Little Folks Figurines

Little Folks

the girl in the blue dress is mine

When ZZ was growing up, her favorite toy was her play kitchen. One year she even got an E-Z-Bake oven and was able to make cakes and cookies. She had her Papa’s little table and two chairs and all kinds of dishes and cookware. She could put a real meal together for her little friends,( both real and play like). It was fun watching her. Most of her other ‘toys’ were how-to books. One was on sculpting and making figures. They were made from polymer that was baked in the oven and came out strong and hard. The figures had finest detail, ribs on the socks, buttons and buttonholes.  She gave one away  to someone special every year . What a thrill to be “the one”. These two pictured are a little boy with his fishing pole, Dan and Debbie got that one for Christmas one year,  the girl in the blue dress and sandals is mine. What a treasure~

Boy Going Fishing

The rod and reel have perfect detail.

Grooming Old Sally


In l963, I painted this picture from a snapshot my good friend Helen McAngus gave me of her daughter Lisa and nephew Willie. Their horse was Sally~ This picture was one of the most enjoyable  to paint that I can ever remember. I knew these kids well, they had fun growing up in the country, there was always something to do. About six years ago, I had a letter from Helen’s granddaughter Shannon, telling me she had the painting now and how much it meant  to  have something from her mom’s childhood. Since then I have written her notes about Lisa and Willie growing up. Shannon has a beautiful little daughter named Morlee who  looks a lot like Lisa. This picture has been on Face Book but I wanted to put it in my blog, it has come full circle for me, fun from 1963 and on up until today. I love this story, I loved those kids~

Texas Longhorn

This longhorn was named after Bob Oglesby,  a Schleicher County rancher back in the 1960’s

Meet Bob, he is big, he is gentle, he is beautiful, he is a Texas Longhorn Steer. Their horns can extend up to seven feet. They were highly prized in the old days for their ability to survive on the open range with little care. Many people who keep them now days do so for their historical value and just the pride of ownership. Longhorns are important to Texans just as the bluebonnets are. They deocrate the pastures but especially the state parks and  the Hill Country. People are fascinated by them. Schools name their teams for them,  the University of Texas has always had one  (Bevo) as their mascot. They are a great subject for Texas artists. Longhorns are our connection to the Old American West. If you ever have the chance to stand beside one, you will be overwhelmed by it’s size, they are enormous. If you want to own one, you will need a good fence!

Angel Wings


this is the truck Daddy took the crew to work in at Cooper Gas Company

When it is someone’s turn to drive a crew to work, they show up in a big four door truck with leather seats, air conditioning, everyone even has his own cup holder. (how’s about getting 10 mpg) Today I want to introduce you to my daddy’s truck, ‘Angel Wings’. He carried his crew of four out to work at Cooper Gas Company in the early 1940’s. He painted it silver, (the paint smelled like bananas) he built a wooden frame for the back and covered it with water proof canvas. Always thinking of his men’s comfort, he fitted the back with a seat from an old car. To add a little fun, he rigged  the seat springs up to a wire connected to the battery and with the push of a button, he could make them come alive back there! They didn’t like it but were anxious to pull the prank on any new guy. This  picture shows Daddy pulling Nancy and Tricia on a sled behind Angel Wings after one of our rare snow storms. This was 75 years ago, I still remember this fine little truck, and snow  that day. (someone who would also remember this crew truck is a fine San Angelo Attorney, George Stanley Finley).   A sad note to this blog, George passed away yesterday at the age of 89, he was a great man and loved by all who knew him. 

Barbecue Chicken

I bake my chicken inside, then smoke it after it is done. I don’t have enough control over the outside cooking thing~

If you are cooking for company, an easy meal is Barbecue Chicken. I buy the 10 lb. bags of chicken hind-quarters, the best buy in the market. It cost anywhere from $3.90 to $6.90 for the whole thing. What other meat offers you so much for the money~I use hind-quarters for my tamales, pasta dishes, dumplings etc. and they are my favorite pieces to fry. This is where I get my chicken broth, when I boil chicken.  (breast meat is good for some dishes, but tends to be dry and tough) This barbecue dinner is simple and easy. I serve it with rice, a vegetable and salad. Anytime I can find good cantaloupe I have that too, it makes any meal a summer time treat, even in the dead of winter.

                Barbecue Chicken
10 lb. bag of chicken hind-quarters
Hunts Hickory Barbecue Sauce
Wash hind-quarters, one for each person and lay as many as you need on a large baking pan, skin side up. Sprinkle with a little garlic powder and salt. (no barbecue sauce yet!) Bake in oven set at 350 degrees for about an hour, check to see when it is done. The top will start to turn golden. While it is baking you can start a fire outside in the barbecue pit. It doesn’t need to be a big one, I use a few sticks of oak or mesquite wood, it isn’t going to be a cooking fire, it is going to be for smoking  with no flames, just embers.  Now brush the barbecue sauce on the chicken  lay it on the grate, close the lid and leave it for about 15 minutes. When the juice drips down on the coals, it will smoke it up good. Watch to be sure it doesn’t flame up and burn the meat.
Also while you are baking the chicken in the oven, you can make the rice.
2 c rice
1/3  c canola oil
1/4 tsp celery seeds
2 tsp salt
4 1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 c cooking wine 
Put rice in large pan with corn oil, celery seeds and salt and stir as you cook until it turns golden. Then add the chicken broth and wine, stir well, put the lid on and bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until rice is done, or about 20 minutes.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake


this is a happy cake, it reminds me of my sweet grandmother

 I have been looking though some of my favorite recipes and I hope you will like this one as much as I do. It makes a fast and easy company cake. You want easy, this is it. A wonderful, flavorful cake that you will remember after the last  juicy crumb is gone. The best cakes have buttermilk as an ingredient. (I always keep buttermilk, my motto is “one cup for the cake, one cup to drink”~sort of like people who cook with wine~) I always use real butter for everything, I haven’t bought the other stuff for as long as I can remember.

Cream together:
½ c soft butter (1 stick) (don’t melt)
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Mix the following together and add to first ingredients,
alternating with the buttermilk:
2 c. flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda
2/3 tsp salt
1 c buttermilk
Spray large 10″ skillet or 9″ x 13″ cake pan with Pam, put on burner and
warm a large drained can crushed pineapple with
3 T butter
¾ c. brown sugar
Juice from ½ lemon
Spoon cake batter over this and bake at 350 for 35 min to 45 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then run knife around edge and carefully turn onto large plate to cool. (lay plate on top of skillet, then flip over to drop the cake onto the plate. If any pineapple is left in pan, scoop it up and put it back on the cake). Any left overs can be sliced, wrapped and put in the freezer.
This is an easy one to make and absolutely delicious.


Deer Hunt in Culberson County

This group of men were showing off their trophy mule deer from a successful hunt on the ranch in Culberson County. The picture was taken  in 1946  by H. H. Wells of the San Angelo Standard Times.

pictured: “Goodbye” (the cook), Grady Madison, Willie Whitten, Jack Whitten, Sam Calhoun, Morris Whitten, and Dick Nasworth. There was probably one more deer which was used for camp meat~

This ranch up in the Delaware Mountains has been in the family for almost a hundred years and enjoyed by family and friends for all that time. It is one of the prettiest places in Texas and has a rim with a grand view of Guadeloupe Peak and another of the valley where you can see for a hundred miles. I like this picture, the men were all dressed nicely, back in that time if they went to town, they dressed up. They were truly Texas gentlemen. You notice the neat shoes and the high-heeled boots. (Good hats and good boots). I remember Uncle Will always wore a tie, even when he and Aunt Lummie were just dropping in for a visit. My nephew Earl Calhoun sent me this picture and I am thankful for this little bit of history to add to my blog.

Texas Cowboy

I liked painting guns and I liked carving guns. Here are some of the miniatures I whittled to  go with my little stuff. They made interesting pictures, the same as with boots and hats.

Flint Lock rifle and powder horn.

Flint Lock rifle and powder horn. I used a rooster spur for the horn~

The Flintlock became one of the most common weapons used in the American colonies. Since it was lightweight and extremely accurate, it developed into the most popular American rifle of its day.

Six shooter or shootin' iron

Six shooter or shootin’ iron

The six shooter was a revolver with six chambers that held bullets and was known as a cowboy gun or a shootin’ iron. The history of the gun is interesting reading.

six shooters and holster. I had one old glove and used it to make all the miniature leather goods.

six shooters and holster. I had one old glove and used it to make all the miniature leather goods.

Cowboy at Hulldale barn

always nice to hang out around the barn at Hulldale, the only sounds you hear are the birds and the windmill pumping. No, he was not a cowboy and he was not a sheriff~

The boys posed for me when I was painting a lot of cowboy pictures. My boy and his friend Matt were always good to let me use them as my subjects. There is an old barn on the place at Hulldale, a good background for all kinds of western scenes. Here is one of them holding a Winchester 30.30 rifle, and of course had a pistol in his holster. They did some target practice out there, it is several miles from neighbors so the perfect place. They usually found a rattle snake around the barn so the guns were put to good use. I liked painting the guns, boots, and cowboy hats. I liked to add a little humor to the paintings, this one had wasp nests on the studs. They are a fact of life around barns and out buildings. If disturbed, they can sting the daylights out of you, ‘you gotta run fast’.

New Zealand Oil Painting

A painting of a harbor in New Zealnad

This is a scene from New Zealand, what a beautiful and far away place~ I have heard wonderful things about it.

A scene from New Zealand~I would have loved to have gone there sometime. I have seen many pictures from that area and it is a beautiful and tranquil place. That is about as far away as you can get  from West Texas. I painted this picture for my brother in law along with a fall scene from Pittsburgh, they were both colorful and went well together. I like water and I like mountains. Sometimes when we have big rains, the dry  lake near my house fills up and stays full for several weeks. Then once in a while when a norther is starting to blow in, there will be dark blue banks of clouds north of the house that look like huge mountains. I like to dream~

Kitchen Shower for Naomi

Christmas was yesterday but I though it would be fun to tell about my Christmas 4 years ago in Kitale Kenya. It is one I like to remember most of all, making a nice kitchen for the Rescue Center Orphanage.

this is Naomi, the house mother holding Sharon, the youngest child at the orphanage. She was the care giver, cook and mother to all the kids. To know her was to love her.

A project for two of us going on the trip was to build a kitchen for the orphanage. Just simple shelving and Rubbermaid tubs with screw on lids to store the Ugali flour and sugar. Naomi was the house mother who took care of everything from cooking to watching and loving the twenty kids. The first day we were there, I looked at her ‘kitchen’ (a shed off to the side) and there was a big fire with two 4 gallon size pots, boiling something for dinner. Those two utensils and a large butcher knife (with no handle) was all I saw. The kids ate out of disposable plates which she washed and they used every day. I asked Charles Masinde, who ran the orphanage to make a list of things they needed for the kitchen. His wife wrote up a long list and the next day we went into Kitale to Transmat, something like Wal Mart Super Store but bigger. I told him we only wanted heavy duty pots and first quality things, the same things I would want in my own kitchen.

I only got one picture that day, there was another room filled with the other things. There is a big Transmat store in Katile that is larger than a Super Wal Mart. They had quality things and the prices were reasonable.

An hour later, we had baskets filled with stainless steel pots, mixing bowls, butcher knives, paring knives, a chief’s knife, cutting board, large serving spoons, ladles, cheese grater, huge tea kettle, then stainless steel spoons and forks, nice unbreakable cream colored dinner plates and matching rimmed soup bowls and mugs. We went to the plastic ware department and bought dish pans, tubs, laundry  baskets, and the buckets with screw on lids for the staples.

this is the dinning room and study room, the bedrooms are down each side. There is no heat since the temperature stays between 71 and 81 degrees year round. Naomi liked her new broom~

I had seen Naomi sweeping the area where the kids ate and studied, using a straw switch thing with no handle so I bought a broom. I was so happy with this purchase, no woman could manage without a real broom. The last thing I got were the sacks of Ugali flour, sugar and loaves of bread. I had told Charles I could only spend 20,000 shillings and the total bill came to just over that or $264. (the price of one kitchen appliance back home). This was one of those good days I will always remember. A real kitchen shower for Naomi. We never got the shelves built but that is something the men from the church can do later. Paul had another project in mind.

several men came and had everything put in after three days

here the man is connecting the wires in the box. They put florescent light fixtures in the dinning room/study area. It gets dark in Kenya at 7:00 every night year round~

He hired electricians in town to come and put electricity in the orphanage, he told them to put light in every room and in the dinning/study hall and when they were finished he wanted to just flip a switch and have it all light up. It happened! I like to remember this Christmas time from 4 years ago.

The Christmas Bicycle

this was my big surprise twenty three years ago, It is just a new now as the day I got it, no accidents, dings or scratches. It still has the original white sidewall  tires~

On Christmas 1990, my kids surprised me with this beautiful new bicycle. I had seen it in ads before and thought about buying it for myself, even though it was a boy’s bicycle. It had lights on the front fender, three red reflectors on the back, and four small reflectors on either side of the back carrier, then each wheel had reflectors on the spokes. There were comfort springs under the saddle seat and springs on the front fork. It was the ‘Jet Liner’,  top of the line! Oh my goodness, I was SO happy.  

here are the papers that came with it. I have kept the box it came in and there is a note inside that I wrote about the thrill of getting it that year.

this is the original box it came in, I have kept the box wrapped and in the attic

No, I never got to ride it, it is a miniature and only 12 inches long. It is an exact replica of the Columbia Classic RX-5 edition, the faithful reproduction of the 1952 Five Star model. This is one of those gifts that I have enjoyed for twenty five years. I keep it on the built-ins by the fire place and walk past it many times a day. I know we are not supposed to love “things”, so I just have to say I LIKE  this little bicycle a thousand times over~ and then some~

Hot Tamale Recipe for Christmas

here are a few of the tamales Anna made, the rest were packaged and put in the freezer to enjoy for the next few months

This is a post from four years ago but I thought it was worth posting again.  I just finished my tamales yesterday and am wondering how many more years I will be able to make them. It is hard work but one of my favorite projects. If you try it, you might like to have a friend over to help with the work.

I learned to make tamales from my neighbor Goya Piná  when I was first married, almost 63 years ago. It is easier to learn from helping and watching than from reading a recipe. But you will learn fast, tamales are the most wonderful of all Mexican foods. My two boys learned to make them and then my daughters in law and granddaughters too. Debbie keeps them in her freezer all year long for Dan to take to work for lunch. There is something special about laying six or ten or fifteen dozen tamales out on the counter to cool and to then package up for the freezer. Such an accomplishment and what fun! (it will make your back tired)   

Buy 2  pork roast,
10 lb bag chicken hind quarters
4 lb bag of MesaCa Instant Corn Mix, (flour sections at HEB or Wal-Mart)
2 Pkg. Fiesta Brand Corn Shucks, (it will be by the Mesa Mix)
Garlic Powder (buy large bottle)
Gibharts Chili Powder
Camino or Cumin (buy large bottle)
Corn Oil
Day one
2 pork roast,
(cut into fist size chunks, cover with water and boil about 2 1/2 hours or until really tender. Take meat out of broth to cool, then shred it with your fingers, removing the fat. Save broth in refrigerator and the next day you can skim the hard fat off the broth and throw it out.
Chicken Hind Quarters
Cover with water in large pot, boil until done, about 1 1/2 hours. Then take chicken out of broth, let broth cool and put it in the refrigerator, when it is cold the fat will come off in a chunk. Remove skin from chicken, take meat off the bones, and shred. (don’t grind)
Combine both meats in large pan, and mix together, then add the seasoning (below), and thoroughly mix with your hands. This takes about 10 minutes.
1/2 c corn oil
6 T. Gibharts chili powder
3 T garlic powder (not garlic salt!)
3 T ground cumin (cumino)
1 T.(or less) black pepper or to taste, start off with about half this much pepper and then add more if you want them hotter.
1 1/2 T salt, or to taste. After you mix in the salt, keep tasting until it seems right. You might need a little more. Be careful with the salt, too much can ruin the tamales.
Mix the oil and seasoning in a small pan and warm on stove. Pour over meat and mix until it is completely distributed through meat. Keep tasting until the flavor suits you. Put the meat in the refrigerator covered until ready to make the tamales.
Day Two or Tamale Day
Mesa dough mix:
2 lbs. MesaCa instant corn mix (It comes in a 4 lb bag, use half  a bag).
Broth from the pork and chicken that has had the fat skimmed off. Have it warm.
2 c corn oil
1 1/2 T salt (it may take more salt, just taste and add more if needed, be careful with the salt)
1 T cumin, (you can also add 1 T cumin seeds if you have them)
2 T Gibharts Chili Powder
3 T garlic powder
In a large bowl mix the spices into the mesa until it is complete incorporated. Add the oil and about 2 quarts of the warm chicken /pork broth. Work with your hands to make dough, then start adding more broth and work it in. If it is too dry, you will add enough warm water to get it right for spreading. It should be about like thick peanut butter.  Shucks:   Place in warm water in the sink to soften,  for about an hour, separate them carefully~Notice! if you have left over meat, you can freeze it and make another batch of tamales on another day. It will keep in the freezer perfectly for about 3 months (when you aren’t so tired~)

Putting Tamales Together
Take some of the shucks out of water, shake water off and lay them on the counter.

it should be the about like peanut butter, it won’t hurt you to eat it raw~we tamale cooks do lots of tasting~

spread masa 2/3rds from left side, leave 1/3rd on the right side and top third clean

Lay a shuck across your palm, the small end toward your fingers, scoop up about 1/2 cup of the dough onto a spatula and smear it on the shuck (you want to cover the shuck on the left side to about 2/3rds over, leaving 1/3rd with no masa on it. Now, go to the next shuck and do the same, laying them out on the counter as you put the masa on them.

here is the chicken and pork that has been shredded, don’t chop or grind it.

put a tablespoon of meat on top of masa and roll up, then tuck the top under

When you run out of room, take some of the meat, about a tablespoon full and lay it on the masa, one inch from the left edge. Roll the tamale up like you were rolling a cigarette, then fold top of shuck over and lay it on the counter with the fold on the underside. Now, keep doing until all the shucks with the masa are rolled.  

tucking the top end under, lay them on the counter with the tucked side on the bottom until ready to put in the pot





Get more shucks and repeat the same process. You will have about 4 dozen or more. To cook the tamales, you need a large pot with something in the bottom to keep the tamales up out of the water while they steam. You can crumple up a bunch or foil in the bottom and put a cooking rack on top of that to keep up out of the water.    

tilt the pan over and start stacking tamales in until it is full, now you don’t want them packed too tightly~

 Start Stacking the tamales upright, I tilt the pan on it’s side to stack them. The open end will face upwards. Add about 3 pints of hot water, put on the lid and bring to boil, then reduce to medium heat and steam for about 2 hours. Check water level several times, you DON’T want it to boil dry, add more hot water as needed.

add three pints of hot water put lid on and steam for 2 hours. Check often to see that the water isn’t boiling dry. Add more as necessary, if water boils dry, the tamales will scorch and be ruined~

after two hours, take out one tamale, let cool on counter for 5 minutes, unwrap, the shuck should slip right off, it should be firm with no sticky or wet mas 


let the tamales cool completely before packaging them. At this point you can eat as many as you like, who will know~

After two hours, take one tamale out and lay on counter to cool for five minutes, then unwrap it it test for doneness. It should be firm with no raw or wet looking masa. When done, remove all tamales from pan and cool on the counter.

six tamales will fit nicely in a quart size freezer bag.






When completely cool, place six to a bag in quart size freezer bags.

 I usually have three pots of tamales steaming at once. You can buy nice large steaming pots at Wal Mart and they are not expensive. This will be a proud day for you if this is your first time to make tamales. You will feel rich! Your family will be thankful ~