Austin delivers Succulent-astic!

 

tool timeWe feel pretty lucky to live only about three hours from one of our favorite places, and therefore strive to get to Austin as often as possible.  This time we hit the jackpot when Steve was called upon to do a few hours of work down Austin way right about the time Labor Day rolled around.  Since the gas and partial hotel stay was covered, we took advantage and booked a three-night stay.  During those four days, a very small portion of which actually had anything to do with ‘work,’ we challenged ourselves to get out of our Austin-rut (south Congress, yawn yawn) and see some new stuff.  One thing that I had really been wanting to visit was the East Austin Succuents/ Tillery Gardens store.  Turned out it was only about 8 minutes from our hotel.  We tried to arrive early enough that the temps (which quickly rose to over 100 every single day) weren’t *too* much of a problem.

Here we are wandering the awesome acreage, doing alot of chin rubbing and head scratching over all the funky/freaky native plant goodness!

Having devoured the last six month’s postings by Austinite (and award winning!) blogger Pam Penick’s wonderful “Diggin”, as well as the advice of others who’d been there, I was super stoked to check out this wonderland of plants.  Not only did they have the *garden variety* (groan) succulents I’ve been buying for years,but also a number of unusual and new-to-me species of succulents, PLUS a load of native Texas shrubs, trees, and my favorite… awesmome handcrafted pottery!  (okay, this was more than a mere journey to see neat plants.  I really wanted to check out what other hypertufa artists were up to!) My images didn’t do these pots justice at all.

I picked up a few tons (well, pounds) of glass shard rocks in beautiful blues and greens for a future display on the front-garden pond, and a goodly number of small funky succulents.  But my most amazing discovery was a potter whose work I will devote an entire blog entry to.  We were lucky enough to meet him in person at the succulent show that was going on that same weekend right across town at the Zilker Park Botanical Gardens!  How lucky could we be!?  Here’s me holding one of his pieces on display at East Austin/Tillery Gardens.  So glad I held out and waited till we were in the presence of the Man himself.  Not only did he offer up a ton of great pots with the most intense glazes, but many of them were potted up with incredible succulents and cactuses.  We displayed a good deal of self control in acquiring only three.  But we’ll be back.

chris likes pots

 

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Stop! Whoa yes, wait a minute Mr. Postman

The Dexter Mailbox - Classic

I used to love that old song.  I always thought it was written by the Carpenters, but like so many of my youthful assumptions, I would be proven wrong.  Apparently it was first performed by the Marvelettes and shortly thereafter by the young Beatles.  (I must not have been the only one who got caught up in the catchy hooks.)  To my childish ears, it was like candy – a wee fluff of cotton candy on a warm summer day.  I didn’t try to delve too deeply into the angst-filled words of the singer, who was hoping for ‘just a card, or just a letter… saying that he’s coming home to me!’

I am thinking about mail more and more lately though, and not because it’s summer or I’m craving cotton candy.  No, I am not awaiting some long-lost suitor either.  It’s the weighty issue of locating the *perfect* mailbox for our newly constructed front yard/fence/driveway combo.  When we moved in over a year ago, we were well aware that the little tiny old-fashioned mailbox someone had installed was not only silly and unsuitably styled for the house, it was woafully small and inadequate for the vast quantities of junk mail we seem to generate.  (disclaimer: the majority of catalogs we now get are the result of forwarding my mother-in-law’s mail to our house.  She was a huge fan of catague shopping.)  So now that we installed a cool courtyard enclosure, the idea is to save the mail person a few steps and put in a new, improved model of mailbox.  One that not only fits the modern style we are trying to go for, but has some vast tracts of land associated with it… enough at least to support the amount of future recycling we’ll be receiving. 

Contenders included these lovelies:

mailbox blue

Let’s face it, a mailbox is like the ‘earrings’ of a house.  It’s the little sparkly thing we get to choose that actually says something about our tastes that is semi-affordable and do-able, unlike a new swimming pool or fountain with Bellagio-style timing.  Although… that would be pretty cool.mailbox teak

This one is a work of art by a gal on Etsy… she uses real teak and lovingly joins wood to wood to create a smooth pull-out box that is a joy to behold.  Too bad ours is going to be under full sun and rain.  This one needs protection from elements.

We liked this next one for the simplicity…but ultimately it lacked the ‘it factor’ that the last one did, which we are planning on ordering from the manufacturer in Austin, TX!

Stainless Steel Mailbox - Standard - Vertical Style

And the winner is….

The Gibson Mailbox - Classic

STeel mailbox winnerSo the Gibson Mailbox by AustinDecor/ Steelworks is customizable, with space for our address letters where the word “POST” is on the first photo.

What do you think?  It’s heavy and strong and should hold up to the elements pretty well.  Very modern but also has a slightly crunchy artisan feel to it.  Large enough, but not out of control.  Not least of all, we won’t be feeling as bad for the poor post-person, forever trying to wedge our mail into that tiny old box outside the door!

One Fish Two Fish is changing!

As fish often do, we’re wiggling off the hook and diving back down into cool waters… only to emerge topside with a more appropriate name for this operation/adventure/avocation:  Concrete Notions.  Steve and I (two fishy folks if there ever were some) decided it better portrays what we are doing and makes for a more ‘solid’ brand (pardon the pun there). 

Stay tuned for more about this.  Same great concrete pots and plants… 

dancing fish

 

 

 

Shazbot! and Fun with Words

It’s a new year, so they all say. That must be why I found myself digging around in my bright-green Ikea desk like a french pig with a line on a truffle, kicking up dust along with business cards, sticky notes, and errant stamps. Someplace in the melange I uncovered a brief list of funny words Steve and came up with last year. Some of them do harken to earlier years, but most of them are solid 2012 vintage.

Let me preface this list by telling that most of these have been inspired by cats. If you have kids, you will no doubt have similar aha moments when they do something that just defies standard vocabulariar boundaries and demands a new construct. Let me illustrate:

Butzinface – What someone working at their computer in our household is going to wind up with within moments of sitting down to work. Applies most often to Lenny, but can be applied to George.

Farking – Pretty much what it sounds like, right? So it’s a mesh of ‘f*ing’ and ‘larking’ and a bit of ‘malarky’ thrown in, just to mollify our Veep. And because Irish phrases are funny.

Gargolying, Vulching, Hoovering – well these are not new really, so I can’t take credit. Maybe Gargoyling. Our Russian Blue cat, George, looks particularly regal and Gargoyle-y when poised on his haunches on top of the refrig or cabinets, with neck extended.

“Honey, the Varmpires are Calling!” – okay, this one has nothing to do with cats. It refers to the blood bank that has our cell phone numbers and like to abuse them on a regular basis. I like to repeat their messages with a Transylvanian accent, just for fun. “We vant to have yer bluuud!” I know, I know. I will give and I do. But seriously, shop calling on the 61st day after my last donation, will ya?

Snorkeling – what Lenny does with his water dish; he’ll sit and wrap both arms around it, like he’s hugging it.

Marinating – what Lenny will do with his Super Fuzzy Worm (you know, the kind that does ‘amazing tricks!’ on a clear cord that no one can really get to work, but which cats adore). He likes to put it in his water dish, for safe-keeping.

Snizzle, frizzle, and schpool – all the ways that Gracie will drool freely over arms, chairs, and pillows. ew.

Foosy-putting – Take Pussy-Footing and rearrange the first letters. This happens on our countertops when we have all the plants inside and the cats are trying to work their way through them to get to the sink or to the latest chicken dish resting thereon.

Okay, that’s all for now…so I can finally throw away this bookmark I had them all written on. Yeah!

Planters for all the spaces of your home!

Even though our house is awash in a sea of hyper-tuffa’ed goodness, I still can’t help but appreciate a fine bit of potted design once in a while.  This one might need to find a home in our modern house sometime soon, yup?

This is called the “City Planter” and is available at Potted in Los Angeles. (or online!)

What I find so beautiful is the use of negative space, as well as subtle texture and coloration.  Bravo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every day should be a fiesta!

Am I right, folks?  Would it be so bad to wake up and find your living room sparkling from top to bottom with shiny banners and glittering flowers, all lighted up with tiny (or giant) Christmas lights?  That’s just *another* one of many things I love about the Mexican influence, as one finds in these two far-flung locations:  Mi Tierra Restaurant and Panaderia, in the Mercado in San Antonio TX; or off the plaza in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Yes, I can see bedazzling my home like this… but I have a feeling we all might get headaches from the sheer joy of straining our necks looking up all day.  So, I will settle for visiting these spaces when I get the time to travel there.  sigh….

These pinatas grace the ceiling of the panaderia at Mi Tierra…

And these white lights glimmer among golden banners to create a glow that lights up the faces of diners. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is this just joyful and lovely?  Why not swath your front door in a colorful blanket flowing out of glitter-dusted fake flowers, metalic stars, and sky-blue ostrich feathers?   I mean, I guess the real question is… why not?

And then, there is a long passel of old hand-decorated Christmas balls that sent me over the top in a candy store in Santa Fe.  Apparently, much like Mi Tierra, this place stays festive all the year long.  That might explain why the balls look a bit dusty and worse for wear, but you can see that they were lovingly crafted a good many years ago and therefore make me happy.  Am I now inspired to do some Christmas crafting?  Probably!!

Gorgeous Geology

Rock hounding refers to the hobby and pastime of collecting rocks…and I’ve been a ‘hound ever since I was a kid, splashing around one of many North Dallas tributaries of White Rock Creek, where the white limestones are thick as fossilized milk.  There is something about picking up a rock – the sense that you are embarking on a journey to a land so many years back in history that it boggles the mind – and also the hope that there might be a fossil or a valuable gem someplace inside or around the edges.   This is why I can appreciate my husband’s box of rocks, which has has been hauling  around from home to home over the last 50 years.  Meanwhile, I’ve managed to whittle my own ‘rock situation’ down from Code Red (eminent landslide) to Code Yellow (small plastic box taking up coveted space in closet).  While I sometimes regail him with snippets of geological factoids when we pass a rock-cut, I had no idea that he’d eventually become a rock junky again…but that’s just what I think is happening!  Why?  Well, just recently on a trip to one of the best places on earth (for everything rock, including music!), Taos NM, it was *his* idea to return to a local rock shop, where we proceeded to scoop up several nice (yet surprisingly inexpensive) specimens.   We wanted to get at least one from New Mexico, and when we both saw this, we sort of collectively went ‘ooooooooooohh!’ It’s a type of  halite (a member of the salt groups) with blue clouds, from Carlsbad, New Mexico: