Tuesday, August 22, 2006


And now for something completely different...


There are those who will tell you that the place to buy retail is New York City, L.A., Paris, or London. They are wrong. The retail capital of the world is Dallas, Texas. There are more retail offerings per capita in the DFW metroplex than anywhere else in the world. If you can't find it, and find it cheap, in Dallas, you have no hope of finding it anywhere. I'm not what would traditionally be called a shopper, I don't just go to browse, and I don't buy that often. If I need something, I look for the best deal and buy it, and in Big D that was really easy. When we moved from Dallas to Austin, I had to readjust my shopping expectations, as there just isn't the volume or variety here. Consequently, whenever I visit I have a list of stops I must make before coming home to Austin. Since the ICU visiting hours ran with 2 hour gaps throughout the day, I found myself with time to burn, so what's a girl to do? Shop, of course.
Following are the highlights of my hunt.

Off Price Shoes is the greatest place ever. Actually, it's vaguely dingy and always crowded, but the prices can't be beat. At the most expensive, all shoes are $9.99, and the sales are just insanity. They are currently having their end-o-summer clearance....all shoes $4.99. For $35 I got the seven (!) pair in the photo. And they're cute. Many of the shoes they carry could be described as.......eccentric....but many are really cute.

Ladies with littles: the Kelly's Kids Outlet is closing in December. It's a sad, sad day in children's wear bargain hunting. Everything in the store is $5.99. I got several adorable outfits and dresses for Lulu for next summer, but they didn't have much in 3-4 boys. The selection is much better in larger sizes for boys, but I hate to buy too far in advance for them, they spurt so weird. The clearance just started last Wednesday, but word will spread fast. If you live in the area, get there ASAP.

Chocolate Soup is having their 40th anniversary sale on top of their annual summer clearance. Everything in the store is green-priced, which is 1/3 to 1/2 of regular price, then on top of that all spring/summer stuff is an additional 66% off, and fall items are an additional 40% off. I got tons of stuff for the boys there for cool weather, as well as for next summer. The most expensive thing I bought was a madras plaid short/polo shirt set (with hat!) for $16. I got some polo shirts for $2.25. I love CS. If you love good prices on unique stuff, that's the place to go.

I didn't have time to make it to Sam Moon, but my friend got a really great purse that looks alarmingly similar to a Birkin bag for $12.99. Next time.

This concludes the McAustin Shopping Update.
Have a wonderful day.
Go shopping!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Turn, Turn

It is a fearful thing to love what death can touch.

Friday afternoon I received a call from my cousin telling me that my aunt* was in serious condition in the hospital ICU , and it was uncertain how long she might live. I drove up to Dallas early Saturday morning, and spent the weekend with my aunt and the rest of the family who had gathered. She is waging a mighty struggle with an aggressive form of multiple myeloma, which basically means she has a type of cancer that is eating away her bones from the inside out, and destroying her white blood cell production in the process.

This is one of the kindest, most considerate, giving people I've known. She is also exceptionally fierce, is capable of holding an intense grudge, and is an amazing cook. She is among the funniest of humans ever to draw breath, and raised 4 fabulously fun-loving and clever people. I'm always left with the sense that I don't want the time to end when we're all together. That is intensely true now.

My grandfather died in 1993.
My mother died in 2001.
My grandmother in 2004.
My uncle died in 2005.

I'm weary of saying goodbye to people I love. More than that, I'm so sad that this cherished part of my family has to go through this pain.

This week's Weekend Words Challenge, sponsored by OddMix fit my situation perfectly this week. The words for this week are fantasy and reality.


My fantasy is that this earthly vessel God has loaned us would stay as beautifully flawless and perfectly healthy as this sweet baby's....


...but the reality is that we all will wither and die, just like the leaves on this tomato plant. Animal, mineral, vegetable, none are immune.

Sometimes it's hard to look past the hurt to the hope. I'm still working on that.

For everything there is a season,
And there is a time for every event under heaven
A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Hug your old people.
Kiss your babies.
Tell everyone that you love them.

We never know when the season will turn.
*She is not really my aunt. She is my mother's cousin, but the families were small, and very close. I have always considered her my aunt, and she is also like a second mother to me. She is currently holding steady, and will get some test results back today to determine the next course of action.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Stuff Portrait Friday: Show Me the Supplies...

Welcome to Friday, the day that the lovely Mrs. Kristine Baland gives us a laundry list of photos, or in this case, it's a supplies list honoring back to school: our bag, our supplies, and the grown-up version of the cubby: our mailbox.


The summer bag, a Mother's Day gift from the littles. A little whimsical, a lot of fun. I have red hair, so I have TONS of lime green in the closet, so it goes with just about everything.


In my previous life, I was in the field of education: teacher and administrator. While I loved my job, I really enjoy staying home with my kids. However, every year at this time, when the aisles of the stores are filled with fresh school supplies, backpacks and lunchboxes, I get a bit nostalgic. I've always loved the whole back-to-school bustle, even as a kid myself. I always buy myself a new box of crayons to use while the kids are working with theirs. This is last year's box. Time to get some new ones!


The mailbox. Bottom of the hill, at the curb. Not too exciting, but I love that it's huge, and it's soooooo much better than the listing, old metal one that we replaced.

Did you play? Let me know so I can come check out your supplies.

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, August 17, 2006



I had never heard of flickr before I started blogging. It took me a year to get past the hangups I had about public photos, tagline searches, etc. before I joined. Truth be told, if Blogger picture uploading was more reliable, I never would have signed on. But, it isn't, and I did. Since that time, I've become utterly addicted, wholly and without regret. I find such amazing images and mind-blowing talent, both of which inspire in an incredible way.

Yesterday I uploaded this picture of Little Bit that makes me smile every time I look at it.

It made Explore/Interestingness, #361.

That sound you hear? Me doing the happy dance:)

Have a great day!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada Glasses


Hello, again.

It was about time.

(Oh, Geez...now I'm going to have to go fix that moonglow right arm jumping out in the profile pic...)

(ok, all done.;)

Way Back Wednesday: Water, Water Everywhere


The Kept Woman says that today it's all about the water. It's been a while, but I was up at an uncharacteristically early hour (even for me) and decided to while away the hours by scanning in some old photos.


Summer 1971, rockin' the matching bro-sis swimsuits

Monday, August 14, 2006

Case of the Mondays

hot stuff 2
Mucho Nacho....really, that's what they're named...

What's going on with Blogger? I saw some recent posts this morning, but then later it reverted back to stuff from earlier last week. I also couldn't see what I'd posted. This is a test to see what happens.

I'm so easily confused... really, this isn't fair.

Saturday, August 12, 2006



You asked for it....they're dangerous!

Chocolate-Coconut Bars

(similar to Hello Dollies)

3 c finely ground cookies (12 oz.)
1/4 c sugar
3/4 c unsalted butter, melted
1 c chopped pecans
1 c chocolate chips
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 c sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 375. Line a 15x10 rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together cookie crumbs, sugar, and butter until combined. Evenly press mixture onto the parchment and up the sides. Bake, turning halfway through, until firm, about 10 min. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Sprinkle cooled crust evenly with pecans and chocolate chips. Pour condensed milk over top, spreading to cover completely, but make sure it doesn't go over edge. Sprinkle with coconut.

Bake until coconut is toasted, 10-15 min. Transfer to rack, cool completely. Trim edges, if desired, and cut into equal-sized bars.

***I'm a low-sugar freak.....I used whole wheat animal crackers(the only cookies in the house) for the cookies, and added a bit of cocoa powder;I cut out the sugar for the crust completely, and substituted unsweetened coconut. With the s.c.milk, it's still veerrrrryyyy sweet.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

SPF: Titles

Kristine's gone a bit crazy, or creative...whichever....I had to think waaaaayyyyyy too hard for this. It was 107 here today, and the only word I have as a descriptor is parched. Creativity, landscape, energy....all parched.
Here goes....
Book: Curious George (or in this case Georgina)

new do

Lulu is into e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.
No really,
and literally,
and s.e.r.i.o.u.s.l.y.
Even with the gates. Even with the child-proofing. Either she's gonna die, or I'm gonna go crazy.

Song: The Cat's in The Cradlei'm the baby
Meet Mimi. She doesn't play well with others, she runs with scissors (claws) and she's completely antisocial, but she really wants to be different. Doesn't that look just say it all? Daddy McA. says that someday we'll have a real cat....
She naps every morning on the sunny spot on Lulu's changing chest, her cradle.

Movie: Chocolat
(see post below....it's late. And I'm lazy. And have company coming in, and a half full bottle of wine that needs draining. Sue me.)
Have a fabu weekend, all!


When you can't blog, bake...

Well, I spoke too soon. The recently returned, not-so-trusty laptop was apparently not repaired completely: it worked for about a half hour and then just stopped. So, back to the hole I go....

We went to our library yesterday, and guess who we ran into? Lucky Lum and Cara brought their adorable littles to the story time. It's a privilege to pair the actual human being with their precious pictures we see on their sites.

We had a bit of excitement yesterday. Our neighborhood is currently fighting off annexation by the City of Austin, and it's become quite the controversy. Well, only if you live here, or are an environmental nut. Daddy McAustin is president of our neighborhood association, and was interviewed by the local all-news station about the upcoming public hearings at Austin City Hall. They broadcast the piece on their evening news. Superstar!

That's all folks!

Monday, August 07, 2006


I write this sitting at my breakfast table with my recently returned, newly repaired trusty laptop, complete with new hardrive. I still have to rebuild all the bookmarks, so bear with me.


Bad Mothering Moment of the Week

I left the room at 2:54 (I checked) to go to the laundry room to switch out a load. Returned to the room mere minutes later, and Lulu was nowhere to be found. I checked the clock, it was 2:59, she can't have gotten far, I thought. The gate to the rest of the downstairs was closed, so she couldn't be in there. I went up the 1/2 flight of stairs to the kitchen, no Lulu. A scan of the dining room proved the same. I proceeded to the staircase to the upstairs, still no Lulu. Up the stairs I go, calling her name; I hear a faint giggle, and then her trademark squeal. Up to the upstairs hall, into the master bedroom, around the hairpin turn into the master bath, and there she is: standing IN the jacuzzi tub. Empty of course, but still. She was very proud of herself, and laughed at my worry.

I was wrong last week when I said it would be the 3 year old that would kill me: it will be this baby.

Moral of the story: Speedy McAustin goes in baby jail every time I leave the room. Period.


Hold on. Where did July go? It seems I blink, and it's a new month, every month. Geez, it's practically the holiday season!

Lulu had her 9 month well check...still healthy, still Amazon at 29 inches tall, still huge-headed. But growing along the curve, so no worries. I must say that the earliest appointment of the day is definitely the way to go: less traffic, no waiting, in and out in 45 minutes. Sweet.

This weekend, my oldest friend came to visit with her 4 year old twins in tow. We spent the entire weekend trying to find engrossing activities for the kids to do so they wouldn't bother us:). Hit the park, the museum, etc. and we had a great visit.

The main exhibit at our local children's museum is all about air, and the kids LOVED it. Tons of stuff to turn, push, spin, twirl. Good times.

Superman 2


drink it in


all aboard!

**helicopter sound**

it working!

the eyes have it 2


Have a great Monday.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Spicy SPF

Welcome to Stuff Portrait Friday!Today the lovely Kristine has asked us to play with our toys. She asked for some other stuff too, but I had so much fun playing with Photoshop, I ran out of time for the rest of the assignment. (And here I will plug the beauty that is a good wireless connection paired with a working laptop, both of which have been sadly absent here this week. With the laptop winging its way to the computer convalescent home and the only other computer tucked into the home office, screen time has been scarce for Mama.)

No more time for playing for me today, as I'm off with Lulu to her well-check (9 months! 9 months!), and we have houseguests coming in for the weekend.

I offer 3 photos today, all in the 'spice up your photo' category. To see a larger version, click on the picture to get into my Flickr.


art 2

loves the water

I hope you played, because it sure was fun!
Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006



I learn something new every day. It's not always something that anyone else would ever even want to know, and often is something that I wish I could have learned different way. Even so, here are some of my latest learnings.

Three years old is waaaaayyyy worse than two ever was. At least at my house. The lippiness! (not even sure that's a word, but it really fits) The contradiction! The just-barely-toeing-the-line between right and wrong. One of us may not make it long enough for him to make it to 4.

happy boy

It takes concerted, focused effort to wear out the 3 year old enough for him to nap. This in turn makes me more tired, but I'm a master at getting more done in 1 1/2 hours when everyone is asleep than I can do all afternoon with anyone awake.

We must spend mucho time outside to accomplish the above.


I need more time by myself than I get when the child doesn't nap, therefore I must get up even earlier. I'm a nicer person. And he gets to keep all his teeth.

The older I get, the more I seem to feel the heat. What's up with that?

They make me laugh every single day.