Friday, January 31, 2014


It all started with one stupid button. You see, we have this Jenn-Air oven/stove that came with the house. 

I guess it's ten or fifteen years old, though it hardly ever got used until I moved up here full-time five years ago. Two or three years ago the clock/timer display went kaput. Everything else still worked, you just couldn't see the numbers telling you what time it was, what temperature the oven was set on, etc. I figured all we needed was to replace a light bulb or a battery or something, but nooooooo. We had to replace the whole dang computerized panel, and it cost a bloody fortune!

Now here it is, just a couple of years later, and there's something wrong with that "Bake" button -- the one you have to push to turn on the oven. First you had to push it 2 or 3 times before it would come on. Then it was 5 or 6. Now it's 10 or 12. One day soon, it just won't come on at all. Now, some of you might see that as a good thing, but me? I would miss it.

Hubby is not at all happy about having to replace that stinkin' control panel again this soon. In fact, he refuses to do it at all. He says it's time to replace the whole dang oven, but here's the rub. Jenn-Air is the only one to make an oven/stove combo with a downdraft vent, but hubby really doesn't want to buy another Jenn-Air. (can you blame him?) We can get a cooktop with a separate, pop-up vent behind it, but it would have a different footprint from the current one, so that means a new countertop. And then what do we do for an oven? Hubby did some research and said he thinks we could install an oven/microwave combo over here, between the pantry and fridge.

That's when I got that "Uh-oh, here we go again" feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Yesterday our contractor and his cabinet-man were at the door bright and early, "just to take some measurements and give us a ball-park figure." Then he and Hubby got to discussing radiant burners vs. induction, and convection microwaves that can act as a second oven when you need one -- which is probably a good thing, since any oven that will fit in this narrow space won't hold nearly as much as my current one.

And that, my friends, is how one stubborn little button morphs into a total kitchen re-do. I did draw a line in the sand, however. They will NOT be doing anything that requires replacing that still-new flooring!

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Oh yeah! I forgot to show you what our local chainsaw artiste did with that second dead tree behind Inoz' Brew & Chew.

Is that AWESOME, or what?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


I have always despised poetry. Abhorred it, in fact. So many people seem to write in their own private language, understood by only a few. I read their lines over and over until my head aches, and still I have no clue what it is they are trying to say.

There is one poet, however, who is a bit different. It's almost as if she speaks a universal language. Over and over again, in the past few years, lines of poetry have jumped out at me from something I was reading -- a blog post, facebook, someone's art journal, a magazine -- and stopped me in my tracks. Each time it was lines from the same author, Mary Oliver...lines guaranteed to reach out and slap you awake, if you have been sleepwalking through life...lines like:

 "Tell me. What will you do with your one wild precious life?"

So much said with so few words. Anyhoo, I'm not quite sure how she managed it, but she has me seriously considering the very last thing I ever thought I would do -- buying a poetry book!

Speaking of my one wild precious life...

I'm having tons of fun with the new on-line class I mentioned a few days ago, Draw Your Awesome Life. After completing those first two cover pages, we moved on to doing little daily vignettes in a sort of diary or calendar style. Next came sketching our "To-Do" lists, which, as you may know, is something I have great affection for. Coming up next? Sketching our grocery lists!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Looking for a good book to snuggle up with on this frigid winter's day? Might I suggest Lost Lake, by Sarah Addison Allen?

I have read, and loved, every one of Allen's books, beginning with her first, Garden Spells. Each one involves a family of "unique" women, a main character who has grown up feeling a bit of a misfit, and of course, there always a soupcon of magic thrown in! It doesn't hurt that Allen is a bit of a foodie and a sensuist, making her descriptions of food and settings especially vivid.

I was devastated when, in 2011, and at such a young age, Allen was diagnosed with advanced stages of breast cancer. but am happy to report that she has been in remission now for about two years, and that Lost Lake was well worth waiting for. (Plus, it takes place in a steamy swamp, so it's sure to warm you up!)

Monday, January 27, 2014


One of the first on-line classes I ever took was one called Color Love, taught by Joanne Sharpe. I was drawn to it because the woman was so obviously color-mad, with projects such as this...

and this...

and this.

After two consecutive classes with Joanne, I branched off in different directions, sampling lots of different "flavors." Just recently, however, I started noticing some exciting stuff being posted by my fellow art journalists -- stuff that just screamed Joanne Sharpe. So I decided to pop over to her website, Whimspirations, to see what I'd been missing. Within minutes I was signed up for her class "Draw Your Awesome Life", which I'm convinced could make anyone more conscious of all those amazing little things that are scattered throughout our days, but which can be easily missed if you aren't paying attention. I'm hoping it will also help make daily sketching so much a part of my routine that it's almost like brushing my teeth! Here are the two projects I've completed so far.

So here's what I'm thinking. If you've ever wanted to take an art class, but were afraid to do it because you "can barely draw stick figures", well, I'm thinkin' this is the class for you! Joanne is so good at breaking it down into manageable little steps that anyone can follow. For instance, when she told us to draw a teacup in that first project, which is the cover page in the little art diary we are creating, she said "Draw a 'U', now add an almond shape at the top of it." Believe me, you can do this!

I'm already having so much fun with this, it's pretty much a given that I will be signing up for the follow-up class which just opened a couple of weeks ago -- "2014: Draw Your Awesome Year." And who knows? I may even look into that "Whimsical Women Art Retreat" in Costa Rica!

Sunday, January 26, 2014


Long, long ago, around the time I was born in the early 50s, there was a lodge built on the shores of Cypress Creek, in Wimberley, Texas. It was surrounded by little "casitas", and people came from far and wide to stay there and soak up a bit of that famous Hill Country atmosphere.

Western movie star Slim Pickens stayed there too, and made a commercial for the lodge. By the time we moved here, however, the place had undergone a period of absentee ownership, fallen into disrepair, and eventually shut down. We had driven by a few times, to eat at a little burger place that sat on the banks of the creek behind it, and from the outside it had looked a bit like an old nursing home where everyone had just, well, passed away.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I got a call from Lex saying she and Nate would be coming to tour Cypress Falls Event Center, as a possible venue for their wedding. I was downright flabbergasted when they returned from the tour positively giddy with delight, convinced that they had found the perfect place!

You see, what I didn't realize was that the burger place we used to go to down by the creek? Well, that was being run by the family who had just bought the place. It was their first little business adventure while they set about the work of making their BIG dream come true  -- that of bringing Cypress Falls back to life.

Ceremony Site, Weather Permitting
Rear entry to the lodge, where wedding party will return from the creekside ceremony site.
Yesterday Hubby and I got to meet up there with Lex, Nate, and Nate's folks, Holly and Sandy. Finally, I get it. I know why they were so giddy!

For one thing, our family has a thing for twinkle lights. And paper lanterns. And mason jars. Most places Lex visited charged a good bit extra to hang those things from their trees. Or, if they were already there, they charged extra just to turn them on! Here, it was all part of the very reasonable package.

Outdoor Bar Area
Another problem was that most of the venues they had visited had gorgeous outdoor settings, but their back-up plan for inclement weather was to put up a tent. Uhhhh...No. This place has a huge indoor room that would be perfect, plus a little something extra that pretty much clenched the deal -- a secret door!

If you are heading back from the lobby area, you will find an old fashioned glass phone booth. If, however, you were to push on the back wall of that phone booth, it would slide away, allowing entry to this cozy little indoor bar, with a stone fireplace at either end. It reminded the kids of one of those prohibition era "speakeasies"...

which is how they ended up with a speakeasy-themed wedding. Truth be told, I think Lex is half-hoping for bad weather, so they can just spend all of their time in here!

Basically, the kids just weren't looking for a traditional/formal wedding site. What they wanted was a casual/funky place where the whole wedding party could stay on site, and they could all just hang out together for the entire weekend.

So, in the process of making their own dreams come true, the family who brought this place back to life will make this special couple's dreams come true as well!