Friday, October 05, 2018


This post, 2017 – December Holidiva Day -  was written by Diva Glinda/AKA Annie in Austin for the Divas of the Dirt blog.

We Divas of the Dirt sneaked that last garden day into the 2017 schedule in the nick of time. Just a few days later the pleasant gardening weather was gone and the arrival of a cold front, some rain, a touch of frost and a dusting of snow let us know that it really was December. We were all in the mood to go to Buffy’s house for the annual Holidiva Day lunch and the gift-stealing game.

When I arrived hostess Buffy was cooking and Sophia was constructing an enormous salad. Annie, Buffy and Mindy went into the dining room to set the table – Mindy showed off her origami skills by making the napkins into Birds-of-Paradise. Fun!

 The early afternoon sun cast shadows over the room, adding a bit of magic.

We love the traditional Poinsettia cocktails – another Mindy speciality. (Yes, I said speciality instead of specialty… have I watched too much Brit TV of late?)

 Along with Poinsettias Buffy had eggnog and wine. Diva Annie and hostess Buffy raised a toast to friendship. They’ve been part of this group for almost 20 years.

The appetizers this year were brought by me, Glinda. I made a cold crab dip and a hot spinach-artichoke dip with assorted crackers.

We had our favorite cocktails, stuff to munch, and good friends to share them with – Karla, Glinda and Annie are happy to be here. [photo by Diva Mattie]

 Mindy shared hugs with visiting pup Barbie. [photo by Diva Mattie]

 Buffy, Mindy, Annie, Karla, Mattie, Sophia, Glinda and Sugar were all present and ready for lunch. What was on the menu for 2017?
 Sophia likes salads that surprise – in addition to expected salad ingredients like small tomatoes, red onions, croutons and lovely greens this huge bowl had olives, hearts of palm and Ciliegine – those perfect little cherry-sized balls of fresh mozzarella.

 Buffy’s elegant choice of entrĂ©e was greeted with delight – Prime Rib Roast. I didn’t write it down, but am pretty sure there was horseradish sauce.

Buffy decided the way to add puffy goodness to Prime Rib would be individual Yorkshire Puddings.

Mattie found a long, slow recipe from Ree Drummond of the Pioneer Woman. Look at these Burgundy Mushrooms, with red wine and dill seed. They cooked for more than nine hours.

Mindy loves roasted vegetables – she made Special Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic vinegar. 

Annie also used a recipe from Ree Drummond of the Pioneer Woman – yummy Hasselback potatoes.

Karla turned to a recipe from Juniper Hills Farm in Dripping Springs to make Honey Roasted Carrots with walnuts, raisins and mint. 

After lunch, Buffy’s son snapped this photo of the Divas of the Dirt. Thank you!

Mattie knew that pups like special lunches, too. She shared little bits of the prime rib with her dog Barbie, Buffy’s Fredric and the chihuahua sisters Lynda & Luci.

 Watching the dogs cavort with Mattie was great post-lunch entertainment!

 The gifts under the tree were ready for the stealing game.

But first things first – we’d been looking at that sparkly winter-scene cake for a loooong time! Sugar had put together layers of gingerbread cake and cream cheese frosting, topped it with a small gingerbread house and then arranged trees made of inverted rosemary, all presented on a base that looked like a slice of tree trunk… very special.

Look at those layers of gingerbready goodness.

We drew numbers from a bowl and Mattie had first choice. She unwrapped a heavy cast metal figure of a Painted Bunting brought by Buffy.

Mindy chose a burlap bag brought by Mattie and found another bird-themed gift… a metal hummingbird sculpture. (Sorry it’s so hard to see against the dark tree.)

Sophia unveiled an artistic gift brought by Annie – a metal peacock and plant peg. A third metal bird? Is this a theme?

Mattie liked the bunting statue but she didn’t get to keep it… Glinda’s turn was next and she stole the bird.
Since her original choice had been swiped, Mattie went for a new choice – it turned out to be a Blue Butterfly coir mat brought by Glinda.

See that bag Annie is holding in the photo? She thought the hummingbird sculpture was just her style and on the next turn she swiped the hummingbird from Mindy.

With the hummingbird gone, Mindy got a new turn – she unwrapped a set of extremely decorative but rather bossy letters on sticks from Sugar.

Annie didn’t hold onto the swag-bag for too long. Sugar’s turn was next so she restole the hummingbird and with the rules in her favor, got to keep it.

On her next try Annie unwrapped a beautiful ceramic basket brought by Mindy. It also looks like Annie’s style, doesn’t it?

Karla opened a gift from Sophia – a beautiful glass globe. Don’t you love the way the light in the room makes Karla look like a fortune teller looking into a crystal ball?

Finally our hostess Buffy had her turn. (Whenever Buffy sits down she immediately has a lapful of chihuahuas.) She unwrapped a very cool metal hoop-shaped mobile from Karla.

The year ahead would be challenging but our Holidiva Day was pretty perfect. As our musician friend Bob says – Peace and Love, everyone!

This post, 2017 – December Holidiva Day -  was written by Diva Glinda/AKA Annie in Austin for the Divas of the Dirt blog.

Monday, October 01, 2018


This post, 2017 - December Buffy’s Garden Day, was written by Annie in Austin for the Divas of the Dirt blog.

After repeated delays and schedule problems the Divas of the Dirt realized that in order for Buffy to have a turn in 2017 we’d have to try something new. We’d never attempted a garden day in December in previous years, but the weather had been so mild we took a chance. On a lovely day at the beginning of December six Divas were able to meet at Buffy’s house: Buffy, Annie, Mattie, Mindy, Karla and Glinda. Sophia and Sugar couldn’t be there.
Buffy welcomed her friends with a holiday wreath on the door and muffins, coffee and HUGE blueberries at the kitchen table.

Buffy asked us to do some Diva magic in the area around the front entrance. A crepe myrtle and several Indian Hawthorns had been planted there soon after her house was built  but they had first become enormous and then become leggy. Buffy kept the crepe myrtle but had the Hawthorns professionally removed. The newly cleared space awaited us.

Mattie, Buffy, Karla and Mindy made quick work of taming the unruly crepe myrtle in the new bed.

The soil in the new bed was turned and fluffed with compost and other amendments added.

Buffy had collected a number of plants she thought would work in this space including pots of purple-leaved dwarf loropetalum, holly ferns, variegated aspidistra, artemesia and giant liriope. Some plants had been waiting to go in the ground for quite a while and the tops had become lopsided and the roots tangled. Snipping and loosening the roots might help. Glinda gave herself that job while Annie stayed at ground level with weeding tools.

Mindy and Buffy reworked some existing rocks and drainage tiles around the also new steps.

Barbie was interested in the work but stayed safely on the front porch.

Buffy and Frederick pointed out other parts of the garden that could use some help to Annie and Karla.

More crepe murder was planned for some trees that had thrown up spindly branches too close to the house and gutters. Buffy, Mattie, Mindy and Karla form the major pruning team.

Buffy and Mindy don’t hesitate and soon all the trees are pruned.

Next step – the new bed. Quite some time was spent in arranging, rearranging and subtracting the pots. Some would work well, others would not.

How could it be 3:30 already? Actual planting was delayed while the workers had a late lunch – Buffy had made Frito Pie with toppings of shredded cheese, sour cream and scallions with a big green salad on the side.

Buffy made Frito Pie with a base of Frito corn chips under a slow cooked meat sauce. Her favorite recipe called for browned ground beef, ranch style beans and HEB Cook Well & Company 3-step chili mix. It was delicious!

We went back out to plant, making a few final tweaks in the design before the plants went in.

Karla and Annie set to work setting plants in their new locations.

Annie and Karla worked on the agave bed while Glinda used loppers to reduce the crepe myrtle branches for yard pickup. Buffy, Mattie and Mindy looked around for other spots needing weeding or snipping.

This garden day in December idea was a success!

Oh, my – Buffy has produced a masterpiece – a very special Meyers Lemon* pie made with a Martha Stewart recipe [*edit: NOT Key Lime]. The flourless crust was made of ground hazelnuts and the lemon filling was made with Meyer Lemons from Buffy’s own tree!

Egg yolks went into the filling and the whites were used for the mile-high meringue.

We said “Goodbye” a little after 6 PM and also said, “See You Soon!” In a few weeks we’d meet again at Buffy’s house, but instead of wearing garden gloves and carrying pruners we’d be dressed for Holidiva Day and carrying Poinsettias.

This post, 2017 - December Buffy’s Garden Day, was written by Annie in Austin for the Divas of the Dirt blog.