Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Ya'll!

Christmas is all about food, family, gifts, snow, glitter, music, evergreens, holly, cinnamon, apples, bells, bows and boxes.  We get so caught up in all of that, making sure that all the gifts are ready to go by the eve of Christmas day, when the whole world shuts down, and rips into the work of the shopping season.  On the big day, we eat, drink, travel, hug, and sometimes try to find a store open to find the half and half that we need to go in the sweet potatoes, since we used it all in our coffee that morning.
I like to stay in my pajamas for as long as I can, woobied up with a cup of something warm and wonderful, and a pile of wrapping paper crumpled around me from all the flotsam of the tearing open of boxes and bags full of goodies. 
A ginormous cinnamon bun with real butter for breakfast and now I feel ready for a nap:)
Soon, it will be time to start cooking.  Or watching the various cooks do their enormous task of putting together a gargantuan feast.  We each have a contribution to the kitchen.  Turkey, ham, gravy, taters of two kinds, a half a dozen various vegetable casseroles, pies, cakes, salads,  fresh breads, the list goes on.  Lots of butter and sugar.  My contribution to the meal is the deviled eggs.  It's my job.  Well, and my chickens.  Other than the eating part.
I'll go on a diet after New Years - I mean - why not just enjoy it all NOW?

But we all know that the real reason for the season is Jesus.  The celebration of His birth, on earth, to Mary and Joseph, in a stable, in Bethlehem.  Last night our church had our first candlelight service in our beautiful church building.  Actually, it is a big barn:)  Pastor Dave read the scripture of the story and in between, our band Branded by Grace, played songs like Mary did you Know, There's a new Kid in Town,  Born in a Barn, and Away in a Manger.  It was magical and beautiful.  I felt honored to be a part of it.
The story grounds me.  Calms me. Centers me. Makes me feel like I'm in this world to reflect the light. That whatever I forgot to do for Christmas Day doesn't matter as long as I remember the story.  The real story of why we celebrate Christmas.

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wink or you'll miss it

So, that's supposed to be "blink".
But "Wink" is the name of the restaurant that Brad said was his favorite. 
We'll plan another trip, stay at a groovy hotel and make dinner the highlight of our trip.
and spending time with friends.
Which is always the best part.

I wanted to share a little about the dinner Brad prepared for us when we were in Austin.
He's a big foodie - a lot of my friends are these days it seems.
Anyway - even though it was HIS birthday, and he was beginning a huge project with his firm,
I asked him to cook for us.  I know, I'm ROTTEN!  But the man needed a little R & R,
and cooking is just the thing for a foodie to relax a little.  Especially when he's got appreciative
EATERS on hand.  And I am that, if nothing else, a really good eater.

We gave him carte blanche.  I suppose that put a french spin on things, because he came up with a menu that included Coq au vin.  The dish that the french usually prepared when they had an old rooster on hand that was acting unruly.  Instead, he used some nice chicken thighs he found at the famous Austin Central Market that very afternoon.  He paired it with a bunch of brussels sprouts, and a fabulous salad made with this spinach from Poteet Texas of all places.  It was divine.

The chicken was tender and savory.  The vegetables were perfectly cooked  - sort of like a chicken stew.  He chose a white wine to flavor the pot, which added  a nice and fresh, very clean lightness to an otherwise heavy winter dish.  I loved it.  I had two thighs, hopefully a right one, and a left one - to stay balanced.

I have to say, the Brussels sprouts were my favorite.  Larry likes them, so I cook them occasionally, but these were cut in half and allowed to caramelize in the pan on the flat side before they were turned, and then a bit of balsalmic reduction added to flavor.  I could eat a ton of them, and in fact, did, finish off the healthy portion he prepared for us.  No leftovers there.  Sorry Barb:)

The salad was another thing of beauty and culinary delight.  Evidently, this Poteet spinach has quite a reputation.  It is sweet and tender, triple washed, fresh with goodness and nutty flavor.  Barb had this great salad dressing with blue cheese made by Martinique brand that added a pungent savory-ness to the greens.  I can't for the life of me remember what else was in that salad, but I had two helpings.  I'm telling you, I'm an eater:)  Normally I don't eat bottled dressing, but this stuff was great, and has good ingredients - well, except for the soy oil, which I understand is not great for the thyroid, but all the other stuff was good stuff - and NO SUGAR, which is pretty remarkable.   I found some today to put in my pantry.  I'm thrilled to have found it in Weatherford!

Great wine, great friends, great food, great fellowship, lots of laughter, stories well told, and best of all, the gift of time, given without hesitation. 
Is the stuff that makes memories shared.
Thanks Brad,
for cooking for us for your birthday. 

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Food in Austin

Spent a few days in Austin and wanted to make the most of the calories spent there.  Three of us took a few days after all the shows were finished with for a food and friends extravaganza.   It was Brads birthday, so we asked what his favorite restaraunt was.  I can't remember the name of the place he said without hesitation - more on that one later, cuz we're planning another trip.  We started searching online for a restaraunt we used to haunt in the old days in Austin.  Miraculously, it was still in business.  I mean, food comes and goes in Austin, and the fact that this one has been an institution in a trendy city is a testament to its goodness.

Kyoto.  You take your shoes off when you enter.  Sit on the floor.  Beautiful ladies in Kimonos serve you fabulous food.  I couldn't wait.

But it was sunday, and I suppose we all have to have a day to rest.  This was theirs.  So, we started over, searching.  And found this gem called Uchiko.  It has a higher end restaurant in town called Uchi, but we are on a budget, so we chose this and made a reservation.  It was an experience.  Let me tell you.  I wish I had written down the food we were all able to taste and sample a bit of.  Beautiful food - fresh sushi mostly - a few cooked dishes - incredible from the fresh fish to the fresh vegetables to the beautiful presentations.  All served by a most delightful waitress, each time telling us passionately and patiently what we were eating, and how wonderful she thought it all was too.  I love it when a wait person is passionate about the food they are serving.  It is absolutely one of the things I search for when I am looking for a food experience.  I wish her good fortune in her future, but I also hope that every time I visit, I find her in exactly the same spot, at the same table, with the same sushi chef (which by the way, is a woman).  I loved every minute of it.

The next day started out wonderful  - we had breakfast from Barbs own kitchen - a savory and yummy  dish of fresh eggs and sausage,  orange juice, about three pots of coffee with half and half, and a catch up get to know ya better visit in her very comfy  living room.   A GREAT morning relaxing with friends.

We decided we wanted to spend a few hours on Congress Ave shopping, so about noon, we headed out.   Christy was looking for some neato cowgirl boots.  Kim isn't ever really looking for anything, but we have SO much fun dressing her that she can't help buying something along the way.  And me, well, I can almost always find something.  I'm not just a good eater, I'm also a good hunter, and an even better finder. 

After a few hours, we were famished again and fell into a really cool looking lunch spot called Snack Time.  It has so much potential.  I mean, the place is really groovy inside and out.  Our waitress was sweet and if not passionate about the food, she was smiling and available.  We ordered some items that sounded really interesting, like veggie straws, and roasted beet salad with goat cheese, and sweet potato soup, and hummus, and something I can't pronounce with leeks and cabbage and aoili.  The soup was so thick you could cut it -tasted like it came out of a can and more like a pumpkin than a sweet potato (we're foodies here, so we know).  The veggie straws were from a bag - I mean, a little bowl of colored chip things that tasted like those Munchos you used to get when you were on the road. I don't do that anymore FYI.  The hummus tasted like it was soured - we sent that one back.  And the beet salad was straight from a can - not roasted beets - they were vinegared.  The only redeeming part was the thing I can't pronounce or remember what it was - the leek and cabbage thing - it was delicious, and no doubt freshly prepared, presented well, and I wanted to order another one.  But I didn't push my luck - we paid our overpriced bill and went on our way, already thinking about the next meal........

More on that one in the next blog.  Brad cooked, so stay tuned.......

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

First Christmas Tree

I was just thinking of a story my mother shared with me a few years ago and it paints such a portrait of them both.  I wanted to share it while I was thinking of it -even though Christmas is not for a few weeks yet.  But this is a thanksgiving story I suppose.  For I am grateful for my parents and for what they taught me.  How to dream, how to be creative, how to leap before I look, and how to look before I leap.  Sometimes you need both skills.  I'm happy to say that I am both spontaneous and thoughtful.

My  parents were married in the early fifties - likely the tinsel that we decorated the Christmas tree with was made with lead  - I remember the feel and weight of it before it was plasticized.  Anyway, my mom tells this great story of their first Christmas tree.   I guess while they were putting up the tree, dad left the room for a minute and when he came back, she had all the tinsel on the tree.  In her fashion, she just threw it at the tree in giant clumps and let it land where it would - that is sort of the way she does everything, with joy and gusto.  My dad came back into the room and blew a gasket.  No, no, no!  That's not the way you do it!  He took every single cotton pickin strand off that tree and put them back on, one by one, exactly the same distance apart.  Perfectly.  I'm sure it took him forever to finish.  He has always been that way.

So I grew up in a home with a mother that just threw herself at everything she did with wild abandon, and a father that was calculated and systematic and orderly at everything.  This story paints a colorful portrait of the two of them.  And now, fifty some years later, they are still driving each other completely nuts -  still decorating the tree the same way.
Only now,
mom leaves the room.

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Friday, November 12, 2010

rainy days and fridays

Ah, a rainy day at last.  Seems I'm always hoping for rain.  I think since I moved to the country and I can see things growing around the vast countryside without the aid of a sprinkler system.  I realize how dependent we are as humans on the rain and the sun for our health, for our food, for our daily nourishment.

I've spent the last two weeks cleaning out the garage and the studio and still haven't finished, but there is light at the end of the tunnel for sure.  Weekend before last, a  poorly attended garage sale despite great weather and good advertisement, but we got rid of a few sundry items and took the rest of it to Goodwill.  There is still more to go, but it will have to wait now.  The Christmas season, the holiday season has quickly encroached on my social and home life and needs all of my attention.

Last week and weekend was spent readying and working a show in Fort Worth.  Again, poorly attended despite the good weather, but I made some great contacts and created new friendships.  It always amazes me the graciousness of people I hardly know.  Maybe it is because my work touches people in so many ways.  Words reaching out to bring encouragement, or joy, or just a laugh out loud.  I heard many of those while I was attending my booth this past weekend.  But the most gracious of them all this weekend, was the woman that told me about a rock she had one of her tilesmiles displayed in.  It had a perfectly squared hollow in it that a tilesmile fit into like a glove.  Me, being the rock hound that I am, loved hearing that, and we shared many stories of picking up rocks in foreign places to bring home as souvenirs.  It is ridiculous how many rocks I have hauled around the country.  My husband just tolerates it and lifts the heavy ones for me.  ( If you haven't seen the movie, The Long Long Trailer, I highly recommend it:)

Anyway, the next day, she shows up at my booth again, with the rock IN TOW!  Once I figure out how to put a photo on here from my phone, I'll share it with you.  I mean, she wrapped up that ROCK and brought it to me to show it to me!  Not a photo - but the whole cotton pickin ROCK!  I almost cried.  I mean, she went out of her way to share something wonderful with me.  Ok, maybe not wonderful to anyone else but a rock hound, but I was just thrilled with her thoughtfulness and grace.

Not to mention all the people that shared with me how they had used my tilesmiles in their kitchens or bathrooms, or given them to people that were overcome with grief, or a health issue.  And the one lady that knew all about this blog, and apologized for knowing so much about my work and me, thinking I would think her a stalker or something.  I mean, this is sort of so you can know me just a little bit?  To know where all this stuff comes from, that it actually means something to me.  No, I'm grateful, and honored to be read at all.

So, today, after two weeks of hard work, I am still in bed at 11am, reading, writing, listening to the wind, and before that, the rain, and thankful for the people in my life, the house over my head, the art within me, for my Lord Jesus Christ, my music, my family, my wonderful husband, and my dog, Gracie.
Life is good.  Especially when it rains.

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Monday, October 4, 2010

autumn stuff

The windows are open once again.  Ahhhhh, a breath of fresh air cools my home and clears the air.   As the weather begins to cool, and the leaves begin to turn, we can be outdoors a little more, work in the garden, tend to things that have been put off for the burning days of the summer.  We can breathe again.  Summer in Texas is an endurance test for people like me.  Everything is hotter in Texas.  Or so the T shirt says.

So NOW, we are inspired by the junk in our closets and the stuff we have collected over a lifetime, to CLEAN HOUSE.  And by that, I mean, REALLY clean the clutter.  Supposedly you are supposed to be inspired to do that in the spring, but in Texas, we have been indoors all summer, and the fall comes, even a hint of it, and we are ready to go to work.  OUTSIDE.  You see those shows on television about the folks that hoard stuff.  While I don't think we fall into that category, there are those that might argue the point if they looked in our garage.  It is one of the things that Larry and I would fight over at the drop of a hat - that is, cleaning out the garage.  We have to be very careful when we attempt that task.  May actually be the very reason we don't, very often.  But it is time.  And the weather is perfect.

So, we have set a date.  An entire week in fact, to clear out the closets, so to speak.  We are having a garage sale in three weeks, selling the stuff we don't use, the stuff we don't need, the stuff we have been storing and forgot we had.  It is just too much to live around anymore. 

Seems funny, but the larger your purse, the more you put in it.  The larger your closet, the more clothes and shoes and purses you find to store there.  The larger your junk drawer, the more junk you collect.  What do we really need?  When we lived in the RV, we found that we really needed very little to live day to day.
Although, I did find that I missed some of my stuff after living in that confined space for a year and a half.
But really, I don't need 24 tea cups, do I? AND their saucers?

We used to live in a really tiny house.  One of those old houses in Fort Worth with tiny rooms, tiny closets (if there even WERE closets) and no storage at all in the kitchen, no garage.  We managed to cram the space with stuff, despite the lack of storage spaces.  The attic held our Christmas decorations and our luggage, thankfully. 

When we moved out here, the 9 acre place was full of stuff, left from another lifetime of collecting.  We spent the first couple of years clearing off piles of bits of stuff - throwing most of it in the dumpster, which was emptied every week.  And now we have our own piles of stuff.  Stuff from the house as we remodeled it, like old cabinets and porcelain fixtures from the bathroom, lumber that is still useable, and roofing material that we had left over.  Fencing, wire, panels, trailers, even an old truck that doesn't run any more.  We've managed to replace the piles with our own lifetime of stuff.  And now we are feeling overwhelmed by it all again.
It's movin on outa here. I reckon.

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chow Town Chicks at home in Kimy's back yard

I've realized over the past couple of weeks that I don't like to write about food I don't like, so the last two places the chicks have been weren't anything to write home about.  Bummer, cuz they had such potential.  So many places do.  But that is exactly why we decided to start writing about our food experiences - because we are definately passionate about it, AND we want to change what people seem to be accepting as GOOD.   We're definately in the minority here, realizing that not everyone has the same taste buds that we three chicks have, NOR the expectations when it  comes to good food, service, cleanliness, and just plain ole' hospitality.

So after one really great start to this endeavor and two really bummer ones, we decided to take the bull by the horns and just go to Kimy's house.  Sit in her absolutely breathtaking back yard, and eat food that only an artist could create.  It was picture perfect.

I suppose everyone has a favorite memory of a meal - the one that always comes to mind when someone asks you what your favorite food memory is.  Mine was at a restaraunt in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.  A tuna steak, about two inches thick, seared on both sides for about two minutes each, served with a reduced soy sauce and drizzle of spicy green wasabi.  I can't even remember what else came with it.  But it was SO good, I wanted to order it again.  Next time I have a meal like that, I WILL order it again.  I've done it since, and have learned my lesson.  Life is too short to go wanting at the table of a great chef. 

So at Kimy's house, she served my favorite.  I'm not sure if she knew it really was my favorite food.  I have lots of favorites.   She DOES know, however, that I am an eater, and to make sure there is plenty in the kitchen.  There are rarely leftovers when I am served.  Much to her husbands regret for not being there to share in the feast.  I even ate what was left on Christy's plate when she got too full to finish.  :)

Two salads.  That opposing sweet salty thing that Kimy does so well.  Arugula with chunks of cool seedless watermelon,  drizzled with balsalmic reduction, and scattered with home made nearby local feta cheese.  Oh my. 

Cool refreshing Pellegrino in a big round wine glass.

THEN, on the BIG plate.  This shell thing that she made out of parmesan cheese.  Made extra open so all the salad could fit inside - knowing how I love a gargantuan salad.  Feild greens, red onion, crisp corn cut from the milky cob, craisins, and her own luscious homemade garlicy balsalmic vinaigrette. 
The tuna was bought fresh, that morning, all pink and thick and wonderful.   Salted and peppered and coated wtih black and white sesame seeds, and seared on both sides for no more than two minutes, served rare, the way God intended it, sliced thin and served with a drizzle of aioli and horseradish sauce.  Absolute heaven. 

Well, if that's not enough.  Dessert was another delectable delight.  Not too sweet, but wonderfully chocolatey, these 70% pure cocoa muffins, made with real cream and my own backyard Shady B Ranch happy hen chicken eggs.  She was whipping them up when I got there.  When she took 'em out of the oven, timed perfectly for the end of our main meal, she poked a chunk of that immensely rich chocolate down inside the middle of the muffin, served it on top of some yummy homemade whipped cream with real vanilla bean flecks in it, and topped it all off with little rubies of strawberries, coated with more of that reduced balsalmic vinegar.  Coffee with real half and half.  More blissful heaven.  Nobody puts chocolate and strawberries together like Kimy does.  It is one of her specialties.

I wish I could recommend to you, a reservation at the restaraunt Kimy.   The first time I had dinner there, I asked her husband, sort of jokingly, if he ate that way every night.   And his answer to me was,

"Yea, actually we DO." 

Good food is not fattening.
 Eat real. Cook more. Find joy in the food you eat. Share it with others. Shop for it often.  Eat at home.  Buy fresh. Buy local.  Eat organic. Eat slowly.  Say "mmmmmm" throughout your meal.  Rub your belly.  Relax in the moment.  Take photos of your plate.  Eat more vegetables.  Arrange your plate for color.  Eat a salad every day.  A good one.  And always say thanks.

 Eating good food and making good food choices is the best thing you can do for yourself. 


love, rachel

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

a Challenge

Today I was on my way to Yoga class and a little bitty bit hungry.  Everywhere, there were signs, signs, signs, on all the food joints, in the windows, on the marquis, even staked in the ground out front.  Donut shops - I counted two within one block.  Lots of sandwich shops, hamburgar joints, quick drive thru mexican food, taco stands, pizza joints, drive-ins, drive-thrus, quick stops, on every block, everywhere you look - signs with these huge VALUES.  You can get a LOT of food for your money these days!  But what are you really getting?   The signs advertise FREE tots with a supersized burger meal, FREE biggie drink with sandwich, $2.99 delux valu meals,  FREE frosty wtih combo meal, etc. etc. etc.  Oh what to do? What to do?



No, not really - I almost never starve. I'm almost always hungry!  And I eat a lot for my 120 pounds.   But I can easily pass these offerings of value right on by.  I can wait until I get finished with my yoga class and go home and fix something really special for my lunch.  And I can even do it fast if I need to.    Something that I'll feel good to eat and will make my body feel good to eat.  Something that won't break my pocketbook either.

I used to eat all that stuff.  Thirty pounds ago.  I used to feel crummy too.  Two years ago.   I hurt all over and walked like I was 90 years old.  I didn't sleep well and even my fat hurt.   I was on all sorts of pills.  Pills for pain, pills to sleep, pills for anxiety.   My doctor put me on a diet.   I started reading about food.  I went to a B.E.S.T. doctor and he told me to start eating one extra vegetable a day.  I didn't even know how to do that.  So I drank a V8 juice.  Which, by the way, was a really good idea. 

So this is your challenge.  Start the same way I did.  Eat one extra vegetable a day.  Maybe you don't eat any vegetables in a day.  So adding one will be a huge improvement in your diet.  Just do that one thing.
And we'll take it slow from there. 

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Monday, March 8, 2010

bull riding event

Saturday night was a date night.  Larry and I met our friends Kim and Don at the Railhead in Forth Worth for Barbeque.  The best barbeque I have ever put in my mouth is served at the Railhead.  But we've actually found another Railhead location- a newer version of our beloved Railhead in Fort Worth near our old house.  This one is in Hudson Oaks - and a LOT closer to us in Weatherford.  On tuesdays and saturdays you can get  a half a roasted barbequed chicken and this incredible salad that is NOT on the menu in Fort Worth.

 Me, I 'm not much on potato salad or cole slaw - unless I'm the one what made it, so this salad is right up my food combining alley.  And it has all my favorite stuff in it.  I mean, meat and potatos are just about the worst thing you can eat at the same time, but we Texans seem to eat a lot of things that way.  Steak and potatos, chicken fried steak and mashed potatos, fried chicken and potatos, hamburgars and french fries.

The other choice at the Railhead, of course, is their unbelievable barbeque pork  ribs.  Fall off the bone tender - you really don't ever want to get full - they are craveable, so since we discovered this new Railhead near our own neighborhood, we frequent there as often as we can.  Unless it is a tuesday or a saturday, I order a large salad with toasted pecans, feta cheese, and balsalmic dressing, with a pound of ribs and a Blue Moon.  Coldest beer anywhere, and they serve this new wheat beer my neice turned me on to - the Blue Moon - maybe it isn't new, but it is new to me - served with orange slices - my new favorite.  It's just not as good at home - I tried it, and it needs to be served to me by a nice smiling waitress in that cold frozen scooner that's almost too big for my hands.  I pick it up with two. 

So we had tickets to the Bull Riding event at the Will Rogers Coliseum.  Smelled just like you would expect a Bull Riding event to smell.  Like dirt and pee, sawdust and poop, beer and cinnamon rolls, all rolled up together to make a big ole' Bull Pie odorific one of a kind memorable you'd know exactly where you were if you had a blindfold on kind of experience.

We found our seats and they were good ones - right near the action.  Just in time, the announcer started talking though we couldn't understand a word through the speaker system in the arena.  His words were garbled and loud - every once in a while we could make one of them out.  So we just watched as each contestant tried to stay on the backs of those crotchety old bulls for the precious desired eight seconds so they could be scored.  These cowboys were named Austin and Justin, and Rigger and Roper and Tuffy and Roughy and the last names were about the same.  I mean, do you think their parents named them those perfect bull rider names or are those nicknames?   They were like movie star names or something.  And crazy.  I don't know who is crazier.  A Bull Rider, or the clowns that help refocus a furious bucking bull.

Talk about a score!  When it was over and the winner had recieved his belt buckle and his brand new saddle (Larry suggested it was weird for a bull rider to get a saddle for a prize and we all agreed)  Anyway,  Don had scored these precious "back stage" upstairs coveted go up the elevator to the famous bar for important people tickets, so we went, finding the elevator finally, past the guards that were carefully screening people that tried to go up, turning people away right and left, past these folks that were envying us for that coveted ticket Don held in his hands.  We were feeling somewhat superior having these important tickets and excited to have this "experience" and go up to the famous upstairs bar and viewing area.    I can't really describe what we found there.  Kim and I went to the bathroom and when she opened the door to go inside, there was a brick wall.  Huh, is it a practical joke or something?  We opened the door next to it and found the real bathroom.  OK, so THAT was weird.

Then the bar had these plywood covered tables with folding chairs around them - they sort of needed tablecloths or something - like they had just cleaned up after a wedding and it was time to go home sort of feeling.  The bar had lots of people all bunched up in line to order and this most peculiar painting behind it.  I  mean, tell me what you think this is?  There just has to be a  good backstory here.  Once I find out what it is, I'll be sure to share it with you.

But this is weird don't you think?   Like outer space weird.

there's no music playing, no sound at all, but there are all the superior people around us that had the same superior special upstairs passes.  There was a concert going on below, we could see it through the glass windows, but we were behind it - we could see the back of the band, and it was silent.  We could watch the people down below enjoying themselves packed up in front of the elevated stage in the middle of the arena, watching the concert.  I never did find out who was playing. 

So, we drank our fancy drink in our fancy plastic cups and with a bewildered look at each other and a few photos taken to commemorate the moment, we left, onward home to the real world and art that makes sense.

BTW, a kinda cool thing - When we got off the elevator, there was a young couple that were being turned away because they didn't have the coveted special ticket.  So, when they turned away all dejected, Don went over to them and handed them his pass upstairs and then walked away.  Hopefully they found it a stimulating experience and knew exactly why there was a painting of a two legged horse butt with an eyeball on the wall behind the bar.
Anyway, I thought it was a nice gesture.  Don't you?  We should pay it forward whenever we can.

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!
So, My girlfriend Kim came out here sunday afternoon with her cool husband Don and their two kids, Dharma and Zoe. 

Don bought a new/old tractor that he and Larry wanted to do some tinkering on, so they spent the day in the garage contemplating parts and pieces, wishing for the owners manual, and for a warmer drier day so they could go dig something.  I sort of wanted to get on that old rusty back hoe and do some digging too, but the weather was too cold and wet and icky to do anything but stay inside with my girlfriend and cook something delectable.

So that is what we did. 

We spent the day working on our evening meal, and then spent an hour and a half sitting at the table enjoying the fruits of our labor, along with a fabulous bottle of cabernet sauvignon called Jade Mountain.  I'll buy that again if I can find it again!

We drank champagne while we cooked. It's always a time for celebration when Kim and I are together.  This day, we celebrated our good health and happiness.  We took a break and put on our chicken boots and went out to the coop to feed  the chickens some veggie scraps, and collected a few green eggs for the dessert, which called for a half dozen egg whites.

We listened to old albums on my old record player. We wore our houseshoes. We laughed a lot and drank more champagne.  We roasted spice nuts and every twenty minutes, we stirred the nuts. The beeper would beep and we'd say "Time to stir the nuts".  I guess you had to be there, cuz it was funny.  We played with my new Jack LaLane juicer and tried all sorts of juices. We juiced everything!  We compared the Jack LaLane juicer with the Dr. Weil juicer - more on that later.

We made the beds with fresh sheets still warm from the dryer. We watched Public Television - a show on Italy. We drank more champagne.

And that's how we spent our day - doesn't it sound like the best sunday afternoon ever?
SO, here is our menu. Just get a load of this.

Sockeye Salmon with spiced nuts served
on top of
slow cooked carmelized onions with
red cabbage, apples,
flaked coconut and craisins.

Aside some 'roasted just long enough' asparagus
 with fresh garlic and some of that unbelievable olive oil I brought back from San Gimignano, Italy.

And some very large, very beautiful scallops that we soaked in a mixture of balsalmic vinegar, ginger and garlic, then wrapped in bacon with water chestnut slices and baked until they were  crispy on the outside and tender juicy on the inside?

And what dessert took six egg whites to prepare?.....
a drum roll  please,

Kimy's Ghirardeli chocolate mousse with fresh,
only slightly sweetened whipped cream,
chocolate covered 
espresso beans.

You can't believe how good it was.

really a taste of Heaven. 
 I love pretty food.

chow, ciao  for now


Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Rachel the Roofer

I posted this photo on my facebook and one of my galfriends said this.
"Rosie the Riveter has nothing on this gal - Rachel the Roofer - you GO girl!"
Isn't that funny?   I laughed out loud at that comment.

Lots of work still to do on the old Shady B Ranch, and a sunny day is too good to pass up.  So saturday afternoon Larry and I went to work on one of our many projects - the roof of the garage.  It took me a while to get my "roof legs", but eventually I forgot I was walking around on a slanted surface high off the ground, until Larry said to me - "Hey, you're walking instead of scooting on your butt."  And at that minute, I had to start scooting again.  It's like awareness hit me and the fear set in all over again and I lost my balance - feeling magnetized, drawn to the edge where I will fall off head first.  I'm not very good at heights.  But man, give me that nail gun.  HOOO-AHHHH - I'm a nailgun kinda gal. 

Lately our projects have been indoors as  the rain has been steady around here, so it was oh so good to get outside and feel the sun on our backs.  Our ponds are full, the bar ditches flowing, the pastures are soggy,  and the horses stay covered  in  mud.   I stopped worrying over my floors indoors - it is pointless until the weather turns.  But it promises to be a lush and wonderful spring, and  for me and most of the folks I know around here, it can't come soon enough.

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Oh, how wonderful it is to have girlfriends.

My friend Christy came up with this fabulous idea to start blogging our lunch experiences.

She and Kim and I love food. Good food. And the BEST food, we find, comes from our own kitchens. But so many times, we just want to meet somewhere and be fed, served, taken care of, while we laugh and enjoy something scrumptious.

So, this blog Christy is writing, and the name of our trio, is chow town chicks and you can follow what we’re up to on this site.  go to Chow Town Chicks here on blogger.

Each of us has a bit of a different spin on what we want to write about and search for in our quest.  Christy is looking for value, for the economy conscious women out there, wanting the same things we all want, but wanting a good price to get it.
Kim, I would say is our veggie head. While she likes a good steak as much as any Texas gal, she prefers the lighter fare with good color and lots of well prepared veggies. As for me, I would say by far, am the biggest eater of our trio. I can really put it away.  While Christy and Kim are brilliant chefs in their kitchens, I can put together a pretty good plate myself, but enjoy more than anything just EATING good pretty food. And I eat a lot of it.

A few years ago, when I wanted to shed a few pounds and was feeling well, basically, crummy, I started really thinking about WHAT I was eating, and educating myself on how food works in my body and what was IN the food I eat. I’ve learned a lot over the past few years and now I’m pretty particular about what I put in my mouth. So I plan to share some of what has worked for me, in terms of good food. Both in restaraunts and in the food we choose to serve in our homes.

So, yesterday was the first Chow Town Chicks luncheon.  Christy found this place online, in Fort Worth on Magnolia Street, called Lily's Bistro on Magnolia.   We were greeted by a smiling face and directed to a table we had already spotted in a sunny window, sort of private and special. Our hostess overheard our glee (yes, it was glee:), and accommodated our wishes immediately. It was noon too, and the restaraunt was busy, which is a really good sign of a well run establishment. Cha ching, one glass toasted already! Within minutes we had another smiling face at our side, taking drink orders and brought us a wine menu to peruse.

Neither of the two choices of appetizers were appealing to us – the Gorgonzola Fries or the Fried Dill spears. Hmmmm, what’s that about? Fried appetizers? So our very accommodating waitress suggested we try this Tzatziki Medley. And what a GREAT suggestion this was. It was a ginormous plate of two different kinds of tabouleh, which is a bulghar wheat salad. One with fresh veggies (Kim loved this one best) and a lemon vinaigrette. The OTHER one, (my favorite) was called Bulgher and Berries. Oh my, it had cherries, and cranberries, and banana chips, and pistachios and cilantro, with a citrus vinaigrette. All was served very appetizingly on a plate with crisp lettuce, and a fabulous chunky cucumber sauce. Oh yea, and triangles of fried pita bread, which was wonderful, but weird - I mean, yet another fried thing?(NOT Christy’s favorite) BUT when we asked about it – whether it was baked or fried (there was some question) – our waitress offered to bring us some plain pita instead and brought a generous portion of that for us to nibble. Christy is happy.

I could have stopped there.

I asked for the waitresses favorites and the good news is that she had a lot of them. I always like a wait –person that is familiar with the food they are serving. I think it is important for restaurants to have their employees taste everything they prepare so they are well informed about the menu. I mean, this is what they DO – the restaurant, I mean – and their employees need to know what it tastes like!

I went with the salmon. Served with their signature “Lily’s Rice”. Now, here is where my food choices come in. Often I will choose something based on what it comes WITH. I spent quite a long time studying the menu – I always do. And nothing on it had any accompaniments that weren’t a starch – as a matter of fact – they were either gorgonzola waffle fries or rice. Neither has any appeal to me. Now if it was sweet potato fries even (which would certainly have been more appealing even though it is still a starch),  brown rice or even wild rice, but it was white rice, with a veggie here and there and pretty bland. The salmon I ordered was glazed, which would have deterred me from ordering it had the menu reflected this very important detail. It was very very sweet and overwhelmed the flavor of the nice pink salmon on my very prettily plated dish.
  I usually don't order anything with sugar, and NEVER eat high fructose corn syrup if I can help it.  Usually I can.  Help it, I mean.

Christy’s burger won the taste test. It was a piled high hamburger with gorgonzola cheese exploding out of it. But the meat part was not as savory as I would have liked even though it was generous,  and the bun, while being beautiful and very very fresh, was sweet, sort of like a waffle is sweet, or a pancake with maple syrup. One or two bites and that was enough of that - it just didn't marry well with the rest of the flavors - not for long anyway. It was too overpowering. You would think the gorgonzola would be the dominant flavor, but it was very mild cheese, even though it LOOKED right.

So then, for the veggie sandwich.   Kim’s sandwich was just dull. It was beautiful and big and the price was right, but the fries it came with were warm, not hot, soft, not crunchy, and the cheese, which was generous, was that same mild gorgonzola. Again, weird. Plus an overabundance of some pepper mixture.  VERY spicy, which is OK for me, but again, it was too overpowering.  The bread was fabulous though.  A very flavorful, fresh rosemary flavored bread.  Just right.  Carmelized onions or maybe some warm roasted red peppers would have made this sandwich a hit with all of us. Either of these sandwiches could have been split easily - they were very very large for lunch specialties.

OK, so the food was actually good enough to try again. I will ask more questions next time. Everything was served beautifully - with thought and care - attention to detail - which is important to me.  The service was impeccable and actually quite delightful. The waitress was engaged in what she was doing - looked us in the eyes and appeared at all the right moments.  The hostess even came to check on us from time to time and made us feel at home and we were never rushed. And the appetizer was what I call “crave-able”. We’ll be back for more of that.  I even took the leftovers home and we had that marvelous salad with our eggs this morning.  Scrumptious.

Next time,

Nona Tata’s – just down the street.

I can hardly wait.

chow, ciao for now

Say it with a SMILE and a handmade TILE!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2010 A brand New Year

Happy New Year!
Obviously I'm not a very good blogger, since the last entry here was a year ago, with much the same entry as above.
Well, except for the tractor.
That's my tractor, "Bruiser".

I must get inspired each year at this time to get caught up on things and then it just gets away from me all over again. I had at first thought I would use this blog to create a journal of the progress we have made out here at the Shady B Ranch. But that turned into a HUGE and OVERWHELMING task that I just didn't find the time for, so I'm rethinking that. I'll post photos of our past work from time to time because it truly is a remarkable thing we have done out here. There is still much to do, but every now and then, I like to look back at those old photos of what we tore up and what we rebuilt, and think about how dreams can become reality.

Living in the house of our own creation makes us forget the endurances we came through.

Living in the RV with only 6 gallons of hot water for a year and a half was the biggest complaint I had. It was hot in the summer and cold in the winter, but we survived, and it strengthened our relationship living eyeball to eyeball with each other. We spent a great deal of time outdoors.

I sort of miss that now. That outdoors thing. Even though our house sits in the lovely middle of the same outdoors, I find myself content to spend each day in my roomy studio and each night comfortably cloistered in my climate controlled gigantic hot water heater almost finished home.

The year 2009 was a sensational year. I reconnected with a lot of old friends on facebook. I turned fifty in November and my brother Glenn and I went to Italy to celebrate. It was bene!
The year started with a trip to Breckenridge with my other brother Russell and my sis o bliss in law Becky (two of my favorite people) to celebrate HER birthday, and here it is time to celebrate her again! We skiied and had a most marvelous time.
On the way home we stopped at the Cadillac Ranch to put our mark on the art. What an amazing thing to witness. We've driven by it a number of times, but finally took the time to stop. Some people were leaving as we arrived, and handed us a bag of spray paint. This is the thing you do. You put your mark on the art. There are so many layers on those cars in places it has fallen off in three inch thick chunks of spray paint. You can see the striational colored layers. In the middle of a cow pasture. If you look closely in that one photo, you can see a herd through the window.....

Then three weeks later another trip to Taos with Larry's cuz David and skiied again. Taos is a little trickier to ski and I loved it, but on the very last run, I twisted my knee and that was all for me. I didn't know if I could make it back to the bottom. So that's all for me in the ski department unless I can get my knee looked at. I've been too busy this year to bother with it. And the only thing it can't do, is ski.

So, onward.
In April, I had an opportunity with the airfares being so low to go to London with my sis o bliss in law Becky so I took it and went for four funfilled shop till you drop days.

She was going out to pick up her daughters wedding dress, which cost almost as much to MAIL as it did to go and GET it herself!

I mean airfares were incredibly low. We were also on a mission to find her something fabulous for her mother of the bride outfit. And we did, at a most amazing place in London. Another story, another blog post (maybe:) It was fast and furious and oh so wonderful. My favorite town was Rye on the coast. I loved Canterbury and the little village that Becky grew up in - Charing. We had lunch there. And we shopped till we dropped. But we didn't. Drop that is. :)

Somewhere during this summer - can't remember when it was, Larry and I went on a trailride with our cowboy church. To make a long story short, we were riding two very inexperienced horses. One, spoiled, and the other, young. Although she has been ridden many times by our neices and nephews and even our grandchildren, she chose this day to chunk me off. I landed on that same old knee, and when it went out from under me, so did my ankle. What is it they always say? You gotta get back ON that horse and ride! So I did. Thinking it was just a fluke - she had never done that before and wouldn't do it again.

Of course you can guess what happend next.
From a complete stand still position, she jumped all four feet off the ground and chunked me off in one ploop. I sat there stunned for a minute or two and this time, I learned my lesson. I got on my galfriends horse with her and rode back that way. Haven't been on a horse since. And my knee, well, its even more unskii-able now.

This is how Dreamer cools herself off in the summer. What a smart horse. She's the one that chunked me.

Around April or May, Larry and I went to Fredricksburg Texas withour friends Kim and Don and their kids, and rented a farmhouse on the river. We had a great time together eating German food, and meeting new friends.
This is Kimy with the kids.
In June, we went on yet another trip to Colorado for my neice Georgina's wedding. What a grand event that was! We drove my parents out there and they got to see Russ and Becky's mountain treehouse for the first time. It is my favorite home away from home.

I usually pick up a rock from the places I go. Larry wouldn't let me take this one. I thought it would look GREAT in my garden!

Then in July, I went with my two galfriends, Kim and Beth, to Arrowmont School in Gatlinburg Tennessee. We spent the fourth of July there and saw THE most spectacular fireworks show I have ever witnessed. It was heart pounding and absolutely brilliant, right over our heads from the grounds at Arrowmont, a most beautiful place and dear to my heart. There, you can sit on the grass without fear of fireants. We took our blankets out on the lawn and watched the most amazing show, almost wishing it would end because I thought my heart would stop.

My friends took a two week clay class, and I took one week of weaving, and the next week in bowl turning. I learned how to warp the loom I've had stored in my garage for - ever and made some pretty cool little wooden bowls on a mini lathe. The bowl turning part was fascinating, however scary weilding those sharp tools, but not something I want to persue. Weaving on the other hand, is mesmerizing and I am enjoying using my loom immensely. Right now I am weaving rag rugs with many bits of fabric I have collected over the years. My grandmother made mens silk ties and I have all the silk scraps from her. I plan to weave them into a silk rag rug. We shall see. I can't throw anything away.......
The next trip I took was with my dad. When I was returning from my trip to London, I had a layover in Charlotte NC. I spoke to my dad on the phone while I was there and he said it was a place he had always wanted to go to because the Billy Graham museum was there.

Hmmmm, I thought. Maybe I should just haul him out there sometime. So, I got my brothers together and we bought him a ticket. I bought ME a ticket, and made reservations for a wonderful lunch somewhere closeby, mapped out a wonderful day, and surprised him with it for fathers day. It was a GRAND day in October. The weather was perfect and the angels were watching over us as we flew out and back in one day.
Everything went perfectly synchronized.
We left at 6 am, found the airport, found our gate, parked the car, checked in, walked right on our flight, had a terrific flight, got off the plane, found a cab, took us straight to the restaraunt where I had made reservations, they knew our names, why we were there, gave us a lovely table outdoors and a free dessert. Called the same cab to pick us up, went to the museum, spent four lovely hours and shared a cab with a fella back to the airport, perfect timing all day. The museum is quite impressive and we could have spent even more time there! We were home by ten that evening and it was a great memory of me and my dad.

Which brings me to Italia. Two weeks in Italy. The first four days were spent at the Cinque Terre right on the Mediterranean Sea. Oh my - those were absolutely my favorite of all the days there.
Just me n Glenn.
Two days in Monterosso, and two days in Vernazza. I plan to return and spend even more time at Vernazza in the same little bungalow, take my paints, sit and watch everything, hike the trails, eat more seafood.
It was glorious.
Two more days in Florence, then a week in Tuscany at a nine bedroom farmhouse on an olive oil farm with 14 of my friends and relatives. One honeymoon, two anniversaries, two birthdays, an adoption, and lots of people to toast with.


My mom flew over to celebrate with us too. What a delight she is - never complaining about a thing - just happy to be wherever we took her. She became mom to my friends as they adopted her and took her along on daytrips here and there. A great memory with my mom and my brother.
One more day in Florence and then the journey home.

Ah Home. At last. I am content.

Until the next opportunity comes along! Wonder where I'll go next?