Monthly Archives: April 2012

Country Living Fair and Bribery to Get There!


Shhh! Are we alone?  If we are completely alone,  I am going to share a secret with you.  You ask me all the time,  “How do you get your sons to work so hard?”  All the furniture hauling, the paint projects, landscaping, cleaning, mowing, gardening, tending chickens and trips to antique fairs and the list goes ….. gets done with the help of my sons because ….. are you ready for the secret ? … you’ll be amazed … it’s kinda simple … it really is…. listen close…  I FEED THEM!   It’s true, it’s really true; the way to a man’s heart is his stomach.  That’s how I got them to go with me to the Country Living Fair.  They were so stuffed they needed to walk it off and had no problem strolling the aisles with me.  Just don’t ask them if they like  pink anything or ‘is this chair better than that chair?’ or ‘what do you think I should get?’  “This”, they sternly warn, “will require me to turn in my man card.”  And, they guard that card diligently.

The best “worth the drive” barbeque in our neck of the woods is just south of Austin on Highway 290 in a little town called Elgin.  It’s called the Southside Market.  The wood is stacked outside.  The smoke touches the tendrils of your nostrils immediately after exiting your vehicle and you are summoned by one of the most down home comforting foods the State of Texas has to offer.  Simply put, brisket with the sauce on the side.  Lemons on the plate are for the tea not the barbeque.  I was in a hurry and didn’t have time to pose for the picture.

Enough about barbeque.  Here’s what I gleaned from the fair:

OLD QUILTS CAN BE RE-PURPOSED with quaint lettering, family photos and framing…

RED CHAIRS WITH AN ORIENTAL FLAIR can go anywhere and still matter in design just like leopard…  Pairs of anything old are my weakness because I figure if the two can make it that long they should always be together.  I think that about my husband after twenty plus years.

OLD TAPESTRY PLACED ON AN OLD STANDARD BUFFET make for interesting pieces and could be inspiration for any print fabrics…

CLEVER AND PAINTED UTENSILS apparently have more use than bending your elbow and getting your mouth to fly open…

RINGS ARE A BEAUTIFUL THING especially when you take your grandma’s big earrings and make two big rings… To purchase these rings go to Emma Lou Vintage at or coming soon to my booth at Hermann’s.


Just a small sampling of what was there.  All in all a really enjoyable day with my family.



The Irish Lady Antiquities at Hermann’s Antique Mall


Have I ever mentioned that I have an antique booth at Hermann’s in downtown Brenham?  There is a section of the store to the right that houses antique vendors of all kinds.  My booth is way in the back in the old meat market section where you can still see the meat hooks hanging from the tin tile ceiling.  The history of Hermann’s is so interesting.  You have to come see the place.  It’s huge.  Well, back to antiquities and such, here is a sampling of what I have crammed in my space.

Keyed Round Front Solid Oak Lighted Curio,  Drexel Heritage Chair Painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and Distressed,  White Furniture Company of the Carolinas Accent Table Painted with Annie Sloan.   And, many many accessories..

Bright Sunshine Yellow Formica Table from around the late 40’s early 50’s.  This one is rare in that it has it’s original leaf and accompanied by four Sears and Roebuck Oak Catalog Chairs from the 30’s painted black with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and distressed.  Two tiered black accent table painted in chalk paint.  There’s a 1920’s ice bucket and several ice cold beverage pitchers.  The lobster platter hails from the paper machiere era and compliments the wooden serving accessories.  There are six snack plates with pineapple serving bowls and a few platters.  These would be great pool side or porch.

I have tons of linens made by my grandmother that have been embroidered and crocheted.   Table cloths, round and square, dish towels, pillow cases and even towels are there.   Next to the linens is an old iron bistro table and double shutter in red.

…A better glimpse at the bistro set.

An 1800’s armoire, with dove tail drawers on the left and cedar lined hanging clothes area on the right,  still has it’s very own skeleton key.  The chairs are cained and painted with white chalk paint.

Come visit The Irish Lady at Hermann’s Antique Mall, Downtown Brenham, Texas.

Secret Weapon Taco Soup


When I am really pressed for time, frantic to be exact, and having company in an hour this is what I make.  I have the ingredients on hand at all times and count on the embellishments like a special salsa from a local restaurant and homemade guacamole with special cheeses to liven things up. I found the pretty tortilla strips with the croutons at HEB.  I get rave reviews and actually feel embarrassed when I get asked for the recipe because it is so simple and delicious.  Here’s the clincher…are you ready?   It is low calorie.  Weight Watchers would deem this 2 points a cup without chicken added and 4 points with it.  This is not low carb as you can tell because of the beans and corn.


In this case, it was rainy and the wind was bellowing outside so I made this for lunch and had leftovers for supper.  I don’t know if I have mentioned that I home school and cook at least twice a day.  That’s why it’s my secret weapon.  Don’t laugh or be discouraged when you see the ingredients…it has a wonderful flavor and your guests will be asking for the recipe.  It’s a promise.


2      Cans Rotel Medium or 16 ounces Salsa,  home made or otherwise

2      Cans Corn

2      Cans Pinto Beans

1       Packet Taco Seasoning

1       Packet Dry Ranch Dressing Mix

1       Packaged Grilled Fajita Chicken Breast or Your Choice or None at all


Get a pot.  Open the cans.  Tear the packets.  Add it all.  Stir it all.  Bring to boil.  Turn down heat.  Simmer until served.

That’s it, really, that’s it.  Try it and tell me what you think.

Hermann’s: What’s New?


Have you ever been to a place, not a house, but a store and just feel at home?  That’s how I feel about Hermann’s in Downtown Brenham.  It’s the anchor of our historic little town and sits diagonal from the courthouse.  I’m proud of the place, how it has stood the test of time through the generations, in one family.  I love the people there, too, because they love what they do and it shows.  Every inch is filled with beautiful ideas that they are so willing to share and it changes daily.  Quite literally,  I have seen something I want, come back the next day and there is a whole new way presented to me to place the piece in my home.  With a full in house design center that includes the largest selection of fabric swatches that I have seen since the Houston Design Center, they guide you through your mind’s eye to make your home what you want it to be.    Come See!  Be Inspired! Decorate Your Life!


Notice the concrete finials:  I can see these on a veranda, a buffet, the floor in your foyer, the bath by the tub, fireplace, kitchen island…

So much to see!  This French inspired dining is appealing with soothing salmon colors.  They think of everything!

Speaking of thinking of everything, take a peek at these unique table accompaniments.  The place mats, napkins, serving pieces are fun and chic all at once.

Brightly colored, whimsical is what I think when I see this bedding ensemble and pillows.   There’s a lot more in that photo than the bed…see how many unique and different things you can take in at a glance.   (Oops, I left my purse and fabric on the bench…don’t notice that.)


Hermann’s Design Class with Scott Hill Photography


Hermann Furniture in Downtown Brenham together with Scott Hill Photography is hosting a design seminar.  Scott is a locally renowned photographer whose charm, wit and talent will make this fun and highly informative for the novice or the semi-professional.  Not only will you come away with a better understanding of placing your photos and why, but you will be wowed by what’s new at Hermann’s.  I will be following up with some pics of vignettes from the store for you to see.  Don’t miss this one!  And, while you are downtown don’t forget lunch at Funky Art Cafe…so good!


Country Living Magazine Fair and Dead People’s Stuff







APRIL 27 -29

Over 150 vendors! All under cover at the Travis County Expo Center, 7311 Decker Lane Austin, TX 78724. Just 15 minutes from downtown Austin. The pages of Country Living Magazine come to life! Rain or Shine!!!
A Fun, Folksy & Fabulous Show & Sale of Folk Art, Antiques, “Made in America” Crafts, Art, Furniture, Home Decor & More.
Meet the editors of Country Living Magazine.
Plus Seminars & How-to’s, Artisan Demonstrations, & More.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Rain or Shine! All exhibits are under cover.
Tickets can be purchased online until one week before the fair and at the fair box office all the days of the fair
One day $13 in advance – at door $16
Weekend Pass $15 in advance – $20 at door
Early Bird $40 (8:30 am to 10am) only available in advance and limited to 2500 tickets. 90 minutes of priority shopping
Children under 16 free if accompanied by an adult.
Regular parking fees apply. ($5 per car per day) Advance purchase a three day parking pass online for just $8! Tickets are always available fair days at the box office.


Since the Country Living Fairs are usually held in other states, this something I would definitely like to try.  There are a lot of fairs, craft shows, bazaars and festivals in this part of the country.  I just visited the big antiques show in Warrenton a few weekends ago and didn’t blog about it, but now I am,  because all I saw was this sign (see below) and all I bought was a four dollar soap dish.  It was probably because I went on Saturday and most vendors were packing up or gone home for Easter Sunday.

Here’s the sign…wasn’t sure how I felt about it…I felt queasy; I laughed; I passed it by;  I backed up; I shook my head;  then I took a picture.   I will leave this post at that and let you decide for yourself whether you shall laugh, pass it by, back up, etc…



I Give Up Chocolate Chip Banana Bread!


It wasn’t difficult to figure out my ADD day (Read:  “Pot O’Beans and Attention Deficit Disorder” post)   was instigated by the three cups of coffee that I drank out of a huge mug making it six cups of coffee.  On that day, I mentioned banana bread in my meanderings and blatherings.  What I didn’t mention is how when I cook something with the intention of placing it on a lovely dish and spending a few blissful moments engaging in the art of releasing stress by taking pictures of food to blog about,  IT GETS EATEN BEFORE I CAN DO THAT!!!

Oh, I’m not asking for sympathy.  I love that I have a son who can eat a whole loaf while it’s hot and ooey gooey with no weight gain and no remorse.  His time will come so let him enjoy and remember his mom’s cooking.   I think I’m making banana bread, but really I am making memories.  Maybe he will come visit me when I am old.

So, I give up on taking fancy schmancy food pictures.    Knowing me, I will dream and try again some other day.  In the meantime, here is what “I Give Up Chocolate Chip Banana Bread” looks like in all it’s warm ooey gooey bliss with no frills, no lovely plate, no special lighting…just love and butter.  Recipe follows below.



3/4       Cup Sugar

1/2       Cup Real Butter Softened

2          Medium Mashed Ripe Bananas

1/2      Cup Sour Cream

2          Large Eggs

2          Cups Flour

1           Teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2      Teaspoon Salt

3/4      Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips *

1/2      Cup Chopped Pecans *



Preheat oven t0 350 degrees.  Spray two loaf pans with cooking spray.   Combine sugar and margarine in a large bowl until fluffy.  Blend in bananas, sour cream and eggs.  Stir flour, baking soda and salt into mixture.    Gently fold in chocolate chips and pecans.  Bake for 35 minutes or touch in center to make sure it is firm.  Oven temperatures and loaf pan size will  cause cooking times to vary.  It can be up to 45 minutes for deeper loaf pans.

(Nat notes:  Coat the chocolate chips with a light dusting of flour so they don’t sink to bottom of pan before you fold in the mixture.  Leave the nuts out if you don’t like them.  I made a triple batch in the picture above by simply tripling all ingredients.  To mash bananas, use your potato masher!)