Monday, December 31, 2012

Just Dance


about 30 minutes before midnight,

after my eyes have crossed from watching football all evening,

I am going to hook up my IPod,

and play one of my all-time favorite songs from 1977.

And then I am going to dance.

I invite you to join me. There’s no time to waste.

We’re burning daylight.

Happy New Year!


My word for 2013 is going to be


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Top Post 2012


Dear Friends-

The post below had the highest number of page views this past year,

and that tickles me because the message I have shared here really speaks to

who I am and how I feel about home design.

I also get tickled when I see the term DIY.

When I see that, I always want to laugh and shout,

“…for goodness sake of course I am doing it myself”-

but I digress.

Enjoy this re-post and thank you for reading it the first time.

It is a Dear Daughters post .


blue and white bedroom


There really is no mystery here.

I promise.
In fact your eye is far beyond mine was at your age(s).
Let’s pretend you asked my opinion about design anyway…

Here are a few


Key Point #1:  In the world of daily real world design (where we live), I have realized

that a key distinction (in addition to talent and training) that separates confident, successful

and even professional  designers

from you and me



They are simply confident in the doing of it all.

My recommendation when you are standing in the middle of your living room feeling doubts?

Think ‘this is not world peace.’

Key Point#2:    My confidence is not really confidence.
It is rather

the mother of invention,

the shoestring budget,

the sciatic nerve pain from moving furniture for a million years with my hips because I just HAD to try it right then,

the shouting, when in a bind on a step stool with small sharp nails in my mouth, to anyone who will listen,


the avoidance of furniture stores,

and the pleasure I find in seeing what you do.

blue and white bedroom 3

Key Point #3:  You do not have to know what you like.

Like it all.

You know how we gravitate to the diverse anyway?

Your home is your love of diversity with a roof.

It is what we do-

as in invite everyone.

Be very, very glad I realized early on

that nothing good could happen in a world of cookie cutter harvest gold and avocado green.

I so cookie cutter tried.

blue and white bedroom 2

In 1958, when Nonnie (my mother) painted her kitchen at the ranch

bright white,

with white cabinets,

used black wrought iron pulls,

and installed red formica countertops,

she wasn’t looking for like minded people.

How can you dance in the kitchen to Ray Charles

if it looks like everyone else’s?

Love, Mom



Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dear Daughters: Preparing for 2013

You don't have to have it all figured out to move forward


Dear Daughters,

As 2013 quickly approaches,

with all of the excitement and clean slates that implies,

‘you really don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward’.


Isn’t that a relief?

Believe me I have tried the opposite.

In years past, I’d get myself all wound tight, (or in a tizzy as Dad would say),

making lists,

reading diet books,

and searching for the perfect spiritual meditation book to transform my mind and my thinking.

If I may, I have an alternate to tizzy-ness to recommend.

Just do the next right thing.

For example, a moment ago I couldn’t stand the clutter in my pantry cabinet (after all of the holiday cooking I have done) another moment.

I did a little bit of straightening and consolidating and now I can breathe.

In fact, while doing that straightening , this post idea came to mind.

That is where the magic occurs. One thing really does lead to another.

Which leads to my next suggestion.

Honor who you are. 


As amazing bloggers started posting their Top 12 Projects of 2012,

I actually thought,

if I try to do that and re-post all those photos ,

I may as well poke a stick in my eye.

So instead,

I honored the spirit of this quirky blog,

that I have likened to that thrift store

in the ‘interesting’ part of town,

that is sometimes open but sometimes closed,

but may have something you didn’t know you needed.

And finally,

instead of all of the striving,

read Anne Lamott’s new book on prayer titled

Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers.

That pretty much sums it up.

It really is that simple.

You are so loved,


Oh and

Happy New Year!

(To hedge your bets- don’t forget your black-eyed peas!)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas everyone!

Have a blessed Christmas with family and friends,

and know that I am so grateful for


A new year is right around the corner!

Can you believe it?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas in the day to day


It is in the day to day that Christmas surfaces.

It is in unloading sacks and sacks of groceries,

saying a prayer of gratitude while realizing once again that I bought too much.


It is in the dirty dishes and the adage that

‘many hands make light work’

and in the reflecting I do when alone at that same sink.


It is in casual meals on the patio with family and little white lights twinkling

and Delia’s tamales.


And it is in finding, in the back of a cabinet, my mother’s

small green punch bowl and punch cups.

What a treat.


How do you enjoy the day to day during this wonderful season?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Home Tour 2012


Dear Friends,

As I write this, my grandsons are assembling Lego kits a few feet away,

and my favorite cookbooks are sitting on the dining table so I can make one of my 6:00 am grocery shopping trips to HEB tomorrow morning.

I have tamales to pick up at Delia’s at noon tomorrow

and a cookie baking session with my grandsons after that.

I know my father will stop by often to sit and watch the action.

These are the things that feed my soul in this quirky home

I love so much.

Welcome and Merry Christmas!


Kitchen Sitting Area









Formal Dining Room










Linking to: 
Fridays Unfolded @ StuffandNonsense
Show and Tell Friday @ MyRomanticHome
Frugal Friday @TheShabbyNest
Catch as Catch Can @MyRepurposedLife
Furniture Friday@DecoratingInsanity
Pinworthy Projects @JustUsFourBlog
Live Laugh Link @live.Laugh.Rowe
Friday Free For All @ FiveDays5Ways
Inspiration Friday @ AtThePicketFence
Addicts (not so) Anonymous Link Party @ Addicted2Decorating
EBTKS @ ALittleKnickKnack
Fabulously Creative Friday @JenniferRizzo
Vintage Inspiration @CommonGround
Party With Junkin Joe @TheCottageMarket
Weekend Wrap UP Party @ TatertotsandJello 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Entertaining and a Tip

I have had the pleasure over the years of
hosting many parties in our home.

The most important thing for me is that everyone feels comfortable
and relaxed and that the food is good.

(Who am I kidding?  It can be a LOT more complicated than that. What can cause that complication?  I do.)

And so my tip today, during this hectic , busy season
is simple:

Know what to buy.

That alone can be such a huge stress reliever.
And so, I found my ‘one’ thing
years ago when I discovered this chocolate cake with chocolate icing from
Esperanza’s Cake Shop in Alamo, Texas.

It is located in a humble storefront near the railroad tracks near downtown Alamo.

It is delicious and it is fresh.

And no, there is no fondant icing entombing stale layers
or a price tag that makes your eyes cross.

It’s simple and it is good
and the bakery is low profile-
my favorite combination. 

I add fresh strawberries and place it on my favorite silver cake stand from Casa Guero in Laredo, and I am done.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day


One of the continued joys of being a novice gardener-

even though I have been devoting time and effort to my garden for about 4 years now-

is that I am constantly surprised by something blooming.

Every day really is a new day for me in

Zone 9 down in deep South Texas, with December temperatures in the high 80’s,

and the occasional drought thrown in.

Ignorance really can be bliss.

I may claim to be a novice gardener

for YEARS.


So imagine my surprise to find that in the

past week or so, things around my place seem relatively

happy and content.



you know what I am about to say…

I don’t know why.

But I’m grateful


pleased all wrapped into one.




Linking to:

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day December 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Ranch Recipes # 11 Queso Blanco Con Espinaca


My mother was a master at creating delicious appetizers

during the holiday season,

and in honor of her feisty spirit, creative nature,

hard work ethic,

great mothering,

and courage,

I’d like to introduce a young woman who has all of these traits and more:


Heather Broughton Marks.

Now meet her recipe for Queso Blanco Con Espinaca

(which translates to

White Cheese with Spinach)

and is a new honorary member of

Ranch Recipes.

Prepare to be catapulted into another dimension of

melted cheese/chili con queso wonder.


Queso Blanco con Espinaca

2 small cans green chiles

1/2 small can of Herdez salsa verde

fresh spinach (stems removed, half bag or to taste)

1 pkg cream cheese

1 large block of Velveeta (or HEB brand) queso blanco, cubed 

Marvel of marvels,

who knew Velveeta came in white???

Add items to a crock pot or microwaveable bowl in the order listed above. Heat  and stir until smooth.
*Can be thinned out with milk or cream, if desired
**Chopped jalapenos can be added for extra heat



Thank you Heather for contributing to Ranch Recipes.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Flea Market Angel


To the original owner of this wooden angel I now have

sitting in my foyer,

just know that I love her.

I gasped when I found her,

I smiled as I toted her to the car,

and I smiled again this morning as I took her photo.

Whoever you are previous owner,

thank you and Merry Christmas.


She is sitting proudly among her

flea market siblings:

the turquoise lamp I wrestled out of a flea market box,

the bust from the flea market I bargained for in Spanish and described here,

and she is sitting on a half table from the flea market I couldn’t resist.

She is in good, redeemed company.


And yes, she had some wear and tear.

After all I bet her journey to my flea market in the valley

is an interesting story.

But she made it,

and I had just the perfect concealer.



again thank you.

I will take good care of her.

It’s all OK.

She will be so cherished in fact, that she will be the first thing family and friends see

as they walk in my home.

Thank you previous owner,

and whatever you are going through


these challenges in life are no step for a stepper.

You can do it.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dear Daughters: Decorating for Christmas


Dear Daughters,

I have decorated our home for Christmas many different ways,

and without a doubt,

this year has been the


In fact,

as I sit here writing this,

I am still not quite finished.

Lesson #1

There is no schedule; there is no deadline.

Just enjoy the process.

When we remodeled this house

23 years ago,

this room, which we call the study,

was the front porch.

The floor still has a slight slant.

I find that endearing, don’t you?

After all, I’m a little slanted too.

Lesson #2

Embrace the odd, the quirky, the slanted, the not so precious. 

That is where treasures are found.


At a time in my life when the world talks about


I have wondered why I keep doing this-

even as slowly as I have this year.


I think it is because there are some things- some traditions-

that are just too special

to neglect.

I am not quite ready to file this away in the downsize folder.

Lesson #3

You get to decide how you feel about this in your home and in your life.

Isn’t that wonderful?


And finally,

this decorating business is all about my love of you, and Dad,

and traditions, and sparkle.


You cause that sparkle.




Linking to:

Nifty Thrifty Tuesday

Cowgirl Up

Wow Us Wednesdays

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It’s Time, Right?

Thanksgiving 2011

It’s time, right?

To get on the road with the thawing turkey in the backseat,

the Delia’s tamales for Saturday’s Aggie game in tow,

the sacks and sacks of groceries stuck in every nook and cranny,

the crate of Christmas decorations (found in the Christmas closet) it is time to share with my daughters for their homes,

and the mantra ‘I think I can, I think I can ,I think I can’, when I think about facing the anxiety of making giblet gravy tomorrow.

A very dear friend said to me recently, when I was worrying about how to handle challenges in my life,

”It’s all about the relationship Laura.  Protect that and everything will be OK.”

So 7 hours laughing in the truck and talking about football with my husband and not worrying about the future is about the relationship,

and supper last night at Luby’s with my father because he will be celebrating Thanksgiving with my brother’s family is about the relationship,

and remembering to ask myself whose standard it is ,when feeling aggravated or irritable is about protecting my relationships at large.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving,



Monday, November 19, 2012



If you were to question anyone who sat anywhere near me when our daughters were

playing volleyball, running track, playing tennis, showing lambs, competing in debate tournaments

or one act play, let’s just say I may have been a little intense-

when I wasn’t hiding my eyes or sticking my fingers in my ears.

Nothing, however, prepared me for this.

Every feeling I have as a grandmother grows exponentially,

as in what-a sized, amped up, increased to the nth degree.

Add trying to take an action shot through a small opening in a chain link fence at a baseball

tournament, praying something will be in focus, and I am fanatically exhausted.

It is wonderful.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Food Groups


If someone would just drop off a plate of this (fresh steamed vegetables and a grilled chicken breast) every night, then I wouldn’t be tempted to think of ways to use this.


But have you ever had these?


Magic Bars.


Recipe here.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Last year’s After Christmas Shopping


The Thanksgiving groceries have been purchased (after multiple 6:00 am trips to HEB).

The packing for our Thanksgiving trip to our oldest daughter’s house has begun.

So, a little digging in the Christmas closet seemed harmless enough…


Mercy, as my grandmother would say.

PLEASE tell me that you purchased Christmas ornaments last year, at a price you couldn’t resist,

and after packing them safely away, YOU FORGOT WHAT YOU BOUGHT???


As a result of pulling things out of sacks and going ‘what'?’,

I made two important decisions.

A.  I. may. not. go. after. Christmas. shopping. this.year,


B.  I am going to stop digging in the Christmas closet and watch the Aggie game, while looking for a great sweet potato casserole recipe.

Have a great weekend!



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