Friday, November 25, 2011

Looking for Paradise in a Place Called Utopia

Walking through the Cool Shadows

Colors so bright I might need shades!

Bald Cypress in Silhouette

Ready for a Boat Ride

Late Afternoon along the Frio

Reflections of November

Hiking the Lost Maples Trail

Sun Going Down at the Bunkhouse

Thankful for Utopia
by Cindy Morawski

Thankful.  That's gratitude for you.  I found myself thinking about how I wanted to spend some of my free time the week of Thanksgiving, months ago.  I felt thankful that Paul and I were going to get some time off so we discussed the possibility of a little vacation that wouldn't involve airfare, rental cars, or dining out two or three times a day.  We also wanted to take the dogs with us.  We hoped that we could involve some of our friends and family too.  Hmmmmmm.  

The answer came to me as I was remembering how much fun I'd had when I went to Lost Maples for an art workshop last April.  I'd stayed at the Fox Fire Cabins and had a great time.  Paul "googled" the cabins and I talked to the office manager.  They informed us that there was a cabin called the Starry Night Bunkhouse outside Utopia, and that it would be available when we wanted to get-away.  We jumped on it because we could take the dogs.  We hoped that we could hike the trails of Lost Maples and Garner Parks because November had cooler temps.  We kept our fingers crossed that the trees would have changed and looked more like fall than summer. 

We drove through Helotes on Bandera Road and followed Hwy 16 all the way to Bandera.  From Bandera, we then traveled through Medina, the apple capitol of the Hill Country, and then on to Vanderpool and Utopia.  If the pretty drive there was any indicator of a good time, then we suspected we'd have it made.  The hilly twists and turns and subtle shades of autumn tree colors clued us in.  The Texas Hill Country is its own piece of Paradise.  

We finally ended the drive at Lost Maples.  We were going to kick off our time-off by hiking with our friends Marie and Garth.  The trees didn't disappoint us.  Brilliant hues of oranges, yellows, and reds danced in the maples and other trees along our trail.  Chatting and laughing together, we ambled on.  The possiblities seemed endless.  It was all good. 

Later we checked into our cabin in Utopia.  The hilltop view was magnificent.  Everything tasted better during our stay while we ate outdoors.  Coffee and sunrises.  Dinner and sunsets.  The air seemed lighter and healthier than our usual city atmosphere.  The burn ban had also been lifted so we had a chance to build a fire and roast hot dogs and marshmallows over the open flames.  It seemed like a long time since we had a camp fire.  Our extended drought had kept that from happening. 

The next day we had a chance to hike with our family; Ryan and Tonia and the grandkids met us at the park, and Phineas and Rusty, our dogs, accompanied us too.  The morning felt cool and crisp.  The air smelled of autumn leaves with a hint of smoke from campfires.  The dogs pulled at their leashes.  We headed down the Maple Trail together.  Endless.  That's the word that came to mind again as I sauntered down the path.  I wanted the day to never end.  It was that good. 

Utopia was our resting place each night.  We headed back to the cabin after our day outdoors while hiking and picnicking at Lost Maples and Garner State Parks.  We cooked and slept in the bunkhouse.  Sleep seemed better after a day of exercise and fresh air.  The stars looked brighter out there too.  No city lights to fade the night-time view. 

Paradise can mean many things to many people.  To me, I found my little piece of paradise in a place called Utopia.  I remain thankful for that.

Hope you had a good Thanksgiving!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Finding COMFORT in a small town outside San Antonio

The Tinsmith's Wife
409 7th St.
Comfort, Texas
Comfort Cat ~~ Painting by Cindy Morawski
Inspired by Lily, one of the knitting shop's cats
See her photo below . . .
Better than the Wal-Mart Greeter!
Inside the front door at The Tinsmith's Wife shop
I'm thinking . . . yes, I think the red yarn is the prettiest!
Lily, one of the cute cats, at the yarn shop
Do you want two of everything?

Something Soft ~~ A Real COMFORT in Comfort, Texas

by Cindy Morawski

After visiting with the Solberg's cats at The Tinsmith's Wife, a knitting and needlepoint shop in Comfort, Texas, I felt my blood pressure descend to a normal level.  Being near all those friendly cats and those soft rainbows of colors in the yarn displays, a peaceful calmness came over me.  Feeling like I was suddenly transported into the past while enjoying a present-day visit to this Comfort shop on 7th Street, I knew I'd discovered something special.  This one- of- a- kind store will not only help you find supplies for a sewing, yarn, or needlepoint hobby, but it will also allow you a glimpse into a slower-paced era of solid service with a small, family-run business. 

Wendy Solberg and her parents, Susan and Bill, run this charming store in downtown Comfort.  Wendy bought this place three years ago, and mentioned to me while we chatted, that the shop has an interesting history.  It started out as a tinsmith shop in the 1800's; that's why it's called The Tinsmith's Wife now.  It has also been an appliance store.  The wooden floors are original as well as most of the historic structure.  The walls display needlepoint patterns and other art that relates to the items sold there.  That's why you may find a wooly sheep or two nearby.  Colorful, hand-knitted items such as sweaters, hats, and scarves show the promise of hand-crafted goods.  To me, it was eye-candy at its best!

Comfort can be found in many places.  Besides the name of the town, it can also reside in one's heart.  Compassion for felines is evident in this place.  Homeless cats have found a sanctuary here.  Kitty, Lily, Noro, Laurel, and others reside on soft rugs, rocking chairs, and in yarn bins.  What lucky cats!  And, that's no Yarn or Tall Tale!

One cat especially made my day.  Her name is Lily, and she's a black and white tuxedo cat.  Her friendly manner and curious ways helped me notice her immediately.  In fact, she inspired me to not only photograph her, but to later paint her as well. 

If you're looking for a reason to shop or simply need an outing, I have a suggestion.  Drive to Comfort, Texas, and get reacquainted with some old-fashioned goodness. Again, it's located at 409 Seventh Street.  Their phone number is 830-995-5539.  Lastly, you can also check it out on the web for more details.

Wishing You COMFORT!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Open House~~Holiday Wolfson House~~Nov. 14 - 19, 2011


Holiday Invitation

FREE Homemade Holiday Refreshments, Free Admission and Parking . . .


415 Broadway
San Antonio, TX

Tour one of San Antonio's historic homes, shop for the holidays, enjoy the holiday decorations and refreshments!

November 14 through 18, Monday - Friday, 10 to 6,
Saturday, November 19, 10 - 3

Please look for my art display by the fireplace upstairs. 


Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Comfort Cat
~~by Cindy Morawski

If you'd like to see my Holiday Gift Line-up of Mag-Cats (Cat Magnets), paintings, cards, prints, and gift bags, please consider joining me at the FALL Festival at Zion Lutheran Church this Saturday, November 5th, 2011, from 10 to 4.  It's located at 1604 and Braun Road.  There will be many artists and crafts artisans, plus a snack bar.  Holiday Gift ideas and shopping will be ready for you this Saturday!  Hope you'll mark your calendar!