Tag Archives: Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug

The times, they are a-changing.

So many changes in this new year, my friends. I’ll start with an apology for not posting since before Thanksgiving. Your patience has been greatly appreciated. In fact, readership has actually increased, and for that I am truly grateful. That you choose to follow the random thoughts in my head is an endless source of amazement and joy, and I love you for it.

What’s happening? Lots. First, The Complete Package is retiring! He likes to joke that I retired years ago when our first grandchild was born. He is not wrong, although technically it was more like dropping out to play Nana than retiring. The fact that I never went back to work was just a bonus (for me). Now, at long last, he will be joining me in what I like to refer to as our “funemployed years”. What’s on tap? All kinds of things, starting with this:

WE’RE MOVING TO AUSTIN!

Austin House - Street View with Banner
We found our ultimate retirement home in the rolling hills west of Austin. It’s a beautiful 4 bedroom, 3 1/2 bath one-story home with all of the features we’ve dreamed of – an open floor plan, low maintenance, high ceilings, wood floors and sweeping hill country views. Oh, and did I mention the kitchen? I knew I was home the instant I saw it.

Austin House - New Kitchen

Austin House - Kitchen Island

Austin House - Kitchen Tile

That island! Huge is an understatement. By all estimates, I’d guess it should accommodate 40 pies, 400 cinnamon rolls (at least), and sleep 4 full-grown adults if we run out of beds. It’s insane. I also love the great windows, morning light, deep counters and that herringbone subway tile backsplash. I can hardly believe I’m going to get to live here. For real – it almost brings tears to my eyes.

I’m looking forward to baking with the kids and cooking big family dinners. The idea being close enough for regular Sunday Suppers with the family has been a dream since our daughter graduated from UT and settled in Austin. We’ll be able to take the kids for long hikes in the hills, ride bikes around the miles of paved trails, and spend quality time at the neighborhood pool & play areas. Something else I’m looking forward to – a covered porch where I can relax and enjoy a good book or a cup of coffee. Guess what? Dreams do come true, kids.

Austin House - Back Porch

Austin House - Hill Country Views

And because the new house sits on top of a hill, we have great views of our new neighborhood and the rolling hills out by Lake Travis. I can hardly wait to pick out patio furniture. Besides the new house, we are thrilled to pieces to be closer to our daughter, Jonah Bear and Lilly Bug. With her pending divorce, we’ll now be there to help out and that gives all of us greater peace of mind. The kids are already plotting weekend sleepovers and calling dibs on bedrooms. They’re not alone. The Complete Package & I are ridiculously exited, too.

Blog posts may be few and far between for a bit. We’re working to list and sell our home of 25 years in Houston and prepare for the big move to Austin. If all goes well, we’ll be moving in early April (fingers crossed). I’ll try to keep you posted on our progress, if you’re interested. My goal is to be back up to full speed by May, with as many posts as possible in between, until I’m firmly planted here:

Austin House - Kitchen Desk with Arrow

Once we’re settled, I’ll break in that kitchen, hit the back roads to explore, and bring you new content from our little corner of Austin. Oh, the places we’ll go!
If you live in the Austin area, be forewarned – I’M COMING FOR YOU!
And I could not be more excited. -jeanne

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Filed under Family Stuff, Miscellaneous Thoughts, Things I Love

Utah: we really kept them hopping!

Okay, so I shared where we stayed in my last post. Now it’s time to share what we did during our vacation in Ogden & Salt Lake City. The question should be what DIDN’T we do? Here’s a rundown of our week with the grandkids and all the fun we had. And boy, was it fun. Exhausting, but fun. We wore those kids out!

A drive through Ogden Valley & the Pineview Reservoir:
The drive up Ogden Valley into the Wasatch Mountains began just blocks from our vacation rental. After a brief stop for Farr’s ice cream (the kids had Play Dough, which tasted like Fruit Loops) we were on our way to the scenic loop around Pineview Reservoir through the tiny townships of Eden and Huntsville. We stopped at a campground on the south shore so the kids could swim. What a breathtaking place to soak up the sun and take advantage of the clear cool water.

Ogden Canyon Drive

Ogden Valley Drive - Farr's Ice Cream stop

Ogden Mountain Drive - Wasatch Range from Pineview Reservoir

Pineview Reservoir - Lilly & Jonah in the sand

Pineview Reservoir - Sibling Love

Huntsville, UT - view of the mtns near Pineview Reservoir

A day at the Eccles Dinosaur Park in Ogden:
This fun park is located at the mouth of Ogden Valley on the edge of town. We arrived just before it opened and were surprised to see a pretty good line forming. As it turned out, we were there on a free day. Bonus! We started by walking through the indoor museum, but it was the outdoor area that the kids truly enjoyed. The paved walking path meandered through a beautifully landscaped and hilly area dotted with dinosaur statues. It wasn’t long, though, until the kids spotted the playground area and all bets were off. Still, they had a great time and we enjoyed the rolling hills and view of the mountains.

Ogden - Eccles Dinosaur Park

Ogden Dinosaur Park - Lunchtime

Ogden Dinosaur Park - Lilly tames the beast

Ogden Dinosaur Park - Meat Eater

Ogden Dinosaur Park - LOOK OUT!

A hike through the Ogden Nature Center:
On the northern edge of town, the Odgen Nature Center is a combination of a windswept prairie, desert garden and small forest. We enjoyed the collection of birdhouses that dotted the walking path from the parking area to the visitor’s center. Over 100 birdhouses that were part of a local contest were stationed along the path. After a visit to the gift shop and puppet theater, we hiked around the grounds following the paths to the bear den, observation tower and several ponds. While the only wild creatures we encountered were a swarm of rogue mosquitoes, we had a great time hiking the trails and looking at the local wild flowers and grasses. We also enjoyed the small collection of birds that were being rehabbed at the center, including a bald eagle, golden eagle, peregrine falcon, a few owls and a turkey that was allowed to roam the grounds freely.

Ogden Nature Center - Gift Shop & Visitor Center

Ogden Nature Center - Hiking the Birdhouse Trail

Ogden Nature Center - Lighthouse Birdhouse

Ogden Nature Center - Bee on Wild Flowers

Discovery Place Children’s Museum at Gateway Mall in SLC:
Best. Children’s Museum. EVER! You know when you spend five hours in a museum and the kids beg to stay longer that you’ve found a good one. Jonah & Lilly absolutely loved the Discovery Place in Salt Lake City. We played a few hours, took a break for lunch, came back for a few more hours and they STILL wanted more. Play stations they loved included the Construction Zone, the Farm-to-Market area including a grocery store, and especially the rooftop terrace area that included a real rescue helicopter complete with command center and mini-hospital with triage and ER. That rooftop terrace was their favorite, as they spent hours changing costumes, piloting the helicopter, and playing ER doctor, nurse and patient. They talked about it for hours after we left, and asked if they could go back the next day.

SLC Children's Museum - Construction Zone

Discovery Place SLC - rooftop rescue helicopter

SLC - Discovery Place - Dr Lilly on Call

SLC - Discovery Place - Triage Area

SLC - Discovery Place - Jonah in the Wind Tunnel

That last shot shows Jonah in a Hurricane Simulator. Even though it only lasted 60 seconds, wind in the tube peaked at 75mph, which was pretty intense. It also proved to be a valuable lesson for us. While Jonah loved it, Lilly got spooked and clung to him, screaming as the wind grew stronger. She was fine as soon as it shut off, but it helped clarify a few questions about our next adventure.

iFLY Ogden:
We talked about this with the kids before we left for Utah and at that point, both Jonah & Lilly planned to participate. After our museum wind tunnel experience, however, Lilly opted out and Jonah went full steam ahead. After sitting through the training video with a room full of adults, Jonah suited up and was ready to fly. He looks so grown up to us at seven, but next to his flying group, he looked so tiny. Still, he was pumped about getting into that air chamber while some of the teens in his group were nervous. Here’s our fearless flyer.

iFly Ogden - Jonah in his flight suit

iFly Ogden - Jonah Geared Up & Ready to Fly

iFLY Ogden - Jonah Waits for His Turn

iFly Ogden - Jonah in Flight

iFly Ogden - Jonah & Instructor Soaring

That last photo was snapped just as the instructor picked up his feet and they shot up to the top of the wind chamber. Twice! It was thrilling. After the students finished their rounds, the instructors played in the wind chamber showing off some of their moves. One guy would go so high you couldn’t see him, then shoot straight down like a rocket, turn just as he reached the cage floor, and fly out the door landing standing up on the bench just outside the air chamber. We all gasped. He was Super Man. Jonah came out of his experience high five-ing the instructors and bouncing with excitement. I think he will definitely remember his flight, and thanks to The Complete Package, who recorded it on his ION camera and the iFLY DVD, he can relive it over and over.

Speaking of flying, we visited Hill Air Force Base & Museum:
It’s hard to miss this museum when you see the planes in the outdoor exhibits from the highway. We passed it several times during the week and each time, Jonah would point them out and ask if we could go see them. Of course! We started with the indoor exhibits then worked our way through the airplanes outside. Besides the airplanes, we also had a great view of the mountains and saw several airplanes practicing for the air show that took place the next day. The kids enjoyed the exhibits and were thrilled to get a toy plane from the gift shop. Jonah picked a stealth bomber while Lilly picked a stunt plane.

Hill AFB - Aerospace Museum - Old Planes

Hill AFB - Aerospace Museum - Awesome Paint Job

Hill AFB - Outdoor Exhibits & Mountains

Hill AFB - Outdoor Exhibit - Cargo Plane

The Museum of Natural History in Salt Lake City:
I’m not going to lie – we took the kids to this museum just to see the dinosaur exhibit. What surprised us was we found so much more and enjoyed all of it. With five floors of exhibits, we started at the top and walked our way down. This was a great place to spend half a day and it had just enough hands-on interactive exhibits to keep the kids interested. The Complete Package and I also enjoyed the architecture and views. The dinosaurs were still the star of the show, but the rest of the museum was terrific as well.

SLC Nat History Museum - Exterior

SLC Nat History Museum - Display Wall

SLC Nat History Museum - Dinosaur Hall

SLC Nat History Museum - Dig Site

SLC Nat History Museum - Ancient Bison

After the museum, we popped into a small cafe downtown for Belgian frites, burgers & waffles, then hit the LDS Conference Center to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s weekly practice, which is open to the general public regardless of religion. After dodging thunderstorms outside and taking a brief tour of the center inside, we settled in to watch the choir. Growing up, I’d seen them from time to time on television and have always marveled not only at the sheer size of the choir, but how perfectly heavenly they sound. With approximately 360 vocalists and 110 orchestra members, it’s not just large – it’s HUGE. Seeing it in person was amazing and a really special treat.

SLC - Mormon Tabernacle Choir - Public Practice

A drive out to Antelope Island and the Great Salt Lake:
Our last adventure was one I think The Complete Package & I enjoyed more than the kids – a drive to Antelope Island to see the Great Salt Lake. The geology and science behind the region was a little beyond both kids, but they enjoyed seeing the American bison (not buffalo, as I was schooled) and a few pronghorn antelope. While we found the landscape beautiful, stark and fascinating, the kids were bored and bickering in the back seat. Ahh… reality. Still, it was a ‘must see’ and we can only hope they’ll look back someday and remember seeing it in person. Here are a few shots from our day at the lake.

Salt Lake - lake& mtn view from Antelope Island

Salt Lake Park - Bison on Antelope Island

Salt Lake Park - Jonah & Lilly & the bison statue

That’s Jonah telling us if we find rattlesnakes, he’ll karate chop them.

Salt Lake Park - Jonah Master of All He Surveys

That’s Jonah, looking for rattlesnakes to karate chop.

Salt Lake Park - Pronghorn on Antelope Island

Salt Lake NP - Buffalo & Tourists

For the record – YES, that is a wild bison as big as a truck out on the beach, and YES – those are families with very young children getting dangerously close to him. WHY?!?! We had our own close encounter with the bison, even though it was unintentional. When we noticed a group walking near the road, we stopped the car so the kids could see them. When they turned and crossed the road in front of our car, we all held our breath collectively.

Salt Lake Park - Antelope Island bison crossing

We’ve been in bison jams in Yellowstone but it never ceases to take my breath away when they come so close. This small group with two babies crossed right in front of the car. We had to keep the kids from squealing with excitement. It’s hard to be quiet when you’re young and bison are right outside your car window. Heck, it’s hard for adults, too!

The Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island are really lovely. The contrast between the salt flats, desert flora and rocky terrain against the water and mountains is both surreal and stunning. It’s a little like being on the surface of the moon, with a view of Salt Lake City in the background. And that contrast is what makes the Salt Lake area beautiful. It’s a mix of high desert and mountain landscape. It can be lush one moment (Ogden Valley & the Pineview reservoir) and stark the next (the salt flats). It’s thrilling one moment (iFLY) and supremely relaxing in yet another (evening sunsets on the back patio). You can be as adventurous (mountains & rivers) or as zen (museums and parks) as you like, and have access to all of it within an hour’s drive.

We spent seven full days in Ogden and Salt Lake City, and still didn’t make it through our ‘must see’ list. If we are able to return, we’ll take those scenic drives through Big & Little Cottonwood Canyons up to Park City and Sundance. If you haven’t visited this part of Utah, maybe it’s time to add it to your bucket list.

Salt Lake Park - view of causeway & lake

Travel Links from Our Trip (click to open):

HomeAway.com: Vacation Home Rentals

Farr’s Ice Cream in Ogden, Utah & images of Farr’s Ice Cream

Eccles Dinosaur Park in Ogden, Utah

The Ogden Nature Center in Ogden, Utah

Discovery Place Children’s Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah

iFLY in Ogden, Utah

Hill Air Force Base & Aerospace Museum north of Salt Lake City, Utah

The Museum of Natural History in Salt Lake City, Utah

Bruges Waffles & Frites in Salt Lake City, Utah

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City, Utah

Antelope Island State Park & Great Salt Lake in Syracuse, Utah

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The Complete Package: MotoGP Austin

Track Shot - Friday Practice - MotoGP Austin

Confession: I don’t know jack about motorcycle racing.
But I know someone who does, and that someone is my beloved husband, The Complete Package. Earlier this month, TCP and I went to Austin so he could attend the MotorGP event. While he was at the racetrack, I played with the grandkids. And thus we reveal the key to a 32-year marriage – compromise.

Because TCP had a great time, I thought it would be fun to share a few photos from the races on the off chance some of you enjoy it as well. The following photos were taken by The Complete Package at the MotoGP Austin event:

Track Shot - Lap Board & Stands - MotoGP Austin

Track Shot - The Tower - MotoGP Austin

Austin 360 Concert Stage - MotoGP Austin

Corn Hole Corner - MotoGP Austin

Traffic Jam - MotoGP Austin

Qualifying Rounds2 - MotoGP Austin

Coming Out of the Corner - MotoGP Austin

Here’s what I do know:
1. The Complete Package is a Valentino Rossi fan.
2. Our grandkids love everything TCP loves because they love him.
3. Lilly Bug is now in love with Valentine Rossi (all the ladies are).
4. Jonah Bear thinks Marc Marquez rocks because he’s the fastest in the world.
5. This next shot is of their favorites – Rossi (blue/green) & Marquez (black/orange/white).

The Kid's Favorites - Rossi & Marquez - MotoGP Austin

Valentino Rossi makes the fans go wild. People are crazy for this Italian racer, and I get it. He’s a maniac on a racing bike, has enough personality and charm for 10 racers, and is a world champion many times over.

Rossi - Going Going Gone - MotoGP Austin

Rossi - Signature Move - MotoGP Austin

But then there’s the up-and-comer, Marc Marquez. This Spanish biker is young, aggressive, and taking the racing world by storm. He is also the current World Champion and the winner of the Austin MotoGP event. How fast is he? Well, his top speed at the Austin event was clocked at 341.6 km/h. That’s 212.3 miles per hour. {gulp!} I. Cannot. Fathom. I wonder what his mother thinks about it.

Mark Marquez - Victory Lap

Mark Marquez - Victory Lap2

Three days of fun & sun at the Circuit of the Americas track was just enough for TCP. He had a blast, saw all the qualifying rounds and races including the big finale, and has the sunburn to prove it. Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug both got racing shirts (hers is a Rossi; his is a Marquez), got to hit the new Luby’s near the house, and spent some time in the hotel hot tub and at the park with their mother & I. We also hit Sandy’s Frozen Custard, so basically a great time was had by all.

Jonah & Lilly on the Swings

Okay, I lied. I took that last shot of Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug. But just that one.
#TruthInAdvertising #GratuitousGrandkidShot #HashtagAttack #NotSorry

Note: The Complete Package wanted me to point out that some of these photos were taken early on Friday during qualifying rounds, which is why the stands might look empty or sparse. For Saturday’s events and Sunday’s final races the racetrack was packed with spectators, as those in attendance can attest.

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The Cathedral of Junk – Austin, TX

We recently spent a weekend in Austin with our grandkids and during that weekend The Complete Package took us out for street food and a sight-seeing adventure at the Cathedral of Junk. Never heard of it? Neither had I, and neither had My Baby who lives in Austin and attended college there {hook ’em}. How TCP knew is beyond us, but he did and we’re glad he did. The Cathedral of Junk is hard to describe, wonderous to behold, and one of a kind. Here’s a peek.

Cathedral of Junk - Front of House

From the street, it’s a bright and eclectic house with lots of color and character.

Cathedral of Junk - Front Porch Collage

But the main attraction is the back yard. It’s a tower of…. well, uh…. junk! Lots and lots and oodles of junk. Junk of all makes & models, shapes & sizes.

Cathedral of Junk - Front View of Tower

There’s metal junk.

Cathedral of Junk - Back Side

And nostalgic junk.

Cathedral of Junk - My Baby & the Trolls

And yellow rubbery junk.

Cathedral of Junk - Rubber Duckies

There is junk with a purpose, like this drum with the story of the Cathedral.

Cathedral of Junk - Story on Drum

And junk that inspires.

Cathedral of Junk - Coldplay Quote

I love me some Coldplay. I also love things that make me laugh.

Cathedral of Junk - Billy Bass & Train

Yes, that is a Billy Bass. He was mounted just high enough to prevent us from pressing the button to see if he would sing. There’s just plain ol’ junky junk.

Cathedral of Junk - Sample Junk

And Austin-themed junk.

Cathedral of Junk - Austin Mirror

The main attraction for some is the Throne of Junk.

Cathedral of Junk - Empty Throne

So kitschy and fabulous, some couples come here to have their engagement photos taken. Click here for a sample. We didn’t see any engaged couples posing when we were there, but we did meet a family who was taking graduation photos of their daughter at fun & funky landmarks all over Austin. What a great idea! This cute little group was willing to pose for a few snaps.

Cathedral of Junk - My Baby, Jonah & Lilly

Yep – that’s My Baby with Jonah Bear and Lilly Bug. My little munchkins.

Cathedral of Junk - Lilly & Jonah

These two cutie-patooties make everything more fun & fabulous. And surprisingly, that’s what the Cathedral of Junk is – fun & fabulous.

Cathedral of Junk - A Peek Inside

At first glance, it may inspire some to update their tetanus booster, but don’t let that stop you. The Cathedral of Junk is a monument to inspiration and creativity. It inspires others to visit daily, donate items or create masterpieces of their own. Jonah left dreaming of his next creation.

If you decide to visit, I hope you’ll stop to drop a donation in the box near the gate. It takes a lot of wire, mortar and cement to hold this cathedral together. If you’re curious about what it takes to maintain, Vince (the artist & homeowner) is always standing by to answer questions. He’s a really, really nice guy and proof that one man’s trash truly is another’s treasure.

Cathedral of Junk - Donation Box

If you want to know more about Vince Hannemann and his Cathedral of Junk, this article in The Daily Texan is a great place to start. Keep Austin Weird, y’all!

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It’s a girl & a cornbread!

Today I’m guest posting over at Mommy Notes for my friend & fellow Texan, Sarah. We’re celebrating her beautiful new baby girl, grandmotherhood, Mother’s Day and our mutual love of Texas comfort foods. Please drop in to say hello and congratulations, and while you’re at it you can get my mother’s recipe for Mexican Cornbread. Stuffed with ground beef, cheese and green chilies, it’s rib stickin’ and delicious! To see it, click here. Congratulations & hugs, Sarah!

Mexican Cornbread for Sarah

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Deep in the Heart of Texas

Sometimes you just need to get away from it all. No phones. No internet. No distractions. Just peace & quiet. The Complete Package found such a place – a respite from the big city – deep in the heart of Texas. It’s called St. Clare’s Cabin and it was perfection. Here’s a photo journal of our week in the country.

LeakeyTX - St Clare's Cabin

Nestled in a valley near the Sabinal River, St. Clare’s Cabin is between the towns of Leakey and Vanderpool, Texas and only 8 miles or so from Lost Maples State Park. Everything about the cabin’s location is scenic.

LeakeyTX - Cabin Entry

LeakeyTX - Welcome to St Clares

What a wonderful surprise to walk into such a warm, cozy and beautifully decorated home. I think I want to live here. Permanently.

LeakeyTX - Cabin from Bedroom Doors

LeakeyTX - Cabin View from Front Door

I love the dining nook table. It is handcrafted with an inlaid state of Texas in the middle and a star marking the cabin’s location. It’s all about the details.

LeakeyTX - Dining Nook

Here’s a close-up of that equestrian collage hanging over the dining table.

LeakeyTX - Equestrian Collage

This is what it means when someone says “the decorator paid such great attention to detail.” Every touch at St. Clare’s Cabin was thoughtfully placed.

LeakeyTX - Front Porch Love

LeakeyTX - Retro Picnic Decor

LeakeyTX - Cozy Kitchen

LeakeyTX - Gorgeous Dishes

LeakeyTX - Cute Country Bath

LeakeyTX - Bathroom Touches

I’m not ashamed to say I squealed like a little girl when I saw that the cabin was decorated in retro Christmas. I absolutely loved it!

LeakeyTX - Holiday Fireplace

LeakeyTX - Christmas Mantle

LeakeyTX - Pinnochio Tree Topper

Speaking of Christmas, as soon as we got there, Dobie (our Christmas Shelf Elf) found a fun new buddy to hang out with. Literally.

LeakeyTX - Wild Boar & Elf

When he got bored with the boar (ha-ha), he stayed busy pranking the kids. He was found swinging from the shower rod, soaking in a mini-marshmallow bath, and climbing a decorative shutter in the kitchen. I think he was motivated by that little Hershey bar. He’s definitely my kind of elf.

LeakeyTX - Elf Climbing for Candy

After snacking on chocolate, we found him napping in the tissue box. I think it was the only time he sat still all week. He’s an active, mischievous little elf.

LeakeyTX - Elf Treats & Nap

Speaking of sleeping, St. Clare’s Cabin has two lovely bedrooms, each with a queen bed (one firm, one soft). The first was decorated in a cowboy theme.

LeakeyTX - The Cowboy Bedroom

The second paid tribute to a long-lost relative and his military service. Both bedrooms had limestone floor, quilts made by the owner, and hand-embroidered pillow shams. Again with the details. Love, love, love it. Very sweet.

LeakeyTX - Second Bedroom

Also sweet? The cabin’s large front porch. I love a screened porch – a love directly traced back to my maternal grandmother who lived on the Red River outside of Denison, Texas. I have many, many fond memories of playing on her porch. I’m not sure there’s anything better than a cabin with a big screened porch, unless it’s a porch with a swing. Ever slept on a screened porch on a beautiful summer night? It’s a little piece of heaven.

LeakeyTX - St Clares Cabin & Kids

LeakeyTX - Porch View of Front Yard

The fenced yard is huge, and I loved this cute tin-topped table & chairs.

LeakeyTX - Porch Table at Cabin

We invited our daughter, son-in-law and two grandkids to join us for a weekend. I think they enjoyed the cabin as much as we did, but Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug reeeeealy loved it. They took full advantage of the great outdoors.

They fell in love with the creek that lines one side of the property.

LeakeyTX - Creek at the Cabin

Or maybe it was the plethora of limestone rocks they could toss into the creek.

LeakeyTX - Kids at the Creek

Over and over and over again – for two straight days.

LeakeyTX - Jonah Tossing Rocks

And then there was the hammock. Those kids loved that hammock.

LeakeyTX - Jonah & Lilly Hammock

LeakeyTX - Lilly in Hammock

We also loved exploring this part of the Texas Hill Country. The Complete Package and I took a different scenic drive every day we were there. I had no idea this part of the state was so lovely.

LeakeyTX - Sabinal River Cypress

LeakeyTX - Scenic Drive - Bluffs

LeakeyTX - Preparing to Cross

LeakeyTX - River Crossing near Concan

LeakeyTX - View of Bluff at Sunset

LeakeyTX - Longhorns

LeakeyTX - Gang of Wild Turkeys

Those are wild turkeys, folks. We saw gangs of them – running amok, causing trouble and tagging cars late at night. It left me wondering how good one of these would be baked up for Christmas Dinner. And then I found myself craving a whiskey & Coke and a turkey sandwich. {heehee}

Each night, I found myself looking forward to sitting by the fire pit with a roaring campfire, or swinging in the hammock as the sun set over the valley, or gazing at a pitch black sky late at night with the brightest stars you’ve ever seen, or curling up in my favorite spot by the window gazing at the mountains.

LeakeyTX - My Baby in the Window

That’s My Baby. She’s keeping my spot warm. Thanks, honey! She’s a good girl.

And now that we’re home, I’m already thinking about our next visit to St. Clare’s Cabin. It’s so lovely in the fall, I want to see it in the spring when the creek is flush and the wildflowers are blooming. And I want to go back in the summer when the rivers are running at capacity and everyone descends on the Frio and Guadalupe Rivers to float in inner tubes and getting a little too sunburned. I want to soak up the fresh air, enjoy the peace & quiet, and watch those gorgeous Hill Country sunsets. And I want to do it as often as possible.

LeakeyTX - Sunset at St Clares Cabin

Want more information on vacation rentals? I highly recommend our two favorite “By Owner” websites – Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) and HomeAway. As with any ‘by owner’ site, the key is to do your homework, read descriptions thoroughly, stick to rentals that include plenty of pictures so you see what you’re getting, and rely on the reviews written by others who’ve stayed there. We’ve rented on these two websites at least 8-10 times, and we have never, ever been disappointed. If you’d like to visit the St. Clare’s Cabin Retreat website, click here.

So… where do you go when YOU want to get away?

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Fruity Pebble Bunnies for Easter

Fruity Pebble Marshmallow Bunnies - from plain to fabulous

Surprise! I really hadn’t planned to post two stories in one day, but the kids are coming for Easter this weekend, and I wanted to share the bunny treats I made for the grandkids, Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug. These bunnies are fun and colorful and are as much (or as little) work as you want them to be.

Here’s what you’ll need:
1 13-oz. box of Fruity Pebble cereal
1 10-oz. bag of miniature marshmallows
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 bunny shaped cookie cutter
1 pkg. of white melting chocolate for coating
Various frostings & candies for decorating

To start, place the butter in a large saucepan and melt over medium-low heat; continue to cook, stirring often, until the butter just starts to brown lightly. Add the marshmallows and beat with a whisk until completely melted and smooth; whisk in the vanilla extract and remove the pan from the heat.

Pour in the cereal and using a heavy wooden spoon (because it’s sturdier), stir the cereal into the marshmallow mixture until all of the cereal is evenly coated. Pour the cereal mixture into a 13″ x 9″ baking pan that has been lined with parchment or waxed paper. Using a flat spatula, press the cereal mixture into the pan until it is an even thickness throughout. Set aside and allow to cool completely. Once set, cut into bunny shapes with the cookie cutter.

Once your bunnies are firm, melt the white candy coating over a double boiler (or place a metal mixing bowl over a saucepan of boiling water) and stir until the candy has melted. Once it is mostly melted, switch to a whisk and whisk the melted chocolate until smooth. You don’t want any lumps when you’re dipping.

Next, choose how you wish to candy coat your bunnies:

1. To drizzle, spoon the melted candy coating into a plastic bag, pressing it down into one corner. Snip the very tip off the corner with a pair of scissors, and in a back-and-forth motion, drizzle your bunnies with melted candy coating. Allow them to cool completely.

2. To coat your bunnies, place one bunny onto the center of a large fork. Hold the bunny over the bowl of melted candy coating, and using a small ladle, spoon the melted candy coating evenly over the top of the bunny, allowing the excess to drip back into the bowl. Once the excess chocolate has stopped dripping, transfer the bunny to a sheet of waxed paper and gently slide him off the fork. Allow to cool completely.

Next, decide how you wish to decorate your bunnies:

1. For chubby bunny cheeks, cut a mini-marshmallow in half forming two equal circles; attach with a small dab of melted candy coating or frosting.

2. For sweet bunny noses, attach a tic-tac candy just above the cheeks using a color coordinated frosting.

3. For pink bunny tongues, squeeze a little pink frosting from a store-bought tube of decorator frosting.

4. For the easiest eyes on the planet, buy a package of candy eyes from craft or baking stores. My sister gave me a package along with Bakarella’s Cake Pops cookbook, and I’ve been dying to use them. Hey, Sis! Look! I made bunnies!

5. For ears, you can pipe an outline using a small tube of gel frosting, or pipe a fatter line of pink frosting and use a toothpick or skewer to fill in the ears.

6. For whiskers, dip the tip of a toothpick or skewer into black gel frosting (I buy it in a small tube; Wilton brand) and simply poke the toothpick into the cheeks for whisker marks. If you want to get fancier, use dip the tip of the skewer or toothpick into the black gel frosting, lay it along the edge of the cheek, and pull outwards, drawing a whisker line as you go.

Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug are going to love these!

And there you have it. Colorful, fruity, marshmallowy bunnies – just in time for Easter. We here at Casa NanaBread wish you and your family a very Hoppy Holiday weekend. I know. That was corny. But I did it anyway.

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