Sunday, August 3, 2008

Making a Difference: Wells in Ethiopia

Dick Moeller, Joyce's husband, is making trips to Africa for Water to Thrive, a new Texas nonprofit that partners with A Glimmer of Hope, to bring water wells to Ethiopian villages.

This is the note he wrote from his most recent trip with his daughter Meredith. Just had to share it....

"It is Wed morning with a little down time before we head to Kellum this afternoon.

As you might expect.....our emotions have run the complete, fatih, trust, love, concern, overwhelmed, thankfulness, helplessness, respect, honor, blessed......and on and on.

Our celebration at the 3 completed wells was totally overwhelming. Such joy, hope and thankfulness with blessings shared all around. Truly remarkable......beyond words really.

On Sunday afternoon, we headed east out of Addis to visit several Glimmer water points and schools and then on to two communities in need of access to fresh water.

Monday was travel to Axum (Tigray region) in the morning, then visits to 3 completed wells, one in progress and one stop at a water collection site in need of fresh water. The attached "amateur" pictures are from that portion of the trip. Adi_Nefas was the first completed well visit, and Seyabo was the second. We were totally exhausted by the end of the day and emotionally drained. It was an easy sleep!

Tuesday morning we traveled back to Addis. We visited the Glimmer office and then two afternoon meetings with John Halvorson at LWF and Zerihun Desta, Development Director for Mekan Yesus. Both started a little tense, but in the end they were good meetings. At least we are communicating openly and have a path of cooperation. Time will tell how well it will work. I felt good about the outcome of the meetings. More when I return.

We had dinner last evening with some of the Glimmer team to get to know them better. A very enjoyable evening. My respect continues to grow for the Tameru and the whole Glimmer team. They have their values truly aligned with the people they serve. So great to see it in action.

We are off to Kellum later today and should be back in Addis Saturday afternoon. Tameru has a relationship with the Mekane Yesus church in that area as some of Glimmer's early projects were done in cooperation with them. We will meet them on Friday after visiting potential new fresh water points on Thursday.

Blessings to you from the people of Adi-Nefas, Seyabo and Ketema"

Dick and Meredith

For $3,500, Water to Thrive provides a first water well for 400 Ethiopians.
That's $7 per person (2 lattes or 2 bottles of water at your local airport)
100% of contributions go to changing lives. They have proven partners with local management. Go to learn more.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Austin to Saudi Arabia

A friend of mine was in town last week for a quick get together. She works for the U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia. Wow! How many people can say that! Anyway, it is so interesting listening to stories of their life in the Kingdom.

As someone who does virtually no cooking, I was surprised to learn that they seldom eat out. If you are invited to dinner it means to their home.

Recently, the embassy has hosted President Bush, Dick Cheney, and a long list of other dignitaries. Saudi Arabia gave the U.S. a rare and endangered oryx. I had to go home and google oryx to see what they look like. (It is a large antelope with swept-back horns. See photo.)

What would a celebration be without T-shirts and mugs? But trying to get them on short notice in Saudi Arabia is another thing! Apparently, they don't print up T-shirts for all occasions like we do. She promised to send the logo that her husband designed for a US-Saudi event.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mamma Mia!

I saw Mamma Mia over the weekend and loved it! I'm not embarrassed to admit that I have been going around humming old ABBA songs. I know some reviewers think it is simple and not realistic, but, you know, I'm not sure it is more unrealistic than a rich guy dressing up like a bat and fighting crime. Of course, I still think film history was made by Pillow Talk with Doris Day.

Best of all, Meryl Streep dances and does huge jumps on a bed. I'd like to think that could be me but I was squirming in my seat with a pinched nerve in my back. By the way, remember the steroids they put me on for shingles? I'm back on them. But if I ever get rid of the back pain, I'm going to try doing a saddle jump on my bed and climbing on tables singing "Take a Chance on Me." I'll let you know how that works out.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Introducing: Victoria

Several people have asked me who Victoria is. Victoria is my cat and editorial assistant!

She looks big in the photo but she actually is very small. You can see that she sits on the back of the chair and watches me write.

Victoria and I go for walks in the evening. She goes on a leash! Sounds weird but she puts up with it. She's a rescue kitty and part of the deal is that she cannot be allowed to wander outside.

I also have an ancient horse... 33 years old. She's not ridden any more, but that's OK because I don't know how to ride anyway! My daughter (the jockey) used to compete with her in hunter-jumper shows.

If any of you own horses, you'll know what I mean when I say that my economic stimulus check went directly to the barn! Who knew you had to "float" horses' teeth. Really?

The horse is one of the main reasons I have become so good at seeking out good deals!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The 9th form of intelligence

This week I have been listening to another motivational CD that encourages you by saying that there are eight types of intelligence. Just because you're not good at one type, you might be great at something else.

1. Bodily-kinesthetic- These are the athletes. Finely tuned bodies. Definitely not me.
2. Verbal-linguistic - Great speakers such as Martin Luther King and Kennedy. And me? Please! Let's move on.
3. Logical-mathemetical- Technology leaders and Albert Einstein. I don't really even understand what E=MC2 is. I don't think so.
4. Spacial - These are the engineers and architects. No, but that's OK; there are lots more to choose from.
5. Intrapersonal - Highly self-aware persons such philosophers and psychologists. Well, we're getting closer but if I'm so self-aware I wouldn't be listening to all these CDs.
6. Interpersonal - Empathize with others & communicate well, extroverts - politicians, teachers. Maybe...but not really
7. Musical - Now we're getting cold again.
8. Naturalistic - Great sensitivity to nature. The last time I went camping I was 10 years old and got chiggers.

Was this exercise supposed to be inspirational? Now I know that of eight forms of intelligence, I have none. I'll just have to define a 9th!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

There's a price for a great shoe sale

My mother told me so. Don't lift heavy things; you'll hurt your back. Well, I didn't really lift the furniture. I just pushed it around my living room. And I was careful.

Unfortunately, now I am on a muscle relaxer (which isn't all bad, by the way) and a painkiller. I was doing much better and could even sit up straight, but then I went to a shoe sale. Lalo (Designer Clearance House) got in a new shipment, and I spent two hours trying on shoes. The problem with this is that the place is more like a place to sit. So you are always bending over to find the shoes and balancing on one leg to try them on.

So now I am back in pain again. But worth it... I got a great pair of Olivia Rose Tal shoes for $62 (retail $275). I just can't tell my mother. She's already said, "I told you so!"

Monday, June 23, 2008

Now you can make people smile without being funny

My friend Nicole Albers told me about new cameras that will put a smile on your face whether you want to smile or not.

There are quite a few cameras that have smile detection. They won't take the photo until everyone (up to eight people) are smiling. I hope the camera has better luck than I do or it could be a very long wait before the photo is snapped.

But now Sony has gone a step further... If little brother won't smile, that's OK the camera will put it there for you! In playback mode, you can add smiles to people using the camera´s face detection and retouch menu.

I just wish they had had this when my kiddos were little. Would have saved me a lot of time and bribes!

Monday, June 16, 2008

I found my daughter!

I have established communication with my daughter!

She's a jockey (yes, you read that right... a jockey) and gets up very early, goes to bed early, & doesn't check her messages. Riding race horses is dangerous. I worry. I've resorted to calling her best friend (who lives in Florida) to call her fiance (who lives in New York) to call a trainer he knows at the same track to tell her to call her mother. This kind of thing has gone on for years.

But that's all over now. Text messaging! I sent her a test message just to see if she would answer. Magic! Five minutes later an answer. You're kidding.

A week later (I've been warned by other text messagers not to overdo it)I sent another message. Another answer....immediately. This is too much!

You're wondering... Why didn't you think of that before? I don't know. I've been paying for text messaging for a long time and never realized the power I had in my hands. I promise not to abuse this power.

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Recession with cream gravy

I went to a seminar on investment strategies this past weekend. My mother told me I should go because I "don't know much about business."

First, I was impressed that this many people have enough money to invest in a program like this! Of course, I've seen happier folks waiting in the emergency room at the county hospital.

What a great breakfast... eggs, biscuits & gravy, fruit, bacon, sweet rolls...yum! Now I'm ready to think about the Market. One more spoon of gravy & now we're ready.

Ah, a chart about the Recession of 2008. At least we're being honest now. And a summary of "Bubbles".. tech, silver, oil. Don't we ever learn?

And what did I learn? Really bad times and crazy good times never last indefinitely. We're probably not at the bottom yet but these times are also not as bad as many previous recessions (yet.. that's my note!)

I also learned that reducing oil consumption would help a lot, and a period of growth usually follows bad times. I learned to pay attention to value and not get carried away with bubbles. AND I learned that everything seems a lot better with hot biscuits and cream gravy with bits of sausage in it!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Do I look pale to you?

I'll never forget the day I got an invitation to join AARP. I was so offended! Why would they send that to me? I'm not old!

Well, today I got an even bigger jolt.... I came home to find a survey in my mailbox... from a funeral home! They want to know things like what kinds of services would be helpful to my family? Do I have a cemetary plot? Do I want to keep my family history on file with them?

I was tired over the weekend but I thought it was the heat. Maybe I look worse than I thought. OK, I understand planning ahead but I just wish someone would ask me if I want to plan a water rafting trip or a trip to Fashion Week or even a beautiful dinner.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I'm ready for my close-up

My friend Nicole lived in New York and worked for a publisher for several years. Her aunt, Alma, works on movies and travels all kinds of places for movie sets. While working on War, she met and started dating Jeremy Conway. Jeremy has places in Manhatten and Fire Island. But here is the important part: Jeremy is the production designer of Sex and the City, the series and the movie. He has also won four Emmy Awards for his work on the Athens, Barcelona, Sydney and Atlanta Olympics.

In an interview for the Daily News, Jeremy said, "Carrie's apartment is not about Carrie," he says. "What she's wearing is where she spends her money, and her apartment is secondary to that. So we started 'flea-ing' and using found pieces she might reupholster."

I know this is a stretch but this is as close to the set of something like Sex and the City as I'll ever get. And if you squint, in the dark, from a distance, I look a little like Sarah Jessica on a bad day!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wine at Last!

Another big problem with shingles.... you can't drink wine with the medication. But I'm back! I opened two bottles that were recommended at Grapevine Market.

One was a Sauvignon Blanc called Kiwi Cuvee from France.... yes, France, not New Zealand. It was very good and under $10! I went back for more at this price. The other was a chardonnay from Burgundy, France, 2005 Bourgogne, Vincent Girardin. I don't care for oak and I loved this.

But hold on... now I want to find out about the cult following of Two Buck Chuck! Trader Joe's carries these $2 wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, White Zinfandel, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, and limited quantities of Pinot Grigio. These super-value wines began as the result of an oversupply of wine. According to Trader Joe's, "They’ve become the nation’s best-selling wines, not surprising when you consider the combination of low price ($1.99 - $3.49 per bottle, depending on the region)."

Now I can't testify if this stuff is drinkable, but if I can talk my son into putting a bottle in his luggage, I'll let you know. You see, there are lots of Trader Joe's in Phoenix where Scott lives, and he coming to visit in a couple of weeks. (No Trader Joe's in Texas.) Who knows, it won an award at the California State Fair!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More finds from Dale

Need an after five dress? Even if you answer "no", maybe you should find an event to use these gorgeous dresses!

Love this!
PERFECT! And black! Year round
This is hard to find! A cute dress for any age!

Would you rather throw your own party? How cute is this! Love the lights and tablecloths! All from Pottery Barn

PS- My shingles are much better. Thank goodness... Victoria (that would be my kitty)is getting bored sitting around listening to me moan!

Sunday, May 4, 2008


I've had shingles for a week now so there is very little that I find amusing or even interesting.

Shingles is an outbreak of blisters by the same virus that causes chickenpox. It is usually around the waist and can be very painful. Even a light touch can be painful. This information is from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, but I could have told you the same thing from my experience this week. Over 50 percent of people in their 50s who have shingles develop postherpetic neuralgia (This means the pain stays after the shingles are gone.)

From the Mayo Clinic: The pain of shingles can be excruciating, and the cause might not be immediately evident. But once the telltale rash and blisters start on one side of your body, it's more easily identified as shingles.

Any one who has had chickenpox is at risk. There is a vaccine now but you should talk to your doctor about it because it is not for everyone.

I know I'm talking a lot about the pain but that's all I can think about right now. You can find info about symptoms, treatment, vaccine, etc at the Mayo Clinic Web site above. All I can think about is the pain part.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Exploring the "Local Flavors"

On the Pat's Picks Calendar there was an innocuous little item called "Homegrown Austin" at Grapevine Market. A "tasting event of local flavors." Lots of samples.

Hey, that's for me... samples! They have wines and a neat deli area, so after a glass of wine at home late Saturday afternoon, I set off to sample the local flavors! I didn't realize that there were only two flavors... vodka and rum.

I had no idea that Austin produced so much liquor. Oh, yum, mojitos made with Treaty Oak Platinum Rum. That is so tasty... sort of like a frisky fruit punch. OK, I'll try a tiny sip of Dripping Springs vodka. They need to turn the AC cooler in this place.

No more for me. But wait! Paula's Lemon Liqueur. That is really good.

Now I'm leaving... right past the dark chocolate flavored vodka. Dark chocolate? I love dark chocolate. And they serve half a piece of really great dark chocolate with the vodka so it's not like drinking on an empty stomach.

I'll bet that dark chocolate would be really good with the sample of Fall Creek Iconoclast.

P.S. I took a little nap at my sister's house before driving home.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Celebrate! UT student fashion show

This Friday night (April 25)at 8 pm, 26 UT fashion design students will present their collections at a runway show in the Erwin Center. I can't wait! A runway show! I picture myself in a student version of Project Runway.

Which reminds me, you do know that Tim Gunn will be in town on April 23. At Dillard's. 6 pm. He is the Chief Creative Officer of Liz Claiborne. Yes, I've read his book and Nina Garcia's black book.

Back to the UT show.....evening wear, daywear, and bridal designs will be shown. These seniors have been working on their collections all semester and will have this opportunity to show them in a formal show to fashion industry standards.

A pre-show exposition will begin at 7 pm and will highlight programs and research activities. Both events are free. If you go, I'll be the one right up front watching every detail!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Margaret's adventures in dieting

Today I'm passing on Margaret Patterson's comments about dieting:

When it comes to diets, I’ve tried them all. Each works great until a king size Snicker that was hiding in the fridge beneath a package of corn tortillas suddenly appears and silently screams, “Eat Me!” Like Alice in Wonderland, who couldn’t resist those same words, I eat.

Fortunately for Alice, eating the cake emblazoned with “Eat Me” only made her grow to be nine-feet tall. My lack of will power is making another part of my anatomy look at least nine-feet wide, even if it isn’t -- at least not yet.

My love affair with food didn’t begin until I stopped smoking. Quitting wasn’t easy. Like most quitters, I tried unsuccessfully to do so at least three times. My family, my doctor, my good sense all told me to quit, but I owe my 40 years of cigarette-free living to one thing -- jerky.

One day during hunting season, my father-in-law was making jerky. He carefully placed strips of soft red meat on trays which he put into a small smoke house.

When the meat came out it was dry, tough, leather-looking, but darn tasty. I took one look at that dark, dry, wrinkled jerky and thought, “That is exactly what my face is going to look like 10 years from now if I don’t stop “taking it to the smoke house.” I quit that same day.

Maybe I should buy a three-way mirror!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Who's that lady on the scaffolding?

If you saw Leah Strmiska at Northwest Hills Pharmacy working the register and helping customers, you'd never guess what she does in her off time. This petite, sweet woman climbs on ladders and scaffolding to paint murals, borders, and faux finishes on businesses and homes.

Her work can be seen in the entrance to the Stagecoach Inn in Salado, numerous homes on the homes tour, and, most recently, in the Symphony Showhouse Master Bedroom and Master Bath. She painted the beautiful faux finish in the bedroom and the vines on the ceiling; in the bath she used a gold leaf with amber wash..... and much of the time the work was done in near darkness.

With no electricity and many dark, rainy days, these fabulous free-hand works of art came to life with Leah's experienced hand rather than being able to see her work progress!

On a another note .....

Am I the only one who didn't know that the HEB/Central Market at 360 & Bee Caves had opened? I've been watching that spot for ages. Hurrah! An HEB/Central Market in Westlake.

It's an HEB but with a lot of things borrowed from Central Market, which means you can watch your sushi being rolled, but you can also find a full selection of toilet paper. There's a Cafe on the Run, fish market, deli, nice wine selection, and cooking demos. You can even find Rachal Ray serveware and the famous garbage bowl.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Tap, tap, tapping my way to a thinner me

I was so tired this Monday morning. I stayed up last night watching a new show (at least new to me)called I Can Make You Thin. Have you seen this? The idea is that people eat for reasons other than hunger; we often eat for emotional reasons.

A woman on the show headed for her stash of chocolate goodies every time she talked to her ex-husband and gained oodles of pounds. He had been having an affair with her sister-in-law. Please! Good riddance! But that's another show. Anyway, she tapped her way to a substantial weight loss.

You just use two fingers and tap on the acupuncture pressure points. I saw tapping on the cheek bone, forehead, chin, and collar bone. It is supposed to keep you from food cravings that result from emotional needs.

Every time she talked to her ex, she tapped him (& the chocolate goodies) out of her life. I've been tapping a lot today, but it's too soon to tell if it's going to come between me and my dark chocolate chips.

You know, chocolate (actually cocoa) got me through my Atkins phase. My daughter's boyfriend had to come over and remove all my carbs. He found me in the kitchen eating out of a can of Hershey's cocoa.

I'll let you know how it goes. But if you spot a woman driving around tapping on her check bones, do not become alarmed.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Spring renewal

On Easter I had lunch with my friend Eleanor and her family, including her 10-day old new granddaughter. I loved watching the new parents and hearing their plans for their new baby and new life.

I love spring because it is a time for renewal.... a time to clear out what you don't need anymore and look for new possibilities. Watching that tiny baby blink her eyes open to her new world reminds me that I, too, should stay open to new discoveries.

I hadn't kept up with Renee Trudeau since we worked together at health nonprofits many years ago. When I saw a newspaper article about her work recently, I contacted her about her work. Renee is now a nationally recognized career and work/life balance coach.

She is offering a Women's Spring Self-Renewal Retreat May 2-4 at The Crossings. Maybe the time is right to learn about self-care and quiet reflection. "Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation."—Audrey Lorde
Try to get a room with a view of the valley.... breathtaking!

I have a stack of self-improvement books in various stages of being read.But I'm thinking a massage, relaxation, and some quiet might do more!

Monday, March 17, 2008

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

There's nothing like a cozy fire to set the alarms off

I will no longer try to create picturesque moments of a cozy hearth on a cold night with a glass of wine and a kitty on my lap. Friday night I was so-o-o tired that I decided to skip dinner and rest. When I pulled into the garage I spotted some logs that I bought a long time ago and had forgotten. Since this may be the last cold night for a while, with spring due to arrive any day, I should use those logs and create some atmosphere to boot.

Wouldn't that be wonderful.... a warm, crackling fire. Actually, I'm not sure I had ever started a fire. But how hard could it be; I have a gas starter. Check to make sure the flue is open. Put the logs in, add a little newspaper, and light the starter. Ah-h-h there..... the logs are starting to catch. I sit in my chair with a book I've been meaning to read. Any minute I will be warm and relaxed.

H-m-m it's a little smoky; I'l open the sliding glass door just to make sure the smell doesn't linger. That's better. H-m-m maybe I'd better fan the smoke to the door. OK the fire seems to be doing fine now.

H-r-r-r-ng!! Blang!! R-r-r-ing! Victoria ran to hide under the bed. She's never heard a smoke alarm, much less three going off at once. Stay calm. Open all the doors. Turn on the AC fan. Wow, it's a lot colder than I expected with all the doors open. Oh no, Victoria decided to make a run for the outside.

She's on her own now. I can't leave. I have to fan the smoke out before the sprinkler system comes on. There needs to be a button on the system that says "This is a mistake. I'm not really on fire. Don't spray me with water!"

Good girl, the alarms have stopped sounding. Now put out the fire and stop the smoking. I wish I had fireplace tools. You know, kitchen tongs and a butcher knife work just fine when you REALLY need to get logs outside quickly.

I think I'll just skip the wine and go to bed.

SIDECAR history

My friend Jane is a teacher. But not just any teacher. She knows, or will find out, anything! But she surprised me at a wedding reception when someone mentioned wanting a Sidecar cocktail. Jane said, "The Sidecar was created by a World War I officer to keep warm after riding in a sidecar." I asked her how she knew that. "I researched it." Jane always knows the history of anything!

From Wikipedia here's a recipe for a Sidecar:

One part brandy or Cognac
One part Cointreau
One part lemon juice
Mix the ingredients in a shaker half full of ice. Strain and serve in a sugar-rimmed glass. Garnish with a strip of lemon rind

Sunday, February 24, 2008

More wineries, more good times

There are so many great wineries having fun events, and I know we won't be able to highlight very many in Pat's Picks, so I want to give you some Web sites to follow so you won't miss anything.

First, is the Web site for the Texas Hill Country Wineries. Check the "Winery Events" tab for a list of the events at the Hill Country wineries. Beautiful spring days, bluebonnets and great wines would make a perfect picnic, maybe listening to a band or just watching a spectacular sunset.

Another good Web site is by the Texas Department of Agriculture/Wine Division. Look at the "Find Texas Wines & Wineries" tab and I think you will be amazed at the number of Texas wineries..... 80 wineries!

So if we don't highlight your favorite winery, check these sites for all the spring activities.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

How bad do you have to look?

I had planned to write about eye liner gel today, but something happened that takes priority.

I went out to the stable to walk and groom my ancient horse. I wore old, dirty, out-of-style clothes because you just don't want to know what gets on your clothes when you're grooming a horse. Not cute, casual clothes but stuff that belongs in the garbage. The hair is wind-blown and stringy by now.

On the way home, I decided to stop at Neiman's Last Call since I haven't stopped by in a long time. It's Sunday afternoon... who's going to be there?

Who knew that Neiman's celebrates President's Day in a big way! I saw three people that I know well and, at six feet or less, looking right at me, none of them recognized me! Just how bad do you have to look for your friends not to recognize you up close and personal?

I ducked behind a row of Dolce & Gabbana handbags. Pretended to try on a Ralph Lauren belt. Slinked behind the Missoni coats. There it was ... the cash register!

I just wanted to pay for my top and get out. But..... the cash register jammed and they had to call a supervisor to re-run the transaction. I told the cashier I didn't need a receipt; I promise not to return the top.

My "horsey" clothes are now in the garbage.

P.S. Eye liner gel is great because it doesn't fade easily but is not a hard line like liquid liner. BUT you must have the right brush! I was talked into a tiny (& cheap)brush that, with gel on it, becomes hard and sharp... sort of like poking your eyelid with a needle. Bobbie Brown has a brush that works great, and I'm sure there are others. It must have artificial bristles to hold the gel and be very flat. Mine has a rounded tip. I've heard that a slanted brush also works but I'm not taking any chances.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Everything (interesting) I know I learned from my hairdresser

I got my hair cut today! Sure, you're thinking, "So what," but Elizabeth always has interesting information that makes my life just a little bit better. She introduced me to the shimmer box. I love the shimmer box! Made by Bobbi Brown, it is part blush, part highlighter. You can use it over for your blush for a softer, more natural look or use it by itself.

She also told me about Aveda Pure Abundance Hair Potion that gives you an extra day without a shampoo.

Besides, Elizabeth thinks my hair color looks good the way it is...gray and all.... which means no dying, highlighting, etc. Saves time and $$$! Did you know that as your hair gets gray, your skin tone gets paler...... but you can use the shimmer box!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Tuscan olive oil in Texas

In the next issue of Pat's Picks Austin, Elaine reports about a trip she, her husband, and friends took to tour an olive orchard right here in Texas. By coincidence, I had just baked an olive oil cake when I read her article and thought I would share the (low calorie) recipe. It seems like I am posting a lot of recipes... and I don't really cook! For the olive oil you get at Bella Vista Ranch:

Lemon Olive Oil Cake
1-1/2 c. whole-grain pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 salt
3 large eggs, separated
3/4 c. granular sugar substitute
1/2 c 1 percent or fat-free buttermilk
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp lemon extract
1 Tbl grated lemon zest

Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat 8-inch springform pan with cooking spray
Whisk flour, soda, baking powder, & salt in large bowl. Make well in center.
Beat egg whites in medium bowl until stiff peaks form.
Beat egg yolks, sugar substitute, buttermilk, oil, extract, & zest in a medium bowl until smooth, about 1 minute.
Pour egg yolk mixture into center of dry ingredients; stir gently until just combined. Gently fold in half of egg whites, then fold in the rest of the egg whites.
Bake 25-28 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then remove from pan.
makes 10 slices.... 190 calories each, 13g of fat.
From the South Beach Diet, Quick & Easy Cookbook

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Books I want to read

Last night I finished "Eat, Pray, Love," which I really liked. It's about a woman who travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia on a journey to understand herself. I read so many self-help books that I could really understand this need!

Anyway, this means I will choose another book from my long list to read next. I have a stack of books that I bought thinking I would read immediately, but they are still waiting on the book shelf. I also keep an ongoing list in my cart on Amazon. Sometimes I even buy them and add them to the shelf! These are some of the titles I am considering:

1. One Year to an Organized Life
2. Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone
3. Paula Deen: It Ain't All About the Cooking
4. A Demon of Own Design
5. Four Blondes
6. In the Company of Cheerful Ladies

If you've read any of these and have advice about which would be the best bet, let me know!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I'm coming into port!

I noticed that several of the Texas wineries make nice Ports and I'm not sure many people notice them. I discovered Port when I took a chocolate and port pairing class with Mary Cech (The Wine Lover's Dessert Cookbook). What a class! But that's another story...

Anyway, pears and port make a fast, sophisticated dessert when you want to treat yourself or someone special. My favorite recipe comes from Bon Appetit:
1/4 c. lemon juice
8 large, firm but ripe pears
4 c. ruby port
2 c. sugar
15 1/8"slices ginger
2 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean, split

Add lemon juice to bowl of cold water. Peel pears, leaving stems and remove core with melon baller through the bottom. Add pears to bowl of water.

Bring port, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, & vanilla bean to boil in heavy Dutch oven over high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low & simmer syrup 10 minutes.

Drain pears & add to syrup. Simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove pears & stand them upright. Boil syrup until reduced to 1-1/4 c. Pour over pears & chill. Got a little extra time? Serve with gingerbread and whipped cream!

Quick Version (from French Women Don't Get Fat).........
Bring 2 c. port & 1/2 c. sugar to a boil. Lower heat & simmer 5 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp lemon jiuce and 4 pears (peeled, cored, halved) Cook 10 minutes over medium-low heat. Cool & refrigerate. Ice cream?

Even if you don't drink port this is a great way to try those Texas ports!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Shoe sale!!

Time out from the wine discussion for a shoe sale! Karavel Shoes on Burnet Road is having a clearance sale in the discount store next to the main store. The discount store has shoes from last season that didn't sell in the main store. They are usually half price but this past Thurs-Sat they were reduced 75-80 %. And they are thinking about doing it again next Thurs- Sat. Check the paper or call (they are only open Thurs-Sat).

Prices range from $19.99 to $49.99 for shoes that retail for up to $260. I bought a pair of Italian sandals that retail for $255 for $49 and a pair of French comfort sandals that retail for $260 for $49. The Euro makes it almost impossible to buy these retail.

By the way, the French shoe is Arche. Comfort shoes with some style! They also carry lots of Soft, another great comfort shoe with style and most are $19 now.

Back to wine next week!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Save $1! Here's the blue cheese dip recipe

My sister bought the blue cheese dip recipe and shared it with me. She said she used a different kind of blue cheese and it came out stronger. I haven't tried it myself but I'll try to find the brand mentioned just in case.....

Pillar Bluff's Infamous Blue Cheese Dip

1 4-oz brick of blue cheese (i.e. Treasure Cave)
4-5 TBSPs olive oil
3-6 tsps dipping spices (I.e. Alessi)
cracked black pepper

Use a fork to mash the blue cheese while adding olive oil one tablespoon at a time. Add dipping spices to taste, and cracked black pepper, and mix into the cheese dip. Or, put all ingredients into a food processor and blend. For a creamier texture, add more olive oil.

Tip: For a taste sensation, use this dip as a topping to a grilled sirloin or venison burger. Or add to a baked potato or warm French bread. This tangy addition is an excellent compliment to our Pillar Bluff Boar Doe, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot wine.

Tonight I learned how important it is to pair food with wine. I bought a bottle of Provencal at Becker Vineyards and it was good but not memorable. Well I had sushi tonight and saw that open bottle in the frig and thought I might as well try it with the sushi. Wow! What a difference. I loved it. Had two big glasses and had to take a nap!