Saturday, June 6, 2015


One of the many, many people who have been making a huge difference on Wimberley's road to recovery is the owner/manager of our local laundromat, Wash Day.  Almost immediately he put out the word that he'd be willing to dedicate about half of his machines to helping those who got flooded salvage what they could, but that he couldn't do it alone. He'd need some help. Well, apparently, that's all you need to say in this little town, to have an army of helpers show up on your doorstep! Yesterday was our turn, and I'll tell you this right now. You may think you know dirty clothes, but you ain't seen nothin' til you've seen stuff that's been soaking in flood muck for a couple of weeks. We had to spread them out on pallets and pressure spray them off, then put them through a wringer, before we could take them inside to the machines. Most of the time I was manning the wringer. Hard work, but you know what? We actually had fun doing it! There's just something about being there when people come together to get things done, and come together they did! In less than two weeks they managed to process at least ten thousand pounds of laundry -- that's dry weight, not wet. And, there was a lot more involved than just washing and drying.

First of all was coming up with a system to make sure all the clothes got back to their proper owners, soliciting enough volunteers to keep the system working from opening until closing every single day, and keeping track of all the volunteer hours to report to FEMA. (the more volunteer hours a community has, the more $$ they can earn)

Then there were the donations of money and supplies to run the machines...

as well as people bringing in lunch and snacks for all the volunteers, every single day.

What really amazed me was how many of the volunteers didn't even live here in Wimberley, and that the food was coming in from all over the place! My favorite volunteers by far had to be these three...

who were absolutely desperate to do something, anything, to help out. They even volunteered to wash the windows there at the laundromat! Best of all, they wrote little love notes for us to tuck into each bag of clean clothes...

most of which had me in tears.


Friday, June 5, 2015


Why is it that every time I desperately need to take indoor photos, which require lots of natural light, a freakin' fog rolls in? I was planning to talk about cooking from one's larder today, but when I was out walking it became more and more evident that there would be no picture-taking this morning. So, I guess I'll share another home from Austin's Weird House Tour instead.

I chose this one because it's owner has so much heart. She has spent her life giving back to her community, which is something that's been much on my mind ever since Wimberley's Great Flood occurred. 

This is Florence's Comfort House, over in E. Austin, on Kemp St. Actually, the interior of her home was off limits, although she had a garage like building behind it, which she calls "the library", and we were allowed to go visit with her there during the tour.

No, the focus of this tour was not the inside of her little home. You see, about 40 years ago Florence decided that the kids in her neighborhood needed a safe place to play, and though her house was quite tiny on the inside, she had oodles of space on the outside.

And so she began transforming this space into a happy haven...


by bit...

by bit.

This old upright piano seems to be a favorite with the neighborhood kids, as there were at least one or two seated there, pounding their little hearts out, the entire time we were there.

Florence, who is in her 70s now, does so much more than just provide a space. She happened to have had a birthday that week, so she had prepared a hot meal for every kid that came in that Saturday, in celebration. She also teaches them about gardening, and instills a love of reading.

Most importantly, she has helped transform a pretty rough neighborhood into a community.

Now that's what I call a house with heart!

Thursday, June 4, 2015


Remember the photo I shared a week or two ago -- of the huge agave in front of our little library that was sending up a ginormous asparagus-like bloom stalk? Well, I don't know if you noticed, but there were two of those boogers right outside our room at Sage Hill Inn, already in full bloom.

One of our favorite activities during our stay there was to just lean against that porch rail and enjoy the show going on in those blooms, for they were indeed a "hive" of activity.

They were actually swarming with all kinds of birds, bees, and butterflies. Who knew?

The hummingbirds were our favorites.

While we're on the subject of wildlife, know what else we noticed? Rabbits. They were everywhere! It was just so strange.

Why? Well, because in the 10 or so years we've owned this place, we've never once seen a rabbit anywhere on our property. Not once! Yet here, only 10 or 15 minutes away, they were absolutely swarming with them. Go figure! Any ideas as to why?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


One thing that has certainly changed, since moving here to the Hill Country, is that I now cook according to ingredients, rather than recipes. Back in Suburbia, I used to spend half a day planning a whole week's worth of menus and recipes, make a two page shopping list, then spend at least two hours at the grocery store, getting everything I needed for the entire week. Now, however, I pick up my basket from The Bountiful Sprout, or make a run to the farmers' market. Each day after that I think about what I have on hand, and what needs to be used up first, then plan that evening's meal accordingly. By keeping a well-stocked pantry and freezer, and having plenty of fresh herbs growing in my garden, I rarely need to pick up more than what will fit in one of my cloth shopping bags, when I'm in town running errands or exercising, which makes my life soooo much easier and more enjoyable!

What with all the anniversary shenanigans going on this past week, I hadn't done much cooking since I picked up my last order from TBS. When I did a survey of the fridge yesterday, I saw some green beans and broccoli that needed to be used up pronto. When I checked the freezer and saw that I had both frozen mini ears of corn and some chopped pecans, I knew just what to do with them all!

Unfortunately, we had already eaten most of it when it occurred to me that it would have made an excellent post for my "Simply Scrumptious" series. So, instead of getting a photo of bright, colorful veggies arrayed in my prized teak salad bowl -- a 40 year old wedding gift -- you get this photo of mushy gray leftovers. Trust me though. It tastes fantastic either way! Here's a special hint just for you: it's even better followed by sliced fresh peaches with just a dab of vanilla bean ice cream.
HI-FI VEGGIES (as in High Fiber)
(serves 6-8)

To make a meal, you can serve it with a good toasted bread topped with some melted cheese, or with some leftover roast chicken. Though, truthfully, it's really quite filling on its own.

6 new potatoes, in quarters
1 pkg. (8) mini frozen corn-on-cob (or fresh, if you prefer)
1 lb. green beans, in 2" pieces
1 bunch broccoli florets
1 c. sliced celery
2 c. (1 pint) halved cherry tomatoes
1 small red onion, sliced

1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup good extra virgin olive oil
3 T. chopped toasted pecans**
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Drop potatoes in boiling water. Cook 5 minutes. Add corn, cook 8 minutes more. Add beans, broccoli, celery, cook 5 minutes more. Drain veggies in colander, then turn into large bowl and let cool slightly. Add tomatoes and onions, and toss gently. Whisk remaining ingredients together for dressing then pour over warm veggies and toss again.

** To toast pecans, place in dry saute pan. Cook and stir on medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant. Do not burn!

P.S. If you are planning to cut the recipe in half, I'd only reduce the dressing ingredients by about a fourth. Half just wasn't quite enough to coat all the veggies properly.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


So, has anybody guessed where Hubby might have whisked me away to for his secret anniversary adventure? Well, here's a hint: it took me longer to pack than it took to for us to reach our destination -- and I'm a fast packer! Yep, we turned right out of our neighborhood, and hadn't driven more than ten or twelve minutes when Hubby suddenly made a sharp left turn. I nearly wet my pants when I realized what was going on.

You see, people are always asking us for recommendations on where to stay in this area. But, the thing is, if you actually live here in the Hill Country, you don't ever stay at any of these places yourself, so how can you compare or recommend them? This one though -- the one formerly known as the Inn Above Onion Creek, but which became Sage Hill Inn when the original owners retired -- well, this one has quite a reputation. In fact, I think I first read about it in Southern Living or one of those magazines, way back before we'd even moved here, and it's been on my bucket list ever since. We pass that sign at least a half-dozen times per week, and each time we do, one or the other will say "One of these days we really need to drive down there and snoop around." Well, I guess Adventure Boy finally got the guts to do it, and was so impressed with what he saw that he booked a reservation on the spot -- and managed to keep it to himself for a couple of weeks or more!

Upon arrival we were greeted by one of the managers, who gave us a guided tour of the place, including the library, the dining room and kitchen -- where we were to help ourselves to fresh-baked cookies, house-made protein bars, popcorn, coffee, iced-tea, assorted hot teas, or a mini-fridge packed with all my favorite Dublin-based sodas, at any time, day or night...

the pool and hot tub...

the gardens, where many of the herbs and vegetables used in our meals came from...

and finally to our room, which may have looked rustic from the outside...

but which turned out to be anything but.

Then, as if all this weren't more than enough, our hostess glanced at her watch and said "Well, Mrs. Lane, I guess it's time for you to head off to your appointment at the spa." "Huh?" Then I noticed my hubby, grinning his fool head off! It seems he had booked me for one of their "Pick 3" specials, which includes a mini facial, back, or neck/scalp massage, and Reflexology or AromaTouch. And now I'm kind of mad at him for doing that.

You see, the only time I've ever had a massage was as a newlywed in Singapore, and I did not enjoy it. In fact, it was downright painful. Since then, I have never even been tempted to waste money going to a spa. This experience changed all that, and it's all his fault!

After enjoying a fabulous three course dinner (all except wine and beer was included in the room fee) we adjourned to the firepit to watch the sun go down. It was not the least bit chilly, but when Hubby discovered that the logs were propane powered, and could be turned on and off at will, he couldn't resist playing with the switch on a nearby tree.

The next morning I was perfectly situated for watching the sunrise from the little balcony off of our room, and then had plenty of time to hike down to the Onion Creek overlook, before enjoying a sumptuous breakfast of fruit, fresh-squeezed juice, eggs, bacon, and Belgian waffles with strawberry-rhubarb compote.

Later, when Hubby asked me if I'd had fun, I told him "Sweetie, that wasn't "fun." That was EPIC."

I caught him grinning again, for no apparent reason, several times throughout the day. "You're really proud of yourself, aren't you?" "Yep, sometimes I amaze even myself."

Sunday, May 31, 2015


Have you ever heard of a guy named Scott Bradlee? Maybe not, but he happens to be a bit of a musical genius -- and I'm not just referring to his piano playing, though that is pretty amazing. No, the thing that makes him "so very special" is that he gathered together a group of super-talented musician friends, all struggling to make a living in New York City, had them dress up 40s style, gave them his jazzy arrangements of some modern songs, and made some videos to post on YouTube, calling the group Scott Bradlee's Post Modern Jukebox. Next thing they knew, they were traveling the country performing for sold out crowds at amazing venues like the old Paramount Theater in Austin, Texas. Best of all, they did it without the help of agents, producers, or record companies. And, this weekend, we were there to applaud their success.

An added bonus was that it gave us yet another opportunity to don our speakeasy wedding attire!

Lexi's wedding dress has since been dyed (professionally) a soft blue-green.
It was almost worth the price of the tickets just to be in this beautiful downtown theater again.

The three origial female members, whom you will see in many of the groups YouTube videos, are these gals here...

Ariana Savalas, Morgan James, and Hayley Reinhart.  Morgan, the blonde in the middle, probably has the most amazing, well-trained pipes, having graduated from Julliard with a degree in opera. You've simply got to hear her sing Take Me To Church. But there's just something about that curly-haired Hayley Reinhart, there on the right, that had members of the audience (mostly guys) yelling out "I love you Hayley!" at regular intervals throughout the show. I almost did it myself, after hearing her version of the song Creep.

If you're a fan of American Idol, you may have seen Hayley there, as well as  Mr. Casey Abrams (with all the hair kinda like mine) who sang and played the cello.

The big finale was this song, which you may have heard once or twice. Oh, and did I forget to mention the tap dancing?

All in all, it was a fantabulous evening!

Can you believe this amazing theater is where hubby and I used to go on movie dates back when we were both at UT? I know you younguns love your multiplexes with dozens of options to choose from, but there was something about seeing a movie in a gorgeous venue such as this that made it, well, more of an event.

Speaking of "events", guess who is celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary today? We are! Quite a feat in this day and age, don't you think? Our upcoming trip to San Miguel de Allende was supposed to be our gift to each other, but since that's not until August, we each ended up doing a little sumpin sumpin for the other. As for our age-old debate about stuff vs. experiences, I think we both got it right this time. I managed to find him a new gizmo which, miracle of miracles, he had not yet heard of and bought for himself...

while Hubby gave me a card with this inside.

Guess I'd better get packing, huh?