IMG_5289I found these figural linen cocktail napkins on ebay.

IMG_5290 IMG_5291This one has a wonky eye 

I think they were made in the 1950s.  I had these birds of a feather framed together, and they brighten up my laundry room.  (It’s not like I was going to buy original art to hang next to the washer.)

My family has always had a thing for hens and roosters, because our last name or some variation of it means “chicken” or “hen” in German.  I collected roosters for a while, starting in college, but there’s no real challenge to finding them — they’re everywhere — and I kept just a few when I got married.

When I was around 8 years old, I came across a book of riddles in one of my parents’ friend’s bathrooms.  They had those kinds of friends.  Anyway, one of the riddles involved a rooster, and I had no idea what was so funny about it, but when I told it to my parents (because they liked roosters) they about bust a gut laughing. From that point on, they would encourage me to tell it to their friends (“oh, go on, tell them your joke!”), who would also cackle with laughter.  Like I said, they had those kinds of friends.  Here’s the riddle, in case you’d like to teach your young ones to tell it for cheap laughs:

Q:  What’s the difference between a rooster, Uncle Sam, and an old maid?

A:  The rooster says “cock-a-doodle-do,” Uncle Sam says “Yankee doodle do,” and the old maid says “any cockle do.”

Again, they had those kinds of friends. [Note:  "cockle" is intentionally misspelled :)]

Well, just as some times you want cheap and easy wall art, or a cheap and easy laugh, some times you want a cheap and easy chicken dinner, and that’s what has inspired this Easy Chicken Pot Pie.  It’s tasty and satisfying factory-to-table fare that you can put together in about five minutes.  I was introduced to it when my friend Laura, herself a new mom, brought it over for my family after my daughter was born, and it was as appreciated then as it is now on busy school and work nights.  Cock-a-doodle-do!

Recipe type: Poultry, Main Courses
  • 2 9-inch pie crusts (I use Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts)
  • 2-3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (I usually use rotisserie chicken)
  • 8 ounces frozen peas and carrots*
  • 8-ounces frozen corn
  • 1 can Campbell's Cream of Potato Soup
  • 1 can Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • *Note: can substitute 1 pound of frozen mixed vegetables for corn and peas and carrots
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place one pie crust in a deep dish pie plate. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Transfer filling to pie plate, and cover with remaining crust. Press edges of top and bottom crusts together, crimping decoratively. Cut 3 or 4 vents in top of crust. Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until crust is golden. Let stand 20 minutes before serving.

002 (4)

Spoon the filling into the crust  003 (7)

 Cut a few slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape

005 (3)

Cheap and easy — like my parents’ friends


This weekend was Family Weekend at colleges around the nation, and I couldn’t wait to spend the weekend with my daughter.  We’d both been looking forward to this weekend ever since we dropped her off in August.

The highlights of the weekend were dining and shopping.  Shocking, I know.  Saturday morning we headed to the outlet malls in San Marcos.  It’s been decades since I’ve been to an outlet mall, and I was skeptical, but we were hopeful that we’d find some great buys.

San Marcos, population approximately 54,000, was founded in 1851 along the San Marcos River, and is among the oldest continuously inhabited areas in the U.S.  It’s home to Texas State University, which I was surprised to learn is the fifth-largest university in Texas, and has an enrollment of more than 34,000 students.  And here’s an interesting fact if you run out of things to talk about at your next cocktail party — President Lyndon B. Johnson graduated from Texas State University in 1930, making it the only university in Texas to have a President of the United States as an alumnus.  San Marcos is presently one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S.

But hey, don’t they say to avoid shopping on an empty stomach? Oh wait, that’s grocery shopping.  Still, I don’t see why that advice shouldn’t apply to clothes shopping as well.  And who are “they” anyway?  We passed every chain restaurant you can think of along the highway, but we were in the mood for something more interesting.  And that is exactly what we found at The Root Cellar Café.

The Root Cellar Cafe is located in San Marcos’s Downtown Square, at 215 N. LBJ Dr.



The restaurant is decorated in thrift store chic, with mismatched tables and chairs that added to the college-town charm of the cafe:

IMG_5197Since it was just me and my daughter, we only got to sample two dishes, but they were both delicious and satisfying.  My daughter had the ciabatta cheesesteak — grilled roast beef,  bell peppers, onions, and provolone cheese on toasted ciabatta bread — accompanied by a pile of garlic scallion mashed potatoes:

IMG_5195 IMG_5196

This was a hearty, two-fisted sandwich, and the seasoned roast beef and melted provolone made for a delicious meal.  The mashed potatoes were loaded with garlic and green onions, and were entirely worth risking garlic breath for.

I had the Hearty Frittata, which on this day was loaded with chunks of turkey, provolone cheese, and zucchini.  The generous slice was fluffy and cheesy and really tasty.  It was accompanied by sautéed grape tomatoes, a toasted English muffin, and spiced wild blueberry jam.  We splurged for a side of bacon, which was thick-cut and salty and perfectly crisp.  This was an outstanding brunch dish.

IMG_5194Not only was the food great, but the service was quick and attentive.  We loved this restaurant.

Before we left San Marcos we strolled around the Hays County Courthouse, a beautiful historic Texas courthouse built in 1908.  Depending on who you ask, the style is described as “eclectic,” “classic Revival,” and “Beaux-Arts.”  I have no idea what style the building is, but the courthouse, restored in 1972, is quite impressive:


There was a small farmers market next to the courthouse that was just about wrapping up, where we ran across this content little fella (you gotta figure this guy is pretty secure in his manhood to be carrying around a Chihuahua in a baby sling):


No longer hungry, we figured it was safe to venture off to the outlet mall.  We were happily surprised at the selection of stores, and came home with lots of great stuff.  It was a fun day together, and we can’t wait to go back to San Marcos for lunch and shopping!


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