Christmas Picture

we were getting ready to leave for church and someone grabbed the camera and took this picture.

 Another re-run from this time last year. I never get tired of Christmas stories and remembering exciting times to come.

Our family has almost always been able to be together for Christmas, it goes  on for  a week or more, some of it here and some in San Angelo. Our times together were always a special blessing for me and Dan. There was a lot of visiting, eating great meals and music. This picture is one someone took just as we were leaving for church one morning and I didn’t see it until everyone had gone home and later I had the film developed. Most of our pictures were on video and I enjoyed watching those and reliving the fun of our Christmas but this is the one I liked the most. ZZ stayed with us another week or two after the others went home, that is when we got down to serious fun. Then I would load her up with Little Sweet, Spook and Blue Boy and we would head out for New Mexico. This week I  am packing bags again, this time to go half way around the world to spend Christmas with her in Kenya. I am beyond happy!

I bought this tree at Hobby Lobby and it was easy to put up and decorate, I was even able to get it back in the big box . I never imagined  I could settle for an artificial tree, I liked it though~

Thank you Lord Jesus for being in our lives. Merry Christmas to all~

Another Merry Christmas

 

This tree was perfect, it smelled good, it was big and it had a ‘good side.’ We had one string of lights, but some were burned out and we saved the ice cycles from year to year.

Daddy took us out to the country every year and chopped down a cedar bush and it was our Christmas tree. Then he came home and asked, “Liz, where is the Christmas tree stand?” Who knew, it had been a year, it was just two boards he crisscrossed and put a nail in the the bottom and into the tree trunk.  It had to be propped up with strings to the base boards, and a few bricks with strings up into the branches. Mother put the lights on and we decorated the rest of it. Nothing like the elaborate trees now. We got to hear the stories of who’s house burned down when Daddy was a boy, back when they used live candles on the trees. Everyone had someone in their family who died in a fire at Christmas time, and yes even Cousin Nora, (she had a twin sister named Cora). Daddy had other disturbing stories to tell his three little girls. One year he said there wasn’t going to be Christmas because Santa Claus was in a motorcycle wreck. He was a jolly old daddy~It seemed every Christmas Day, while Mother was cooking the big dinner, he would say, “Liz, what did you do with Grandpa Elder’s old razor”? (an antique safety razor that Daddy ended up with after Grandpa died). Mother just kept cooking and we all knew he was fixing to get railed up. Finally he would go in the bedroom and empty the whole top of the closet onto the floor, looking for the razor. (I hated that thing! Later I gave it to the Museum). He told us about how he got an orange or apple for Christmas every year, that really is what kids got. Since we grew up during the WW II, there wasn’t anything to buy, it all went to the war effort. So our gifts were used things mother found or bought and fixed up for us. Wonderful gifts that we loved and enjoyed. One year Mother bought a small used table radio and refinished the wooden case to make it like new. We listened to programs every night after we went to bed. There was The Shadow, Inner Sanctum~with it’s scary organ music~Everyone Loves a Mystery, George Burns & Gracie Allan, and Abbott & Costello. It was these simple things that made us happy. Getting that radio was one of the best,  just another wonderful Christmas. 

Young Mexican Girl

this young girl was selling bread at the big market in Guadalajara

We found this pretty little Mexican girl selling bread at a market in Guadalajara, Mexico. Dan took her picture, bought all of her bread, and a few weeks later when we came home, I put her on canvas. This was in the summer of 1966. Since then, she has held a special place in the study over his desk. Dan could speak Spanish well, and liked to visit with people. (I understood enough of the language to know when someone told me how pretty and clean my little boys were). We traveled in a tiny 17′ Airstream trailer, I will have more stories about that later. One of the nicest things I can think of is when we bought the trailer, I finally had my playhouse.

Christmas Sausage

Homemade Sausage

it looks pretty pale until it is cooked

For Christmas our family makes gift basket for each other and friends. Debbie fills hers with her famous soups, huge oatmeal cookies, gourmet coffees, and breads. Paul and Anna smoke turkey breasts and make beef jerky, Tricia makes  Divinity candy, Truffles and all kinds of good things One year I decided to make sausage to put in my Christmas baskets.  I was planning on homemade French bread, and peach preserves, I surged some pretty Christmas fabric to line the baskets. I had  a sausage stuffer to go with my Kitchen Aid, I  bought the casings and a pork butt. After grinding the meat, and there was a lot of it, I added the seasoning and began to knead it with my hands,  turning  and twisting it over and over until it was well mixed, then I started extruding it into the casings, it was fun to do, but the sausage is not  pretty at this stage. The job took a couple of hours and I had a pile of nice fat links of sausage ready to cook. Then I noticed all the polish was gone from my fingernails. No, that wasn’t red pepper flakes in the sausage.  I never considered giving it away in the Christmas baskets, (well maybe for just a few seconds). Everyone got something else instead.  Dan and I ate all of that sausage ourselves (for a long time). We really burned out on it. Just a while back  I decided to try again and it turned pretty good. I  used store bought seasoning, no Revlon this time~

Christmas Carolers

this is what I opened my door to last Sunday, what a wonderful surprise~

Someone knocked on my door one Sunday afternoon and when I opened it, there were about 30 people loaded on two trailers and others standing in the yard! They were ready to serenade me with wonderful Christmas music. There was even a guitar player! This was a huge surprise. This was a huge thrill. It was the youth group from the First Methodist Church  in Eldorado, I recognized so many of my little friends. It was a beautiful evening, nice and warm, just perfect for caroling. I know they took their music all over town and brought so much Christmas Spirit and Joy to others, but it would be hard to imagine anyone more happy than I was. I even got some hugs! Thank you all for this special blessing~Warmest Love and Merry Christmas 

they sang  beautiful Christmas music

perfect day, warm and no wind

everyone was having a good time

then off they went to their next gig~

time to say goodbye, it was truly wonderful

Tree House

this tree house is about 8 feet from the ground, beautiful job. I will be showing other tree houses in later blogs.

One morning a few years ago, I heard interesting noises from across the road, not a chain saw, a weed eater, not a mower, but something better. I knew the sound of a circular saw and it was buzzing away. This went on all day and when I went for my walk I saw what was going on with my neighbors. In an oak grove in the back there was some framing going up the biggest tree and legs down to the ground.  I could see Jim  was building a real tree house for their little girls. It was fun watching the progress. It took about a week and was perfect and wonderful. It had a nice sized room, a porch and  real stairs with hand rails. I thought how lucky those two kids were, it is every child’s dream to have a tree house, a play house or a cave. I always look when I drive by, it is a mighty fine house and a fine daddy who built it~

Thanksgiving Dinner at Church

This is my blog from a year ago, I liked it and wanted to run it again. Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone. We all have much to be thankful for, never underestimate your good fortune.

this is Vickie, she was the most decorated helper so she gets to go first

I am re-posting my blog from last year’s Thanksgiving Dinner at the Presbyterian Church in Eldorado. I won’t be there this year, instead I will be enjoying my 80th birthday dinner with my family in Christoval. Let the fun begin!

After church service today we had our annual Thanksgiving dinner, it is always a special meal.  Everyone brings their favorite dishes and we have wonderful cooks. There are about 40 members in our church, I think they were all there today and some guests too.  I will show you a few pictures, it will make you hungry~ 

there were platters of ham and turkey, wonderful dressing and gravy

two of our best cooks, we published a cook book a few years ago and there were wonderful ‘start from scratch’ recipes

Debbie is the one who brings the wonderful music every Sunday

here are Danell and Maxine

here are  good vegetable dishes, the deviled eggs are the first to go~

there are always delicious fruit salads, the pink one in front is Danell’s

this is just a few of the desserts, the table was 6 feet long and loaded with cakes, pies, banana pudding, and cheese cakes.

What a feast, how wonderful it is to have our church family~

Wild Turkeys in West Texas

here are some of the pictures Frankie Lively took of the turkeys near their country home. She is one who loves wild life and it shows in her beautiful photographs.

more turkeys under the tree. they like to roost in big trees and are pretty noisy getting up there, lots of wings batting around until they find the right spot, they settle down, sort of talk to each other and then all is quiet.

Wild turkeys are only one of two domestic birds native to America, the other is a duck. My friend Frankie Lively took these pictures in a pasture near her home in the country. It is not easy to get a picture, when they see you, they walk on off. The Toms either hang out by themselves or stay  with other Toms~or gobblers~ and the hens stay together in groups until mating season. The hens lay from 7 to 14 eggs and are good mothers. They feed their babies for about three days then the babies find food for themselves, but stay with the group. At times there are as many as 45 or 50 that roam around together. Another ranching friend came home last week and there were 45 turkeys under her pecan tree in the yard. Wild turkeys forage on the ground and eat  nuts, acorns, seeds and berries. Unlike the domestic turkeys, they are good flyers, they will sail into a big oak tree just before dark and roost there. Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the United State’s national bird, he saw all the good things about them. I would vote yes with him~

Deadly Chinese Doggie Treats

this is another picture of the beautiful Delaware Mountains in a remote region of West Texas, over 70 miles of rough roads to the nearest town~

Little  Ajax, he is always happy because he is with the one he loves most~

This is Ajax, my little great-nephew-dogie, sitting on the rim in the Delaware Mountains in far West Texas. Here, you don’t tell him to “roll over”, he might roll for three miles down into the canyon. He likes to travel and goes everywhere with Earl, they log lots of miles together. “

Here is Ajax when he was suddenly very ill, he was critical in just a few hours

Last December, Earl was headed for the ranch in Culberson County to meet a friend Steve and the deer hunters, he was running late. Still several hours away, no time to stop and eat and no time to feed Ajax, he had to barrel it on down the road. Earl knew Ajax was getting hungry so opened up the chicken jerkey treats and gave him a few of those~and then a few more. Then it happened, several hours later during the night, Ajax got sick, really sick. By morning he was desperately needing medical attention. They drove the great distance to Carlsbad, several  trips back and forth and the vet then told Earl he needed to get him to someone who knew what to do or he was probably going to die. He drove over 400 miles to near San Antonio where Ajax had to have emergency surgery as a last resort. He lived, but it was a mystery why his organs had failed or why he had gotten so violently ill. After researching, Earl learned the Chicken Jerky Treats were made in China. (You can Google this problem). Thousand of dogs have died from treats made in China. He bought them at Costco. They damaged Ajax’s kidneys, liver and gall bladder. He has recovered now but was near death for over a month. Earl has devoted time and effort to get these deadly products off the shelves and it seems to be working. He also wants all companies to have a big warning on the packages that any treats are for occasional use, not as dog food. I learned something from this and now my two dogs get a half a treat once a day, and nothing from China, that’s it.  Ajax should be the “Poster Child for Dogs”, he earned it~    Click on this to read the whole story    

Date: September 4, 2012 3:40:10 PM CDT

 

Two Orangutans

these are the most human like of all the primates, they seem to have a sweet and gentle nature.

I painted these two orangutans a long time ago and have had them hanging around my house ever since. I move them around so I will remember to notice them. I saw a photograph in an old National Geographic magazine and knew I wanted to paint them. Of all the primates, the orangutans are my favorites, they look like little old men and seem more like humans than any of the others. I enjoyed painting these two and like having them around.  Believe me, they are better than the real thing. We had a monkey when I was growing up and it was not easy. We all loved him but a dog is the world’s most perfect pet. 

Schlotzsky’s Type Sandwich

don’t take orders, make them and serve them, if someone doesn’t like the cucumbers, they can pull them out themselves~

This is a great sandwich. It looks complicated but is easy and fun to make. The bread recipe is the easiest of all yeast breads. You just need to go through the list of ingredients and have everything sliced, laid out and ready, then it goes together fast.  

these are 6 inch cast iron skillets, you can find them on the internet for under $10 each. They will last a lifetime~

Years ago, I bought a dozen 6″ cast iron skillets to bake these buns in and also for  my hamburger buns. I live 45 miles from the nearest real Schlotzsky’s place so this recipe works for me. It is a great meal even when you are having company. They will remember it~ 

these make a big sandwich, it is a full size meal~

you can cut them in quarters and serve as company snacks~

 Schlotzsky’s Buns  (copycat)
note: this is the easiest of all yeast breads to make!
1/2 c warm water
2 tsp sugar
2  1/4 tsp dry yeast (or one package)
1/4 tsp soda (dissolved in 2 tsp warm water)
3/4 c warm milk
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 c bread flour
2 T cornmeal
Stir together the warm water, sugar and yeast,
let sit for a few minutes.
In large bowl, combine dissolved soda, warm milk, salt
and one cup of the flour. Beat until smooth. Beat in the
yeast mixture and remaining flour, Batter will be sticky and
smooth.
Prepare six little 6″ skillets by spraying with Pam, then sprinkle
bottoms with cornmeal. Divide dough  between pans, it
will spread during rising time. Spray tops with Pam
and let rise for one hour. Again spray tops with Pam,
bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Split buns with knife when cool.
You can use two cake pans if you don’t have the 6″ pans
and after making the sandwiches, cut them into thirds
for 6 sandwiches.
Filling
mozzarella cheese, grated
cheddar cheese, grated
parmesan cheese, good sprinkle of it
mustard,
onion slices
tomatoes, sliced
cucumbers sliced thin
lettuce shredded
black olives, sliced in half
creamy garlic dressing, about like spreading mayonnaise on bun
salami  (it makes the sandwich~
2 slices of boiled or smoked ham for each sandwich
Assemble the sandwich~ 
1. spread garlic dressing on both halves of bun
2. sprinkle top bun with parmesan cheese
3. spread mustard and mozzarella on top bun
4. spread cheddar cheese on bottom bun
5. toast to melt cheeses
6. heat meats and place on buns, ham on bottom, salami on top
build with olives, tomatoes, lettuce, onions and cucumbers
Enjoy the Schlotzsky’s (copycat) Sandwich with a few chips~

Mertzon Road

I like rock tanks, I know of many that have been here longer than I have, they are beautiful. I would imagine rock masons would go through the country building tanks and rocking houses. They were master craftsmen~

Here is another place between Eldorado and Mertzon. I think I painted every scene from here to there at some time. There are a few pretty live oaks, some windmills and rock tanks, and only about three houses in the 32 miles.  A woman who lived on a ranch out there was at a bridge party one time and we were all telling funny stories, she told us that one freezing day she went out to see if ice was forming on the water in the tank and dropped her car keys in. She had to do what was necessary so she ran to the house. put on her bathing suit and went back and jumped in the freezing water. She found the keys and was climbing out when Mr. Halbert drove up in his butane truck to deliver gas. She said she headed straight for the house like nothing had happened. She was sure he must have thought she had lost her mind. It was a good story and I know none of us ever forgot it. When I look at the paintings from Mertzon, I think of her.