Friday, July 15, 2016


The hills and the valleys, the sunrises and sunsets, and the star-filled skies at night...

the rivers and creeks...


and the sharing of laughter, adventures, great stories, and good food with interesting, open-minded people...

these are the things that grabbed us as young college kids...

 UT Dorm Advisors Weekend Spent at 7-A Ranch Here in Wimberley
kept us coming back over and over throughout our marriage and while raising our kids -- even when we lived halfway around the world...

One Last Lane-Sanford River Trip, Before Heading Back to Indonesia With Our Kids
A Three-Generation Family Meet-Up in Hunt, TX

and shaped our plans for how and where we wanted to live, once we finally settled down for good.

Yesterday, in Outdoor Woman's Backyard
This is what it means to us, to be "Livin' The Good Life".

Have you taken the time to figure out what it means to you? You will never get there, if you don't.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


One thing I always order from The Bountiful Sprout during the warm season is a big basket of assorted tomatoes. Each time I order it, it's completely different. Sometimes it's filled with big beefy slicing tomatoes just oozing with flavor, and the less you mess with them, the better they taste. That's when I turn to my recipe for Jewel's Uncooked Tomato Sauce, grabbed from one of the first blogs I ever got addicted to -- Jewel's blog Eyes of Wonder . This blog was so visually stunning, and about such an unusual family, that I had to go all the way back and start from the beginning, to see what I had missed.

Later in the season, when the basket tends more towards roma tomatoes, which are better for cooking than for eating raw, it's time to pull out my recipe for Cafe Lago's Roasted Tomatoes, which I'm pretty sure I found on a blog called Orangette -- another that was so visually stunning and had such an amazing backstory about how this blog brought two people on opposite sides of the country together and turned them into a magnificently food-obsessed family/food dynasty, that of course I had to go back to the beginning, to see what brought it all about.

Hadn't realized until that day that my very favorite colors were both tomato colors and Bakelite colors!
When my basket is filled mostly with wee little cherry, grape and pear tomatoes, then we make a lot of salads, or I fix those baked cherry tomatoes with goat cheese that I mentioned not long ago. Basically, it's all about making the most of what's at hand -- a common theme running through my new favorite blog, introduced to me by daughter Lex, Assortment. Another one that makes me want to go back to the beginning, to see how it all started!

Thinking about these blogs, the first of which is no longer being written but still available in archives, and the second being barely written now that she's busy writing books and opening restaurants and raising a child, made me stop and think about what drew me to them in the first place. It's not that I had any desire to live their lives. It's just that they all made me examine my own life, and really think about how I wanted to live it, what kind of home I wanted to create, what kind of food I wanted to eat and share with others, how I wanted to spend my time, and what kind of community I wanted to be a part of. Right now I am in a serious dry spell when it come to blog-reading, and could really use some good recommendations, if you have any!

Now, for some recipes...

Jewel's Uncooked Tomato Sauce

Combine in a large bowl 7 large ripe tomatoes, diced; 6 or so garlic cloves, minced; 1/2 cup firmly packed fresh basil, scissor-snipped in a mug. Add about 1/2 cup good extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle over 1/2 - 1 tsp. good sea salt and some freshly ground pepper. Cover bowl with a plate and let sit for several hours. Serve over hot, buttered pasta and top with grated parmesan. Could add olives or sauteed mushrooms, or serve with Italian sausage.

Cafe Lago's Roasted Tomato Pasta

1 cup olive oil, divided
2 lbs. plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise and seeded
1/2 T. dried oregano
3/4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. minced parsley
1 lb. penne pasta
freshly grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 250 F. Pour half of oil in 9x13 glass baking dish. Arrange tomatoes cut side up in dish. Drizzle with remaining oil. Sprinkle with oregano, sugar and salt. Bake one hour. Turn tomatoes with tongs. Bake one hour longer. Turn again. Bake until deep red and very tender, 15 - 45 minutes longer. Transfer to plate. When cooled somewhat, gently peel off skins. Transfer half of tomatoes and some of the oil to a bowl and gently chop with a dull knife. Add garlic and parsley and mix. Cook penne. Drain, reserving some cooking water. Add pasta to tomatoes. Mix in enough cooking water to loosen sauce. Top with grated parmesan and serve. Refrigerate remaining tomatoes in their oil, up to 5 days. Could serve some with toasted baguette and some goat cheese, with a fried egg, or even on a burger!

Speaking of food, and the people you want to share it with, I guess I'd better go get busy. One of The Muses has invited Hubby and I over this afternoon for a couples-float in their creek, followed by a fajita pot luck. Does it get any better?

Monday, July 11, 2016


So, this happened yesterday.

Bet you've never had a Watermelon Jalapeno Limeade, have ya? It was one of two specials on offer at Kate's Place yesterday, the other being a Watermelon Basil Limeade. Personally, I thought they both sounded revolting, but soon as he heard the magic word "jalapeno" Adventure Boy broke into a grin and said "I just might have to try that!"

After a while, he finally convinced me to take a sip. Much to my surprise, it didn't suck. In fact, it was kind of interesting.

But don't tell him I said so.

Sunday, July 10, 2016


Yes, I am fully aware that I'm jumping the gun when it comes to Little Goober stuff -- planning all the fun we will have with him in two or three years; figuring out which toys and materials I need to collect for the activities that I have in mind; pondering the ways in which our house needs to be revamped, etc. But, try as I might, I just can't seem to help myself! 

One thing I know for sure, though, is that I want our relationship to be about experiences and adventures rather than all about stuff. If I do buy things for him, it will be things that encourage us to interact with one another, not stuff that will send him off to stare at a screen on his own. And, since storage space, or lack thereof, is a major consideration both at our home and the kids', there can't be too much of it. Therefore, I've decided to limit myself to just a few categories.

1) Books, for starters. There will always be books. Most of them, I hope, can come from our wonderful little library here in town, and involve the experience of going to the library for one of their many wonderful children's activities, picking out some books to take home, and then maybe sharing lunch across the street on the shady patio of our favorite taco joint.

2) Creative play equipment which can be used on the magic anything-you-want-it-to-be shelf that I told you about a few weeks ago.

3) A dress-up box, of sorts. I'm thinking about using this wonderful three-tiered basket we brought back from Indonesia years ago. Half the fun is taking it apart and searching through each layer!

4) A few things for his Wonder Crew Doll which, yes, I went ahead and ordered, even though it's for kids three and up. Cuz, well, what if they went out of business before he was finally old enough to play with it?

One Adventure Pack I ordered to go with the doll was the one with blue and green rocket jammies and a little doll-sized sleeping bag, only to discover that it was the only Adventure Pack that did not come with anything for the child himself to wear. So, how cool was it that I stumbled across this yesterday...

in a size he can wear a couple of years from now, and for only five bucks. Coming up with a toddler-sized, blue and green striped nap mat or sleeping bag might be a bit more problematic.

5) Last, but certainly not least, there will be outdoor adventure and art supplies.

When I was looking at the different Adventure Packs available for his Crewmate, and saw the one with the hard hat and safety vest, it occurred to me that a nice little toolbox tote would be perfect for when Goober feels like turning his magic shelf into a workbench. I googled "kids tool kits" just to see what was available for a future birthday or Christmas gift, and got one of those pop-ups that said "people who ordered that also ordered this." It then showed a couple of story books involving kids and monkeys (Curious George) who were working with tools. That's when it hit me. My brilliant inspiration! It got me to thinkin', what if I could arrange it where all five of those categories I mentioned above were somehow related?

What if, whenever Goober walked through our door, the first thing he saw, right next to the tall rack holding all of Papa John's hats...

was a row of hooks something like this, within easy reach...

and holding things like a chef's hat and apron, an explorer's vest and binoculars, a superhero mask and cape, an artist's smock, and a tool man's vest and hard hat? What if he could choose whatever he felt like putting on that day, and dress his Crewmate buddy to match? If he chose the tool man clothes, we'd pull out the tool box and set it on his work bench. If he put on his chef's hat and apron, we'd get out his kitchen stuff and decide what to make together, for lunch or a snack. And there'd be books to read later, about people doing those very things, when he and his buddy were ready for some quiet time on their nap mats. Or he could draw a picture about our day, to give to Mom and Dad. How fun would that be?

But yeah, I know. I really, really need to stop obsessing about what we can do when he's older, and focus instead on what we can do now. Believe me, if there's one thing I learned with my own kiddos, it's that this time when they are small and cuddly goes by waaaaaay too fast, and it won't be long before I'll be wishin' I could turn back the clock!