Saturday, December 31, 2011

Photo Organization Project and some TIPS


My decision to begin a long overdue

project usually begins with a sense of urgency.

This time was no different.

I literally woke up one day and thought,

”I need to get all of our photographs organized.”


*I have a million photos on my hard drive.

*I have transferred these photos to an external hard drive that I do not understand, don’t know how to access, and don’t trust.

*Walgreen’s sends me frequent emails stating how inexpensive it is to have prints and CDs created.

*I have 40 year old albums that now have fossilized photographs cemented to their adhesive pages.

Now the urgency makes sense, right?


At that point of decision-making, I still wasn’t ready.

I needed to really be honest about what I was willing to do and how much time I was willing to spend .

My system may not seem like a permanent solution to people far more organized, but it is a good solution for me.

Upon the recommendation of my friend Nancy ,

I went to Hobby Lobby and bought photo boxes.

They were $3.99 and had an additional discount.

I then created the labels for my boxes by family member’s name.

I am not concerned with chronological order.

That ship has sailed.


I created labels, remembering to create a label for something

important to me.


I plan to add a box labeled Blog as well.

Here are a few additional tips:

*Do not skip the soul searching step.  It may work better for you to spend more time

with more steps.

I just couldn’t do it.  It just isn’t in my DNA.

*Do not try and remove fossilized photos from old albums to reorganize them.

It isn’t going to end well.

They’ve been doing fine all these years.

I also decided to let that go.

* I didn’t want giant photo boxes.  I have standard cabinets/shelves,

and I wanted simple, easy access.  I didn’t want to bang myself in the head each time

I took a box off the shelf.

*I also learned that Walgreen’s has a scanning kiosk.

Yes, I have a scanner with my printer, but I would much rather take stacks of

old photos to Walgreen’s, scan them, and have a CD created all at one time.

I can then have CDs created for family members.

*Next, I need to figure out a system for my memory cards.

I haven’t had a system quite honestly.

Do you have any suggestions?

Do any of you use card readers?

Do you download photos from your camera directly to your hard drive?

Please offer your own ideas .


PS.  I also decided to not fight the battle of trying to insert sticky labels inside the metal


I bet you aren’t surprised!

Happy New Year dear friends!

I have decided to name my system:

It is What it Is Photo System.

Friday, December 30, 2011

It’s Time for Black-Eyed Peas



Black-eyed pea time is right around the corner,

and I have all of the ingredients purchased.


That’s it folks.

My black eyed pea job is done.


Because my husband takes over from here.


I am going to now reveal his black-eyed pea

deliciousness secret.

He prepares them in the same way he makes

frijoles a la charra or pinto beans.

New’s Year Day I go back on duty

and make cornbread and heat up the ham.

Black-Eyed Peas

In a skillet, saute 1 large chopped onion and cut pieces of bacon.

Add minced garlic.

Once the onions are translucent, set aside.

In a soup pan , cover 2 lbs. of dried peas with water

and bring them to a boil.

Boil for a few minutes and then remove them from the heat.

Let them sit a few minutes.

Drain off the water and add fresh water.

Add the onion, bacon, and garlic and add an extra chopped onion .

Cook until tender adding just a sprinkle of chili powder and chopped cilantro

at the end.



I know this is a vague recipe, but trust me- I had questioned my husband all I could!


Happy New Year!



Thursday, December 29, 2011

Try This in 2012


(taken at a Chicago train station while hurrying to catch Katherine during the marathon)

As 2009 closed, I selected my word for the next year as


I wrote about that here.

At the end of 2010,

it was twofold:


I wrote about that here.

(one of the many beautiful distractions along the marathon route)

So now I wait…

because the words that keep surfacing in

my dice throwing thinking are unusual.

Surely this can’t be right?

I guarantee you will not find these words listed on many end of the year


I used these words in my classroom,

right before my high school English students

started an exam or wrote an essay.

They have just enough

gun slinging drama

to suit my nature,

and just enough of my upbringing in them

to make me smile.

And so my words for




This is more than what it appears.


Because only YOU can determine what it means.



I am starting my Get After It Living today, because another thing

we say in my family is,

“We’re burning daylight.”


Happy ‘Get After It’ New Year!



Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Images and Leaking Pipes


This morning when I learned that a pipe in our attic was leaking

and water was running down the wall of our den,

I looked around and smiled.

It really is ALL good.

This holiday season has not been been perfect

but it has been


Our youngest daughter got here safely,

our middle daughter is now officially on vacation

and laughing with her sister,

and we will see our oldest daughter and her family

on Christmas Day.

Leak all you want crazy pipe.



Friends have been in my home this holiday season,

and I spent wonderful time in the homes of friends.

I have danced till my feet were numb,

I have laughed so hard I thought my sides were going to split,

I have learned more about creating a smokey eye than anyone wants to hear,

and I had dental surgery.

Christmas Party 2011 038

(a centerpiece I created for our party)

We hosted a wonderful Christmas Party and Dance with dear, dear friends.

Christmas Party 2011 040

(a second centerpiece I created for our party)


I used my Christmas china this season, which makes my heart go pitter patter.

My husband bought this china for me on the way to my appointment in

Austin at the Teacher Retirement System office.

I was retiring after 32 years.

It is amazing how 75% off Christmas china makes the future look



I slipped into the local liquor store one morning,

in the bright light of day,

in disguise,

to buy a pint of rum to bake a rum cake

using real rum.

I changed the name of the cake to

Flammable Rum Cake.

My verdict?

If you are going to drink rum, drink rum.

If you are going to bake a cake, bake a cake.

However, those activities, in my opinion, do not need to mix.

It is not a Win Win.


I sat in the Nap Room this morning with

my husband talking about the future

while a variety of humble, polite workmen

came by to diagnose the problem.

The roof man said check with the AC man who

said we

needed a plumber.

I called the roof man back who sent a plumber in 20 minutes.

I couldn’t

stop smiling.

The plumber’s young son sat politely on our patio kicking his legs

in the leaves.

We smiled at each other.


I bought 9 dozen tamales to have Christmas Eve

and to take to my daughter’s house:

5 chicken and cream cheese

and 4 pork.


Christmas Eve Menu


chili con queso



and chili con carne

I made fudge using the recipe on the

back of the marshmallow cream jar.

I won’t be doing that again.

My mother’s recipe from the back of the Hershey cocoa can is the best,

yet nothing makes me smile bigger than planning and preparing

holiday food for my family.


So go ahead pipes;

leak your heart out.





Merry Christmas!









Monday, December 19, 2011

God is in my Glitter: A Re-Post


Three trees, one tree, half a tree, no tree-
it matters not.
Decorating for Christmas is so rewarding to me, I thought that I would identify why.
*It is about who I am because of what I enjoy .
*It breaks the boundary of the world’s reason for the season.

*It reminds me- in my own quirky way-
that if I were lucky enough to be in that manger- AT THAT MOMENT-
I would , in my own way,
to show love and gratitude and humility, say,
“Let’s move this here. Wouldn’t this be more comfortable? Do you need anything? What can I do to help?”
*In that manger, I would be (I often am) a Martha in a Mary’s world-
but it occurs to me that God knows that, and I believe HE loves me anyway- even in all of my attempts to

bedazzle things around me.

HE knows my poinsettias are red and gold and sometimes pink.

*I understand Martha’s need to fix and arrange and prepare and beautify.
I think Martha needs a shout out-

“Hey Martha, I understand why you think you need to be in the kitchen- I get it.

Here is what works for me though- when the party is over and your gift of hospitality has weakened your spirit,

Jesus likes to sit on the couch with us and prop his feet up too. 

Those are the best conversations.
HE really does get what drives us.
When I say to HIM, ‘I can’t believe she said that’,

or ‘why didn’t she come?’,

HE rolls his eyes and says
‘You are tired, let it go.’
And then we laugh.
*I know the world thinks God is not in the glitter, but HE is in mine.

Merry Christmas Everyone!
You are all wonderful.

Enjoy every minute of this wonderful season.

I’ll be back in a bit.

I am off to enjoy the glitter.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fish or Cut Bait Blogging: Daybook December 18, 2011


Outside My Window

I may as well have a Widow’s Walk on my roof,

as in the days when wives stood watch

waiting for their husbands to arrive safely

from a journey at sea.

Our youngest daughter is driving home today

for Christmas

from Dallas (minimum 8 hours).

And so traveling mercies are on my mind.


Lately, I have been reading….

books about photography that were collecting dust

on my bookshelves.

I am waiting for the exposure triangle of aperture,

shutter speed, and ISO to


as I have been assured it will, because it is, alledgedly,

soooooo easy.

Flashback:  Riviera, Texas Elementary School

I am reading a math problem that begins with

“If a bus full of 36 children leaves school at

3:30 pm, and the bus driver drives at 50 miles per hour…”

And my creative, literary, open-ended, big idea brain starts to shut down.

And so I continue to wait for the exposure triangle to click.


This all goes to a list I have

been assembling in my mind.

This list is a typically quirky

White Spray Paint list,

including but not limited to:

* learning more about smokey eye makeup


*fish or cut bait blogging.

I found the magical solution to smokey eye makeup


(for subdued daytime wear and as a solution to the sagging eyelids

I now have)

at the

Laura Mercier counter yesterday.



I am going to change some vocabulary here-

I do not like words like sagging  or drooping.

How about listless eyelids?

Unconcerned eyelids?

Disinteristed eyelids?

And so my quirky list continues.

It is time to fish or cut bait in my blogging.

I know-

those of us who are not blogging professionally

all feel this way periodically.

Blogging becomes an idea

I have to think of to write a post about,

rather than a spontaneous

feeling I can’t wait to write about.

When that happens for me, it may as well be a

Riviera Elementary word problem.

And so, is there a remedy for this feeling? 


Fish or cut bait.

And yes, I am going to leave it at that.

If you have ever felt this way, you know what I mean.


PS. I am going to fish.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Piling It On



What started as a method for sorting my Christmas decorations,

created its own system of laid back decorating.

I just started piling ornaments in containers and on surfaces that needed color.

It was so easy and so much fun.



It really doesn’t have to be complicated to look beautiful.




I may never hang another ornament.

Piling it on is just too easy to resist.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ranch Recipe #8: Easy Chocolate Candy


If you are lucky enough to have a wonderful neighbor

like I do,

as in


of the beautiful blog

Ladybug Creek,

who brings by amazingly delicious homemade fudge,

which I was tempted to hide and keep all

to myself,

which in turn created the inner dialogue

in my steel trap mind






then you will not need this easy chocolate candy recipe.

Here it is just in case.


Nonnie’s (My Mother) Easy Chocolate Candy

1 package of almond bark

1package of Toll House chocolate chips

1 jar salted, roasted peanuts

Begin by spreading sheets of wax paper on your kitchen counter.

Melt the entire package of almond bark in the microwave-

in a microwave safe bowl.

I begin this process 3-4 minutes at a time.

When the bark is softened, give it a good stir

and pour in the package of chocolate chips.

Stir until glossy and well blended.

Now pour in the entire jar of peanuts and stir until well mixed.

Using a spoon, drop small cookie size amounts of candy onto the wax paper.

Let it harden and


Dear Daughters: Decorating at Christmas, Part I


Dear Daughters,

This is one of those occasions and seasons


it is very important that you

open up all the stops,

let go of the tight rein of what you think

you should be thinking and doing,

and enjoy it



Over the years at Christmas,

you have seen me


everything in my line of vision,

including you,

if you stood still long enough.

And contrary to the naysayers,

who do not subscribe to the idea that a little


Christmas decorating and the Divine reason for this  season are


I respectfully disagree.

Getting dolled up

is one of the ways

the women in our family

have always shown

their loved ones and their friends,

both the Divine and

the Divinely bestowed,

that it is time to


You are also smart enough to know

that decorating at Christmas is not about the money spent,

the collections stored,

the ladders climbed to hang one more thing,


the color schemes changed.

I have done all of the above , and

I have learned at this stage in my life

It is about

knowing and accepting


I am doing it.

That is the motive that needs examining-

not whether or not I need more mercury glass votives.

If in the balance ,

of your day to day life

decorating at Christmas

is one of the ways

you are called to

illustrate the message in your home

that you are celebrating,

it is

If in the balance of that same precious life (yours),

you are too tired,

too worried,

too afraid,

and too overwhelmed

to decorate as if your glue gun is on fire,

I know from past experience

that the season’s


will understand.

It really is






Linking to the wonderful Suzanne’s


at Privet and Holly.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A White Tree


Last year I fell in love with my middle daughter’s

white Christmas tree,

so I did what any

self-respecting mother would do…

the day after Christmas when Wal-Mart’s 7 1/2 foot white tree,

that was originally $40 went down to $20,

I copied her.

I then proceeded to forget that I had bought one,

until it was un-earthed several weeks ago,


‘moving the Christmas decoration boxes into the house day’

with Chapa’s moving.

Please tell me you periodically forget what you bought half price the year before???


It is perfect in the Nap Room.

In fact, gold and white is made for this space.


I used a big remnant of white organza as the tree skirt.

And my well-loved ornaments from years’ past

fit in perfectly.








Have a wonderful Monday!



Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ranch Recipe #7 Caldo


On rare cold days in South Texas, everyone I know

looks for the best bowl of caldo (soup) they can find.

Although the ingredients for both caldo de pollo

(chicken soup)


caldo de res

(beef soup)

are very humble,

creating either is an art.

Trust me- I have tried and failed.

I wish I could include some sort of scratch and sniff/taste tab

here to demonstrate exactly what I mean.

There is a distinctive flavor to caldo that I imagine

is a result of the cook and years of experience.

Along the way, I have settled

on a derivation that has these important ingredients:


If you are making caldo ,

purchase the green topped Knorr’s caldo de pollo

and the red topped caldo de tomate  bouillion.

Then you must have this.


Note:  to really gain the flavor that peppercorn, comino, and garlic pods

have to offer, you must use a molcajete and grind the spices.


I haven’t done that yet, which may be the problem.

Here is the recipe for the soup I prepared today.

Laura’s Caldo

brown a package of boneless stew meat and a large chopped onion

in about 2 tablespoons of oil

sprinkle the beef with your favorite spices

(I used Nature’s Seasoning and TexJoy)


chopped carrots and potatoes (large chunks)

stir for a moment until the denser vegetables have cooked a bit

add a large can of whole tomatoes

and a can of diced tomatoes

add sliced Mexican squash ,

a small package of frozen corn kernels

and enough water to create soup

at this point I stirred in a heaping tablespoon (or two) of Knorr’s

caldo de tomate

I then sprinkled in ground cumin (comino) to taste

about five minutes before serving, I sprinkled in a handful of

chopped cilantro leaves



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