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~

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~ 

Grist Mill in Glen Rose Texas

Charles Barnard built this grist mill in 1860, it is now an art gallery~

My friend Pat brought me an snap shot of an old grist mill in Glen Rose, it was built back in 1860  and at one time owned by her Great Grandfather Price. She wanted me to paint it for her. She told me the story behind it and I found more information on the internet, so while I was painting, it was interesting to know the history. She remembered visiting her grandmother there when she was growing up so it was part of her young life. Once when she was six years old, her mother put her on a bus in Ballinger, sat her behind the driver and told him not to let her off until she got to Glen Rose where her grandparents were waiting to pick her up. Times were different back then. After I finished the painting and she had it for a few days and came back and wondered if I could add some children playing in the yard.  I asked my little Edmiston neighbors to come over and pose under my oak tree, with a wagon and the swing, then  painted them in the picture. It brought it to life. This old building still stands in Glen Rose, it has been a grist mill, cotton gin, hospital and now an art gallery, many changes in a century and a half.  Pat has this little bit of history hanging on her wall. I enjoyed painting it~

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. 

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 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~

Indian Boy with Goats

 

This little boy was 9 years old, shown here with his two kid goats~

I painted this picture of an Indian boy with his goats  in 1965, I found the photograph in an old National Geographic Magazine, it was taken somewhere in New Mexico.  There were so many interesting photographs in the old magazines, they were black and white so easy to sketch and paint. Some of them dated back to the 1930′s, I got a big stack of them at a library book sale. Congressman O.C. Fisher owned this painting and in 1973 when he retired to his Kimble County ranch in Texas he brought it home with him. It was lost when his ranch house burned. If I might add, he was a great statesman, author and one of Texas’ finest~he passed away in 1994 at the age of 91.

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. 

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.

Desert Sage~Natures’ Beauty

Dan made this pond years ago and we have all enjoyed a pleasant place to gather after  one of Debbie’s wonderful meals~it has been home for special  koi fish, frogs and ducks

Today I am happy to show a picture of my kid’s backyard pond with the Desert Sage in full bloom. It is one of natures most rugged native shrubs, it thrives in heat but is also cold-hardy. After a shower, it  covers itself  in beautiful violet purple blooms. I always noticed all of the sage on the rocky rolling hills between Sonora and Del Rio when there has been rain. What a thrill to see such beautiful color. It is a nice plant for the yard with soft silver-green leaves and it takes little care but needs alkaline, infertile soil. It is easy to transplant  a sage bush from the pasture~ 

Miniature Bath Room

the perfume and lotion bottles are carved from wood and painted. I had a lot more stuff on the counter that I left out this time.

 

The commode and bath tub are carved out of wood. The toilet paper roll is 40 years old and still in good shape.

This is the miniature bathroom, renovating it was pretty easy compared to the other eight rooms, but I always hit a snag somewhere. This time it was a new mirror. It took three tries to get it right. I put new ’tile’ on the floor and walls, some left over from doing the backsplash in the kitchen. When I thought I was finished, Anna said I needed to put uba tuba ‘granite’ on the counter. I am glad I did. I like bathrooms, the bathtub especially, it is my reward every day. My sister Nancy gave me bubble bath one year for my birthday and said I would never have to wash the tub again~ but she wasn’t right.

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 go watch another episode of Downton Abbey. That is my reward~