Friday, March 1, 2024

Tales of the Traveling Tote Edition # 38

Rabbit, Rabbit
Welcome to March and a new edition of 
Tales of the Traveling Tote.
Thank you, friends, for all the good wishes after my recent surgery.
It feels good to be out and about once again.
Miss Merri Mac and I haven't been traveling, so come along
on a brief outing in the neighborhood to welcome spring.
Flowering Quince is one of the first shrubs to flower 
here in Austin, typically blooming for the month of February.  
One of the oldest landscape plants, it is drought tolerant, prefers 
full sun, and like this particular one growing in a 
neighbor's garden, it delights year after year.  

The quince shown here is one of three original to 
a historic property in my neighborhood.  
The grandson of the original owners, now living on the property, 
said his mother remembers these plants from when 
she was a child growing up in this home.

Flowering Quince is a perfect flowering branch to 
snip and bring inside to brighten our home.

Spring appears to have arrived overnight here in Austin.
One day we are dressed in sweaters sitting by a cozy fire, 
and the next day it's 90 degrees and the perfect opportunity to entice 
Miss Merri Mac to head outside and see what's blooming.

Mother Nature brought us a severe freeze in January that left things in a mess, and now she wants to switch to an instant spring with 
bluebonnets blanketing the roadside in full bloom as seen one
recent morning on our "flower run" trip to Trader Joe's

Back in the neighborhood, this tulip garden is bursting forth in full 
color with tulips and pansies in beautiful spring hues.

Miss Merri Mac spotted one lone 
hyacinths still in bloom.

The gardener does a nice job of planting the tulips in color 
groupings and mixing in an abundance of pansy plants.

Delicate white blossoms are blooming on 
the branches of plum trees.

The Tulip Magnolia trees are just beginning to bloom, 
but will soon be covered with lovely tulip shaped pink 
blooms like this one photographed a previous spring.  

Another sure sign of spring is this Texas Mountain Laurel.
Soon ours will be covered with these delicate lavender clusters 
with an intoxicating fragrance that reminds me of grape soda.

Miss Merri Mac and I spied this one 
at a nearby shopping center.

Here is a close up of the blooms on the tree above.  
See how they cluster and almost "drip" down the tree.

Redbuds are one of our first trees to bloom, with branches covered in
magenta or hot pink pea shaped flowers that cluster along the bark.
As with the Flowering Quince, I like to cut a few low hanging branches and bring them indoors to fill a vase.

Another prolific and beautiful spring bloomer is the Loropetalum
with its striking fringe flowers that appear in clusters.

Not all of our sightings were blooming plants and trees.
Thought you might enjoy seeing this unexpected 
and fun scene ~ resident alpacas out grazing!

Meet Chocolate and Milk.

This lovely feathered friend is a Northern Mocking Bird.
Mocking birds are the state bird of Texas, and are known for
their ability to mimic the sounds of other birds.

Needless to say, I miss the company of my own little 
friend who loved to stop and smell the roses.

Over on UT campus the flower beds along 
the south mallare always beautifully planted.  

Miss Merri Mac and I stopped 
to photograph the sculpted beds.

It's difficult to show the beauty of these beds.  
I think this one is meant to be a nod 
to Bevo, the UT mascot

Blooming tulips, pansies, and dusty miller
make a beautiful mix to celebrate spring. 

To conclude our outing, we stopped by Starbucks for an 
afternoon Frappuccino, and look who we met!
 The esteemed singer-songwriter, actor, 4 time 
Grammy Winner, and native Texan, 
~ Lyle Lovett ~
kindly posed for a photo with Miss Merri Mac. 

Thank you, Lyle Lovett!

February 29, 2024, our first leap day since 2020, offered
Miss Merri Mac and I an "extra day" to do a little
garden shopping to gather some plants for the spring garden.

Austin has some wonderful locally owned garden centers.
Barton Springs Nursery is one of our favorites because it is so welcoming, offering free coffee or tea while one shops.
Jackson is available to offer suggestions from among the 
many beautiful gift ideas within the charming boutique.

Yesterday, the last day of February, was a bit on the chilly side with Mother Nature offering up gray skies and temps in the 40s. 
Even bundled up, I was icy cold as I shopped the rows of new plants, so this outdoor fire pit was a welcome sight to warm my hands.

Enjoy the adventures of my 
Traveling Tote Friends at the links below.
Don't forget to leave a comment!


The summer we married, my husband was in graduate school, and I was employed as a teacher. We took a portion of our savings that summer and purchased a sailboat. We christened our Catalina 22, “Hyacinths For The Soul” after Saadi’s poem. Our "Hyacinths" provided years of pleasure.


  1. I am delighted to see you out and about again, and especially that beautiful smile. I'm glad you took advantage of Leap Day to bundle up and do some garden shopping. This is the time of year that I yearn for blooms in my garden, and my friends that live in a warmer climate always assure me that we will catch up :-) The Flowering Quince is stunning. My hyacinths are up but no blooms yet. I wouldn't have recognized Lyle Lovett as I only remember him in our younger years. Love the photo!!

  2. Rabbit Rabbit and beautiful signs of spring Sarah, I know you are happy to be out and about! I can only imagine how lovely the drifts of bluebonnets are in person. The Texas Mountain Laurels reminds me of wisteria with the purple clusters. Redbuds have been blooming here for a couple of weeks as well as daffodils. I had to chuckle at the clever naming of th pair of alpacas, ‘chocolate’ and ‘milk’ 😊 What a good sport Lyle Lovett was to pose with Miss Merri Mac. I’ve been thinking about you and know you are missing your sweet Sadie. Happy March. ♥

  3. I loved the photo of you and Lyle - what a hoot!! And what a good sport! All of your flower photos certainly give me spring fever, we had a foot of snow yesterday, thee most that fell at one time all winter! SO, no flowers here for a while! Cute pic of Sadie, I am sure you miss her a lot. Happy Spring!

  4. I too love that pic of out and Lyle..You're a lovely woman Sarah..and look great.I am happy to see you out and aboot:) As some say:)

  5. Happy March Sarah. It’s so good to see you out and about. All those fabulous flowers look like spring has arrived. As Mary stated the Texas Mountain laurels do look like wisteria with their brilliant purples blooms. How special to see the hyacinth. The gardens are fabulous. How special to see your photo with Lyle Lovett ❤️. I hope you are doing well. I know how much you miss your sweet Sadie. Love seeing her picture. Happy travels Sarah.

  6. A shower of flowers Sarah! So many wonderful Spring flowers you and your tote have found! I love the flowering quince and Texas Blue Bonnets! Things are blooming here too, and everyday I see something new about to bloom, but I haven't seen tulips or wisteria yet. I love the llamas, Chocolate and Milk, so cute! I am so glad you are able to get out and about again, and how fun to run into Lyle Lovett! How did you ever garner the courage to ask for a photo?

  7. So happy to see you doing so well after surgery Sarah and glad you have that behind you. I know you can't wait to get back in your garden! The quince is beautiful and one of my favorites. My mom had one the same color, always first to bloom. Fun to see Milk and Chocolate, a very unusual site. I love the pic of you with Lyle Lovett. He was a gentleman holding Miss Merri Mac! Sweet pics of adorable Sadie too. Take care Sarah and Happy March........

  8. Dearest Sarah,
    Magnolia x Soulangeana is such a dream to view in te spring.
    You have a lot more lovely blooms in your region, compared to Georgia.
    Sorry, that your sweet Sady is no longer with you... We lost two of our kitties on November 28 and January 19.
    Enjoy your spring and glad to see you being able to be outdoors!

  9. Sarah, what a beautiful post filled with colorful floral wonders, those cute alpacas, and celebrities all together with YOU. Nothing could be better than to see you out and about bringing you sunshine all over. Can't wait to have you join us this Monday for our beloved Monday Morning Blooms! xoxo Lidy

  10. My Flowering Quince and Redbuds are also in bloom, as is my Carolina Jessamine. I’m in Gainesville, TX, and I’m loving the color!

  11. I am so jealous of your gorgeous blooms everywhere. Still ugly and brown here with not even a daffodil popping through. I have to transplant some of my daffodils from the old house since they were the prettiest I ever had. Winter storm advisory for tonight so I will just bask in your blooms.

  12. What a lovely post; thank you. Judy in Australia 🇦🇺

  13. I’m so very sorry, Sarah, I didn’t know you recently had surgery. I hope all is well and you’re feeling better. We did have a crazy winter here in Texas! You’ve shared some beautiful photos of nature for me to admire. What a cute photo of you and Lyle Lovett!

  14. Sarah, I wasn't aware you'd had surgery. Happy you are able to be out and about. My heart hurts for you losing your precious Sadie. We lost our cat, Fella, about 5 weeks ago. I miss him so much so I'm sure you miss that sweet girl. I have a Quince but it's an off white. Our tulip trees are beginning to show color. Take care and enjoy spring.

  15. Oh my dear Sarah - I am so terribly sorry I have been away and remiss knowing you had surgery. I have had a rough year of surgeries myself that has left me seeming as though I am always in recovery. I haven't been blogging but I do hope to find the extra energy soon.
    Oh my goodness I loved your post - it snowed here 2 days ago so I needed to see your Austin in full spring mode. Your gorgeous travelin' tote needn't have gone far to experience a lovely spring outing or three. And how AWESOME you met up with LL - he is just so neat. What a thrill he posed with your TT! Love that.

    Hope you are feeling better each and every day - have a wonderful spring season. Sending hugs. ♥ Truly sorry I have been gone so long.

  16. Sarah, this is a lovely post of gorgeous blooms. I only wish I could see the bluebonnets. Redbuds are our first trees to bloom, also! What fun to pose with Lyle Lovett for a photo as he holds your TT. I can only imagine how much you miss your sweet Sadie. I am happy to see you are out and about and look fabulous!

  17. What a grand time, Sarah! Very cool with Lyle Lovett -- I saw him in concert once at Red Rocks - just amazing! He looks to be a very good sport! All your photos are just lovely. Of course your spring is far ahead of ours but it is a wonderful reminder of what is to come!

  18. What a wonderful trip, Sarah...and the photos are wonderful. I am smitten with the little alpacas...they are such sweet little soulful animals. My favorite is Lyle Lovett holding your bag for you! A once in a lifetime moment. I hope you are healing well and I am sorry you lost Sadie. It is so hard to lose a pet. Love your traveling tote adventures. xo Diana

  19. Love the Lyle Lovett citing and his willingness to participate in our antics, Sarah! Oh, your spring is a preview for what's to come for us, and it gets me so excited! I love the quince, redbuds, tulip magnolias - all of it! Happy March, and I hope you were able to wrangle your own landscapers to get accomplished what you intended!

  20. How perfect that you shared your neighborhood travels in Austin. Spring is magnificent there, I miss it and appreciate you sharing to bring back lovely memories of when I lived there.

  21. How cool about meeting Lyle! He is now an honorary member of the TTT's! Although the beautiful photos of spring in Austin...all the flowers....have brought me joy, I am so saddened to hear about your Sweet Sadie. Losing fur babies is one of the hardest things to face in life! They teach us so much about unconditional love; they are truly gifts from God. I love flowering quince. What a beautiful vignette! I'm sorry I missed posting this time. Hopefully it won't happen again.

  22. As beautiful a post as the Soul of this woman! Truly! The photos, prose, and attention to detail incorporated into Sarah’s posts are unsurpassed!
    I “Lovett”!


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