Saturday, October 19, 2013


You're never gonna guess what Hubby surprised me with as an early birthday gift. Was it diamonds? No. Pearls? No. Even better -- he had my precious little Zippy, who must be about eight or nine now,  detailed

Not just washed. Not even the Deluxe Wash. DETAILED! I didn't even know what that meant until now. In case you don't know either, here's what happened.  First of all, my hubby removed several month's worth of accumulated crap from my car, including not just shopping bags, but also plant trays, quilts and pool toys for river floating. It had reached the stage where there was almost no room for groceries, even with the back seats down!

I had a box of push-pins in my car, oh, six or seven months ago? It was whenever Lucky Star Lisa sent me those art camp posters and asked me to hang them up around town. The box came open and they spilled all over the back half of my car. Hubby picked them all up, one by one.

Next he took her to the fancy car wash over in San Marcos, where they had one particular guy spend two or three hours hand cleaning, shining and polishing every single surface in or on that vehicle. They even shampooed the carpets and upholstery! He completed the transformation by hand-waxing the exterior.

It's like having a brand new car! Zippy is very, very happy.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Day three at art camp was spent in an all-day "Happy Painting" class with artist Juliette Crane, in the most beautiful classroom ev-er! Juliette is one of the main reasons I signed up for Lucky Star. She has made quite a name for herself in the mixed-media world, appearing in most every magazine I've picked up lately. I knew that if Lucky Star was bringing in instructors of this caliber, it must be a camp worth attending!

I love the way she builds up a piece of art in layers. She starts by just squirting globs of paint onto the page, then smearing it around with her hands. Anything to get past that fear of the blank page, right? She then adds layers of stenciling, bits of collage, and even a few squirts of graffiti-style spray paint -- all of which may get covered up in the end, but which adds bits of texture which peeks through here and there. Next she showed us how she creates her whimsical creatures out of circles and rectangles -- so, so precious!

Then it was our turn. We worked on several backgrounds at once, which not only allowed one canvas to dry a bit as you worked on another, it also kept you from obsessing too much over every little thing!

That evening, after supper, we adjourned to the ballroom to hear speaker Shawn Stratmann talk about making dreams come true. There was no singing around the campfire that evening, but we somehow ended up with quite a crowd on the porch of our cabin, until well past midnight.

In addition to her dream-coaching, Shawn happens to be a licensed instructor at a school for Irish Dance up in Maryland. And, with the help of a little wine, we managed to wrangle an impromptu lesson in river-dancing!

Quite appropriate, when you consider our location!

It just doesn't get any better than this, now does it?

Thursday, October 17, 2013


This week my hubby decided to surprise son Austin and almost son-in-law Nate with tickets to an event being held at the Long Center, over in Austin. It was called 19th Hole: Put & Puff Lounge, and it involved whiskey tastings, hand-rolled cigars, finger food, and putt putt golf.

I think they had a pretty good time.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Meet my roomies! That's Mary from Massachusetts on the left, and Kelley from Oklahoma on the right. They were just a hoot 'n a holler. I didn't tell anyone that I'd found out about my nephew's death midway through camp, and did my best to keep my happy face on, but they probably had their doubts about me. Don't worry girls. I promise to be a lot more fun next year! 

Day two at Lucky Star was Lisa Seger day -- for me anyway. Lisa and her hubby Christian abandoned their soul-sucking jobs in the corporate world about seven years back, bought a farm and some goats, and launched a successful cheese-making business, selling to restaurants and at farmers' markets in Houston. Unfortunately for Lisa, she fell and broke her ankle just a couple of days before she was due at camp, so she spent the whole time on crutches, or being whisked around in a golf cart.

For the first session that day, I had signed up for her "Food From Your Backyard" class, and we spent a delightful morning talking about goats and chickens and how to be more successful at growing your own veggies. After seeing all of her precious pictures, I sent a message to my hubby, telling him I thought we needed a goat. His reply? "Oh hay-ell no!"

Speaking of veggies, Waldemar just blew me away with the delicious veggies they served at every meal. Seriously -- they were amazing! The one that shocked me the most was a kale dish. I actually squealed when I took my first bite, and I don't even like kale! However, you can bet your booties I'll be heading over to King Feed, just as soon as this rain lets up, to get some kale seeds for my garden. I managed to get instructions for preparing this orgasmo-kale from the chef, and I will share them with you at the bottom of this post.

Anyhoo, after lunch it was time for cheese-making with Lisa!

Yes, that IS the river right behind us. Not a bad classroom, eh?
We made two different fresh cheeses, using milk from her own goats. Fresh cheeses don't need aging -- you eat them right away. The first was paneer, an Indian cheese which gets pressed into a flat round like this.

We then sauteed some veggies and added them, along with the cheese cubes, to a rich curry sauce.

Yum! Next we made an Italian ricotta, which we served with sliced pears and figs, all drizzled with a bit of local honey. Double yum!!

Lisa and her husband had been asked to present a TED talk, in San Antonio I think, this past weekend, so we ended the day gathered on the banks of the river, where Lisa gave us a sneak preview of their talk about the state of food production in the U.S.

It was a very good talk, and a very good day. But now, back to Orgasmo-Kale!

Crack Kale (that's what the Waldemar staff calls it)

Squeeze fresh lemon juice onto fresh kale and massage it into the leaves, then let it sit for about 30 minutes. Dress with a good olive oil and more lemon juice, to taste. Throw in some toasted almonds or pine nuts, dried currants, and top with plenty of freshly grated parmesan.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


On Wednesday I left home around 10:00, and made it to Kerrville in time for lunch. Hunt, and Camp Waldemar, were just a short distance beyond that. Mapquest had given me three options, and I chose the one that claimed to be shortest -- the one that ended up being entirely on back country roads. When I reached the tiny town of Sisterdale, I began to feel a sense of deja vu. Sure enough, I was following the exact same route my sister Poodie and I followed on our little get-away years ago -- the one where we swore never to travel the back roads again. Though the route may be shorter in map miles, it seems much, much longer when you are looking for a pit stop, and there isn't a one to be found!

I puttered around in Kerrville for a bit, then arrived at Lucky Star just in time for the 2:00 check-in, where they gave me my cabin assignment, a map of the grounds, and my schedule for the next several days. I also, at long last, got to meet Lisa Hamlyn Field, the woman behind this wonderful art camp.

I had seen one or two photos of Camp Waldemar on the website when I registered, but nothing can prepare one for the reality of it. For one thing, the place is massive, with the Guadalupe River running right through the middle of it. For another, it being in the Texas Hill Country and all, it resembles one of those Tuscan hill towns, where you have to park at the base of the hill and hike up a thousand steps to get to your villa. Guess whose cabin was right at the top?

The first time I had to hike up that hill, I was none too happy. But, in the end, it turned out to be a blessing. They fed us really, really well at Lucky Star! Gourmet meals, three times a day, with house-made desserts and pastries at every meal. We were allowed to drive our cars up to unload, but then we had to go back down and park them in the pasture. I climbed that mountain at least three times per day, every day, sometimes lugging about 40 lbs. of art supplies. Of course, if you don't think you can handle that, you can always request a cabin down on the lower level.

Once I'd dropped off my stuff, I went exploring, and was snapping pictures right and left.

Five minutes before the end of the check-in period, I still had no roomies, so I went ahead and took the one double bed in the room, instead of one of the bunk beds.

Of course, they showed up as soon as I'd spread out all over the place and made myself at home, but I'm ever so glad they did. This introvert needs a kick in the butt sometimes, and having a room to myself would not have been good. I'll introduce you to them tomorrow, since I'm already late for a meeting with the Muses!

At 6:00 the bugle sounded, and we all headed down to the most gorgeous dining hall I have ever seen, to get our first hint of the culinary delights that were in store for us.

After dinner, we headed over to the lodge, to hear keynote speaker Bernadette Noll, author of Slow Family Living. She spoke to us about her "tribe" of creative friends who have been supporting and inspiring one another for almost ten years now, and without whom her books might never have been written or published. She also gave us tips on forming, and keeping, a tribe of one's own -- one that is much more than just a social group.

We wrapped up the evening sitting around the campfire, with Austin singer/songwriter Mandy Rowden there to encourage us to cut loose and get a little crazy.  Could the week possibly get any better than this? Why yes, it could!

Monday, October 14, 2013


In memory of our dear nephew Kyle -- so talented, musically gifted, bright, witty, and tortured -- whose life ended this week in the most tragic of ways. Sweet Kyle, if only you could have seen yourself through our eyes.

Kyle could play most any instrument he picked up -- oboe, drums, piano, guitar -- and could compose music as well. Here's a sample of him singing and playing, with a hint of his fun personality thrown in. He will be missed.