busy living

Busy just doesn’t cover it.

I am not complaining. I am more than lucky. I know that. I live a big, full life; trying to practice what I preach.

I was fortunate to spend a few days in NYC with my girlfriends. We did a little shopping, caught the musical “Once”, which I highly recommend. We stayed up late drinking champagne, played Scrabble in our pajamas and laughed and laughed and laughed. It was just one of those ‘good for your soul’ trips. Not hectic or over-planned. Just fun.

One of the best parts of the trip was taking a total tourist turn and hopping on a “Movie/TV” tour of the city. My  partner-in-crime, JWH, couldn’t contain the antics as I shot my hand up at every trivia question. I may have even sang a Seinfeld bit for the whole entire bus. But, I had to stop before I became the “obnoxious know-it-all from Texas.”

 We were more than fortunate to catch the last plane back to Texas before Hurricane Sandy hit. Since we are all seasoned Gulf Coast hurricane warriors, we would have found a way to “survive” at our swanky hotel. Larkin and my contractor were ready for me to get back home…and get back to work on our “little” project.

Project Restoration is steam rolling ahead. I have never worked with a more positive, dedicated group of people. I love our contractor, the crew, the plumbers, the electricians. They all greet me each day with smiles and “Miss Jackie” this and “Miss Jackie” that. What’s not to love?!

They sing along with the classic rock booming through the rooms. There hasn’t been a structural or design problem that we haven’t been able to solve creatively, not to mention easily. It just feels like we are a team, all working to bring this old house back to her old glory.

Bags unpacked from NYC and the contractor’s “to do” list all caught up, it was time for one of my favorite nights of the year. Halloween. I love, love Halloween. Dressing up, scaring young children, kid candy in “fun sizes”: I love it all.

Larkin and I, along with Jen and Tim (my sis and bro-in-law) dressed up as KISS.  As you can see, we are not camera-shy nor do we have a fear of jack-assery.

And, then, just like that, it became November.

Our President was re-elected.  Now, suddenly, it’s almost Thanksgiving.

This week, I am holed up on Martha’s Vineyard at the cozy Red Door Cottage, far far away from the restoration and remodeling that is going on, back in Houston. The fire is going and holiday music is quietly filling the air.

So, in the spirit of the week:

I am thankful for this cozy vacation home. I am thankful for the soon to be completed home waiting for us, back in Texas. I am thankful for my husband that has worked hard to purchase said homes. I am thankful that he is getting a much-needed break.

I am thankful to have 3 out of 4 kids here this week. I am thankful that the “missing” daughter is realizing her dream and working in Austin. I am thankful for the family and friends that make my life full. (Full of what, exactly, depends on the day.)

I am thankful for my health, good food, Manhattans, TCM, the Pats, Scrabble gals, Twitter pals, laughter and my pup, Juliet.

 But, mostly, I am thankful that I have been busy living.

A “chick-less” Easter

Our home has had more than its share of big Easter celebrations with riotous, roller derby style egg hunts, chocolate meltdown overdoses and even an impromptu golf lesson that turned into a trip to the emergency room and 12 stitches.

Yep, I did it. I laid my husband out cold with a Big Bertha Callaway driver, Easter Sunday 1994, in front of about 30 guests, including small children and the elderly.  It was just like when David took down Goliath. With a lot more blood.

This year, in honor of our new Empty Nest freedom, Larkin and I jumped in the Prius (Gas is $4.19 a gallon.) and set out for the open roads of Texas. We packed up our puppy, Juliet, playlists of road tunes and set our destination for a fabulous Texas diner. Larkin and I are simple people. (The key to being together for almost 25 years.)

Last year, when Texas Monthly Magazine came out with their list of Texas’ best diners and places for pie, we knew immediately how we wanted to spend some of our new free time. Eating.

It was a gorgeous day for a road trip and a perfect way to spend our first “kid-less” Easter holiday. We hit Austin, Georgetown, Round Rock, Round Top, Brenham and Hutto, Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hutto, a 100-year-old town, home of the Texan Cafe and Pie Shop. Texas Monthly did not disappoint. Chicken Fried Steak, as big as the county, mashed potatoes, cream gravy, Pork Chops, Mac ‘n Cheese, with green beans and peas for color. All of the Texas food groups were represented.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, my God, the PIE. The creamiest Coconut Cream pie we have ever had. They have a sign inside the restaurant that says “Pie Fixes Everything.” Indeed, sometimes, it does. The toasted coconut on top of the pie did wonders for me.

Riding out our “pie high” through the back roads of the Texas Hill country, we stopped and took pictures, read the historical markers and even risked our lives by pulling over to the side of the road for the time-honored tradition of taking Texas Bluebonnet pictures.

Getting the perfect spring bluebonnet picture is two-fold. One, don’t get killed by the cars, pick-up trucks and 18 wheelers that are careening down the highway at 90mph. Two, attempt to get a shot that doesn’t have someone else in your frame. Yes, Texas is big. But, THAT many people are out, on a gorgeous day, propping up their cute, Easter outfitted kids (or dogs) amidst the glory of the Texas state flower. And, risking their lives, as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a Texas thing. You haven’t lived on the edge, until you have swerved to the edge of HWY 290 at 75mph, just to shoot bluebonnet pics.  Just like you haven’t had a Stallings’ Family Easter, until you’ve nearly knocked your husband’s eye out, from your back swing.

Relaxing from the road trip, we reminisced about that Easter while watching The Masters Golf Tournament, yesterday. Larkin’s golf clubs safely stored in the trunk of his car. Locked.