What’s going on (or not).

The weather has been in the news here in Houston. This past week we had so much ice the streets of downtown were empty. So when my husband said he was going to the downtown YMCA, I told him I didn’t think it was open. He said the website said it was open. He went. It was closed.

I wanted to post about it with a picture of our fountain. 20180103_122801

At one point the entire lower part froze solid. It’s never done that before. Note the melted elephant ear plant. We generally have sub-tropical weather. So our sub-tropic plants don’t like it when it gets into the 20’s.

I hope you’ve kept yourself entertained this week. Here’s a picture of some Harvey rain damage – from water seeping into the window and me not catching it in time to save my art papers. Our damage was so mild compared to so many in Houston.SAM_1834

Next week I’ll print another recipe from my mother’s cookbook.

Cooking My Mother’s Recipes #1

20171225_140135.jpgIt’s Christmas and my mother’s been gone four years now. I think of her most at this time because it was her and my father’s favorite season. They loved Christmas and New Years.

They were married on January 8. When my father died on January 7 at the age of 80 my mother remarked they were one day short of their 60th wedding anniversary. I said, what’s one day. You were married sixty years. No, she said, we were married 59 years. And that was the end of the discussion. So like her to be precise.

My mother and father. The little flower girl is my cousin Jan.

One thing she wasn’t precise in was her recipes. Don’t get me wrong, she did know a thing or two about cooking. But I rarely saw her use a measuring cup. She would experiment until they were right enough to write, but she still hardly ever used exact measurements when she was doing the actual cooking. So at this time I am starting a new series. I’m going to attempt to cook every recipe she wrote down in her recipe book.

Cooking my mother’s recipe’s came about because I found this cookbook where she’d been storing her handwritten recipes. I thought of all the times she’d cooked them. I remember so many of these. In her later years she wasn’t able to cook these but she continued to cook small bites until she was forced to go into the nursing home. She didn’t want to go, but when she got there, she loved it….more people to tell her stories to! It was a beautiful place.

So going over the recipes I thought – how would my mother do this? Or, what would my mother say about this? Or, how would my mother feel about this? You see, my mother cooked with a passion. So for the love or her cooking and for my mother – I give you the first in a series.

Every Christmas that I can ever remember my parents would have a lavish open house. I say lavish, our first home was a little square frame house in South Houston, Texas, with a crack in the foundation an inch wide at which my brothers and I would set traps for lizards on the inside of the house! My mother’s open houses were magical filled with good food, and fun decorations, like the paper fireplace stuck to the wall with tape, the electric “burning” logs giving no heat, the paper streamers made from painted grocery sacks, and the popcorn and cranberry chains we spent hours stringing and placed delicately around the real tree. We always had a real tree and it would perfume the house with the scent of Christmas. It was still a lavish affair in my child eyes. Later down the road of life our houses grew as did the Christmas open houses.

My mother spent days on food preparation. We four kids helped decorate cookies, of course, but we had little to do with the actual food that made the banquet such an affair to remember. I’m thinking of the hot plum pudding, and the steaming wassail, the candies from around the world, the honeyed ham, or the finger sandwiches. I will try to recreate for you each of these things as time goes by.

Ingredients. I left off the lemon. Don’t forget the lemon!

Each of my endeavors to cook these recipes will come with step by step photos to give you an idea about what it looks like.

The first recipe I will do is one I have made for years with my mother’s blessing. Mine never reached the level of deliciousness that my mother’s would though. You’ll have to try this and make your own adjustments to fit your tastes.

This is my Christmas gift to you, my dear readers: Mary’s Shrimp Dip


1- 8oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese

1 cup Hellman’s Mayonaise

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 lemon (the juice and lemon jest)

1 cup diced shrimp (my mother would say make large enough pieces to look like there’s shrimp in that dip!)

Cook the shrimp. I use the frozen E-Z Peel large shrimp. You can find them in a lot of stores. Bring the water to a roiling boil. Add 3 tablespoons of salt and 1 tablespoon of liquid Cajun Shrimp boil. Add the raw shrimp to the water all at once. (You don’t have to thaw first). Bring to another boil – about a minute or two, let boil for a minute. Turn off and let soak for five minutes. Drain, cool, peel and chop.

Mix it altogether.

It’s always better the next day so make it ahead of the party.

Even if the party is just you, this is so delicious it’s like a party in a bowl.

Remember, don’t increase the lemon if you increase the amount of the dip. (learned that the hard way! Plus, I didn’t read the little side note my mother made. “when doubling only use 1/2 lemon.)

My Grandfather’s Words: Sunday November 17, 1918

grandpa and grandmaI haven’t been keeping this diary up as I have not had time.

Events have moved very rapidly the last month. Peace is more practically assured. The Germans signed an armistice last Monday, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It meant almost unconditional surrender. Praise God.

First, Bulgaria gave up, then Austria, then Hungary collapsed. Then, Turkey caved in and finally November 11, the Germans signed the armistice.

Mary quit her job at Melanes and we moved to a room at 720 N. 13th, but did not like it. We found another nicer room now. I pay only $2.50 a week. We were paying $4.00 a week at the last place.

The papers this A.M. stated that the army would be demobilized rapidly & also the order of the demobilization. I rather think I will come under the second division, that of C.O’s.

(Thus ends my Grandfather’s journal.)

My Grandfather’s Words: Monday October 7, 1918

The weather was fair and cloudy this evening. I worked in corrals this A.M., in the train cars this P.M., and fed the horses their oats tonight. I had to fee oats yesterday, too. So did not go to town till later. I went to the Methodist church last evening. It was a kind of new experience for us & yet I don’t think it hurt us any.

Sometimes I think we are too exclusive and don’t let our light shine in places where we could. Paul used to go to the synagogues. If the opportunity came he “preached Christ unto them.” If I could just preach Christ unto them. I am not earnest enough nor steady enough. I am too much of a vacillating Christian, one time hot & another time cold. It is a terrible thing to be that way.

There will be a good conference in Ft. Worth, but the Spanish influenza makes us hesitate about going. Continue reading My Grandfather’s Words: Monday October 7, 1918

My Grandfather’s Words: Friday October 4, 1918

It’s been a warm day. I worked in the corrals this A.M. This P.M. I helped to make gravel walks around the barracks. Went downtown this evening. Mary is still at Milanes. I don’t know how much longer she will stay there.

This is a memorable day for us as it is the anniversary of our betrothal. I would like to be with her tonight, but could not as she was busy all evening. Little Girl, I wish there was some work you could get where you were free in the evening.

With this job, she is so tied up with the children there. The evenings are the busy time of the day. I can’t see her except for about four evenings a week. Of course this is better than if she were up in Waterloo & I were way down here in camp.

We have been talking over going up to Ft. Worth for Bible conference the eighteenth through the twentieth of this month, but there is so much of this Spanish influenza around that we don’t know whether to go or not. We have a few cases here in camp. There is a great deal scattered over the country in the various camps. Continue reading My Grandfather’s Words: Friday October 4, 1918

My Grandfather’s Words: Tuesday October 1, 1918

Weather has been cool at night and warm in the day time lately. The routine work here goes on about the same. They have thousands of tons of hay stored here now. The great sheds are full and they are stacking outside now.

The people of the Methodist church gave a kind of social for the Remount men on Friday evening last. Mary and I went. It was rather nice. They had some recitations and a few songs. Then they had sandwiches & coffee. It was so very nice of the church to entertain us that way.

Last evening, the church people were out here again. They gave us some entertainment, then we were all invited out to the church again next Friday evening. I don’t know whether I will go to the next event or not. Mary is not so well and my back is troubling me again.

They are going to start a G.M. School here & I have enrolled for it. I wish they would start soon. It seems that I am getting stagnant. My brain is dull & slow & I must do or have something to get it working again. This school will help me to get polished up again.


My Grandfather’s Words: Monday September 23, 1918

The weather is very much cooler than it was a month ago. I drew another blanket Saturday and I need it, too.

Mary sent home for a blanket for me, too. So I guess when that comes I will be pretty well fixed for the cold weather. She is not very well satisfied with her job. I think she will change soon. They keep piling on the work & expecting every minute of her time all day.

I had a letter from Mother today. She has been to Wilcorse, Minnisota. She visited with the Christians there, four families of them, and she liked it very much. She is not certain yet, what to do. If she does buy up there then Ben would have to sell the farm and go to training camp. It is hard. She just doesn’t know what to do. She will have to seek God’s mind on it. After all, that is the only thing to do.

Other than that, I don’t have any other news here.

My Grandfather’s Words: Saturday September 21, 1918

Yes an entire month has gone by and I haven’t been keeping this diary up. And quite a lot of things have happened. I was in the base hospital for six days with enteric dysentery. I was taken over there on Friday the 13th and discharged from there Thursday the 19th. I am still not feeling so well. Mary is working at Watkins at 1401 Austin St. She started there a week ago Thursday the 12th. The folks are very nice, but Mrs. Watkins is so very nervous herself that she gets on Mary’s nerves. I don’t know whether she will stay there very much longer or not.

There are rumors of this outfit leaving here and of the men getting their overseas exams very soon. I guess it might be some more of the stuff they have been spilling around here for six months or more.

I had a letter from cousin Ada Shearer of Emerson, Nebraska last evening. I received one today from Mr. Matthews containing a reference for me & Mary, too. I have two references now regarding my fitness for motor work. I may go over & see the man at the aviation camp soon. I am undecided yet what to do regarding this matter. I am very tired of this work around here and would very much like a change soon.

My Grandfather’s Words: Saturday August 31, 1918

I have not had time to keep my diary up since Mary got here last Saturday. I have stayed with her every evening since. She doesn’t like it very well here. I don’t blame her, because I don’t like it here either. We have a room at 1014 Jefferson St. in town. It isn’t a very clean place thought the lady who rents it is very nice & accommodating. However, the plumbing is in bad shape & need attention. I have taken it for the next week, too, but may have found someplace else by then. I am hoping so anyhow.

I have been taking care of the riding barn in company of Ziegler who is from Lawrie, Iowa. But Tuesday noon they called me in to see the top Sargent. He gave me an order on the Warehouse for a padlock & keys and told me to lock and stand guard over the No.7 corral, which was put in quarantine. I was responsible for said corral and was to let nothing in or out and was to keep the gate locked at all times. I was to let the feeders and cleaners and any who had business there in & out. So now I am corral guard & and cannot get off tomorrow or Monday (Labor Day) all day as I could have otherwise. So Mary wants to come out to me tomorrow. I’ll have to see about it. I guess as some other wives have been here before that maybe I can have mine out to.

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