Friday, July 24, 2015


If you've ever spent time in Austin, you're probably familiar with the Kerbey Lane Cafes -- the most popular breakfast/brunch spots around, thanks to their infamous pancakes. But, did you know they also have a rotating seasonal menu, featuring locally grown produce?

The first summer we were up here I read about it somewhere, and we decided to give it a try. There is often a very long wait for a table, but if you're willing to sit up at the counter, you can get right in. So that's what we did. We ordered just about everything on the special summer menu that featured homegrown tomatoes, including fried green tomatoes and something called Tomato Pie -- kind of like a little quiche filled with succulent tomatoes, feta cheese and Greek olives.

People sitting on either side of us started eying our food and asking questions. Since we had ordered way more than we could eat, we started passing it around. Before long, everyone at the counter was moaning! After all this time in the Hill Country, it's still one of our most memorable experiences. Which is why, every summer during tomato season, I just have to go to Kerbey Lane to get me some of that Tomato Pie!

Hubby, who is passionate about Caprese salads, tried the Caprese Pannini this year. I just might have to try that next time!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Whew! Finally tackled my art paper stash. Still a good bit left, but at least these drawers can open and shut without getting hung up on stuff now.

While I was working on my piles of paper, I decided I might as well scour these bookshelves for art supplies that I never use. Managed to fill a whole basket with them. I'm thinking my artsy Wimberley friends and I could all meet up at the coffee shop one day soon, each bringing the art supplies we never use anymore, and we could have a swapfest! Oooooor, maybe someone who lost all their supplies in the flood (Susan Callon?) would like to look through them.

Much as it pained me, I even broke down and sent the boot box and six packs you saw up top to the recycling bin. They've been taking up space on my art table for over a year now. If I haven't used them in an art project by now, odds are, I never will. Got my table cleared off just in time, 'cause lookie what finally showed up in the mail yesterday. Woohoo!

First lesson? Couch doodling! Just pick a subject, grab your sketchbook, and sit there doodling anything you can think of that has to do with that topic. You can use these images later as a springboard for other projects. Since I love painting little girls, I started with hairstyles, features and outfits inspired by some Mary Engelbreit paper dolls I found when cleaning out those drawers.

A nice addition to others already in my sketchbook, inspired by favorite artists like Lindsay Ostrom and Cori Dantini.

I really should've finished my purging before this book arrived. It's going to be terribly, terribly hard to tear myself away from it, in order to tackle one of the most difficult categories of all -- photographs!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


"A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy...Books are more than doctors, of course. Some novels are loving, lifelong companions; some give you a clip around the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you've got those autumn blues. And some...well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful void. Like a short, torrid love affair." ~ Nina George, The Little Paris Bookshop

Remember that whole-house purge I got involved in after reading Marie Kendo's Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up? Well, as predicted, I kind of got bogged down when I hit the "paper" stage. I did manage to get my half-dozen recipe notebooks pared down to just one, and my file cabinet is so empty now, the folders flop over instead of standing up straight! Unfortunately, I still have cabinets, drawers and shelves filled with stationary, gift wrap, tissue paper, saved packing paper and bubble wrap, and all sorts of artsy collage fodder such as floral napkins, used security envelopes and tea bags, and books full of craft papers. Just when I was about ready to throw in the towel, my best friend started texting me about a book she was reading -- Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project.

I'd been seeing it amongst the best-sellers for ages now, but never picked it up since I'd already read numerous books on the subject (Simple Abundance, Simplify Your Life, Eat Pray Love, etc.) and have been writing about the topic here on my blog for years now. My friend, however, can be fairly relentless when she has a bee in her bonnet. I thought I might just borrow it from the library. She said I'd never be happy if I couldn't hi-lite all my favorite bits. She was right. I bought the darn book! Thankfully. For it never hurts to see that which you think you already know from a different perspective, through fresh eyes.

In her book Rubin decides to tackle a different subject, all related to achieving a consistently higher level of happiness, each month. First on the agenda was boosting one's energy. For physical energy she needed to work on getting more sleep and regular exercise -- especially walking. Got it covered! But then she started talking about "mental energy" -- about how outer order can bring inner peace, and about how crossing things off one's to-do list helps clear away "metaphorical clutter." Turns out household disorder can seriously sap one's energy. "In a sign that people are finding their possessions truly unmanageable, the number of storage units nationwide practically doubled in one decade." That's just crazy, is it not? I don't think such things even existed when I was growing up, and now half the country pays monthly rent on extra buildings to hold all that "stuff" they never use? Insane! Rubin also mentions one study which suggested that eliminating clutter would cut housework by 40%.

So here's the thing. Even when my house is spic and span, with everything in its proper place, it still makes me jittery. Why? Because of "visual clutter". Everywhere you look -- on the walls, on the shelves, in the drawers, closets and cabinets -- so. much. STUFF! On top of that is the "psychic clutter" resulting from all the neglected maintenance chores we keep putting off, such as asphalt repair, a clogged pipe leading to our rainwater tank, and the gutter guards that the squirrels have managed to peel off, so they can make themselves at home in there. The kind of stuff that weighs one down with guilt and weariness. You might say Rubin's book gave me that "clip around the ear" I so desperately needed, for it made me realize I would never have the order and serenity I crave until I got a handle on these things, and it got me re-energized just when I needed it most.

So thank you Dear Paula, for being so dang persistent!

Monday, July 20, 2015


We took our friends to Hays City Store for breakfast this weekend. Since Hubby and I do not drink the stuff, I had never noticed that when you order coffee there, it comes with one of these:

Is that not the cutest little cream-holder you've ever seen in your life? It makes me smile every time I think about it! In fact, I'm half tempted to learn to like coffee.