Saturday, August 17, 2013


Well, I finally did it. I finally got the nerve to paint in someone else's art journal, and I even lived to tell about it!

After doing three or four "practice" pages in my own journal, none of which was truly satisfactory, I finally had to tell myself "just DO it, for pity's sake!"

Know what? I like it. I really like it!

Now all I have to do is decorate a manilla tag, add a picture and a description of myself to it, tuck it into the envelope at the back, then this baby can be on it's way to the next artist in the circle. There's just one snag. I have never been any good at describing myself. Perhaps you can help me out there. If you had to choose 3 - 5 words to describe me, what would they be? Don't sugar coat it. Be honest. Especially those of you who have known me for a long time -- in the flesh, and not just on-line. Ha! Come to think of it, it might be kind of interesting to compare how on-line friends describe me, as compared to in-person friends. I might just have to make a "Becky's Both Sides" tag, huh?

Friday, August 16, 2013


Kome' Sushi Kitchen
One reason I often refer to my hubby as "Adventure Boy" is that he is willing to drive all over tarnation looking for some interesting new thing to try. Me, not so much. Not that I don't like trying new things. It's the driving all over tarnation bit that I'm none too crazy about. When I'm hungry, I'm hungry. Plus, I have no sense of direction, and if I'm alone, I need to have my route plotted out ahead of time. Hubby can always find his way home. So, when I stumbled across an issue of Austin Monthly recently, I decided it might be worth my time to peruse the restaurant listings. That way I could have several names, along with their exact locations, ready to go, next time Adventure Boy was in the mood to try something new. This listing in particular caught my eye: "Lovers of sushi trailer Sushi-A-Go-Go have an intimate new restaurant off Airport Boulevard to get their fix. Chef Take' Asazu, formerly of Uchi, and his wife, Kayo, have painstakingly crafted a menu that features unbeatable ramen noodle soup with pork, spinach, corn and a boiled egg, and knockout rolls like the Love For Sale, packed with veggies and mango. Lunch and dinner Mon-Sat. 4917 Airport Blvd."

Boy, was my hubby ever surprised this week, when he suggested that we go to a movie plus lunch at our standby Asian place, Mama Fu's, and I came back with, "Nah, I think we should try something new for a change."

Sashimi Lunch Special, which came with Miso soup and pickled vegetables
Ramen Noodle Soup
You can call me Adventure Girl.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


As I stare at the shelving unit in my bedroom -- the one that used to hold books, but which is now overflowing with art supplies -- I have to wonder. How did this happen? With all the years I spent being a merchandiser, you'd think I would be immune to their wiles, but I was like putty in their hands...blinded by their brilliance. It got me to thinkin', about a master magician that I met at the Atlanta gift market years ago.

I wasn't the buyer for our garden center, just the visual merchandiser, but the owner was kind enough to let me tag along with her and Nicki on their buying trips -- I guess to help them keep an eye on "the big picture", and on how we could pull lots of items from different vendors together to form attractive groupings that would make you want to buy the whole shebang.

Anyhoo, one year I stumbled across the booth of a company called The Round Top Collection, and it absolutely blew me away. If you've ever bought any darling metal pumpkins, snowmen, Easter eggs or Santas, chances are, they came from RTC. However, at that time, I'd never heard of them.

Now, my boss did not believe in buying "holiday" merchandise, since we had no place to store it if it didn't sell, but somehow I managed to convince she and Nicki to let me place a small order from RTC. Fortunately, there was nothing left to store at the end of the season. In fact, it was all gone in a few weeks. Next season, after much angst and a sleepless night, I placed a much larger order. Then the owner of RTC did something that was absolutely brilliant. He invited all their customers within driving distance (we were practically in the same neighborhood!) to come to their warehouse for an all-day workshop and catered luncheon, where he shared all his secrets for making his merchandise look fabulous, and making all his booths so magnetic. He even had a gorgeous assortment of ribbons available to purchase, and taught us to make bows just like his! Thanks to his tips, that huge-to-me order of RTC holiday decor literally blew out of the doors that season. So, next season we doubled our order again.

Now then, take a business like Ranger, which manufactures art supplies.They could go to market and set up a booth full of paints and inks and stuff. But what would differentiate them from all the other booths full of paints and inks and stuff? Well, what if they first went to the "internets" and found a few charismatic crafters with blogs that had gathered a huge following -- crafters like Tim Holtz and Dyan Reaveley? What if they gave these crafters some of their cool supplies to play with, and these crafters then made awesome stuff with them, and talked about it on their blogs? What if they allowed those same crafters to design their very own product lines, helped them to make videos showing how to use them, and took them to market with them to do demos that would stop people in their tracks and draw them into the Ranger booth? What if they even created something called Ranger U., and invited all the shop owners who had placed big orders to come to Ranger U. to have some fun, and learn all kinds of groovy stuff to do with those products, so they could yak them up with their customers? Best of all, what if you then sent those charismatic blogging crafters, with their very own product lines, out to tour the world and teach classes, live and in person, at lots of the shops that sell your products? That, my friends, is the magic of merchandising -- the reason why I now have shelves full of art supplies...

and why, every fall, I get a big ol' grin on my face when I see all those giant orange metal pumpkins lining the Wimberley streets and sidewalks!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Well, I finally came up with a good idea for what I wanted to do in Denita's circle journal. I decided to do something involving my new poppy stamp and Dyan Reaveley's bleach out technique. That's the one where you first stamp an openwork pattern onto a background that has been sprayed with a dark-colored Dylusions ink spray...

brush water into the open spaces and "bleach" the color out by blotting with paper towels...

then fill a water brush with a bright-colored ink and paint that into the bleached out spaces.

Works fantastic on the super-smooth cardstock and manilla papers that come in the journal Dyan designed herself. However, I had no idea how it would work in an altered book journal, so I decided I'd better experiment in one of my own journals first, before attempting this project in one belonging to someone else.

First I tried it on plain book paper.

The colors remained bright and true, but soaked through the paper so quickly they didn't have a chance to blend, and no matter how much wetting and blotting I did, I could NOT get that green to bleach out of the flower petals.

Next I tried it on gessoed book paper.

I did manage to bleach most of the color out of the flowers this time, and fill them in with orange. But, as you can see, though I used the very same vivid colors here as in the first one, once they hit the gesso, they immediately morphed into namby-pamby pastels. Vehddy in-ter-resting, albeit somewhat disappointing. Ah well. Back to the drawing board!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Well, it was pretty exciting when the first Wild Girls Circle Journal arrived in my mailbox over a week ago. I couldn't wait to see what was inside the package!

Front Cover
My name was No.2 on the list, so Denita -- the originator of this project, who has lots and lots of experience with stuff like this -- mailed her journal to me. She chose to do an "altered book" journal, meaning she took an actual book and turned it into a journal by decorating the covers, gluing some pages together to make them strong enough for paint, and removing other pages to make the journal less bulky.

Back Cover
  I placed it on my art table, and I go over to it several times a day, to just stand there, admiring it.

Inside Front Cover
What I haven't done so far, and cannot seem to make myself do, is to get started on the two-page spread that I am supposed to paint in her book.

Instructions, tags, and sheets of protective deli paper that she tucked into the back of her journal.
I mean, it's one thing to mess something up inside your own journal. No one else ever has to see it, right? It's a whole 'nuther ball of wax to mess something up in someone else's journal -- especially a Circle Journal, which is going to make the rounds from one person to another before finally making its way back home!

Denita's little bio tag she made.
Since I must finish up with my spread in this journal, and have it packed up and on it's way to the next person in line by the 22nd, I guess it's time to put on my brave girl boots and get busy, huh? I have an idea of what I want to do, so maybe I'll just test the idea out in one of my own journals first, to see if my plan will even work. Yeah, that's the ticket!

On the plus side, Denita's bio says she's 100% kind, so even if it doesn't turn out just as I had imagined? I'm pretty sure she will forgive me!

Monday, August 12, 2013


We had quite the weekend with our besties in College Station. Ever since we bought this place in the Hill Country, they've always jumped at the chance to come here and explore the area with us, so I don't think we've been back to College Station to visit them since our son graduated from college there, which must be about five years now. Let me tell you, a lot has changed since then!

If you're not familiar with the area, there are two towns here butt up next to one another. Bryan was there first. College Station, home of Texas A&M University, was exactly what the name says -- just the railroad stop where the college kids got off. Eventually, a little town grew up around it, and that town is now booming!

We met up with our buddies at Fargo's Pit BBQ in Bryan, just in time for lunch. Fargo's started out as a little walk-up stand, but after being put on someone's Top 10 Texas BBQ Joints list, and getting mentioned in numerous articles, they've now expanded to include indoor seating. If you happen to be there on a Tuesday or a Saturday, I recommend you try something I've never seen at any other BBQ joint -- and I've been to a few! Grab you a pint of those "rib tips" -- all of the flavor and texture of juicy, crusty, ribs, minus the bones and mess!

From there we split up into two cars, with the guys heading off to drink a cold beer, and the gals heading off for some chocolate tasting. Yes, you heard me. Bryan now has a deluxe chocolatier, The Chocolate Gallery.

It even has a separate room where you can take classes.

The Dr. Pepper truffles were pretty good, but the ones filled with almond marzipan were even better! We took the boys a bag of their Dark Chocolate Chipotle Peanut Caramel Corn.

The area has  long been known for its Messina Hof Winery. Now, I'm told, there are enough other wineries in the area for them to have their own wine trail, separate from the Hill Country. We met back up with the boys and went to do a little tasting at Peach Creek Vineyards, which was just minutes from the Sanfords' house, and where that picture at the top of the page was taken. It's young yet -- only two years old, I believe -- but it shows promise (if you can take the word of three people who know absolutely nothing about wine, and one who has impaired taste buds). All I know for sure is that our hosts were really nice, and we did a LOT of laughing while there.

After that, we went back to the Sanfords' house for a bit of a rest up from the crazy heat. They have recently done a good bit of work on their home, both inside and out.

I'm told this style is called "New Grandparent." I'm fairly content with my house as it is right now, but if I ever do get the urge to redecorate, I'm pretty certain this is the style I will go for.

The Sanfords' main complaint about dining choices in College Station has always been that it seemed to have nothing but chain restaurants. Paula read somewhere that college towns all have that problem, since their population is mostly transient. When you are new to a place, you tend to look for something familiar. By the time a person has really settled into a college town, and is ready to seek out that which is unusual or off the beaten track, it's time for them to move on, so little Mom & Pop places have trouble hanging on long enough to be discovered. Therefore, the two guys who used to run the Outback Steakhouse there in C.S. must have been pretty darn brave to leave a sure thing and open, not one, but two new restaurants there. Fortunately, they seem to have the magic touch, for both are whopping successes. For dinner that night we went to their Napa Flats Woodfired Pizza. The boys went for traditional pepperoni and jalapeno, while Paula and I went for exotic. Let me tell you, the one with spinach, mushrooms, fried brussels sprouts, whipped ricotta and truffle oil is To. Die. For!

Their salads and gelato were over the top as well. Since they also serve steaks, seafood and pasta dishes, I'd say it was the perfect date night destination.

The next morning, after a breakfast of kolaches, Sanford son Chase, daugher-in-law Jodi, and "the bebe" came over for a visit. We hadn't seen little Wyatt in person since he was a babe in arms, and I must admit, he's every bit as precious as they've been telling us. Hard to believe he's about to turn two. For lunch we all headed to the second of those magicians' two restaurants, Grub Burger Bar. Oh my. So many burgers, so little time. And the shakes -- both the traditional flavors, and ones like Mexican Vanilla, Chocolate Mint, and Salted Caramel. I didn't have one, being a bit lactose intolerant these days, and having indulged in the yummy gelato the night before. However, based on what I was seeing at every table in the place, including ours? Those shakes are even more popular than the delicious burgers!

Wyatt would agree.