I didn’t plan on it taking me this long to blog about Texas, but sickness has draped my house from corner to corner this week. First (and ongoing) Bella, then Joe and, as of last night, now me. I thought we’d come out of this wintry season of germs unscathed, but no such luck it seems.
But, tissues and tea aside, I really want to tell you how wonderful and special my trip was, so I’m going to break it down into more manageable parts. Starting first with The Farm, which is appropriate since my grandparents, “Mimi and Gramps,” are celebrating their 66th wedding anniversary TODAY! This has always been one of my very favorite photos of them.
You’d think that flying to Texas would mean warmer temperatures for this Utah girl, but you’d be wrong. The night I landed in Dallas a huge ice storm was near, causing me to rework my plans and drive directly across the metroplex to my grandparent’s house before the worst of the weather would strike. They had no idea I was coming and by the time I arrived that night they were ready for bed and absolutely stunned to see me waltz through the door just when the weather was turning very sour. Luckily my dad was already there and helped me pull off the surprise so I wasn’t sitting outside a locked house for the night!
We spent the next few days iced in for the most part, playing a lot of games, telling stories, looking at old photos, laughing, and taking care of some four-legged farmmates. My grandparent’s house…I don’t know where to begin. It holds a very special place in my heart as it’s the last place I have from my childhood to call home. The final relic left untouched through the decades. They’ve lived there for over 50 years and so much of it is exactly the same as I remember from when I was itty bitty. It’s comforting to know it’s ready to welcome me back whenever I’m there. Its walls, adorned with family photos, form a time capsule preserving my very happy childhood—a reminder of when life was easier and my greatest concern was not putting on enough sunscreen or tracking manure into the house after playing outside. I left my childhood home when I was 17, so I’ve never known that feeling of truly coming home-home as an adult, but this is as close as I’ll ever get and I can attest to its power and comfort.
There were plenty of non-human welcomes, too. There are three horses and a slew of llamas making a home in the pasture, and they love to be close to you and search your hands for food. The first day we went out in the ice (that’s not snow!) to feed them. Lucy, a red-haired, blue-eyed beauty, instantly became my best friend and relentless companion. Oh, you’ll see…
The next day was a lot less icy and a lot more muddy. How many times have I watched him open this shop door?
Baby llamas were not having it!
I’ve always been a bit of a spectacle.
Helping Gramps with his daily exercises. Fact: A peanut butter jar serves as a pretty good free-weight in a pinch.
Let’s talk games. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been playing card and domino games with my grandparents. We hit the ground running and I think I’ve lost my touch! I only won ONE GAME the entire time I was there. Don’t let those sweet faces fool you, they mean business!
It was a thrill to be in the kitchen with Mimi, who is basically responsible for everyone’s love of cooking. We made a birthday cake—a classic chocolate sheath cake—for my Aunt Connie. Sheath cake is the same as sheet cake. I’m sure you’ve heard of Texas Sheet Cake? (Cue the drools.)
Instead of the classic frosting of chocolate and nuts, she showed me how to make my great-grandmother’s boiled icing.
They called her “Grandmother,” so I guess calling it “Grandmother’s Boiled Icing” works for both her and me! Here’s the how-to: Place 2 cups sugar and 1 cup milk in a cast iron skillet, cooking on medium low heat and stirring constantly until sugar dissolves, mixture thickens and bubbles, and comes to a soft ball. (Test in a cup of cold water.) Let cool just slightly before adding two pats of butter and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Poke holes in cake and pour over slowly, using a spoon to cover evenly and fill the holes. Let cool completely before serving.
Happy Birthday, Connie! It was so fun to celebrate with you and your family!
On my last day there I spent some time saying goodbye to my furry friends. Here’s our last huddle-up of the trip. #goteam
Just call me Dr. Doolittle. They’d follow me anywhere.
Lucy would follow me the closest.
Sometimes just a little *too* close.
No shoulders were harmed during this trip.
One final goodbye nudge from my new best friend.
My goodbyes to the places around the farm I know and love.
And, most importantly, the two that I love so much and who gave me the most wonderful visit. I wish we could do this way more often.
On my way out of town I had to stop at the landmark my family knows so well…the “put your shoes on” spot of our family roadtrips. The perfect ending to a perfect stay.