Saturday, February 2, 2013


I doubt if I'll ever make it back to France in person again, but that doesn't prevent me from taking frequent mental vacations to all my favorite spots. I was able to relive the entire river cruise through Provence, with added stops in Paris and Marseilles, simply by sharing my stories and photos with you in dozens of posts here on my blog, and I take little "trips" back to those posts on a regular basis.

I also revisit these places when I stumble across them in books and movies. For instance, when I read Sacre' Bleu, by Christopher Moore, it was as if I was standing right alongside the book's characters, seeing what they were seeing, for I had actually been to many of those places in Provence on our "trip of a lifetime!"

Just recently I discovered yet another way to relive and savor those experiences -- travel by pen and brush!

My problem with travel sketching has always been that it just takes too long. Your travel companions get tired of standing around waiting for you to finish your sketches all the time, so photos were just quicker and easier. Then I stumbled across an article by Jacqueline Newbold in the July/August issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors. In it she talks about her technique for preparing several backgrounds in her travel journal at once -- blocking the pages off with strips of artists' tape, then spreading a watercolor wash of about three different colors across the entire page, tape and all. As she travels around she fills the blocks, one at a time, with a quick pencil sketch, maybe adding a bit of color if she has time, sometimes just going back over the lines with permanent ink. She takes photos as well, so if she wants to add more detail to her sketches later, she can refer to those. She can even scribble notes on the tape, to remind her of details or locations. When all the blocks on a page are filled she removes the tape and is left with a crisp white border around each sketch, a perfect place in which to do some journaling, no?

When she mentioned referring back to one's photos, it gave me the idea of doing a few pages of my own, based on the photos I took in Provence -- maybe even do a few "themed" pages, like "the balconies of Provence" or "the cafes of Provence." Mais oui! J'adore ca!

Friday, February 1, 2013


Well, my hubby came home from the hospital yesterday afternoon, just eight or nine hours after receiving his pacemaker. He can't drive for a while, raise his left elbow above his shoulder , or lift anything heavier than a jug of milk, but these are just minor irritations compared to what we were imagining when we made yet another emergency run to the hospital. He said his shoulder felt a bit like it'd been hit by a hard ball last night, but is much better today. Best of all, his pulse rate was at 70 this morning, instead of his usual morning rate in the low 50s. His brain won't know what to do with all that oxygen!

The hard part will be keeping him away from that new fountain that was waiting on our doorstep when we got home yesterday, and which he is just itchin' to install -- especially if he's feeling more energetic than he has in months!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


We are heading out to Austin in a little while (well, we were, but got sidetracked by a little trip to the ER -- more about that later), to hang out at Book People and Anthropologie, then to meet our son for lunch so we can hand over some mail of his that came to our place. I told my husband that, as much as I love it when the whole gang gets together, I really look forward to spending some one-on-one time with each of the kids as well, because that's the only time they really have a chance to open up and tell you what's going on in their lives. It got me to thinkin' about another time, about 25 years ago, when I went to a lot of effort to give them each my undivided attention.

When the kids were about two and four and a half, something wonderful happened. Originally, they both went to a Mothers' Day Out program at our own church -- a somewhat laid-back Disciples of Christ church that didn't get all uptight about Santa and the Easter Bunny -- on Tuesdays and Thursdays. By the time Alexis was ready for pre-school over at the Lutheran church, on Mondays and Wednesdays, most all of my neighborhood buddies had their kids going to MDO down at the huge First Baptist church, which was Fridays only. My friends fell into the habit of meeting up for lunch every Friday, after they'd finished running their errands, and it morphed into something known as the Friday Lunch Bunch. They kept urging me to join them, but I just didn't feel right abandoning my own church's program for theirs, when we all loved it so much. I couldn't -- I was on the Board!

One day I had a brainstorm. I figured out that if Austin went to MDO at our church on Tuesdays only, that could be my day for some special one-on-one time with Lex. I always let her choose where we had lunch on those days, and she always chose a chicken leg with mac & cheese at Luby's. Then, while she was at pre-school for a half day on Mondays and Wednesdays, I got to spend some one-on-one time with little Austinootie, and let him make some choices -- something that was nigh on impossible when his big sister was around. On Fridays they both started spending the mornings down at First Baptist with all their neighborhood buddies, and momma finally got a wee bit of time on her own, to do some sewing and cleaning or whatever, and to have some adult conversation over lunch. Momma was very happy!

A few weeks later, when a well-refreshed momma joined the hordes of others clogging the halls of the church, as they all tried to fetch their various kiddos right at the same time, she made the huge mistake of asking little Lexie what she thought of her new class there at the Baptist church so far. Our little drama queen froze in her tracks with hands on hips and a rather disgruntled look on her face, then threw both arms up into the air, and bellowed "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!', pumping her little hands to emphasize each word. "Don't they ever talk about anything else in this place?"

Now there's a girl who knows how to stop traffic!

P.S. As for why I started this post at seven am, but didn't get it posted until seven pm, well, I was just finishing up when my hubby yelled "Shit!" from the other room. I ran in to see what was wrong, and he told me he just didn't feel right. He kept having spells where he felt flushes surging through his body, making him feel like he might pass out. Fearing another brain bleed, I called the EMT's, and they took him to Austin. His CAT scan came back clear, but his heart monitor caught a very clear episode of arrhythmia called V-Tach, or something like that, which could be responsible for these episodes of dizziness. Considering what we were expecting, that was a huge relief to us. They decided to keep him overnight for observation, with a heart monitor on, and ordered an echocardiogram. The cardiologist came by just before supper and informed him that he was getting a pacemaker the next day. He's probably never seen anyone break into a jig upon hearing that news before. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Things are really starting to get exciting at my big sister 's new-old condo renovation. Check it out!

The kitchen now has its granite countertops and a gorgeous tile backsplash. Also, though it doesn't show up well in this photo, the flooring throughout the condo has been installed -- a beautiful pale grey distressed wood look, which will be magnificent with those charcoal grey walls!

A wonderful new walk-in shower where that scary old tub used to be -- so much better for someone who has had hip and knee replacements!

A fabulously funky mirror in the guest bath -- just the first of many little "Parisian Flat" touches that you will probably see before all is said and done.

Do you even remember the 70's nightmare that she started with? Let me remind you:

Amazing transformation, is it not? Stay tuned for more!

Monday, January 28, 2013


My friend Teri hosted a give-away on her blog The Zen of Sweeping the other day, and guess what? I won!  The prize was a gorgeous hand-knitted cowl that she made herself. She had three different color combos to use from, and I was sorely tempted by the one that contained all the colors of a Hill Country sunrise, but finally settled on this beauty since I knew I had a pair of earrings that would match it perfectly.

Only, when I went to dig out the earrings I had in mind, I found a couple more pairs that work equally as well.

And then I spotted these...

and these...

and these!

How on earth will I ever make up my mind?

Of course, that may not be an issue for a while, if'n we don't get another cold snap soon. It jumped up into the upper 70's/low 80's right about the time I received this cozy beauty, and has insisted on staying there ever since!

Sunday, January 27, 2013


"Perhaps if one really knew when one was happy one would know the things that were necessary for one's life." ~ Joanna Field

Some art journaling fun using Dylusions ink sprays and stamps.