Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Boys of Summer


I realize it is spring, and I am enjoying every glorious minute of it. My yard projects are underway, and I am gardening again for the first time in a while, even if I feel slightly overwhelmed.

But summer is coming, and with summer comes a visit from my grandsons . To prepare I am going to save some sand from the patio work we are having done, and I also recently bought

Groovy Pop Molds.

We will make our own popsicles, and they can eat them all day for all I care. I tend to be a rule breaker. We will alternate groovy pops with raspas from one of the various raspa stands in our area. They can play in the sand and swim in one of those little plastic swimming pools.

Check out the site linked above (http://www.tovolo.com/). There are wonderful kitchen items and great recipes.

The boys of summer are coming.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing? Never


     It has never been easy for me to edit, subtract, or adhere to the theory that less is more. My father would say I ‘come by it honest’. All of the women in my family have enjoyed QUANTITY. All of the collectors out there know what I am talking about.

     My daughters used the bolt of zebra fabric in the above photo to drape serving tables at my retirement dance. It has future uses- I just know it.

     Hmmm. But I also have this wonderfully soft chenille ottoman from Ross-


and two of these.


     There are other things in the room-

after all, More is More.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

It Doesn’t Take Much To Make Me Happy

Fence Trailer It really doesn’t take too terribly much to make me happy. Seeing a trailer parked in the driveway, indicating that something is getting built or repaired, pretty much does it for me.

Add to that the fact that it was a Saturday morning, the weather was mild, the day was beautiful , and wonderful rancheras were playing on the truck radio attached to this trailer. The two men from the fencing company were sitting under one of my trees, heating up their lunch on a hot plate attached to a long, orange extension cord. They were relaxed and visiting quietly while they ate.

My husband had just arrived from out of town, safe and sound, my father had stopped by earlier with the avocado and fig trees ‘wondering what I was up to’, our girls were all safe and well, and I was wearing my soft, leather, broken-in gardening gloves and a baseball cap. I felt young, energetic, and full of life’s possibilities. God is good and all is right in my world.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Gift From My Father

My father stopped by this morning, as I was working in the yard, to say he had

a 'little something' for me.

The gift?

Two avocado trees

and a fig tree.

I love these gifts because they are from him.
I also love these gifts because they turn out
like this.

This is one of two mountain laurels he planted in my front yard.
During his visit, after he told me where to plant these new baby trees, he reminded me of a few
tree care truths that I think are a great metaphor for life truths.

So listen up granddaughters of Jim Mills:

*get rid of all dead wood , wherever it is in your yard

*before deciding where to plant a tree, look up and look around

*competing trees are not good for new trees

The Unit

You know and I know that a powerful demographic of society, who can single-handedly impact world events, including national defense, has not yet been discovered or utilized.

Who are these people, unknown to the general public?

Women and men who go to flea markets, garage sales, or simply pull off onto the side of the road, if they spot something interesting.

Their James Bond-like skills include:

the ability to size up a situation , to do a sort of junk recon, without revealing that they are

the ability, once triggered , to move fast, regardless of age or athletic ability

the ability to grab with lightning fast movements ( although not a particulary social skill or a skill that wins new friends, it is extremely useful nevertheless)

the ability to stretch small amounts of money into huge pay-offs

and finally, the ability to mobilize quickly, with multiple offers from like-minded friends and family of-

"I'll drive."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Another Bed

Headboard- Laredo wrought iron store- spray painted white of course
Blue quilt set-Ross Dress for Less
White matelesse shams-JC Penney's, the world's greatest decorating secret, especially when things are on sale
Lamps- Does anyone remember Montgomery Wards? My mother and I bought every one they had.
End tables- Old mediterranean furniture, turned backwards to hide the doors, painted white
Paint color- Sherwin Williams Cosmos

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Yellow and Blue Toile

Having missed the Toile Party so many bloggers attended, I decided to post some photos of the yellow and blue toile I have around my house.

This isn't rocket science or world peace, but I realized I have a problem that I hadn't noticed before I took this photo with my trusty Kodak EasyShare.
Photo Above:
Large awning striped pillow- originally for outdoor furniture- too dark
White battenburg lace shams from WalMart-OK
Yellow and blue toile throw pillows from Hancock's-OK
Blue and white plate on side table-too dark
White milk glass lamp grouping on side table- seems small and out of scale-I am going to blame the camera.
Oh well, rearranging this room was not on my to do list this week. Do you know what I mean? I mean how does this all get started?
This guest room came together originally because I already had the Ralph Lauren comforter and a remnant of the same fabric for a side table.

I found the soft yellow ginger jar on one of my jaunts, and the grouping below was born.
I also liked the way the soft yellow looks against my favorite Sherwin Williams Banana Cream (previous post) .

I used the fabric below as a background for a post on an estate sale find.
Even though its a little busy, I like the way the silver looks on top of it.

However ,it is just right all by itself.
Good grief, that didn't sound like baby talk did it?

And finally a lamp I found at a garage sale one Saturday morning. I actually got a pair.

For those who understand, I am a house person.
There is a little blip of peace or satisfaction when I turn a corner in my house and see some of these things.
That could impact world peace, right?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Headed Home

I'm headed home after baby-sitting our two grandsons for 5 days, at our daughter and son-in-law's home in Spring.

Although I know I did it too, as a working mother( in my younger days with three children), I am amazed at what my daughter does in a day's time.

I have made lots of pancakes, wiped up gallons of water from messy baths,broken some of the rules (I let them eat popsicles in the bath tub),gone out to breakfast and the bookstore, made lunches, driven my oldest grandson to pre-school (all the while worrying about being on time), and taken my youngest grandson to the doctor.

I have been in HEAVEN.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Here's the Deal

Grandparents are baby-sitting .

Do we or don't we?

I say yes.

What do you think?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

La India Spice Company

I am blessed to live in an area where the terms authentic and mexican food are synonymous.

An example of such authenticity would be La India Spice Company in Laredo, Texas.

Although I do not live in Laredo, I had the pleasure of traveling there for work several times a year, while conducting teacher mentor trainings.

On one trip, a group of us went to lunch at La India, and I had the best roasted chicken I have ever tasted.

I was completely enamored by the labeling (my photos do not do it justice- please go to the web site noted above).

I returned there at Christmas time two years later , to purchase a variety of spices to make gift baskets for friends. During that visit I saw a stack of the labels sitting on a work desk, and I asked the proprietor if I could buy one, and ever gracious- as people from Laredo are- he politely said no.

It was outside La India Spice Company that I received a gift of another kind; it was the gift of prayer because I was not feeling well during that visit.

The rosary pin shared with me that day became a gift that I have paid forward many times since.

Life is like that isn't it? That funky mixture of the everyday, the colorful, and the spiritual.

Something looks like one thing, but it is really something else.

Perhaps that is why I was so called to the label.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Name That Plate

There is nothing that tickles me more than to watch one of my girls pick up a plate at a flea market or garage sale or antique store and immediately turn it over to check its hallmark.

This instinctive action is part of their collective DNA, bequeathed to them by my mother, their grandmother, their Nonnie.

Sometimes the insignia is a mystery- as in the china plate above. I found a stack of odd china pieces in this pattern in a large junk shop in Conroe.

I just liked them- I didn't care what it said on the back.

However, if you know anything about this pattern, please let me know.

Here is what it says:


Ambassador Ware


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Treasure Hunt

Dining Room
I love hunting for treasures for my house. No, I mean I really love hunting for treasures for my house.

My definition of a treasure: something I didn't know I needed or wanted, at just the right price, that appears out of nowhere, and looks wonderful in my house.

Above photo: mirror-from an auction; lamps-my mother; buffet-bought from a friend; blue and white foo dog urns-Round Top.

Helpful Hint: mirrored place mats- they cover a multitude of imperfections.


Wicker set- Martha Stewart for KMart
Lamps- Hancock's fabric
Pillows- some custom, some from Stein Mart
Wrought iron tables- Laredo, San Bernardo Street
Spode plates- anywhere and everywhere

Living Room

Chairs- my mother, stored safely by a friend
Buffet- antique store in Three Rivers
More Spode plates- anywhere and everywhere
Prints- flea market
Candlesticks- Round Top
Lamps-Laredo's Casa Guero

My Study
Top hutch- the top of an old piano, painted white
Faux fireplace base- side of the road, painted white
Blue and White- anywhere and everywhere
Print- garage sale, Spring,Texas

Sunday, March 15, 2009

When Did Shoe Rules Change?

When did the rules about shoes change?

There were shoe rules for my generation and certainly for my generation as mothers.

We enforced these rules because we were the end product of a great parenting system:

Guilt and Unforseen Future Catastrophe.

Those were the good old days, and I mean that.

I spent many mornings trying to JAM my precious baby girls' chubby, puffy feet into

white leather StrideRite shoes-

after the seam on their socks was straight, PERFECTLY straight. I bore three adorable

princesses bothered by the pea.

The consequence of not doing this was something both horrible and unimaginable.

Why unimaginable? Because no one ever really told me exactly what would happen if I didn't.

I just knew it could be bad- really, really bad.

How? Because my mother's expression told me so.

(Bravo to today's young mothers for figuring out what works for them.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Harrison! We are coming to your party!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Bees- lots of bees.

In South Texas this is not a good thing.

Yesterday I was watering plants near the little house ( a small house in our back yard), when I glanced up and saw them swarmed under the eave of the house.

Two things flashed through my mind.

How fast can I make it to the back door of the house , and

wow, wouldn't this make a great picture for my blog.

That is insane!

Luckily sanity returned , and I turned slowly and walked back to the house.

It really is serious. There have been deaths in our area due to bee attacks, and our neighbor's son-in-law died after an attack while mowing the grounds at work.
I started keeping an Epi-Pen and Benadryl in a desk by our back door , in the event one of us gets stung.

After the Bee Man sprayed them (can you believe he just used a spray can? - I hope he was a real Bee Man), he removed the comb to discourage them from returning.

We'll see.

He thought I was crazy as I tiptoed outside with my little Kodak EasyShare to get some shots for you.

Another exciting day in my yard. Wait until it gets to be 110 degrees.

I See You

Thrives in spite of neglect and drought

Wild Olive Tree
Grows for years without any care at all

Mountain Laurel

Withstands the test of time

Once again, I feel humbled by the fact that something beautiful has graced my life and actually thrived, in spite of me.

My amateurish photography isn't going to capture the delight I feel when these beautiful Texas native plants begin to bloom .

I am not what one would call a gardener.

So many days as I left the house for school, I had blinders on. I often came home, list in hand, supper to prepare, daughters' activities to attend, and a patient husband to consider, feeling like I was doing the best I could.

Cultivating and appreciating plants that were determined to grow, with or without water, was not on that list.

So what I want to say today -to all that is around me- is,

"I see you."

"Thank you."

Monday, March 9, 2009

Make it Tonight-Wear it Tomorrow

Today I have had sewing on my mind.

This came as a complete surprise. I have not done any sewing in years. The last thing I made was a cowboy baby blanket for my grandson five years ago.

One of the unexpected benefits of blogging has been the inspiration I feel when reading about the creative projects of others.

Young women and mothers are writing on their blogs about finishing their work for the week ,so they can sew all weekend.

I am soooo easily influenced. I want to sew all weekend. Don't laugh friends or daughters- it could happen.

I might do something with this :

or this,

or even this- afterall spring is coming.

We'll see.

These women's blogs have caused me to remember how satisfying these projects can be, whatever they are.

I've never gone too long without doing something creatively for my home, but I did let some things slip away.

Or more accurately , I replaced certain activities with others.

I replaced making simple pieces like pants or skirts for my wardrobe with sale searches at Marshall's and TJ Maxx. I also remember making millions of wrap skirts out of chintz .

There was a legion of us who did cross-stitch, needlepoint, crocheting, and sewing.

It's still there- in our minds and in our hands. Does anyone remember the make it tonight wear it tomorrow patterns?

What are you going to make?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Daily Meditations for the Circling Year

At the flea market Saturday morning, the following things caught my eye:

a round chafing dish- I walked away-no intervention necessary (see previous post),

an enormous book on gardening, and a wicker chair.

I walked away from them all, but I couldn't resist

My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year by John Henry Jowett, first published in 1912. I paid 50 cents.

I was fascinated by the title, particularly the word circling, but truth be told I was first
attracted to its color.
It is raspberry pink.

Sometimes God sends up flares, even from as far back as 1912.

A portion of the forward reads:

"The title of this book sufficiently interprets its purpose. I hope it may lead to such practical meditation upon the Word of God as will supply vision to common tasks, and daily nourishment to the conscience and will. And I trust that it may so engage the thought upon the wonders of meditation, as will fortify the soul ..."
I am relieved at this idea of circling- as in circling back. It makes me think of the importance of this luxury and blessing in real life.
As in-
I can go back, without stopping.
The year continues as does God's grace.
For some crazy reason the word makes me think of the wagon train journeys of pioneer days. I can hear someone in authority on horseback saying, "Let's circle back."
Jumping ahead in history I can see in my mind's eye a brave soldier saying to another, "Hold on, wait here, I'll circle back for help."
These imaginings give 'circling' a powerful historical context.
Sometimes I think I have to try so hard at things- including the Biblical and the spiritual- when in actuality, I can simply enjoy and learn from the history of it all.
This Godly circling is everywhere.
Happy Birthday Mills! We love you. Harrison is next.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Ssshhh! My Gardenia Bush is Blooming

I feel like I should whisper. I don't dare move.

My gardenia bush is blooming.

I have never had a gardenia bush live much less bloom.
Is it because it only cost $4.00?

The last one I bought, in the shape of a perfect topiary, cost $40.00. As soon as I got it home, it went into some sort of toxic traumatized shock and dropped all of its leaves.
Then it proceeded to shrivel.

Just Wait

As a big fan of immediacy, I enjoy the quick path of posting to printing that is part of this new world of blogging I have entered.

This morning as I face a blank page, with ideas sort of lurking at the edges of my thinking, I am reminded of the advice I used to give my students, when they did not think they had any writing ideas :

just wait.

Just wait- an idea will come.

As usual, one thing leads to another.

Just wait- the water will boil.
Just wait- it will be your turn.
Just wait- the number on the scale will go down.
Just wait- your hair will grow.
Just wait- you will be forgiven.

Now you fill in the blank.

Just wait: __________________.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Easy, Lazy, Juicy Chicken

A downside of becoming 'informed' healthwise is the demise of the small kitchen appliance.

At one time or another I have owned and thoroughly enjoyed using a fry daddy,an electric skillet, an electric knife, a crock-pot, the usual waffle iron, a sandwich press (nothing as sophisticated as a panini press- mine was a little more blue collar), a blender, and a Daisy Seal-a-Meal.

I resisted bread makers and immersion blenders out of fear.

The last thing I needed was a way to produce hot, fresh , homeade bread because as my father says:

"A minute on your lips, forever on your hips."

Ironically I have been known to satisfy my genetic urge for hot bread by making cinnamon toast with my Sunbeam toaster.

An immersion blender involved sticking something with an electrical cord into liquid ,which is supposed to result in electrocution. No thank you.

My fondest memories involved my fry-daddy ,or for the less serious fryer, the fry-baby. I could fry an inexpensive bag of frozen french fries( I swear they were sometimes on sale 4 for a $1.00) in nothing flat. Culinary efficiency and economy in one fell swoop.

My electric skillet had a sentimental use: preparing my mother's delicious roast from a rock solid frozen cut of meat. She somehow coaxed a frozen block into a fork tender, perfectly seasoned pot roast- all without teflon coating.

My Daisy-Seal -a Meal transported me to that magical era of 'putting food up' or 'by' ,depending on which grandmother was speaking. True confession: it was all about the sealing. The end result never quite matched that thrill.

About thirty years ago, I did own a pressure cooker. That didn't last long, because I realized I couldn't operate it while hiding in the front yard waiting for an explosion.

Today I have narrowed it down to three necessities.

I must have a Bunn coffeemaker; water in , coffee out- perfect for my early morning impatience.
I must have a heavy duty blender with a glass pitcher. I think they make the best margaritas.

And finally, I must have a crock pot for chili con queso, certainly, but also for

My Easy, Lazy, Juicy Chicken.


place a thawed, rinsed chicken into a crock pot

sprinkle the chicken with TexJoy seasoning

place large chopped pieces of carrots and onions in the crock pot

put the lid on and cook all day

serve with rice

Monday, March 2, 2009

And Now You Know the Rest of the Story

After hearing (what felt like) millions of voices all day at school for years, I treasure quiet.

More accurately, I am now able to take in extraneous noise on my terms, not the noisemaker's.

This hypersensitivity meshes perfectly with my idea of the ultimate 'talk radio' personality, the late Paul Harvey.

His perfectly modulated tone and intelligent journalistic storytelling soothed the frazzled nerves of many people , I am sure, just like me.

In my current lifestyle of selective listening, I don't want someone from my radio shouting at me or shouting at me about others.

Instead I prefer the quiet prospect of considering the human experience, the human interest story, that teaches far more than shouting ever did.

I would rather listen to the car guys on NPR radio ,who laugh about everything and never take themselves or their topic that seriously.

I know nothing about cars, but the earnestness of the caller with the 1962 Volvo and the car guys' consequent peals of laughter is a magical balm for my sometimes worried mind.

Truth be told- when listening, I like filling in the blank myself.

I enjoy pregnant pauses , a clever turn of phrase, and it floats my boat to imagine a raised eyebrow. I don't want, however, someone's eyebrows raised out of anger or punditry.

The arc of a Paul Harvey delivered tale sets the thinking cylinders moving, until that split second of perfect narrative timing:

"And now you know the rest of the story. Good Day."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

La Pulga

My trip to la pulga (the flea market) this weekend was a feast for the eyes. Everywhere I looked was a kaleidoscope of color and texture.

It is more than just that, however. It is the people- the friendly vendors and family members of all ages, laughing and shopping. It is wonderful.


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