Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Dear Daughters: Christmas Decorating Thoughts and Tips

Christmas on the Piano
Christmas on the Piano 2015

Dear Daughters-
As young adult women who all work ‘outside’ the home- as well as ‘inside the home’ - there isn’t a single feeling about decorating for Christmas that you have had that I haven’t felt as well.
It can feel rewarding and satisfying and stimulating . It checks all of our creativity boxes.
Yet truth be told, when it is December , and you have research papers coming in that need to be graded , or too many court cases and clients to handle, or book fairs to organize, it can feel a little overwhelming and exhausting.
This is a seasonal challenge sweet girls. Don’t let it get you down. There are after all ,all of those crates in our respective garages that hold treasures we so want to share with our families and friends.
Christmas Mantel 2015
Christmas Mantel 2015

Here are a few things that have helped me over the years.
* Play Christmas music and not just while you are decorating. Play it in the car too. Play it in your classroom, play it in your library,play it in your office.
It creates the ‘want to’- sometimes accompanied by a sweet touch of melancholy at times- but that will pass. Embrace that melancholy, have a good cry, turn up the volume and plan your front door wreathe.
* Learn to make a fluffy bow with wired ribbon that is patterned on both sides. This is a game changer. Thank you Mary Jo Brisnahan (a dear friend and teaching colleague) for teaching me how to make a bow about 20 years ago . That and her Sparkle Salad which has graced our holiday table for just as long places her in our family’s hall of fame.
Women of my generation are great fans of volume. A voluminous bow adds life to anything (even your hair) that has been packed in a crate, stored in the garage in our year long South Texas heat.
Try to find ribbon that is patterned on both sides. You will have to do less twisting if you can.
* Skinny, inexpensive garland is the easiest to handle for a slinger like me. I have purchased expensive, fat garlands, and they are indeed beautiful. Once I wrestled their garland extravagance to my mantle, the minute my back was turned, all sorts of whiplashing and crashing usually occurs. Find a garland of the lazy, low expectation variety.
Christmas Den Tree 2015
Christmas Tree in the Den 2015
* Remember that sometimes trees are easier and give more bang for your buck. I have received some teasing for this on those years when I have had as many as 4 trees at Christmas. Do what floats your boat.
Teacher Christmas Party2
My Annual Ladies Only Teachers’ Christmas Party 2008

* Plan a small party- ladies only. It is the perfect way to usher in this glorious season. The laughter and the ‘I get you-you get me’ that results is immeasurable. And yes in that photo above that is an enormous container of margaritas on the rocks- provided by my dear friend and yours- Anna. It is her secret recipe , which is just as well- you won’t remember it anyway. My annual teacher parties at Christmas and at the end of each school year still make me smile. And yes, the red walls and the rooster are now gone.

I love you. As you know, I am going through things, including my Christmas decorations.
You each have a pile. The rest is up to you.

I love you,

Linking to:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving Cooking Tips and Our Menu

Thanksgiving Card

When I was a little girl, there was nothing I loved more than watching my mother

and my aunts and my grandmothers work in the kitchen,

especially on a day as important to cooking and family as Thanksgiving.

My jobs usually involved putting ice in the glasses, pouring iced tea and whatever duties my mother

assigned, all with a smile on her face.  


It was in that kitchen that my beloved Ranch Recipes were born.

Every single method I use, in preparing –with the help of my own daughters- every dish we share

Thanksgiving day originated in my mother’s kitchen at the ranch.

These are some of the things I do to prepare for Thanksgiving day.

*I bake a 9x13 pan of cornbread 2 days in advance so it is not so ‘new’ when I mix the cornbread dressing.

*I use poultry seasoning in the dressing because outright sage is sometimes hard to gauge.

*I use Sister Schubert dinner rolls because they are the best.

*I bought Riverside turkeys at HEB for years because she said they were just as good.

*I now buy Butterball turkeys because as I shared here, the idea of a 24 hour hotline feeds my dramatic soul.

*I  mix the dressing and prepare Pioneer Woman’s mashed potato recipe the day before.

*For years I prepared a compulsory sweet potato casserole, but this year I think I am going to create twice

baked sweet potatoes with cinnamon, butter, and brown sugar instead of savory seasonings.

*After the turkey has been wrestled into the oven, after I have checked the cooking time a million times,

I relax for a moment or two, check the table, and have another cup of coffee.

Thanksgiving Menu 2016


Cornbread Dressing

Spiral Sliced Ham

Katherine’s Sparkle Salad

Heather’s Green Beans With Bacon and Garlic

Lauren’s Brussel Sprouts With Dried Cranberries, Pecans, and Bacon

Pioneer Woman’s Mashed Potatoes

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Giblet Gravy

Sister Schubert Rolls

Pecan Pie with Pecans from Heather’s Tree

Pumpkin Streusel Pie

Flat Apple Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Miss Olive Speaks In Time For Thanksgiving

Olive Speaks

One day several years ago, my father said to two of our daughters who were visiting-

“You girls want to go through that closet in the garage at my house?”

That closet in the garage held a treasure trove of my mother’s collecting.

One replied, as nonchalantly as a racing heart rate will allow, “How about right now?”

My father smiled because he knew exactly what they were thinking.

They are their mother’s and grandmother’s daughters/granddaughters.

(Note: I have 3 daughters. One was not here. She is part of all of this in absentia.

Afterall, we have rules of engagement for closet sifting too. Even steven.)

In the depths of that closet were these cookbooks
published in 1910.

Let’s look first at the Desserts Volume.

Olive Speaks 2

Can you read the first sentence of the last paragraph?

“The chief reason why more women do not give their pastries due personal attention lies in the fact that

discouragement so often follows failure…”

No kidding!

I have tried to make a pie crust in a food processor, by hand, and at one point in the 80’s by using a large

Tupperware bowl, filled with pastry ingredients, which I rotated wildly, in a clockwise direction, simulating

hula hooping.

Thank you Miss Olive (the author) for taking that monkey off my back.

And then there is this recipe.

Olive Speaks 3

I don’t even know what to say.

However, as irreverent as I can be, I am completely impressed. This one could happen…it could really


One last one.

Ivy (9)

Read the last paragraph.

I’m going to let you write the last sentence of this post.


We are packing my husband’s truck to head to El Paso today.

It is a long journey, but when time permits I will be working on my menu and shopping list for Thanksgiving day.

It is time dear friends to- as my father would say-

“get after it.”.

I get Miss Olive. I really do.


This is a re-worked post from the past I thought you would enjoy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

If We Were Having Coffee

I wish we were having coffee this morning because I have several things that I want to share with you.
First of all, have you ever tasted an Ambrosia apple?
Oh my goodness. They are delicious. 
I will be baking a flat apple pie for Thanksgiving , using Granny Smith apples, but I  am
going to use Ambrosia apples for our fruit salad.
One of our other favorite desserts at Thanksgiving is a carrot cake, which is my husband’s favorite.
And finally, after 40 weeks of Thoughts of Home on Thursday,
it is time to bring that wonderful party to an end.
I know I speak for all of the hostesses when I say how thankful I am that we shared our Thursdays
with you this year.
You have each made this such a rewarding experience.
We hope you feel that way too.
Thoughts of Home Sidebar

Monday, November 14, 2016

Chocolate Layered Dessert

IMG_4312Do you have a recipe that is your go to, no fail, festive dessert that everyone loves?
I do, and now it can be yours.
This recipe was one of my mother’s favorites, and it combines all of those decadent
holiday ingredients that are mainstays this time of year:
chocolate , crust with chopped pecans, cream cheese, and whipped cream South Texas Style- also
known as Cool Whip.
Chocolate Layered Dessert
It is that dessert that no matter how much you have eaten at your Thanksgiving feast, you somehow
find a way to have just ‘ a small piece’.
As I am fond of saying, “If we were having coffee,” we could sit here and enjoy a piece too.

yield: 12 servingsprint recipe

Chocolate Layered Dessert

A delicious layered chocolate dessert.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Cheese Layer:
  • 1 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup Cool Whip
Pudding Layer:
  • 1 large pkg. chocolate instant pudding
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup Cool Whip
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, optional


  1. Mix flour, melted butter, and nuts to form crumb mixture. Pat into a 9x12 Pyrex pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool.
Cheese Layer:
  1. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together. Fold in 1 cup Cool Whip and spread on cooled crust.
Pudding Layer:
  1. Mix instant pudding, milk, and vanilla until pudding consistency. Spread over the cheese layer.
  1. Spread Cool Whip ver thinly over pudding layer. Garnish with chopped nuts or grated chocolate.
Created using The Recipes Generator

I am delighted today to be part of a Holiday Recipe Blog Hop with such wonderful cooks, hosted by
Carol of Bluesky Kitchen. Carol shares her wealth of cooking knowledge at her blog and at La Cuisine Maison,
her in~home cooking school.
Please visit all of the participants today as well as the rest of the week.
Get your grocery list out. It’s going to be fun!
Holiday Recipe Blog Hop Schedule
Kitty’s Kozy Kitchen/ Intentionally Eat/ The Dedicated House/ Opulent Cottage

This recipe is an official Ranch Recipe. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thoughts of Home Thanksgiving Vignettes Day 4

Welcome to the final day of our 
Thanksgiving Vignettes tour.
It has been a week full of inspiration and creativity, highlighted by our special Thanksgiving edition of 
Thoughts of Home on Thursday.
If you missed Wednesday's tour,visit these wonderful bloggers:
led by our Thoughts of Home hostess

In her inspiring post, Jemma shares the joy that the Thanksgiving season brings.

 The message here at White Spray Paint is all about 
'finding delight in simple things'.

It makes perfect sense then that I love Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is about hope and gratitude and the simple experience of sharing food and fun with family.

It involves all of my favorite things: planning a menu, preparing special dishes, using my Woodland Spode and setting a pretty table.
It is about family, good food, laughter, football, and naps on the couch.
 Some of the best times center around this hutch in the sitting area of my kitchen.
During the fall I exchange my Spode Blue Italian with my
Woodland Spode and add all of my collected copper pieces from the flea market.  

This hutch is where the pies are displayed, and my husband can be heard saying, 
' just one more little piece'.

It is so much fun.
 Today I invite you to visit the last 5 bloggers in our tour.
They are all so talented.

Marty's beautiful talent and her generosity of spirit makes her a treasured blogging friend to all of us.

Every post Maria creates combines her effortless
style, creativity, and natural elegance.
Jenna's lovely tablescape is just a hint of the beautiful things she creates on her blog The Painted Apron.

Ramblings of a Southern Girl
Rhonda's talent lies in her creativity, her love of home, and her ability in combining treasures both old and new.

Linda creates stunning tablescapes with her beautiful collections, and she is also known to many of us as a talented blog designer.

If you missed anything this week, here is this week's schedule.

Monday – November 7th

Tuesday – November 8th

Wednesday – November 9th

Thursday – November 10th

Everyone is invited to join the Thoughts of Home on Thursday Thanksgiving Edition Linky Party.

Friday – November 11th
White Spray Paint | A Stroll Thru Life | Simple Nature Decor | The Painted Apron | Ramblings of a Southern Girl | Life and Linda

It's also not too late to join the fun at Thoughts of Home on Thursday!

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thoughts of Home on Thursday #40 ~ Special Edition

Welcome to our special 
Stunning Thanksgiving Vignette Tour
 edition of Thoughts of Home on Thursday.
 Today is all about you. 
This is your day to share all of your wonderful fall and Thanksgiving inspiration. 
Our hostess this week is Laura of White Spray Paint, and if we were all sitting in Laura's kitchen,  
all of the Thoughts of Home hostesses would tell you face to face how thankful we are for you. 

In case you missed anything, here is this week's schedule.
Monday – November 7th

Tuesday – November 8th

Wednesday – November 9th

Thursday – November 10th

Everyone is invited to join the Thoughts of Home on Thursday Thanksgiving Edition Linky Party.

Friday – November 11th
White Spray Paint | A Stroll Thru Life | Simple Nature Decor | The Painted Apron | Ramblings of a Southern Girl | Life and Linda
Now to last week's features.
 Stephanie of Garden Therapy provides a great Guide to
 Kitty of Kitty's Kozy Kitchen is such a good cook, and her Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese sound delicious.
Mary of The Boondocks Blog 
 shares beautiful, natural elements for her home in Natural Thanksgiving Centerpieces.
Amy of a Day of Small Things has a beautiful message to share,as she always does,in Beauty in the Simple.
And Emily of My Love For Words shares the perfect solution for the upcoming stress of the season with this 
Vanilla Pumpkin Sugar Scrub.

And now to this week's party.

We ask that you please:
1. Link back to this post or any of the four hosts websites.
Laura of White Spray Paint
Stacey from Poofing The Pillows
Laura of Decor To Adore
Jemma from At Home With Jemma
2. Share up to three of your favorite posts, remembering to not link to advertising or shops.

By linking up you are providing permission that Thoughts of Home on Thursday can feature your post and accompanying photos on future blog posts or other forms of social media such as Facebook and Instagram. A link back to your blog will always be provided.

Thank you so very much for joining us, and we hope to see you each and every week at
Thoughts Of Home On Thursday.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Thoughts of Home Thanksgiving Vignettes Day 3

Welcome to day three of our Collection of Thanksgiving Vignettes and other inspiring seasonal decor. We are truly thankful to have you visit and look forward to you sharing your Thanksgiving inspiration with us on our regular upcoming Thursday link party.
If you missed the tour yesterday you can catch the inspiration right here.
Cedar Hill FarmhouseLove Of HomeMy Kentucky Living and Sharon Joyce Interiors.
Moss balls-white-carnations-bouquet-table-Thanksgiving
Our dear Hostess Stacey from Poofing The Pillows, shared her Thanksgiving vignette in the midst of moving and building her forever home.
Today on At Home With Jemma I am sharing and savoring November with you all!

 One could even say I am basking in the Autumn glow of plum trees changing color in the most subtle of ways.
 Here are a few trees in our backyard where the leaves are gilded in a slight gold illumination. 
Even our massive, majestic resident hawk, while preening himself in the shadows of lime colored mesquite tree, gives a thankful nod to the cooler weather of Fall.
We have to beg for Fall in Texas and warm weather can continue well into December.
So I use faux pumpkins, gourds, greenery, leaves and fruit and then combine it all with some refreshing colorful bouquets.
All of these thankful moments circle about me like colorful falling leaves as I prepare our outdoor table on the patio where we will share a little Thanksgiving happiness.
I am reminded today of those simple joys which have been shared throughout the years, from growing up on our farm with my tiny family of four to our big family. 
I created this simple, natural and budget friendly Thanksgiving table using mostly recycled items. I have many bins of decorating material in my attic.
This year I even pulled some greenery off a wreath and you might have seen me in a field picking just a little cotton...shhh...
Our outdoor fireplace needed some pizzazz so I created two topiaries by placing metal orbs upside down in my clay pots and then tucked in faux sunflowers and fall garland in the top of the orbs.

I love a mix of color against neutral, the infusion of it delights me every time.
If you follow me on Instagram, I recently shared a photo of carnations.
I feel that carnations are often times overlooked, they are a very showy flower, economical and long lasting. I enjoy incorporating them into different vignettes and arrangements.

My husband love spices cake, gingerbread cake...me I love chocolate and caramel.

Thank you for joining us all today and above all I am wishing each one of you a Thanksgiving where your plates are full of love, joy, good health, kindness and a heart that is always grateful.
pillow-grateful-humble-kind-decor-ideas-at home with jemma
Up next on our Thanksgiving vignette tour is the energetic, artistic creator Cristina from
Remodelando la Casa you will not want to miss the opportunity to become inspired with her
Thanksgiving goodness.
Remodelando La Casa- feature on Stunning Thanksgiving Vignettes
Michael Lee West is an author, foodie, gardener and is currently nesting in her new home.
Today she is sharing her Thanksgiving joy at Rattlebridge Farm.
Stunning Thanksgiving Vignette and tablesetting
Now it is time to hop on over and Patina and Paint. Tammy shares her beautiful Table with us and a mindset of that everyone can have a beautiful and unique home with very little money.                                                         
Jill is the talent behind the scenes of Sew a Fine Seam  and she is sharing her creativity and a beautiful Thanksgiving vignette, while managing her own business and homeschooling her children.
Tomorrow is our special edition and 40th week of Thoughts Of Home On Thursday.
We hope you will share your special Fall or Thanksgiving inspired creations with us.

On Friday the Stunning Thanksgiving Vignette Tour continues with your lovely 
hostess Laura from White Spray Paint.                              
Stunning Thanksgiving Vignettes Day 3

Monday – November 7th

Tuesday – November 8th

Wednesday – November 9th

Thursday – November 10th

Everyone is invited to join the Thoughts of Home on Thursday Thanksgiving Edition Linky Party.

Friday – November 11th
White Spray Paint | A Stroll Thru Life | Simple Nature Decor | The Painted Apron | Ramblings of a Southern Girl | Life and Linda

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