Monday, June 30, 2014

Banana Bread, Venison, Reminiscing

I promised that I would share the recipe for banana bread, taken from the First Baptist Church in El Dorado Texas' "Dinner on the Ground" cookbook.  The address of the church is P.O. Box 458, El Dorado, TX 76936.  The cost is $20 plus $5 shipping.  Phone number is 325 853-2662... not sure if it is even available at this time, but there are some great recipes, just like this one.  Some non-Texans will find some of these pretty unusual, like Texas Jalapeno Jelly!

1 cup butter
3 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
6 ripe bananas
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla. mix all dry ingredients together; add to cream mixture alternating with buttermilk. Fold in pecans and bananas.  Pour into 3 greased and floured loaf pans.  Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes.

From the L.L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook (Angus Cameron and Judith Jones), I found a delicious recipe for Venison Swiss Steak.  Thanks to the wonders of technology and Google, here's the recipe:  Venison Swiss Steak.  I'm pretty sure the long baking time at a low temp has a lot to do with the tenderness, but we really enjoyed this treat.

51 years ago today I was a young bride with my first husband, who is now deceased.  It was a terribly hot day in Illinois in my home church, still not air conditioned, of course.  We packed up our gifts, hopped in our old car and drove all the way to California to start our life together.  Together we had two beautiful daughters and a loving son, all of whom give me so much joy.  Rest in peace, BLL.

Granddaughter Kenze, here with my daughter Angel, coming to visit tonight with her friend, so we will plan a shopping excursion.  Kenze will be a senior in high school.... how did that happen???

This is a week of celebration for the 4th of July, so many will be traveling.  We are staying in close, so will be online to share our adventure to Alamo Springs and the Bat Cave!

Have a good one!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Flowers after the Rain

Remember my referring to the rain we have been having as our "monsoon season"?  I thought I'd share with you the beautiful flowers in my back yard since we have had the rain and the warm (not scorching) sunshine.  The caladiums and the coleus are practically dancing in the pots, they are so happy, happy, happy! 

The Black-eyed Susans have popped open, and you can see the gardenia bush (not blooming) and the hostas behind them. 

The Verbena is still a lovely shade of purple and looks fabulous against the backdrop of the hostas.  We are also in the process of redoing our rocks and stones around the flower beds, so we can keep the grass out.  The grass just grows through the rock and up through the stones and into the mulch.  We spend lots of time pulling out the grass (Bermuda).  The grass is very lush and green right now and feels so good on your bare toes!

Next up is the Mexican petunia.  There are actually two kinds of Mexican petunias, some little short plants (we have white) and some very tall (ours are purple).  They also reproduce and spread.  We dug some up this year and moved them to another part of the yard, and those are also doing well.  These blooms will fall off overnight, and the new blooms will be there in the morning.

Note that the hostas are already shooting up their blooms!  These are all white, and are just starting.  I think they look a little weird against the hostas, kind of like they don't really belong there.

This red bloom (behind the red roses and the cactus) is our new crepe myrtle.  We planted this last year, and it is growing very well.  It has also just started to bloom.  The vines on the fence are a combination of clematis (now in it's second bloom) and the pink coral vine.  What a joy to see so much color! 

I snapped these pictures while my banana bread was baking.  I'll share the recipe tomorrow.
How does your garden grow?

Enjoy the day!


Friday, June 27, 2014

Hiking in Texas

 This is inside the grotto at  Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center, where the Fredericksburg Native Plant Society recently took a tour.  If you are a fan of forests, caves, and grottos, you will appreciate this one in this sort of Garden of Eden in Travis County.
 This is the view from the outside at a distance.  Notice the pool at the base.  Doesn't that water look inviting?  However......
 I recently mentioned that hiking in Texas requires being on the alert for our little slithery this cottonmouth near the water.
 From inside the Cave at the Discovery Center looking out at the forest.  There are pictures of the stalactites and stalagmites (I had to check on the spellings!) inside the cave, but I thought these were much more interesting.
 A look at the Cave from the outside.  Note there is a walkway with a hand chain to help you through the rocks.  The trees are so lacy looking surrounding the mouth of the cave.
You might have to expand this picture of a white-eyed vireo, or click on the link to find out more about it.  It's kind of a rare bird, and builds an unusual hanging nest on a tree limb, sort of like a sock.  The bird is peeking out of the nest.  The ranger at the center gave us the name, and we googled him.

Here's the Wikipedia version of The Millipede.  Let's keep him in the woods!

Such fun to be close to nature and enjoy the wild and hidden parts of our world!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Get Moving!

Polly's movin'!  Volunteer opportunities abound!  There's a great opportunity at Habitat for Humanity.  Last Sunday the Service Project Team at the church organized an outside house painting project for a family building a Habitat home here in town.  If you take a moment to look at the requirements for the family building a Habitat home, you will see that the project requires them to put in a pretty significant number of hours in working on the house.  If a young family has both parents working and has no other family nearby to help out, that becomes a significant obstacle.  So volunteering to help with the hours required in meeting these requirements can mean a lot.  In visiting with the home owner, I found out that the wife is also returning to school to advance her education, and she has three small children!  Whew!  That's a lot, and you and I can make a difference.

So "What's in it for me?" you ask.  Here are some thoughts for you:  Volunteer Benefits.  According to the article, it's okay to ask this question, and there are many benefits from advancing your skills to having an impact on society.  To say nothing of the humbling effect of seeing others struggling either physically, economically or emotionally.  Note that this article also provides you with "How can I volunteer?" and walks you through some steps to finding the right fit.

Now just a bit of diversion into the world of golf.  Tiger Woods is working on making a come-back into competition.  Many are a bit cynical about Tiger, because of some mistakes he made along the way, but bottom line is that he is a great golfer, and the golf competition and crowds it draws are not the same when Tiger isn't playing.  I'm a fan, so good luck, Tiger!

Later - a visit to Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center, with a cave, a grotto, and a rare bird.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

AARPMagazine and other Observations

Wow!  These are Crepe Myrtles that are blooming in our neighborhood.  We've had some really good rains lately, so can't complain about dry weather, and the flowers and trees are really loving this unusual Texas rain.  It rained over three inches yesterday, according to my neighbors, and that's like monsoon season for us!

I don't usually share with you the things that irk me, but today I just want to say I'm really getting weary of seeing Hillary everywhere I look.  She's on the talk shows, on the cover of magazines, etc., etc., and have you noticed how much fresher she looks from when she was the Secretary?  Amazing what a little rest can do, right?  ;-)  Ok, that's my last "political" statement for the day.

The recent issue of AARP Magazine has some really good articles this month on a variety of topics.  If you click on the link and go down to the section on "Feel Great", you will find the 60-Second Health Boosters article.  We need to leave our shoes at the door to prevent bringing in all sorts of allergies.  I for sure like the one where you need to give someone a 10-second squeeze to lower your stress level.  If you like cucumbers, pressing a cucumber slice to the roof of your mouth for 90 seconds can eliminate breath odor.  Really?  And I had never heard of drinking watermelon juice to relieve muscle soreness. 

In another article on higher meat prices, there is a recommendation for pork.  Remember my post about the BBQ last week?  It's a great way to enjoy pork, or just throw a small loin on the grill for an Herb-Crusted Pork Loin.  There is a video at the link.  Here's the recipe:

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or more, to taste
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds pork loin roast
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • For the Herb Crust:
  • 1 sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime, zested
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, and salt, to taste. Rub the mixture all over the outside of the pork. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat and brown the pork roast on all sides, just until golden. Remove the pork to a sheet tray, fat side up.
Meanwhile, make the herb crust: In a food processor, combine the onions, garlic, ginger, cilantro, and lime zest. In the same saute pan in which the pork was browned, add the olive oil and the onion mixture and cook until softened. Stir in the bread crumbs and cook another 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt, to taste. Spread the mustard on top of the fatty layer of pork and then press the herb crust into it. Bake until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 30 minutes. Remove to a cutting board and allow to rest, covered for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice the roast, arrange on a serving platter and serve.

Enjoy the day!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

All this on Weekdays!

After dropping our neighbor off at the Austin airport, we stopped by the Nutty Brown CafĂ© for a bite to eat.  What fun!  It just so happened that they were also having a concert there in true Texas open-air style, so it was just a bit noisy.   Lots of cute young girls in short shorts and cowboy boots.  The food was fabulous and pretty reasonably priced.  The menu includes such wonderful items as Chicken Fried Steak and Chicken Fried Chicken.  Two sides of mashed potatoes and some awesome green beans, and lots of gravy for that Texas Chicken Fried Steak completed our meal.  Obviously not where you go to watch your calories, but there's plenty to share a meal.

The local Historical Society and the Pioneer Museum sponsored Hats Off to our Treasures as part of their Lenz Fest celebration.  Since I was invited by my neighbor and her daughter, I had to decide on a hat.  So you will see at the left the three on hand from which to make my choice.  But first I had to decide what to wear, as the hat had to go with the outfit.  This is not my usual attire here in Texas, but I did have some choices, so I went for the long skirt.
 And the white hat.  The picture is of my neighbor Ruth (86), her daughter Sandra, and Sandra's friend Julie.  The table decorations were huge peonies and fresh peaches (typical Fredericksburg fare), and the fashions were quite lovely.  They were from all the many shops in the Fredericksburg area.  Not everyone wore a hat, but it was lots of fun.  The luncheon was a creamed chicken, green beans, and salad, along with a wonderful white cake with raspberry and icing. 
To top off the weekdays, Jerry and I made a quick trip out to Fredericksburg Trade Days.  The link includes an aerial photo of the grounds, but I'm including some pics of what we saw today:
 It's fun to walk through this place, but I wear down within a couple of hours with the slow walking pace.  There are vendors with plenty of products to help with keeping you hydrated, as nothing is air - 

conditioned.  The place was packed with tourists and locals, looking for some great find, old or new.
Below you will find some tips on how to prepare for your next flea market shopping trip.  Use your imagination, and have fun!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Things That Make Us Smile

 Today let's share all sorts of things that make us smile.  This little puppy to the left is my dog Polly.  Polly is now a year old, and this is the face I see at 6:30 every morning when I let the dogs out in the back yard.  Even though I might grumble to be getting up that early when an extra hour of sleep would feel so good, that face makes me smile.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to paint my very black wrought iron chairs and table a bright turquoise blue (paint from Wal-Mart) to add some color to my yard.  These sit in the corner of my gazebo with the caladiums and coleus.  This left the major table and chairs in the patio set still black and gray.  Couldn't have that!  So I checked at Lowe's and only found some chair pads in colors that had no design equality with my new tea table set.  So my friend Virginia and I were on to the Home Town Crafts in Kerrville to see what we could find in material to make my own chair covers.  Many hours later, with the fabric and the foam rubber for the cushions, my project is complete. And it makes me smile! (Maybe not so much in the process!)

Do - it - yourself projects can bring you lots of pleasure, not because you saved any money, but because you found a way to bring joy into your life!

Check out this website for Laughter is the Best Medicine to find out more of the benefits of laughing and smiling.  And be sure to share with all of us what makes you smile.

And finally from Pinterest, Pictures that make you smile.  Have a really special day! :-)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

True Texas Barbecue

Today I want to share with you the adventure of a true Texas Barbeque!  Jerry and I are members of a group known as the "P-Team".  We organize a float for local parades and sponsor scholarships for seniors from our local congregation.  The designation actually stands for Picnics, Parties, and Parades, as we also organize the annual picnic at Lady Bird Park.  The first picture is of the pork roasts cooking in the massive bins you see in the second picture.  And finally, the last picture is of the towers of burning wood.  The BBQ specialists keep really hot fires going in those towers, scoop out the hot coals from cutouts in the bottom with very long-handled scoops, and transport them to the bins under the roasts.  In another area, others are cooking the BBQ sauce to be served with the meat.  I have to say I've never seen such a production!  In the kitchen we had large white buckets of potato salad.  And one specialist was cooking the Texas beans that are definitely not like the beans I was used to eating in Illinois.  Our chefs cooked up nearly 460 pounds of pork, and we served people through the drive through area and inside for those who were looking for the air conditioning.

What fun to work with such a great group of people.  The chefs started the fires at around 3:30 in the morning, and we actually started serving at 11:00 AM.  A second shift of people started cutting up the meat around 10:30, while those of us in the kitchen set up the assembly line for the meals inside and outside.  Prior to our event we had collected a number of prizes for our raffle (6 chances for $10) or $15 for a 1/100 chance for a Yeti Cooler.  We finished cleaning up around 3 PM....a long day, but very rewarding, and the food was to die for! Here's a recipe for Texas Barbecue Sauce.  Texas Barbecue is a must when you visit us in Texas.  How good are you with the BBQ?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Honoring Fathers

This handsome fellow is my Daddy, taken at about 18.  He was the greatest.  He was a gentle, compassionate soul who could cry at a touching scene in "Bonanza" on a Saturday night.  He loved his family, and he loved my Mother until the day he died.  So today, I'd like to honor all the fathers who make sacrifices every day for their families, whether working at the jobs or serving their country at war.  And then a big "hats off" to those wonderful grandpas! 
Have all of you found the Pinterest website yet?  It has an incredible array of ideas, pictures, and other items of interest.  The first link I have for you today is the Pinterest search for Fathers' Day Gifts.  If you click on this link, you will find some great ideas for you last minute shoppers.  Let's say you want to find a cute quote to include in your Facebook post.  Pinterest Quotes includes some very thoughtful ones.  In the top left corner, you can do a search for any number of topics, so give it a try!
After my fiasco with the peach preserves, my friend Sharon suggested that I just make Freezer Jam, as it saves a lot of time.  So this recipe was much more successful and I used Ball Real Fruit Pectin, which actually had a recipe inside for easy jam.  Thanks, Sharon!  No more cooking jam for me!!
Remember to put out your flags today for Flag Day.  Click on the link to discover why we observe this day.
Delmar Diekhoff, DOD 9/30/2001
Happy Fathers Day, Daddy!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Time Savings

Ever feel like this poor thing???  Yesterday I felt like I had been pulled in many directions: The Blog setup was making me crazy, my puppy was giving me fits, I had a headache, and I needed to get some food cooking!  Many people would tell you that I'm a very organized person, so multi-tasking is probably my middle name.  So let me tell you how the rest of my day went.

My plan was to slow cook some ribs.  With the oven on 275 degrees, place the ribs in a small roaster and cover with BBQ sauce.  Then all you need to do is to turn them about every hour, adding BBQ sauce as needed, and cook for three hours or so until falling off the bone.  But then, if the oven is already on, and you have room, why not cook a whole chicken at the same time?  Just add some seasoning to the chicken and cook it in the same oven for however long it takes to cook it through.  When it's done, I just cut the chicken off the bone, slice some up for salads or a main dish and chunk up the rest for chicken salad.  Baked chicken makes great chicken salad!  Just add some mayo, a bit of milk, some sweet pickle relish and a bit of Splenda.  Yum.

Now not all plans go this well.  For example, in the morning I had dropped a glass from the cupboard onto the granite counter, smashing it to smithereens.  After cleaning that up, I got out my bread maker.  The recipe book indicated that jam could be made in the bread maker.  Just add the peaches, sugar and pectin!  Well, the machine splattered the sticky peach juice all over the inside of the bread maker in the process and didn't yield nearly the amount described.  I had to carefully wipe around the inside coils to clean it up.  So much for my time saver that cost me as much time as I had saved on the ribs and chicken effort.

Just so you know, as you watch this video, I did take a walk with my dog!


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It's a Tuesday

Now's your chance!  The moment you have been waiting for!  AARP is sponsoring a "Boomer Superstar Contest" which is apparently your chance to cash in as the latest singing sensation.  Boomers are officially between 1946 and 1964.  I admit I had to chuckle a little at this, but why not??? 
If you don't yet subscribe to the AARP magazine, then you haven't yet received your letter and invitation to join the 50+ club.  Some interesting information, but always take the articles with a bit of skepticism.  Never hurts to look at a second opinion. 
How about those awards on Sunday for the Theater Folks.  I love live theater.  My daughters and I have season tickets to The Majestic Theater in San Antonio this season and the next one that starts in November.  We get to see Sister Act, the Musical the end of this month.  The theater is very old and the acoustics are wonderful.  The inside of the theater is really grand, and it is situated right near the River Walk in San Antonio.  That means a huge selection of places to dine before the theater and many hotels in which to spend the night. 
On June 20th my husband and I are going to The Fredericksburg Theater to see the musical Les Mis (abbreviated).  We are anxious to see how they are going to be working this out in our small theater, but I'm sure it will be well done as usual.  We have seen the movie.
Hope you are having a wonderful week!


Sunday, June 8, 2014

And How Was Your Weekend?

Sorry to report that the GTO did not place in the judging, but we did learn a lot about the particulars of showing a car from the pros.  First of all, we need a fire extinguisher in the car at the show!  Then we need to make up some displays of information about the car and any items that might be promotional to get the judge's attention.  It was fun to be there, but makes for a long day!

Friday night was the First Friday Art Walk.  Some friends joined us in wandering through the many art shops in Art Walk, sampling wines and goodies supplied by the shops.  Saturday was almost all day at the car show.

Our adult Sunday School Class at church is currently based on a book by Max Lucado, one of my very favorite authors: "You'll Get Through This".  The link I have given you has several options for purchase or download to buy the book.  I've also done some shopping for used books with Alibris, and this link should take you to where you can just type in the info for Max's book, in case you want to buy it there.  I've had excellent luck with the used books from this site.

And finally, since we are big movie fans, we went to see The Fault in Our Stars, which is also a book by John Green.  You might check out Alibris on this one.  Here's the trailer for the movie: Five Clips from The Fault in Our Stars.  Be sure to grab the Kleenex Box before you go....and the guys might rather go see Tom Cruise's action film!  Have few laughs and enjoy what's left of the weekend!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Taking Care of You

Just want to start this post with a moment to recognize all those who may still be survivors of D-Day, or those who are related to someone who was a participant in that time in history. 

Yesterday I had my semi-annual visit with my doctor, actually a new doctor at the clinic, to simply get my meds scripts renewed.  As we were getting ready to set the next appointment for my "annual checkup", Dr. Johnson mentioned that I would have to go out 13 months and a day for the appointment, per the new Medicare regulations.  So I looked it up: Medicare Wellness Exam.  It doesn't appear to indicate that it has to be more than a year, so I may send this to my doctor for an explanation.  However, we did go over some other items during that visit that are worth mentioning to you.  I did find this link to go to for information on what is covered: What's covered, and you can actually type in the service to link it to specific areas.  Those of you not on Medicare as yet, use your insurance company website to see what you might be entitled to for preventive care under the new health laws.

From my own experience, you don't want to be getting Shingles, so check on getting the shot.  It may not be completely fool-proof, but certainly lessens the effect.  How about a Breast Exam?  This website is kind of a fun approach: Check.....  How about a Colonoscopy? This site is great information, and even though the preparation ahead is less than enlightening, it is well worth your effort: C Test info - at 50!  You might also want to check into Pneumonia vaccine - over 50.  Pfizer gives you some great info on the vaccine and possible side effects.  Save each of these websites in you "favorites", print off the info, and share with your doctor for his/her recommendations.

My friends, please all take care of yourself, as the best cure is the prevention.  Exercise 30 minutes a day and eat properly!  I would love to hear about your experiences in prevention and early detection, so feel free to comment.  You can also submit your email address to get a notice when a new article is posted.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Good Morning, Friends!  I'm a bit reflective today, thinking about my experiences with volunteering in my retirement.  Last night  Heritage Hill Country where I live won a silver award for participation in Relay for Life.  We actually had several block captains who went door to door to sell luminaries in remembrance or honor of someone with cancer.  Some of the other teams had special fund-raisers and events to add to their collections, so we have some ideas for the coming year.  This is a once a year commitment as opposed to my weekly commitment to Hill Country Needs Council.  Then there is my church Holy Ghost Lutheran, where there are numerous opportunities to give back to the community and the world.  If you take the time to volunteer in any number of possible venues, the reward to yourself is much more than any contribution you make to the organization of your choice.  So check out what's available in your community, block out a space on your calendar, and get on the list of volunteers.  These hours of volunteering will put balance in your life.

Enough of that preaching.  I wanted to share a couple of pictures with you today.  The first is of my younger daughter, Angel and her girls (Lexi, Macy and Kenze), taken at Macy's graduation in May. The second picture is of my Grandson Carson (in the middle) when his T-Ball team won their championship.  Then there is my little pup Polly, who is now just a year old and is a complete terror.
And finally, the Beast!  Jerry is entering his car in the Car Show at the Markt Platz (town center) this weekend. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Weekend Review

I live in the most amazing town of Fredericksburg Texas, where there is so much to do on the weekends that it is hard to select the "to do" vs the "I missed that!"  On the weekends the town is full of tourists, viewing the many cute shops on Main Street or wandering the wine trails all around town.  Several entities now have buses and limos to take folks from one winery to the other.  Our neighbors, Bill and Suzy, have a two piece band.  Suzy has a wonderful voice and plays guitar, and Bill plays Bass guitar and sings with her on occasion.  Take2Country  So this weekend, they were playing at a fairly new winery on the wine trail 4.0 Cellars.  Some of our neighbors met us there for some wine and cheese.  From the winery, we went to the Fritztown Cinema where we saw the "just out" movie, A Million Ways to Die in the West.  Now this is rated "R", and it is slap-stick comedy (actually pretty inappropriate!), but we had a big laugh from it. 

We quickly put together a little snack picnic and then went to the local Markt Platz for an evening of music from a swing band under the pavilion.  We really do need to take dance lessons, as so many are having such a wonderful time to the music.  Our friends are offering dance lessons for us!

The Fredericksburg Peaches are now available at all the fruit stands up and down the highways around town.  And our neighbors, Sharon and Bruce, have a peach tree in their back yard that is almost ready for picking.  They are summering in Wisconsin at the moment, so don't get to sample the fruit.  When they are ripe, I am going to either make some jam, or freeze some slices, so they can get a sample if their crop.  I noticed that my bread machine has some recipes for making jam in the machine, so I might give it a try.  Anyone have a great idea for freezing peaches?

Today I'm off to the clubhouse for coffee with the ladies in the subdivision, but my plans for the day include setting myself up on a schedule for writing.  It makes sense to spend time outdoors and doing household chores in the morning before the Texas heat rises (90 today), then working on my writing and blogging in the afternoon.  If you need a good read, be sure to go to Smashwords for an inexpensive online book!
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