Saturday, November 24, 2012


Austin arrives with laundry -- no time to go to the laundromat before they leave on their big adventure!
What a wonderful Thanksgiving we had this year! Our kiddos each brought their Hunnies this time, and were all atwitter thanks to three of them having newish jobs in their fields of choice, which they are very excited about, and because dear Areej should be heading off to grad school before long, after teaching High School chemistry for three years. She would love to do research into drug-resistant bacteria and cool stuff like that! As if that weren't enough, the two couples are each moving into new digs that they are very, very excited about. Bestest of all? All four would be heading off to Orlando together the very next day, for a long-anticipated visit to Universal Studios and Harry Potter World!

Nothing makes a mom's heart overflow like seeing her kiddos so happy! Well, except maybe for getting to keep her favorite grandpuppy Guinness, while her parents are off on their big adventure...

and knowing that both of her kiddos' partners come from a warm, loving family, have a lot of respect for their parents (one set of which were able to join us), and are quite fond of their siblings -- a bit of a rarity these days!

The icing on the cake was that our BFF's Paula and Tim, who are the most generous, flexible parents-in-law I've ever seen -- always willing to postpone their own small-family celebrations so that they don't interfere with their daughter-in-law's much larger ones that involve a huge extended family -- were free to join us as well! Plus, all my guests brought so much food, the only thing I had to cook was my easy-peasy but oh-so-delicious chili-rubbed pork tenderloins with garlic-cranberry sauce (using a couple of yummy tenderloins from locally raised, happy-happy pigs) -- my easiest Thanksgiving in years!

P.S. The kids only arrived in Orlando late last night, but they must have been up and at 'em at the crack of dawn, for we've already received the first round of photos! I'm guessing Night Owl Nate never bothered to go to bed at all. Unfortunately, I tried to snatch a few of the Harry Potter World photos to share with you here, and they came up as "unallowable". Sorry!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I was over at High-School-Debbie's house the other day, and the entire place was decked out for fall. She's the one that should be blogging about "seasonality", not me! I couldn't resist snapping a pic of this little vignette. I never would have thought of adding a clock to a grouping like this, but it was so stinkin' cute! Her mantle had a similar arrangement, with a big red clock and a green ceramic owl. She always goes all out with her seasonal decorations. Me? I'm just happy that I figured out how to seat ten people in my dining room.

Our dining room table doesn't expand, so I dismantled my "nest" at one end of the room, and added a card table to the end of the larger one. Later, as I was staring at all the tablecloths in my coat closet, trying to find two that would blend ok (I don't have one long enough to cover both tables at once), I suddenly remembered that last year I had stumbled across a little round cloth at the thrift store, for only a dollar or two, that was made out of the exact same fabric as my favorite fall cloth. I had been thinking about making throw pillows out of it or something. Thank goodness I didn't!

Now all I have to do is figure out where to stash all the furniture and stuff that I had to move out of the dining room in order to make this work. I have a feeling it's going to be a "Don't open the bedroom door, whatever you do!" kind of day tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Do you recall how, after returning from our trip to Paris and that river cruise through Provence summer before last, I became a bit obsessed with all things French? Well, although I don't bring it up here on the blog near as often now, the obsession has not faded. Mostly I quench it with books and movies. I've seen Midnight in Paris several times, watched a great mini-series about the original group of Impressionists, read several books about expatriate writers, such as Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, who settled in Paris after WWI, and a fabulous novel about the artist Renoir by Susan Vreeland, called Luncheon of the Boating Party. But I never, in all my life, have read anything as oddly intriguing as the one my hubby gave me for my birthday -- Sacre' Blue: A Comedy d'Art, by Christopher Moore.

While on that trip I realized that my very favorite artist was Vincent van Gogh. The man was absolutely color-mad! So how could I resist a novel whose cover blurb starts out "In July 1890, Vincent van Gogh went into a cornfield and shot himself. Or did he?" Add into the mix a mystery-solving bon vivant count by the name of Toulouse Lautrec, a mad scientist who is determined to create some steam powered leg extensions for him, so that he can "blend into the crowds" more easily, and even a bit of time travel, and well, how could it not be tres amusant? There's history, murder, mayhem, and best of all, muses! Beware though, this book is not for anyone without a quirky sense of humor. The Philadelphia Inquirer calls it "another exceedingly bizarre, often raucous, and consistently delightful journey into the sweetly demented mind of novelist Christopher Moore." Also, Moore's previous titles include Bite Me, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, and Island of the Sequined Love Nun, sooooo, don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, November 19, 2012


The strangest thing happened to me this weekend. We had been to see the new movie Lincoln, and by the time it let out, it was suppertime. When hubby asked me what I was in the mood for, I told him, "Well, you're not gonna believe this, but I suddenly have an overwhelming urge to eat at Luby's cafeteria." I was right, he didn't believe me, but after a moment's hesitation, he finally said, "Whatever floats your boat, Dear." To tell you the truth, I didn't have a clue why I suddenly wanted to go there, since it's usually at the bottom of my list, right down there next to Golden Corral and Chinese buffets. It got me to thinkin', and I finally realized that it must be a Christmas thing, brought on by our recent stroll through that lovely mall in Houston, with its spinning skaters, lilting carols and all those twinkle lights. What has that got to do with Luby's, you ask? Well, every year for about forty years, a few weeks before Christmas, my dad would load all four of his kiddos into the station wagon as soon as he got home from work, and he'd take us to one of the malls in Dallas. First he'd treat us to dinner at Luby's or El Chicos, then we'd "help" him select his Christmas gifts for Mom. In the early years, I'm sure we were more hindrance that help. In the latter, it was the other way around. Still, it was more about our once-a-year outing together than it was about the actual food or shopping.

I'm sure a lot of you get holiday urges based on food, but they are most likely triggered by memories of your female relatives gathering in the kitchen to make traditional treats from The Old Country. My female forebears weren't all that crazy about cooking, and had been in Texas for so many generations, they couldn't remember which country was the old one, so I guess that's why my holiday urges are usually triggered by restaurants.

One year when my kids were very small, we went to Dallas for Christmas. Hubby and I left the kids with my folks one morning, and ran out to grab a few last minute stocking stuffers. We ended up having lunch at Long John Silvers, where we were given some holiday glassware with our purchase. I remember being so giddy over those free glasses, and feeling so footloose and fancy free, having that wee bit of time alone with my hubby. Which is why every year, right before Christmas, though I haven't step foot in one all year long, I suddenly feel the need to take my hubby to Long John's. I think I keep hoping for more free glasses, but they never do that anymore.

When my kids were tweens, we actually moved back to the Dallas area. There was a La Madeleine's restaurant nearby, so one day during the holidays I took Alexis there for a mother-daughter outing. She loved everything about it, especially the bakery shelves filled with yummy things like creme brule and strawberry tarts. Because it was near Christmas, they also had shelves filled with special holiday treats like gingerbread houses and things to give as gifts. She was in heaven, and a new tradition was born.  Oh, how I missed those annual lunch dates, when she moved halfway across the country.

With my son it's more of a winter urge than a holiday one. Whenever it snowed in Dallas, they always shut down the schools. They felt we Texans couldn't be trusted on icy roads, and they were probably right, but that didn't stop us. One year, after about an hour of trying to scrape up enough snow to build a pitiful little snowman, Austin had had enough, so he begged me to take him to the bookstore. After we had made our purchases, we moseyed over to the coffee shop there in the store, bought ourselves some hot chocolate, and sat up on barstools at those window tables, sipping cocoa and reading our new books. After a few minutes Austin turned to me and said, "I declare this to be our new family tradition! From now on, whenever it snows, you have to bring me to a bookstore so we can do this."

Over the past several years, I usually found myself at both La Madeleine and the bookstore during the holidays, but it was never quite the same without my kiddos. But...know what I just realized? For the first time in eight or ten years, both my kids are living less than an hour away. I think it's time to give them each a call, and make a date for the holidays, don't you?