Friday, December 29, 2017


Know what my very favorite part of Christmas is? I think it's probably late night Christmas Eve, after everyone but Mr. and Mrs. Claus has finally gone to bed, so that the stocking-filling-ritual can finally commence. Mr. Claus just loves that part so, so much.

The Calm Before The Storm
Austin's and Areej's Stockings
Calvin's Stocking & Gift Pile
The next morning, Lex was up not long after me, and came upstairs to start preparing a fabulous Christmas feast for us all. I later asked my hubby if he was sad about not being in charge of breakfast for the first time. Without a moment's hesitation, he replied "Heck No! Best Christmas EVER!"

It seems everyone was dressed for the occasion, except me. 

Guess I'd better go shop the after-Christmas sales, see what I can find for next year, huh?

Little Calvin started out quite jovial, but as the morning progressed, he got more and more mellow...

Loves his new shoes, and his little Daniel Tiger Christmas tree ornament!

Can you believe his mama actually asked Santa to bring him Play-doh and finger paints? What a nice mom!
until finally he burst into tears and became inconsolable. Turns out he was running a fever! We're so thankful he made it through all the best parts before it got too bad, but pretty sad that they had to cut their visit short, and that we didn't get to take him to see the Wimberley Trail of Lights.

Ah well, something to look forward to next year, right?

P.S. We've come a long way, baby. Just for fun, check out this post about one of our very first Christmases here in Wimberley.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


There's nothing like adding a little kid to the mix -- just old enough to be wowed by everything -- to make the season bright again.

No Hallmark movies for this gang! Instead it's the Dr. Who Christmas Special.
Always A Kid At Heart
Everything's A Phone To Him (His parents swear he didn't learn it from them!)
One of the biggest/best surprises this year was that, instead of me assigning each one a dish to bring, my kids got together and divided  the preparation of everything but one thing, including two fabulous brunches, so all I had to prepare was the beef tenderloin! Well, and provide a few beloved specialties from our local bakeries. 

Austin and Areej whip up all the sides for our Christmas Eve feast, plus some German Gl├╝hwein to sip on during after-dinner game-time. Papa John eyes the pastry station.
Is there anything better than kids who love to cook?
Beef Tenderloin and Horseradish Sauce, Brie and Bacon Tart, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and a Torchy's Tacos-Inspired Salad
Then it was time to put Little Goober to bed, play a rousing round of the game Telestrations, followed by our traditional Bad-B-Christmas Movie. This year it was El Camino Christmas. Believe me, we've seen worse. I actually made it all the way through this one!

to be continued...

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Yesterday started with a text message from my daughter, asking if I wanted a visit from my grandson. Well, duh! We are always happy to see him, but especially on that day since, 1) I was planning to introduce him to his very first taste of Christmas cookies...

so he'd have some idea what these pretend-cookies are, when they show up in his stocking (for play with the little wooden kitchen that he's getting for Christmas)...

He likes it!
and 2) Papa John had picked up a little something down in the square that had Calvin's name all over it. Actually, three somethings (there's a black and white checked one too!)

What can I say? The boy loves hats, and Papa John loves to shop!

Hard to believe a day could get any better, but then this showed up in the mail...

This issue won't be hitting the magazine stands until New Years, but I got an early edition because (SQUEE!!!) of this...

Could a day get any better?

Now all I have to do is pray that my actual Sudan/Barcelona travel journal, the basis for this article, makes it back home safe and sound!

Friday, December 15, 2017


As I said earlier this week, my point and shoot photography is not the best. So, I thought I'd share just a few of the beautiful shots my hubby got when we spent the evening at the Pearl Brewery complex over in San Antonio.

And, don't forget, this was just a small offshoot from the main riverwalk, which is just dripping with lights this time of year. If you have never been to San Antonio at Christmastime, it truly is something to behold!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


I shared a Facebook meme the other day that really struck a chord with me. It was a reminder that we are "not obligated to continue holiday traditions that leave us broke, overwhelmed or exhausted". I couldn't agree more. Over the years, my side of the family has gone from giving gifts to every single person, to drawing names, to doing a white elephant grab and swap kind of thing, and from very elaborate feasts on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to something much more casual.  No matter how we do it, we always have a great time when we're together. The same is true with our little family unit. There were times when we were alone in a foreign country, missing out on all the family get-togethers. That's when our friends became our family, forging bonds to last a lifetime, and we ended up having some of the best celebrations ever. When all the kids in our family grew up, things morphed yet again. We started celebrating as a group in mid-December, so that the kids and grandkids could each celebrate in their own homes on Christmas day.

The first time Hubby, the kids and I celebrated alone here in Wimberley, a new tradition was born. The flagship Whole Foods store had just opened in downtown Austin, and the four of us decided to go down there on Christmas Eve to see what all the hoopla was about, and to gather delicacies for our Christmas feast. Oh my, what fun we had! Over the years however, when they added a skating rink and lots of other stuff for the holidays, the crowds grew and grew, until it finally became more hassle than fun. Then there was a period where we went to the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar each year. The last two years we got together here, at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar...

which worked pretty well with an infant/toddler in a stroller.

Next year, with an almost-three-year-old, that may not be true. But that's OK. We'll adjust. You see, the tradition isn't about where we go. It's about being together, doing something fun.

Because the holidays aren't about doing everything just the way your mother or grandmother did it, upholding all the traditions that were important to them back in their youth. They are about being with those you love now, creating memories and traditions that will be meaningful to them. And, which won't leave you broke, overwhelmed, and exhausted!

Monday, December 11, 2017


Hubby and I had a fun little adventure Friday night. He has a group in Austin that he meets up with periodically for photo walks, and this month they decided to do a night walk at the Pearl Brewery complex in San Antonio. Knowing how much I love San Antonio at Christmas time, he invited me to tag along, and we booked a room for the night. Not, however, at the amazing Hotel Emma, there in the complex. It's just a tad pricey. First stop upon arrival? Mi Tierra cafe, in El Mercado, for a cup of their delicious Mexican hot chocolate, to warm us up. (It's not on the menu. Just ask for it.)

Now, I'm sure that all the professional photographers got some amazing shots, considering all the equipment and tripods they were lugging around. But since all I had was my little point and shoot, and John didn't show me how to set it for hand-held night photos until the end of the evening, well, mine weren't so great. Nevertheless, I still had a lot of fun just soaking up the sights and sounds.

A Close-Up of the Tree Above

We made our own tapas-style dinner off of the appetizer menu at The Boiler House.  The cheese and charcuterie platter was good...

but the Buffalo Meatballs and the House Chicharones & Hot Sauce were moan-inducing!

The next morning, after checking out of our hotel, I assumed we would go to our usual Mexican place or Guenther House for breakfast. But, just for the fun of it, hubby used his phone to see what all was in the area, and discovered this -- La Boulangerie

Love these cups that keep your knuckles away from the hot cup. We had our choice of dark or sweet hot chocolate. I think the dark is probably better for dipping something sweet into.

The $14 combo included coffee or tea, yogurt with fruit and granola, orange juice, toasted baguette with honey, butter or jam, and your choice of pastry (he chose a chocolate croissant).
Croque Monsieur
Picture me desperately trying to think of any excuse to return to San Antonio in the very near future!