Monday, June 29, 2009

Just Walk Away Renee

     Signing on to live life in my yard takes a certain fortitude , grace, and quirkiness. From one day to the next, this fern appears to be dying.


      Right across the patio, on the same day, a different experience is occurring. 

100_1014     I don’t know that I understand this.  Both ferns received the same treatment, the same food, the same watering.

     My husband has a different philosophy about watering than I do.  He likes to do this.


        If I were dying of thirst, that would get on my last nerve.  I pontificated about all of my amazing gardening theories, including proper watering, while he walked away. I may have lost my helper.

       So, I am going to pontificate at you . Don’t walk away Renee.

*  I think thirsty plants/people want a long drink of water. They don’t want to be sprayed in the face when they are thirsty.  They enjoy spraying for fun , but not to quench their thirst.

*  I think miracle blooming products are like steroids, eyelash extensions, and other faux beauty products (that I have been known to enjoy); however, their dramatic results are fleeting.

* I think cutter ants, that have stripped my four white iceberg rose bushes , are a sub-culture we need to fear.

Well…there you have it.  Opinions based on absolutely zero facts. 

Blue Monday

     Trying to decide on a subject for Blue Monday in my house is almost like saying ‘are you kidding me’? Why?Because I have so much blue and white everywhere. Thank you to Sally at Smiling Sally for a fun way to start the week.


     This is the large Blue Italian lasagna dish my oldest daughter gave me for Mother’s Day.


     Be still my heart. I must confess. I even dish-stalked my own daughter. When she selected Spode’s Blue Italian as part of her wedding registry, I realized I had to have it too.

     I am adding one more blue photo just for fun because I think it is so cute.  This little dress is a birthday gift for my goddaughter.


     Enjoy Blue Monday everyone!

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Quilt 013

     This is a favorite quilt top, and when I look at it, I really do see pink. Maybe because I look for it. Remember those cardboard kaleidoscopes we had as children?

Quilt 013

Quilt 012

     What color do you see?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Painting the Barn

     For 30+ years, I started my day by preparing to go to work (as a high school English teacher).  The routine associated with that ‘getting ready’ phase in my day varied over the years, dependent upon children, energy level, spiritual needs, my first period class, and even diet (as in what am I supposed to eat today?).

     Once I was ready and I arrived at school, I was blessed to spend time with like-minded people. So many of my socializing needs were met by simply being at work.  In addition to professional discussions and ‘discursions’, I got to fill my “What color is that lipstick” and the “I love your shoes” tank as well. 

     It was indeed the best of both worlds. We all got dolled up for school (most days), and we enjoyed the dolling up of others- or at least I did. My favorite thing to do is to sincerely tell someone how nice she looks, friends and strangers alike.

     The point? In semi-retirement and wagon circling mode, I have become Chloe of the Swamps, and I think I am invisible.

     On those occasions when I am making an honest effort to ‘get ready’, it is as if I have 10 arms swirling around my head with an angry, resentful blow dryer. I sometimes feel I have become the English teacher with eyebrows at different levels and lipstick outside the lines.

     The time has come to re-work the wardrobe and re-do my summer uniform. I need to be in the yard, and I need to be out and about periodically.


*I am going to get a few more hot colored polo styled shirts at Target and pop the collar- a la Lana Turner. 

*I am then going to get a new plain, black (and a white) baseball cap at Wal Mart (because I love how they fit).

*I am going to wear big silver hoop earrings and a bunch of silver bangles if I leave the house.

*I have my black Reef flip flops, that are like walking on a mattress, to coordinate with my black baseball cap, and I am going to continue to collect cropped pants/capris (name dependent upon your generation and level of sophistication- at one time I think we called them pedal pushers).

*In honor of my mother who warned me often, I am going to use my moisturizer (including sunscreen), and I am going to ‘bring it down onto your neck Laura Ellen’.

     This is not high fashion, rocket science, or world peace.  This is life on life’s terms, out exploring, or in my yard sweating each glorious day.

      It is simply what my grandmother called painting the barn.





Tablescape Thursday


     This morning when I opened Susan’s wonderful blog, Between Naps on the Porch, I decided- very last minute- to join in.

Pink Dishes 001

     The dishes are Nikko’s Summer Glade in the Blossom Time pattern.

Pink Dishes 007

     I can hear my daughters right now.

When did Mom get those dishes?”

Did you know she had those?”

Where does she have those hidden?”

Pink Dishes 006

     The goblets are Johnson Brothers, and I got them through Amazon (I think…).

Pink Dishes 005

     The silverplate is from those boxes I bought at the flea market (previous post).

Pink Dishes 008

     The pattern of the spoon is one of my favorites.

Pink Dishes 009

         Have a wonderful Thursday everyone. I am off to work in the yard.  Thank you Susan.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wordless Wednesday and Outdoor Wednesday

wordless wednesday outdoor wednesday   

To the wonderful Dixie at French Lique and Susan at A Southern Daydreamer, thank you for the Wednesday fun. 








Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Shoveling Limestone

crushed limestone 001

     How did I get here again- in the midst of another home project?  I’m not sure, but I sure do like it. It does so many things for my spirit, especially when I have stepped back from the world, as my husband recovers.  (He is on the mend, and I thank you for your support and prayers.)

     I call this circling the wagons because that is what my parents called it.  Will this change, and will life get back to normal, as things continue to improve? Of course, it will, and I look forward to that as well.  However, it wouldn’t be the truth if I said I don’t enjoy being in my home,  running simple, uncomplicated errands, and working on projects.

     I saw my mother work hard in her (our) home and yard all of my life.  She was a firm believer in working until you sweat. The back of my neck is hot and sweaty right now from doing the same thing , and I don’t know of too many things that connect me to my mother more.

     So early, early this morning, I decided to search for crushed limestone at local stone places.  We have an area by the little house that needed a quick makeover. It has been neglected for far too long.

crushed limestone 004

I found a yard of 3/4 inch crushed limestone, invited two of my daughters to ride along, and off we went to get it. I also bought a roll of black landscape fabric and pins to go with it.

     By this point I had had several cups of Starbuck’s Breakfast Blend coffee (that I brew at home), and I felt invincible.  I asked my husband if I could borrow his truck to ‘pick something up’. He said yes, knowing full well it was better not to ask.

crushed limestone 005

     The girls laid the black landscape fabric and hammered in the pins.  In the meantime, I started shoveling it out onto the plastic.

     Emptying an entire bed of a pickup, piled high with crushed limestone, is not an easy task. I had time to think.

                   Random Thoughts While Shoveling

Me:  My projects are not my adult daughters’ projects. They always help when I ask , and they are good workers. I need to use their help wisely and prudently.

Me:  This shoveling business is exhilarating. Boy, I am really going to need a muscle relaxer this evening.

Me:   I admire people who work out in the heat for a living.

Me:   That fence needs work. I wonder if I bought the fencing, I could hammer the boards myself?

Me:  Why can’t this hard work lead to a 10 pound weight loss?

crushed limestone 007

      So now I am on a break, taking the time to drink a glass of iced tea and to write this post .

crushed limestone 002

     More photos to follow. It’s time to go back to work.

Right , Mom?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father’s Day Menu


Our Father’s Day menu today includes many South Texas favorites:

Fajitas, Chicken, Sausage, and Pork Ribs

all cooked on my husband’s new grill

Frijoles a la Charra (pinto beans)

Don Pedro’s Tortillas de Harina (flour tortillas)


Corn Salad

Green Salad

Pico de Gallo

Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream with fresh Mango slices

Cerveza Preparada (cold beer poured over crushed ice, in a tall glass ,with fresh lime juice and a salted rim)


The ingredients for pico de gallo include onions, tomatoes, cilantro, serrano peppers, fresh lime juice, and spices.

There are as many variations for pico de gallo as there are cooks, and I have many wonderful friends who can make this far better than I can with their eyes closed.

This is my husband’s method and everything he creates is delicious.

Chop the onions and tomatoes finely. Break off a bunch of cilantro and chop it finely. The quantities here are about equal, except for the cilantro.  Use a little bit less.


Chop 2-3 serrano peppers after discarding the seeds.

Do not touch your eyes!


Toss all ingredients together and season with salt, garlic salt, and the most important ingredient of all, fresh lime juice.


My husband also adds a slight drizzle of Italian dressing at this point.  The longer this sits in the refrigerator, the better it gets.

Serve with tortilla chips or use as a topping for your fajita tacos .


I will be serving this today in this dish- one of my favorites.

All dishes from Mexico have special hallmarks, usually indicating the artist that painted it.


This dish was made in the state of Guanajuato. The artist’s mark is the sign above GTO.

I hope to share other details from our day.


Friday, June 19, 2009

I Can’t Wait


I love the little boys that belong to these feet.  They are my grandsons.

They came to visit us the night before their grandfather’s surgery.

When things settle down, and they are able to come spend a week with us this summer, these are the things on my list for us to do.

*plant pinto beans in their own tiny garden

*go to the flea market and see the goats and the chickens- on that trip we we’ll take Poor Po (my husband) and Papa (my father)

*buy a watermelon at the flea market and eat it with our hands out on the patio at dusk

*play in the sprinkler during all of my watering

*play with finger paints out on the patio in the early evening

*swim in a plastic swimming pool out on the patio-maybe even count that as their bath (sssh…don’t tell their mother-my oldest daughter)

*use another plastic swimming pool filled with sand as their barn- when my brother was little he always told my mother he was going to go outside and work in his barn (a dirt pile under the eave of the house)

*go to the zoo

*eat lots of pancakes

*go the park

*make homemade ice cream

*go get raspas (snow cones)

*create a macaroni art project (remember Vacation Bible School?)

*go to the children’s section of the public library

*buy a big sack of school clothes

Sigh… I can’t wait.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Garden Party

     Even though I am out of town, I wanted to participate in Kimba’s Garden Party at A Soft Place to Land.


     My garden has been my main project for months now.  I remember my mother once told me you can either work on your house, your wardrobe, or your yard, but it is really hard to do all three at once.  I agree.



     This is my husband’s finished outdoor grill that I had done out of limestone for Father’s Day. I also had a small walkway added.


    I plan to add low maintenance (is there such a thing???) plants along the walkway.

     What leads to the grill is what really makes me smile.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Headed Back to New Normal

     My husband and I are headed back to New Normal for his next surgery.    Be back soon.



Monday, June 15, 2009

I Can’t Go Back

gardening post

     I feel like the mother of multiples.  Granted, I don’t have firsthand experience with that ‘feeling’, but I know how I feel when watching various reality shows on the topic. One distinct difference? My multiples are plants…lots of plants.

     I equate the feeling with having every bit of air sucked out of my body by a giant, stress-provoking vacuum cleaner. When people say, ‘just breathe’, I want to shout, “I CAN’T'!”

     “Can’t you see I just bought 20 new plants this last weekend at KMart, because I think the garden manager was really tired of the heat , and she wanted to eliminate her own job, in the hopes of getting transferred inside the store where there is air conditioning, so she marked the already 50% off plants an additional 50% off, at random, which made them like a dollar something a piece, and because I COULD NOT resist, I bought more plants, and I already had enough, and at this point ,because we do not have a sprinkler system, I will have to stand outside like a garden gnome with a hose in my hand 24/7, because the temperature here may read 100 degrees, but the heat index is like 200 degrees, and I can not let these plants die, regardless of how badly they were being treated at KMart, I can’t breathe!”

     And… the collector in me wants to go BACK.  I can not go back ,even if there were knockout rose bushes in the mix, right? I can not go back. I do not need more rose bushes, right? My husband continues to say, as I walk outside at all times of the day, to play in the yard, ‘Don’t get dehydrated’ (see previous post), but I can not resist the pull of it all.

     I am not just a person who has become a crazy gardener, I am a feverish gardener (literally and figuratively).

So, although I know there are far more important issues happening in the world at large, here I sit, fighting the cravings…the cravings to go back…

I’ll keep you posted (pun intended).


Today’s Thrifty Treasures


     Everyday, when I read Rhoda’s blog from Southern Hospitality, I am inspired.  Not only is she an expert at thrifty treasures, she is generous about sharing blog ideas and computer tricks.  Example? Her information about Windows Live Writer caused me to switch for good, and I am so glad I did.

     However, that is not the point of today’s post; thrifty treasures are! 

     The flea markets in my area are a fun source for finding odds and ends, books, produce ( and even livestock), but rarely will one find anything remotely similar to what you might find at an estate sale.

     So when I do, and I have the right amount of money in my pocket, and I discover something like this, I go for it.


     This is not a plastic box of stainless.  This is one of three boxes of random hotel silver, silver plate, and even a few pieces of sterling silver.  I bought all 3 boxes for $80.

     Now please know that $80 is not the norm for what I spend at the flea market, but I could not resist. I tried picking out things I liked, but I realized it would take hours, and there were three boxes. I just gave up and bought all three. They were so heavy, the gentleman’s son had to use a dolly.

     These are just a few samples of what was hidden in those boxes.




     The spoons in the above photo are actually monogrammed –with my last name initial.


     Everything of course needed to be polished, and not everything was something I wanted to keep, but I have certainly had fun digging.

PS:  These photos do not do these treasures justice. Surely it isn’t the photographer…I think it is the camera! I think I need a new one. Any recommendations?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Favorites

Sunday Favorites

     I’m back for Sunday Favorites, hosted by Chari at Happy to Design. She’s such a great hostess, you don’t want to miss this.

A Few Things My Parents Taught Me

As a babyboomer, I face two trains of thought:

A. There will not be enough social security, TRS money , ________ money (fill in the blank), water,non-polluted air, oil, or non-toxic food to meet the needs of a joyful, peaceful retirement,not only for us, but for future generations as well,
B. I am the progeny of the last great generation in the universe, and I don't care what you throw at their offspring, we are going to figure it out , or more importantly, be able to live with it because our parents taught us 'things'.

My parents taught me -
*To not interrupt. This is on our endangered species list, I will admit. Because I learned this so well, I do a great deal of listening. I also learned this lesson so well that I will stop, when I get interrupted, to allow the other person to continue with his/her interruption.
*To allow company to go first. You go ahead. Here, get in front of me.
*To not brag.
*To keep a tight rein.
*To not exclude anyone. Invite everyone.
*To not talk about where you were invited.
*To reach out to someone at boarding school, who was homesick too.
*To say yes mam and no mam.
*To love just a little bit of the Honky Tonk. Well, maybe to just love the Honky Tonk.
*To bow up when things don't feel right.
*To not run when crossing the street.
*To not ask how someone voted.
*To understand when my father said, "You don't have any business doing that," or "Did you learn anything?"
*To say thank you.
*To tell people they look nice, or did a good job, or that things are going to be OK.
*To say I love you .

This is not a finite list.
But I want to hear from you. What did you learn?

Friday, June 12, 2009

“No More Projects!”

     If anything can reduce me to wringing my hands and a need to explain myself, it is when my husband notices something going on in the yard or the driveway, and he says one of two things:
“You’re not having another party are you?” 
“No more projects.”  
     If I’m in too deep with whatever I have planned - ( or as my oldest daughter says- “I’m in it to win”)-and I usually am, he will then say, as I enter the house after working on said project, dramatically huffing and puffing, with my best Joan of Arc expression:
Now don’t wear yourself out.”
Be careful , you’re going to get dehydrated.”
     In the heat we have had the last two days, all of the above is possible. Although it obviously can’t be a secret, since he can see it from his lookout post, my latest project is this-
a Father’s Day/ Husband Day gift for him.
     After all of our trips to New Normal (and another one planned next week for another surgery),  I decided to go overboard for Father’s Day next weekend, just so I could hear him say those wonderful words from a million years of marriage to me:
No more projects.”

*Details for this unfinished project*
     This is a very rustic outdoor kitchen that is being built off of a small patio, by what we call the little house.  It is built out of concrete block from Mexico that has been faced in squared off limestone .  There is no electricity or running water. Those amenities are available in the little house nearby.
     I had a removable iron grill with handles made by a welder, and on either side of it are copper countertops that were originally in my kitchen. I loved the idea of copper countertops, but I did not enjoy the day to day living with copper countertops. 
     So when I had it changed out last summer, I saved the island top and a small cabinet top.  Those are now on either side of the grill.
     The young man who built this was someone I saw working on a limestone fence and driveway, which immediately prompted me to pull off onto the side of the road. We negotiated there as well.
     The welder was selling BBQ pits- guess where?- on the side of the road on flea market day. He finished the new grill and repaired my husband’s old BBQ pit in 2 days time.
     More later…

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