Steak Fingers

It is fine to eat these with your fingers, one thing I almost always serve at ever meal is cantaloupe, to me it just says ‘summer time’~

Steak Fingers  are a good summer time meal. They are easy to fix, easy to eat and everyone likes them. Today I served them with gravy, fried okra salad, mashed potatoes, hot biscuits, cantaloupe and red, yellow and orange peppers and radishes. I made a chocolate cake last night so that with ice cream and coffee was dessert. I have the recipes for the cake, the fried okra salad and biscuits in earlier blogs~

Steak Fingers
1 1/2 lbs tenderized round steak, cut it in 3/4 inch strips
1 c flour, seasoned with salt, garlic powder and pepper
Roll the strips in flour and lay on a sheet of wax paper
let sit a little while until meat absorbs the flower, then roll
it again in more flour.
Heat canola oil in skillet,(about 1 inch deep) set on Med.
When hot, add the steak fingers and turn after a few minutes
It doesn’t take long to cook them, don’t overcook, you want them
just crunchy on the outside and soft and tender inside.
To make cream gravy, pour off all but about 3 T of the oil
add 3 T flour, cook for a minute, then add 1 1/2 c milk. Cook
until thickened, salt and pepper to taste.  

Big Papa’s Old Glider

It comes in two main pieces, it is heavy steel and needs two strong hands to move it.

It comes in two main pieces, it is constructed of  heavy steel and needs two strong hands to move it. You have to be careful  moving it or it will get a toe!

Restoring wonderful old things.
Probably the oldest thing I own is a porch glider that belonged to my great grandparents. It is over 130 years old. Big Papa and Big Mama McGill raised a large family and enjoyed this swing on their front porch for all their married life, I always liked to swing in it but if it hit the wall Big Papa would come out and run me off. (He was not a ‘great-granddaughter person’, but mostly not a ‘Rita Ann person’). Years later my grandparents owned it and it was then passed on to my aunt and uncle.  I asked Uncle Roy if I could buy the swing from him and he said, “no, I’ll give it to you”. That was a happy day, he even loaded it up in his pickup and delivered it. We lived over at the farm so I set it up on the front porch. It was painted white but I always remembered when it was bright orange with orange, green and white stripped canvas cushions.
This was the glider in about 1972. I remember because I had th.e mumps

This was the glider in about 1972. I remember because I had the mumps. The dead flowers were a gift from Sharon Mittel.

 I painted it a soft green and recovered the cushions in a matching color. When we built our new house we had a screened porch and that is where my glider would be permanently. Through the next 40 years, I refreshed it with new white spray paint and replaced the cushions a couple of times. Then I decided to turn the screened porch into a glassed in sun room, I started  refinishing all the things that would go in there. I completely stripped the swing, a huge, enormous, unbelievably hard job. I used Strypeeze and scraped and sanded, and did this many times before I got the old paint off. When I finally started to see the old original orange paint, I knew I was nearly to the end. This is a heavy steel glider with more than 85 different parts. It has coil springs and makes into a nice size bed. It has everything, there is even a sway bar underneath so the bed doesn’t move when you are trying to sleep.
Refinished and ready for new cushions. Don Spradley recovered them for me this last time. It is too hard for me to make the button tufts.

Refinished and ready for new cushions. Don Spradley recovered them for me this last time. It is too hard for me to hand sew the button tufts.

Here it is ready for another hundred years. In a world of throw-aways, newer doesn’t mean better. Someone designed and crafted this nice piece  and it is moving toward seven generation in my family. I wish Big Papa could know it was taken care of~it is ready to bump some more walls~
Nice for a little nap or just to sit and rock Marci.

Nice for a little nap or just to sit and rock Marci or Jitter Joe. Life is good~

True Grandmother Stories, 1880~1974


Nellie Christian, she was a sweet grandmother.  She was always full of good stories.

Nellie Christian, she was a sweet grandmother. She was always full of good stories.

I came across this picture of my grandmother (Miss Nellie) and thought it would be fun for my family to see it and remember her again. She and Granddad Christian lived catty-cornered across the street from us when we were growing up, in a nice house with a wrap around porch, big climbing trees, and a storm cellar in the back yard. Grandmother had the fidgets if she didn’t have a project going, she oil painted, she played the piano, she read to us and quoted scripture, she made wonderful pies, not so good cakes, and was a sweet and loving part of our lives. Once or twice  a year, she robbed her beehives and could be seen running around the yard flaying her arms, trying to get away from a charging bee. (I was fascinated with her three bee hives, it bothered me that bees crowded around the long narrow door at the bottom of the hive, they came and went, crawling all over each other in a disturbing mass. One day, I got a long stick, stood behind a little tree and started scraping them off, it only took a second before they were all over me. I was covered in stings. Every stinger had to be pulled out with tweezers but no real damage done). Grandmother had so many good stories to tell~ about when she was a little girl growing up in Loyal Valley, stories of  Lost Creek. Fredonia, Camp San Saba and the Comanche and Apache Indians that still roamed around, raiding and causing trouble.There were also Cherokee Indians but they were the good ones. There was the story about  little Herman Lehmann who was kidnapped by the Apache raiders in nearby  Fredericksburg and spent his young life with the Indians. (In 1927 he wrote his biography,  ‘Nine Years Among the Indians’, this book is still available at These were stories of things that happened to people she knew, and times that she lived though. She had an amazing life.  When Grandmother was 58 years old, she told me she was ready to go any time the Lord was ready to take her, it upset me terribly to think she could really go away. She did though~but it was later when she was 94. Sweet memories~

LBJ State Park

he drove up in a big white Lincoln, everyone stood in line to meet him, but he took off down the ranch road and came back after a little while, his prank for the day~

We were at the LBJ Park in April 1973 for the exhibit of all the best Presidential Cartoons that had been in the newspapers through Lyndon Johnson’s days in the white house. Some of them were a little mean spirited, most of them were clever and terribly funny.  He must have been a cartoonist’s perfect subject with his big ears and deep wrinkles. Lady Bird was always the favorite in a crowd, she was pretty and so warm and gracious. He married well~

it was a surprise how tall he was, he was a big man, he reminded me of John Wayne


Lady Bird was dedicated to making the Texas countryside  beautiful~ covered in bluebonnets and wild flowers. It was her passion~



here are two children playing Chess, it doesn’t take long to learn the rules and is a great game for all ages~ even kids as young as 8 years~

Back to board games, the ultimate game is Chess, the modern version of the game is around 500 years old but is thought to have been started in the 6th century. Anyone is old enough to play if they can learn the rules, 8 years old is about right. It is interesting, it takes skill and teaches skill,

Chess board and all the different pieces, rooks, castles, pawns, knights, king and queen, they all have rules for how they can be moved~

There is a lot going on in a chess game, different pieces move only certain directions and are some only allowed to jump certain ways.  Every piece can be captured and removed from the board except for the King, when he is blocked  and can no longer move, the game is over and you have “Check Mate”, someone has won and someone has lost. It is intense, it takes a lot of thought but it is not hard to learn and such a pleasure to play. It has stood the test of time.

Dan and I used to play a lot and he played to win! Once in a while if I beat him, he would want to start another game immediately and would always say, “one more game, winner take all”. And as  with all games, he kept track (for months) of how many games he won and how many I won. These were his rules and I went along with it until his sister-in-law told him that nobody did that and it was the craziest thing she ever heard. I didn’t allow him to keep track after that.

Birthday Time Again

this picture is when he was almost two, he was a happy baby and had lots of grandmothers~it is one of my favorite pictures~he called her Gran-murr Courtney. 

Today is my oldest son’s birthday, he was born in 1956 and what a thrill to remember all these wonderful years.  It took me 24 hours “to born the boy”. The afternoon before, I had taken my 2 mile exercise walk down Rabbit Road in my summer clothes, it was a hot fall day. Then by the next day when he was born we had a famous West Texas blizzard blow in and for five days everything was frozen solid, tree limbs were breaking from the weight of the ice. I always remember that hard freeze on October 22 but most of all how wonderful it was to have that brand new baby boy. There is no sweeter blessing on earth than being a mama.

Antique Trade Show in Santa Fe

here is ZZ in the booth, her cookie basket is on the right. She gave cookies to everyone that day. Give a child a job and they are happy~

There was an Antique Trade Show in Santa Fe in 1994, someone in my family decided to rent a booth and participate in it since they were interested in Civil War memorabilia and had some of the old Harper’s Weekly newspapers to show.

ZZ was all dressed up in this old timey outfit with a petticoat and pantaloons, her cookie basket was lined with a towel made from the same fabric.

I made ZZ an old timey dress from a Laura Ashley pattern, (I made her dresses from these patterns until she was about 8 years old).  Anyway, I found some suede high top shoes to go with it.  At  the library there was an old cookbook with recipes for simple molasses cookies, the kind that women made back in the 1800’s. I baked up several batches and took off for New Mexico.

she is checking her list, yes all she needed was to remember to take the boxes of molasses cookies~

The dress fit and  ZZ looked adorable with her hair hanging in long curls, and she had a basket for the cookies. During the show, she walked around and offered them to people.That was such a fun time for us. The dress~I have packed away. When ZZ out grew her dresses, Hannah, her younger friend down the street inherited them, and after she out grew them, they came back to go to yet another child. The dresses got passed around.

This was a tiny shoe that fit a tiny foot

In all of the shuffle, one shoe got lost but I have the other one on my shelf by the fireplace, it reminds me that sweet little girl and all the fun of getting her ready to help with the show.

100 Year Old Recipe Molasses Cookies
 1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 c. molasses
1/4 tsp soda
1/2 c. melted butter
1/4 c. boiling water
1/4 tsp salt
Mix together and add enough flour to make
a firm dough. Knead and form into a long
 log and chill overnight, slice thin and bake
in hot oven until done.
This recipe doesn’t have many instructions,
the old time cooks probably knew how to do
it just right. Mine turned out firm like a dog treat
but were not bad. It was just fun to try something different.
Maybe these cookies would have lasted in a soldiers
pocket for several weeks~

Beautiful Pyracantha


this plant has been trimmed to become a small tree, they can also be left as a bush. As with so many of the showy plants, they have lots of thorns~absolutely beautiful

The pyracantha bushes are covered in beautiful orange berries around town. The plants grow to 10 feet tall and are showy and beautiful. They tolerate heat and cold and even drought, in fact they like it dry and can live for many years.

in the spring they will be covered in beautiful fragrant white flowers. They liked to be pruned, that keeps them producing~

In the spring, they are covered in white blossoms and then the berries come on in later summer. Good food for the birds, they eat everything that falls on the ground. It is also a safe nesting place. The branches are a mass of thorns so they are considered a good barrier against predators. They bring lots of pretty color to the landscape with little effort. Now is a good time to plant them, start with a gallon size and it will grow into a nice plant in a hurry. This one I found in some one’s yard one  afternoon and decided to show it off. They will be surprised to see it in the blog.

New Sun Room

Tricia’s yard is beautiful, it is big and she takes care of it  herself. It is a pretty view from the new sun room

Today I am happy to be showing off Tricia’s project from a few years ago. This area has gone from a breezeway to a screened-in porch to what it is now~ a big beautiful sun room. It has insulated windows to keep out the heat, cold and dust, it is a year round place to enjoy. This project has gone through several stages and has taken several years. It is now complete and perfect. We have enjoyed some nice meals out there.

this is the love seat area, on the opposite end of the room is a large round patio table~

this is the view from the living room, all it needs now are some palm plants. It is a beautiful place~(bluebonnet oil painting by Elizabeth Elder)

Jitter Joe, in his favorite spot~isn’t he just a little doll!

Soon I will be showing my own Sun Room project. I also went from a screened in porch to a glassed in sun room but it took me almost forty years. And there may be a  blog later on of another sun room in the family, (I lived in that one for a month this summer with three dogs and 40 chickens).


here she is in her last stages, she held up for years, guarding the garden and entertaining the deer

This is Miss Lilla, our scarecrow. She guarded our garden for many years, as you can see, she was just about finished. She had a sister Sarah who took care of the garden at the river. She faired much better, she went to the barn in the winter time. They were both life size dolls who wore size 8 clothes. Several times they got new outfits but the shoes held up for all those years. Miss Lilla’s arms would swing in the wind and when my neighbor drove down the road, she said she always waved back. It made me sad when I finally put them to rest, I felt like I was loosing an old friend. One of these days I will start over and make a new one, they were sculptured out of flesh colored sheer nylon fabric, with real wigs and stuffed with plastic bags filled with newspaper. It worked. The deer stayed out of the garden for a short time, until they caught on~

Jitter Fits

Minolta DSC

Jitter Joe is my baby boy, he is smart and cute and funny. What a blessing to have him.

Jitter Joe is my sweet little eleven year old Shih Tzu. I have had him since the day he was born. He is perfect, adorable and happy. He likes everyone he meets.  Just one small problem, two years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night as he flew off the bed and hit the floor. When I got the light on, there he was, swimming in circles on his side, jerking, foaming at the mouth and wetting. I tried to hold him so he wouldn’t hit the wall, he is so strong it was all I could do to keep him restrained. This went on for four or five minutes while I had a complete melt down. I thought he was dying. After the shaking slowed down, he started to come to  and was able to stand up and take a few steps but was confused. He seemed to recover and 20 minutes later was more normal. All I could think of was the emergency room in San Angelo, but when things got calm I decided I could wait until morning and take him. The rest of the night, I was on my computer trying to find an answer to what had happened to him. The symptoms all seemed to lead to the same, a seizure or epilepsy. Usually a dog with epilepsy will start having seizures when they are a few months old, but in older dogs it can be a brain tumor. When Ronnie checked him, he said a dog won’t likely die from a seizure, they just need to be protected from injury when they are having one. They are in no pain and don’t know something has just happened to them. If it only occurs once in a while, they will be fine but more often than every few weeks  they need some help. He gave Jitter a tiny Phenobarbital pill to take twice a day and that has worked. Jitter has a spell about once a month and I can deal with it since I know how to take care of him. We talk about it a lot and I tell him how much I love him. He is my perfect blessing.
Marci and Jitter Joe on their bed. I put pillows around the room in front of door facings and furniture to protect Jitter from hitting something when he has a spell.

Marci and Jitter Joe on their bed. I put pillows around the room in front of door facings and furniture to protect Jitter from hitting something when he has a spell. (oh one more thing, when it happens he has to have a good bath and a treat).

Peach of the Day


Stacy is one of the funniest and sweetest of all, she gets it~

This morning I want to surprise my grandson who is away on a trip at the moment, here’s a picture of his sweet Stacy Mae. She is my wonderful and beautiful granddaughter.  Have a nice day Mark, we are thinking of you, you are the peach today. Happy Birthday this month. The ultimate birthday party was the one Stacy surprised you with a few years ago, you were suspecting there would be some kind of ‘something’ in the works  and then you walked in to Miss Hatties and all your friends were there and your brothers and sisters had flown in from all parts of the country to surprise you, WOW, I get chills remembering the thrill. You have a mighty fine girl ~Grammy