Friday, October 30, 2009

Theme Songs


I once watched an episode once of Ally McBeal that had to do with theme songs. Tracey Ullman played a therapist who helped Ally develop her own theme song to make herself happy. Ever since that show, I find myself humming my own "theme" song as I go about my day. The point is it should make you happy. There are times I crack myself up. The theme from "Shaft" will go through my head at the oddest times. Suddenly, I find myself giggling.

Other songs I have considered my theme song include "On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever," by Barbra Streisand. (I adore Babs, especially in that movie). If I could sing like anyone, it would be her.

Also, when I started at the SA dealership, I heard this song over and over again. It became "my" song. "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley

I can hear it now without cringing, but four or five times a day, every day for a couple of months, was driving me.... certifiable crazy. lol

I don't need to listen to radio to enjoy music. It will free float in my head. If you can't make yourself smile, goodness gracious, who will?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rain in San Antonio


This past Saturday, Jerry and I went to a concert that featured the Beatles tribute band, "Rain." We love Beatles music and spending a couple of hours listening to great musicians play some of our favorite music was completely cool.

Yes, I know they aren't the Beatles. They do their damndest to look, talk and sing like them, but they aren't the Fab Four. I'm not delusional to believe I was listening to the original band. But they are pretty darned good singers and musicians in their own right. The guy who portrayed George Harrison could play some serious guitar. He had two solos that were amazing.

They are more of an "event," as much as a concert, as they do videos in between the songs. There were easily three generations of fans in the audience. Everyone had a great time. It was held at the Majestic Theater, which I've mentioned before, is a gorgeous venue. The concert was sold out. In fact, Rain, sold out all eight shows they held here in San Antonio.

I think I can honestly say I enjoy the earlier music of the Beatles. "Love Me Do," "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," "Twist and Shout," and "Help." Man, I can hear those songs and instantly want to get up and dance around the room. Jerry appreciates their later studio music, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band," "Come Together," and the such. They had such diversity. There is something for everyone.

It was a sad day when the Beatles broke up and a devastating day when John was murdered. What a light of goodness he was. We haven't seen Paul McCartney in concert. He's a bit expensive. If I go to see him in concert, baby, I'm sitting right up front. He's a living piece of rock and roll history.

Going out made me realize how I want to do more of it. We've seen concerts in Bakersfield--George Thorogood, Tom Petty, Doobie Brothers, BTO and others. I think I'm going to like the diversity of the bands that come here to San Antonio.

Since it's just Jerry and I now, we can get away to do things. I'm starting to like this middle age spurt we are going through.

If Rain comes to your town, check them out. It's a great night out and will give you a chance to hear some great music.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Perfect Steak


There's nothing quite like a steak from Texas. If that sounds like bull pucky, it's not. It's true. Since moving here, I've learned that they truly know how to create the most mouth-watering tender steak I've had in my life. And it's not just one restaurant, we've had amazing steak meals at multiple places--Texas Roadhouse, Texas Land & Cattle Company, and Saltgrass Steak House. There's even more places that are highly rated here in San Antonio, that Jerry and I haven't had a chance to visit yet, but they've had great reviews. They include Boudro's On The Riverwalk, Bohanan's Prime Steaks & Seafood, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, The Little Rhein Steakhouse, Morton's The Steakhouse, Myron's Prime Steak House, and Ruth's Chris Steak House.

It's so flipping cool to live in a place that offers a myriad of fine dining choices. I am so not used to that at all. I'm slowly learning the benefit of well-seasoned meat and what exactly quality meat tastes like. My favorite dish at Texas Roadhouse is their sirloin beef tips with mushrooms. It is really good. Their steaks are specially aged and hand-cut every day by their in-house meat cutters. We aren't talking pre-cut frozen steaks bought from a place states away.

By the way, everything made at Texas Roadhouse is made from scratch every day--from the salad dressings to the yeast rolls. Those are to die for. I'm hungry just thinking about it.

If you want a great steak, come to Texas. You will find it.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

When I Grow Up

librarian Pictures, Images and Photos

By junior high, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up--a librarian. Go ahead, laugh your butt off. It's true. I fell in love with reading when my parents bought me a handful of hardbound Nancy Drew mysteries. It was love at first paragraph. The deal was closed in the 5th grade when I won a contest in Mrs. White's class and the reward was my own copy of “The Prince and the Pauper.”

Mark Twain : The Prince and the Pauper Pictures, Images and Photos

I knew then, I needed books—lots and lots of books. Although my real life was dull and boring, books could transport me to other lands, other times, and if I wanted help me be a different person. Every time I opened a cover of a book an adventure awaited. I have literally read thousands and thousands of books, plays and magazines. I think it would be fair to say I'm a bookaholic.

From 7th grade forward I worked in the school library. I knew the Dewey Decimal System backwards and forwards. I was an assistant to every librarian up through my senior year of high school. I even took a library class in college. I was stymied in my attempt to become a librarian due to a couple of reasons--I paid my own way through college (I had no help from anyone) and the University of Nevada, Reno didn't offer a degree an ALA–accredited master’s degree in library and information science. The closest schools that had that program were either Berkeley or UCLA. I couldn't afford either one. It was a bitter pill to swallow.

I wound up moving to California with my parents right after my first semester in college. Yeah, I was closer to UCLA, but boo, I still didn't have enough money. Then a couple of months later I met Jerry and wham bam thank you ma'am, we were married. Before I knew it, we had a family and my college dreams were put aside.

But books still held their allure for me. I never stopped reading. Heck, I even took a book to Vegas when Jerry and I got married. lol

As I raised my son, then my second son came around, I always took them to the Arvin library. It was a small place, but I loved it. I enjoyed being around the books so much, I donated my time to help them shelf books. After doing that for six months, they hired me on. I was thrilled. Even though I was a temporary library clerk I was in seventh heaven. I was around all those wonderful books, helping people, and they paid me for it!

That was such a great summer. I was seriously thinking about applying for a job at the central library in town, but was discouraged by coworkers on how political it was there.

By a strange twist of fate I wound up working at the daily newspaper in Bakersfield. I started as a news clerk (a glorified typist/phone gal) and again opportunity fell in my lap and I became a writer. I had the job before I had the degree.

More than one "real" reporter asked me how I got the job. To my face, mind you. How can I be writing if I hadn't gone to college? I was able to write because I was a professional reader. I wasn't just a casual reader. I can honestly say I have probably read more books than most all of the writers combined from that newsroom. Okay, that might sound a bit arrogant. But in high school, I read seven books and two plays per week. I'm a serious "reader."

I think the key was when I worked at the newspaper that I kept myself humble and I was always learning. I had some incredibly talented teachers--some of them even reporters from the newspaper where I worked. I continued my college career, working full time and raising my sons. It was hard, and without Jerry it would have been impossible. But I did it.

My love of reading carried me to places in my real life I never even knew possible. When we bought our house in Texas, I was able to finally purchase what I always wanted--beautiful custom-made oak bookcases.


I finally had a place to display my beloved friends. That and I have a library in my house. I might not be a professional librarian, but I play one at home. lol

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Random Food Thoughts

Chocolate Bundt cake Pictures, Images and Photos

I had to laugh at myself today. In a flash of awareness I realized how different I must be than most people. As we go through our workday, random thoughts flitter across our minds. Whereas for me, those thoughts usually tie to cooking. Not that I'm a chef. Far from it. I just like to cook. But what I really enjoy cooking are desserts. There is a reason my husband and I are a tad bit overweight. lol

So there I was, processing a handful of payrolls and what am I thinking about? A chocolate cake recipe I am thinking about trying out. I have this great recipe for a chocolate cake from scratch. I've made it before, but with a peanut butter frosting. I was thinking I could make the batter, but pour it into a bundt cake pan instead of a 9x13 pan and then create a flavorful center for it. I have some great blackberry preserves and I thought, "Wow, I wonder if I can mix that in some cream cheese to make a delicious filling for the cake?"

That's not the normal thing a person thinks about during their work day. At least, I don't think they do. I am not sure what it is about desserts that I love so much, but I can cook those until I pass out. I love being creative and mixing them up.

Regular food, I just process out to eat. Spaghetti, sloppy joes and the such are normal meals. I don't get creative with those because they mainly explode into doggie food if I do.

But I have to say, I do make kick ass desserts.

I'm thinking about melting some of those blackberry preserves and pouring them over the bundt cake when it's done as a glaze. Maybe add some fresh blackberries over the top.

I wonder what it would taste like, if I do? What thoughts go through your minds?


Best Scratch Chocolate Cake Ever

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup baking cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup brewed coffee, room temperature

In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat for 2 minutes. Stir in coffee (batter will be thin).
Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Monday, October 19, 2009



Fall happens to be my favorite time of the year. The leaves start to turn, it's cool enough to sleep with the windows open and I eagerly look forward to Halloween. We always had a great time with our kids on Halloween. I think we had more fun decorating the house, than planning their costumes. They always helped me drag the pumpkins, homemade headstones and put together scarecrow cowboy guy. We have always had a bench by the front door and every Halloween we'd pull out a pair of Jerry's old jeans, a cowboy shirt, shoes, gloves and a cowboy hat and stuff it all with newspaper. We'd sit him on the bench so it looked like someone real was sitting there. We'd use an old devil halloween mask as a face. It scared all visitors on Halloween.

The kids in the neighborhood got used to seeing our guy sitting on the bench. Most of the little ones always thought he was real. In fact, one year we had Jared sit there, posing just like the scarecrow cowboy guy, but as the kids walked away he's stand up and touch them on the shoulder. ROFL Talk about screaming kids. We actually made some of them cry. Oh well. lol

I have a new bench on the front porch, but no scarecrow guy. It's just not the same since the kids are older and live elsewhere. I put up decorations and play scary music out the window on Halloween. The neighborhood kids like our decorations. I haven't made anyone cry in Texas. Yet.

Last year, Emily brought Gabriel over to go trick or treating in our neighborhood. He looked great in his bumblebee costume.


The only bad thing of the night was as we were waving goodbye to them, I stepped on a scorpion barefooted. Talk about major pain. We ran inside and called poison control who basically told me to relax I wasn't going to die. I survived, but that first half hour was MAJORLY painful. I guess it serves me right for going barefoot on Halloween. Never again.

We also carved pumpkins last year with Gabriel. It was so wonderful.


We won't be able to do that this year, as Jason, Emily and Gabriel are staying in Abilene for Halloween. Emily will have to take lots of photos. This year, Gabriel is supposed to be Lion King. I can't wait to see the photos.

I love making Halloween goodies for Jerry and I and sitting around watching old, scary movies. I don't go for the new gore-filled horror movies. I like either Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein or something else along those lines. We don't get as many kids here in Texas as we used to get in California, but we live at the end of a long street in a cul-de-sac. I'm just glad no one buses kids to our area. lol

I've done my share of scary things on Halloween--walking through cemetaries, being in a seance room at midnight, and touring ghost towns. We had a blast doing it all.

I always say it's not the dead that worry me on Halloween, it's the living.


Here's a recipe for those brave enough to try them. They taste so yummy.

Severed Fingers Halloween Cookies

SERVES 15 , 30 cookies

2 tablespoons red food coloring
30 blanched almonds
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1. Heat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with Silpats (French nonstick baking mats) or parchment paper, and set aside.

2. Place food coloring in a shallow bowl. crack each whole almond into halves. and toss them into the bowl with the food coloring and stir them until the color is evenly distributed. leave them in the bowl and stir them every so often until the color is as dark as you like.

3. Separate 1 egg. Set aside the white. In a small bowl, whisk together yolk, remaining egg, and vanilla. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, confectioners' sugar, granulated sugar, and salt. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add egg mixture, and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Wrap the dough in plastic, and chill until firm, 20 to 30 minutes.

5. Divide the dough in half. Work with one piece at a time, keeping remaining dough covered with plastic wrap and chilled. Divide the first half into fifteen pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece back and forth with palms into finger shapes, 3 to 4 inches long. Pinch dough in two places to form knuckles. Score each knuckle lightly with the back of a small knife. Transfer fingers to prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.

6. When all fingers are formed, brush lightly with egg white. Position almond nails; push into dough to attach.

7. Bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Cool completely.

8. note: To make the knuckles more creepy just shape them big and uneven. To keep them from puffing out too much roll the fingers extra skinny (skinnier than you want them to look if that makes sense). I also try to get them out of the oven before they brown. I sometimes add a bit of almond extract to dough.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

McNay Art Museum


On a misty, rain-soaked afternoon, Jerry and I decided it was the perfect day to visit the McNay Art Museum. I had put the bug in his ear weeks earlier and we couldn't have asked for a better day to be inside. Located about 20 miles from our house, we drove through beautiful, older neighborhoods to find the museum. The McNay Art Museum was the former home of Marion Koogler McNay. And what a home it was--a mansion of beauty and charm.


Built in 1927, the mansion is a 24-room Spanish Colonial-Revival that is elaborate without being gaudy. It sits on 23 acres of surrounding land and boasts a courtyard that is lush and calming.



Mrs. McNay was an avid art collector. The very first painting she ever bought was Diego Rivera’s Delfina Flores.


She passed away in 1950, but made sure that her artwork would not only be protected, but enjoyed by everyone. She left behind a collection 700 pieces of amazing art. An endowment she created helped start the first museum of modern art in Texas which opened its doors in 1954.

The collections has grown to more than 20,000 works that includes:
Medieval and Renaissance art.
•19th- through 21st- century European and American paintings, sculptures and photographs.
•One of the finest collections of prints and drawings in the Southwest.
•The exceptional Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts.

The museum has a visiting exhibition featuring the reclaimed artwork of Jacques Goudstikker. I really enjoyed these paintings. They were Dutch "Golden Age" paintings of the 17th century, and a handful of Renaissance paintings. I find myself drawn to paintings from this era.

We were looking at original artwork from 400-500 years ago. It's mind blowing to think that something hanging on the wall right in front of me was painted so long ago. Colors were vibrant and clear, while others were soft and muted. Clear lines, delicate brushwork on canvases that were created by natural light. No lightbulbs helped the artists. They couldn't just go down to their local Hobby Lobby and pick up a tube of paint. They had to make their own paint fresh every day.

I love the Old Masters more than the modern stuff. I admit it. In one gallery, they hung all the modern paintings and scultpures. There was a painting of a trash bag. Just a trash bag. I don't get it. Sorry. Lots of squiggly lines on one painting. No rhyme, no reason, no clarity. Just a squiggly mess.

We didn't stay long in that gallery. Some people love that kind of stuff. Not me.

Another exhibit they have is the The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art: Works on Paper. This was a beautiful, and touching collection. I have to share what the museum had to say about the collection:

San Antonians Harmon and Harriet Kelley began collecting African American art in the 1980s. Since that time, their collection has grown quantitatively and qualitatively to become one of the finest such collections in public or private hands in the United States. Every room of their home is full of museum-quality paintings, drawings, and prints illustrating the rich history of African American art from the late 19th century to the present. The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art: Works on Paper, featuring nearly 100 prints, drawings, and watercolors, is a wonderful introduction to the riches of their collection and also a remarkable and unique survey of more than a century of American art. A rare opportunity to see these privately held treasures, this exhibition also serves as an advocate for greater understanding and appreciation of the contributions made by African Americans to art history.

Harmon and Harriet Kelley were prescient as collectors, buying works of art at a time when not many other collectors were interested. Hence, their collection contains many works which are not to be seen anywhere else. Among the earliest and rarest works in the exhibition are prints by the 19-century printmaker Grafton Taylor Brown, the first documented professional graphic artist to work on the West Coast. The exhibition is also particularly rich in works by artists of the 1930s and 40s, which document in strikingly beautiful and personal ways the growing awareness of African American heritage and identity. Among the artists included in the exhibition whose work focused on the African American experience are Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, and Jacob Lawrence. The exhibition also includes contemporary works by Alison Saar and Robert Colescott. In all, more than 50 different artists are represented by works in the exhibition.

I admit I am ignorant about African American artists. I enjoyed walking from gallery to gallery admiring the work I saw. There was one particular one that grabbed my heart and literally almost made me cry.


You can just feel the emotion breathe from this artwork. I find it powerfully sad.

If you ever get a chance to visit the McNay Art Museum, I highly recommend it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Jerry and I have always been into landscaping. Our house in California was completely tricked out with trees, bushes, and occasional veggies. I have always loved having a lush, green yard. It's a team effort with us--we go together to buy the plants and Jerry plants most of the stuff with me helping. lol

We carried the same viewpoint when we moved to Texas. And moving to our new house we had a huge yard to work with--almost a quarter of an acre all together between the front and back yard. All this yard had really planted in it was grass--that's it.

The first thing we bought to plant was an oak tree for the front side yard. We had a rude awakening with that tree. Jerry spent a day and a half trying to dig the hole for that tree. He learned the hard way what was under our yard--limestone rock. Lots of it. He wound up renting a jackhammer just to plant a tree. That was a first for us. Here is what it looked like when we were done.


The next step we did was to expand the look around the tree and add a retaining wall planter. Our goal is to minimize the lawn that needs to be watered and mowed. We bounced around different ideas until we came up with the following. We did all the work ourselves and saved a lot of money on labor. Although, I did get sunburnt and scratched the heck out of my hands.


We've since added a climbing rosebush in a huge container where the bench is and moved the bench to the side of the house. Today, we added three bottlebrush bushes/trees to the long left side by the wood retaining wall.


I've also tweaked the plants in the brick retainer wall planter. I originally planted rosemary and basil, alongwith other flowering plants. Today, I added parsley, thyme, sage and green onions.

I will try to take photos when I can so I show the newest additions. In the back yard, we have a real challenge to work with.


We have added two oak trees and one Chinese elm to the back yard, alongwith three crepe myrtles. Our big plan is to add a large back patio with a cover. We've had bids, but OMG, way out of our price range for now. We hope to do it piece by piece so we can more affordably accomplish our goals.

We try to go with native plants that are hardy, and I want to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. I like being able to plant my herbs and veggies in the planter up front. I don't have to worry about the dog getting anywhere near it. I am starting to dry my own herbs and make my own spice mixes with them.

There's always something to do or plant and we are having fun doing it. Man, I love it here.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Majestic Theater


San Antonio has many entertainment venues and one of the prettiest and most unique, in my opinion, is the Majestic Theater. Jerry and I saw it for the first time when we saw a comedy show. I was blown away with how elaborate the place is. I was used to the Fox Theater in Bakersfield and thought it was a nice theater, but the Majestic leaves the Fox Theater in the dust. At one point, the Majestic was the largest theatre in Texas.

But size aside, it is a beautiful theater. It has so many visuals to it I want to go back just to tour it without seeing an event.

It's hard for me to explain the interior, so I am just going to grab what they say on their web site.

Inspired by Spanish Mission, Baroque, and Mediterranean architectural traditions, theatre patrons are transported to a fantasy villa. Walls become towers with windows of colorful glass. A rare white peacock perches on a balcony railing as doves are caught in mid-flight. Grape vines creep along the walls and luscious foliage flourishes. The vaulted "sky" comes to life as stars twinkle while drifting clouds pass by overhead. Balconies, tile roofs, arches, and columns, railings, elaborate ornamentation, statues, and a bell tower all aid in the transformation of the theatre into a mystical village.



The acoustics are really great in the theater. And even the bathrooms are cool looking. lol It's classy elegance and a beautiful lady.

Jerry and I hope to buy tickets tomorrow to watch "Rain." They are the Beatle tribute band. We plan to make a night of it with dinner out and then the concert. I am looking forward to visiting the Majestic again.

Want to learn more? Check it out.