Killdeer in the bluebonnets – Digging

March 25, 2020

Before Austin’s shelter-in-place (i.e., stay-at-home) order went out yesterday, I grabbed my camera and hopped in the car with our Italian high-school exchange student to find a nice field of bluebonnets a friend had told me about. We soon located a denim-blue field of dreams.

As it happens, it’s an excellent year for our state flower, and it pains me a little to know that I won’t be making a wildflower safari this spring, my annual ritual. But defeating the coronavirus is a group effort, and I plan to comply. Let’s all work together to shut down this disease!

But back to the lupines. Keeping to ourselves — no one else was around anyway — we carefully stepped around the flowers, she found an open spot to sit, and I snapped her first-ever (maybe only-ever) photo in a patch of bluebonnets. A rite of passage for every Texan, even a temporary one! Now I can rest easy knowing my duty as a host mom is complete. (If you’re wondering, she will be with us until a safe flight home can be arranged for her and other Italian exchange students in the U.S.)

As we were leaving, we

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How to Make Your Home Smell Amazing

Every home has a unique scent. Some houses — we hate to say it — smell better than others. While it may be tricky to keep day-to-day odors at bay, there are a number of ways that you can deodorize your space. Sure, some jobs like pet messes, musty mattresses, and overflowing trash bins require some elbow grease and patience. But generally speaking, it’s fairly easy to make your house smell good — especially if you follow these tried-and-tested tips from top interior designers. And while we don’t blame you for going overboard on the candles and reed diffusers, start with one method (the stinky garbage disposal, perhaps?) and then work your way down the list if your nose isn’t satisfied.

Clean your garbage disposal.

Notice a lingering stink in your kitchen? If so, check the sink. “To get rid of the odor in your garbage disposal, spritz a dollop of lemon-scented dish soap down into the disposal, run the water, then turn it on,” says interior designer Keita Turner. You can also run lemon or lime rinds through the disposal, followed by lots of water. If the smell persists, pour a 1/2 cup of

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Mexico City: Coyoacán coyotes, parks, and mole

March 24, 2020

After touring the Frida Kahlo Museum, we walked around Coyoacán, one of Mexico City’s charming historic neighborhoods with sherbet-colored buildings, bustling plazas, green parks, a food and souvenir market, and coyotes everywhere. No, not real ones. “Coyoacán” means “place of coyotes” in the Aztec language Nahuatl.

Two bronze coyotes frolic in a large fountain in Jardín Centenario, within view of a lovely patio at Los Danzantes, where we had lunch.

We sampled a variety of moles (pronounced MOH-lays), earthy, rich sauces made from dried chiles, herbs, fruits, tomatillos, and/or sometimes chocolate.

David and I tried chapulines — fried whole grasshoppers, a traditional Oaxacan snack– stuffed into plantain hush puppies. They were pretty good, and I just tried to ignore the occasional leg sticking out.

At the market we saw mole powders and pastes piled high like modeling clay.

The colorful buildings of Coyoacán make a pretty backdrop for the occasional potted aloe or rambling bougainvillea.

This classic car squeezed into a narrow gated driveway reminded me of the husband’s daily parking ritual in the movie Roma.

Across the street from the market, Parque Allende’s neatly fenced boxwood hedges rein in an exuberance of bold

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How to Clean a Leather Couch

Between inevitable spills, stains, and pulls, fabric couches are truly a recipe for disaster. Leather couches, on the other hand, are fairly easy to care for — as long as you act fast. Of course, sometimes you won’t notice a spill, scratch, or tear quick enough. That’s where this guide on how to clean a leather couch from the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab comes in handy.

While it’s best to keep your couch away from direct sunlight and sharp objects (ahem, your dog’s claws) on a daily basis to prevent extensive damage, these easy-to-follow instructions are helpful when you need to tackle tricky stains, scuffs, and anything else that has made your furniture lose its natural shine.

How to Clean a Leather Couch

You should regularly wipe down your couch with a microfiber cloth to get rid of crumbs or dirt, but follow this step-by-step guide on an as-needed basis—a.k.a. when you notice any glaring stains or scratches.

  1. One small area at a time, work a leather cleaner, like GH Seal star Weiman Leather Cleaner and Conditioner or Furniture Clinic Leather Care Kit, or mild soap into the leather with a soft, damp cloth.
  2. Rinse with another damp
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Mexico City: Frida Kahlo’s Blue House and garden

March 23, 2020

Bird of paradise flower at Frida Kahlo’s Blue House

Before the scope of the coronavirus crisis had crystallized, my husband, daughter, foreign exchange-student daughter, and I made an early spring-break trip to Mexico City. Had we known how fast the situation would escalate at home, I don’t think we’d have dared to go. But in early March — which now seems a lifetime ago — with virtually no news of the virus in Mexico and no U.S. warnings against traveling there, we decided to carry on with the trip we’d been planning for more than a year.

Angel’s trumpets glowing against cobalt walls

And it was wonderful. Mexico City is only two hours by air from San Antonio but a world away in terms of scenery, history, and climate. Now that we’ve been home for a week and are self-isolating for the indefinite future, I plan to share the trip via a series of blog posts.

La Casa Azul

Frida portrait by Roberto Montenegro

On Day 1 we visited the Frida Kahlo Museum, also known as the Blue House — La Casa Azul — on the corner of a residential street in the Coyoacán neighborhood. A

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Early spring flowers, some are memories now

March 22, 2020

Two weeks ago the ephemeral pink flowers of Mexican buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa) began blushing on bare branches.

Not quite bare! Impatient olive-green leaves were already unfurling alongside the flowers. And then, as quickly as it began, the buckeye’s spring show ended.

But other flowers, bolder and longer lasting, were ready to take over. Right now I’m orange crushing on the bell-like blossoms of ‘Bartley Schwarz’ abutilon and tubular flowers of Mexican honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera).

What’s popping in your spring garden?

Cancellations: Due to coronavirus, several events that I’ve been promoting in Digging Deeper have been cancelled or postponed:

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