Friday, May 6, 2016


We've been doing some redecorating around here over the past few weeks. See what you think of our "new look"!

The Living Room:

The Kitchen:

The Downstairs Guest Room:

Hubby's Contribution to the New Decor
And, last but not least, the laundry room:

So whadya think? Too much?

Well, just so you know, out of all that stuff, the one and only thing I actually purchased myself is this:

All I can say is, every grandparent-to-be should be so fortunate as to have a BFF who was an early childhood educator for years and years, as well as caretaker for an only grandchild who is about to turn five!

Thursday, May 5, 2016


So, what makes for a perfect Adventure Getaway? Well, the list would be different for each couple, but Number One on every list should be...

1) The Right Travel Companions

To tell you the truth, the Sanfords and the Lanes didn't always have an easy time traveling together. Back in "The Time Before Kids", Paula and Tim liked to sleep late. Really late. Black-Out-Curtain-Late. Then they liked to sit around in their room drinking coffee, maybe order room service. And there I was, up before dawn whether I liked it or not, and not a coffee drinker, but hungry for breakfast as soon as I opened my eyes, and ready to hit the road running. I was usually back and ready for lunch before the Sanfords had emerged from their room! Luckily, years of workdays plus raising kids and grandkids have shifted their internal clocks a bit closer to mine, though I still have a couple of hours to kill each morning. So, next thing on our list is...

2) Somewhere For Becky to Hang Out Until Everyone Else Wakes Up

I love watching the streets come to life in the wee hours -- seeing people heading off to work, opening their shops, or walking their dogs. So, Jo's Coffee , right next door to our motel, was the ideal place from which to do this. Especially since, in addition to their famous coffee, they can also make a mighty tasty cup of tea or even a Chai Latte.

3) & 4) An Affordable, Interesting, Preferably-Non-Chain Hotel, in a Walkable Community

The first time we stayed at the Hotel Sorella in Houston's City Centre was a real eye-opener. The price was a bit higher than we were accustomed to paying, but they were offering a "Stay two nights, get a third night free!" special, and you didn't have to use all three nights at once. So we came back the following spring and only had to pay for one of our nights. The amazing thing though, was that, once we arrived and parked our car, we didn't need it again until it was time to leave! Everything we could possibly want was right there, within a 10- or 15-minute walk.

We've also stayed at their sister hotel in San Antonio, Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, a couple of times. They too run those 3-for-2 specials periodically, plus you just can't beat the location, midway between The Alamo and El Mercado, and right on the Riverwalk. The first time we went was to celebrate Paula's August birthday. That was a mistake. Never go to San Antonio in August. The last time, however, we went right after Thanksgiving, when the weather was perfect and millions of twinkle lights dripped down from the trees. Pure magic!

On the opposite end of the spectrum from those two, and at the highest end of the Funk Scale, was The Beach Lodge in Port Aransas. The Beach Lodge is pretty much your typical beach bar/cafe, which just happens to have some rooms to rent. You do have to get into your car to get to the shops and restaurants, but hey. You're ON the beach, and you just can't beat those sunrise/sunset walks, not to mention the fantastic people-watching opportunities from their open air cafe!

5) & 6) Great Food & Good Music

I am not ashamed to admit that food is a major part of our adventures. In fact, the first time we went to City Centre there were so very many good options, and so little time, that we ended up having appetizers at one place, entrees at another, and dessert at a third! On the plus side, Paula is always willing to share with me, so we can try more things. And, since we do so much walking that my fitbit has usually buzzed by midday, we never have to worry about gaining weight on these trips!

7) Last but not least, there must be good places to shop and gab for the gals, and great places for the guys to go, in order to do their own gabbing, cigar-smoking and sports-watching, away from the gals.

I'd say Austin Motel on SoCo met all these criteria with flying colors!

One last thing. Now that we are retired and have that option, we usually begin our adventures on Sunday afternoons, just as everyone else is checking out. So much more pleasant without the mobs, and so much easier to get tables!

We ended our SoCo Adventure by heading up the street, once everyone was awake and dressed, to one of my favorite breakfast eateries, Magnolia Cafe. We each had our egg dish of choice, then we all shared just one of their infamous Gingerbread Pancakes for dessert!

On the way back to our motel we stopped in at Big Top Candy Shop, where Miss Paula found just what she was looking for -- purple rope candy for her grandson's preschool class to use as hair on the green monster cookies they will be decorating this week!

After checking out of our motel we got into our cars and headed off for one final adventure -- a trip to the best toy store ever...

where I may or may not have bought one or two tiny things for Little Goober.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


When I showed up at coffee yesterday, one of The Muses began the conversation by saying "Well, I read your post about the Austin Motel adventure this morning, and all I have to say is - the next installment had better involve food!" HaHaHa! Silly Outdoor Woman. Of course there was food involved. In fact, it's #1 on our list of Lanford Getaway Priorities!

Once we had checked into our hotel, we did a bit of splorin' up and down S. Congress, pointing out some dining possibilities along the way.

We ended up choosing the little Italian place below, introduced to us by our kids, and which is easy to miss if you're not paying close attention. Hint: it's right next to that fabulous hat store, above.

There's a lot more to Botticelli's than it's tiny storefront would lead you to believe, including an intimate trattoria up front, and a great little beer garden out back. It was such a beautiful evening, we opted for the beer garden.

The one thing mandatory about eating at Botticelli's is that every meal must begin with Botticelli Bread...

which is a long loaf of grandmothers homemade bread rolled into thin layers and wrapped around prosciutto, rosemary ham, salami, fresh mozzarella, parmesan and roasted red peppers. Don't worry. If you are not a meat eater, there is a vegetarian version as well! Paula and I could easily have made a meal outta one slice of that and any one of their fabulous salads. But, of course, we didn't. We went on to share this...

the Filetto de Manzo, which involved a tender beef filet with a currant demiglace atop a cheesy risotto, and crowned with shaved roasted Brussels sprouts.

Hubby opted for the Tagliatelle con Polpette (veal, beef, and pork meatballs)...

while Mr. Tim went for the Pollo Alla Picatta with Polenta.

Did I mention that a substantial portion of their ingredients comes from local, organic sources? And, guess what else I discovered just now, when I went to their website to look up the names of these dishes. That newish restaurant just up the street, called Little Barrel and Brown? The one Hubby and I haven't got around to trying yet? It's owned and run by the very same people!

After dinner, the ladies grabbed their take-away dessert from Amy's walk-up window, and went off to do some more walking and exploring, while the guys went back to the motel to grab their cigar stash, then went off to find the perfect place to enjoy them.

When we were done with our exploring, Paula and I settled into a couple of those surprisingly comfy chairs just around the corner from our guys, so as not to invade their "Man Time".  We gabbed until it grew dark, and tried (unsuccessfully) to figure out how to take a decent "selfie".

(I think it must have something to do with keeping "chin up, shoulders back", instead of the opposite, which I did in every dang photo!)

P.S. More about the Lanford Adventure Getaway Priority List tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


The Lanes and the Sanfords have been having adventures together for nigh on 40 years now. It started with our meeting up as newlyweds living on a small island in the Persian Gulf, and continued through the Houston adventure when both couples were struggling to have children, both gave up and started the adoption process together, then both wound up pregnant with our miracle babies right at the same time! Then came the years when jobs took us in separate directions, but we managed to keep our friendship alive by planning frequent family adventure meetups, often in the Texas Hill Country. Now the kids are grown up and married, and starting families of the their own! And, the four original Lanfords are still getting together for little adventures on a regular basis. For our most recent one, we drove all the way to Austin, Texas! (which took less than an hour)

Saying that our pal Tim is a huge fan of all things Motown is a bit of an understatement. So, when we found out that Motown the Musical was coming to Bass Hall, well, we just had to get tickets, right?

Did he enjoy it? I should say so. He was actually dancing in his seat, throughout the entire show. I kid you not!

We could easily have driven back to Wimberley after the show, since we went to a matinee, but where's the adventure in that? Or we could have stayed somewhere nice like the Driskill or Hotel Ella. Been there, done that. No, to get into the true spirit of Austin, we needed to stay someplace FUNKY, so we opted for the Austin Motel, right in the heart of S. Congress Avenue.

By the time we made our reservations here, all of the super-funky suites in the older part were booked, and we had to settle for perfectly nice rooms in the newer section. Next time we will plan ahead! Even so, you just can't beat the location, right next door to Jo's Coffee...

and right across from Amy's Ice Cream!

Not to mention the fact that it probably costs less than half of what you would pay for a room at Hotel San Jose, just on the other side of Jo's.

As if that weren't enough, we were smack dab in the middle of all the shops and restaurants on S. Congress, which line the blocks between Riverside and Oltorf. What's not to love?

(to be continued...)