Pasta Dumplings Lasagna

this is a 20 minute meal, you only use two pans and a big spoon. I like lasagna but it takes a lot of time, this one is every bit as delicious. It is enough for six people and left overs~

This is a recipe ZZ sent me from Kenya. I tried it yes and it is absolutely wonderful. (one plate for me and 7 plates for the freezer). It makes a lot. It was easy to make and took less than 20 minutes.

Pasta Dumplings Lasagna
12. oz. package of pasta dumplings or bowtie pasta
1 lb very lean ground meat
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 T olive oil
1 large carton cottage cheese, put in strainer and run water
over it to get milky stuff off, drain
8 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 can med. black olives drained
Put the pasta in 10 cups of boiling water and 1 tsp salt, cook just until tender~ drain.
Brown meat, seasoning, garlic powder, salt and olive oil in wok or big
pan until done, about 10 minutes.
Pour spaghetti sauce on meat, get it hot then add cottage cheese,
mozzarella cheese, cooked pasta, and olives. Stir carefully with
big spoon until mixed and heated through.
Serve with sliced cucumbers or a vegetable salad.

Beautiful Crepe Myrtle

this was a hand-me-down from the cemetery when they were doing a make over on a lot out there~what a wonderful gift~

these are showy mass from the road and a beautiful bouquet close up

every cluster is perfect, the color is unbelievable, thank you Lord and thank you Fred~for this wonderful gift

My grandmother had a large bushy bush in her yard that had beautiful lacy flowers all summer. It was a Crepe Myrtle and was the oldest plant she had. I can still picture her standing out there in the evening with her garden hose, watering it. The blossoms were a deep pink color. About 35 years ago, my neighbor Fred, who did cement work at the cemetery (as a job after retiring), called and ask me if I would like a Crepe Myrtle tree he had just dug up. It was very old and he said it was big but would be fine to transplant. His wife Marie didn’t need another tree, her yard was full to the brim. Fred brought it and put it in the ground for me out near the water trough. It never knew it had been moved, it took hold in a few weeks and was blooming when the weather warmed up. It has bloomed every year since. It takes no care, only needs watering when we are in a dry spell. Mine is about 18 feet tall now. These can be trimmed to make a tree or left as a big shrub. Absolutely stunning~and by the way, I have always had wonderful neighbors out on my road. I think of Fred every time I am watering my plants~he never knew what richness he added to my life~

Miniature Attic Room Restored

this room is for relaxing, snacking, and painting. It was one of the most fun to make and to restore, it had everything except my sewing machine~

Today I am showing the miniature attic room. It is also the painting room. I never had an art studio even though Dan wanted me to have one when we were building our house. I liked to paint on the kitchen table in the middle of family life. I would work for several hours after the boys went off to school, then put everything away to cook dinner. It was always nice to start out with a clean space again.

The sandwich here is 40 years old. (I have since made a fresh one), my favorite~ham, cheese, tomato and lettuce on soft bread~

Back to the attic room, there is a real card game going on, and place for someone to have a ham sandwich, bag of Fritos and a Coke.

In real life, I never used an easel or stool, I propped the canvas on my lap and painted at the kitchen table, I usually had a Dr. Pepper that lasted me all day~

Then a place with all the things I needed to paint pictures. The paint box has lots of tiny tubes of paint, brushes, turpentine, and yes it is a mess just like in real life. A stool, paint rag, pallet, and easel with a work in progress.

Finally a cozy bed, I like beds. I had lots of good feelings when I was restoring this room~

River Tacos

The easiest Mexican Food, fix it ahead of time and it is ready to serve in minurtes

When our kids were coming to the river for vacation, I was busy for days clearing brush, mowing and getting ready for them. I always made River Tacos that first evening, I cooked the chili the day before, shredded the cheese, and chopped the onions. Then on the big day,  the last thing to do was soft fry the tortillas and cut up the salad. When they drove up, there was lots of sweet hugging and squealing, time to love each other and relax for a few minutes.  For supper all I had to do was pour the bubbling hot chili over the salad and we ate. It was a wonderful, easy and delicious meal.  Even now when I fix River Tacos, I remember that excitement I felt while waiting for my precious kids. 

Chili

1 lb. very lean ground meat
3 T Gephardt chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground oregano
3 c water

Brown meat in skillet with spices, then add water. Cover and cook on med heat for 25 minutes. Skim off all the grease.

Salad part

Mix together in nice serving bowl

3 c. lettuce, shred fine
3  tomatoes, cut in small cubes
1  avocado, cut in cubes
½ a cucumber, chopped fine
½ bell pepper chopped fine

Soft fry corn tortillas, 4 or 5 for each person plus a few extras) Note: no short cuts here, you need to soft fry the tortillas, don’t just heat them in a microwave~

Heat about ½ c corn oil in skillet, fry tortillas, one at a time, only about 4 seconds on each side.

Drain on paper towels to get off all grease. (I put thick newspaper on the counter, top with three layers of paper towels, lay each tortilla on it as I fry it, and pat it to get all the grease off)

Stack and cover with a towel to keep warm.

 Just before serving, heat chili bubbling hot, pour over salad.

Have some shredded  cheese, chopped onions and sour cream dressing on the side.

Let everyone make their own by spooning taco salad onto warm tortilla and rolling it up. Messy  but hey, pass the paper towels.

This is an unbelievably delicious meal.

Mexico, Cactus, Lizards and Condors

this prickly pear was over 10 feet tall, the pastures were full of it.

Dan and I drove to Mexico City in 1956, our first trip down there, and went through an area where the prickly pear was enormous, this is one of the pictures we took. Some Mexicans used the big cactus leaves for the  roof on their houses. There was a lot of this pear in the pastures. There were also giant lizards that little Mexican boys sold along the road, and there were huge  condors the largest of all flying birds, nothing like the buzzards we have around here. Years later, I was trying to get rid of prickly pear on three acres in front of our house. I had to take a course to get a license to buy the Surmount poison to kill it. I was using a one gallon pump sprayer and had to haul water in jugs from the house so it was a lot of work. After a few weeks, it started to turn yellow and die. It has been twelve years and it is coming back, it needs to be killed again and my license is running out. This time I think I will get someone to come and do the job. I will always remember the cactus in Mexico, and the lizards and condors. Lots of big scary stuff~ 

Bougainvilleas

I bought several bougainvilleas in gallon size pots and they grew into huge plants in one year~start small, they grow fast. Shown here was  my sweetheart Missy~

 

this is a terracotta pot holding a bougainvillea, Debbie keeps it on a shelf on top of her fence~these plants make beautiful hanging baskets

Bougainvilleas are beautiful, showy plants that grow well in big pots. I have several that I have had for years, I move them into the garage before cold weather and cut them back so they don’t take up so much room. Then in spring, I bring them back out and fertilize them once a month with Bougain, (which you can find at Home Depot). These are my favorite of all plants, they bloom all summer and have no problem with bugs. They do like to be watered every three days or so. In South Texas and Mexico, they grow into 18 foot trees that are everywhere, they are outstanding. As with many flowering plants, these have thorns~they will get your respect. 

Runners and Joggers

Calienta Classic 1984 , some of the winners: Monty Montgomery, Jim Hardy, Richard Sterling, Lynn Meador, Rita McWhorter, Pat Elder, Lindy Hardy  and Katy Hardy-cheerleader

In the early part of 1980, my uncle Monty was visiting and he told me I should start running, he had run in races for years~the big ones~ even the Boston Marathon several times. After he left, I decided to run to the gate and back, 200 yards or so. When I got back, I came in and fell on the sofa, (collapsed) and it took a while to recover. OK, so I wasn’t in good shape after all. That was the day I started jogging. It took me one year to run a mile without stopping to rest. (I was almost 50 years old). When I could do two miles, I joined the Road Lizards in San Angelo and ran my first race out on Gun Club Road by Lake Nasworthy. I had no idea what to expect, I wondered if I would get swept up in the crowd of runners and do OK. I was running in the two mile race and before I got to the turn around, the 10-K runners were on their way back. When I was almost to the finish line I started feeling like I would throw up. I made it though and got a medal for 2nd place in my age category. (there were three of us in that group). There were races several times a month and I went to all of them. Soon I was running the 10 Ks, not fast but always back to the finish line before they packed up the barriers and went home. That was my favorite distance, it felt good after those. I got my sister Tricia interested in running too, she was hooked like I was. We received lots of medals in our age groups. There were big races like Run In The Sun, Stroh’s Run For Liberty with over 600 runners, Texas Rattlesnake Run in Sweetwater, and then all the many fun runs. I jogged every single day just a few weeks shy of 10 years, then one day when Dan said I was compulsive, I didn’t run the next day to prove him wrong. These were some of the most fun years. 

Alan and Harriett Borger, Tom Mayfield, Pat Elder, David Herreman

 Runners are nice people, they run to win but they are friends getting together to have a good time.  

National First Class Runners, Brenda and John Stukey,   first place over all in every race

 

This beautiful lizard was carved by Masters National Running Champion, Tom Mayfield. It was named the ‘Fighting Monty Montgomery Award’. (I am sure I received it because I always took peanut butter cookies)

here are some of the runners getting ready for the gun

We all recognized and appreciated the real talent, some were really top athletes  and it was an honor to run behind them~

Candi was five years old and ran in a 5 mile race in Ozona

10 year old Justin Edmiston won first all around in the youth category at Wink Hill, the hardest of all races. Shanna  just watched~

 

 

Old San Angelo Home

the photograph isn’t good but you can get an idea~

Here is a painting of the Hughes home in San Angelo. My friend Kitty Trigg grew up there and asked me to paint it for her. Later she decided she would like one for her sister, Mrs. Crews. The second one was a spring time scene so it was different.  The house sits on Beauregard Avenue and used to be in a quiet neighborhood at the edge of town but San Angelo has grown until it is now a very busy street.  It is an old home that has been well cared for and loved by this family. It should be there forever. I have noticed that the house has recently been repainted in a beautiful soft gray green color. I also painted Mrs. Crew’s rock house in Mertzon and later their camp house on Spring Creek. There was a little log cabin there that was a play house for all the Hughes children. I loved these projects, I can just imagine what fun those kids had growing up. 

Miniature Dining Room

I don’t have a formal dining room, I never wanted one. When I was a child and someone passed away, they often put the casket in the dining room for viewing~yes and men came and sat up with the body all night~

this little tea cart is 2 1/2 inches tall, the paintings are scenes from Bourbon St. in New Orleans, copies of real ones I once painted . (We spent our honeymoon in New Orleans in 1953)

At first I thought this little dining room do-over would be the easy one. It took me more than two weeks. Everything in the china cabinet was in good shape, no repairs there.  The fruit bowl on the buffet has apples, oranges, and bananas that are carved from wood. I started by whittling a piece of fruit on the end of a dowel pin, this way I had something to hold to, then  sanding and shaping it with an emery board. Finally I cut it loose and painted it. The grapes are mustard seeds rolled around in Elmer’s glue to make a clump, dried and then painted. They are still good after 40 years. Pile it all in a bowl (perfume lid) and it is done. Copper wire is great for so many things, I hammered it out in a flat ribbon and made the arms for the chandelier and the drawer pulls from that an then painted them with gold leaf. The dining chairs got new covers. Glue has always been a problem for me. It needs to be tacky so it will  hold the pieces together and then dry strong. There is no way to join the parts and then hold each tiny piece for 20 minutes until it bonds, it has to be sticky.  I think I have finally found the perfect glue, it is Loctite Stik N’ Seal. The carpet is the original, velvet fabric that I painted a design on.  I  re-varnished all the little furniture in each room, it made a big difference. I use polyurethane satin, everything looks   brand new again. This project was almost as much fun as it was the first time ~except nowdays I get tired and think about a nap~

Devils Food Cake

this cake is moist and slightly chewy, the icing is smooth and creamy

This is my one and only chocolate cake recipe. I never needed another one. It is easy to make, it is moist and slightly chewy, the icing is smooth and not grainy, and the toasted pecan on top is the prize. I always took this to the nursing home birthday parties, for those who couldn’t eat nuts, all they had to do was offer their pecan to someone else.

Devil’s Food Cake

2 c. sugar
½ c. shortening
½ c. cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
1 c. boiling coffee
½ c. buttermilk
2 eggs
2 c. flour
¼ tsp. Salt
1 ½ tsp soda
Cream sugar, shortening, cocoa well, then add the vanilla.
Add the hot coffee and then the buttermilk. Let cool slightly, then add the eggs and beat until mixed.

Mix dry ingredients and sift half into the
wet mixture, beat a few seconds, then add
remaining flour mixture. Mix until all is well
blended.
Use either sheet cake pan or two 8’ or 9’ round, cut wax paper to fit bottom of pan.(You can use two cupcake pans to make 24 cupcakes)
Grease pan lightly, then line bottom of pan with the wax paper and grease that. (don’t flour pans)
Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes, test with toothpick, when it comes out clean, cake is done. (cup cakes take less time)
Turn out on towel to cool.Remember to remove the wax paper~ Frost when completely cool.
Fudge Mocha Icing
1 box powdered sugar or 3 1/2 cups
½ cup cocoa
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
6 T boiling coffee
6 T soft butter
Pecans~(microwave pecans on a paper plate for 1 minute, stir well and cook 1 more minute)
Mix sugar, cocoa and salt. Add vanilla
and hot coffee, stir until smooth. Add soft (not melted)
butter and beat until smooth and stiff enough to spread.
If too thick, add a few more drops of coffee. Remember,
It is better to have it too thick to start with than too
thin. Place one pecan half on top of each piece.

Pride of Barbados

these plants can grow to be 6′ tall in one season, they can be cut back to the ground after frost but will come back every year~

they will bloom all summer, butterflies flock to them~

Pride of Barbados are beautiful  flowering plants. They will grow into trees if the frost isn’t a problem in your area, otherwise they die down to the ground every winter. They do come back up on their own in the spring though. The leaves are small and fine, almost like a lacy fern and the flowers are a fiery brilliant orangey red and make a great statement in the landscape. They are easy to grow, the first year they need to be watered every few days but after they are established, they need water when they start looking thirsty or once or twice every two weeks in my case. (dry hot West Texas) These are the big showy plants you see at entrance gates to homes, banks and other businesses, places that have been professionally landscaped. You can easily do the same thing on your own. You can start with a two gal. size plant from the nursery. They produce seed pods and you can share those with your friends. These are truly spectacular plants.

Miniature Mess

This is some of the furniture and accessories for three of the rooms. Jitter Joe sits beside it to show it’s size. Every piece is hand made, no kits~

The blog this morning showes my big mess. Last year I was working all day, every day re-doing the miniature rooms and didn’t have time to put together a good blog. I thought this do-over would just involve a little  touch up painting and cleaning. No, all the stuff had to come out, furniture needed new varnish, walls repainted, (some three times because the paint color I was wanting  was the color of my knit shirt, I took it to Lowe’s to match it and when I put it on the walls, it looked like Pepto-Bismol). Not good for a formal dining room~ The old glue was failing on a lot of the things, I had to make  new draperies and curtains. Then when the kids came for dinner the next Sunday, Dan told me I should do a complete renovation on the kitchen with ‘granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances and a travertine black splash’.  I think he was teasing, well big surprise Cowboy Bob, I did it. For the counter top I bought one floor tile the color of uba tuba granite (66 cents) and cut it to fit. I painted the appliances with silver leaf, and I worked on the travertine tile. Maybe I will have something better to show tomorrow. Right now I am going to start over on the  Downton Abbey series. This will make three times, it is my favorite of all. That is my reward~