Friday, December 29, 2017

Thursday Night Bowling

Another year, another Alamo Bowl in the books. But I actually attended this year with the girls and some friends instead of just watching from the sofa. Last time I went to our local bowl game, Mack Brown was still coaching the Longhorns!

This year the matchup was TCU v. Stanford. Although it looked like the dancing tree and ragtag band might cheer on their team to victory, the horned frogs brought home a win. Maybe we'll be sporting purple and white this time next year, depending upon where the junior decides to attend college.

A lovely bonus this year was a very nice man giving us a pair of sideline passes. The girls, ages 17-22, took turns going down to check out the action up close and personal. The oldest daughter declared that she's now spoiled and can't imagine having to watch future games from boring old seats in the stands.

In the video below, you can see the grad school daughter (B&W shirt) and her friend (cream colored outfit) on the sidelines in front of the TCU band at the end of the second quarter. The daughter said the band was cracking jokes and really entertaining her grad school friend from China, who had never attended an American football game.

Below is a pic of the younger daughter and her good friend on the sidelines during halftime, in front of the big V on about the 5 yard line.

In the video above, I found myself enjoying the blinks of the phones around the stadium in the third quarter. I'm still not sure why folks were doing that. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

See ya' later, Santa Claus

Santa has left the building. I've thoroughly enjoyed our holiday decor for the past six weeks, but today I woke up ready to look to 2018 with nary a St. Nick in sight. After entertaining a total of 20 folks over the course of the 24th and 25th, not counting our family of four both days, I don't want to see a full page grocery shopping list or have to crank up five of the range's six burners to whip up one meal for a while.

Today the husband and I worked together to get Christmas packed up and ready for storage out in the workshop. And then it dawned on me - I don't have any everyday decor to put out on the buffet, big dining table or front coffee table. I had forgotten that when I was setting the house up in August, I decided to go straight for fall decor. Then I shuffled that into storage to make way for Santa in November. So I had to spend some time this afternoon doing a bit of online shopping. It's a hodgepodge (as you can see below) but that's what I like about our house, being able to mix the old and new, rustic and contemporary in one space. Here are a few of the things I'm waiting to be delivered.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

'Twas the night before the night before Christmas

Lord have mercy, my dogs are barking. Not Pepper and Ollie - my feet! I stood on them for a solid five hours while Mimi and I cooked shrimp creole, chicken and sausage gumbo, and shrimp dip. This was after we shopped at two different grocery stores before noon, plus swinging by the cookie shop to get the cute iced cutouts I ordered.

Last night a teacher friend and I took our girls downtown to do the tourist routine, taking a ride on the river to see it all decked out for Christmas. After almost 19 years in this part of the state, I've never once seen them. A cold front blew through the area just in time to get us out of our t-shirts and flip flops, so we got to wear jeans, boots and sweaters to really get into the holiday spirit.

While Mimi and I were slaving over the stove all afternoon, the girls decorated a gingerbread barn. I think when you live in Texas, a barn is even more appropriate than a house. 

I rounded out my day with an evening run to get an additional 12 qt pot for Christmas Eve wassail, along with several nice ladles and a couple more loaves of bread. I couldn't locate another pack of the cute holiday snowflake Ritz crackers, dang it. We needed more bread because we've decided to use cookie cutters to make chicken salad and pimento cheese stockings, trees and stars instead of just boring old rectangular finger sandwiches. 'Tis the season to cook way too much food and eat leftovers for days!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Shake your head, darling

When the 22 and 17 yr old get together, you know an amateur photo shoot will occur soon. The girls typically frequent the Pearl area along the river, just north of downtown, to snap some pics. This time it was casual for the younger daughter, where her granny Doris dimple is winking at us...

while the older daughter needed some shots in professional business garb to update her Linked In page for the spring job hunt.

In the meantime, the dynamic duo keep me entertained with funny pics on Snap Chat. I personally don't like these silly filters, but they're cute when the young 'uns use them.

On the critter front, there have been many juvenile tarantula spottings in the past two weeks. I've stumbled upon them on the front porch, in the yard, and at the bottom of the pool. Which is kinda creepy, how you walk by one minute and spy three of them in the pool, then stroll by an hour later to see they've all climbed out and wandered away. 

Lizard slayer and squirrel spotter here, she-devil Pepper dog, cornered a tarantula on the front porch a couple nights ago before I realized what she was doing. When I finally clued in that it was NOT a leaf blown onto the porch, but had eight furry legs and an attitude, she was ready to lunge back in for the kill. I had to drag Pepper away because the disgruntled spider was reared up on its back four legs, waving the front four and baring its fangs aggressively. The spider was saying back up, Jack, and we heeded its warning. Or rather I knew it meant business and hauled the wanna-be spider brawler away from her fun.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Pampered Pooches

Ollie and Pepper were smelling decidedly doggy this week. To my bloodhound nose, it's eau de stale corn chips. So they made a trip to the local pet salon for a bath and some scissor work on their face fur to clean it up. I took them on the tandem leash and that was a freaking dog rodeo. But at least I entertained some folks who passed us on our way in and out with their antics. Best part - the holiday kerchiefs!

Patio Befores and Afters

It's not quite finished yet. The contractor will be returning next week to replace about eight of the slate tiles that cracked after installation before they were grouted and more secure. Plus the whole area needs a good scrub to get rid of the grout residue. And then everything gets sealed. But I'm already pleased with the results. As you can see below, it now has a much different feel even though we only changed up the hardscape and won't start on the landscaping until spring. 

Lizardville in the before pics above and below has been replaced with a fountain and some mulch for the time being. In the spring we'll finish updating this area with some non-fussy, low maintenance plants and a bit of river rock around the base of the fountain to add some visual interest.

The pic below is the old mismatched flagstone with the concrete slab they poured for an outdoor kitchen area they never built. This is the new location for our outdoor fireplace. 

About 18,000 gallons of water later and we've got a full pool once again. I followed the directions from the pool folks on chemicals and it has now turned a shade of green. I'm hoping the daily addition of muratic acid over the course of the next week will get it back to crystal clear. Otherwise I'll be ringing up the weekly pool service guys to help me maintain it. We're finally replacing the cheap and inefficient old sand filter with a new diatomaceous earth filtration system next week, so hopefully that helps keep the cement pond looking less like a home for alligators and nutria rats.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Moving Target

When the hooligans get wet in the rain or after the sprinkler system has run (or freak Texas snow like last Thursday), I put the dirt brown colored blanket on the bed and have them hop up there so I can get the blow dryer after them. But Pepper has this bad habit of thinking the blow dryer means it's time to attack big boy Ollie, which he doesn't appreciate. And so he growls, ducks and dodges to fend her off so they're dancing around the bed as a moving target while I wield the blow dryer in vain. The things a doggy mother does for her four-legged kids...


It's that time of year again, time for the teenager to find a dress for military ball in February. It's odd how that works, the whole school invited to dress up in floor length gowns to honor the school's corps of cadets. Students on one side of the ballroom and parents on the other, all seated at tables for dinner followed by a program afterwards. Then the parents bug out while the teens stay to enjoy the DJ. After all of that formal hoopla, the girls wear short party dresses to the junior-senior prom later in the spring. 

These two dresses made it on the short list when the junior went dress shopping with her best bud Saturday morning. Please note - the second dress would be in ice blue rather than the lilac you see in the pic. I'll let you know who the winner is in a couple months. Now she just has to wrangle a date for the event!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Oh the weather outside is frightful

The helpful lady at a local nursery ordered my nice big fountain in October that was set to be delivered this week...

but then rain arrived Tuesday, soaked us all day yesterday/today and then turned into THIS just now (Thur night).

Snow on December 7 in central Texas... well I'll be. As the saying goes, just wait a bit and the weather will change on you. The high Monday was around 80. Then wet and soggy weather the past two days that led to our current temp of 36 and snow sticking in the yard. Therefore, fountain delivery dude is supposed to get my fountain to the house tomorrow afternoon barring a blizzard. Or freak December tornado. Because nothing surprises me much anymore with the weather.

The teen was wishing for a snow day tomorrow. Poor baby, dreaming about postponing her Spanish oral exam.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Timing is Everything

As central Texans, we bitch and moan about the fact that we always seem to be in stage this or that of drought restrictions, because the aquifer is low and we have to watch our water consumption. Only running the sprinkler system on your assigned day. Risking a fine if you get caught washing your car.

Today we finally got some nice rain after weeks of next to nothing... and of course it's the day of the ladies luncheon I'm hosting for the gals who live on our street. These ladies range in age from late 30s to mid 80s, with many of them on the upper end of that range. I was seriously concerned one of them would fall on my slick-as-glass front walk and break a hip. Thankfully, they all made it inside in one piece. We had lots of great food, good conversations and door prizes for the winners of the holiday trivia and guessing games I devised. They all oohed and aahed over their take-home gifts of Santa themed decorated cookies. Because seriously, they are like little works of art and ALMOST too pretty to eat. Almost.

With the rain, we got to see how the new slate covered patio would handle drainage. Thankfully, it's all greatly improved except this one patch where it puddled. And check out that new pool tile they installed - a big improvement over the kinda funky and permanently stained stuff we had removed.

Last but not least, I have to mention the most memorable part of the day. Down the road we'll look back with laughter and say remember the year Mimi (my mother) set the little stove on fire when she burned the butter and flames shot out of it about 45 min before the ladies luncheon was set to start? I'm still cleaning up that fire extinguisher mess and it's just not funny yet. As my man of the season Clark Griswold would say, "Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?" Because my back, it is paining me from crouching on the floor working to clean that danged oven.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

You serious, Clark?

It's hard to believe my favorite Christmas movie, "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation", hit theaters waaaaay back in 1989. I was still in college, just a youngster. No matter how many times I watch it, and that number must be nearing three digits these days, I still laugh like a loon at the squirrel scene and get tickled when Clark is putting up the gazillion lights on the house.

I annoy the family by quoting my favorite parts along with the characters. And so of course I had to order this t-shirt with all of the movie's famous quotes that I found on Etsy. 

Thanks, Griswolds, for keeping it real with the fun old fashioned family Christmases where the in-laws and outlaws get on your last nerve, but you still love 'em like crazy.

Saturday, December 2, 2017


We kicked off my most favorite month of the year with a trip to Waco for state cheer competition. The 11th grader was bummed her squad didn't bring home the gold, but they finished a respectable 5th place. Some of the talent was college level amazing.

I love the pic above, getting her hair teased by one of the coaches.

It wouldn't be Texas cheer unless the girls were wearing big ol' hair bows on top of their heads. Below you can see we went a bit overboard securing our spots to watch them perform both days.

While I was there, I finally made it to the Magnolia Farms Fixer Upper Silos to see the Gaines business venture. That woman has done wonders for subway tile and the modern farmhouse look.

Then we got to celebrate the 11th grader turning 17 with breakfast and a haircut. She looks so grown up these days. I'm gonna blink my eyes and she'll be headed off to college, leaving us empty nesters. Time can slow down now, thank you very much.