Sunday, May 24, 2009

What's a festival without some rain? Or a 10-year anniversary without mustard greens?

So the rain was a little fierce on the first day of the Becker Lavender Festival.... For whatever reason the rain never comes when it's convenient, but we'll still take it when we can get it.

I took this picture from our booth. This was before the rain started collecting by the gallon on top of our tent.... And before part of tent got severely weighed down with water and decided to give just as I was below it. This led to being drenched with 3 gallons of water being poured right over my head. I was literally soaked! There was nothing dry on my body! Fortunately we're only a hop, skip, and jump from Becker Vineyards so I was able to run home (although I could have used a boat) and change into something dry.

But by Sunday the sun came out and more people decided to come hang out on the beautiful grounds of Becker Vineyards.

And for some reason, everyone that brought their dog seemed to have little white fluffy dogs. I kind of wanted to grab one and run!

We had a good time in spite of the rain that led to a slow day on Saturday. But - we were okay with it because it just gave the vendors time to shop with each other. Oh - and participate in wine tastings!

Some of my wonderful findings were:

Miller Creek's Lavender Margarita Mix. It's a great gift item and also a lot of fun to have for parties, specifically bridal showers and parties! But just so you know, I've not come across a man yet that hasn't said, "hey, this is good!"

Wimberley Lavender Farm soy travel candles. I love soy candles and these are some of the best ones I've come across. They actually use real lavender oil for fragrance, not a synthetic scent. I love how Karen has put them in a small travel tin. Since I travel a lot I love to keep one in my suitcase for my hotel room. Nothing like a little relaxation while travelling. Especially when staying in a hotel room with that recycled, musty hotel room air....

Becker Vineyards "Iconoclast" Cabernet Sauvginon. It has a light and subtle spicey kick to it with full fruit flavors. It's medium-dry with surprisingly light tannins. It's a great buy for $10. So good, we bought a case!

We had an enjoyable weekend, although a little on the exhausting side. Oh - and get this. It was also a weekend that included both our 10-year anniversary and my birthday.... When it rains, it pours. Literally.

So what did we do for our 10-year anniversary?

We had all intentions of at least going out for a nice dinner. But - by the time we both got home around 7:30 we were exhausted. We talked about freshening up and just going out; after all, it was our anniversary. The more we thought about it the more we realized that it wasn't such a great idea. By the time we would have freshened up and driven to town, it would have been close to 9:00. Then we decided to just run to the grocery store to pick something up to cook at home. Well, that would have required some energy and ambition - none of which we had at the moment. So - what did we do? I rummaged through the pantry and found a can of mustard greens. Yes, mustard greens. We also had all the ingredients needed for some homemade macaroni and cheese.

Our 10-year anniversary was memorable with a dinner of mustard greens, mac & cheese, and a bottle of Becker Vineyards Iconoclast! mmmm-good!!!!! Oh - and a lot of good laughs over our romantic meal. We did manage to light some candles around the table for ambiance. Mustard greends by candlelight. So romantic!

Lastly, I know I said a couple of posts ago that I would be sharing with you some of my horrible blind dates that led up to my last wonderful blind date. Well - that was before I got bogged down with lavender stuff. What seemed like a great idea at the time ended up giving me panic attacks when I would think back to all those awful dates. But - if you're still interested, you can read about my last-ever blind date (the one that led to being united with my Miracle Man) that I wrote 2 years ago here.

Jack & Debi, May 1999, honeymoon-bound to the Four Seasons at Nevis, West Indies. I think Jack still has a look of shock on his face....

Have a wonderful Memorial Day!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hummingbird Farms At Becker Vineyards

I wanted to let everyone know that Jack and I will be at Becker Vineyards all weekend for their 11th Annual Lavender Festival. You can read more about it here.

If you happen to be in the area please stop by. In addition to some of the best wine in the Hill Country, there will also be cooking demonstrations, gardening tips, and lavender products, all on the beautiful grounds of Becker Vineyards. It's a gorgeous place!

Please stop by the Hummingbird Farms booth and say hello. Jack will also be a guest speaker this year and will be talking about growing lavender in the Hill Country on Saturday at 1:30 and Sunday at 2:30.

Hope to see you!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bad Blind Date # 245

I can’t believe it, but my 10-year wedding anniversary is approaching. In some ways it seems like we’ve been together forever, and in many other ways it seems like we were just saying our vows the other day. Time really flies.

Hill Country House Girl left a comment the other day that got me really thinking about my husband and how fortunate I am. You know – even when we know we have a good marriage and that the man you’re married to is a really good person, it’s still nice to be reminded by someone else every now and then that you’ve got a pretty good gig going.

Anyway, Hill Country House Girl left me a message because she referred me to a lady in Fredericksburg that is hands down the best slip cover and curtain maker in the land. This is what Hill Country House Girl said:

…..D. Phillips thanked me for referring you to her, and she said that YOUR husband is one of the nicest men she has ever met! She is single and when we parted she said "Surely there are just a few more like him somewhere in the world...."I am sure you know you are blessed but thought you'd like to hear that!

I really did appreciate hearing that and it got me thinking about our anniversary approaching and all those years of bad blind dates that led up to the one great blind date that landed us in holy matrimony. It was worth waiting 34-years.

So – with that said, I thought I would entertain you with a few posts for the next few days on some of my really bad blind dates, which led up to my final wonderful blind date. I’ve been known to say that I’ve been on 465 bad blind dates. Well – maybe it wasn’t really that many, but it felt like it!

Here you go – the story of Bad Blind Date # 245:

Okay, this wasn’t exactly a blind date because I met the guy earlier in the week very briefly; but, being that we knew nothing about each other until our horrible date, I kind of consider it a blind date. I was at the Ford dealership getting my company car serviced when all of a sudden this Conan-the-Barbarian-looking used car salesman walked by. Yes, he was a hottie indeed and had the body of a Greek god.

As I sat waiting in the service area lounge for my car, he managed to walk by several times so that we could exchange smirky little looks at each other. After about the 4th walk-by he finally broke the ice by asking if I needed any help…. As if the car salesman could help me in the service department. I mean, who knows – maybe I was just lost and really was car shopping and somehow ended up in the lounge area of the service department. I never was the sharpest bulb in the chandelier when it came to car stuff…

Okay, so this little conversation led to us agreeing to meet for dinner on Friday night. Not knowing a thing about him, I didn’t want to give him my address and have him pick me up. Come on – I may not know much about car stuff, but I was a pretty bright bulb in the chandelier when it came to dating stuff, being that I was almost 30 and still single. We agreed to meet at a seafood restaurant, which at the time was one of the nicest restaurants in San Antonio.

When Friday arrived, I bought a new guy-gettin’ sweater and took off to the swanky restaurant for blind date # 245 with Conan the Barbarian.

As I pulled into the parking lot I noticed a parking space almost right in front of the restaurant. This was a busy place, so I was already beginning to feel a little lucky for finding such a great spot. Maybe this was a sign of a great night to come…. I pulled into the parking spot which was right next to a median thing with a small tree. Something like this:

But the tree was more like this with prickly little leaves and thorny things on the branches:

As soon as I opened the car door I knew why no one was parking there. That little small tree became the mutant ninja shrub trying to invade me and the inside of my car. I could barely crack my door open because I parked so close to the median. When I did slightly open the door, the tree/shrub alien force literally poked inside the car with me. There I was trying to squeeze through a slightly ajar door with the tree completely invading my space. And it hurt! This tree had thorny things that were poking me. Okay – any normal person would have sat back down in the car and shut the door and go find a new parking space. The key word there is 'normal person'.... It was obvious that this parking space belonged to the tree, not a car; it was also obvious that all the other guests at the restaurant had figured that out, leaving the parking space for me.

I said earlier that I had bought a special guy-gettin’ sweater just for Conan the Barbarian. It was a cute little knitted thing with little golden threads going through it. That tree ate my sweater! I was literally wedged between the car door and the tree. There I was standing inside my 5-inch cracked-opened car door with this tree trying to get inside my car.

I was stuck y’all. Stuck in a tree at the swankiest restaurant in town.

This tree took me and my my sweater over; I was completely snagged up inside all the little thorny branches. I was hanging from this tree. Short of taking off my sweater in public in an effort to remove myself from the tangled up branches, there was no other way to escape without someone helping me. (Kind of like the time when I was 7-years-old and fell head first into our Christmas tree while trying to put a star on top. As I was stuck inside the Christmas tree head-first with pine needles poking out my eye balls, my mother and aunt had to stand there and laugh for 10 minutes before helping me out…. )

All of a sudden I hear Conan. Debi, is that you?

Uhhh, yeah – it’s me. Looks like they have some real landscaping issues in this parking lot.

Conan had to pick off each thorny branch out of my guy-gettin’ sweater which soon became a snagged-up looking garage sale reject. I was humiliated.

My inner-nerd was raging.

To say the least.

So after ten minutes of freeing me, my sweater, and my hair out of the tree, we walked inside the restaurant to eat. Oh – and did I say I still had pretty big hair back then? My hair was long and all moussed-up. After the tree got a piece of it, I looked like a grunge girl with a ripped up sweater in some kind of head-banger MTV video. It was just awful.

Okay – so we walk into the restaurant and of course I felt like everyone had been watching the fiasco take place in the parking lot. I could sense people laughing at me. I swear that Conan was walking ten feet in front of me. I was cramping his style and he didn't want to be associated with me. But - to be honest with you, as humiliated as I was, what had happened was just darn funny! I really wanted to laugh about it - I mean, what else could you do? But, Conan-the-Barbarian was just pretty quiet and weird about the whole thing. He was obviously embarrassed by me.

So – bad blind date # 245 ended with the waiter bringing the check for our dinner and Mr. Conan suddenly realizing he had forgotten his wallet! I’m sure he knew he would never be seeing me again, so why should he spend any money on me…..

I paid for our meal and then we departed. As I very carefully got back into my car (entering from the passenger side), I said a little prayer to help me swear off all men of the Conan variety…. And of the no-sense-of-humor variety.

(I'll have more bad blind-date stories to come....)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

It’s a horse race… You never know who’s gonna win, but someone should have been minding that bird!

Okay – so my pick for the Kentucky Derby wasn’t the winner - but if my pick, General Quarters, was to lose, I couldn't be happier for who won. I was rooting for General Quarters because I love the story and I always love the underdog.

Or underhorse.

General Quarters is owned and trained by Thomas McCarthy, a retired teacher and high school principal who has spent his entire life dreaming of having a horse in the Kentucky Derby. His passion has always been horses, so to keep it alive he’s always had a horse or two on the side during his 30+ year career in education. At 75 his life-long dream was finally realized…. It's just a great story!

What I also find heart-warming is that General Quarters is not a million dollar horse owned by one of the million dollar stables. General Quarters is owned AND trained by the same 75-year old retired high school principal – a rarity in today’s big money racing circles. Rarely do you see today the horse owner also being the trainer. And rarely do you see an owner /trainer that is the owner of only one horse. Mr. McCarthy poured his entire heart into his one horse, General Quarters.

As sad as I am for General Quarters' loss (but very happy that he and all the other horses are safe), I have to say that Mine That Bird, the winner of this year’s race is another great story. To be honest, I keep up with the horses every year and usually have my pick a good two weeks or more before the race. But – Mine That Bird was simply not on my radar and I feel completely rotten for over -looking him and his amazing story. It’s a good one!

Like General Quarters, Mine That Bird is not your typical big business story, or your typical million dollar race horse. In fact, he sold for $9,500 and was trained by a cowboy in New Mexico, Bennie “Chip” Woolley, Jr. Mine That Bird was a true Derby upset with 50-1 odds of winning; now being considered one of the biggest upsets in Derby history. I love it! The story gets even better…. Mine That Bird (the only gelding in the race), was hauled to Kentucky from New Mexico by his trainer in a pickup truck and trailer. A far cry from the typical air conditioned fancy tractor-trailer getups in which most thoroughbreds of Derby quality travel. Chip Woolley, a former rodeo cowboy and quarter horse trainer, hauled Mine That Bird himself on the 21 hour trek to the Derby. Oh – and get this, he is in crutches after breaking something like 21 bones in his foot from a motorcycle accident! But that didn’t stop him from driving with one foot across the country with his $9,500 horse in-tow.

While in the winner’s circle with cameras all around and traditional roses draped over Mine That Bird, the NBC interviewer said something to him like, you were the un-known trainer coming into this race, very few know who you are. Chip Woolley responded, “They’ll know me now.”

You just gotta love it! Okay – the other reason I can’t believe I didn’t do better homework on Mine That Bird is because of his jockey, Calvin Borel. Calvin is one of my favorite jockeys; I adore his smile and his thick Cajun accent, and of course his successful career. Calvin won the Derby in 2007, and also won the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, the day before the Derby. I love Calvin because he is always so visibly emotional and sweet after winning a race. You regularly see him kiss his horse before a race and affectionately love on them after a race (whether they win or not). After winning the Derby yesterday he said in a very broken, emotionally filled voice about his deceased parents, “Thank you Mom and Daddy, I wish you were here to see all that I have accomplished.” Calvin Borel makes me weep… He’s just that sweet, loving kind of person that you want to take home….

Take home and feed.

During Friday’s Kentucky Oaks, there was footage of him carrying a little girl wearing a surgical mask as she pat his winning horse, Rachel Alexandra, before the race. At the winner’s circle after the race, he was also seen carrying the same little girl. I learned that this little girl’s name coincidentally is also Rachel, and that she has a passionate love for horses. How did this little girl named Rachel land the opportunity to get up close and personal with the race horse, Rachel Alexander, and be a part of history in the winner’s circle?

It was her wish in the Make A Wish Foundation.

It was a good weekend of Kentucky history for Calvin Borel winning both the Oaks and the Derby; for all the running horses that ended both races completely safe and sound; for a broken down cowboy with a winning horse; and for little girl named Rachel who got her last wish….

Friday, May 1, 2009

And The Winners Are.....

Okay y'all, we have some clear winners in my first ever Bloggy Giveaway! So I had to figure out how the names would be drawn in order to be completely fair to everyone that entered the contest. By the way - THANK YOU to everyone that took the time to leave a comment!

So first I printed out all the comments and sat and stared at them at my breakfast table.

Then I cut each comment into strips to be placed in something.... I still couldn't figure out what to place them into, but I was thinking about it.

And while I was thinking what that something was going to be to place all the strips into, Lupe started pulling strips out of my pile and, well - eating them.

Just so y'all know, Lupe sits with me every morning and has coffee with me.

So anyway - as I sat there trying to find something clever to place all the strips in, Lupe ended up pulling three out of the pile. If you look really closely below, you will see three different strips with her signature on them.

So I figured, "hey!" Those are my first three winners! The three that Lupe picked! Congratulations to:

2. Dixie from French Lique, Texas

Then I tried to get Lupe to pick 7 more, but all she wanted to do was eat Theresa, Dixie, and Penny.

So...... I did something real boring and stuck all the rest in a hat. (Yes - it really was one of Jack's cowboy hats). I would have had Jack draw the names, but I couldn't find him, which meant the only other options were to get my animals to draw from the hat or me. Lupe was already starting to gag from eating too much paper and the dogs and cats just couldn't figure out what I was trying to get them to do. So - that left me to do the drawing....

AND the remaining 7 winners are:

4. Patriot from Made in the USA

5. Ginny (please send me your address)

6. Laura from White Spray Paint

7. Cheryl from Cottage Farm Villa

8. Mrs. B. Silly from My Silly Blog

10. Justine from Tiney's Froggy Bloggy

I hope y'all enjoy your lotion! I'll have my secretary - I mean, Jack, get it right out to you! I really do look forward to hearing what you think about it. Oh - and give yourself a few days of using it so you can notice the change in your hands!

Have a great weekend AND....


My pick for the 2009 Kentucky Derby. I'm now off to have a mint julep!

General Quarters, with jockey Eibar Coa in the saddle and trainer Tom McCarthy in the winner's circle at the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., April 11, 2009. Photo by Ed Reinke/AP Photo