Thursday, January 20, 2022

FROG VISITOR

Here is a post I thought had gone up but guess it didn't.  We wanted to make sure we posted it.  When I was cutting back the bushes by the front steps, a few weeks back, my eye caught something.

Do you see it?

Right here on this branch...it was definitely in a good hiding spot that I interrupted. 

Here he/she is in a closeup.  Just chillin' on the branch, though I'm pretty sure it was giving me "side eye" for ruining a good nap.  Needless to say, I quit cutting on this bush and left the frog alone.  Then when I was finished with everything else, I still needed to move it elsewhere.  I got a clay pot and saucer and coaxed him in.  The frog was then relocated to the back of the house in a shady spot.

Side note, love their little suction cup toes.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

MAXIMIZING OUR OVEN USE

Not too long ago, we posted a picture of our meatloaf meal.  We ate it over the weekend and it was so good.  Thankfully, 2nd Man made two.

Sliced meatloaf

Here it is (you can just see the edge of the other one on the side).  This one was sliced up and vacuum sealed for the freezer.  We found that two fit side by side on the largest sheet pan we have, so we just double up the recipe and make two.

We do the same thing when roasting chickens...

Two roasted chickens

...we do two of those as well.  Our philosophy for cooking things like this is that if we're going to heat up the oven to cook one anyway, two can cook at the same time and temperature and we have future meals ready to put up in the freezer.  For the chickens we will have one for immediate dinner and then when the other has cooled down, I pull all the meat off and vacuum seal it for using in other meals.  It's like having a rotisserie chicken at the ready most any night we need one.

Now if we could just figure out how to get two turkeys in one oven at the same time, ha.  Side note, don't those chickens look delicious?  Now I'm hungry!

2nd Man has always wanted double ovens in his kitchen.  If we end up with that at the farm, then we could have 4 chickens and 4 meatloaves and 2 turkeys at a time, LOL!

Anyone else do this?

Monday, January 17, 2022

GOOD FOOD AND HOBART SUNDAY

DUE TO AN INTERNET CONNECTION ISSUE, THIS WILL HAVE TO STAY UP AS MONDAY'S POST TOO, SORRY ABOUT THAT.  MORE TOMORROW!

Cold today.  Well, cold for us.  Windy and just cold.  Low 30's with "feels like" in upper 20's.

TexMex comfort food

We stayed in town this weekend (see yesterday's post) and 2nd Man made a meal of tamales (made by a coworker) and then he made Mexican rice, refried beans and I whipped up some pico de gallo and served it over some sliced avocado.  TexMex comfort food!

Warm Hobart

It's cold outside and Hobart knows this.  So he is on the couch, on "his" fuzzy blanket and of course, we are required to cover him up because, well, #notspoiled. 

Stay well fed and warm wherever you are!

Saturday, January 15, 2022

ONE OF THOSE WEEKS

 It's been one of those weeks where stuff went wrong.  Of course other than my trash to treasure finds, ha, see yesterday's post for that.

The other day at lunch I had a flat.  That's never fun.  I was able to make it back to my work parking space before it went completely flat.


Got the spare put on but of course, while bigger than a "donut" spare tire because it's a 4x4 vehicle, it's still a little smaller than normal so all the warning sensors and lights are on inside and it pulls to the left.

Because it was getting close to time for new tires anyway, we decided to just go ahead and replace all four.  That's never a fun expense to incur, sigh.

I will deal with that next week.

Then, there were rumors flying that Harris County (where Houston is) was going to threat level red for covid. Sure enough, they upped it... 


...at least we're vaccinated and boosted and other than the grocery store once a week and me going to work, we stay in and mind our own business, ha. 


We personally know four people who currently have COVID.  One is unvaccinated and is very sick.  The other three are vaccinated and experiencing symptoms like a cold except for one who said it's like a bad flu that they wouldn't wish on anyone.  Even a mild case can result in long haul COVID symptoms in some people, so we're happy to just keeping masking, social distancing and avoiding catching it if at all possible.


Today when we got up to head to the farm, we looked at the temps out there and thought "no heat at the farm, a cold wind blowing, let's just stay in town this weekend".  It's nice to have a break and just relax.  there is nothing to really do out there right now.  We can stay in town where it's warm and read, catch up on some TV/movies and have some good food.

Nothing wrong with that.  Hope you are having a good weekend and staying warm if you're where it's cold.  If you're where it's warm, send some this way.

Friday, January 14, 2022

CHRISTMAS ITEMS TRASH TO TREASURE

 Regular readers know that I have a favorite place to look for bargains...our downstairs trash area!  Our building has trash chutes on every floor and they feed into a separate room, but for boxes and other things that people can't put in the chute, there is an area (indoor) near the loading dock where people can put the things they don't want.  I've found quite a few cool items over the last few years.

Here is one are some of the latest!

Over the course of the week or two after Christmas and New Year, I gathered up the following items:


So this box was down there.  It's a "Slim Virginia Pine" pre-lit tree.  The box had some old water staining on it and I was thinking it might be damaged but when I opened it to check, the tree was fine, just some old water staining on the box.  A nice tree, 6 feet tall.


Here it is plugged in.  I made sure to test it before I "rescued it" and it works fine.  You only see half the lights on because I didn't plug one strand into the other on the tree itself before I plugged the bottom in.  The way they put it in the box didn't make it all fluffed up and even but since we're just going to keep it in the box anyway for the next year, there was no need to do that now.  It's a nice tree, 6 feet tall.

A few days later I went downstairs and found this...


...a wicker basket (score for the free basket too, ha) with Christmas lights inside!  I had to find an outlet downstairs so I could test them and they worked.  Two strands with 50 multicolored ball type lights on each...


...and then another two strands of lights, one white and one multicolored.  We can always use any lights for future decorating.


And THEN a few days later, I found this artificial tree!  No box with this one but here it is at the farm, waiting to go into a bag for storage.  Not sure what you call this "variety" of tree but it's 4 feet tall, really full and pretty, kind of frosted looking.  Not pre-lit this time but hey, we have plenty lights as per above.

But wait, there's more!

This post would have stopped here but just last night:


I went downstairs and someone had thrown away their real tree.  Not unusual of course.  It was dry and crispy but that's when I noticed that it still had lights on it.  I pulled it aside and saw the cords at the bottom.  They had just thrown away the tree with the lights still on it!  I started unwrapping them and it took me a good fifteen minutes or so.  They were on a very fine wire and I could later understand why someone probably decided it was easier to just toss the whole thing...but I had patience and kept at it...


...and it paid off.  I got this huge strand of what we think are called "fairy lights"?  They are tiny, tiny things like little LED seeds.  The wire is very thin and has a light every few inches.  Then there are these big fountain type pieces that are on stiffer wires that you can bend to a position, also with the tiny lights.  You can adjust all of them to strobe, flash, chasing, blinking, and any other number of patterns.  They are really unusual.  We'll find something to decorate with them.

After Christmas discards will become our future decorations and we're OK with that!



Wednesday, January 12, 2022

PIE DOUGH CUTTING TRICK

 Here's a trick 2nd Man uses to get the perfect circular pie dough.  It's a variation on the tip of using a plate and a knife to cut around it to make a perfect circle.  Then for small circles, many people use drinking glasses to actually use the lip of the glass to cut the dough.  We were looking for something similar but really large.


Then we discovered this in our cabinet.  It's the lid to a wok we have.  We tried all sorts of pots and pan lids but needed the right size that would give him the right size dough disk to fit the pie dish.


This is a lid that has a 14" diameter and the inside lip that actually cuts through the dough is 13 1/2".


He just rolls out his dough to the thickness he needs and then pushes the lid down onto the dough.  Because it has a metal lip/edge, it almost acts like a blade and just cuts right through.  He uses the handle/knob to rotate it a bit and then when he pulls it up...


A perfect circle of dough...


...that fits the pan perfectly!

If you don't have a pan lid that will work, you could measure out what size circle you need and then find a replacement lid somewhere like eBay or Amazon or an store like Walmart or Target.  They even sell lids only.  Just thought we'd share a tip we use.


Monday, January 10, 2022

WEATHER ROLLERCOASTER

This weekend was a crazy one.  We had it all.  Heavy storms came through with rain, lightning, hail, some funnel clouds and even several tornadoes North of us.  Friday night it was in the 30's, yesterday it was near 80.  Tonight it's going to be back down to the 40's.


The farm showed the effects of the recent 29 degree temps, the grass has moved to it's "brown phase".  No mowing for a couple months.  Usually March is the first time I break out the mower.  All I really needed to do was beat the rain.  I checked on the plants on the porch.  The pineapples were fine but the bananas had some freeze damage.  They should bounce back.


It was slightly overcast and sunny when I got there but the dark clouds started rolling in and I could hear thunder.  Time to get a move on.  I drove through a monsoon rain on the way back.


After dinner (see yesterday's post), we started getting breaking weather alerts and so we turned to our local channel right as they were saying that "a radar indicated potential tornado" was approaching downtown Houston.  I went out on the balcony to check the skies.  The lightning flashing in the sky illuminated some dark clouds for sure.  Someone on another balcony came out and said "are you looking for the tornado too?".  Thankfully, it moved through here with no actual tornado touch down but about 20 miles North of downtown, FIVE touched down and caused damage.  All small, EF-0 or EF-1 on the scale, but scary indeed.

Friday it was in the 40's for a high.  Then Saturday it warmed up to the upper 70's (hence the storms) and Sunday it was 70's and rainy then it dropped to 50's and today it's sunny and clear and tonight it's back down into the 40's...


This is kind of the life we lead here in this part of the country. Don't like the weather? Just wait. It'll change.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

GOOD FOOD AND HOBART SUNDAY

Here we are, almost ten days into the new year.  Wow.


While I was at the farm yesterday dodging rain and before we were later in the evening dodging tornado warnings, he made some buttered noodles with pork medallions in gravy.  It's almost like pork stroganoff, that's why we added some sour cream and chives.  It was delicious comfort food for sure...


We had to have some wine, a rosé from Shark Tank's Mr. Wonderful...it's really good.

Hobart

...and while we were eating, Hobart was just "hanging around", ha.  Here he is relaxing on the back of the couch.  He loves doing this, we guess it's comfortable.

Hope you are having a good weekend.  It's been a mess here all weekend, more on that tomorrow.

Friday, January 7, 2022

FOOTLOCKER TRASH TO TREASURE

 Regular readers know that I have a favorite place to look for bargains...our downstairs trash area!  Our building has trash chutes on every floor and they feed into a separate room, but for boxes and other things that people can't put in the chute, there is an area (indoor) near the loading dock where people can put the things they don't want.  I've found quite a few cool items over the last few years.

Here is one of the latest!

Found this large, Sterilite brand, wheeled footlocker with latches and a lock.  At first I thought "oh, I wonder what's in it if they threw it away locked?".


Then I noticed that it looks like they lost the key and just had to cut through the plastic to open it.  Well, it was time to open it and see what was inside...


...empty!

No treasure (or worse, ha).  At least it was nice and clean.  Whatever was in it before us will forever remain a mystery.  Surely something this nice has a use for us?  When we got to the farm, it hit me...


...a great place to store all of our "freeze protection items" for the the citrus (that we don't currently have of course, ha).  The C9 bulbs that put out some heat, the freeze cloths, the elastic straps, the extension cords and the timer.  Since we've invested in these items, we still need to keep them for when do have fruit trees or other plants to protect and it makes sense to keep it all together in one location that we can easily get to.


Here it is full, closed up and ready to be relocated to the mower shed.  We found them for sale on Amazon here, Sterilite Footlocker , for $65!  So it was a great bargain that we've immediately been able to put to use.
I still need to cut that lock off but I'll do that one of these days.  It doesn't interfere with anything.

Anyway, someone disposed of it and we had a use for it and now it has a home in mower shed at at the farm.  Saved from the landfill.


Wednesday, January 5, 2022

GARDEN IN WINTER UPDATE

We might have freezing temps finally but what we do have planted is growing as it should...


The raised bed garlic is doing great and doing what it's supposed to be doing.  Hoping for some great heads of garlic in about five more months.


And then we harvested our first batch of collard greens.  They look great and other than one plant that's seemingly way behind the others, they are putting on lots of leaves.  After this harvest, we should have another batch in a week or two.

Fall gardening, small as it may be, is giving us ideas for future gardening and trying out some other crops next time.  One of our customers was telling me on the phone the other day that they were harvesting broccoli from their Houston backyard garden.  We had never even thought about growing that.  We already know that Napa cabbage works great.  So next Fall we might try some broccoli.  If you've seen our food pics, you know we love us some broccoli!  

We're back up to the 70's after dipping into the upper 20's.  'Tis the season in this part of the world.