Sunday, May 31, 2009

Porch Party

     It’s time for Rhondi’s Porch Party. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see the beautiful ways bloggers create their special outdoor space. Take a look at Rhondi’s Rose Colored Glasses to see everyone else’s great ideas.

     Here’s mine. This gate leads to my special space.

100_0795 100_0796

Just through this gate is the place that has fed my soul, my heart, and busied my hands for months now.  This special place is my ‘porch’.


After working in the yard most of the day, I took these photos at dusk- one of my favorite times of the day.



These chairs flank a couch where I enjoy sitting and looking around my yard.


This is my view from that couch.


That view includes my new bird feeder that I bought at Tuesday Morning.


On either side of the couch I have two chairs, with chair seats I covered in black and white stripe fabric from WalMart. Today as I worked, my iPod was playing my wild mix of music.

Knowing my husband was inside ,and he could see me through the back window, I periodically danced by said window- acting like I couldn’t be seen.

I know.  Everyone else participating in this party is sitting sedately on their porches, reading and meditating.

By this point, I am in my 3rd set of yard clothes for the day, because the other two mismatched sets were wet and dirty, and I just know he was rolling his eyes. (That was my point!)


This is my favorite view, as many of you know.  Just past the fountain are 3 wrought iron pergolas that I will write about another day.  Just past those is the little house.



All of this working and photographing made me realize how much I would like to invite my penpals in blogland to a party at my house.



I bought 2 of these candle holders at Tuesday Morning as well. They flank my favorite space.


Come back and see me.

Sunday Favorites: It’s Just Paint


Sunday Favorites

   It's that time again.  I love Sunday Favorites, don't you?  We all get to share some of our earliest tales!

Go visit Chari at Happy to Design to see other wonderful past posts.

                              It’s Just Paint

Bar none, yellow is the hardest paint color to get right (well, maybe red), yet its dividends are amazing. It is the most forgiving background color for older furniture that has seen better days. It is an amazing backdrop for dark wood pieces

( especially my pieces).

Because I didn't grow up in a family that bought paint brands like Farrow & Ball, I believed that the only place you bought paint, in small towns throughout South Texas, was Sherwin Williams (remember Dover White, the go to color of the ages?).

Frankly, considering my current ADD symptoms, that is quite enough choices for me, thank you very much.

It is when I venture out to Home Depot, Lowe's, and Benjamin Moore that I simply feel defeated- truly defeated. I walk around in circles muttering things to myself like "this is ridiculous, I am an educated person... it's just paint."

At that point, I begin to make frantic phone calls to my daughters who, if they are not screening their calls, answer by saying,

"Haven't we talked about this mother?" (see previous post), or even worse,

"Uh, mother it’s kind of hard to pick paint colors over the phone".

My cheeks are red (try Sherwin Williams Ruby Gem) thinking about it .

So back to Sherwin Williams I go , where family members of ages past have tread.

At least when I make wrong choices at Sherwin Williams, I can console myself with another 'ism' from my father:

"You came by it honest."

Best yellow for my house: Banana Cream

Best neutral for my house: Kilim Beige

Best blue for my house: Cosmos

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I Had An Hour…


     I had an hour while my husband was resting, and guess where I went?

Those of you who have read about my favorite weekend explorations know.

I drove to the flea market looking for plants, preparing to pull off onto the side of the road at a moment’s notice.

Has anyone else ever bought plants, drive through style?

This one hour of no makeup, yard clothes wearing searching floats my boat in a way I ‘m not sure I can adequately describe.

Sure, the vivid yellow hibiscus is pleasure inducing, but it’s more than that.

It’s going , ‘Cheers’-like, where everyone knows my name, your name, and every other woman’s name with that eloquent address of

‘la senora’.

It’s looking through a wonderful selection of rose bushes, all priced at $6.00, thinking I can do this. These will grow. Surely as inventory in this humble setting, sitting out in a vacant lot I paid $1 to enter, surely these roses will grow for me.

It’s speaking completely in Spanish and never feeling self-conscious or awkward, regardless of how badly I may confuse gender, verb tense, or new vocabulary.

It’s smiling at strangers and enjoying the variety of products for sale this morning.

My favorite was a pen of baby goats.




Friday, May 29, 2009

Flaunt Your Red


Flaunt Your Red , hosted today by Stacey at Poofing the Pillows, a wonderful blog with great ideas and photos. Go visit her today.

(Sorry everyone- I just realized that I am a DAY LATE.  Oh well… this is my story and I’m sticking to it!)


                       My red kitchen


                    New red toile placemats


  One of the many English tins I have collected


         A lamp in my den


            A plate on my copper bar

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Home Sweet Home


     We arrived home this evening , after a long drive, and supper was waiting.

     A dear friend dropped off comfort food from Luby’s:  fried chicken cutlets, mashed potatoes, cream gravy, green beans, whole wheat rolls, green salad, carrot salad, tomato and cucumber salad, and congealed pistachio salad. The large iced tea- with lots of ice- was just for me.

     She also brought this because it is my husband’s favorite.


                    Coconut Cream pie

I felt like weeping. Her husband had watered my plants- as had other dear friends.

     My father drove up (Boy do I have a post about him.  His house caught on fire day before yesterday!), and he began to spray two of my rose bushes.  The cutter ants had stripped them- just to keep things real around here. I followed my father around the yard as he sprayed, asking him about the fire like a little girl tugging on his sleeve while he was busy working , and he said:

“Now don’t you be worried about that house.”

The end.

     Lastly, I opened the refrigerator and saw this.


     Our daughter Lauren harvested my first home grown tomato- well actually, it may have been the second; she said she ate one.

     Home Sweet Home. Thank you God for traveling mercies , wonderful friends, and dear, sweet family.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Iced Tea and My Back to the Wall

     This evening while answering a supportive email from one of my special teacher friends, while sitting in the hotel my last night (for now) in New Normal, my heart traveled back in time to this time last year and the year before and the year before and the year before…

     This special friend and I have the same birthday (May 18th) ,and she, along with another dear teaching friend, always honored my special restaurant needs- on those occasions when we talked each other into going out to lunch- which was often. 

     We were able to accomplish this masterly feat of split second timing because a local ladies for lunch place took our order ahead of time and had our food waiting on the table, our iced tea in to go cups.

Laura Need # 1.

Sitting with my back to the wall.  Why? We might have to shoot our way out , of course.  I came by this honest from my father of the ‘keep a tight rein’ philosophy.

Laura Need #2.

Ordering iced tea, non-flavored, with a lot of ice. A LOT OF ICE. The test? It had to last through my afternoon classes.

Laura Need #3.

Sitting at the local BBQ restaurant on Fridays, wearing my red high school shirt, surrounded by a sea of red shirted, smart (and sometimes smart aleck-thank goodness) high school teachers , my back to the wall, drinking iced tea with a lot of ice.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sunday Favorites

Sunday Favorites

Thanks once again to Chari at Happy to Design for another Sunday favorites.  Make sure you visit her to see all of the wonderful ‘oldies but goodies’ we are re-posting because we thought you might enjoy them.  Here’s mine.

PS.  Thank you again to all of you wonderful bloggers.

PSS.  The music is important.


                        I Just Want to Dance

     One of the strangest disconnects in getting older is how little dancing is part of my day to day existence. There was a time when I 'practiced' it so much, daydreamed about it so much, and enjoyed it so much, that a day without any of the above would have been unimaginable. 
     A mini-memoir about being a classically trained dancer is not going to follow.
     I am talking about in front of the mirror, door locked, music blasting on my record player dancing. My Saturday morning routine, as a young girl growing up on a ranch far from town, involved watching American Bandstand and running down the hall to my bedroom to practice what I had seen.
     These events in front of the mirror were not vanity. I know what vanity feels like. My youngest daughter Katherine has kept me humble about the allure of vanity and its pitfalls by saying- whenever she feels I need to hear it, "Oh Mom, you're just trying to show off."
     Dancing isn't like that. It's more like the first few words of Chubby Checkers' The Twist: "Come On Everybody".
     This practice paid off. Whether I had the beat or not, I had to have the beat. It was so much fun practicing in the dorm at Saint Mary's Hall (it was an all girls' school, afterall, where would we dance), or dancing at Eastwood Country Club in south San Antonio ( it was not a country club), or learning the bus stop in college, or collecting and savoring every Motown record I could find.                                            I could almost dance while driving my car, with the radio blaring( long before cell phones and to do lists and rehashing it all thinking began to interfere with all of that great fantasizing).
     But this is not a sad tale. Every year, whenever possible, my family travels to New Orleans so Mom can dance. There, in the anonymity of Bourbon Street, it may as well be the Falfurrias Teen Club with The Bondsmen from Alice playing. I am in heaven. 

PSSS.  Go find a mirror and start dancing

Friday, May 22, 2009

Welcome to New Normal, Texas

    Tonight as I write this in one of my ‘pondering’ moods, I am sitting in a hotel room, attached to a major hospital , in a major city in Texas, close to seven hours away from home. My husband, who had surgery in late April, had to return to the hospital because of serious complications.  He has had two surgeries in the last week, and he is scheduled for a fourth surgery in two weeks. In rank order, my husband, my daughters, my friends and family, and my laptop have saved my sanity.

     I keep saying to my husband, we are OK, this is going to be OK; this for a time is our new normal.

     What does New Normal, Texas  look like?

                            First, I make my nest.

     I make it in the hospital room, the hotel room, my car, and even my purse. I sort through what I need with what little I threw in the car last Saturday, and I touch it and rearrange it and then do it again if necessary.

     I strip the hospital bed and place the sheets that need washing near the door- as if I am going to take them to my own laundry room right down the hall. I use a damp towel and mop the floor while swiping it with my feet. I wipe and stack and straighten edges and then I do it again.

                 Secondly, I honor ( as do my husband and  daughters), the worker bees , the people in the trenches that ease the fear and the pain, and I ask eye to eye tough questions of those who think they are the King Bees.

     We say thank you and excuse me , and we edify at every opportunity those worker bees whose names I will not write but whose faces are imprinted on my heart. To the King Bees, you know who you are. I am still not through with my questions, nor is our oldest daughter- which leads to-

                 Thirdly, I watch my oldest daughter be the empowered young woman, wife, mother, and attorney that she is.

     I giggled many times and thought of my mother’s knowing smile, when one of the King Bees from time to time has said, “Your daughter said…”

     You bet she said, clicking down the hospital hallway in her high heels.

     Today I watched our middle daughter, our voice of reason, our stay the course daughter, our adventurer daughter anticipate the very next thing we needed , before we knew we even needed it. She listened and stood quietly- our rock, our fixer.

     I listened to the voice of our youngest daughter , who is sick and coming down with something, say “Tell Dad I’m coming in the morning Mom.”

     I listened to my husband say to us, if we got too loud while he was resting , “Ya’ll don’t need to stop talking.”

                     Welcome to New Normal, Texas.


Thinking and Writing

     Because I love to write-need to write- thoughts and the subsequent words attached to them have always been important to me. I think this dormant need was simmering under the surface, as I spent years grading and assessing the writing of others. 

     In retrospect, how frustrating that must have been for Laura the Teacher.  That’s sort of like working at the wonderful party but not being a guest.

     I wrote , certainly, over the years I spent in a high school English classroom, but I realize now , it was primarily ORAL. I became a master of sorts in thinking ON MY FEET and having rough drafts ,on all sorts of topics ,fall from my lips.

     To add to the mix I got to say the most powerful words in teaching and egoism:

     “Write this down.”

     In my own way, I guess, I was part of that well -known oral tradition of the world’s earliest storytellers and thinkers. That makes sense. I could never find my pen anyway, and I REFUSED to wear it around my neck.

     My thinking and writing style have always felt more analytical than narrative.  I enjoy a good story , no doubt, but when I write, it feels more like ‘pondering’ than story-telling.

     I have often said that my FAVORITE job would be to sit in an office and have people stop by to ask me what I think. ON ANTHING.

     All of this thinking sometimes gets me in trouble and has the power to create complications in my life.  I have been known to do some mind-reading/mind-controlling of family members’ thinking ( which has not been as appreciated as I would have liked).  Fancy that.

     Thinking too much about people, places, and things can eventually become a little too self -directed or even self-centered .  The usual antidote is fairly simple and God , along with my mother, directed:

God and my mother: Get up, Laura, get up.”

God and my mother: “There are dishes to do, plants to water, clothes to wash, attention to give, prayers to pray, people to call, sleeping to do, issues to face, and above all Laura, letting go to do.”

God and my mother: “Get up, Laura, get up. You can think/write about it later. We promise. Just get up.”

Monday, May 18, 2009

Thank You Thank You Clip Art

Thank you new blog friends for your wonderful comments of support and prayer

We hope to be back home soon.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dear Friends-

I’ll be away for a few days; my husband is back in the hospital.  I’ll check back soon,


Friday, May 15, 2009

La India Spice Company Again


     In yesterday’s post regarding Pozole, I mentioned menudo spice, and I wanted to share information about my favorite spice company.

     A previous post says it all, and if you don’t mind the inconvenience, refer to the link provided for my March 19th post:La India Spice Company.

     The web site is listed there.

     By the way- I love that spice company for two reasons not associated with the quality of its spices, although the quality is excellent.

     I love this company because of a personal experience I had there and because of its label.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tablescape Thursday

    I am joining this week’s Tablescape Thursday, hosted by Susan at Between Naps on the Porch.    Tablescape_Thursday

Susan is incredibly talented, as you all know. Stop by her blog to see everyone else’s table for the week.                             

                           South Texas Style


     Most informal dining, in the area where I live, starts with some sort of buffet. The set of dishes in the photograph is actually a soup set from- guess where?-

                    the side of the road

outside Dolores Hidalgo, a town near San Miguel de Allende. I bought the set on our first trip to San Miguel  Canother one of my loves) the first time we traveled there.

More about subsequent visits to San Miguel in later posts.

     The set, which included this amazing soup tureen, also had 8 bowls, dessert plates, and luncheon plates.

soup pot 

soup bowl soup dinner plates

The glasses shown are old, and I have had them for years.


So what is cooking for these dishes to be used.? Why caldo of course.  When the weather starts to get cooler in late fall, it is time to make soup.

     One of our family favorites, that I have served Christmas Eve is:


1-2 pounds of sliced , lean pork

1 large chopped onion

minced garlic (about 3 cloves)

about 3 tablespoons of oil

small package of menudo seasoning mix

Brown pork in oil in a soup pot. Remove pork and set aside.

Saute onion and garlic in oil

Return meat to the pan and add water to fill 3/4 of pot

Add menudo seasoning mix, stirring well and let simmer on medium heat until the pork is tender

Add one large can of drained hominy

Serve in bowl with grated cabbage, white cheese, and avocado slices on top

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pitiful Pearl’s Random Thoughts

There is nothing remotely interesting about this post, unless you enjoy random thoughts of self-pity .

I am quite simply WORN OUT, or as my mother used to say, worn to a frazzle.

Since a large stack of limestone is still sitting in the driveway, I have decided on a project change.

This mound is now going to become a permanent MONUMENT , exactly where it sits on the side of my driveway.

Convenient, right? I am going to ask my husband to chisel

‘Just Had to Have It’ on one of the slabs.

I think that Chocolate Layered Dessert eventually becomes a depressant and has mind -altering powers.

Yesterday afternoon I sprayed a very common (hint,hint) , miracle working product on my tomatoes and my new hibiscus .They are now shriveled and an odd shade of yellowish gray.

My Cinco de Mayo rose bush, 24 hours after I planted it, has turned to stone.

I POISONED THEM! I should have given THEM Chocolate Layered Dessert.

Aren’t you glad you dropped by?

Monday, May 11, 2009


    On Mother’s Day, I decided to prepare a special supper for the family.


Pot Roast with Carrots and Onions

Baked Potatoes

Steamed Asparagus

Green Beans



Chocolate Layer Dessert from this cookbook.

la pinata

La Pinata is a wonderful cookbook that everyone I know recommends.  Most all cookbooks ,worth their press, have this recipe somewhere in their index.

Warning:  The following photos are not for  food/cook purists. They may be considered disturbing for the faint -hearted.  Why? Shall we say my baking style is…


I like rustic.  A dear friend and I call a certain type of movement, while doing things around the house, 


Telephone rings. I answer. Friend asks, “What are you doing?”

I answer: Slinging.

I just changed my mind. Slinging is my favorite.

First the crust. (I know there are holes-sorry- flour, butter, pecans).

I would be in real trouble if they sold crust on the side of the road…


Then the first layer of filling (cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, and Cool Whip).


Then the chocolate pudding.


And finally more Cool Whip.

Note:  The orange bowl and the green bowl are from sets of kitchen nesting bowls. That was a minor obsession after reading about nesting bowls on Pioneer Woman’s blog.

Tell me your obsession so I can join the fun and obsess too!



Crust:1 cup flour, 1 stick melted butter,1/2 cup chopped pecans. Mix ingredients, press into 9x13 inch pan, bake at 350 degrees, cool.

Filling: 3 ounces softened cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 cup Cool Whip. Beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread on cooled crust.

Next filling: 1 large package of instant chocolate pudding mix, 2 cups milk, 1 tsp vanilla- mix all ingredients until thick. Spread over cream cheese filling.

Top with another container of Cool Whip.

Allegedly serves 12.

In whose family?  How about 4?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I Went Back…

     A year ago, when I retired from teaching, it never occurred to me that I might some day write blog posts about gardening.  Let me repeat that.

               It never occurred to me.

     Yet Sunday morning, on Mother’s Day, I found myself driving once again to the flea market to look at plants. I had about 30 minutes to spare ,and there were only a few vendors open.

     First I found 4 fuschia oleander plants.


At the booth with the oleander plants, the lady selling them said, “For you , a good price for Mother’s Day.”


At a different booth, I found two very interesting plants whose names caught my attention.


Corona de Cristos or Crown of Christ


and Bouquet de Novios or Plumeria.

Then , as often happens on these expeditions, I got sidetracked by this.


Once again , on the side of the road, a nice man was selling carpet grass squares for 90 cents each.  I bought twenty,  loaded them in my truck and headed home to get ready for church; it was only 8:00 AM.

                    The Plan for Current Purchases

*Early Monday morning, cast fertilizer over bare spots in the yard before the canal rider arrives to open the irrigation valve. I bought a water ticket for 3 hours of irrigation time. 

This will be a great adventure.  My husband is still recuperating from shoulder surgery. We will switch roles.  He can sit on the front porch and point this time.

* Using the limestone, create pathways and a tiny patio by the little house.

*Plant the oleander plants along the east fence of the yard.

*Continue to water the new grass my daughter and I laid this afternoon by the front walk.

Take a muscle relaxer and go to bed.


The Colander of the Mind

It's time for another Sunday Favorites , hosted by Chari at Happy to Design. I have said it before ,but I will repeat it: I love this idea! Go visit her for all of the wonderful , easy details.

I have never forgotten the wisdom of a statement that my oldest daughter made to me.

It was a reference to being alone with one's thoughts.

By the way, is that a good thing for you, or a not so good thing?

It's funny the items that stay in one's mind, forever, and the thoughts and ideas that simply disappear.

We all have the 'I will never forgets' and the 'I'd just as soon forget that' battle going on.

Negative thoughts seem to have extra staying power- they seem to be born that way- attached to little heat seeking magnets that latch on when good thoughts are struggling to grow and flourish.

Positive thoughts can be more fleeting, more ethereal- maybe they have wings- spiritual wings-which would make sense.

You have to work at hanging on to these. But it's worth it , right?

I have decided to call this elusive condition , this in and out box of thinking, 'colander of the mind'.

That makes me laugh , and laughing is positive thinking at its finest.


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