Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mother Nature: Before and After



Thursday, March 29th, at about 8:30 pm

a storm, the likes I have never seen- , hit our area.

I learned something about myself that night that is pretty

indicative of my personality.

As my husband and I stood in the center

hallway of our house, I began to put on my shoes and a rain


“What are you doing?”, my husband asked.

I said, “I am NOT going to be trapped under a house,

I am going to RUN out in this if I need to.”

And so after it finally subsided, and we were both safe,

and I didn’t have to do anything quite so crazy,

I looked out the next morning at what

Mother Nature had done.


Nine trees were severely damaged.

One will take days to cut up and haul away.


We have about six trees with huge , torn trunks and limbs.

The twin to this wrought iron fence is bent under all of this.




(Shattered glass from a patio table)

My tomato plants that looked like this,


now look like this.

I lost about 100 zinnias.


This all on the heels of my yard looking so pretty

and even festive.

But there is a lesson here.


      As my father visited this evening ,and we viewed the damage,

he said-

“You know Sis- when things have been whipped around hard,

they usually come back even better.”


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Growing Gardenias: It’s A Cinch


Herein lies the moral of this story.

If you struggled for 4 years trying to grow gorgeous,

fragrant gardenias in your yard, in Zone 9,

in deep South Texas,

and if you witnessed multiple gardenia plants
you purchased


while in your care,

and if you actually heard gardenia plants whisper

while you walked past them in nurseries,

”Please, no, no, not me…not me…don’t pick me…”

then this

It’s a Cinch Message

is for you.


You simply buy two plants at a reasonable price ($4 each),

without ANY expectations,


adopting a I COULD CARE LESS attitude,

you drive them home,

forget about them,

and then remember to plant them in a shady area,

and they will then bloom.

Who knew?


Apparently, they even bloomed, and I didn’t notice.


And so dear friends,

the message is a simple one.


(yes, I know- I not only talk to my plants,

I have a dysfunctional relationship with them as well…)

It’s a cinch!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ranch Recipe #9: Easiest Ever Strawberry Cake


Thanks to Teresa at Our Southern Country Home and Farm,

this cake recipe

is now an honorary member of

Ranch Recipes,

my collection of favorite family recipes

created in my mother’s kitchen on a ranch in South Texas.

I first wrote about them here.

Easiest Strawberry Cake Ever

1 yellow cake mix
1 8 oz. container of cool whip
2 14 oz. cans sweetened condensed milk
2 16 oz. frozen sliced strawberries in sugar

(In Teresa’s words)
Bake cake mix as directed on box, but bake in a pan with sides .
While fresh out of oven and still hot, poke holes in cake with a fork and pour both cans of sweetened condensed milk over cake. (Note: I just used one can and it was plenty.)

Let cool, and pour thawed strawberries and juice over the cooled cake, then spread cool whip over top and refrigerate until gone (won't be long).
If you don't want to use strawberries, you can use any fruit you choose, any kind of candy bars shredded in place of the strawberries, just what ever you choose. I personally think I could just pour the sweetened condensed milk over the cake and eat it just like that. It is always a huge hit any time I make it. It is great on a hot day because it is refrigerated and cold.

Ok ladies.

Here’s the deal.

This cake is TO.DIE.FOR.

It would be easy to ‘fork it to death’, as my friend JB would say.

I may or may not have done that very thing.

It would be wonderful for Easter.

Thank you to Teresa.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Faux Twitter: Spray Painting Rugs


(My Thoughts)

4:30 pm     Boy these outdoor rugs look awful, but if I have to go to Wal Mart , I’ll need to get dressed in something other than my caftan from Ross, so forget that.

4:35 pm     Hmmm. I painted the bench NEXT to the rugs… why not?


4:45 pm    Which reminds me.  This is the all-time prettiest cobalt blue paint known to man.

I love it because it is talavera blue.


5:00 pm     Spray, spray, spray.  This makes me feel so smart except for the blue paint spots all over my arms.


5:15 pm    Oh my… this looks amazing, and I stayed in my robe- woohoo!



Sunday, March 18, 2012

Entertaining Myself


Late yesterday afternoon,

during that time of day in daylight savings time

I like to call that ‘in between time’,


after a hard fought Saturday working in the yard,

I plopped myself down and looked at some of my favorite things.

(Insert soundtrack of my life here.)
With my IPod playing,

and a cold drink in hand,

I did what I have done contentedly


I entertained myself.


As it ‘got dark’, here is what I saw and thought.


Me:  ‘I love this olive tree so much.  It is old but still likes to look good when dolled up. That makes me smile.
I can relate.’


Me:  ‘Creating bokeh in photos is so much fun.  It makes things look great.

I wonder if my husband would walk behind me with little white lights so I can be framed in bokeh?’


Me: ‘OK. Time to get up.

It’s time to dance, especially in front of the den window

where my husband is watching basketball . That makes me laugh thinking about it,

which is one of my favorite ways to



Linking to



Thursday, March 15, 2012

Weird Science Gardening


Gardening is such a relatively new

obsession (4 years)

for me,

I still holler

”John!  Come look!”

when I spot something freaky.

I imagine most experienced gardeners know exactly

what the deal is.

I do NOT.

Remember this discovery?


So what in the world happened to my

Knockout Rose??


Monday, March 12, 2012



Growing up in South Texas in ranching country,

I avoided cactus as much as possible

Today, in my world of gardening that gives me such

back breaking,



I have fallen in love with succulents.


I enjoyed succulents last spring,

planting them in

antique Mexican pottery.

I won’t be planting anything in this piece, however.

I love it too much to hide it.


Find an interesting container and head to Wal Mart or Home Depot.

The investment is small-


It can all be assembled in minutes,

(using cactus/palm potting soil)

and the beauty of succulents is

they don’t mind being



It’s fun.



Linking to

Cowgirl Up at Cedar Hill Ranch

Nifty Thrifty Tuesday at Coastal Charm

Tuesday's Treasures at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Daybook March 11, 2012


Outside My Window

I can see my new hot pink and lime green coleus.

On a quick trip to Montgomery this past week to deliver birthday

gifts to our grandsons,

I spotted these at the Willis Kroger.

I almost swooned.
(Dramatic I know. )

I know hot pink and lime green may not have been on

God’s original

botanical color wheel,

but I am so glad

these colors now are.

I should have bought them ALL.


Sunday lunch after church:  Pollo Palenque

grilled chicken

steamed broccoli, zucchini, and carrots

and avocado salsa


For Sunday Supper?

My husband’s roast

with squash, potatoes, carrots, and onions.



(hot pink geraniums)


I Am Thinking

I need to re-read Hunger Games.

The movie premieres March 23rd.

I read the trilogy over a year ago.

A year ago to me,

at this point in life,

should be measured in dog years.

That was a long time ago,

that feels like yesterday.

Go figure.


I  Am Thankful For…  the independence that my three daughters possess.

Oh, I hover.

I offer; I  even suggest.

I am practicing my new response.

”You’re so smart. You’ll figure it out.”

I hope I get a chance to use that! 


I am creating….   

my spring wardrobe by shopping in my own closet

and adding some new white linen pieces.

I am reading….

my new Traditional Home magazine.

Yes, I admit it.

I love traditional design with a kick. 

Second true confession:

although I have painted things white for a gazillion years, I also love color.

I am going… to go outside now and do some fertilizing.

I am wearing… yard clothes… .


Friday, March 9, 2012

Write Back

(originally published in February 2009)

"Write back."

Remember those words- written at the ends of notes shared at school?

When notes weren't being passed, they were being folded into a fortune telling form of origami that could predict who you were going to marry.


Baby boomers created the precursor to

At the very least, these folded notes shared the truth about who you really liked and above all who liked you.

The good news is that the note decreed it- you didn't have to.

As a private person, this kind of note folding truth telling game was right up my alley, anonymity included-no strings attached.

Truth be told, it may not have all been about privacy.

Somehow I thought if you said something out loud , it would never happen.

Did anyone else have these powers of suggestion?

Why this memory? Why now?

It is the writing. It opens up a floodgate.

If you are worried about your memory, I highly recommend it.

Anais Nin said, "We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection."

I love that.

I would much rather be involved in retrospection, as in a retrospective of your greatest hits (best all-time Greatest Hits Album: The Four Tops), rather than introspection.

Retrospection implies success; introspection simply sounds depressing.

Write Back.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dear Daughters: Cleaning House



Dear Daughters,


I wish I had better news.

This cleaning house business can feel like a thankless task
that never ends.

Truth #1: It doesn’t.

If you work ‘outside the home’, as I did, and

as you do, it really feels like it never ends.

So for whatever it is worth,

here are some additional truths to consider.

Truth #2: Create your own set of standards.

Not mine. Not Martha’s.


I spent time worrying about things I could not do perfectly,

and the only thing I accomplished was

learning how to worry perfectly.

                                Truth #3: Use the witching hour (that first hour when you get home from work)

to your advantage and then stop. 

One hour- or less if possible.

When I used that hour when I first got home to start supper, throw a load of clothes in the washer,

and wipe whatever was in my path

and then stop,

I felt like I was in the game

Truth #4: Cleaning house is not a moral issue.

It is simply a series of repetitive tasks.

Maybe an hour after work to deal with some of these repetitive tasks

feels like too much-

as standards’ chairman you decide.

Truth #5:  Again.

I wish I had better news.

At least once a week, we need to take our homes

back to the starting gate.

As in all in, all clean, all done.

We can do this.

As Papa says- ‘no step for a stepper’.

Love, Mom

Friday, March 2, 2012

My Blog’s Lessons to Me


(Thank you to the wonderful bloggers who created this event.

Go HERE to see other posts and to join in!)



As undecided as I may get over a paint color,

or what hair cut looks best on me,

I have never swayed from

one clear truth regarding my blogging.

For me it has always been about the writing.

And it is at that very same point things get a little messy.

Here is what I mean.


Writers need readers, and I have been

blessed to have more than I ever imagined would read and comment on my posts

(many anonymously).

In the interest of full disclosure, I have at times fallen prey to

the need to have MORE.

(OK. So I am there now.)

I don’t do well when whatever it is that is driving me

wants MORE.

And so I try the blogging tricks of the trade that work so well for others,

and guess what?

They rarely work as well for me.
The need to live comfortably with humility is one of my ongoing life lessons.

Lesson #1 for Laura:  Dance with the one that brought you and do what you know to do.

Which brings me to the next item:


When I am only focused on gaining MORE readers,

MORE followers, MORE comments,

and that doesn’t play out according to my crafty planning,

then the voice of my writing loses its

Real Message,

which is where all of the good stuff lives.

(My favorite post.)

Through my humor and my willingness to share

crazy things like an anti-paint tutorial

or faux twitter posts 

the real message from me to you

is that the delight we all find in simple things is where

real JOY is.

Lesson #2 for Laura:  Continue to find delight in simple things, write posts about such joys,

and let the follower chips fall where they may.

And so dear blogging friends new and old,

may I recommend one key thought?

Hold this all loosely.


And guess what.

I wrote about this best HERE.

I already wrote this post and didn’t realize it.



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