Saturday, November 17, 2012


Man-oh-man, I'm getting so behind in my Wild Art 2 class! I haven't done a thing all week, what with having to fetch and spread mulch last weekend, being in Houston Tuesday and Wednesday, then being in Austin all day Thursday for John's MRI/MRA. It wouldn't really matter, since you have a full year's access to the videos and are free to go at your own speed. It's just that it's a lot more fun when you are keeping pace with the majority of the participants who started taking it right along with you, when the class first opened. That way you're all sharing photos of your work over on the class facebook page, swapping tips, answering questions, and just generally being inspired by one another.

The other problem with being behind is that I've, umm, well, already found another, er, new class to take -- Christy Tomlinson's 12 Artsy Ornaments of Christmas , and it starts real soon! Yeah, yeah, I know -- I swore I would never overlap classes again, since it makes me lose focus, and I end up not getting as much bang for my buck out of either one. Buh-buh-but this one is a Christmas class, with twelve different teachers (including old faves Christy and Junelle, and lots of possible future faves!), teaching twelve different projects to decorate your home and tree with during the holidays! Now I ask you, how on earth is a gal supposed to resist something as fun as that -- especially if she's a Christmas-Crazy gal like me?

Friday, November 16, 2012


I'm not much into scented products anymore. Most of them are just too overwhelming, and end up giving me a stopped up nose and a whopper of a headache. Just about the only things I still use are:

  • my Alexandra perfume, since people are always coming up to me when I wear it, to tell me how good it smells, but after the first few seconds, I can't smell it at all
  • my swirly patterned lamp bergere, and a Christmasy fragrance for it called Red Currant, because, unlike those stick diffuser thingys, you can just put the lid back on if the fragrance gets too strong
  • the wonderful blood orange scented bath soap from Nectar, which my hubby occasionally gifts me with
  • this candle. I love, love, love this candle.
I decided to light it, for the first time this season, when I was sitting in the dark this morning, waiting for the sun to come up. Then I ended up writing about it in my journal, which got me to thinkin' that maybe I should tell you about it.

The first thing I love about it is its scent -- a light, fresh scent much like the one I use in my lamp bergere, which they tout as a Christmas scent, but which I don't mind smelling all year long. I like it that it's a hand-poured soy wax candle, made here in the U.S.A., by a company called Paddy Wax. 

I love it that the green glass and pretty label fit perfectly with the rest of my decor.

Best of all, I love it that they are recycling old wine bottles to make these containers. Yes, you do have to make sure to keep the wick in the center of the jar, and stop using the candle before you get too close to the bottom, as the recycled glass could crack if it comes in direct contact with the flame, but that's a small price to pay, is it not? The back label explains all this, and even tells you how to put it in the freezer at the end, so the remaining wax pops right out, and you can use the container for other things. With that snugly fitting wooden lid that comes with it, it could become a beautiful and oh-so-practical storage container when I'm done with the candle. In fact, I'm picturing a whole row of these little beauties lined up on my kitchen hutch, a.k.a. the wee little studio, holding all my small bits and bobs. What about you? What would you use them for?

Is there anything better than a gift that keeps on giving? Now if only my hubby could remember where he got it!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Would you think me terrible if I told you how much I love, love, love my hubby's periodic trips to the Houston medical center? The thing is, the actual visit with his hypertension specialist takes only an hour or two at most, and doesn't involve any painful pokes or procedures, so there's nothing at all for him to dread -- and you just wouldn't believe how much fun we manage to pack into the other 30 or so hours of the trip! When my friend Paula saw my last post, about being up with the chickens for our trip to Houston, she assumed it was because we wanted to drive there and back on the same day. Au contraire. It was merely to provide more hours for fun!

This week's trip was the absolute best! It started off with me popping in an audio book (driver gets to choose, so I chose a Christmas story by Richard Paul Evans, called Promise Me) and hubby grousing all the way to Houston about my forcing him to listen to such a sappy story, but never dozing off once -- and I even caught him sniffling a time or two!

We usually stop for lunch at Beck's Prime as we pull into Houston. I never eat burgers in Wimberley. There is no one there that makes a burger worthy of all those heart-clogging calories. Beck's, however, makes an old fashioned char-grilled hickory burger that transports me straight back to my childhood with each and every bite. Sooooo worth the calories. But, because my hubby was packed and tapping his foot at the door an hour before we'd planned to leave that morning, we were in Houston by 10:00 -- a little too early for lunch, even for me. Fortunately, Beck's is right next door to a wonderful garden center that goes all out for the holidays -- not the one I used to work at, but the one I always went to spy on when I was looking for merchandising inspiration -- and this was the very best time to see it all, before things got picked over and depleted. If you don't think me a fruitcake already, you surely will when I tell you that I sang and danced my way down the aisles of almost every store we went into. You think I exaggerate? Just ask my hubby! To me, the week before Thanksgiving -- when decorations and holiday merchandise are out, carols are playing, and twinkle lights festoon everything, but the frenzy has yet to take hold -- is the most magical time of the year. Possibility abounds!

After lunch we headed down Westheimer to the big Crate & Barrel store. How long have I been talking about getting some plain white dishes now? Months? Years? Well, after looking at just about every place possible, I finally circled back to the very first place I looked, and bought the very first pattern that caught my eye (isn't that the way it always goes?) -- the ones with rings and ridges! You know how I love rings and ridges. Just in the nick of time for Thanksgiving, no? Crate & Barrel is another store I used to frequent for merchandising inspiration, and being there in the middle of the week, just before Thanksgiving, was the bomb, I tell you. The absolute bomb!

From there we went to check into the same fabulous B&B, Robin's Nest, that we stayed in last time, and had just enough time for a little rest before heading down to the medical center. John's blood pressure had been the best in years, as long as he was taking that special, short-term medication to prevent the vasospasms that often follow an aneurysm. Once he finished his two-week course, however, we began seeing occasional spikes up to 150 again, which was worrisome. Well, as it turns out, that particular medication is a calcium channel blocker, and there are other versions of those that you can take long term, in much lower doses. In fact, that's what both his brother and our friend Paula are taking, and with very good results, so I'm kinda surprised that with the dozens of different medications Hubby has been on over the years, that is not one either of his cardiologists has ever prescribed. Anywho, he is now on a very low dose of one called Norvasc/amlodipine (generic), and we are hoping that will even things out a bit. Fingers crossed!

We topped the day off with a trip to the world's best art supply store and dinner at a wonderful Tuscan bistro with old friends from the garden center, then we crawled into bed and lay there discussing the twists and turns of the story we had been listening to on the drive down, and predicting how it might possibly turn out. John guessed right, much to his delight!

Breakfast the next morning reminded me just why B&B's are so much better than chain hotels.  Not only was it a gourmet feast, but the owner is the consumate hostess, who joins us at the table each morning and makes sure that the guests get introduced to one another, and share a little bit about themselves. We ended up having such an amazing discussion about sustainability, with a couple who were filmmakers (the husband was from France, the wife American) and a fellow from Italy who was there to work with some people at the University of Houston, that we hated to get up from the table. That just doesn't happen in your chain hotels! We finally dragged ourselves away to do a bit of pre-crowds Christmas shopping at the mall, where we happened to run into our favorite waiter from what was our favorite Chinese restaurant in all of Houston which, unfortunately, has since closed down (probably because we moved away!). He did, however, tip us off to another one that was almost as good, so we spent a little time watching skaters spin around the ice rink, watched moms trying to calm screaming kids who did NOT want to sit on Santa's lap, even if he was the most beautifully kind and authentic looking one I had ever seen, then headed off for a yummy Chinese lunch on our way out of town.

I can hardly wait until his next doctor's appointment!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Well, we're up with the chickens this morning, headed out for a visit with John's hypertension specialist in Houston.

Now that I think about it, I don't guess I ever told you that his follow-up with his "neurointerventional" surgeon went really well this week. He's fairly certain that it was a vein bleed, not an artery; that the chances are almost nil of it happening again; and best of all, that there's no good reason for John not to drive or do whatever he feels up to doing. Woohoo!

So ta ta for now. Catch ya later!

Monday, November 12, 2012


Looks like I got my truck-load of mulch spread just in the nick of time. For some reason I always seem to be doing it as a cold front is blowing in, so that the wind is whipping the little wood slivers into my eyes and mouth. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, huh? At least this time I remembered to take my contacts out first! It dropped into the low-to-mid forties last night, and will be in the thirties the next several nights in a row, with highs in the sixties. We've been flipping back and forth for awhile, but I'm thinkin' this is "the one" -- the one that blows the last of our summer-like temps away for good.

Which means, much as it breaks my heart, it's time to take winter seriously. All those gorgeous succulents in my yard, that have just reached their zenith in color and size, are liable to turn to withered brown mush if we have a hard freeze. Every time we have a wither with lots of freezes, like last year, I swear that I will not plant anything in my garden that isn't extremely cold hardy. I really, really hate having to run out to water and cover a bunch of plants when it's bitter cold outside!

But then, come spring, I head out to the nurseries, and there are those beautiful tables full of colorful succulents spread out before me, and, well, once again I succumb! Last year I dug up lots of the pups and wintered them over in our garage utility room, then planted them in the beds in spring. They are still quite small, so I just left them there and covered them with mounds of mulch. The tops will probably wither, but hopefully they will continue to develop their root systems, and have a head start next spring. Those leaves that broke off are hardening off on the porch, and will get stuck into pots today. Some of the medium-sized plants got planted into the container you see above, and will spend the winter in the house. But what to do about the big and beautiful?

Though it killed my soul to do it, I dug up the gorgeous Sticks of Fire (aka Pencil Cactus) that have been doing so well down in the Cantina Garden, and moved them to a pot upstairs, right by the front door. I knew that after a couple of times of having to drag sheets and blankets down there in freezing wind and rain, I'd eventually just say "Screw it!", and stay snuggled up inside where it was warm.

However, if they are right here by the front door, staring me in the face, guilt will get the best of me. I even thought to put a metal stake in the pot, so that when I toss a cover over it, it won't break the fragile stems.

I am so crazy in love with how these concrete urns look, filled with Cow's Tongues and Donkey Ears, I seriously thought about putting them on dollies and moving them in and out of the house or garage all winter long, but the urns are unbelievably heavy, and there are steps to be maneuvered in front of both buildings. So, seeing as how they aren't too far from the front door either, it might be easier just to cover them as well. We'll see how it goes.

It looks like those Donkey Ears are pretty cold sensitive, as they started to discolor after that dip into the low forties last night.

Fortunately, there are lots of pups hidden under and on the tips of the mother plants, so, if nothing else, those should survive the winter if well covered or potted up, and I won't have to start over from scratch next spring.

Here's what I'm thinking though. I'm thinkin' I either gotta get over this crazy succulent obsession, or I need to break down and get me a greenhouse! What do you think?