Thursday, December 14, 2017

Zinnias in the Snow

Zinnias Winter 2017

This story begins with a conversation that took place in early September of this year, when I called the El Paso County Extension office.

I needed to talk to a master gardener.

You see I was in a bit of a panic.

I couldn’t imagine making my gardening way through 2017 without having zinnias.

It may seem hard to understand, but it was the last bridge too far in a year of monumental changes.

Here is what happened when I made that phone call.

Me:  “Hi- we’re new to El Paso, and I wanted to plant zinnia seeds in raised beds this week, and I need to get some information.”

Him: “Oh dear- I am afraid it is too late in the year. “

Me:  “But I need to do this…I haven’t gone a year without planting zinnias in years.”

Him:  “It is really about the growing and blooming season. Plus the nights and mornings are too cool. I just don’t think it will work.”

Me:   “I just have to…”

Him:  “Oh dear. “

And so I did.


 I walked outside, took the wooden mirror crate the movers had used, and I ripped off the cardboard backing.

There were still wooden slats across the bottom of the crate, but there were about 6 inch gaps in between.

I am a slinger, so I left them in place.

I worked up the soil a bit, dropped the box in place, and filled it with gardening soil.

I then poked a hole in the bed to find the rows that would clear the boards, and I planted my beloved zinnia seeds.


And then they came through.

And of course, the gentleman at the extension office was right.

The nights and mornings were too cool.

But I was right too.

And were they the healthiest zinnias I have ever planted? No.

But what they lacked in perfection, they made up for in perseverance and that kind of ‘vamanos’ spirit I love.


And earlier this month when it snowed, I walked outside to check on them, and I found this.

Zinnias in the Snow 2017 (2)

Aren’t they beautiful?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Christmas at Casa Golondrina

It's beginning to look like Christmas at Casa Golondrina- 
our new home in El Paso.

Earlier this month, as I emptied crates of Christmas treasures from their home in the garage, I rediscovered old and new friends , as I do each year.

They each have a history and tell a story of sorts creating their own Christmas tour.
Here are their stories:)

Sagrado de Corazon
Each of the three gold tin hearts is a Sagrado de Corazon- or Sacred Heart. My dear friend Anna said they represent Jesus's love for humanity.Isn't that a beautiful message this time of the year? I bought them on our last trip across the border before we moved. Somehow I knew I would find a home for them.
Christmas Angel
The tall gold angel is exactly like the gold angel I gave another dear friend- Lupita- many years ago.
Three Wise Men
The three wise men belonged to my mother.
As a child, I thought they were so beautiful, and I still do.
Christmas and Blue and White
This buffet has displayed so many of our Christmas favorites- all nestled in with my blue and white.

I bought the red velvet and glittered poinsettia stems years ago on a trip to Laredo with my friends, Anna, Mary Jo, and Fran. Mary Jo pulled an enormous trailer with her husband's truck that day to hold all of our finds, and I have never laughed so hard in my life.

Christmas Tree 2017
And when we moved in, I didn't have a Christmas tree that would look right in a room with high ceilings. I found this one at a warehouse sale with my daughters which always means lots of laughter and comments of  "Oh, Mom." 

Christmas Tureen Collection
My collection of tureens survived the move, and I feel comforted seeing them in their traditional location.

I want to thank Katie of Let's Add Sprinkles for organizing this wonderful Cozy at Christmas Holiday Blog Tour.
All of these ladies have stunning homes and amazing Christmas decor.
Make sure you visit all of them!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Special Christmas Gift Giving

For many years, I have used a method of gathering together a few select Christmas gifts to share with friends old and new.

There is nothing comparable to giving something to a friend that was part of my life.

I have been a thrifter and explorer for a very long time- as was my mother and now my girls- and so these treasures from my special collections are perfect to share with a friend.

In handing it to them, I have often said 'this belonged to my mother'.

And so that gift completes some sort of circle in my heart.

Whether it is a piece of milk glass from my beloved collection, 

or a hammered aluminum bowl from the fifties that was my mother's- or later mine :) the feeling is the same.

It makes me smile every time- and it always brings a smile to their faces as well.

My weakness for silverplate, and the collection that has resulted, provides a way I can share my love for its beauty with someone else.

Doing this at Christmas is especially beautiful.

It is the tenth of the month, and I am honored to be part of Ten on the Tenth!
 Visit these wonderful bloggers for all sorts of amazing budget friendly Christmas gift giving inspiration.

Christmas is right around the corner!
Are you getting ready?

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Simple Fall Decorating Tips

Simple Fall Dining Table Arrangement With Blue and White

Fall for me is that easier, no strings attached time of year that is simply about cooler weather, college football, and setting out some of my favorite fall treasures.
It is about family and comfort and food and enjoying the appeal these treasures bring to our home.

To create that appeal, here are a few of my tried and true seasonal decorating tips that have always served me well. 
1.  It all has to go with the flow and bloom where I plant it.  
I am a jammer and a slinger and my fall decor needs to fit and not fight where I put it. 

These items live with us- not the other way around. 
To that point, you all know I love blue and white, and to my eye fall colors combine beautifully with my long collected mountain of blue and white porcelain pieces.
Have you noticed the mountain ? :)

2.  My second tip always reminds me of an expression my dear friend Celeste from South Texas always says before getting dressed for a special occasion-
"Throw the closet!"
Which means, bring it all out- go for it, and when it is time to stop, you'll know- or someone will tell you!

Our youngest daughter Katherine has teased me for years about a methods demonstration I had her do for 4H one year titled,

"Adorning the Wreathe".

This is now a favorite family expression when it is time to go for it.
So ladies, throw the closet and adorn the wreathe- however simple or complicated that may be.

3. Remember your old friends. 
You have all seen this zebra rug for several years in many of my White Spray Paint posts.

Let your old decorating friends enjoy the season too. 
They are the gift that keeps giving. 
Move your laser focus away from the seasonal item and look around the room at what supports it.

4.  It is not about price, right?
These small pumpkins are not the drop dead gorgeous velvet ones we have all seen, nor or they real velvet and their stems are certainly not authentic, but when I saw them at KMart for $1.50 each I grabbed them. 
Everything you see in these photos are collected treasures from the flea market, thrift stores ,Round Top and Ross.

It is so much fun to create this way.

We have a family philosophy that helps us add thrifted seasonal treasures each year to our collection and it is:

Don't go to the flea market looking for something, but if you need something it will appear:)-

As in 'build it and they will come'.
I am joining these wonderful ladies for our monthly

Please visit all of the other participants. 
They are all so talented and so smart and dear Stacey of Poofing the Pillows corrals us with great patience each month.  
Isn't her new forever home beautiful?

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Dear Daughters: Gardening Part II


Dear Daughters,

I first wrote about your gardening heritage in Gardening Part I

I hope you will re-read that:)

My hard core, focused gardening began as you know about 10 years ago when I retired from teaching.

Prior to that, I had blinders on, and I relied on someone who came twice a month to mow, edge, and blow away the leaves in our yard. 

Once I had the time , I entered the world of gardening, along side the mower, edger, and blower and...

I have never worked so hard or smiled so wide in my life.
I've planted things in the wrong spot, been shocked when things actually grew, 
had millions of 'projects in the yard' at which point Dad often said,
'are you having another party?'
or 'no more projects!'.

I've wrestled with a bougainvillea and it and its thorns won,
I've dragged heavy water hoses all across our yard , 
I've tripped on those hoses and landed on various parts of my body, 
had dirt under my nails,  
screamed at unexpected insects while running in circles  and gone out the next day for more.
IMG_0028 I've gone to the 'drive thru flea market' and had conversations with vendors in Spanish and admired their plants planted in coffee cans- like Grandmother Mills used to plant hers.

I've danced to whatever music was playing in the yard, and made Dad laugh while I danced in front of the den window where he was watching football.
I've had zinnia growing competitions with Papa and when he passed away, I cut zinnias from his garden to place on his graveside (but of course you know this- you helped me).
I invited a group of friends I called the Sisterhood of the Traveling Zinnia Seeds to plant dried zinnia seeds from Papa's garden.

I've taken small bouquets of my own zinnias to friends in need or to say thank you, and the tiny vases I used were part of the gift as well. 

I collected those vases at the flea market for just that purpose.

I've started my gardening in El Paso, even though the timing isn't exactly right, but I did it anyway because I couldn't stand it. 

If you have gardening in your life some day, you will know exactly what I mean.

I love you!
Have a wonderful weekend.
I know you are planning your trip to the flea market.
I am too :)

Love, Mom 

PS. This is what I looked like dragging hoses in our yard on Scout Lane:)


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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Placeholders : An Important Moving Tip

I promise I have other things to discuss in 2017 here at White Spray Paint other than moving.

Here is the disclaimer.
This was a pivotal moment in our lives- to the point that just looking at the photo above of the moving van parked in front of our old house has me saying to myself 'don't look at it too carefully Laura- there's your old mailbox and the carpet grass you tried so hard to grow' and a familiar twinge of longing surfaces.

But change is good, and today I am embracing that, and I have something very important to share with you.

What better time to share than on Ten on the Tenth?

This is it. This is the game changer.


I wish I had thought of this idea.
My dear friend Jenny used the term placeholders in a phone conversation we had about what was in that moving van above that crossed 800 miles and what was not.

You see before moving, I fell sway to the popular wisdom of the day which is to get rid of things before moving.

And so I did.
Did I need everything that I had acquired over the years from our home, the little house (a guest house), and the GARAGE?
Mercy no, as my grandmother would say. 
I got rid of so much, the weight of items on the truck dropped over 1000 pounds.

My mistake was in letting go of certain furniture.

I blame my daughters for this:)  Adult children can be so bossy.

I sold the  leather couch, love seat, and chair from our den.

I sold two guest room beds, including the headboards, because my daughters said they were the most uncomfortable beds in the world. Whatever.

I sold all of the bedroom furniture from those rooms because I was crazy at that point.

I sold the gray couch from the nap room because surely I would easily find another. 

I sold a couch and love seat from the little house, as well as the bunk beds, and various tables.

I sold the piano and my sewing machine from my 2nd place prize money at the Kleberg County Queen's contest in 1970.

I sold all of the white wicker that was on our front porch. 

I sold,gave away, or left with the house our chest freezer, a small refrigerator,and almost the entire (but not all :) infrastructure of my garden.

So here is Jenny's wisdom.

We need placeholders when we move.
If we want to live comfortably when we move into a new home, that older leather couch comes in handy.

It holds the place for another couch some day.
I can always get rid of it later.

Instead the most uncomfortable couch we owned came with us on our journey.

(My husband sometimes drags in a lawn chair to watch tv, it is so uncomfortable.)

Our guest rooms would be complete at this point, however uncomfortable those beds were.

Placeholders let us breathe. They create a familiar, practical space. They save us- temporarily- some money. They create a home.
Visit the following bloggers for inspiration, great tips and fun. They are amazing:)

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