Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Special Thank You and a New Obsession

We are back from New Normal, and everything went really well. Thank you so much for your prayers and support.


Now to my new obsession.


I spotted 8 place settings (and various serving pieces) of Villeroy and Boch’s Acapulco from the 60’s and 70’s recently at the Guild Shop in Houston.

Contrary to images of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack drinking Cuba Libres out by a pool on some cliff in Acapulco, I can see these dishes out on my patio.

Sigh…I didn’t buy them… I even thought they could be my own quirky version of MacKenzie- Childs, Valley style.

I still didn’t buy them…

*Ebay Photo Image

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Going to a Go Go

We are getting geared up and circling the wagons...

Tomorrow morning we are leaving for New Normal for what I pray is my husband’s last surgery on Monday.

We will get to see all of our girls, our grandsons, and our wonderful son-in-law.

I have two cowboy blankets for two little boys packed. Remember this fabric?

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Music says/does different things for all of us.

Under the circumstances, this felt right.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Team

fall yard      This morning as I looked out my bedroom window, I saw there was a treat waiting for me: little gifts of color and beauty, regalitos for my flu-weary soul.  I couldn’t resist the sunlight either.


     I slipped outside with my trusty point and shoot camera and my kleenex box and looked around in amazement. Thank you God.

      These hearty, South Texas native plants keep suiting up and showing up.  It is time, in so many ways, to stop looking for what works somewhere else, what works for someone else.

     Surely there should be a “I Withstood the Heat and Varying Degrees of Attention” Award in gardening beauty contests somewhere in this world. 

     Today, these are my entries.

     In such a competition, my blooming natives would be the rough kids, the ecologically disadvantaged, the at-risk kids in the group.

     Sigh…most days, those were my favorite students. Not to belabor a metaphor…(who am I kidding…that is my FAVORITE thing to do), but my crew of South Texas survivors would probably have their hands on their hips, glaring at the roses and the azaleas, saying,

“What are you looking at?”




Monday, September 21, 2009


Disclaimer:  I am home with the flu, taking Tamiflu ,which apparently can cause confusion.  Swell. So why not write about something a little taboo?

    One of the joys of blogging is reading other people’s blogs, and I don’t think there is anything I enjoy more than reading/hearing about how people do things -including managing their time, their homes, their gardens, and yes-  their money.

     We are all , regarding the issue of money and money management, a product of our upbringing , and the messages we received , both heard and not heard .

      In addition, for those of us who are married , we live a sort of hybrid money management theory- which comes in all shapes and sizes : there exists a mutual, balanced approach to money, one spends, the other doesn’t, or there is a power struggle, or a life of complete financial bliss and agreement.  The combinations are endless.

     In my home growing up , it was never discussed , other than those rare occasions, when in a moment of childhood insanity, you might state your longing for something so far fetched, it was ridiculous to even ask. Yet even in the no answer, I knew it was still OK, and we were OK.

     However, I did receive money messages from my parents, and I am so glad I did.  My parents were not remote, silent, or disenaged.

     They simply modeled  and expected.  As a matter of fact that was their entire parenting technique.

     What were their messages?

*We were not wealthy people, and while we had everything we needed and some of the things we wanted, the focus wasn’t on the wanting. Because of my father’s work, we were around people ‘who had more’, but it was never discussed.  They were more focused on our manners and our respectful interactions with others.

*My brother and I were raised to consider the feelings of others, to share, and to not show off. Humility was a high commodity in our household.

*We were not raised to be frugal.Was that even a term in the 50’s and 60’s? Isn’t it funny how in skirting the issue in today’s world ,and above all not talking about it, we have given it a name?

We weren’t raised to be frugal, yet our parents modeled frugal living.  You were supposed to watch and learn.

*My mother treated the things in her home, including the food she prepared, with respect. She rarely threw out spoiled food or produce.  It just didn’t happen. One of my first lessons in the kitchen was in learning to peel an onion without taking off a thick layer.  She used newspaper to line her kitchen trash can, made hash out of leftover roast beef, and her pantry was full, because she was always prepared.

*Her greatest maxim was ‘stay out of stores’- bargain or no bargain, want or not. Although she was a collector and a flea market shopper, general restlessness was not a good reason, in her mind, for searching/shopping.

Why? There was always work to do at home.

First things first- isn’t that the best definition of frugal living?

     Have I always modeled these behaviors? No, but I know better.



On the River


     As previously mentioned, my husband and I took a very brief trip out of town to San Antonio this weekend. 

     We stayed at a great hotel downtown , the Emily Morgan, and our room overlooked the Alamo. 

     As I looked out my hotel window, eleven stories in the sky, I thought about the few women who were at the Alamo , which prompted my next thought : my daughters would have handled themselves very well at the Alamo.

     Oh the romanticized thought processes of a retired English teacher/proud mother.

     My husband and I walked along the river with the intention of having a wonderful dinner at my favorite restaurant.

paesanos (7)

     However, a slight delay occurred when we went in here for a bit, prior to dinner.

 paesanos (4)

     Two Texas college teams were  playing (Texas and Texas Tech), and although they are not his favorite team (Texas A&M is, but they have become increasingly frustrating in years’ past to watch ), my husband stands by his preferred game watching criteria for college football:

*Texas team

*Big 12 team

     So this happened.

(Who am I kidding? He loves ALL football, and now I do too.)


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     We eventually made our way to Paesano’s where I had Shrimp Paesano, and he had Fettucini Alfredo with Shrimp on a bed of spinach.  Both dishes were wonderful.

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      Shrimp Paesano is a level of decadence that is hard to describe.  Here is a recipe I found online.

    One Version of Shrimp Paesano

1 pound shrimp
raw, deveined and shelled

1 pint light cream
2 tbs olive oil
or butter

2 cups flour, all-purpose

1 large egg yolk

1 stick butter

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup
parsley leaves
fresh, chopped

1/4 cup
lemon juice


Preheat oven to 400.

Reserve some cream for the sauce. Soak shrimp in the remaining cream for at least 30 minutes in the refigerator.

Drain and roll shrimp in flour then sauté in oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Do not turn shrimp!

Remove and place shrimp in baking dish with the sautéd side down in preheated oven. Turn oven to broil and broil for 5 minutes.

For sauce:

Mix egg yolk and lemon juice in half the butter and stir over low heat until melted, take off heat.

Add garlic and rest of butter and stir briskly until butter melts and sauce thickens. (Add small amount of 1/2 and 1/2 to thicken). Add chives and parsley.

Serve the sauce with the crispy shrimp and pasta.





Friday, September 18, 2009

Fall at Dollar Tree


     I certainly don’t live in an area where there is a ‘changing of the leaves’ on the fall calendar, but as long as I can stand outside when the first ‘norther’ blows in, I’m good.

     So for fall leaves , I look everywhere, and at Dollar Tree the price is right.

     I also found these treasures.  Since I now have a thing for birds, I loved these.


     I bought extras that I can spray paint white, antique gold, and Walnut- a WalMart spray paint -  that is an all-time great rusty brown colored paint. How could I just get one?  Birds travel in flocks, don’t they?

     Then I saw these.


     These are prints on light weight aluminum.

     And finally, more fall items in muted colors that I will use for my tablescape at Thanksgiving and around the house now.

IMGP0127 IMGP0125


     You better hurry!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Just a Note

       I am headed out to train mentor teachers for the next two days.  After that we are going out of town for a mini- trip before we have to head back to New Normal at the end of next week.

       Have a wonderful weekend!




Tuesday, September 15, 2009


    I opened my blog this afternoon, after a day of observing teachers,  and I gasped when I saw what looked like giant slabs of meat! Yes, I intended to include that photo, but now, in the light of day, it’s a little much.

     Sorry guys-  my husband cooks great rib eyes, but this may be too much information visually.

     Just another crazy day in paradise- from me to you.


Monday, September 14, 2009

John’s Rib Eyes

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     If our daughters are reading this post, their mouths are watering.  No one cooks a rib eye better than their Dad.

     He either buys an entire rack from Sam’s and slices them himself, or I look for them on sale at WalMart. 

     Yes.  WalMart.  If you are there early in the morning, there are usually packages that are 30% off.

     His secret ingredient?


     TexJoy Steak Seasoning.

     I have written about TexJoy before.  It can be found at Academy.  It is hands down the best all-around seasoning you will ever find.


Heat up a skillet with a little bit of vegetable oil, season the steaks, cook them on high heat until they look right, lower the heat to let them rest- especially if you like your steak medium well as I do- and enjoy.


     My contribution?  Salad , steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, and brussel sprouts roasted in the oven.

     Is that an even exchange of labor?

Tempt my Tummy TastyTuesday175pix Andrea's_Tues_at_the_Table_Red_Gingham_copy_thumb[1]

Visit these wonderful blogs for more great recipe ideas.

What Made Me Think of That?

“The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things…”

     This partial quotation from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking –Glass and What Alice Found There, was not the intended topic of today’s post, but my recollection of it initiated my thinking, as it usually does.

     You see I memorized this in high school, and it has  stayed with me, even when other things I learned did not( including geometry, algebra, trigonometry, and biology classifications).

     I have other obscure literary quotes that trigger the same reaction.

Don’t undo what I do!”

     This is a modified version of Annie Sullivan’s response to Captain Keller’s meddling in her attempts to teach Helen Keller, from William Gibson’s play The Miracle Worker.

     I have tried, with great dramatic flair to use this line in various situations with my husband.  It didn’t work. He was not impressed. Maybe it was overkill.  Was it so wrong to use that line with my husband when he has turned off the coffee pot before I have finished drinking coffee that morning?

After you my dear Alphonse.” 

     This line from Shirley Jackson’s short story of the same name, published in her collection of stories titled The Lottery, is about making assumptions. 

     True confession. This has been a fault of mine , as I assume I know what everyone is thinking and feeling- especially my daughters.  Warning!  Don’t do this. Not only will people not be impressed, they actually want their thoughts to remain private. What a concept.

     My topic for today’s post? Blogging. Apparently my mind has decided that will be for another day.

     Tune in tomorrow for more off topic thinking.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Tale of Two Grandmothers

     Growing up, I was fortunate to have the love and presence in my life of two, wonderful, different yet alike grandmothers.

     In memory, they impacted my life; in reality they continue to impact my grandsons’ lives because I want to be exactly like them. 

     Whatever grand-parenting model I have lodged in my memory bank is a combination of their love, their delight in me , added to the grandmother model of them all – my mother.

     Grandmother Mills, my paternal grandmother, lovingly called grandmother (because no better name existed), wore aprons, spoke softly, had soft hands, saved every letter ever written to her, gardened, grew all of her plants from cuttings in coffee cans, taught me to shell peas, never raised her voice,had 8 children, made homemade rolls and cinnamon rolls, named her 1-2-3 Cake Favorite Cake because it was my favorite, took me to the Baptist Church in Ricardo, Texas, canned, sewed, tatted, embroidered, smocked, said “Mercy!” and “I’ll declare” , owned a small store next to her house and had Lance peanuts in jars on the counter, was the absolute best cook in the world,

and smiled ,as if her love for me could not be contained ,whenever she saw me.

     Mamaw, my maternal grandmother, worked in the dry cleaners and laundromat that she and Papaw owned, she smoked, drove a red Cadillac with huge fins, made her grandkids sparkling burgundy (non-alcoholic) , served over crushed ice in colored aluminum glasses, let her grandkids walk to the movie theater, gave us money to buy cokes and popcorn at the concession stand, had a wonderful raspy voice that laughed heartily, named me Punkin, gave me her middle name Ellen, enjoyed going to the VFW, made pies good enough to sell, loved to dance, wore rouge, vacationed with Papaw, pulling an airstream trailer and caravanning with other trailer owners, made casseroles,

and smiled, as if her love for me could not be contained, whenever she saw me.




Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gardening and High School English

 ***If you are a gardener and are willing, I would appreciate your advice on any of the questions at the bottom of  this post.*** 

     In years’ past, after a brief, hot summer, I spent late August and early September trying to get my teaching voice back, my feet into shoes, and my body clock shifted. 

     On unusually daunting mornings,  I played Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones to propel myself out of my driveway and across the street to the high school parking lot.

     I literally lived that close to my job.  It was almost like walking down the hall.

     The point is gardening was not in my sights; high school students late to class, daring to sleep in class, or staring off into space in class were. 

     “Snap out of it!”, I enjoyed shouting. My English III AP  students just laughed. Those really were the good old days. Then I would laugh. Learning really gets enhanced when everyone is laughing.

     Again, the point is I need your gardening help and expertise.

Note: I live in zone 9, 6 inches from the surface of the sun.

* Can I replace the plants I lost this summer in October?

*Can I plant carpet grass this fall?

*I am planning two large, raised beds for next spring. Should I build them now, fill them with soil, and add magical substances to the soil as I wait for spring?

*What are those magical substances?

*Do you order seeds and plants from catalogues?  Which ones do you like?

*Do you grow your plants from seeds?

*Are you planting fall annuals?

Thank you-

I know right about now you feel like shouting, “Snap out of it!”


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Raining Memories


     It rained here today, hard. Although it only lasted a short time,  rain is the only moisture that is the natural, the intended, the gold standard of all watering .

     My father , as a dry land farmer, I believe would agree. That way of living requires the ultimate in rain hope.

     After it stopped, it was as if some sort of rapid, time lapsed photography went into motion. Everything began to stand taller. In fact, I did too.


     As I took this picture, I  remembered that I used to stand in this very spot and watch and laugh as our girls ran and exercised their 4H lambs, back and forth in the yard. 

     Does rain, that has been storing up in the heavens and not visiting for a very long while, bring back sweet spirits of memories past? It did today.

     Our crazy pug Sebastian, named because he was born in Sebastian, Texas, used to run with the girls, acting like he was in charge.

     Thinking of Sebastian makes me smile.  We entered him in the pet show at that year’s livestock show, and he didn’t win, but he acted like he did.

     Sweet, raining memories.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Milk Glass :Behind Closed Doors and White Wednesday


When I first discovered there was an actual White Wednesday, hosted by Kathleen  at Faded Charm, I knew I would join in some day.

I have collected milk glass for 20 plus years, and I use it all of the time.  My daughters collect it as well, and they have learned early to be a little more discriminating than I was when I first began my collecting. 

     You know how it it though; it is hard to walk away, no matter how simple the piece is (especially when the price is right).

This reveal has a slight twist however; this is my collection from behind closed doors (cabinet doors that is).


     I can’t tell you how many bowls of chocolate ice cream with almonds I had out of these bowls growing up. They belonged to my mother.

     This is certainly not a normal, family size serving dish for ice cream in our family.        

     The solution? My brother and I mastered the art of ice cream jack-hammering- a life-long skill with questionable consequences.

     The milk man delivered Hygeia milk, eggs, and ice cream every week to the ranch , guaranteeing a constant supply.


     Oh my. This photo is a little bit telling… is this too much information? I feel like I have opened my purse and said, ‘here- look inside.’  You do not have to plan an intervention.

     Surely there is a collector out there somewhere who can relate?  I repeat. I use my milk glass all of the time.


     I went through a stage where I collected sugar and creamer sets.  I lost a few sets in my dish disaster (see previous post), but these survived.


     I have bowls, trays, serving pieces, dishes, dessert sets, punch bowls and cups (plural).


     One of my favorite things to do is have an all white table at my ladies’/teachers’ Christmas parties. 

     Christmas food looks wonderful in milk glass on top of deep red velvet- arranged at varying levels- using books for props.


          My girls are not fond of grapes, but I love them.  If you have this pitcher , you know it weighs fifty pounds, empty.


     I even have it in the hall bath- on top of a cabinet. It looks wonderful against Ralph Lauren’s metallic charcoal paint.

     Another milk glass favorite? My obsession with milk glass cake pedestals, but that is for another day.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Welcome Fall


     In order to welcome fall where I live, with the colors and flowers signifying the season, I almost have to wish it so.  It reminds me of that great line in Field of Dreams: ‘build it and they will come’ , faux or otherwise.

       In doing so, I get to put my own spin on those first wonderful days, when no matter how hot it is, you know something is getting ready to change.


     Do real fall flowers, and leaves have glitter and bling and appear in varying colors of electric orange?  No, but I sure like them that way, and I recycle them year after year.



     The invitation and welcome to early fall months in my house says the same thing every year: welcome cooler weather, welcome Texas high school/college football, and welcome favorite family comfort foods .

     My favorite message of love and nurturing this time of year?

“I think I’ll make a pot of soup today.”


     I also love winding all of my fall things around things I already have sitting out. Every piece of fall in my house has to fit in ,no matter who was sitting there first. The three ceramic leaves were a find at the flea market for 50 cents.




                    **Happy Early Fall**

Visit these wonderful blogs to celebrate Three or More Tuesday at The Gypsy’s Corner, and 2nd Time Around at A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.


second time around tuesday

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Grocery Shopping and Sunday Favorites

Sunday Favorites  

   Thank you Chari at Happy to Design for another chance at sharing our Sunday Favorites.


     While growing up, my mother used simple, regular grocery store ingredients (along with a butchered, packaged side of beef) to create delicious meals, three times a day.

     We traveled to the nearest grocery store,  45 miles north of the ranch, loaded up several baskets, signed the ticket, because groceries were provided for the ranch manager’s family, and headed home- breaking into a sack of cookies along the way. We called this buying ‘big’ groceries.

Note: The long term side effects of signing tickets and eating cookies randomly is a topic for another day.

     My mother had a gold Toronado (remember those?), and she drove fast. Can you picture this? She had to. We certainly didn’t want the ice cream to melt.


     One of these was waiting in the garage when we arrived home.

grocery cart

     She somehow persuaded the manager at HEB in Falfurrias, Texas to lend her one for the duration. Unloading was easy and efficient, especially since the sidewalk from the driveway to the back door was about 50 yards.

     Once inside, we put things away- not in a pantry but in a shallow, three can deep cabinet, that she had built next to the refrigerator. She taught me that a shallow cabinet for canned goods was better.

     Canned goods were not the no-no that some cooks profess today.

(Confession: I love Del Monte whole green beans with a hamburger patty, grilled onions, and a glass of tea. When I am working on not eating sugar and flour ,that seems to off-set the desire for cookie eating spells.)

whole green beans

     When you live on a ranch 45 miles from town, stocking up is important. Hence, I love to stock up. Most collectors do, don’t they?


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