Friday, November 30, 2012


My friend Paula brought me a hostess gift this Thanksgiving, but for some reason, refused to bring it into the house until after all our other guests had left. I wish you could have seen her hubby Tim standing in our doorway, holding this gorgeous, all-but-empty pot in one hand, and a big ol' wad of broken poinsettia branches in the other. We haven't laughed that hard in weeks! Paula said "I swear, it was the biggest, most gorgeous plant you ever saw when we left the house this morning!"

I understood perfectly. I unpacked and displayed many a shipment of these fragile beauties in my years at the nursery, and I know from experience, all you have to do is look at them wrong, for those branches to start snapping off!

To tell you the truth, I'm kind of glad it happened. If I just had your normal-looking poinsettia sitting there on my counter, I would have got so used to it being there after a while that I'd stop really seeing it. But this little Charlie Brown poinsettia? Why, it gives me a whopper of a belly laugh each time I pass it, 'cause I can't help but picture Tim standing there with all those branches in his hand!

Besides, I would have gone bonkers over this pot if they had handed it to me dead empty. Do those colors scream "BECKY!" or what?

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Have I mentioned lately how much I love all the info, about what it actually means to be an introvert, that has been popping up on the internet lately? Just yesterday my friend Linda,  over at A Slice of Life Writing, led me to a whole book that has been written about us. It's called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. Judging from the snippets I have read online, I really need to get my hands on a copy. It explains sooooo much about about three out of four members of my little family. Well, actually, it explains a lot about the fourth one too!

Linda also led me to this great little video on how to tell whether you are a closet introvert! Yes, believe it or not, a lot of us have been trained to pretend to be extroverts, because that is what is popular in our society today, while being a "thinker"is seen as a fault. It taught me that extroverts recharge by talking, while introverts recharge with periods of silence. Also, they often communicate better in writing than they do orally. Sound like anyone you know? I'm guessing there are a whole lotta bloggers out there who are introverts! This could explain a lot about what drew me to my hubby in the first place. He was the first guy I ever went out with where I didn't feel compelled to make non-stop perky chit-chat. He never got twitchy when I lapsed into silence. I HATE having to make idle chit-chat, and with him, I'd finally found someone with whom I was comfortable being quiet. This could also explain why our relationship took huge leaps forward when we were furthest apart (and forced to communicate via the postal service, in writing), but sometimes stalled out when we had to rely solely upon our verbal skills.

Perhaps this is why we both fell madly in love with this oddball little house (so many quiet little nooks and crannies where we can each go to ponder) and why the big, open cavernous house in Katy was my least favorite of all -- there was just no place to hide from all the noise!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


My sister-in-law and her Cajun momma would be horrified to know this, but I never bother to save my turkey carcasses. For one thing, I never have room in my small freezer for them. For another, turkey soup just never sounded all that appealing to me, especially when it involved boiling up a carcass. I don't even own a pot that would hold an entire turkey carcass!

This year, as with the past several, my Thanksgiving feast centered around a pork dish, but I did break down and buy a smoked turkey breast as well, for those who felt it just wasn't Thanksgiving without it, and so we could enjoy a few turkey sandwiches later. I was about to toss the carcass when I realized there was still an awful lot of meat on it. Plus, the breast being much smaller than a whole turkey, I knew I could easily squeeze it into my freezer drawer. So in it went, until I could decide what to do with it. A couple of days later a light bulb went off, and I suddenly remembered the recipe for Turkey Enchilada Verde Soup that Lisa Fain had posted on her blog Homesick Texan a few days before. I remembered thinking, "now there's a turkey soup I could actually get on board with!" So, I moved the carcass back up to the refrigerator to defrost, listed everything I would need to make it, and headed off to San Marcos to do some shopping.

The only problem was that, after four hours of Christmas shopping I was exhausted, and could hardly bear the thought of heading over to the ginormous HEB that is always packed with college kids. The first half of the recipe involves making salsa verde from scratch, but it does give you the option of using canned tomatillos if you can't find fresh. I was still in Target at the time, and though this store didn't cary any fresh produce, they did have some canned goods. I ran over to the grocery section to see if I could nab me some tomatillos. Nope, 'fraid not, but I did find a big ol' jar of Herdez Salsa Verde, already prepared. I weighed my options and decided, what the hey, it's worth a try.

The little turkey breast "frame" fit perfectly into the oval Le Creuset pot that Santa brought last year, and it only took about 30 minutes of simmering it in water to end up with enough good broth and all the meat I needed for the soup. Plus, by skipping the whole bit about making your own salsa, the rest of the recipe came together in a jiff! I thought it was delicious myself, but what really tickled me to death was that my hubby, whose taste buds were severely affected by a stroke last Christmas, and who has all but lost his enjoyment of food, said "Know what Beck? That was actually pretty good!" Happy Dance! Happy Dance!

P.S. Speaking of doing the Happy Dance, did you see those two little tomatoes on the counter next to my soup pot? That's my first harvest from the new covered beds we tried out this fall. So far, the deer and raccoons haven't paid them any mind whatsoever, even though they are sitting right out there in the open. Woohoo! There's a bunch of larger tomatoes about ready to come ripe. I probably should have gone ahead and picked them green, since we were due to dip down into the 30s last night, but I just couldn't do it. I decided to drape the mesh tents with sheets instead, and see what happened. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Alas, c'est vrai, it's true -- the wee little studio is no more.

But all is not lost, my friends. Say Bon Jour to the Not-So-Wee Little Studio!

Of course, it's still a work in progress, but we're getting there. I think I'm gonna like it!

Monday, November 26, 2012


Know what job scares the bejeezus outta me? That of becoming a mother-in-law. Judging from what all my friends tell me, it kinda sucks. But, as I seem to recall, being a daughter-in-law ain't all that easy either -- at least, not in the early days. Why do you suppose that is?

Now, don't get me wrong. I had a really good MIL. In fact, I had a great one. She has been a role model for me in many, many ways, but it took me a number of years to fully appreciate just how wonderful she was. Though I hate to admit it, in those early days, I did my fair share of eye-rolling with my sister-in-law, and venting with her on the phone. In fact, I remember a time when I went and locked myself in the bathroom, crawled into a nice hot bubblebath, and cried for an hour straight. Why? Well, I was really, really looking forward to having a full week off from work before our kids got out of school and my mother-in-law arrived for the holidays -- time to whip my house into shape, and finish all of my shopping, wrapping, and cooking. Blessed time all to myself. However, hubby came home from work that day with a couple of surprises. He said the bad news was that he was being called away on business unexpectedly, and wouldn't be back until just before Christmas. The good news was that he'd told his mom to come on in a week early, to keep me company. Poor John had no clue why I suddenly burst into tears. Still doesn't.

To tell you the truth, I'm not even sure myself. After all, she wasn't anything like my own mother. She never just sat there, expecting to be waited on hand and foot. She was always right at my elbow, ready to pitch in and help. And she didn't expect me to keep her entertained either. She was happy to just sit there watching me and the kids. Watching and talking. Talking, talking, talking. I guess that was problem number one. I am an introvert -- a person who thrives on the sound of silence, and on being able to hear my own self think. I can be social when I want to be, but only in small doses, and then it must be followed with a chaser of solitude. That didn't happen when Theda was around. I think she was making up for lost time, after spending so many years in a houseful of men. Plus, my hubby is even more of an introvert than me, so after 10 or 15 minutes of visiting with her, he usually thought of something important that needed doing out in the garage, or came up with a critical reason to run to the hardware store.

Then there was that watching bit -- that "Oh, you do it that way? I've always done it this way" bit. Now that I've gained some maturity, I can look back and see that, to her, all she was doing was sharing helpful information -- trying to make life a bit easier for me by passing along things she had to learn the hard way. To my immature self, however, who was soooo lacking in confidence regarding her cooking, housekeeping, and child-rearing skills, it felt more like she was pointing out every little thing I was doing wrong.

Oh how I rue the times I gossiped about her with my sisters. Will that come back to bite me in the butt, some time in the very near future? Almost certainly. I can only hope that I made it up to her later -- in the years when she needed someone to vent to and a shoulder to cry on, when she desperately needed someone to pitch in and help -- and I pray every day that she knows just how grateful I am to have had her in my life.