Friday, November 16, 2018

A Turkey Tale

Does anyone else have turkey cooking memories from years past?

I do.
At this point you may be thinking 'of course you do Laura'.

I began my early marriage cooking history thinking that someone else older and turkey wiser than I would always take care of the turkey.

I helped in the kitchen of course, and I contributed some sort of side or dessert, but I was not in charge , and it never dawned on me that I ever would be.

I postponed that thinking because I still had one foot in 'sitting at the kid's table thinking'.

Oh the blessed cluelessness of youth. 

I remember my mother talking about how the Riverside brand of turkey at HEB was just as moist as a Butterball and how lucky I would be if I ever had double ovens in my kitchen.

I cooked my first turkey in a tiny rent house on Glasscock Road in Mission, Texas with an even tinier kitchen. 

While standing in the middle of the kitchen, I could rest my elbows on the counters on either side.

I used the handwritten recipe of a new colleague at Sharyland High School- where I had just started teaching.

Her name was Martha Louise Kendrick.

Martha Louise's recipe was certainly a method different than what my mother, grandmothers, or aunts used.

She wrapped her turkey in a cheesecloth that had been soaked in melted butter. 

This sounded very exotic to me, but I was determined to try.
This was of course long before cell phones, unlimited long distance, or Butterball hotlines.

I can't tell you if it was a success.

It was more like wrestling...

very slippery, buttery wrestling. 

But one thing happened that day.

I took a giant step away from the kids' table.


November 16, 2018
40 years later.

I just got back from the WalMart near our house after stopping by Albertson's and a WalMart in a different location.

I was on the hunt for a 24-25 pound Butterball turkey.

I learned years ago that if I am going to cook a turkey, we are going to have plenty to share with family members and to have as leftovers.

The nicest meat department manager was unboxing Butterballs.

I asked him for the size I wanted, and he found a 24 pound turkey , and it was on sale for 98 cents a pound.

At this stage in life, I think I am finally past worrying about poisoning everyone because of my rebellious thawing techniques. 

I have also learned in the last 40 years that at 5:00 am Thanksgiving morning when I am wrestling (once again) with the turkey, that that is a solitary sport.

I am grateful for that young woman wrestling in that kitchen 40 years ago, because she was learning then and gaining her adult footing.

I am grateful to Martha Louise Kendrick, and for all of the turkeys since then-

wrestling and all:)


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Monday, November 12, 2018

Finding Delight in Simple Things

The motto at Saint Mary's Hall- the girls' boarding school in San Antonio I attended for four years and graduated from was
Teach Us to Delight in Simple Things

That was and never has been a hard concept for me to grasp.

I think it was in my DNA when I was born.

And so jump ahead many , many years from that graduation date to this blog White Spray Paint that I created long ago , and my tag line says it all. 

Here at White Spray Paint I share how I enjoy

Finding Delight in Simple Things.

Now please don't misunderstand.

This message of simple things is not about minimalism.

I do love simple things- all dolled up that is:)

And I may have used the expression 'more is more' a time or two in my life.

But this current holiday season reminds me of what this all means to me.

And so what does finding delight in simple things look like in my daily life?

Yesterday was a perfect example.

I woke up at 4:00 am ( a quirk in getting older), and I fixed a cup of my favorite coffee- Wal Mart's Colombian . 

I had several cups while sitting on my closet floor and sorting through my shoes.  

Everything hurts my feet these days (another quirk in getting older), but sorting my hurting shoes into donate piles felt right.

I was hungry around 6:00 am so I cooked bacon and eggs for breakfast. My husband was pleasantly shocked when he woke up later to a big breakfast.

And then the fun began.

A garage door repairman was due to arrive to replace our garage door opener , but first the garage needed to be emptied.

His words when he came by for an estimate may have included 
'M'am...I can't get to the garage door opener to replace it...'.

I hired two men that have worked for us many times to empty the garage because I just can't lift heavy things like I used to (another painful quirk in getting older- with the positive benefit of hiring someone).

And so the day went.

Days like this really make me happy.

I got to speak in Spanish , I laughed at what was found in the garage, I drank lots of icy cold Diet Orange Crushes that were in the garage refrigerator, and we were all working hard.

What a great day it was- for me and my personality-finding delight in simple things.


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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Fall at Casa Golondrina

Welcome to the Fall in Love With Texas Blog Tour and welcome to our home Casa Golondrina.

Fall has arrived here in El Paso.

This is our second fall season in our home after living here almost 15 months.

What is this second fall season teaching us?

That fall has and always will be about family, friends near and far, good food and good football, and comfort.

This is a comfortable house.

I have learned that I still love and enjoy my fall things from the past, but I am now seeing fall in unexpected places-

like this pillow I found at the Santa Fe flea market, or the colors of the nicho I found years ago at the McAllen flea market.

Those things look like fall to me too.

But, the very next minute I turn around and see my beloved blue and white and my gathered and collected fall things from years past, and I think, 'that looks like fall'.

And so it all is, right? 
I hope your fall season is wonderful!
Don't forget to look in unexpected places:)
If this is your last stop on our tour, organized by the wonderful Katie of Let's Add Sprinkles, we are so glad you visited. Here are links to all of the tours.



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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Blue and White Fall Tablescape and Ten on the Tenth

Welcome to October's Ten on the Tenth, where our theme this month is all about fall.

Fall is that perfect time of year to use what you have and to keep things simple.

There is nothing I enjoy more than opening up my cabinets (where I store my dishes and other treasures) and putting together a special tablescape or vignette.
I rarely have a plan.
It is almost like looking through family photographs.
There are memories attached to every single piece.
The Spode Blue Italian is the pattern our oldest daughter selected when she got married ( in addition to Blue Danube and Old Britain Castles).
I fell in love and started collecting all three that same year:)

The small blue and white planters are from my favorite thrift store in El Paso.  
There were about 20 of them, and they were $3 each.

Here is where I erred on the side of caution.
I only bought 6.
Here is also how I think- six won't do much.

I tend toward 'extravaganza' thinking.
As in- wouldn't it be nice- if hosting a party- to have blue and white planters on round tables with tablecloths, all filled with succulents?

But no. 
I didn't need 20 :)
The yellow woven napkins are a flea market find.
The bee patterned stainless from Horchow was a great sale find.
The woven chargers were collected from Overstock .
And of course there is my collection of blue and white- all found at the flea market or Ross or Marshall's.

I have had most of these things for years.
They are part of the family.

Please visit all of the bloggers listed below. They are all sharing wonderful fall ideas, all under $10. You will be inspired!

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Friday, October 5, 2018

Fall Kitchen Favorites

This past summer I added some new kitchen items to my everyday cooking routine, and I think you will enjoy them too.

We are about to hit the holiday cooking season, and these simple, inexpensive solutions can truly make life easier.

  Dollar Tree Place Mats

I now use plastic Dollar Tree place mats to line my kitchen drawers, and to protect the glass shelves in our new refrigerator.

I am adhesive shelf paper challenged, and I do not enjoy wrestling with it or cutting it to size. It reminds me of dealing with tangled coat hangers or packing tape.  Please tell me you understand.

I first saw this solution in Totally Tikaa's instagram feed.

They are easy to remove ,wipe down, and return into place. 
If you buy a pattern with a grid, as I did, (I bought the gray and white ones above) it is easier to cut to size if you need to.

Cost? $1 each.


Small Inexpensive Paring Knives

I may be a little obsessed.

These knives can be found at all of my favorite places:
Ross,T.J. Maxx, and Marshall's.

But who are we kidding? Ross is my kryptonite.

I know the experts say we are supposed to have high quality knives, and I have a few, but most of my daily chopping works great with one of these.

Plus they are colorful and light.

Cost? $5.99-$7.99 a package.
 Wooden Cutting Boards and Serving Pieces

Ever since our youngest daughter schooled me on the fun of creating charcuterie boards, I keep my eyes peeled for wooden bread boards or cutting boards or pedestals that I can use for serving. 

Did you know there are all sorts of charcuterie board accounts on instagram (#charcuterieboard)? 

Here is the first one I did, but I am working at improving.

Ross has every size of wooden tray you might need, and the prices are so low.

Cost?  $5.99 and up

I love the ones that look like wood slices..

There is something about the 'getting ready for the holidays' that I especially love, don't you?

Oh... and about Ross.
As you walk in the door, take a deep breath, and let go of any preconceived notions you might have .

It's worth it!

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Monday, October 1, 2018

Things About Reading I Never Thought I Would Admit

 (My newly collected Mexican cookbooks)

First of all, I can't write a post about reading without saying how we as bloggers/readers are all blessed by Katie's book and movie reviews on her wonderful blog,Preppy Empty Nester.

Aside from the fact that I am usually laughing and have a grin on my face throughout her posts, her comments are always spot on.

Katie's reviews combine 3 of my favorite things: 
wit, smarts, and truth:)

Thank you Katie!

And now to my reading confession.
As a child, I was always an avid reader.

Growing up on a ranch- as I have shared often here at White Spray Paint- taught me the value in entertaining myself.

Is there anything better than reading a good book to do that?

And so my love of reading was born.

As a result, I have never entered a public library in a small town or large, that I didn't love.

I loved all of Emily Loring's books, any novels based on historical events, and what would now be called young adult fiction.

Looking back, I remember one particular reading experience very vividly.

I have shared this memory here before , but it bears repeating.

I can still see myself sitting in the back seat of our family car, on a long car trip to Arizona, immersed in Gone With the Wind.   

I can remember my mother saying, 
"Laura Ellen! Look out the window."  
"You are missing things!"

Uh no...I wasn't:)
Scarlett and I had things to figure out, and of course there was Rhett. 

That was also my first experience with an ending I didn't like- until of course I saw the film The Way We Were.
 Now jump ahead many years to 2018.

I realized early this year that I had became more of a blog reader and a phone checker and a YouTube watcher and a Google searcher, and I confess my traditional reading habits had lessened.

And so one day this past spring, I set out to change that.

There was only one problem. 
My abbreviated instant gratification reading habits (from everything I listed above) were firmly in place. 

I gave myself permission to enjoy those habits to the fullest, while adding something I knew was missing.

And so I checked out books from the public library and placed them on my nightstand.

I bought books at the flea market and at thrift stores , and I had fun doing it.

The biggest game changer of all, however, was checking audio books out at the library.

That meant I was listening in Hauler II as I ran errands or 'made a round' or was driving out of town.

In listening to those audio books, I gave myself permission to take five minutes, pull over, and hit 'return to the library' if it was disappointing.

It disappears instantly, I feel relieved, and later I can add others to try.

Currently I am listening to Circe by Madeline Miller.

 I just finished listening to two Linda Castillo mysteries set in Amish country. I love mysteries.

Waiting in my queue, is Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.
On my nightstand is The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah.

My recent purchases at the flea market have been Mexican cookbooks. 

I am determined to master cheese enchiladas like Taco Ole's in Mission, Texas.

My reading/listening is on fire again with very loose parameters.

I learned quickly that it is all about the narrator on audio books.

Two of my favorite narrators are: 

Polly Stone ( The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah) and 

Juliet Stevenson (The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert)

If their voice or lack of inflection gets on my last nerve, I pull over and hit return.

If the author is a tad wordy, my daughters (the librarians) taught me I can speed up their reading just a bit. 

And so I have reclaimed something that was always important to me.

It has been wonderful!

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Dear Daughters: Do You Have An Aretha In Your Life?

Dear Daughters,

Do you have an Aretha in your life?

Oh my goodness, I hope so.

You cannot travel through life without a voice, a song, or a beat that grabs you so fiercely whenever you hear it (regardless of your age), you have to move.

It is that soundtrack playing in the background, while growing up, that will play in your heart forever.

Somehow that sound connects us to our younger fearless, independent self.

Some day when you are my age, and you hear that special song, please dance- no matter where you are.

As Dad said to me during a recent grocery shopping trip,

"Boy, you really like to dance in the grocery store."

Why yes.
Yes I do.

My next favorite place to dance? In Hauler II (my Tahoe), of course, while driving.

Aretha and a whole host of Motown singers and groups were my soundtrack, as I watched American Bandstand faithfully every Saturday.

As soon as the program was over, I ran down the hall at the ranch, locked myself into my lavender bedroom with the lavender carpet, put a 45 or an album on the stereo and danced in front of the mirror.

I can still picture those Saturday mornings as if they were yesterday. 

It makes me smile as I write this to imagine what Nonnie was saying to Papa as he asked, "Where's Sister?"

"Oh, she's locked up in her bedroom practicing her dancing."

That practicing goes with you as you travel through life. 

It is tied to your own special imagination and creativity and that singular ability to entertain yourself- oh and practicing.

That is the touchstone I hope you have:) 

Now go find a mirror and dance.

Love , Mom

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Monday, September 10, 2018

Kindness From My Garden

I am blessed to say that I have been on the receiving end of acts of kindness too numerous to count.

That blessing, that forever humbles me, and the theme for September's Ten on the Tenth, Random Acts of Kindness, has caused me to really think about what this means.

More importantly, what does it look like when I am the giver and not the receiver of such acts?

Here is what I think:)

I realized years ago that if I follow that nudge to say or do something special for someone, my personal pleasure ( and theirs) is increased when I do it creatively.

That creativity sends a special message.

My favorite source for that creative inspiration is in my garden.
As I have gotten older, I like to think about what my mother or grandmother would do for a friend (long time or new), in need of a little lift.

It may have been the sharing of a cutting, or a basket of fresh vegetables, or something they baked to go along with it.

They were instinctive gardeners and great sharers, so I know they combined the two.

I am so grateful that I can walk out my door to my modest kitchen garden and gather some of my zinnias, find a vase that I have for just such an occasion, and create that lift for someone else.

My zinnias make me smile everyday in amazement, and I know they do the same thing for others.
I know you do this kind of thing as well. 
Bloggers are natural edifiers and act kindly every time they leave a comment or offer encouragement or send an email.

May I mention one in particular ?

Stacey of Poofing the Pillows is the perfect example of such kindness. 

She has offered me encouragement about blogging , encouraged me to return to it when I slip away for a bit, laughed with me when I don't understand the technology in it all, and has always acted as a friend.

Just reading her heartfelt posts on her love of home, family, and life is a special blessing and act of kindness for us all.

And now to an amazing group of bloggers who add their own special dose of creativity to everything they post and do for others.

Please make sure you visit these ladies for their heartfelt posts on kindness.


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