Monday, February 6, 2023

A GIFT OF RED MAPLE TREES

 A very sweet friend sent a text a few weeks ago and told us she had entered a drawing for free trees that were being given away as part of an Arbor Day project.  You had to sign up to get on the list and there was a drawing to see who would get some. She rents and is unable to plant any trees so she asked if we wanted them if she won.  Of course we said yes.

Then a week ago, she let me know she got two in the drawing and they were delivered.

Two red maple trees!  They are in 7 gallon containers and probably 8 to 10 feet tall already.  I went by her house and picked them up...


...and took them to the farm.


...here they are in their future home at the farm (albeit temporary until planted).


This is what they will look like when mature.  These are the Drummond Red Maple varieties, suited to our climate and soil types and are fast growing, reaching a height of 40 feet.  Not sure we'll be around then to see them THAT tall, LOL, but we'll definitely have to find just the right spot for them, away from future house plans and away from the power lines.  It will be a welcome change to our normal landscape view of mesquite and hackberry trees...


Sunday, February 5, 2023

GOOD FOOD AND HOBART SUNDAY

After a rainy (VERY rainy) and cold week, the sun has returned and it's trying to dry out.  Another week has flown by and here we are.

Time for some good food and some Hobart.

Pork chops and veggies on the side.  One of our favorite meals.  On this one we used some Middle East spices to give it a twist.  Drizzled some lemon over the asparagus and it was delicious.

Here's a fun set of pictures of Hobart:


He was snuggled up in his blanket, staring at me and I thought it would be a great picture.  I always tend to take a few because he moves around and this time he looked at me and...


...yawned.  

I guess I was boring him with my antics.  So I stopped bothering him and let him sleep.  Because...

#notspoiled

Friday, February 3, 2023

DODGED THE ICE STORM

 Wow, we have been SO lucky in our part of the state.  As many of you have probably seen on the news, Texas has been in the midst of an icy grip that is causing chaos in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth and cities all around and in between.

This is from Wednesday and you can see how close the line came to the Houston metro area and the farm.  We got lucky.  No freeze, no sleet and no ice.  Thankfully, that means no power issues for us.  But as of last night, there were still almost half a million people around the state without power.

For us it's been that wet, rainy, damp cold.  It just goes right through you.  The same way humidity in the Summer makes the heat horrendous, it makes the cold just bone chilling.

For us, the good news is we are on a warming trend.  Back to the 70's by next week and long range forecasts for US seem to indicate our freezes may be over...but for the people up North and East...

...looks like Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and there are six more weeks of Winter.  Good news though, apparently he's only been accurate about 40% of the time over the years.  But it's still a fun tradition. 

Stay warm and safe!


Thursday, February 2, 2023

ROTEL DIP WITH MEAT AND EXTRAS

Yesterday we posted HERE just the simple two ingredient version of this dip.

The other versions have meat to make them more substantial.  Here is how we make another version.

A can of Rotel, a 16 oz block of melting cheese like Velveeta, and a pound of ground meat.  You can use beef or breakfast sausage, but in ours, we like to use Italian sausage because it adds a great flavor.


Brown and cook the sausage in a pan or skillet, we use the same one we'll make the dip in.  With ground sausage, there isn't as much fat as ground beef, but feel free to drain if it needs it.


I add a few slices of cheese (we almost always have some on hand) in this case, Swiss, Gouda and Provolone to give it some extra flavor and texture.


Add the undrained can of Rotel, the Velveeta, the sliced cheese and a few diced jalapeños.

Stir over low heat, the sausage is already hot and will help melt everything.  Just don't get it too high so the cheese doesn't stick/burn.  Again, this can be done in a crockpot on low heat to keep its consistency for a party or large gathering.


In just a few minutes, it's melted and it all comes together nicely.


Here it is dished up.  SO good this way.  Of course just double up or triple up anything for larger batches.

As others mentioned in comments yesterday (and probably today) you can add anything to it to make it something you enjoy.  A can of chili, seasonings such as cumin, beans, pasta, cream cheese, hot sauce, cream of mushroom soup or whatever you like.

We've been known to just eat this for lunch/dinner.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

ROTEL DIP ONE WAY

Recently, I mentioned to someone that we made some Rotel dip and they said they hadn't heard of it.  It's actually a classic and popular recipe (if you can even call it a recipe, ha).  Rotel dip in its most basic form is made with two simple ingredients.


I made some for us to snack on during New Year's Eve.  For this batch, I made it without meat since we were having dinner later and didn't want it to be too heavy.  The base is just 16 oz of melting cheese, traditionally "Velveeta" and of course the namesake, one can of "Rotel tomatoes".  When I was at the grocery store, they had a sale on their brands (buy one get one free) so I got them both.

Of course, this dip is almost always associated with being made in a crockpot (on low setting).  It's a good way for the low heat to help keep its consistency while enjoying it a large gathering or party.


For stove top, cube the cheese (it melts easier) and drop it into a pan.  Pour in a can of Rotel tomatoes.  Do not drain, the liquid is what gives the cheese just the right consistency.  It melts quickly over medium low heat.  Don't let it get too hot or the cheese will burn on the bottom.  Our pan is non-stick so that helps. 


Just stir constantly over medium low heat and it will melt quickly.  It's done and ready to serve.


Here it is as we had it...just plain with the two ingredients.  Serve with chips and you're good to go.

Tomorrow, we will post the modified and meatier version that we also make, ha!

Monday, January 30, 2023

GRAY AND RAINY AGAIN

Well after skipping last week because of rain, and then the rain (and tornado storms) this weekend, it was time to check on things.


2nd Man stayed in town, there wasn't much we could do out there, I was just going to water the plants on the porch and check on roofs and trees.  When I left downtown, it was raining pretty heavily.  It was a sprinkle when I got out there.  No heavy rain thankfully, but it was wet.  In fact, even though my Jeep is 4WD, I was hesitant to park too close to the house so I stayed back as the photo above shows...


...because the water was like this in various spots around the yard and was muddy.  I've had the mower stuck twice before, don't ever want the car stuck.


I walked around to check on things, mostly looking for wind related damage, shingles, branches down, etc, but all looked good.  I watered the plants on the porch, moved some stuff to the mower shed and then the skies started getting dark again.  It was definitely going to be a quick trip for the weekend.  Grass is greening up but not growing tall yet.  We have another possibility of a freeze the second week of Feb (long range forecast) so maybe that will keep it at bay for a bit longer.


Here is near the fruit trees, at least we know they were well watered.  And the the well was watered, ha.


Speaking of fruit trees, one apple is budding out with blossoms.  Oops.

Don't get too excited Anna apple, Winter isn't over yet!

Sunday, January 29, 2023

GOOD FOOD AND SYDNEY BRISBANE HOBART SUNDAY

Good food yesterday...


Steak with sautéed onions and mushrooms with a side French fries (nice change from baked potatoes).  Lest you think we didn't have vegetables...


...we had a nice salad as well.  Blue cheese, bacon, heirloom tomatoes and romaine.  Yum!


Today something a bit different for Hobart Sunday...we'll include his late brothers.  On one of my photo apps, this came up as "ten years ago today".  We thought it was nice to see this memory of all three of our kitties.  Although it's a little dark since they are all dark colored cats on a chocolate brown couch, thankfully the pillow gives them some definition.  In a rare moment of bonding, they all curled up together.  Sydney, our oldest...then Brisbane, the middle child...and Hobart, the baby.  It was a cold Winter day, the house was cold and so we gave them a king size pillow to sleep on.  Because...

#notspoiled
  

Saturday, January 28, 2023

OFF TO THE FARM TODAY TO CHECK THINGS

 After the tornadic storms of a few days ago, and the heavy rains and winds, I need to check things out.

Of course today doesn't look like this photo.  It's raining as this posts.  We had tornadoes, rain, it was warm for a bit, now it's cold again and raining.

This is about right for us lately, ha!

Hope you all have a good start to the weekend!


Friday, January 27, 2023

FOUND ANOTHER TREE 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's another one (and several of you have wondered if we might find something like it again this year):

Look!  We found another tree!!

😂😂😂

Ha, just kidding!  Couldn't resist, when I saw this dead tree in the trash I thought "ooh that'll be a good one for a post".  Then, a couple of nights later, I found this:


I DID find another Christmas tree!  This one is artificial, ha.  Here is it when I saw it.  One piece was outside the trash bag (that's what caught my eye) and the rest of it was in the bag.  This piece was the base, then the bag had three more sections and the stand.

I took the parts downstairs to our basement storage unit and put it together.


It needs some "fluffing" since it was all folded up and stuffed into a bag, but it's not bad at all.  It is six feet tall but not pre-lit.  I took it apart and put it into our storage room.

No worries, we aren't going to become Christmas tree hoarders, LOL.  We already feel that we have enough (four green in various sizes and the recent white one).  We promised the first one we found this year to a friend who decorates with multiple trees in her house.  We think she'll put it to good use.

Someone else no longer needed it but we'll get it to someone who can put it to good use.  Saved from the landfill and ready to be decorated next Christmas and for years beyond!


Wednesday, January 25, 2023

TORNADO TUESDAY IN HOUSTON

Wait, isn't that supposed to be "taco Tuesday"?  Tornado sounds about right...it was an INSANE day of weather yesterday.  Several of you emailed to check on us.

About 10am, the weather alerts started coming in.

Tornado (radar indicated) near the farm.


Here was the radar image at 10:38, the dot is the farm.  

Then it only got worse.


An hour and a half later, still heavy rains and very severe storms.  At this point we also began having heavy hail.  "J" from 2nd Family said she was in the bathtub with a mattress over her.


Then almost 2 hours later it was STILL severe.  More tornado warnings and it was moving into downtown Houston and getting very bad at the office.

Then this came in on our phones:


This is the first time since the National Weather Service implemented the "tornado emergency" that it's ever been used in Houston (2017 I believe was the origin date of this alert in our area).

We had to look it up.  A "tornado warning" we are all familiar with...the NWS changed the usage and a warning means there is a radar indicated tornado or conditions indicate there could be one trying to come down/form.  Often these never materialize.  But now, with this new "emergency", they call it: "an exceedingly rare tornado warning issued when there is threat to life and catastrophic damage from an imminent and approaching tornado".  It's saved for when a reliable source confirms an actual tornado is on the ground and causing damage.  The threat is imminent and if you're in the path, your life may be at risk.                                                                                                            .
Our power went out a few times at the building and the wind was crazy high but the tornado stayed to the South of downtown Houston.

There was significant damage all across town.


At the end of the day, there were four confirmed tornado touchdowns in the area.  Lots of damage to suburbs South and East of Houston.  At the farm, "J" said we ended up with over 5 inches of rain.  Her rain gauge only holds 5 inches so it could have been 6 or so.

Houston broke a rainfall record for January.  We also broke a record for having tornadoes in January. 

Thank you all for reaching out.  The rest of the week is supposed to be cool/cold and clear/nice.

Winter in Houston...gotta love it.