Guard Llamas

this is the safest and easiest way to shear a llama, they are gentle but don’t like to be fooled with.

Guard llamas are used in goat and sheep ranching operations to protect the animals from predators~like coyotes, dogs foxes etc. They are not attack animals but fend off the intruder by making an alarm sound, then stalking or chasing it, kicking  it or pawing it. It is usually scary enough that the intruder will leave. Predators can be a real problem with sheep and goats, especially when they are lambing or kidding. Llamas have been know to kill dogs while protecting the flock.The picture today shows a llama being clipped, the wooley hair is too  hot in the summer and they need to be sheared, otherwise they will get in the water troughs to cool off and mess up the water. This one is in a squeeze chute with Claire sitting on top and shearing the hair. She told me you have to stay away from those back legs or they will kick the thunder out of you.

here, Cole and Megan are sacking up the hair~ one llama done, one to go~

 

Little Girls and Friends

every friend had a name, some of them were very old, all of them were her friends, she taught them everything she knew~

Little girls are sociable creatures, they can have a party any time  there is a dog or kitty or stuffed toys. They can have a school be the teacher, and share everything they have learned themselves. It is fun listening to the conversations with their ‘friends’. Two chairs and some blankets and they have a wonderful little house for  their babies. Then when real live friends come, they know how to entertain them. What fun. Here is ZZ and Spook, then some of the stuffed toys, she danced for them and sang and put on a good show. No one left the room, she had a captive audience. This was our living room and we didn’t use it often, but when she was here, it was hers. She called it the blue room and she brought it to  life.  Little girls know how to have fun.

Mexican Boy Selling Peanuts

he had a big pile of peanuts, I notice he was wearing nice shoes. The kids in Mexico were nice and polite, friendly too. They seemed older than their years though~

On one of our trips to Mexico, we were in a market in Zacatecas and Dan was visiting with this young boy. He liked to speak Spanish, buy what they were selling, and then tip them well. He wanted to buy us some peanuts, he handed the boy a pack of pesos and waited for him to give us 4 bags. The boy got up, picked up his toe sack, put the money in his pocket and started to walk off. Dan said, “wait, I need my peanuts” and the boy pointed the big pile on the sidewalk and said, “escos son los cacahuete.” (those are your peanuts). One other time, he was going to buy oranges from a woman on the street. She had a neat  little pile stacked up on a towel. When he paid her, she tried to give him change. He said, “para usted”, so she pulled her towel out from under the stack,  thanked him and left. I always believed Dan would have moved to Mexico if I had said the word. What a wonderful country it was back then~

Chicken and Dumplings

this has lots of flavor and the dumplings, (my favorite part), are just as good as the chicken,  It goes great with biscuits and a salad, and buttermilk~

This is a real old timey dish. Years ago, families tended to be  big and food had to go a long way. With this meal, you could cook a chicken and add more dumplings and gravy to fit the crowd. The meat was left on the bone, that way, it took longer to eat and  you could see if someone else got your favorite piece. My daddy had something he always said when we had company, “eat plenty of  gravy, it’s just s good as the meat”.

You start with a large pot, and a whole whole chicken (fryer).  Cut into serving-size pieces (you will have two legs, two thighs, two breasts, a pulley bone, back, neck and ribs). Put it in the pot, cover with water and 1 tsp salt, 1 med onion and one one rib of celery. Cook  for an hour and a half. When done, put the chicken pieces in separate bowl, discard onion and celery , and thicken the broth. ( put 3 tablespoons of flour in a cup, add 1/2 cup of water and stir to get the lumps out. Then add several spoons of the hot broth to cup and stir to mix. Put this back in the pot and cook until it starts to thicken, stirring the whole time). Add more salt to taste if necessary. While it is cooking you mix up the dumplings.

Dumplings
2 c flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c shortening
3/4 c milk
Combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Cut in shortening until mixture
until mixture is size of small peas. Add milk and mix well. (dough will
be  firm) Turn out on lightly floured wax paper, knead lightly, roll
out to 1/8 inch thickness, cut into strips. Now drop the dumplings in
the simmering broth, one at a time, put the lid on and simmer for
20 minutes ~ med. low heat. Watch or it will boil over!
Put the chicken back in the pot and for a few more minutes to re-heat.
You can sprinkle with ground black pepper and a few parsley flakes.
I like to serve this meal with hot biscuits and a salad. The whole meal cost
about the same as one  barbeque sandwich and a drink, and feeds 6 or more.
It is a lot more fun too, you end up with everyone happy and little stack
of bare bones.

Oil Painting and Friends

I had no plan when I started this one, I wanted to demonstrate “how to” on a sky, tree and road and had a nice group of ladies (and two men) who watched all afternoon~

I painted this picture while I was demonstrating at the Fat Stock Show in San Angelo one year. That was always fun because I knew many of the women who came to watch, most of them  were painters too. For several years I judged art shows at the Kendall Art Gallery and had many friends from there. There is a lot of great talent around this area. And as I have said before, painters are nice people. You can’t paint and not feel good. This painting I am showing you today is one I did from start to finish in one sitting. It was a large 24X30″. I always say you need to let the paint dry after putting on the first coat and not put wet paint on wet paint or it gets muddy. It can be done but it is not easy. I worked on this one for four or more hours that day, the time flew by. Lots of lively conversation, it is surprising but I can remember what they were talking about that day.  Mostly telling on themselves. Good stories. I can almost always remember what was going on in my life when I painted any picture~almost like writing in a journal.

Old Bumper Gates

these gates were a great improvement, I wonder if this is what you bought after your kids were all grown and gone~(whose turn is it?)

My nephew Earl sent me this picture a while back. It is of an old bumper gate near Del Rio. For many years, the bumper gate was a modern luxury, no one had to get out and open a gate, drive through and then get back out and close it. Sometimes there might be 7 or more gates between town and home, some gates no more than wire mesh stretched between two post and you had to hook them with a wire loop to the fence posts.  No fun~ My friends who lived north of Eldorado had a bumper gate, it was a little scary to drive through, you had to hit it just right to push it open and then go through in a hurry so it wouldn’t swing around and  hit your back fender, (then watch that it closed before a goat could follow you through). For Father’s Day a few years ago, their kids gave them new automatic solar operating gate to replace the bumper gate. You drove up, waited and in a few seconds a sensor would make the gate open. (modern wonders). They had a man who worked for them for years, and his daughter would often come for a visit. The first time she came after the new gate was installed, she drove up like always, and went right on through with her car~oops! there went the new gate, off it’s hinges, flat on the ground, gears and arms twisted and broken. So they had to get their second  fancy automatic gate in less than a month. 

Hanging Out With The Boys

The boys were always nice to have Dan go along with them, here they are at Hulldale, one of ther favorite spots~ just 14 miles north of town~ 

These two young friends liked to stomp around out at Hulldale in the summer between college semesters. Dan was always welcome to go along, he had the pickup, he knew the combinations on the gates, and he always carried plenty of cold water.

On the top of the Delaware Mountains,  you could walk half a mile and stand on the rim, and see a hundred miles into the valley~beautiful and awesome place. That is the  magnificent Guadeloupe Peek in the distance

Another place to hang out was in the Delaware Mountains in West Texas. Dan was welcome to come too, he brought his own car in case Matt’s pickup had a problem. (and it did). There were no cell phones or mobile phones back in the 1980′s. Bad to be 70 miles from the nearest town, which was Van Horn. Several times the truck got stuck in a ravine.

Here is Matt, digging himself out of a hole, just know he was getting plenty of advice~

this was a bad place to have a blowout, Dan drove to Van Horn for a new tire. these were summer time troubles, during Christmas Holidays one year it was almost a disaster~

The really bad time was being stranded for 5 days in one of the worst snow storms ever, so bad the interstate between Fort Stockton and El Paso was closed. There was no way to get them out during the storm, it was a scary time for those of us back home.(my worst  nightmare) The former Sheriff (Mr.Upchurch) from Van Horn flew his plane out to look for them but couldn’t locate the camp. Our sheriff here in Eldorado  got two other men and they headed out to Culberson County to see what they could do. Finally after trying for several days, the old ranch foreman was able to drive his bulldozer through miles of snow to reach them. They said when they heard him coming, they were yelling and celebrating. Cabin fever had almost done them in~

Mexican Mercado

these little boys were happy to have their pictures taken., they stayed around close to their mother while she sold her tomatoes~

Here are some little Mexican boys at a market in Guanajuato, many years ago. The first three boys belonged to the tomato lady. I always loved the markets, they had wonderful smells~  tomatoes, oranges, mangoes and leather. I learned about  things I had never heard of before, all kinds of squashes, exotic fruits, strange melons. The women always had time to explain the different types and how to fix them. Once I was talking to a woman who had a few vegetables for sale, and she was explaining how to cook a green round chayote squash. She was sitting on the ground on a blanket and had a small child close to her holding onto her arm. After a few minutes, I noticed she had a cardboard box next to her and there was this tiny tiny baby, wrapped up in a soft blanket. I was filled with mother feelings. It brought back all the sweet memories of having a newborn baby. Mexico is a country of mothers~

Sunflower Afghan

the panels are crocheted in the afghan stitch, then the flowers are embroidered in a cross stitch. It feels good to be working with yarn~

If I can wake up with a project every morning, I am happy. I hope it will be the same all of my life.  When my first baby boy was born, one of the greatest things was to realize I would be totally committed to taking care of  him for years. Having two babies was the best of all projects~ Today is about a sunflower afghan, it took longer than most things, in fact I made two of them, each taking about 3 months. It was so much fun working with all the beautiful colors. I made them in 1969. My friend Billy had showed me how to do the afghan stitch, using a long crochete needle, it was easy to do and made a good background for the embroidery work on the flowers. Once when we were at a school picnic, a teacher saw the one I was working on and wanted to know where to get the thread and pattern. Billy wanted to show her the simple afghan stitch but she was not interested, she said she “already knew how to do it”. So Billy didn’t insist, even though there was a trick to doing it right. Later at the end of school, we saw her handiwork, it looked like a big loosely made fish net and was about 10 feet long.  She told us she realized it was not right but she liked it anyway. It was sure something different~ The two I made were for my boys and  stayed on their beds while they were growing up, I liked the bright colors, it was a decorated place in our house. Much later I showed each of my two little left handed granddaughters, (Stacy Mae and ZZ) how to crochet.  I showed them the  ball of yarn that was no more than a colored string, then had them hold an afghan and see how that string could turn into something beautiful and warm and wonderful. They learned quickly. 

Bluebonnet Landscape

this is the largest size painting I usually do, a 24×36″ .My favorite size is an 18×24″, which is easier to paint and the proportions are just right .

Today I am showing you a painting of a scene near Fredericksburg Texas. It is large, a 24×36. (I have painted a couple baptistery pictures that are larger, 5 ft x 8 ft ) This one I painted over 40 years ago and when I pass by this place, I am amazed that it looks the same today.  Used to when I painted something Dan liked, he would buy it from me so I wouldn’t ‘let it get away’. Every Christmas and birthday, he would want a painting, so that is how I ended up with a lot of those I still have. Many of them are hung at the Schleicher County Hospital and Nursing Home. It is a nice clean safe place to keep them. I will show you more of those Dan “owned” later, I know which ones were his, I have a list of them all in a file he kept, when he acquired them, how much he paid and where I had to sign them over to him. ~many for $35, he liked a bargain~

Miniature Den Restored

I like a den, we didn’t have one in the farm house where we used to live. When I made this one, I knew I wanted one when we built our house. My real one  is connected to the kitchen, you can’t beat that~

I showed you this little den before it had been restored. Now I have changed out the carpet, carved a new coffee table, and cleaned the clutter up. All of the little stuff has to be dusted so I am making it easier to keep clean.

the sailing ship took longer to make that most things but was fun to make. I like detail and this had a lot of it~

When I took the book case down, I got a good look at the sailing ship on  top and had almost forgotten even making it. I had copied it from a larger one  the boys had so that made it easy. I remember painting the sails with Elmer’s Glue to make them stiff so I could make them ‘billow out in the wind’. The shelves are loaded with books, photographs of the boys and a black & white TV set. Nice storage cabinet underneath it too.

 

 

The world globe was one of the more realistic pieces. The wood turnings  were made from sanded down tooth picks, the ‘globe’ was a small ‘roll on’ deodorant ball, and as always, paint did the magic on any carving.

A phone, typewriter and world globe, everything you needed. I remember my first electric typewriter, it had spell check on it and I was amazed,  wonders never cease

 

I like putting a door in the little rooms, it keeps you from feeling trapped. The only thing I ever lost out of one of the  rooms was a Life Magazine from the magazine rack in the den. I didn’t mind, I was so happy when someone liked the little things. Back when I made it, there weren’t computers with printers to reduce the size of a cover and make a realistic copy, that one was hand painted. Usually these little rooms and the covered wagon have been in my exhibits~most times displayed in the open so people could get close and see things~

Shish-K-Bobs

this is a picture of the meat and vegetables strung on a skewer, ready for the broiler. If you crowd them a little, they will stay put when your turn them and not roll over, don’t over cook, you want them tender~

A few days ago, I put Pinto Beans on my blog and for less that $10, there were enough beans and tortillas, cantaloupe and iced tea for 6 people. (some left for the freezer too) Today I want to show you my Shish-K-Bobs. This is a great company dinner. I served them with Armenian rice, cantaloupe, homemade French bread, and for dessert, I made a cherry cobbler with ice cream. My kids come for church and dinner on Sundays, so there were five of us~My grocery bill for  this meal  was $66. (gulp) It takes sirloin steak, lamb, red and green bell peppers, mushrooms, and a few other things. Give yourself plenty of time, it takes some preparation. You can cut up the meat, vegetables, and the cantaloupe the day before, and have all of this in the refrigerator.

I got the skewers 50 years ago, If you don’t have any, go buy them. You will want at least 10. This recipe makes enough for dinner and left overs, I always cook enough so that everyone takes a plate home for supper

 It makes a wonderful meal and is something everyone looks forward to. I call this my Greek Dinner. Anyway, I hope you will try it some time if you have an unexpected windfall~

The nutty flavor of the wine , the curry and the grated onion,makes this something you will remember. The vegetables stay crisp and the lamb and steak are tender from having been marinaded for hours..

Shish-K-Bobs

 2 to 3 lbs sirloin steak
1 lb lamb chops
6 slices thick sliced bacon
2 pkg mushrooms
3 green bell peppers
2 red pimento peppers
6 Roma tomatoes, quartered (or 20 cherry tomatoes)
2 onions, cut in quarters and separated
cut loin and lamb into 1 1/2 inch  cubes
cut vegetables  in nice size chunks
Marinade
1 large grated onion
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup Canola oil
Place meat in large bowl, cover with marinade and refrigerate 12 hours or overnight, stirring several times. String meat, mushrooms and vegetables on skewers, in the same order on each one until everything is used. Drizzle any marinade left in the bowl over the shish-k-bobs. Broil in oven, 4 inches from burner. Turn after 5 minutes, then turn twice more until all sides are cooked, watch carefully and don’t over cook then. Place skewers on platter, scrape up juices left in pan,  heat and serve it in a small pitcher.
Armenian Rice
 4 cups rice
1 stick real butter
1/2 tsp celery seeds
1 1/2 tsp salt
8 cups hot chicken broth with about 1/4 cup of white wine. 
In 4 qt pan, brown rice in butter with salt and celery seeds, stir constantly until rice starts to brown,  add heated chicken broth, (careful, it will spatter when you put it in the hot rice) put tight lid on and leave for 20 to 25 minutes on med heat.