Joy Gallagher

A Lost Art

 I poured myself an extremely nice glass of red and began to look through my recipe book, slowly at first, then progressively more frantic.
Oh, dear God. What if it’s lost?
I dumped the messy three ring binder upside down on the counter. My mom gave me this cookbook when I moved off campus in college, so I could make all of our family favorites. It is a cherished artifact, one of the material things that I would risk smoke inhalation and (first degree) burns over in a house fire. It is stuffed with loose papers, sticky notes, recipe cards and ripped magazine pages. I was looking for something very specific and my heart was racing.
Finally, I found it, a small envelope tucked beneath a photo of my friend Peggy’s late mother and her famous recipe for sheet cake. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, I breathed.

Van Envy

I have a confession to make, a relatively new obsession that I can no longer hide from the world. I have this crazy fascination with trailers, RV’s, Airstreams and especially Volkswagen campers. There, I said it. Perhaps the seed of the obsession has germinated from my forty-something evolution (rebellion?) from too-big houses to smaller, more efficient, more intimate spaces. Or I could blame my friends, Amy and Charles, for letting me ride in their Eurovan. Or Jon and Nancy, for letting me stay overnight in their trailer before a trail race. I tucked into the itty bitty bed crawl space, cocooned by pillows and a down comforter and slept better than I had in years, even on a night where I would normally be plagued by race jitter-insomnia. I was like the princess and the pea, finding my perfect peapod in a tiny home with wheels. I love the word cozy and all that it implies.

After Hours

I am a single woman, and as such, I should have somewhat of a nightlife. I should know what hot restaurants just opened, what bars are fun and have eligible 30 and 40-somethings, and I should spend quality time at the bar at the W.

Looking Backward

Austin has changed so much since I moved here in 1998.

It used to bug me when I first got here how old-school Austinites always referred to the “good old days” (aka anytime before I arrived?) when there was more green space, less traffic, less outsider infiltration, less strip mall sprawl outside the hip nucleus of town and no dressing up to go out. I used to be a regular on the live music scene, and longtime Austin people loved to tell me how special it was that you could be rocking out next to a homeless dude or a tech tycoon and never know the difference here.

The Great Outdoors

 My son, Luke, blindsided me into taking him and his friend, Steven, to see the movie, 21 Jump Street. It has Jonah Hill in it, and I remembered that the preview was funny, so I agreed. Several hours before we planned to go, I went online to get tickets, and while I was at it, I noticed the movie was rated “R.” Luke has seen a couple “R” movies with me, nothing too horrific (just bad enough to make me seem cool for letting him see it). I decided to look a little deeper into the rating just to make sure. It listed violence, female nudity including breasts and buttocks, obscene language, drug use and alcohol abuse. I could think of nothing worse than being trapped in a movie theater with two 12 year-old boys watching boobs and booze, with a cloud of shame hanging heavy over my head. Luke was not amused when I told him about the impending change of plans. Steven wasn’t too happy either, when he arrived and learned that there would be no movie.


I am not sure what the allure is these days with all the television shows where people get “cut.” I have flashbacks to sorority rush, but that’s just me. Whether it’s cooking, singing, tattoo inking, cupcake making or overly made-up young girls dancing, apparently America is tuning in to watch people get compared, criticized and cut.

My kids happen to love a cooking show called Chopped. On this show, chefs compete by getting a basket of random ingredients and a time limit of thirty minutes to impress a panel of judges with their culinary prowess. My children watch intently as these chefs sweat, fret and create their masterpieces…or their flops.

The judges sample each meal and discuss as my children have their own debate, and finally the contestants are called back. Under the silver domed cover is one dish — yep, you guessed it — on the chopping block. You’re done, pal. Go home and make some mac and cheese.

Creatively Speaking

I'm a mother, or so I’ve been told a few times during the course of my advertising career. But this past winter holiday, my old pejorative got some new spice — ginger. As in Mother Ginger, the bigger-than-life character in Ballet Austin’s 49th annual production of The Nutcracker. The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffman’s story, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. It first premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on Saturday, December 18, 1892.

I debuted as Mother Ginger in Austin on Wednesday, December 21, 2011 — complete with a Carmen Mirandastyle headdress, RuPaul-class make-up, a two-story skirt and Morgana-sized boobs. Did I mention that a dozen or so Bon Bons parted my petticoats and boogied to the beat of Tchaikovsky’s romantic rhapsodies?

Spring It On

I must be a regular screw-up, because I dearly love any chance I can get to reset and celebrate a fresh start — birthdays, New Years and any change of season, but most especially spring. I am not a winter girl (although I do love red wine, fireplaces and boots). I don’t like gray skies, being cold, leaving a warm bed and bundling up to go run, pale legs, cold and flu season (germs, don’t get me started) or chapped winter lips. When the first signs of spring emerge, I am more than ready to leave my wintery self behind.

But before I can officially put the spring in my step, here are a few things that I simply must do:

Creatively Speaking

I’M IN DETOX. No, no, no. Not rehab. Detox. Every New Year’s Day, I voluntarily avoid imbibing alcohol until February 1. Call it my New Year’s Resolution. I simply call it, Hell.

This year, I’ve actually tricked one of my BFFs into joining me. He agrees that we’re all probably a bit “over-served” during the holidays, thanks to the free-flowing eggnog, champagne, wine and booze. Over the past few years, I’ve also noticed a bit of “weight gain” that goes along with the tipsy season. In my case, it’s not from eating fruitcake, even though I hail from The Fruitcake Capital of the World. But that’s another story.

More Than Words

I gave a speech not too long ago at a luncheon, and the subject matter was “Mothers and Daughters.” I have plenty to say on the subject; since I am both a daughter and a mother, this may qualify me as an untrained expert. I was actually looking forward to giving the talk, which is rare for me. I put together what I thought was a decent outline, dried my hair with a round brush (ugh, what a pain), and put on a pair of heels. I thought I had it together. Not so fast.

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