Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Lightening Up


Have you been ‘lightening’ your house for spring?

The best method for me is always the simplest-

a swap.


On the mantel , I swapped out accessories that looked too dark and too ‘wintery’.


I then looked for things with interesting shapes,

like the tureen from my recent thrift store excursion (with no lid),

and I removed things that looked ‘hot’.

What have you been doing to lighten things up in your home?


Linking to:

Tuesdays The Scoop

Tweak it Tuesday


Nifty Thrifty Tuesday

Friday, April 26, 2013

Smiling Spring of 2013


Earlier this spring, as my yard and garden beckoned,

and my series of projects began,

I started working hard on my yard.

I will forever refer to it as the

Smiling Spring of 2013.

It was the great contradiction in terms:

smiling in between ouches and rose bush scratches,

smiling while digging and hoeing and planting and watering and dragging hoses and

grabbing my aching back and wondering,

‘if I holler loud enough, will someone come pull me out of the back aching frozen position I am in at

the foot of my tomato beds?’



I was smiling and in heaven.


Garden tour next time!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Family Reunion Food Pyramid


(a chocolate sheet cake I made)

Following a ‘light’ lunch at King’s Inn on Baffin Bay with the Mills family last Saturday,

(avocado salad, sliced tomatoes, fried shrimp, fried fish, fried oysters, grilled fish, onion rings, and french fries),

we all retired to my cousin Susan’s house on the bay for dessert.

We did not miss a beat.


(my cousin Susan’s Peach Cobbler)


(Blue Bell- our family standby)


(Jamie’s Pecan Bars)


Aren’t family reunions fun?

What are some of your favorite family desserts?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ranch Recipe #13: Cherry Dessert

IMG_1663This quick dessert was perfect after lunch at Taco Ole with my father and his brothers and sisters

earlier this week.

The morning of their visit I purchased the ingredients and mixed it up and had it out of the oven in

less than an hour.

There are many versions of this simple favorite,

but this is mine.

Cherry Dessert

Ranch Recipe #8:  Cherry Dessert

1 box yellow cake mix

1 large can crushed pineapple, drained well

1 can cherry pie filling

1 1/2 (or 2) sticks of butter, melted


Drain the pineapple well.

Mix the pineapple and cherry pie filling together.

(I did the mixing in the 9x13 pan I was using)

Sprinkle the top of the cherry mixture (in the pan) with the box of yellow cake mix.

Pour the melted butter over the top of the cake mix.

Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.


Enjoy Ranch Recipe #13.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Memory Lane Week: Boarding School

saint marys hall

(This week, as I re-enter the wonderful world of blogging, after long, beautiful spring days of working in my yard, home, and spending time with friends and family, I am taking a walk down memory lane.)


When I was 14, the family that owned the ranch my father managed, offered to send me to an all girls boarding school, specifically Saint Mary’s Hall , in San Antonio, Texas.

I had just finished eighth grade, and after a year of getting on the school bus at 6:15 am and getting home at 7:30 pm, this seemed like a good solution. The bus trip was 90 miles round trip.

Because I was in extracurricular activities in 8th grade, I rode the late bus every evening with the high school football players and band members who also lived as far away from school as I did.

The ranch was 45 miles from town, approximately 45,000 acres, and geographically was in 4 south Texas counties: Brooks, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, and Starr.

I had a choice in the matter, but I can’t say that at age 14 I was mature enough to understand what that choice meant. It must have seemed like a great adventure, and indeed it was.

Boarding School

I attended Saint Mary’s Hall for 4 years, graduated in 1969, and every summer my father said: “You don’t have to go back to that place if you don’t want to.”

My mother’s sage advice that first day I moved into my dorm, right before she drove away was, “There will always be somebody more homesick than you are. Find that person and help them.”

And so the 4 year adventure began.

In looking back today, I remember some particularly important details.

We wore uniforms and saddle oxfords every day.

New students were only allowed to go home twice a semester, in addition to regular holidays.

My only way home to the ranch was on a Continental Trailways bus.

Someone from the school drove me to the bus station downtown San Antonio , ensured I had my ticket and had boarded safely.

I can still hear the sound of the air breaks of the bus , as it pulled off the side of 281, onto the shoulder , rocks flying, in Rachel, Texas.

There they stood: my parents and little brother , smiling and waiting, standing outside my mother’s gold Toronado.

They looked wonderful and so happy to see me.

After getting my red and black plaid luggage, including my round weekender from underneath the bus, we would then cross the highway and eat at the Delicias Cafe.

There I could order my favorite Two and Two: two enchiladas and two tacos.

Every Friday afternoon , boarding students lined up to write a check for their weekly allowance. We then walked to the nearest drugstore, looked at Revlon makeup, sprayed ourselves with Fame and Chantilly, ate pimento cheese sandwiches on toasted bread , ate potato chips, drank a fountain coke, and walked back to our dorm.

I wrote letters everyday to family and friends in large , loopy handwriting, used sealing wax, listened to the Four Tops, the Temptations, and anything else Motown.

I learned about people and how money doesn’t equal kindness or manners.

Money is not the universal language, courtesy and kindness are.

Our dorms my freshman year were older mansions on French Place near downtown San Antonio. They were beautiful. Each grade level dorm had a house mother and a very strict lights out at 10:00 pm.

I attended study hall after dinner every evening (except for Friday and Saturday) from 6:30-8:00 pm, and ate all of my meals family style with the other boarders in the school dining hall.

I’ll never forget seeing that large study hall room for the first time, with at least 200 wooden desks all in rows .Our names were on our desks, and each desk (the first day of school) had enormous ice house sacks on top of them.

I had no idea what they held. Then I realized, in shock that they held books- stacks and stacks of books- and not just one per subject area.

Every course had a set of at least 3-5 books with English winning (of course) with what seemed millions.

It was the hardest academic rigor I have ever faced, college and graduate school combined.

There was no coercion, no you can do it. It was on the edge of your seat thinking and reading and writing and discussing all day long.

Those 4 years of memories also include:  

*taking a San Antonio city bus to downtown San Antonio to go shopping

*discovering white chocolate

*synchronized swimming

*baby oil and mercurochrome

*playing spades after school with my friends while drinking Dr. Peppers and eating Cheetos

*talking about life (boys) for hours

*studying, studying, studying

*wearing a mantilla to Christ’s Episcopal Church


*dancing at Eastwood Country Club (not a country club).


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Projects Again


I’m at it again.

I am in the middle of millions and millions of projects, as I prepare for family coming for a visit.

There’s the rearranging and the fluffing and even the wide eyed horror

as I discover that yes I do have 7 silver plate pitchers.

(Correction:  I just found 3 more in the garage.)

Does loving the shape and feel and purpose of something mean you can have 10 of them?

Who in the world bought all of those (for I am sure less than $10 each) and brought

them home from the flea market?

Oh dear.


And then there’s the need for these guys.

And no- we are not moving.

However,  in the midst of all of the projects and the ten silver pitchers I decided  my piano needed to move as in TODAY , and I couldn’t stand it a minute longer.

Please tell me this sense of urgency hits you on occasion too??

And so I justified the need for help by this

White Spray Paint


Hiring movers for a two hour minimum is cheaper than a visit to the emergency room.


Update:  The piano has been moved back to its original location…

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Drive Thru Flea Market

Orange, Yellow, Red Bell Peppers
If you were visiting on a Saturday morning, and we all piled into Hauler 2 (my Tahoe), and we headed to one my favorite flea markets, these are things we would NOT find:

*amazing antiques


*vintage home d├ęcor.


But how about a goat, or chickens, or fresh produce, or  plants?
Mexican Limes
And the best thing of all?

I never have to park my car.

Let that sink in. 

I pull up to the gate, pay a $1 entry fee, get in line behind other cars, and drive slowly through the market.

If I see something I like, I gently hit my brakes, pray I’m not rear-ended, and hop out of the car,
waving at the car behind me.

Last weekend I bought:

red, yellow, and orange bell peppers- perfect for Black Bean Corn Salad ,

3 for $1

a bag of Mexican limes ,


and bougainvilleas ,


I have said this many times on this blog-

and whatever the adventure,
I meant it-
and I mean it now.

I was in HEAVEN.

Don’t you want to come visit?


Linking to :

Nifty Thrifty Sunday
Sunny Simple Sunday

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter Smiles


(Cascarones for Sale)

I laughed and smiled all day on the Saturday of Easter weekend.

As Hauler Too (my Tahoe) and I headed to the flea market, searching for plants Saturday morning, I never stopped smiling.

There was excitement in the air.

These sights of families getting ready for their Easter celebrations at their homes or local parks make living in the Rio Grande Valley so special to me.

It was the pickup truck in front of me on the expressway with 3 pinatas,  crepe paper ruffling and blowing in the wind, 




It was the rows and rows  of cascarones (confetti eggs) for sale along every busy street-


And it was the pinatas.



My next treat happened next door to the pinata stand, at De Alba Bakery where I bought an empanada de pina , a pineapple empanada, to enjoy on my Saturday adventure .

I was still smiling, but it was time to head to the flea market for plants and fresh fruit and vegetables for our own Sunday celebration.



I hope you smiled all weekend too.


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