Saturday, November 29, 2008


Oops! I missed Friday, but thought I would post this today anyway.

One of the advantages of having my Christmas gifts ready early is that I can avoid mailing them when I can give them to guests at Thanksgiving who are not returning for Christmas. This year it did not work out too well because my sister and her family did not come due to illness, but I have her gifts ready and she may come for a visit before Christmas. I did have gifts ready for Son #3 and was able to send his box of gifts home with him. He also has an early December birthday, so we had his birthday party while he was here.

My Thanksgiving company (Son #3 and Nero) left about noon and it is a cold, dreary day, so I am busy making up some of my soup mixes and cornbread mixes for future gift giving. I will include these gifts in boxes that I am mailing to friends and relatives, but will also give them as gifts here in town. I put the mixes in plastic bags with directions, put them in red paper sacks and attach one of my hand-painted Christmas ornaments. I am making up a bunch, labeling them for people on my list and will keep a number of them for those surprise people who turn up with a gift for us at the last minute. I will include one of my recipes below.

Recipe for Texas Two-Step Soup Mix

1 package brown gravy mix (regular or no-fat)
2 tablespoons mild red chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
10 to 12 tortilla chips, crushed
Enough medium-size pasta (such as wheels, shells, macaroni) to fill jar or plastic bag.

Pour gravy mix into wide-mouth pint jar. In small bowl, stir together chili powder, oregano, cumin, onion and garlic salt. Pour mixed spices into jar to make second layer.
Add tortilla chips and pasta to fill jar or plastic bag. Seal.

Attach a gift tag with the following instructions:

Texas Two-Step Soup

Brown 1/2 pound ground beef in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add contents of jar and 7 cups water; heat to boiling. Stir in 1 (15 ounce) can corn with red and green bell peppers and 1 (16 ounce) can chopped tomatoes. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally. Serve with tortilla chips and shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, if desired. Makes approximately 8 servings.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I had my Random Integer Generator (that is Son #3), who is visiting for Thanksgiving, do the drawing as we sat around watching the Longhorns begin to beat the Aggies. The name he came up with was: TA DA...Terri Tiffany. Terri, if you will e-mail me your address, I will send you two of my hand-painted ornaments.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I tried something different this year. A couple of years ago I inherited a number of pieces of silverware that had belonged to my maternal grandmother, my mother and my paternal grandmother, and then I had my own partial set of sterling that I got when I married and I use a set of stainless that Mother got for me with Betty Crocker coupons when I acquired my first apartment before I married--more than 40 years ago. Except for my Betty Crocker stainless (which I still use daily) none of these sets of silverware provided enough to set a complete table, but I put one place setting at each place, so that Son #3 ate with Mother's silverplate, my husband ate with my maternal grandmother's sterling, I ate with my paternal grandmother's silverplate, my brother-in-law ate with my sterling and Mother ate with my Betty Crocker stainless. It was interesting to reflect on past Thanksgiving gatherings where those pieces were used years and years ago. I had a wonderful sense of family history as I put those place settings together.

We have so much to be thankful for today. We are healthy, safe, have a roof over our heads, enough to eat and a comfortable bed to sleep in tonight. I am so grateful for my many, many blessings. Thank you, Lord. And, Son #3's dog, Nero, is also grateful for all his blessings, I am sure!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


When Son #1 turned twelve, my husband promised to take him hunting. On the day before Thanksgiving they left very early in the morning and went to a ranch not too far from our home. The ranch belonged to a friend and my husband had gone there before to hunt deer and wild turkeys. On this particular trip Son #1 shot a turkey. Everyone was so excited about his accomplishment when they arrived home with their trophy turkey intact…feathers and all!

My husband put the turkey on a ledge in the backyard and everyone gathered around to admire this addition to our Thanksgiving feast. He gave Son #1 an axe and told him that it would now be his honor to cut the turkey’s head off. Son #1 took one look at the turkey and another look at his father. He decided right then and there that there was no way he could cut off the head and he quickly disappeared. The head did come off but I don’t remember who did it.

Our next task was to do something with the feathers. Mother was at our house for the holiday and she remembered that her mother used a big pan of boiling water to remove chicken feathers. We found a huge pot, boiled the water and inserted the now-headless turkey. The feathers began to come off, but not without a stink and wet feathers everywhere—luckily we were outside in the backyard.

By the time we came to removing the innards from this poor turkey, both the mighty hunters had disappeared. Mother and I finished dressing the turkey and preparing it for cooking the next morning. We cooked the turkey along with one from the store. When it was time to cut into our turkeys we found that our mighty hunters had brought home the toughest turkey that we had ever tried to eat! Everyone in our family gave thanks for the store-bought turkey. We then decided that we had gained a great deal more respect for the original Pilgrims through this Thanksgiving turkey experience.

Oops! My boys are reporting in as they read this story and they remember it a bit differently. Even my husband remembers it differently, so I will let them add their amendments to my story--as THEY remember it!

And, as always, I write these stories as I remember them, which is sometimes different than the way others remember them.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008


A wonderful review of my new book, Growing Up in the Texas Panhandle, just appeared on Smockity Frock's blog. To read it, go to Thank you so much, Ms. Smockity.
This self-publishing adventure has been so much fun. I would encourage all of you to gather up some of the wonderful stories that I have been reading on your blogs and send them in to for publishing. It took me a while to get things in the shape and format that I wanted, but the end result has been most pleasing. And the cost factor (no outlay of cash on my part) is especially appealing during these difficult economic times.
My husband commented, as he read the book in a final edit, that he wished he had a book like that full of his grandmother's stories. I am pleased to have this book to pass down to my children and grandchildren--a book of pictures and memories.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


My book is ready to order from the link on the right sidebar. My copy just came in yesterday and I am so pleased with it. It is GORGEOUS! did a marvelous job with it and my copy came almost exactly one week—to the hour—after I pushed the button to submit it. I am so excited to have it in hand before Christmas. And I have ordered copies for gift-giving at Christmas, but, shhhh! That is a secret--don't tell my family members!

Now I am thinking of a couple of other books that I would like to submit. I LOVE the part about it not costing me anything up front—except for the books I order for myself. This is great! My husband did moan when I said I could see several more books-in-the-making because he helps me with the editing. Oh well, perhaps NOT before Christmas.


Son #4 and family has been visiting this weekend. Miss Ella Bella and Little Brother kept us entertained for two days. Little Brother has grown a bunch and has the most beautiful smile that just grabs at my heart. He is trying so hard to talk and Miss Ella Bella has certainly mastered the art of conversation. We were watching the deer and I pointed out the buck with "horns." She told me that they were NOT "horns," they were "antlers!" Sigh! And she is only 2 1/2! I believe her parents are in for an interesting future with Miss Ella Bella to keep them on their toes. Little Brother is just sitting there watching and taking lessons so he can catch up with his big sister.

Granddaddy did yeoman's duty with Little Brother. They seemed to get along just fine while Miss Ella Bella went with me to visit the neighbors. She charmed them all with her conversation. At one house she asked to see the "pretty room" and took herself off to the daughter's room all decorated in bright colors. I'm not sure how Miss Ella Bella knew about that room, but she certainly knows how to make herself at home wherever she is!

Miss Ella Bella told Granddaddy that the deer needed food, so they went to put out food for the "poor starving deer!"

We had a great time and now the house is very quiet again. I look forward to their return at Christmas. What fun we will have then, but I have lots to do in the next four weeks. Whew!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Just a short note to ask you to pray for my friend's grandson, Rudy, who was born with serious heart problems and remains hospitalized at seven weeks. The parents are experiencing a bit of caregivers stress, so please keep the whole family in prayer. You can stay informed about his condition at

Also, my sister-in-law, Jacki, has been given the green light for her kidney transplant on Tuesday so they are excited and also a bit apprehensive. Their sons are gathering to be with her this next week. We wish her well!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Frugal Friday

Today I realized that I was much farther along in my Christmas preparations than I usually am this time of year. How unusual! I was wondering how that happened and I have to credit my family for that! Late last summer we began talking--my daughters-in-law and I, about how we were going to cut back on our Christmas giving, spend a specific amount for each person (my goal has been about $10 per gift) and make gifts, if possible. My daughter-in-law, Kara, tells on her blog about some of the gifts she and her girls are making for the holidays. That has worked out really well for me since I have found some really neat things to make for the grandchildren and for my daughters-in-law. I wish I could tell you about them, but I am afraid they will read the blog and the Christmas surprise will be gone.

Along the frugal line, a friend asked me this week for the recipe for a great candy that I made last holiday season. I took a cup of dried cranberries, a cup of walnuts (chopped) and put them in a bowl. I melted a bag of chocolate chips (bought on sale and stored in my freezer)in the microwave and poured them over the cranberries and walnuts and stirred. I then dropped the mixture by the teaspoonful on waxed paper and let them cool. They make the best little chocolate bites and are SO EASY! Nice for the holidays to EAT or to GIVE!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


When I was growing up, dinner at our house was loud, hectic, noisy—but regular. There were five of us, my baby brother, my little sister and me, along with Mother and Daddy when he was not off traveling in his job as a hardware salesman. We always sat down, all five of us, at 6:00 p.m. to eat. I have that dinnertime ingrained into my system and now, at 6:00 p.m. my stomach scrunches up and all of my hunger alarms go off.

Mother was an excellent cook but we almost always had the same pattern of foods—a meat, a green vegetable, a starch, and a dessert. Heaven forbid we should deviate too much from those four food groups. However, we did deviate on Fridays because we were a good Catholic family. On Fridays we had a rotating menu of fish, pinto beans or macaroni and cheese accompanied by a Jell-O salad and cornbread. I often questioned Mother about the ham bites off the ham bone in the pinto beans but she explained that they were flavoring, not meat, and to pick them out as we ate the beans.

We ate off our melamine plastic dishes in colors of orange, pea green, and grey and used colored aluminum glasses that collected dew in summer with the fresh-brewed ice tea. Those glasses felt cold in the winter with our milk.

Our discussions around the dinner table were noisy. We vied for our turns to talk as we told of our activities during the day. Daddy was the quiet one and tried to impose some sort of order to the conversations but Mother encouraged us to talk and we did—sometimes loudly.

We all were given jobs to do before and after the meals but arguments often ensued about which of us was being overworked. My younger sister almost always had an extremely urgent call to the bathroom just as the meal ended and my baby brother was too young to help for a very long time! I tended to complain bitterly that I was way overworked, but I did enjoy the times before dinner when Mother and I got to talk alone as I helped her and learned to cook with her.

As I look back I treasure those family times of togetherness around that old chrome table with the beige Formica top and the chairs with the marbled yellow plastic seats that we stuck to in the heat of the summer and shivered with in the cold of winter. We did have togetherness on a regularly scheduled basis at dinner time—6:00 p.m.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Another Prayer

My sister-in-law, Jacki, is going to Mayo Clinic on Tuesday to prepare for her second kidney transplant. She had a transplant 4 years ago but it failed last year. She has been on dialysis for almost a year now and is ready for another kidney because she has not been feeling well lately. She is lucky that she has a donor and is anxious to return to her normal busy routine. Our family is praying that things go well for her and that she will be able to return home in time for Christmas with all of her children and her grandchild.

Please join me in praying for Jacki these next couple of weeks.

Glitch Is Fixed! Whee!

That is really great to work with. They have already fixed the glitch and the book can now be ordered from them if you are interested. It is also available in a downloadable version, but without the cover. Hope y'all enjoy it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Just a Little Glitch!

There is just a little glitch with my self-publishing project. The price comes up wrong when I add a button on my blog to order it from and they are working on it. The first Live Chat person I talked to said she thought I could figure out how to fix it--and I was CLUELESS, but the second Live Chat person said it was a glitch in THEIR system, so I will have to wait until Monday and hopefully their technical people can get it fixed. Oh well!

New Endeavor - Self-Publishing

I just sent my stories in to and self published my book, "Growing Up in the Texas Panhandle." I am so excited to have it finished and "out of my hair." I have been working on it for several months and have had a wonderful time editing my stories, adding in old family pictures, designing the cover, and getting it ready to send in. I dithered around for quite some time--especially the past two weeks. My husband read it over one more time with his handy red editing pen and declared it READY! I fiddled with the cover, chatted with's Live Chat several times and finally pushed the button to LET IT GO! What a feeling of exhilaration that was! Wow! I did it! And, now I can hardly wait to get my first copy.

This self-publishing experience is quite exciting. I am already sifting through my stories with another book in mind. Will it ever end?? Well, we will see how much patience I have for doing this again. I must say that was quite easy to work with and their Live Chat help is invaluable--especially for someone as technologically challenged as I am.

Now on to my next projects--finishing a painting or two that I have started and neglected while I fiddled with "Growing Up in the Texas Panhandle."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rudy's Progress Report

Rudy is back on the list for surgery next Monday because the fluid in his chest is still draining and they think it is robbing him of protein that he needs to heal in other areas. Please pray for little Rudy and this setback. Seems he goes three steps forward and two back.

Also, the family is from Santa Barbara and although their house is not presently in danger form the fires, their children still in Santa Barbara also need reassuring. Lots going on in that family. For more details you can check up on Rudy at Please pray for the family this weekend.

Frugal Friday

I saw an interesting gift yesterday. At the gym a trainer was giving someone a birthday gift and it was three quart-size Ziploc bags with four cookies in each bag. Each bag contained a different kind of cookie. The bags were stacked one on top of the other and tied with a red curly ribbon and had a tag on the top.

I thought that would be an excellent Christmas gift idea for neighbors, friends at church, and other casual gift giving. That type of gift gives someone a dozen assorted cookies and perhaps a hand-painted ornament on top. I have already begun my cookie making for Christmas giving. I have a container of oatmeal cookies and one of chocolate chip cookies in the freezer--had to make them for a party this week, so I made a double batch of each. Next I plan to make a chocolate cookie that has a piece of Rollo Candy baked in the middle.

Making these cookies ahead of time gives me the opportunity to watch for nuts and other ingredients on sale. Last week I found waffle pretzels on sale in the bulk section of the store where I shop (see recipe below). I stocked up! This week the Rollo candies were buy three and get three "free." I have come across three cookie recipes using Rollo candies this year. The following is a very easy recipe a friend in Hartford gave me and I used it last year:


Waffle Pretzels
Rollo Candy
Pecan or Walnut Halves

Put one Rollo Candy piece on each pretzel and place on cookie sheet. Heat in 350 degree oven about 5 minutes or until Rollo Candy is soft but not melted. Press 1 pecan or walnut half on top of each Rollo Candy and allow to cool.

Yum! And fast and super easy!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rudy Continues to Improve

Thanks for your prayers. Please continue to pray as he turns 6 weeks old and moves from a bassinet to a crib. And the family has bracelets to remind you to pray! You can order one to wear. I am ordering mine today. See information below:

Rudy’s Bracelet
Shortly after Rudy’s diagnosis, we had some silicone bracelets made up to distribute to family and friends as a constant reminder to pray for Rudy. The bright, turquoise bracelet with the message “Rudy’s captured my heart” quickly became known as “Rudy’s Bracelet” when we started handing them out the day he was born. They’ve become quite the popular fashion statement and due to a high volume of requests for them and thanks to the generosity of some special friends, we’re happy to offer them on Rudy’s Beat for a limited time. If you would like a bracelet of your own, please send a self-addressed, STAMPED envelope for each bracelet (be sure to put 83 cents of postage on the envelope) to:
Rudy’s Bracelet c/o The Drummonds
948 Zook Drive, Glendale, CA 91202

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Christmas Ornament Give-Away

I have been having fun using my oil paints to paint some wooden Christmas ornaments. I thought I would give away a couple right after Thanksgiving. That should give them ample time to dry. Here is a picture of a few that I finished a few days ago.
I will keep the names of all who leave comments on my blog for the next two weeks--until Thanksgiving. I will put those names in a kettle and have one of my Thanksgiving guests draw a name to send the ornament to. Good luck.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rudy's Surgery Postponed!

Thanks for your prayers for Rudy, the grandson of my friend, Helga. He did not have to have the surgery they had scheduled for today, and they are cautiously optimistic. Please pray with me that he will continue to improve.


Since Veterans Day is upon us I thought I would write a few of my WWI memories.

I was born six months before Pearl Harbor, so I only have a few memories of the war. I remember that Daddy was drafted into the Army when I was about 2 or 3 (just days before his 35th birthday) and he was often in uniform for several years. There he is on the left with my mother.

I also remember that Mother and I joined him when he was stationed in Gainsville for a few months. The only house Daddy could find for us to live in had no running water and an outhouse. To this day I hesitate using an outdoor restroom because we saw a few snakes near the outhouse and I have this lingering fear that a snake will rise up out of that hole and bite me in the bottom. Funny the things one remembers from childhood! The picture on the right shows me standing on our porch in Gainsville, wearing Daddy's helmet and boots.

Our small Panhandle town of Pampa only had one or two doctors in the early 1940s and when World War II started the doctors were drafted. I developed very infected tonsils when I was about three and Mother took me to Lubbock to a well-known pediatrician, Dr. Overton, who practiced there. Dr. Overton took my tonsils out in a hospital in Lubbock and then Mother took me back to Pampa to recuperate. However, my throat hemorrhaged when we got back to Pampa, so Mother put me in the car in the middle of the night and drove back to Lubbock.
The year was about 1943 and the trip was a longer one than the swift three-hour trip now because there was no IH-27 and the road passed through a number of small towns between Pampa and Lubbock. The roads were narrow and winding, gas was rationed, tires were terrible, and cars were not that dependable. Mother must have had a strong guardian angel with her as she drove that night with a child bleeding in the back seat. I remember seeing her shine the flashlight on me from time to time as we rushed back to Lubbock where they used radium on my throat to stop the bleeding. I think Mother must have been both very brave and VERY frightened on that midnight ride!

I think we then stayed for a while with Grandmother and Granddaddy in Amherst--not far from Lubbock. The picture on the right shows me with Grandmother and Granddaddy on their front porch in Amherst.

The day that WWII ended people spilled out into the streets of Pampa and began yelling, screaming, and crying. Mother and I ran out into the street in front of our house and joined them. Mother was crying and I asked her why she was crying. She told me that she was so happy that she was crying because the war had ended and Daddy was coming home. I remember being confused about Mother's tears of happiness.
Thanks to the many veterans of WWII who fought so bravely to bring about PEACE!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Prayers for Rudy

Rudy, the grandson of my friend Helga, had a good day with some improvement in his condition. He is still scheduled for surgery Monday, but if his chest fluid continues to drop, they may be able to cancel the surgery. Please pray with me that he will not need another surgery in his short five-week life.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Today I stopped at the library and picked up a book on oil painting, a cookbook, and a copy of Susan Albert's new book, The Tale of Briar Bank. That stop on the way home from the gym did not cost me a cent, although those three books would have cost me $74 and change, plus tax, from the book store.

About six months ago I realized that our books out-numbered the spaces on our book shelf. I had a cleaning out frenzy and took a load of books I thought I could part with to Goodwill. I totaled up how much money I had spent on those books and realized I had just given away about $200 worth of books. That was the day I decided that I would just check out books from the library for a change.

And that is my FRUGAL hint for today. Hope you will share your frugal hints with all of us.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Please Pray for Rudy

My friend, Helga, has a new grandson named Rudy who was born with a heart defect. He had surgery immediately after birth and is now five weeks old and is experiencing some complications that might warrant more surgery. The family has decided to wait until Monday to see if the problems will be resolved. Please pray with me that the problems little Rudy is experiencing will not necessitate another surgery for him. You can read about Rudy on the blog where his parents are posting continual updates.

Please also pray for Helga and her husband who are staying with Rudy's three siblings quite some distance away from the UCLA hospital where Rudy is being cared for. I know this is a very trying time for the whole family and my thoughts and prayers are with them at this time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


For some of the families that I gave gifts to last year, I made up baskets of food mixes. One I called the Southwest Gift Basket and it had the fixins' for a Texas-flavored soup mix, a cornbread mix and a salsa mix or a spicy dip mix. Another one was a Country Gift Basket that had a good ole country soup mix, a bread mix, and either a cookie or cake mix.

This year I am working on making up some spice mixes to give as gifts. Today I bought the various ingredients for the spice mixes at a store that sells spices in bulk form. I paid about $4 for 12 different spices by buying them from the bulk containers. I was looking for ground rosemary and found that it cost $8.00 a pound. I bought the 1/2 cup that I needed and it cost $.08!! I almost fell over when I saw the cost compared to a jar of rosemary that I would have to grind myself!

I started buying my spices in bulk form several years ago when I found out that I could refill my spice jars for a fraction of the cost of buying new jars of spices. And for some of the spices that I use only occasionally, I just buy a small amount and renew them every year--or as needed. That way the spice does not sit on my shelf and grow stale.

I scrounge at the Dollar Store or other discount stores for interesting baskets or containers for these mixes that I put in freezer zip-loc bags, put the directions on the zip-loc bags, and then tie it all up with a bandana, shrink wrap or plastic wrap, some nice ribbon and perhaps an ornament that I make. If I have to mail the present, I try to find a very light weight container for the gift.

Please feel free to share your frugal tips for Christmas gifts you are planning this year.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Christmas Hints

I am beginning to think about making some of my Christmas gifts for friends and family and thought it might be a great idea to share some of my gift ideas for you. Here is the first one that I thought I might begin with:

Assemble a Winter Warm-up Basket. Your basket can include a few marshmallows and hot chocolate. Purchase instant hot chocolate in sample sizes or in fancy tins. Find a decorative container and line it with a pretty kitchen towel (I am knitting dish cloths) or tissue paper. Fill the container with hot chocolate, marshmallows and perhaps an inexpensive mug or a favorite movie. Wrap the basket in plastic wrap or shrink wrap and use a hair dryer to blow-dry the shrink wrap on the basket to stay in place. You can find shrink wrap at a crafts store like Michael's or Hobby Lobby. Top with a pretty bow and you have a nice gift for friends, neighbors, teachers, and relatives.

Do you have a favorite handmade Christmas gift idea that you would like to share?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The 5k Race

Our church had a 5K race this morning and my husband signed up for it. I was so proud because he decided to do it and he also talked several other people into joining him. I decided not to push my luck because I pulled a muscle in my back a couple of weeks ago and it is just now getting better. Walking 5K might not have been a good idea at this point so I became the cheering section--especially for our exercise class members who participated along with my husband. Here are some pictures!

Waiting at the starting line. He is the one with the dark jacket and the dark glasses.

Members of our exercise class. Hubby is on the right.

Coming up that last hill with our friend, Marty. Way to go!

Right at the finish line. Job well done!

Whew! I think he was glad that was over!

I think I will enlarge the picture above and frame it with THE NUMBER!!

Congratulations, #182!