Buzz on Southfork Ranch

I took a tour group to Southfork Ranch on Tuesday.  In all the years of watching the old, and now new, series I never took a trip there.  I highly recommend going.  The staff were very welcoming and the property is lovely. 

When the series debuted in 1978, the home was owned by a family so only exterior shots were allowed.  The interior shots were taken at a sound stage in Culver City, California.  Now with the series renewal, everything is shot in Dallas; both on the Southfork property and in a sound stage in Dallas.

Here’s the back patio near the pool.  This is where the Ewings would gather in the mornings for breakfast.  Remember Miss Ellie asking Teresa for some eggs for Bobby?  I didn’t take a photo of the infamous pool because it was covered for a scene they are shooting tomorrow (we missed seeing the cast by one day!).

The Dining Room where many a close, family dinner was held. 

Jock’s photo above the fireplace.

Lucy’s bedroom.  I think the signage on her dressing table was supposed to be a little tongue-in-cheek.

Jock and Miss Ellie’s bedroom.  The thing that several of us said as we were standing around looking at each room  is that logically we know there is no Ewing family living here.  But, it seemed very invasive walking around seeing things and seeing the character’s photos.  Almost as if they were going to walk in from the pasture or Tom Thumb while we were there.

The house is not as large by today’s standards.  But for the 70s, when the house was originally built, it was considered a palace.  It has changed owners several times over the years.  The most recent owners purchased the house in 1992 and it was totally redone.  It’s still a step back in the 80s.

A view of the foyer and staircase.

JR’s bedroom.  A gigantic platform bed right in the middle of the room and a champagne bucket handy next to the bed for closing those “deals.”

And his trademark hat and smile on the wall.

The master bath was totally surrounded in mirrors.  Mirrors everywhere.  You have to have quite a positive outlook on your body to bathe in this place or wear a mask over your eyes.

This is the exterior front shot of the house. 

As we rode away on a tram being pulled by a John Deere tractor, I could hear JR saying “Ya’ll come back now, you hear.” 

A Perfect Fall Brunch Recipe

I coordinated a breakfast for a large group at work today and had the caterer make this Pillsbury recipe for Bacon Quiche Biscuit Cups.  They were delish.  This is an easy recipe for your next brunch.  I think kids would like them and the recipe is flexible enough that you could change up the cheese or meat.   We served them with pumpkin muffins, mixed berries, juice and hazelnut coffee.

The florist made this autumnal centerpiece for us…

Did you notice what the vase is made out of?  I tree trunk!

I can’t wait to deconstruct it to see how he made it.  Have a fab Friday.

Make an Entrance — Tips for Getting Your Porch Ready

What does your front porch say to your guests?  Come on in…go away…this house is vacant…or come around the back?

During this transition of September to October, I decorate my front porch with my alma mater, TCU, spirit.  I have a rustic pot stuffed with purple and white pom poms, pennants and white and purple twirly twigs.  I even put a verse from a school cheer on the chalkboard.  Add a few pots of ferns, some pansies, and a cozy place to sit.

Your front porch tells a story to your visitors.  Even if you don’t have time to do full-on decor like Martha, just put out a few pots of mums and a pumpkin, or two.  Be creative with the containers you already have around.  I took a pair of rain boots and stuffed them with purple and white mums.

I have a wrought iron table on the porch topped with a piece of vintage marble from the 4617 days.  I happen to have an outlet on the porch, which I think it a must, and put a lamp on it.  I love the coziness of the lamp instead of the porch light.

Now that we are approaching that time of the year with lots of parties and friends stopping by, here are a few tips to help you make an entrance…

  • Stand out on your porch and take a survey of what people see.  Get the broom out and sweep away dirt and cobwebs around the doors, windows and porch roof.  Sweep the porch.
  • Clean the windows.  Those Windex bottles you can attach to your outside hose work wonders.
  • Clean out the light fixure glass.  The moths in there have gone on to their great reward a long time ago.  Replace blown out light bulbs.
  • Do you need to get a new door mat?  Does it need to be cleaned with the hose?  Clean it while you’re doing the windows.
  • If you have cushions on the porch do they need to be cleaned, hosed off, or replaced?
  • Clean the tops of any surfaces, like tables, you might have on the porch.  Clean the porch furniture.
  • Throw away dead plants that didn’t survive the summer.  Replace with pansies and mums that love the fall and the latter can be replanted in your garden when winter arrives.
  • Do the fixtures or mailbox need to be repainted or touched up?  A simple can of spray paint can make your fixtures look brand new.
  • Are your house numbers in need of updating or repainting?  About once a month, a guy comes by our house asking if we want our house numbers at the curb touched up.  I had Leen the Graphics Queen do our house number in vinyl lettering.
  • Is the door clean?  Are their hand, paw, or shoes prints on the door.  Get out the 409 and give the door a good cleaning.  If you have a storm door like me, I trained Miss Bee along time ago to clean the glass.

Most of these tasks will take 45 minutes.  Teach your kids to do some of them while you sit back and read People magazine.

How will you welcome the first day of fall this Saturday?

A Sweet Story

During a visit to see bestie this summer, she treated me and Miss Bee to a Gigi’s cupcake.  Cue angels singing when I walked into the bakery.  This was my kind of heaven.  Recently, while I was waiting for a doctor to see Earnie, I read a story about the Gigi’s Cupcakes founder.

While Gigi was running her cleaning business, her brother inspired her to open a cupcake bakery.  Even though she had good credit and money in her savings, all four banks she approached turned her down.  She took out a $100,000 credit on her four credit cards, started her cupcake venture, meanwhile was running her cleaning company to put food on the table.  Opening on February 21, 2008 three weeks later she had made enough money to pay her rent.  Now with 51 franchise locations across the US, she’s doing pretty well.

I loved the set up of the bakery from the display down to the packaging.


In Horton’s world everyone is a pony, and they all eat rainbows, and poop butterflies.  In my world two inches of frosting is required on all cake.  The end.

The House That Love Built

4617 Meadowbrook Drive

This is where it all began for me. 4617 Meadowbrook Drive.  Everything that I am started in this house.   Two parents and three siblings that loved me beyond measure.  My love of God, family and friends is all rooted from this place.  I am so blessed that I had such a magical childhood of playing in the backyard, birthday parties, holiday celebrations, yummy meals every night around the table, a Daddy and Mother that worked as partners to provide for our family, and siblings that geniunely loved me and wanted to spend time with me.

“There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society, are created, strengthened and maintained.” Winston Churchill

One-Eyed Pirates

Before I left for vacation I made a huge loaf of bread in the bread machine to make sandwiches for the road and to have the left over bread for toast.  Toward the end of our stay, we had several things left in the refrigerator I needed to use up.  So, I whipped up one of Mr. Bee’s childhood favorites — One-Eyed Pirates.

These are super simple to make.  Butter each slice of bread then cut a hole in the center of each piece of bread using a steak knife.  If you want to be precise you could use a cookie cutter.  Take the center out of each slice and put all the pieces of bread in the skillet, butter side down to toast.

After the slices of bread are brown and crispy (I’m in the mountains so everything cooks slower), crack an egg into each center.  Cook the eggs until they are done to your liking. I needed to use up some cheese we had in the refrigerator, so I added sliced white cheddar cheese on top of each egg, but you can leave the cheese off if you want.  Sprinkle some cracked, black pepper.

While the eggs were cooking I tossed in pre-cooked bacon to warm and crisp up.  I also broiled some sliced tomatoes sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Everything came out looking like this.

Breakfast:  It’s What’s for Dinner

Love on The Rocks

Returned Sunday from a restful time in Ruidoso where the weather was cool and the livin’ was easy.  Woke up Monday morning for my first day back at work…to a stomach bug.  Not so good times the last few days, but I was due for a good bug as I haven’t had one in the while.  As they said in the Devil Wears Prada:  “I’m only one more stomach flu away from my goal weight.”

First post back, thought I would share a cute, easy craft that Miss Bee and I did while away.  Why is it when kids turn into tweens, they suddenly don’t want to exert any physical energy?  This visit she wasn’t interested in the least going with me on a nature walk.  Ruthie, the weinerful, gladly went along.

I gathered a few river rocks and Miss Bee sat down with me to make these….

You start with some river rocks, mostly ones with a flat top so you’ll have enough work space to draw your little something.  I scrubbed them with soap and water.  Put them on a cookie sheet at 400 and heated those babies up for a good 10-15 minutes…

Miss Bee still has the energy to color, so we grabbed her box of Crayolas for the next step…

Carefully take out the rocks one by one with tongs and set them on a cup towel.  Then, using the crayon of your choice, draw away.  The rock makes the crayon melt so you have to work fast, and with not too many colors, or they all blend into one mess.  So you need to do simple designs like hearts, stars, flowers, etc..

We left the sunshine one for our hostess along with a box of chocolates from the local chocolatier.  Who knew crafting in the mountains could be so fun?

Cookie Bar — A Fantastic Party Idea

We don’t have a Whole Foods near our house, so it’s no surprise that I had my recent trip to their Austin store during my visit to the bestie’s house.

There were tons of things to feature and write about, but for me, I zeroed in on the “Artisan Cookie Bar.”

As an event planner, I am always looking for ideas for parties.  This cookie bar is an original, fresh way to not only serve guests something they love — cookies — but it’s visually appealing as well.

You can make your own mini chalk boards with wood scrap or print on place cards the names for each cookie.

If you’re the host for the next book club gathering, maybe try recipes pertinent to your book.  It goes without saying that this could be a great idea for a holiday open house.  Make a percolator of hot cocoa with “adult” splashes of Bailey’s and Kahlua for the grownups.  You could put tags on small shot glasses that say “just add milk” and have a big carafe of eggnog.

If you don’t bake, then make a trip to your favorite bakery and get a dozen of several different kinds of cookies.  The food is your centerpiece.

“Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world,
had cookies and milk about three o’clock in the afternoon
 then lay down on our blankets for a nap.”
quoting Robert Fulghum in 1987 at Middlebury College

Sargento Ultimate Baked Potato Salad Recipe

Recenlty, I noticed a yummy recipe on the back of a Sargento shredded cheese packet.  I decided to give it a whirl with the grilled hamburgers we were having for lunch to celebrate my friend Miss Penny’s birthday.  It’s really more like a baked potato casserole, but they call it a potato salad.  The dish is the bomb and would be perfect for pot lucks.  Hope you try it!

3 1/2 pounds potatoes peeled, cubed and cooked
2, 8-oz packages of Sargento Shredded Cheese (the recipe calls for mild, I used sharp)
2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 lb. cooked bacon, crumbled
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup sliced black olives (if olives aren’t your thing, I bet you could substitute with green onions)

Place cooked potatoes in an even layer in a greased 9×13 baking dish (I cooked the potatoes until just slightly done so they wouldn’t fall apart).  Combine mayonnaise with 3 cups of cheese and onion; spread mixture over the potatoes.  Sprinkle potato/cheese mixture with bacon, peppers and olives.  Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes (I actually cooked it another 10 minutes because I had cooked the potatoes the night before and the dish was cold).  Top with remaining one cup of cheese and bake another 5 minutes.  It says it serves 12.  That’s about right if you want seconds or leftovers for another meal in the week. 

I took some photos of the prep and finished product:

Cooked Potatoes (step one)
Mayo, Cheese and Onion Mixture
Cheese mixture on potatoes
Chopped pepper and olives
Just out of the oven
Note:  I was not compensated for this endorsement.  Just a housewife looking for a new recipe.

Helen Keller and her oatmeal

Earnie got her hearing aids last week.  Over the last year, Miss Bee has been administering her own brand of  hearing test to see if Earnie’s hearing is getting worse.  She sits in the back of the van and very quietly says “Grandmother”.  Miss Bee continues this routine until it is said at a decibel heard on Earnie’s level.  It’s quite scientific.

When we took Earnie a few weeks ago to her initial screening exam, the audiologist asked if we’d like to be apart of the hearing test to see what it would be like for Earnie.  If Miss Bee were a homeschooler — she would have gotten extra credit in learning the anatomy of the ear drum because they stuck this camera in Earnie’s ear and projected it on a screen.  As I suspected, she had a giant ball of wax in her ear, which only made Miss Bee nauseous.  For having a nurse as a mother, she’s awfully squeamish.

Then it was the isolation booth — like they have at the Miss America Pageant (I secretly always wanted to be in an isolation booth!).  The audiologist sat in in the next room behind a window with her mouth hidden so Earnie couldn’t have any visual cues and had to rely on just hearing the words.  So for about 20 minutes all Miss Bee and I heard was…Say bat, say fat, say noisy, say dog, say cheese, say chalk, say fly, say oink, say milk, say bird, say fish, say wash, say wax, and this went on and on and on.

Some of the words Earnie got, but most she missed.  Earnie is a really good sport and laughs at herself all the time, which is good, because I laugh at her too.  Miss Bee and I were trying real hard to not laugh.  But when they started the part where “when you hear the ringing tone raise your hand” we almost had to leave the booth because the ringing was so loud and to the point of making our ears bleed, but Earnie still had that look on her face like “no, I don’t hear ringing.”

Once fitted with her new, sporty hearing aids the audiologist explained that the volume would need to be adjusted a little at a time over the next several appointments.  Her brain has become so accustomed to not hearing words that she will have to learn sounds again.  When we walked out of the place into the parking lot, Earnie looked like Helen Keller from the movie when she learned how to sign “water” to Miss Sullivan.  You could tell Earnie was hearing sounds she’d been missing for a long time.  It was really quite sweet.

On the way home Earnie told Miss Bee and me the story of how she took her own mother (we called her Little Tiny Grandmother because she was, well really little) to get hearing aids.  Back then they were not as technologically sophisticated so the devices were the size of a deck of cards that you had to stick in your front pocket, or in my grandmother’s case, in her undergarment.  Earnie said the first time Grandmother heard the sound of water running out of the faucet she was annoyed at how loud it was.

As we were passing a Braums Earnie said let’s go there and get something cold.  Miss Bee ordered a hot-fudge sundae, I got a large cherry limeade — the best I ever had — even better than Sonic.  Earnie, well, she got oatmeal.

Never an unfunny moment with my gal pal, Earnie.  Hear’s to you!  Stay tuned (ha, ha) for more fun stories of the hearing aid chronicles.