Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ranch Recipe #17: New Year’s Day and Black-Eyed Peas


My parents in Tecoman, Mexico.

New Year’s Day is almost here!

Do you have your black-eyed pea ingredients ready?

Here is my husband’s recipe for black-eyed peas- South Texas style.

Ranch Recipe #17:  John’s Black-eyed Peas




1-2 pounds dried black eyed peas (or 2 packages uncooked frozen peas)

1-2 onions diced

salt pork or bacon

minced garlic


your favorite pinto beans seasonings

The Secret


My husband prepares black eyed peas the same way he makes frijoles a la charra or pinto beans. 

The Steps


In a soup pot , cover 2 lbs. of dried peas (or frozen peas) with water

and bring them to a boil.

Boil for a few minutes.

Remove from the heat.

Let the peas ‘sit’ a few minutes.

Drain off the water, rinse, and add fresh water.

Add the sauteed onion, bacon, and garlic .

Season your peas in the same way you would season pinto beans.

My husband adds a sprinkle of chili powder.

Return to a boil.  Lower the heat and let the peas cook until done.

Once tender, add chopped cilantro, stir, and serve.


Serve with cornbread slathered in butter.

Do you ever slather your cornbread?


Happy New Year!


Joining Miz Helen’s

Full Plate Thursday

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Top Post for 2015: Maybe

Christmas in the Kitchen 2015

I couldn’t do it.

I just couldn’t do it.

I was all set to do a top 5 posts in 2015 , when my stats showed my top post was…

wait for it…

Scourge of the Stink Bug.

What was #2?

Dear Daughters:Wrinkles.

Typical White Spray Paint!

So instead let’s sit on the couch in my kitchen, have a cup of coffee, and instead of comparing dieting notes for 2016,

let’s talk about blogging and our biggest deterrent.

Is there anything that stops you from blogging?

In my case, it’s life of course, but technically it’s the photography.

My intentions are good, I take lots of photos , but blurriness, low light, and other issues I don’t know how to correct stop the process.

I have been tempted to buy a fully automatic point and shoot camera.

I never know if my photos will work.

What about you?

Does anything deter you from blogging?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Shopping Confession

Here is my seasonal confession.

Each year as I make my way through my Christmas shopping list , and I am out and about looking for things

for everyone I love, I see wonderful things….. for me…….
There I said it.

This ranks right up there with this tale.

It is as if everything I didn’t know I wanted but now must have but shouldn’t (???) is right in front of me.

Here are some things that have made my short list.
Narciso Rodriguez For Her L`Absolu Eau de Parfum 100ML
* Narciso Rodriquez Absolu perfume-
which reminds me of a spicy, modern version of Estee Lauder’s Youth Dew which reminds me of my mother (win-win).


*Bobbi Brown Desert Plum lipstick- the perfect reddish plummy color. Here is what I think about lipstick color for women of a certain age:  go for it- which is actually what I think about everything for women of a certain age.

Hammered Solid Copper 2-quart Tea Kettle with Ceramic Handle 

A Copper Tea Kettle-  I don’t drink hot tea, but I just know I would if I had this tea kettle.
Especially since my kitchen is currently full of this.

And lastly, while in Kingsville at the Saddle Shop recently, I really stood and stared at this.


OK.  Back to reality.

I am still on a quest to find New York Giant NFL football gloves USA style, youth size medium, for a grandson who knows exactly what he wants.

Merry Last Minute Christmas Shopping!

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Red Christmas

Christmas Mantel 2015
Christmas Mantel 2015

I have never met a Christmas decoration I didn’t love.

I have the crates to prove it.

But the mainstay of everything Christmas I have loved the longest is red- beautiful Christmas red.

It’s in the den this year,

Christmas Den Tree 2015
Christmas Tree in the Den

and in the kitchen,
Christmas in the Kitchen 2015
Kitchen Sitting Area
and in the kitchen hutch with my copper,
and in the living room.
 Christmas in the Living Room
I know it’s old school and traditional , but that makes me love it even more.
Red wears its age well year after year, and Christmas red is never dull.

It never disappoints, and it has the ‘umph’ to hold its own next to whatever is nearby.
Christmas Zebra

So if this Christmas, you need a lift like I do,  ( which simply means you have been living life),
add red.


It works.

Christmas Buffet

Christmas in Texas Blog Hop December 7-11, 2015 Hosted by Poofing the Pillows
This is Day 4 of Stacey’s
Christmas in Texas Blog Hop.
Visit these wonderful Texas bloggers and thank you so much for stopping by!


Just click on the button above to visit Debra and Brenda’s Open House!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Dear Daughters: Favorite Holiday Party Foods

Christmas Party Chocolate Cake

Dear Sweet Daughters,

One of my dearest friends and colleagues in the English department at Sharyland High School (Elizabeth

said the smartest thing about hosting holiday parties and what to serve.

She said,

“I know where to find things.”

That’s it sweet girls.  That’s the secret.  All you need to know is where to find things.

Here are some of my tried and true favorites:


  * Find the best chocolate cake at a bakery you can find. The one pictured above is from Esperanza Bakery in Alamo.
Chocolate cake is always a crowd pleaser.  Have it baked in tiers (see above) and use my square cake

pedestal from Casa Guero in Laredo.  Add fresh strawberries and you are done.

Christmas Tamales

*Find the best tamales in town.  In our case that would be Delia’s. Serve their salsitas in a pretty crystal dish.
Make your own chile con queso.
You are done.

*Buy a spiral sliced ham .

Serve the ham from the table with Sister Schubert rolls.

Buy small specialty mustards or jams at TJ Maxx or Marshall’s.

Your guests can make their own small ham sandwiches.

*Order Empanaditas de Pina from La Estacion Bakery in Mission and/or Pan de Polvo with pecans from

Celebrity Bakery in McAllen.

And you are done.

I love you!
I will be bringing every single one of these items to El Paso for Christmas.

I can’t wait.

Love, Mom


The Christmas in Texas Blog Hop Continues!  Just click on the button below to follow along. Stacey is posting wonderful updates each day!

Christmas in Texas Blog Hop

Monday, December 7, 2015

God is Still In My Glitter

God is in my Glitter

During the Christmas season many years ago, I wrote a post titled

God Is In My Glitter.

It still holds true for me today- in a way that I hope is also meaningful to you.

Here is the 2015 version.


Three trees, one tree, half a tree, no tree- it matters not. 

Decorating the house for Christmas has always been rewarding to me.

It is about who I am because of what I enjoy creating for the people I love .

It is not an either or proposition. 

It re
minds me- in my own quirky way- that if I were lucky enough to be in that manger-


I would , to show love and gratitude and humility, say,

“Do you need anything? What can I do to help? Can we move this here? Are you comfortable?”

In that manger, I would be (I often am)

a Martha in a Mary’s world.

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.

For you see, I understand Martha’s need to fix and arrange and prepare and beautify.

So much so, 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 you 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.



Linking to Something to Talk About at The Crowned Goat.


Christmas in Texas Blog Hop December 7-11, 2015 Hosted by Poofing the Pillows

Some wonderful Texas bloggers have posted today about their glitter.

You must go by!

Monday – Dec 7th

Poofing the Pillows

Lilacs and Longhorns

Hyacinths for the Soul .

Botanic Bleu

Blessed by 3 Miracles

Saturday, December 5, 2015

If We Were Having Coffee : Christmas Decorating

Christmas on the Piano

If we were having coffee ,  I would bring up my system for decorating for Christmas.

And then I would laugh !


I guess you could call it that, if system means repeating the same routine year after year.


My system looks like this:

*I walk out to the garage where all of the Christmas crates are stored and I sigh…heavily.

*I then walk back into the house a la Scarlett O’Hara muttering ‘I’ll think about this tomorrow’.

*Then when inspiration hits , I return to the garage with various helpers (two gentlemen from Chapa’s Moving and/or my husband).  I prefer Chapa’s Moving and so does my husband!

*Once the crates are inside the house, I start opening them realizing that I didn’t do a Pinterest worthy job of storing them after Christmas last year.

*And finally , a wonderful thing happens.

*All of my years of Christmas collecting smile back at me from their crates and the fun begins!


This year I- along with many more Texas bloggers- will be participating in Stacey’s

Christmas in Texas


 Poofing the Pillows.

Christmas in Texas December 7-11, 2015

I’ll be posting on December 10th.

Stop by!


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 Table


It’s done- in all its laughing, eating, hugging, thanking glory.

We just finished watching Jurassic World on dvd, the second load of dishes is in the dishwasher, and all of the millions of dish towels and hot pads are in the wash.

Thanksgiving 2015 Tablescape

As I work on my ‘do the next right thing ‘ list for tomorrow, I will be thinking of you.

Here was today’s menu:




Pioneer Woman Mashed Potatoes

Sparkle Salad

Cranberry Sauce

Fresh Green Beans with Sliced Almonds and Butter

Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta, Pecans, and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Pecan Pie

Fresh Apple Pie

Pumpkin Pie


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Dear Daughters: Papa


Dear Daughters,

So here we are in this newly changed world without Papa- or as I called him, Daddy.

Hard is hard no matter what month it is, but it feels especially hard to lose someone during this time of year.

So here’s what might help. 

Let’s keep a tight rein, and do the next right thing until we feel better.

Here is my list of things on my ‘do the next right thing’ list:

Tomorrow I am going to check the frozen 30 pound turkey I bought which is thawing in the refrigerator in the little house.

If it is still frozen, I am not going to use inappropriate language,  and using the common sense I learned from my parents as a child, I am going to break every Butter Ball rule known to man to get it thawed.

I am going to crumble the pan of cornbread I made tonight for the dressing,  so it dries just a little.

I am going to set the frozen pie crust I made tonight out on the counter to soften.

Tomorrow after I go to the flea market (because that is my therapy- especially when I am sad), I am going to roll out that dough and make a fresh apple pie and a pecan pie.

I am going to pray for traveling mercies for those of you traveling, and when you pull up in the driveway, I am going to squeeze your neck hard.

That is my ‘do the next right thing’ list for tomorrow.


Years ago, after Papa listened to me carry on once about things that were bothering me, he said,

”It sounds to me like you need things to be hard for a while.” 

And so it is.


I love you.

If you need something to make you laugh picture your mother wrestling with a frozen turkey.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Dear Daughters: Wrinkles

La Senora Zinnia 2015

Dear Daughters,

First of all, I wasn’t about to include a photo of a wrinkled face in this letter. 

This is a zinnia variety called La Senora.  Isn’t it wonderful?

Back to wrinkles.

I didn’t listen to my mother who often said , “Laura Ellen, you better take care of your skin.” 

I confess I gave her cause for concern.

Each summer I slathered myself in my homemade baby oil and iodine suntan mixture
and then stretched out in the hot South Texas sun at the Kelsey Bass Exxon Camp pool,

a mile from our house on the ranch.

(Aside:  Did any other baby boomers do this? I had a friend at boarding school who added  sheets of aluminum foil to her routine to increase the results!)

While there, when I got hot, I dove into the water, cooled off in the pool, practiced my water ballet a la Esther Williams, raced my brother to the pool drain in the deep end, jumped out, slathered on more baby oil and iodine and stretched out for another round.

And even though, sweet daughters,  this is a cautionary tale about the adult after effects of sun tanning, this
time in my life was also great fun.

I drove a stick shift jeep to the pool, tried to get KTSA on the radio in hopes of hearing the Four Tops,
pondered in angst  if ‘he’ liked me or not, probably threatened to leave my little brother if he didn’t hurry up, and I had a library book in tow. 

At the end of our swimming, I also knew we were going to stop at a tiny store situated at the entrance to the camp, where we would buy ice cream sandwiches that we charged.

I learned early about signing charge tickets-which is a topic for another letter.

I was in heaven.

So here is my mother’s (Nonnie’s) ‘Laura Ellen’ speech to you.

You need to take care of your skin.

You may not have wrinkles now, but they are sneaky little devils who surface when you thought you were home free.

Trust me- I know.

You need to cleanse your skin, apply sunscreen, and any other potion you find that works for you.

Contrary to what people may say, these products do not have to be expensive.

I have gone that route, and the guilt of spending that much money on a problem I caused, I believe, cancelled out their good effect.

(I know… that’s a stretch.  Just agree.) 

Go to Ross or TJ Maxx or Marshalls and look through their ever changing stock of face creams.

Find serums that contain vitamin c or hyaluronic acid or alpha hydroxy acid
or if you are brave, retinol.

Spend $20 instead of$200.

I know you love all of these tidbits of great advice.

I also know you have been making faces during the reading of this letter and you need to stop right now.

That causes WRINKLES!

I love you, Mom



Linking to:

Simple Sweet Fridays

Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop


Thursday, July 9, 2015

If We Were Having Coffee


                                                             Talavera Bird Bath in my Esperanza Garden

If we were having coffee this morning, and once we talked about my favorite coffee right now- specifically Gevalia Columbian, Community Club Columbian , and Eight O’Clock Columbian- I’d bring up the following:

We are headed back to El Paso this morning . 

Didn’t we just get back?

It seems like it, but it doesn’t matter because I miss my grandsons desperately and this time we are going to fly.

Our other daughters will be there too, and we have some adventures and exploring planned, so I can’t stop smiling.

I hope you have some exploring  planned this summer too.

In my book, that is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

800 Miles


We just returned from a week in El Paso where we helped our oldest daughter and her family move.

Allegedly it is a 12 hour drive…

If I am in the car, it takes us about 13 hours- and that is driving 85 mph most of the way.

There is even a time change.

Having grown up on a ranch 45 miles from town, I am a fast driver from way back, but I am here to say no

speed makes this trip shorter.

From: Mission, TX To: El Paso, TX


It is 800 miles no matter what you do.

None of that matters though because our two grandsons are at the end of the drive .

And now we are home, and I am already planning our next trip.

I think we need to fly, don’t you?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Three Inexpensive Summer Beauty Finds

NYC Dark Pink frost 2                                                                                                        

Here is your weekend assignment ladies.

Head to the cosmetic department at  Wal Mart or your local grocery store.

Look for the Wet and Wild cosmetic display and then lower yourself into a squatting position.

I kid you not.

Trust me- it will be worth it.

This lipstick is always at the bottom.

Look for Dark Pink Frost in # 502 A.

It is only 99cents!  Grab 2.

Now look for the next item on your list.

The good news is it is in the same display.

Wet and Wild Reserve Your Cabana

Look for Wet n Wild’s Coloricon Bronzer Illuminator

in Reserve Your Cabana.

It is really a highlighter more than it is a bronzer.

Grab one.  It is less than $4.00.

And finally, make your way to the NYC display.

NYC HD Eyeliner Deep Purple

Look for NYC’s HD Eyeliner in Deep Purple.

Do not worry about the color. It is really a brownish plum.

It is amazing and less than $2.00.

You now have 3 beauty products to ‘summerize’ your makeup for less than $10.00!

Application Tips:

Dark Pink Frost Lipstick-  I have never been a fan of pink lipstick but this shade is wonderful.  You can wear it alone or over a darker shade.

Reserve Your Cabana-  After you have applied your blush, lightly brush this highlighter on the tops of your cheekbones. It creates the perfect highlight. 

Deep Purple Eyeliner-  This is a wonderful smudge proof eyeliner in a brownish plum. It enhances all eye colors.

Have fun!  I expect a full report!

Isn’t summer fun?

Do you have any makeup favorites?


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Favorite Summer Outfit




Enough about stink bugs.


I am officially over it. Whatever happens the rest of this gardening season, happens.

Let’s visit instead about my favorite summer outfit.

I love to wear any type of Mexican top(like the example pictured above)

with white boyfriend jeans and sandals.

Current/Elliott The Fling Slim Boyfriend Jeans

Add my favorite turquoise bracelet and Federico earrings, and I am ready.

Turquoise Jewelry

The bracelet was a birthday gift from my oldest daughter Heather,

found during an Urban Market (Houston) shopping trip.

I love it and wear it often.

The Federico earrings are a treasure I found on Ebay years ago.

What’s next?

My recent make up and skin care finds.


What’s your favorite summer outfit?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Scourge of the Stink Bug


My tomato plants have been attacked by stink bugs. 

At this point in the growing season , I should have beautiful, healthy tomatoes.  

I do not.

And as a quick aside- why not a more sophisticated sounding pest? 

Stink bugs??

I have had every variety of insect and spider in my yard this gardening season, but I assumed we were friends.

We are not. 

Stink Bugs

Over half of my tomatoes have been ruined.


So this afternoon I picked what I could salvage and because I am lazy efficient,

I loaded what I could into the front of my shirt and headed to the house. ( Our yard is an acre in size.)

This also allowed me to pretend for a moment that this was all a ‘little house on the prairie’ moment.

StinkBugs and Tomatoes

Everything was fine, and I was so proud of myself for making just one trip,

when two little stink bugs peeked out from underneath the tomatoes in my shirt.

I screamed,

dropped the tomatoes and ran into the house shaking my shirt. 

My husband looked away from the baseball game he was watching long  enough to laugh. 

I am going to Scarlett O’Hara this and think about it tomorrow.

This is a stink bug.

Image result for stink bug

                                                                                                Any suggestions?


Friday, June 5, 2015

A Simple Summer List

Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes 2015


When I was still teaching, I used the summer to relax of course, but I also used it as a time to get organized and to conquer a long to do list.

That is NOT what I am going to do this summer. 

Here is what I am going to do, when I am not off visiting our grandsons.

Mexican Limes in aTalavera Bowl

I am going to eat avocados with diced tomatoes from my garden, sprinkled with Nature’s Seasoning and fresh squeezed lime juice on top.

I am going to play music on the patio and dance back and forth in front of the den window (where my husband will likely be watching sports on television) so he will laugh.

I am going to watch every minute of the College World Series because I love baseball (and the Aggies are one step away)  and all of the players look like older versions of my grandsons.

I am going to drink alkaline water with watermelon, or strawberries, or cucumbers added for flavor.

I am going to buy bags of crushed ice at Sonic because it is amazing. 

I am going to wear Mexican blouses and white cropped jeans and rhinestone Yellow Box flip flops and lots of bracelets and big Frida earrings.

And, I hope at least once this summer all of our girls (and my grandsons) will be here together so I can pamper them and cook whatever they want.

What’s on your simple summer list?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My Flea Market Running Buddy

Aside from Hauler 2 (my Tahoe), my flea market cart is my all time non-human running buddy.

However important my cart is, Hauler 2  makes it all happen.

If I were a cowboy, Hauler 2 would be my horse.

My cart is always in the back of Hauler 2.

 Here are the things my cart must do:

It must be heavy enough to not bounce around in the back of Hauler 2.

It must be willing to have groceries and plants piled on top of it without complaining.

It must be quiet. I am not a fan of squeaking.

It must be light enough I can pop it open easily once we arrive.

It needs to pull in both directions- whether I am pushing it or pulling it .

In a perfect world it would swivel. Sometimes my cart feels like swiveling and sometimes it doesn’t.

I am the same way.

Years ago I dressed it in an oil cloth monogrammed liner I bought at Canton, but we were over all of that preciousness pretty quickly.

Pink checks and hot pink ribbon are not a good look for ladies of a certain age , human or otherwise.

Regardless, the liner serves an important purpose: small things can’t fall through the slats, and it is recognizable.

Why is being recognizable important?

Because I park it and walk away… often

On a typical day at the flea market (la pulga in South Texas), it might sound something like this.

Me- to no one in particular:   “Donde esta mi carrito?”

No one in particular:   “Aqui esta.”

Me-  “Gracias”.

And then we laugh.

It always has a hair clip clipped on the handle and sun screen rolling around in its depths.

I go to the flea market most of the year in 90-100 degree weather.

Lately I have noticed its age. 

One wheel is loose and sometimes it doesn’t move very fast.

We are perfect running buddies because I don’t either. 
                                      Linking to Treasure Hunt Thursday

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Swinging Basket


Is there anything better than walking across a yard to your garden beds with a basket swinging on your arm?

At this wonderful stage of life, I can’t imagine there is.

Of course I had to search the flea market for just the right basket .

There is always a search at the flea market .

The key? You never plan the search. 

First I found this one, and I loved its no frills practicality.

First Basket

Here it is on my pondering table ( in my new zinnia garden area) where I sit and

think about all sorts of important things.

I also liked it because of what was printed on the end.


But then one early morning at the flea market, I found this one, and I knew it was the one.


It has the perfect swing.



Linking to Sundays at Home at Thoughts of Alice


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