It has to be an aggressive attack!"  I almost wept from relief.  John had his first session yesterday, primarily for evaluation purposes.  They are working on his hand coordination this week, and sent him home with some homework exercises and a big wad of silly putty.  Next week they will work on his balance.  They asked him to come in twice a week for a month, and then they will reevaluate.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, January 9, 2012


Have any of you stumbled across Pinterest yet?  I tried to ignore it for several months (as I have been ignoring Twitter for several years now) but when I realized that it was bringing people to my blog, even though I had never once been to the website, and didn't have a clue how it worked, well, I had to go check it out, didn't I?  Imagine how flabbergasted I was to discover that Pinterest had been custom-created just for me!
You see, I am a very visual person.  When I cook, I want recipes with mouthwatering photos attached.  Each time we got transferred, I'd spend weeks pouring through magazines first, tearing out anything that tickled my fancy, until I had assembled an inspiration notebook with a theme, a color scheme, and lots of fun ideas for our next house.  When I worked as a garden designer and a visual merchandiser, I always had an inspiration board hanging on the wall above my desk or drawing table.  When I was brainstorming ideas for my Cantina Garden, I assembled the collage you see above.  I left my mind completely open, and just started pulling images together. When I was done, I knew that the garden had to be fun and funky, with lots of lurid color, striking plants, delicious things to eat, and one-of-a-kind creations.

Unfortunately, in addition to being a very visual person, I am also a very forgetful person.  The "internets" are a veritable wonderland of inspiring images and ideas -- everything from books to read and movies to see, to recipes to save and things to make -- but the problem for me has always been keeping track of the ones I might want to use later, or even finding my way back to one I spotted just moments ago!  But, what if you had a special button on your computer, and every time you stumbled across a great recipe or plant or decorating idea, all you had to do was click that magic button, and whatever it was that you wanted to remember would automatically get pinned up on one of your special inspiration boards -- the ones that cover the walls in your special inspiration room!  That would be awesome, no?  Well, with Pinterest, you can make it so!

Know what I've got in my inspiration room over at Pinterest?  Color! Lots and lots of color!  And a special bulletin board for each of the things I am passionate about.  There are boards for Hill Country Style, for the Cantina Garden, for Bohemian-Hippy-Cowgirl Fashion, for Eats & Treats, for Crafty Things and Creative Reuse, for Books & Movies, for things that drive me Color-Mad, for...well, there's no limit to what I may pin, for I can keep adding new boards whenever I am inspired to!  And, you know what?  If this was all that Pinterest did -- if it was merely a simple way to save and keep track of things you've seen on-line, it would be downright wonderful.  But it's soooo much more than that.

Remember, I started off by saying that Pinterest brought people to my blog before I even knew what it was?  How was that possible? It's possible because Pinterest combines this image-saving magic with social-networking capabilities.  I got new blog visitors because someone out there saw one of my funny little To-Do lists, liked it, and decided to pin it to one of her bulletin boards.  Since all images grabbed by this magic "Pin It" button come with a link back to the place they were found, everyone who sees it on her board can follow it back to its source, and that's the thing.  Over at Pinterest, you don't just sit there admiring your own boards and pins (although, I am seriously fond of doing that), you also get to see what lots of others are pinning too, and they get to see yours.  You can even re-pin stuff from their boards to yours, or "like" their pins, or leave comments. Best of all, if you discover people who like a lot of the same kinds of things as you, you can follow some or all of their boards, and vice-versa!
Now, I'm still a total greenhorn when it comes to all of this, but even I can see that there are ways to "work it", especially if you have something to promote -- say,  design or photography skills, a small craft business or etsy shop, or perhaps, maybe even a blog?  For example, on my Cantina Garden board, I don't just post pictures of things I might want to add some day.  I've also posted some pictures of how it came into being (such as the collage above), and a few pictures of plants and things that are already there -- pictures from my blog.  Yesterday afternoon I "pinned" this photo of pink Muhly grass to my Cantina Garden board -- a photo which was posted on my blog a year or two ago.  Within an hour or two I had received several email notices from Pinterest reporting that 15 or 20 people had already re-pinned that image to their own boards.  Furthermore, when I checked my blog stats later that evening, I found that Pinterest had brought more people to my blog that day (probably through following this little photo back to its source) than either google or facebook!  Amazing, no?