Tuesday, April 29, 2008

my best friend

My sweet dog, Maggie, makes this face when I call her name. Don't you just want to kiss her?

I recently discovered Blue Buffalo pet food, which is made from all-natural ingredients. It's the only thing I feed my pets now. It may seem easier and cheaper to feed your dog or cat a brand like Purina or Science Diet. But really, would you feed yourself chicken beaks and eyeballs? Because that's what your pet is eating. It's a bit more expensive, but going organic is one of the best things you can do for your pet. It's better for her coat, digestive system, eyesight, heart, and overall health. I also recommend Nutro, and both are usually available at Petsmart. I know it's important to save a few pennies here and there, especially if you're on a budget. But your pet's food is not the place to be frugal.

support your local farmers market

I'm feeling a bit under the weather today, so I thought reminiscing about our recent jaunt to the Dallas Farmers Market would make me feel better. Turns out that bright, happy photos of fruits and veggies does do the body good. (It was either that or the white tea.) We bought at least a dozen tomatoes, most of them green, from a local farmer, and I whipped up some fantastic fried green tomatoes that evening. Yum-my. And I love supporting the local vendors. I always ask where the fruits and veggies come from before purchasing. If they're from the area, then you are supporting a local farmer, not to mention helping the environment by saving on transportation costs. If the produce is from California, you might as well go to Whole Foods, Central Market or even Kroger.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

little horses are cute

This photo is from our visit to the ranch this weekend. The miniture horse in the picture is named Monkey (yes, you read that correctly), and the little chap on board is Dakota, Justin's second cousin. He looks a bit nervous, but the ride went off without a hitch. Before I took the photo, I asked Dakota if he would mind if I got a picture of him on Monkey. He looked at me very quizzically and replied, clear as day, "That's not a monkey. That's a horse."

Monday, April 21, 2008

stuck on this

I'm way into wall decals lately. This one, from Ferm Living, is just so cute. They are made of vinyl and stick onto the wall like a sticker. If you get tired of it, it's easily removed. They look just like paint but are oh-so-much easier to deal with. There are many available on Etsy as well. I have one wall in my upstairs landing that's just begging for a decal. Right now, I have a lovely original oil painting by Sherri Marranca there, but I think a bright white decal of some sort would really brighten up the space.

white rock home tour

Over the weekend, The Husband and I enjoyed the White Rock Home Tour (for the home tour, click on Portfolio and then Home Tour). For $12, we were able to tour five mid-century modern homes in our neighborhood of Lake Highlands. I always look forward to this home tour, and this year had some really amazing houses. One home (above) wasn't actually mid-century at all. It was built in the last couple of years but was modeled after the mid-century style. I was swooning the whole time. The owner, Jonathan Delcombre, designed the green home, which is incredibly energy efficient. The other four homes were built between 1950 and 1963, and most of them contained mid-century antiques and styling. I felt a gushing of pride just knowing these people are my neighbors. And I also now have some great ideas for home-improvement projects. We are gearing up for a small landscaping project in the front yard. Stay tuned for pics!

Friday, April 18, 2008

an offer you can't refuse

I recently watched The Godfather and The Godfather II back to back. It had been a while since I had seen them, and I had almost forgotten how good these movies are. The are complicated and wonderfully rich, full of lessons and emotional turmoil. I remember seeing them for the first time when I was in my early twenties (too long to wait, I know), and I recall saying something about how young Al Pacino looked. I couldn't believe it was him. On my recent trip to NYC, Renee and I took a cheesy bus tour around the city. I remained calm as the tour guide showed us famous landmarks, from the Statue of Liberty to the United Nations, but when we passed by the hospital from The Godfather, the one where Michael saves his father from being murdered, I nearly jumped out of my seat. If it's been a while since you've seen this movie, do yourself a favor and watch it. It's a great Sunday afternoon activity.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

$40 for scallops

I love food. And nothing thrills me more than trying a new fabulous restaurant for the first time. This affinity is so far removed from The Husband's idea of a good time (he prefers Celebration restaurant to fine cuisine) that my friend Renee, also a foodie, indulges with me. So last night we pulled up to the uber-fancy Ritz-Carlton in uptown, where we had made reservations three weeks in advance at Fearing's, named by Esquire as the best new restaurant of the year. Needless to say, we were just a little bit excited.

After strolling into the ornate lobby (four people, yes four, opened doors for us on the way in), we realized we were about 10 minutes early for our reservation. So we took the opportunity to explore the hotel a bit. The bathroom was our first stop. This might not seem like an exciting exploration for the average person, but I have to contend that, if they can get the bathrooms right, we were in for a treat. As expected, I felt like a queen while taking a pee. I really did.

We strutted through several long corridors before finding a ballroom, where we both remarked that we could never get married in a place like this. It was too fancy, too over-the-top. We'd feel like homeless people, even in wedding dresses. So we made our way back to Fearing's, where we sat down in the lounge on a plush sofa and chair. We had barely taken our seats before a very well-dressed barman appeared with a tray of tiny margarita glasses filled with chef Dean Fearing's signature margarita. We sipped our yummy, lime-flavored drinks, which were laced with organic agave nectar.

Happily, our table was adjacent to the kitchen, which delighted us to no end. We could watch Dean's team of culinary experts at work. I love the sounds of a kitchen, so our table (which was also next to a very large picture window -- see image above) was in the perfect spot. The service was some of the best I've experienced. Unexpectedly, there wasn't an ounce of pretention in the entire place, which you can't even say about some less-fancy establishments in Dallas.

In the end, we both spent entirely too much money on our meal. But it's certainly not an everyday kind of place, and I have to admit the money was well spent. My $40 scallops were expertly seared, and the southwest ceasar was too gorgeous to eat. I also discovered my purpose in life -- to eat a gelatinous green tea and ginger concoction in a shot glass served before the dessert course. Heaven. My only dislike was a starter crack-a-lin-corn soup served before the appetizer (again, in a shot glass) that had entirely too much lime juice.

We spent about two hours completely engrossed in the majesty of this restaurant. It was really quite beautiful. Some might ask how I could get so excited about a restaurant. I guess I just love food.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

spring planting

A few days ago we planted several items in the back flower beds and in pots along the patio, including some ferns, scotch moss, Hen & Chicks, and Mexican feather grass, among other things. It was a beautiful day out in the yard. The weather was perfect, and if it wasn't for my itchy eyes and nose, it would have been a perfect spring day. The top image was taken pre-planting. The second image is of the Mexican feather grass, which I've been obsessed with lately. I so wish we could plant more ornamental grasses, but it seems they prefer sunny spots, and our property is mostly shaded. For more images of our spring garden, visit my Flickr site.

Monday, April 7, 2008

coming to a magazine rack near you

I recently completed an article on this fantastic green home in Austin for the summer issue of Innovative Home magazine. I've also learned that it will be the cover story. My first cover in a national magazine?! Yes, it is indeed true. Head to your nearest Barnes & Noble (or Lowes!) to pick up a copy later this month. It's quite a lovely magazine.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

spring has arrived

Our yard has burst into bloom the last couple of weeks. Bulbs...

Eastern red bud tree...


It's almost time to start spring planting. Actually, it is time. But we've been so busy doing other things that I've almost let the beginnings of spring pass me by. I am by no means a green thumb, but I enjoy learning. I watched my mom divide some clumps of society garlic today. It looked to me like she was hacking the thing apart, but she assured me that perennials are hardy and actually enjoy being divided every few years. You just plant the divided sections in a new place, and they take root again. I guess you could call that frugal gardening...