Friday, October 31, 2014

Day 31: Enjoying Simple Things, At Last

Kitchen Sitting Area

My Kitchen Sitting Area


In no particular order, here are my thoughts about re-entering the world of blogging consistently by posting for 31 consecutive days.

Granted, I got off schedule a bit in the final stretch, but by looking at the clock and the date creatively, I made it , and I am posting Day 31 on Day 31- and I have 31 posts to show for it.

* I hope those of you who stopped by to read don’t think I am some kind of stalker- as in ‘Oh my gosh, there she is again!’.

* I did have a theme , a main idea, an over arching idea which is simply this:   Enjoying Simple Things. 

* I learned an important lesson, however, throughout this process.

Enjoying Simple Things is ALL in the eye of the beholder.

*Isn’t that great news?  We can live life according to what suits us (as differently as that may seem to others), and we can call it SIMPLE. 

* And finally- the greatest part of this exercise was connecting with you- both old and new blogging friends.  Thank you for your emails and your encouragement.

May all your SIMPLE dreams come true today!

Day 1:  31 Days of Enjoying Simple Things

Day 2: 
Dear Daughters,  Listen to the Yearning

Day 3: 
Know What You Enjoy

Day 4:  Staying Home

Day 5:  Ranch Recipes #15, Simple Acorn Squash

Day 6:  Simple Grocery Shopping Method

Day 7:  Simple Blogging

Day 8: 
Dear Daughters,  Simple Safety

Day 9: 
Learning to Read

Day 10:
The Beginning of Ranch Recipes

Day 11:
Skincare, A Simple Necessity

Day 12:
Skincare, Part 2

Day 13:Simple Signs of Fall

Day 14:
Fall Tablescapes

Day 15: Simple Birthday Celebration

Day 16:
Dear Daughters, Simple Sleep

Day 17:
Simple DIY Projects

Day 18:
Circling Back

Day 19:
If We Were Having Coffee

Day 20:
Teach Us To Delight in Simple Things

Day 21:
Limes, One of Life’s Simple Pleasures

Day 22: Dear Daughters, Simple Priorities

Day 23:
Dear Daughters, Contradicting Day 22

Day 24:
Simple Fit Throwing

Day 25:

Day 26: 
Simply the Best: Fall Fragrance

Day 27:
Simply the Best:  Songs

Day 28:
Friendship and Makeup

Day 29:
Simple Fall Porch

Day 30:
Simple Birthday Celebration

Day 31:
Enjoying Simple Things, At Last


Day 30: Simple Birthday Dinner


Last week I hosted our October birthday group celebration honoring three dear teacher friends,

and we kept things very simple.

Everyone, except the honorees, brought something.


Spinach Artichoke Dip and Crackers

Spinach Salad with Raspberries, Sugared Pecans, Raspberry Vinaigrette

Hot French Bread

Hash Brown Casserole


BBQ Brisket from our local BBQ restaurant (my contribution)


Chocolate Sheet Cake  topped with Vanilla Ice Cream
for dessert

I decided to buy the brisket by the pound at a bbq restaurant because it is always delicious, and although I make a brisket often for our family gatherings, it is not a guaranteed success.

I justified the cost because by the time I went to the grocery store and bought a brisket and various other items, buying it made more sense.

That’s my story ladies!

It doesn’t have to be complicated, does it?


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Day 29: Simple Fall Porch


One of the simplest things I enjoy is re-using things from around my house in different ways or in seasonal displays.

I just open the boxes marked fall, take a look at what’s inside , and start slinging.

It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

So having a recycled wreathe (above) and adding black and white check ribbon meant for

Christmas 4 years ago works for me.

It really worked once I took the black linen pillows from my den and threw them on the wicker love seat out front.




October is almost over.

Can you believe it?


If you want a laugh, read my last year’s post on Halloween candy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Day 28: Friendship and Makeup


My friend Lupita and I in my kitchen at one of my annual Teacher Christmas Parties.

I have loved makeup since my high school days at Saint Mary’s Hall.

I may have worn a uniform and saddle oxfords every school day for 4 years, but I usually had on Maybelline demi false eyelashes too.

I learned to master cake eyeliner and to this day, there is nothing better.

During trips to Fred’s Pharmacy in Falfurrias as a teenager,  I was mesmerized by the Revlon display.

Now jump ahead from that time in my life to November of around 1985.

It is a memory etched on my heart.

I am literally squealing in the faculty parking lot with my dear friend Lupita Ramirez.


We were oohing and aahing over the Borghese Christmas Eye Shadow Collection.

I lost that dear friend in August of this year to breast cancer.


So in looking to re-create that moment in 1985, because I miss my friend, I have been looking at every eye shadow palette I can find. 

This makes perfect sense to me.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Day 27: Simply the Best : Songs


Growing up on a ranch in South Texas, with no neighbors in sight and a little brother six years younger, I learned to entertain myself.

What did that look like?

Some of my favorite things to do included leading an imaginary band as drum majorette-
complete with self taught twirling tricks-  or roller skating on our concrete front porch.

There were lots of books read, American Bandstand watched, card games played, synchronized swimming fantasies in the Exxon Oil Camp pool and my favorite -


Lots and lots of driving around the ranch, listening to the radio, and daydreaming.

This soundtrack to my living has always been an added element of fun- to this very day.

Here are three favorites I played over and over again today on my IPod. 

Stay                                                            Sam Smith

Mine Would Be You                                Blake Shelton

Bridge Over Troubled Water                  Aretha Franklin

What are your current listening favorites?


Day 26: Simply the Best: Fall Fragrance


cinnamon orange



Oh how I love a sweet smelling house, especially this time of year.

These are my favorites.

Orleans Cinnamon Orange Candle

I first discovered Orleans Cinnamon Orange candles at a Christmas Shop in Plano, while visiting our youngest daughter who lives in Dallas.

I almost swooned.

That’s a great word, isn’t it?

After all, my nickname, originally given to me years ago by my friends JB and Debbie,

is Laura Belle-

or Belle for short.

Swooning is my game.


Slatkin and Co. Leaves Candle

This is my all-time, bar none, favorite candle.

I bought this at Bath and Body Works, which I always want to call

Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Oh my…

The scent is pretty strong, but I am not really into delicate…


Pier One’s Asian Spice

This is an all-time favorite.

My friend Anna and I can have an entire conversation about

Asian Spice.

You must try it ( particularly the room spray).

It is also affordable.


Claire Burke’s Original Vapourri

I love this room spray because my mother used this.

It makes your house smell wonderful.

You may not recognize the packaging shown (I didn’t), but it is still the same fragrance.

A few minutes before a get-together at my house, I like to open the front door and spray outside.

I kid you not.

Then people smell it as they reach the front door.

clinique elixer

Clinique Elixer

This perfume is not new or modern but once again,

I love it because my mother wore it.

In fact, for a long time after she passed away,

I wore her robe because it smelled like her.

It smelled of Clinique Elixer.

smell of christmas

Aromatique’s The Smell of Christmas

I can’t live without this.

I stockpile candles, room spray, and bags of potpourri at after Christmas sales.

I am hoarding some small bags of simmering potpourri, which they apparently don’t make anymore.

I am desperate.

It is bagged in tiny cotton sachet bags.

If you see it anywhere, just email me.


What are your favorites?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Day 25: Procrastination




I don’t know when I first heard the term procrastination and realized- ‘oh, that’s what that is’.

I am assuming the act of procrastination still carries a negative connotation?

In my case, and in the midst of the final stretch of my 31 day writing challenge, I lost my umph.

So instead of getting re-directed and planning the rest of my posts, I decided to EMPTY MY CLOSET this afternoon for a little purging.

I am sitting amid piles of clothes as I type this.

Is that the second stage in procrastination?

You roll the dice and make things worse?

Oh well.

I better get back to work before I have ANOTHER IDEA.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Day 24: Simple Fit Throwing


Sometimes, I may occasionally if the situation warrants , throw a little fit.

How is that for vague language?

Let’s try that again.

I can throw a fit with the best of them with one key difference. 

My fits at this point in life are usually far more DRAMATIC or MENTAL than

PHYSICAL, and it usually begins with the thought ‘woe is me’.

Yesterday while painting furniture for a guest bedroom makeover , I decided that it was about time  I went to an actual furniture store and bought furniture.

I was so over painting flea market finds. 

That is what most normal people do, right?  They go to a furniture store?

They don’t get foundered in the guest room like one of my father’s cows, struggling to put on a
happy face while using chalk paint .

Normal people don’t ever do that, right?

And then in the midst of that thought, I actually put my fit in reverse.

Have you ever done that?

I then thought ‘but I don’t want to do that’ .  ‘I don’t like furniture store furniture’…(and on and on and on).

Sometimes, I wear myself out.  (In a simple way of course.)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Day 23: Dear Daughters, Contradicting Day 22

my girls

My Girls and I at my Retirement Party May 2008.




Dear Daughters,

Don’t stop reading.

Yes, I am going to contradict what I wrote for Day 22 (yesterday’s post).

Here is why.

I love you, and I know what it is like to work full time and want to have everything perfectly organized for all of us, and sometimes it just didn’t happen.

I was exhausted , and one too many students had given me the hairy eyeball that day, or the state of Texas felt like more testing was a good idea, or someone punched the hot lava button in my big toe,  or something as simple as my feet hurt caused my train to jump the rails.

So we had Church’s chicken that night.

When you work outside the home, and you have a family, and you enjoy seeing your friends, nothing listed in yesterday’s post is going to ruin your life if it doesn’t get done.

Here is where organizational experts might disagree.


Having said that , however, (please stop rolling your eyes)- 

isn’t it the ‘want to’ that counts?

Isn’t it the ‘want to’ that leads us to do a little daily organizing- even if it is cleaning out your purse waiting in a drive thru line at Chick Fil A?

It is the ‘want to’ that makes it work.

Food for second thought.



Day 22: Dear Daughters, Simple Priorities


My Laundry Room


Dear Daughters,

At the checkout counter at HEB at 6:45 am this morning, I did a little free reading.

And yes, there was someone in front of me at that time.

This short statement in a magazine I grabbed caught my attention.

                                                   Prioritize the everyday things in your life.

This is huge sweet girls.

Your mother had an epiphany near aisle 8.

What if the everyday, mundane, non-fun, easy to set aside, easy to Scarlet O’Hara- ize things

we  need to do, but easily shove aside, were actual priorities?

Maybe doing those small daily chores of picking up, running a load of clothes, setting something

out to thaw, having a plan for what to wear to work, filling the car up with gas on the same day

each week, running said car through the car wash,  ad infinitum…

What if those things were priorities?

Would that simple daily practice of doing these things consistently create something special in life?

Food for thought.

Love, Mom

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Day 21: Limes, One of Life’s Simple Pleasures


One of the many pleasures found in South Texas where I live is fresh citrus, specifically limes.

This is not about baking folks.

This is about drinking.


Here are three of my favorites -in descending order of preference-

*A tall glass of iced tea on a very hot day of gardening,  filled with crushed ice, iced tea , and squeezed wedges of lime -

*A homemade margarita at one of my teacher parties- fresh limes and laughter are two key ingredients-

and my favorite…

* Cerveza Vestida       (dressed beer)

Here is how you do it.

Take an ice cold long neck beer.

Before you open it and after you have rinsed off the top, roll it in freshly squeezed lime juice.


Then dip the top of the beer in margarita salt.

Open the beer, place a wedge of lime in the neck of the beer and enjoy!

This is enjoyed best on my patio , at about dark-thirty, after that long day of gardening.

Play your favorite music and relax!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Day 20: “Teach Us To Delight In Simple Things”


When I was teaching, there was always a time in the lesson, or the week, or the chapter when I knew we needed to make a connection.

I am sure there is some sort of 2014 educational term for such a method.

When I started teaching high school English in 1975 at Van Vleck High School in Van Vleck , Texas, that method was based solely on instincts.

I just knew we (the teacher and the students) needed to pause for a moment and re-group.

And so I followed that instinctual system for the next 32 years of my career.

So where are we today in this process of writing for 31 days?

Is the message still clear?

Everything I write at White Spray Paint conveys one simple message:  finding and enjoying simple things.

Rudyard Kipling said it best.                 
"Teach us to delight in simple things."

For the four years I attended and graduated from Saint Mary’s Hall in San Antonio, this quote as the school’s motto, was everywhere.

As a 14 year old girl , I mistakenly thought enjoying simple things was a goal, or something you learned.

Why else would it be the motto at a boarding school?

I was wrong.

Enjoying simple things, whatever they may be, is a state of being- not a goal.

In my experience, I can’t make that happen.

The paradox is that even though I can’t make that happen,  I can achieve it quickly and easily, as long as it is

a feeling I PREFER – over all of the busyness and seriousness of life.

I hope that is the message you hear here- in all of the quirkiness and ‘you’re not going to believe what happened to me’ things I share.   


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Day 19: If We Were Having Coffee

Perfect white coffee cup with steam isolated on white; Shutterstock ID 111159347; PO: aol; Job: production; Client: drone

If we were having coffee one morning this week, I would ask you a multitude of questions about things that are on my mind.

These are not earth shattering questions, but they are on topics that confuse me.

Does anyone understand their cell phone bill without calling their adult children, who then become irritated?

Does your brain shut down when your ATT agent tries to explain their cell phone plans?

Do you have Direct TV or cable?

We have cable. 
Have you ever been on the phone with a technical support person and you are missing
an important football game and you can’t see which cord plugs into which hole so you get a flashlight?

Have you ever talked to an insurance provider about Medicare supplemental plan options and realized they are more confusing than cell phone plans or cable television issues? 

Did any of the things above make you want to stick a needle in your eye?

Just checking.

Do you still want to come for coffee?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Day 18: Circling Back



I woke up this morning thinking about words I had previously written (in March of 2009).

I searched for them in my post archives and found that post.

True breaking blogging rules confession:  I don’t write with anything more in mind than the need to write it. 

There really is no artifice here.  This is my quirky, simple and usually enjoyed life for all to see.

Here is that post I wrote that I needed to read this morning.


At the flea market Saturday morning, the following things caught my eye:

a round chafing dish, an enormous book on gardening, and a wicker chair.

I walked away-no intervention necessary .

I walked away from them all, but I couldn't resist My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year by John Henry Jowett, first published in 1912.

I paid 50 cents.

I was fascinated by the title, particularly the word circling, but truth be told I was first

attracted to its color.

It is raspberry pink.

Sometimes God sends up flares, even from as far back as 1912.

A portion of the forward reads:

"The title of this book sufficiently interprets its purpose. I hope it may lead to such practical meditation upon the Word of God as will supply vision to common tasks, and daily nourishment to the conscience and will. And I trust that it may so engage the thought upon the wonders of meditation, as will fortify the soul ..."

I am relieved at this idea of circling- as in circling back.

It makes me think of the importance of this luxury and blessing in real life.

As in-

I can go back, without stopping.

The year continues as does God's grace.

I can circle the wagons in my life as I need to.

For some crazy reason the word makes me think of the wagon train journeys of pioneer days.

I can hear someone in authority on horseback saying, "Let's circle back."

Jumping ahead in history, I can see in my mind's eye a brave soldier saying to another, "Hold on, wait here, I'll circle back. We can’t leave him."

These imaginings give 'circling' a powerful historical context

Sometimes I think I have to try so hard at things- including the Biblical and the spiritual-

when in actuality, I can simply enjoy and learn from the history of it all.

This Godly circling is everywhere.



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Day 17: Simple DIY Projects



I have imagined often that if my mother were still here, and we were talking about DIY projects, she would laugh and say,

”Well, who else is going to do it?”

I have written many posts poking fun sharing some of my own DIY projects.

If you’d like a simple, real world, practical approach, read these.

* Anti Paint Tutorial

* Smokey Eye With Chalk Paint

* Faux Twitter: Hanging a Gallery Wall

* Learning to Knit is Like Pulling a U-Haul Trailer

Please don’t misunderstand.

I LOVE doing things myself on a shoestring, shopping the house, and my favorite-

with a can of White Spray Paint.

It is one of life’s simple pleasures.

Day 16: Dear Daughters, Simple sleep

blue and white bedroom 3

Dear Daughters,

You come from a long line of nap takers.

Papa has taken a nap every single day since forever.

And now guess what?  Research shows that getting enough sleep is essential to good health.

You may also remember that many years ago, after a long day of teaching, I often collapsed for a short little nap before it was time to cook supper.

The point?

You have to have enough sleep.

This is not to say that it is something to add to your list of worries- there are so many other things the world does to cause worry.

You can be intentional about getting enough sleep with a simple method my college friend and roommate Debbie always suggested.

Go to bed by 10 pm.

I love you ,


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Day 15: Simple Birthday Celebration



My family is nothing if not socially efficient.

We usually take our own cars to events, in case we need to leave.

We sit at tables with our backs to the wall, in the event we need to fight our way out. (just kidding…maybe…)

And all of my life, my father was the perfect guest.  He did not dally. He left when he needed to.

This afternoon at 5:00 pm we (my husband and I, one of our daughters, my brother, and my father)were at Luby’s (his choice) in McAllen to celebrate his 88th birthday.

We were there about 30 minutes.

In route he opened his gift (another efficient use of time) and thanked me for the millionth long
sleeve shirt I have given him in my lifetime.

His short comment of, “Sister, you always give me the prettiest shirts,” will forever be etched on my heart.

So the point is it doesn’t have to be complicated.

It doesn’t have to take hours and hours.

We all ordered what we wanted, and we laughed.  Boy did we laugh.

Having said that, I can now say that sometimes it DOES need to be complicated.

When most days you opt for what is simple, you’ll know when to complicate things.

And that will be worth it too.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Day 14: Fall Tablescapes








So many things in my house change every year.

Fall tables in October for birthday group celebrations,

and the ever important Thanksgiving table rarely stay the same each year.

I try to use things I haven’t used in a while, and I also shop the house for more ideas.

Periodically, I will find an inspiration piece at the flea market.

I have also used curtain panels as tablecloths.

I have already started planning for an upcoming October celebration.

If you are like I am , you may have forgotten to photograph all the tables you have done.

Are you planning for upcoming tablescapes?

Day 13: Simple Signs of Fall

Fall Tablescape

In the interest of full fall disclosure, it is still in the 80’s and occasional 90’s here in South Texas.

What the weather really is and what it is supposed to be has never been a seasonal deterrent for me.

Fall is fall, and certainly by October, it SHOULD be fall.

Does that make sense?
So I am going on about my business pretending it is.  

How do I do that?

As is the case with most simple things, I just begin.


Here is how I celebrate fall:

* By making Caldo de Pollo or simple Vegetable Beef Soup.

* By planning special ‘football’ food, like Queso Blanco con Espinaca,  for all of the upcoming college football 

* By moving all of my white pants into the guest room closet.  I know, I know.  This is old school.

* By beginning my search for caladium bulbs, which are hard to find where I live.

* By thinking about Thanksgiving and what I am going to cook. 

After doing just a few of these things, it really is fall in South Texas.

How do you know it is fall?



Saturday, October 11, 2014

Day 12: Simple Skincare, Part II



So this is what I did.

I started watching You Tube videos on aging skin care.

And can we pause just a minute to give You Tube a shout out?

I took notes and watched and picked a regimen that I could afford to try, plus

one expensive serum-  Skinceuticals CE with Ferulic Acid.

I use that twice a day.

Morning Routine:

In the morning I wash my face with a non-foaming cleanser (because I learned foaming cleansers are not good).

I then apply the Skinceuticals serum and after it dries, I apply Walgreen’s Alpha Hydroxy cream.

I then apply Bobbi Brown’s 50 SPF skin cream, followed by a light moisturizer.

Evening Routine:

In the evening I remove my makeup with a makeup remover wipe.

I then wash my face again with the same non-foaming cleanser.

Three times a week I am using my Clarisonic to exfoliate.

I then apply a small dab of .05% Retin A (which hasn’t changed a thing).

After that I apply Rosehip Oil to soothe things a bit.

Finally, I follow that with a night moisturizer.

Here’s what I think:

I must accept that I am doing this to slow down what has already occurred.

I own my wrinkles.  Apparently, they like living on my face.

However, my skin texture has changed.

Doing something positive for myself is just as effective as great visible success.

And, more importantly, I am enjoying the simple act of doing this.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Day 11: Skincare, A Simple Necessity

La Mer

It was a long hot summer.

It was all about acceptance and life on life’s terms and fun and loss, and temperatures of at least 105, and trips to the flea market in the morning sun, and watering my plants..

In fact, after a late August trip to see our youngest daughter and to do some grandkid watching,

I looked it.

I looked “ridden hard and put up wet”.

My Mother warned me all my life about my skin.

She even warned me to not crinkle my forehead because wrinkles would form.

Her skin care regimen was simple and effective.

She cleaned her face with Merle Norman cold cream and a damp washcloth.

She then used Ski Breeze as her astringent.

That was all followed by a cream called Formula 405, that she ordered at Fred’s Pharmacy in Falfurrias, Texas.

Formula 405 Enriched Facial Cream

She followed this daily routine with a periodic application of Merle Norman’s Miracol.

She had beautiful skin.

What did I do?

In high school at St. Mary’s Hall in San Antonio, my friends and I laid out by the pool using a concoction of baby oil and iodine.

Tanned skin was the rage.

I took my eye makeup off with Baby Oil and splashed water on my face afterwards- and followed that , maybe- with a scrub with Noxema or Dove soap.

I mainly pretended I was Scarlet O’Hara and I’d think about it tomorrow.

As an adult I periodically bought regimens that friends recommended, or I bought whatever someone was selling in the teacher’s lounge.

I even bought La Mer once and of course it worked.

I am a practical girl at heart though, and I just couldn’t do it.

So on that return trip home back in August after a long hot stressful summer, I panicked.


Mercy.  My face was moving and creating hills and valleys that no primer was going to fill.

Maybe sleeping on my side for a million years wasn’t such a good idea,

What did I do?

I started watching YouTube videos on aging skin and makeup.

I kid you not

We will talk about THAT tomorrow!


What skincare regimen do you use?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Day 10: The Beginning of Ranch Recipes

This photo was taken of my parents in 1950 in Tecalitlan, Mexico.
My mother was 19 and my father was 25.  When they were first married, they moved there because my father had taken a job as a cattle inspector for the USDA. 
Every week on horseback, along with Malachias his assistant, he rode up into the mountains of Mexico to inspect ranch owners’ cattle and to vaccinate them.
My mother stayed at the hotel while he was away and she learned to speak Spanish and how to play Canasta. They returned to Texas a year later in time for my birth.

These recipes are what I like to call
Ranch Recipes.
They are all from my mother’s collection ,
and they are reminiscent of
my memories of my parents and their
entertaining of friends and family,
all on a
in deep South Texas.

This first one is a
Although you may have had versions of this,
this worn recipe was my mother’s
and is my gift to you.

 To set the stage and the menu I remember,
you need to imagine
Ray Price, Jim Reeves, or Ray Charles playing on the stereo,
friends laughing and visiting out on the patio,
delicious thick steaks being grilled,
one of my Mother’s wonderful salads or vegetable dishes,
hot bread slathered in butter,
Jalapeno Cheese Rice.

print recipe

Jalapeno Cheese Rice
this worn recipe was my mother’s and is my gift to you.
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 2 cans water
  • 1/2 pound velveeta cheese
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 seeded & chopped jalapeno
Cook rice and onion in oil in a skillet until the onion is translucent and the rice is light tan.Heat and add the following to the rice mixture: the beef broth, water, then add the velveeta cheese, salt 8 pepper, butter, and chopped jalapenos. Cover the mixture after a light stirring and simmer for 39 minutes.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield:



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