Saturday, March 16, 2013

MUSES IN MARGARITAVILLE

 
Memories of a marvelous gallery-hopping outing to San Antonio, with my artsy friends, The Muses.

Friday, March 15, 2013

THIS COUPLE NEEDS HELP!

Believe it or not, I actually hired cleaning ladies this week. However, cleaning was not my primary motivation. Mostly, I hired them to give us balance. Know how I'm always yakkin' about how a great couple has balance, where one's strengths balance the other's weaknesses, and vice versa? Well, for the most part, John and I do a really good job of reining each other in, away from crazy or over-the-edge. There is one area, however, where we share the very same weakness, and that, alas, is our downfall. When it comes to home maintenance, every house needs both an Oscar and a Felix. We, however, both lean a bit more towards the Oscar side when it comes to clutter, which is strange, because I despise clutter. I find it very distracting when I want to focus on a project. But, I just can't seem to keep myself from creating it! And my hubby? Well, he is ever so comfortable with it!

Take this file cabinet for instance:


I haven't seen the top of it in over a year! It sits right next to my desk, which made it a convenient place to stack all the photo boxes, albums, and other materials that I needed for reference when I started writing my other blog, Miss Becky Goes Abroad. So, for about a year, whenever I needed to file something, I'd barely lift the lid with one hand, while holding onto all the photo albums with my elbow...


then try to shoot the papers through the crack before I lost my grip. As you can imagine, the "to be filed" stuff piled up over time. As has the stuff on our dining room table, our coffee table, and pretty much everywhere else -- especially after all these emergency visits to the hospital.


My saving grace is that I also hate wasting money. If I'm going to pay someone to clean my house, I'm going to make dang sure that she has access to every surface that I want dusted, scrubbed or vacuumed! So, if I hire someone to clean, say, twice a month, that means twice a month my hubby and I will be forced to make sure we have a place for everything, and that everything is in its place. Which is why the photos and Christmas cards finally got moved off the file cabinet and over to the bookshelves.


Guess it's time to catch up on some filing, huh?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

COFFEE SHOP: WORK SPACE OR MEETING PLACE?


An Austin friend left a comment on facebook the other day that got me to thinkin'. She asked, "Since when did coffee shops become a 'No Talking!' zone?" Recently she had arranged to meet up at one, with a friend she hadn't seen in quite some time. They arrived to find themselves surrounded by people with laptops, who were using the coffee shop tables as free office space. At least one of them didn't appreciate all the "catching up" that she and her friend had to do, for he/she made a show of gathering up their things and stomping out, grumbling about not being able to concentrate with all the noise.


You know the Muses and I meet at a coffee shop every week. Or, at least, we try to. You'd be amazed at how difficult it is to get all of us together at once! Yesterday was the first time in eons that all five of us showed up so, needless to say, we had lots of catching up to do.


Pouring Paint Woman had just sold a wall-sized painting to a couple in San Antonio, so she was a wee bit giddy!


Fiber Woman had just returned from a month in Illinois with her ailing mom, and will be heading back soon, so we had to fill her in on everything she had missed. Plus, she is doing some illustrations to go with a couple of Wisdom Woman's stories that are being published in a book, so we wanted to hear and see all about that, of course.


Outdoor Woman was just coming off a daughter's wedding high combined with a near-death scare the night following -- a tale which had us all mesmerized!


All in all, I think we are fairly well-behaved, but we have been known to laugh out loud upon occasion.


We have received a few glares for it too. Mostly, however, people just come up to us and say "You girls are just having way too much fun!"-- another way of saying "pipe down" I suppose. Which we always try to do.  But isn't this what coffee shops are for? I know that's what they used to be. I'm also fairly certain that the shop itself makes a whole lot more money off of the five of us at our one table for about an hour, than they do off of a single person who buys one cup of coffee and lingers at a table for half the day. Do these "office space" people have a right to be pissed if we talk while they are trying to work, as long as we don't let it get out of control? I don't think so. And, as the old song goes, if lovin' this is wrong, I don't wanna be right!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

MANLY FASHION

Dear Hubby, modeling his new "man purse", which contains his antibiotic pump.
We must have a pretty good insurance policy. The first time we went to the infectious disease doc's "infusion lab"-- to get John fitted out with his antibiotic pump that he has to carry around for five or six weeks -- the nurse showed us a bill that said the cost for this medicine and equipment was something like $2,400, per week! "But don't worry," she quickly added. "Thanks to Aetna, you don't owe us a dime!"

I'd feel a tad guilty, about how much John has cost dear Aetna over the last several years, were it not for the fact that the last time I was in the hospital was more than twenty seven years ago, when I had my youngest child. Plus, the only time I ever have to go to a doctor's office (knock on wood) is for my annual Well Woman check-ups. I guess it all kinda balances out, huh?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Monday, March 11, 2013

MY BODACIOUS BUCKEYE

 
Ah yes! Now I remember why I was so hot to get one of these Red Buckeyes, when we happened to catch them in bloom out at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.


It wasn't much to look at when we first planted it beneath a shady oak tree, then it went and dropped all its leaves in the midst of our torrid summer. We though for sure it was a goner.


But now it's back, just waiting for the first hummingbirds to come through and pollinate it. And, in a few years? When it's had time to put down some roots? Oh my my, that will be a sight to behold!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

WHAT HE WOULDN'T GIVE FOR A LITTLE BIT O' "AWW-RIGHT!"

Isn't it odd that, when it comes to food, the more rich and flavorful something is, the less we eat of it? For instance, I could drink Big-Gulp-sized diet sodas all the live long day, but if it's a gen-u-ine Dr. Pepper? Why, I'm happy as a clam with a little kid-sized cup! Flavor, huh? I guess that's the key to feeling sated, which could explain why I don't hardly remember ever feeling satisfied with what was on my plate growing up. I always felt I needed something more. I used to think it had to do with quantity and having too many siblings, but since I ended up putting ketchup on pretty much everything Mom set in front of me, I'm guessing that wasn't the real issue. When most everything you eat comes out of a box or a can, well, real flavor is hard to come by.


Now the French? They know about flavor! I'm not talking about the fancy schmancy Michelin-starred foods. I'm talking about simple meals, made with the freshest, most flavorful ingredients they can get their hands on. Don't know what I'm talking about? Then you really need to try Ina Garten's recipe for a classic bistro dish, Filet of Beef au Poivre. A few bites is all you need!


Filet of Beef au Poivre
from Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris
serves 6

6 filets mignon (beef tenderloin) cut 1 1/4 inches thick (mine came from a local producer, via TBS)
Kosher salt
2 T. coarsely ground black pepper
3 1/2 T. unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 T. olive oil
3/4 cup chopped shallots (3-4 shallots)
1 c. beef broth
1/2 cup good Cognac or brandy

Place the filets on a board and pat them dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the filets with salt and then press the black pepper evenly on both sides. Allow to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Heat 1 1/2 T. of the butter and the oil in a large saute' pan over medium-high heat until the butter almost smokes. Place the steaks in the pan and lower the heat to medium. Saute' the steaks for 4 minutes on one side and then for 3 minutes on the other side, for medium rare. Remove the steaks to a serving platter and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Meanwhile, pour all but 1 T. of fat from the pan. Add the shallots and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the beef broth and cook over high heat for 4 to 6 minutes, until reduced by half, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the Cognac and cook for 2 more minutes. Off the heat, swirl in the remaining 2 T. of butter and 1/2 tsp. salt. Serve the steaks hot with the sauce poured on top.

*  *  *
Mmmmm. Most definitely a little bit o' awwright, and my hubby's favorite meal. Or, it used to be, anyway. When he had that stroke a little over a year ago, the most lasting damage from it was that he lost a bit of his sense of taste and smell. We know we should be grateful that's all he lost, but it's kind of hard to remember sometimes, when it's affecting one of your primary pleasures in life.

Of course, when you start focusing on what you don't have, instead of what you do, life has a way of sending you wake-up calls, doesn't it? John's came in the form of this super-dooper antibiotic drip that he's wearing around the clock for weeks on end.  Now, instead of things "just not tasting as good as they used to", everything pretty much "tastes like shit!" The saddest thing I ever saw was the look on my poor baby's face when he took a bite of the steak au poivre I tried to tempt him with this week, and realized that even that sucked. No wonder he's lost so much weight! Well, we can only pray that, after he's been off the antibiotics for a while, things will return to semi-normal. I think he'd be quite tickled with semi-normal about now!