Category Archives: Country Living in the Hill Country of Texas

Tree Planting Time!

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If you’re in Central Texas, it’s time to plant new trees!  My hubby traveled over to Womack’s nursery near Comanche, Texas, today and brought back some oak trees, pecan trees, and apple trees.  Thanks to Mama and Father Hall for a nice gift certificate!   Below you see the oak trees going into the ground up on top of the mountain.  The apple and pecan trees will go in the ground at the bottom of the hill, or at least, I’m assuming they will, but I don’t really know because I’ve been off all day thrift store shopping for the school play.

These are bare root trees, so they are easy to handle and transport.  Last year, Hubby planted 14 bare root fruit and pecan trees, and they all survived even during the severe Texas drought, so we are sold!

Have You Planted Your Seeds?!

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First of all, my last blog post was intended for the student blog that my junior English class is writing at school.  Cheyenne and Brooklyn wrote the piece, and somehow, their dingbat teacher posted it on her personal blog, instead of their blog!  Oh well, it’s so good that I decided to leave it!

If you live in Central Texas, it’s time to get your seeds planted so that you will have plants to transfer to your garden after the last frost.  You still have time to grow plants from seeds.  I took the lazy man’s way out for a few plants and bought one of those nifty little containers at Wal-Mart that come with “dirt” that expands/grows when you add the water!  What will they think of next?  Absolutely anyone can handle planting seeds with these containers.

I started with two kinds of tomato seeds, Cherry and Beefsteak, but I plan to try some different varieties when my son brings some of his seeds to share with me.  He has ordered a variety of different seeds that are grown in different countries around the world.  He’ll call his garden “The League of Nations”.  Our garden doesn’t have a name yet, other than, “Grant’s Garden”.  That’s because he actually does all of the work.

I must admit though that I felt like a first grader watching the container every day to see if my seeds had sprouted.  It took 4 days!  Sooo exciting.

  This is the fancy/smancy container!  Plastic, no less.  

That second photo is when I just had to take the lid off to “see” for myself what was going on in there!   I planted 3 seeds to each little “pod” of soil.

  Sure enough, they were sprouting!                   

…and on the 5th day, they looked like this:

  Yea, Buddy, is this cool or what?  See those water droplets on the end of that sprout?!  Way cool!

  Our future tomato garden!!

Oh yeah, there were no sunrise photos this morning because the sky was full of beautiful clouds which looked as if they were going to dump a truck load of rain on us, but they fizzled out as the day progressed.  Hoping for some rain tonight!

Remember these?

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  Anybody know what this is?  You guessed it if you guessed the center of a merry-go-round.  I have no idea how old this merry-go-round is exactly, but I do know that it is the same one that was on the playground when I started school in 1957.  Of course, it was just a plain rusty metal color with plain wooden/board seats.  There was no red, blue, yellow, green or red to it.  This nice paint job makes the old merry-go-round look almost new.                                                             

This particular merry-go-round was for the “big” kids.  You had to pump those metal handle bars to make it go faster.  You did not have to run around and around to get it going and jump on.  The more you pumped, the faster it went, but if you fell off, it was farther to the ground than the “little kids’ ” merry-go-round.  The merry-go-round shown below is on the same playground, and it, too, has been there since 1957, at least.  It was for the “little kids”.  As the gravel and dirt show today, kids had to run around to get it going and then hop up on the benches, but it wasn’t far to the ground if you fell!

Both of these playground attractions bring back fond memories.  The merry-go-rounds were probably purchased by the PTA of which my mother was president at one time.  The PTA raised funds for their projects through the Halloween Carnival and Coronation of the King and Queen.  Both events were looked forward to by the whole community.

Hooray to those who didn’t throw out the old merry-go-rounds!

Mama’s Pound Cake Story

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Mama told the story all my life.  It went something like this. 

When her first grandchild was born in Lubbock, TX., she went to “help out”.  She stayed a few days to help my sister, and as she got ready to leave for the 4.5 to 5 hour trip home, she asked my sister and her husband if there was anything else she could do for them.  One of them said,  “You could bake us one of your pound cakes.”  So….she did.

When my brother had his first child, mother went out to Whitharral, even farther away than Lubbock.  She helped with some chores, and when she went to leave, she asked if there was anything else that she could do.  My brother said he surely would like one of her delicious pound cakes.  She baked one.

When I gave birth to my first child, Stephanie, Mama came out to Sonora to help me out and teach me the ropes.  As she went to leave, she asked if there was anything else she could do to help out.  I knew the story.  I was obligated to ask, wasn’t I?  Sooooo, I said it surely would be nice if she would bake us one of her pound cakes.  She did.

Years later, I asked her to write down the recipe.  She had always made the cake from memory.  Mama wrote the recipe down.  I continue to make this cake, and my family continues to love  and enjoy the cake.  Now, I make the cake and take it when there has been a death in a family.  I often attach a note that says this cake will freeze well and can be used at a later date.  This cake is good with chocolate, strawberries, berry sauce, ice cream, or plain.  It is a “feel better” cake.

When my daughter, Stephanie, had her first baby, I went to help.  I didn’t wait to be asked.  I made the cake and took it with me and left it in their freezer.

Will Rogers said he’d never met a man he didn’t like.  I’ve never met a man who didn’t like Mama’s Pound Cake.  Here it is:

MAMA’S POUND CAKE

5 eggs at room temperature

2 sticks butter or margarine

1 cup Crisco

3 cups sugar

Blend the butter and sugar.  Then, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups flour

1 cup milk

Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl.  Add alternately with the milk.

Add 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Grease and flour an angel food (tube) cake pan.  Bake the cake for 60 to 90 minutes at 325 degrees or until it pulls away from the sides.

Freezes well.

Glorious RAIN!

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The parched heart of Texas is currently receiving some rain.  It is raining right at this moment at the “Mountain Pasture”.  Hallelujah!  Amen!!  We are so thankful for the much needed rain.  Our past summer and fall were so hot and dry that we welcome all moisture.  We may have a bluebonnet crop after all! Fingers are crossed!  Come on spring flowers!

Country Baking–Lemon Chess Bars

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Lemon anything has always been a favorite of mine!  Aunt Ernie made a wonderful Lemon Water Pie with meringue.  She brought it to church dinners, and people would fight over who got a piece of her pie.  Mother made a delicious lemon cream pie which couldn’t be topped.  The following recipe I got from a friend when I lived in Throckmorton, Texas.  I remember visiting her, and she had just made these dreamy, from-scratch, lemon bars.  I barely knew Caryl, and I didn’t want to embarrass myself, but I wanted to eat half the plate or the whole plate of her Lemon Chess Bars.  These bars are easy and will make everyone come back for seconds.  Lemon lovers will want this recipe!

Lemon Chess Bars

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar (white-powdered)

1 cup butter or margarine

Lemon Filling

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First, sift together the flour and confectioner’s sugar.  Cut the butter or margarine into that mixture.  Knead and press into a pan about 16″X11″X2″.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

While the crust is baking, prepare the lemon filling.

Lemon Filling:

4 beaten eggs

2 cups granulated sugar

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Combine beaten eggs, sugar, and lemon juice; beat well.  Mix together the flour and baking powder and add to the egg mixture.

Pour lemon filling over the hot pastry and continue baking for 25 more minutes.

DEEEEELICIOUS!!!!!!!

And You Thought Sputnik Was A Satellite

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My sophomores and juniors finally finished decorating their weave poems for the county fair.  After writing some prose text about a person they remembered from their childhood and writing down the words of a song they remember being sung, they wove the two pieces together with some great results.

One of my students is the son of a local man who recently lost his battle with cancer.  Everyone called him “Sputnik”.   The name fit him.  In Russian, the term, “sputnik” is used to refer to a companion.  The word “sputnik” represented something new, a new beginning, the space age.  The Sputnik that we all knew was certainly a companion to many and was always trying something new or different.  In a way, he represented new beginnings.

His son wrote a great story in English class about the time that Sputnik and his brothers decided to go Christmas Caroling as adults while visiting Sputnik’s mother.  The story would be enhanced if I had a photo of Sputnik and his brothers to share.  There is no telling whether these guys had their hair combed, if they were clean shaven, or if they had on any nicer clothes than their work jeans and work boots.  These brothers were known as being a bunch of “characters.”  They told the family whose door they knocked upon that they would sing “Joy to the World”.  Then, they broke into Credence Clearwater Revival’s version of “Joy to the World”.  You may remember this song  if you’re a baby boomer.

Jeremiah was a bullfrog

Was a good friend of mine

I never understood a single word he said

But I helped him drink his wine

And he always had some mighty fine wine

Joy to the world, all the boys and girls

Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea

Joy to you and me.

Well, the story ends with the family who received the gift of Sputnik and his brothers singing a Christmas carol not only laughing but also inviting the guys in for some wine.

The story doesn’t really end there because Sputnik left his son and many others hundreds of wonderful memories that bring a smile to our faces.  To bring a smile to someone’s face, now THAT is a gift!

With his permission, here’s Junior, Chance Bush’s poem:

BULLFROG                                                                                                                              

by Chance Bush

Remember When

Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog

Decided to Go

Was a Good Friend of Mine

Went Over To

I Never Understood a Single Word He Said

Were Close Friends

But I helped Him Drink His Wine

And they sang “Joy to the World”

Joy to You and Me!

Country Living and Church

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Above is a photo of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Richland Springs.  The latest census has caused the town’s population sign to be lowered to 336 people.  Obviously, they didn’t count cows, chickens, sheep, and goats!  We still have four churches in our community, and this church is the one I attended as a youngster.  When I moved back here to Richland Springs about 3 and half years ago, I was taken with how the smell inside the old church affected me.  The old wood wainscot, the wooden doors and wooden pillars all exude a unique smell which reminds me of my childhood.  I have so many memories of fond times in this old church.  My maternal grandmother, my parents, and my siblings were all members and in regular attendance.  Today, one of my childhood friends, who is a pianist extraordinaire, plays the piano.  Her music is a real ministry, and hearing her play is always a blessing.

Have a blessed Sunday.  “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

Country Living and Sandhill Cranes

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Country Living and Sandhill Cranes

We have had some beautiful days here in Central Texas this week, many of them unseasonably warm.   Most of them I had to spend inside a classroom attempting to teach young people the ins and outs of the English language and preparing them for state testing which is coming up in about a month.  Thursday evening, my husband and I made it outside to sit at our outdoor table just in time to witness the most incredible sight.  Three flocks of Sandhill Cranes flew right over us!   These are BIG birds!  Their wingspan is between 5 and 7 feet, and they weigh between 4 and 4.5 pounds.  They soar through the sky, much like hawks and eagles.  They flap, flap, flap and then soar, beautiful sight and makes one want to join them and try out flying.  It’s no wonder someone wanted to invent a “flying machine”!  These birds migrate south during the winter months, and Texas is south for them, so we have them here around us every winter.  They like to land in fields and scavenge for insects and grains.  Of course, farmers don’t like the birds if they have already planted something, but most of the fields are “resting” at the moment.

Sandhill Cranes are the oldest known bird species still surviving.  They are large with long necks and a gray body.  The sound they make is what immediately catches a person’s attention.  As soon as we had sat down, we heard this racket.  It was a loud, rattling sound coming from the sky–difficult to describe.  Heavy on the rattling, the sound went kar-r-r-o-o-o or something like that.  We heard them first.  Then, we looked up and there they were.  Then, another flock and then another!   Living in the country is the best!

County Youth Fair and Livestock Show

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Today, I went to the County Youth Fair and discovered that Remy Wood, a junior at RSHS, had won 1st Place with her Weave Poem from English class.  Hooray and Congrats to Remy!   The students from Richland Springs just took the Livestock Show.  They had so many trophies they were going to need a trailer to cart them all home.  The students were showing their goats when I was there, and Richland Springs appeared to be taking the top spots in those events also.  I know the Mann brothers won big earlier in the day with their steers and received large trophies.   Thanks to our agriculture teacher, Gerald McKee, for doing such a great job with our students.