Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I have Basil planted in amongst the flowers.
Every once in a while I get it right garden wise and end up with enough something or other to actually feature it in a dish.  In a good year, I end up with a whole LOT of something or other.  In this case, Basil.  When that happens, after doing the totally predictable preparations, I yearn to take some side road a bit less traveled.

Unlike my tomatoes, the basil is doing well.
This recipe for Basil Vinaigrette from Elise at SImply Recipes represents just that.

Dijon, shallot, vinegar, oil, salt, sugar and basil.  Just like that.
It is so fresh and delicious and versatile on its own that it might just light up your pesto jaded taste buds.  It certainly did mine.

Last night we had the vinaigrette on a simple salad.  It totally stole the show.

I am the ghost of lunch today.
Today I am going to combine some of the rest with cooked chilled pasta and use that base to spin a series of lunch salads.  
I love chopping things.  It makes me feel so cheffy.
The closest thing to work in this recipe was the chopping and if I hadn't been stopping to take photos the whole process would have taken maybe 10 minutes.  Maybe.  

Hello, gorgeous!
I can't imagine a better way to celebrate basil.  Drop in on Elise and get the full recipe here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

At times



what progress looks like.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ready, set....

Truth be told, the culling process around here has only just gotten past the early stages.  For the most part until late yesterday afternoon, no matter how hard I worked, it still felt a lot like rearranging deck chairs on a sinking ship.

However, with six bags of books already taken to Goodwill, two bags dropped off at our community library, and two more topically relevant books bagged up for a friend who has just been ordained, at least the shelf space is opening up.

There are boxes waiting for another trip to Goodwill.  There are two closets that will be ruthlessly (finally!) cleared out today or tomorrow and the clothes will all be donated to a charity slated to be in my neighborhood Friday.  We have a young couple planning to come pick up an old couch that will be new-to-them and as far as short term goals, that battle is won.

This process has changed my seeing.  I am now eyeing a closet that historically stored arts and crafts supplies (along with tennis balls, a vacuum cleaner, ironing board, iron, winter coats, a small file cabinet) and knowing this editing process can't stop until everything in there has been taken out, sorted, and at the very least reorganized, if not relocated.  Not to mention the laundry room.  Etcetera, etcetera.

It is all quite gratifying, if a little exhausting.

Realistically I will not get every clearing out project accomplished before the end of the calendar year.  But that doesn't matter.  I am happy to celebrate the spaces we have made, content to know the other projects will still be there whenever the impulse to lighten our material load next grabs me.

Meanwhile, back at the blog, all this sorting and stacking and bagging and boxing is not leaving much time, much less energy, for posting.  Fear not however, while I am lugging and hauling I am also busily planning.  I have a series of ideas cooking up to be shared with you right here, hopefully sooner rather than later.
While you are waiting, I invite you to visit Ree at The Pioneer Woman to pick up the full recipe for these amazingly delicious Apple Dumplings.  The recipe calls for an ingredient that may surprise you but gives you results that won't disappoint on any front.

Next up, Lisa at Homesick Texan has a recipe for Bread and Butter Jalapeño pickles buried deep in this post about what constitutes Texas Potato Salad that is a great way to use up a jalapeño pepper bounty if you've got them growing in your garden.

These pickle versions of late summer fireworks are a snap to make even if you have to stop at the store to buy your own peppers.  I've had them plain and in potato salad both and now can't wait to try them rough chopped atop brats to munch on while we celebrate the start of UT football season in a few weeks.

Speaking of football, for those of you still in the mix, Happy First Week of School!  I may not be packing lunches or waving kids off to the bus any longer but I remember what that was like as if it was only yesterday.

I'm getting ahead of myself.  Right this minute, I've got the car to load up.  I'll be back with more fun before too long. Bye for now!  

Saturday, August 14, 2010

You can never....

Perhaps you know the axiom - You can never be too rich or too thin.

Due to my hoardist tendencies, most of the time around here that saying ends up reconfigured into some version of "You can never have too many....." fill-in-the-blank with whatever it is I am attempting to defend having many-more-than-one-of at the time.

I'll start with our version of hoarder's Switzerland - a group I have yet been called upon to defend.  Bird feeders.  Who doesn't love birds?  We sure does do!  We have five bird feeders of various types in various spots along with all sorts of plants growing that support berries and seeds various species like to visit in season.

No problems so far.  However....  For various reasons we are heading into a period requiring quite a bit of deck clearing around here which has put a very large smile on Hub's face. At the prospect of my finally getting rid of all sorts of supplies clutter he can barely contain his glee.  To his way of thinking, Less is not only More, Less is BETTER.  Much, MUCH better.

My completely rational response to the idea of getting rid of m/any of my treasures (once my head stopped swimming and I could hear again over the pounding of my pulse in my ears) was to immediately begin defending in my head some of what might (and I cannot emphasize this too strongly) MIGHT appear to the uninitiated as exemplars of excess.  

I started snapping photos resulting in a sort of primer of plenitude.  Here, in no particular order,  a tip of the iceberg look at a few things I believe I can never have "too many" of....
Colorful Paper Drink Umbrellas
Cats Stretching in the Sun
Homegrown Tomatoes
Library Books
Artist's Brushes
Souvenir Plates
Bluebonnets that don't know it is August
A note of clarification.  Nobody is talking about getting rid of our cats, or any of the flowers in the garden beds. Certainly not the tomato plants now they are finally showing signs of recognizing what they are and behaving accordingly.  These all simply caught my eye as I was wandering around thinking to myself - "what can I never, ever have too many of?".

My list could go on indefinitely (kinds of mustard... mismatched wine glasses...) hence the happy anticipation on the part of certain people around here who would gratefully see more actual space in our places.

What about you?  Are there objects/comestibles you adore in profusion?  No need to defend your choice(s), we're all friendly 'round these parts.  It is time to rally, fellow hoarders and hoardettes - speak up and tell the world!  What can YOU never have too many of?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

What is strong?

I admit it freely.  After an epic ankle injury in June left me washed up on the shoreline of my bed where it was all I could do to surround myself with water, eyeglasses, salty snacks and stacks of library books, my world began to simultaneously expand and contract.

The expansion came courtesy of a host of new fiction releases, mixed in with a few older novels that had previously escaped my notice.  The contractions happened, relentlessly, whenever I was not fully immersed in somebody else's fictional world.  Each time I was yanked reluctantly out of my book back into reality, my universe abruptly resized itself to the admittedly swollen limitations of one bruised and battered ankle and its attendant foot.

Weak turned into weeks.  I was barely mobile, reduced to short seemingly treacherous bursts of crutch assisted transport from bed to bathroom, bed to couch. At day's end, I would gather myself for one last nerve wracking journey, returning gratefully to the safety of my own land of counterpane.

I spent countless stretches of time staring at my ankle critically, assessing its state obsessively, wondering in panicked bursts at first "if?" miserably lapsing into "how long?" it would be before I could reliably put weight on the formerly injured areas and simply, confidently, walk.

Eventually I began to dream in crutches.  Many of these dreams featured some break in the action where I would, momentarily distracted, leave my crutches to one side, turn and begin to walk on my own.  I would wake exuberant, eagerly opening my eyes only to be stopped short by the sight of them, my crutches, sadly still quite necessary, stacked bedside for when I would arise.

How often I was reduced to tearful self pity by this situation will remain unnumbered.  How many times I sat immobilized, using every shred of energy available to stifle a snarl when a heartfelt "thank you!" was more appropriately in order is, appropriately, my solo burden to bear.

Truth be told?  That is the worst of it.  Not the pain, or even the embarrassment of acknowledging my own stubborn stupidity as the cause of the accident that resulted in the injury.  It was my utter inability to do for myself, the complete reliance upon others to do for me what I used to do for myself, that rapidly reduced my universe to the size of one very swollen ankle.

As the weeks crawled by I began, only because it was forced upon me, to slowly absorb some of the cruel lessons of living less than fully able in a busily distracted world.

Self awareness can be a bitch.

Now, finally, I am able to put some weight upon my ankle.  For very short spurts, if I am careful, I can actually wobble from here to there without using the trip sticks.  I can, for the first time in nearly two months, actually carry my own cup of coffee,  my own glass of water, from here to there.  All by myself.  Without asking, without worrying about imposing, without waiting.  I decide I want to, so I do.  Just.  Like.  That.

Increasing mobility of course also means the return to chores, the resumption of meal preparation and laundry loads and grocery store runs.  All of these functions slowed, some of them still requiring family sherpa assists to avoid re-injury, but each of them representing a victory of reasserted independence I no longer take completely for granted.

I would like to say I learned lessons that will stay with me, to confidently state my impatience and tendencies to rush, to urge "hurry" have all melted away from this newly refined, shinier version of me.

I doubt it will be so for long.  It is much more likely as the days pass, as the ankle gets stronger and the hesitance to step out, to step up, or down or over an obstacle dissolves into a growing sense of security, that I will simply revert to my previously presumptuous ways.

Maybe I have seen enough, lived through enough exposure to the harsh experience of enforced dependence to have softened a rough edge or two permanently.  Maybe now I will look, not with pity, but with new appreciation for how very tough a person must actually be to allow for a life that relies in ways fully upon others.

Maybe I won't continue to assess strength as represented or measured by the ability to do for myself all on my own.  Real strength, I am coming to see, is at least partly about the ability to allow others to do for me and not consider myself diminished by that.