Saturday, December 5, 2015


Wimberley has always been a magical little town at Christmastime -- one of the things I love most about it. This year they decided to kick it up a notch by adding a Blue Christmas event down at Blue Hole park.

The trails were lined with blue luminarias...

and the trees were lit with blue spotlights.

Kids could visit Santa and get blue candy canes...

 or enjoy caroling along with various choirs and musical groups.

One could even grab a cup of hot chocolate or apple cider, and relax around this gorgeous fire pit.

My favorite part of the evening was the hayride we took around the park when we first got there, just as the sun was going down.

See the guy in the ten-gallon hat? Well, believe it or not, he was British, not Texan!

I just loved listening to him and his family talk. I think they live in the States now, but not here. Someone asked him how they heard about Wimberley and he said "Well, it's a funny thing. We were watching the telly when we saw something about some new glasses that could help people with color blindness to see colors better. Well, I happen to be color blind, so I was quite interested. As it turns out, just about the only place you can get these glasses, outside of California, is right here in Wimberley. We thought we'd have to wait a long time to get an appointment, but they happened to have a cancellation, and here we are." He paused for a moment, then said "You can't imagine what it felt like to see my daughter's amazing blue eyes for the very first time -- something which people always remarked on, but which I could never really see before." No. I can't even imagine. But just the thought of it had me tearing up.

I do believe Wimberley's Blue Christmas just became my favorite new family tradition!

Thursday, December 3, 2015


This is the Christmas I grew up with in Dallas, with all my relatives and a gazillion cousins living nearby.

My Favorite Christmas Dress
Christmas Eve was for Dad's family, followed by an even larger get-together with Mom's family on Christmas Day
But times change, and so do we. We are definitely veering off the beaten path this holiday season, creating a season of firsts for us all. For instance, it will be the first time, since moving back from Indonesia 21 years ago, to be out of Texas at Christmas (way, way out) and not get together with my siblings to exchange Christmas gifts.

We did, however, have a marvelous time with them at Thanksgiving!

It will also be the first time since Miss Alexis was born that both kids will not be here to wake us on Christmas morning, ready to attack their giant stockings, which always overflow onto the sofa.

Celebrating Our Miracle Babies' First Christmas with our BFFs, the Sanfords, in Houston
Little Austin's first Christmas, in Midland, TX. That's when my sweet family started coming to us for Christmas.
Now baby girl is all grown up, with a new hubby and a new house of her own, and has decided that she wants to host our early celebration this year - another first!

Lex & Nate's First Christmas in New House
But, you know what? Sometimes it is good to shake things up a bit. It's good to be reminded that our way of doing things isn't the only way. In fact, it was the times we strayed furthest from the beaten path, that we ended up on the greatest adventures!

Newlyweds in Java

On our way to the big company gala in Bahrain, where everyone ended up with food poisoning!
Co-hosting the best Christmas party ever at our house in Sumatra
Lexi's dreams came true our last year in Indonesia. Finally she was old enough to be one of Santa's Elves!
Oh yeah, another first this year -- my very first year to be expecting a grandbaby! Already making plans for this in 2018!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


If I had to choose one favorite store in our little town, it would probably be King Feed, Garden & Hardware -- "The oldest hometown store in Wimberley." 

I'd never seen anything like it, when I first moved here from the burbs. If you want to survive in a small town, it's best not to specialize in just one thing. You need to be a multi-tasker, and King Feed does it like no other! It's where we go for all our plants, patio chairs, a new pair of Wellies or maybe some Keen hiking shoes, and to coo over all the baby chickies and duckies. Need any veggie starts or gardening advice? Just grab Tim, the horticulture guy. Need to rent some power equipment, get a fishing or hunting license, or just grab some worms? This is your place. Need a new toy to go in your grand dog's Christmas stocking, or a farm or ranch toy for your favorite toddler? They've got 'em! Sometimes we go for absolutely no reason at all, which is how we stumbled upon this event a few weeks ago, where different organizations were allowed to set up booths.

There was hula-hooping...

and live music...

and, as it turned out, most of the booths were being manned by friends of mine!

Friend Helen represented the Master Naturalists with an interactive demonstration of what happens to all the chemicals and animal poop on our properties when it rains. Here's a hint: don't ever go swimming in the river or creeks right after a storm! 

One of the Muses was there to recruit participants for the upcoming Global Climate March in Austin.

Best of all, this place just happens to be right next door to Maui Wowi, one of the coffee shops where the Muses and I meet each week, so you can easily grab a hot or cold beverage to take with you while you wander the grounds. This chilly day called for a nice warm Chai Latte, with a dab of whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Oh my, I almost forgot to mention that it's also the place where I pick up my Bountiful Sprout basket every other week!

King Feed. It's my Happy Place!

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Our Thanksgiving crowd dwindled throughout the holiday weekend, with one couple not coming at all due to illness, our four kids just being there for the day, and another pair having to leave the day after. By Friday afternoon it was down to just my little bro and his family, who are major foodies. When I mentioned that we were going to stop for an entire week in Barcelona on our way home from Sudan, he may have turned a wee-bit green with envy. When I said I planned to try a different tapas bar every day that we are there, he asked "Have you been to Barlata in Austin?" How sad is it that my baby bro, who lives near Ft. Worth, has been to more great restaurants in Austin than we have?

I decided we needed to remedy that situation post-haste -- do a little tapas test run with someone who knows the ropes, so we'll have a better idea of what and how to order when we get to Barcelona, where there may, or may not, be any English on the menus!

Tapas is not a style of cooking, it's a way of eating -- many small plates meant to be shared by all at the table, along with a glass of wine or a cocktail, as a precursor to dinner, which isn't served until around 10:00 PM. I'd eat this way all the time, if I could, as I've always preferred having a few bites of several different things, instead of a whole bunch of just one thing, such as the ginormous slab of chicken fried steak that is so popular here in Texas.

We opted for Sunday Brunch, which was perfect. We were able to walk right in with no reservation, and the number of items on the menu is limited, so the choices are not so overwhelming!

Gambas Ajillo - shrimp with garlic and adobo. Be sure and ask for some bread to sop up those juices!
Jamon Iberico -- ham made from acorn-fed black pig, melts in your mouth like butter!
Bravas -- fried potatoes with spicy tomatoes and alioli.  Crunchy on the outside, silky inside. We needed two orders of these!
Vanilla Porter Braised Pork Belly - more juices that will require bread for sopping.
There were also plates of Serrano ham on tomato-rubbed toast, a roasted beet salad with goat cheese, a plate of Manchego cheese, and some yummy grilled lamb brochettes with a bit of cucumber salad. The only thing I wasn't super crazy about was this Morcilla sausage with baby white beans. Now I know why.

Turns out it's blood sausage, which has never been right at the top of our list of favorite sausages. Next time I think I'll opt for the grilled chorizo with chimmichurri sauce. 

Now I'm headed back to their website to create my own little food dictionary to carry with me on the trip.

Many-many thanks to brother Will-Bill and family, for yet another fabulous foodie experience!