Tuesday, March 30, 2010

85 Years Wise

This is my Papa.

He was born in a small Texas town. He was the baby of the family. My grandmother swears that he was spoiled rotten. He simply grins.

He is part of The Greatest Generation. He celebrated his 18th birthday three days before landing on the shores of Okinawa.

He fought bravely. He lost many friends. He saw things that he has yet to speak of. To anyone.

He served time in Germany as part of the military police. It was while on leave that he met my Mema.

They wrote letters. They exchanged photos with sweet words written on the back.

This picture would have pushed me over the edge.

He returned to Mema and they married. They didn't have a lot of money. She raised chickens so that they would have something to eat.

They ate so many that he refuses to eat chicken to this very day.

My Pops was born a year later.

Papa was working construction, building houses. He smashed his finger with a hammer. There was no workman's comp in those days. He taped it up and continued working. That finger is forever bent...bent from holding so many nails.

I love the un-PC nature of this picture...I think it's my favorite.

He continued building houses. By the time I arrived (yes, that little chub is me) he had established his own construction company.

He could draw up a house plan on the back of a cardboard box. People knew if you bought a house built by Randall Hallmark, it would be around for a long time.

They were right. Half of my hometown is still living in one of his creations.

I spent many weekends and summers with Mema and Papa.

I remember laughing. A lot.

I rode horses. I swam in the lake. I helped in the garden. I went hunting. I fed cows.

I experienced story-book moments. Memories that I pray never to lose.

He and Mema still live in that same small town. He still has a garden that he tends to every day.

He grows grapes and tomatoes. He drives his tractor. He takes his dog, Jaws, everywhere. He eats peanut butter and crackers. He only wears boots.

He sits on his porch every morning and evening, rocking in his old rocker. He sneaks Brach's
candies. He still kisses Mema when leaving the house, even after 62 years of marriage.

He's lost some of that wavy hair. It has turned a gleaming silver. When he combs it, it looks like angel wings.

He still has a mischievous smile. His blue eyes still twinkle.

This is my Papa. He turned 85 yesterday.

He is the wisest man I'll ever know.

I love you.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The One In Which I Become A Pioneer Woman

A couple weeks ago my Pops asked me if I would put my sewing skills to work and make him some cowboy gear.

Yep. You read that right, partner. Cowboy gear.

And I don't mean the football team.

Specifically, he wanted me to stitch up some "half-leggings".

Oh. And they needed to be historically accurate. Accurate enough to pass an inspection.

Me: Dude. Dad. I sew baby quilts, pajama pants, and Simplicity shirts. Cowboy gear is a bit out of my league. Especially historically accurate cowboy gear.

Pops: You can do it. I trust you. You're a professional.


Me: OK, Pops. But I ain't no pioneer woman......There is a pattern, right?

Pops: Sure there's a pattern. It will probably only take you a couple of hours.



Texans take their state history seriously. Very seriously.

My parents live in Goliad, which is on the Texas Independence Trail.

Each year a reenactment is done at Presidio La Bahia.

I've mentioned that my Pops is a huge history buff. One of his hobbies is dressing in historical garb and doing these reenactments and "live shoots".

He's even entered Blog Land to write about his adventures in all things cowboy.


Pops offered to keep The Offspring if I would make his cowboy half-leggings.

Smart move, Pops. Dangle that carrot.

First of all...there was no pattern. There were instructions. Very different from a pattern.

I had no choice but to channel my inner-pioneer woman.

This is what transpired. My thanks to The Mr. for his modeling skills.

They are made from cowhide and lined with a plain cotton fabric. The binding is wool felt.

They even have hand stitched button holes.

This was the hardest part.

The thread included with the kit resembled a bunch of corn silk stuck together with wax.

I've also determined that pioneer women must have had hard-as-nails-finger tips. That cowhide was impossible to stitch. I finally got a pair of pliers to help pull the needle through to the other side.

What ultimately matters is that Pops was pleased. They fit. He passed cowboy inspection.

And he was able to be a part of living history.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What's For Dinner?

This week's menu is inspired by spring. So I'm trying some new things that I've read about, seen in Blog Land, or have been craving from warm-seasons past.

Sunday: grilled chicken, grilled vegetable salad with feta, tomatoes

Monday: grilled salmon, brown rice, mushrooms, kale, tomatoes

Tuesday: Eggs In a Nest

Wednesday: Greek salad, grilled chicken, red potatoes

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: hamburgers, oven fries

Saturday: grilled salmon, quick lemon and garlic quinoa salad, grilled squash, tomatoes

My fridge is chock-full of beautiful, fresh produce: squash, zucchini, mushrooms, asparagus, and greens. Lots of greens. The Boy gave me that "you have a stuffed vulture on your head" look again. He wasn't so sure about the chard and kale that I said would be part of our dinners.

Tuesday's meal comes from the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I began reading it last year and then put it down. It just wasn't grabbing me. I'd heard such great things but it wasn't living up to the hype. Call it spring fever, but lately I'm all goofy over gardening and vegetables. So I've picked it up again. And I think my feelings will be different this go around.

Saturday's quinoa salad was mentioned here...a new find that I'm really enjoying.

I did some baking this weekend...more on that in the days to come. But there are still a couple more items on the "want to make" list. I have a feeling this will be the week I'll succeed in marking them off that list.

Here's hoping you have warm, sunny days in your neck of the woods with tasty meals at hand.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring Evenings

It's a magical time here in Houston.

Meaning, it's temperate.

We have been taking full advantage.

That's my girl. Drawing while wearing hot pink gloves.

It's only 75*.

The letter A.

Who knew the roots under our driveway were phonetically inclined?

A Clone.

Where does it all go?

Climbing high.

Sort of.

Grill it.

I can still see you.

Tree Root Man.


Playing to the point of utter exhaustion.

My odd birds.

We know this mild climate won't last long.

But for now...it's spring.

And we are savoring every second.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

No, They Aren't Cheetos...

Kale seems to be the girl everyone wants to take to the dance.

She is a nutrient-packed power-house. I can see why one would want to tout her goodness.

I first learned of kale chips here. Since then I've seen them mentioned here and here. I'm sure that's the tip of the iceberg.

I've wanted to try them...but they always seemed to get pushed to the bottom of the "have to make" list. That was, until a couple weekends ago.

I mixed up a batch. The ingredients are minimal.

I added more apple cider vinegar than called for. I wanted lots of tangy fla-vah.

They bake-up fast.

I was surprised they retained their green color. Pretty, huh?

A chip.

The Mr. loved them. But he loves to love things like kale chips.

The Boy looked at me as if I had a stuffed vulture on my head.

I told The Girl they were Tinker Bell chips. She ate them.

I currently enjoy her gullibility.

My only suggestion would be to cook these in small batches. By the end of the day they had lost their initial crispness.

Would I pack these in The Offspring's lunch? Probably not...unless I wanted them to get a proper teasing.

But, would I serve them as a side dish with a sandwich or soup? Yep. I would.

They aren't Cheetos, but they will make you stand out in a crowd.

I mean, **you** eat kale chips.

How hot-list is that?

Monday, March 22, 2010

What's For Dinner?

With all the Color Week excitement I am late posting this week's menu.

Since it's the week after spring break, I purposely made things easy. Those first days back in full swing are doozies.

Sunday: sloppy joes, oven fries, sliced red pepper, tomatoes, and cucumber

Monday: shrimp, succotash, tomatoes

Tuesday: chicken pasole, whole wheat tortillas

Wednesday: The Mexican Skillet Dish, zucchini

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: hamburgers, oven fries

Saturday: out with the family

I made some of these over the weekend.

I am in the mood to make some oatmeal bars. I have a really good recipe that I'd love to share. If I throw caution to the wind you'll be the first to know.

I still have some "want to make" items on my baking list: Irish soda bread, a couple of new cookie recipes, scones, coffee cake. **sigh**

Darn you swimsuit season.

I might take a mini vacation from this space over the next few days. I have some things I really need to catch up on. Namely laundry. Boo.

We'll see. Procrastinating where laundry is concerned is one of my great talents.

Here's hoping your week is bright and that you avoid all ninjas.

BLACK Monday

Spring break is over.

Black Ninja hijacks the bus!



The summer countdown is on.

Take that Black Ninja.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Without earth tones, would other colors seem as bright? I think not.

Here is their chance to take center stage.

The best utensils around.

The biggest crape myrtle tree I've ever seen. And it's in my backyard.

Teddy. My third child.

Ready to brew.

Ready for a brew.

Our coffee table.

It was the first piece of furniture we ever bought together. It's handmade, one of a kind. The price tag was hefty. We debated the splurge, but decided that it would be the first and last coffee table we would ever buy and would one day be a family heirloom.


My boots. They are beat to hell.

This is Texas, after all.

His eyes. They are a beautiful brown flecked with green.

I wouldn't have been sad if his genes had won in the eye department.

Our old weathered porch swing.

This was in The Mr.'s apartment when we met. He likes things vintage as well.

Our family portrait, as drawn by The Girl.

Notice who is front and center? That would be Teddy.



She's stinky. But we love her anyway.

I'm a locavore.

Yard work.

Need to buy more.

Brown Ninja Twins will invade your dreams.

Sleep with one eye open.


This concludes Color Week 2010.

Thanks for playing along, homies. It was scads of fun.