Sunday, July 31, 2011

DINING ROOM DESIGN PLANS COMING TOGETHER

We like this look for our dining room, but of course, this is in a high end furniture store...

Dining Table with Windsor Chairs


















.
...we'll need to go with a more frugal approach, and I think we found it.  I liked having the colored chairs, being different from the dark brown of the table.  So we found a great, chocolate brown table (Ikea) and then we figured all we'd need to do is buy some unfinished chairs and paint and/or stain them black.  The chair above was painted and looks awesome.  Same look, but for a fraction of the cost.

We like the brown and black combination, as we have already have some accessories for the dining room that are black with brown accents.  It should look very good when it's all done.  Plus our dining room has lots of windows and natural light, just like in the top picture.

Farm Dining Room
We are looking forward to the furniture buying phase of this project, that's for sure!  And then comes decorating, setting up the table for dinner parties, food, drinks, and the fun of family and friends.  We can't wait to share all of that with all of you, that's why you need to keep checking back and watch our progress.  This time next year, I'll be blogging about new menus and recipes created by
2nd Man, my table decorating ideas, fresh food and flowers grown in the gardens and all the fun stuff that will come along with starting a farm home from scratch.


VINTAGE VICTORY GARDEN POSTER SUNDAY

Vintage Gardening Poster
This one is pretty neat and it even rhymes!  No matter how many of these I see, I am always amazed at how the words are still mostly relevant today.

Sure, some might argue the patriotic point, but no one would argue that planting a garden today is not only thrifty, but it's an easy way to save money as well!

Very cool!


Saturday, July 30, 2011

TEACUP PIGLETS - RANDOM FARM CUTENESS

Do I really even NEED words for this picture?

Cat with Teacup Piglets
I don't think so....

Enjoy!

THE LONG AND WINDING DRIVEWAY

Here is another small view of the property....
This is the driveway looking from our end, near the house, toward the road we turn in to way down at the other end.

The Driveway
The flag in the picture belongs to 2nd Family who live down at the other end.

We'd like to plant trees down the driveway, perhaps Crepe Myrtles.
Would also like some wildflowers growing along the side, and maybe some wild berry vines of some sort growing on that fence (if 2nd Family is OK with that, it's their back pasture that the fence borders).

Anyway, just thought I'd share.  I stare at this picture on occasion and think of how many times over the years I've driven and/or walked that very path to Ma's house and now it's ours.
Sometimes I still can't believe we own it.

It truly is a dream come true.

Friday, July 29, 2011

BIRDHOUSE ON A FENCE POST


Just kind of a neat idea I saw online.

A birdhouse that is attached to a split rail fence...

Birdhouse on a fence
I think it's a great place to put a birdhouse in your yard.

It sort of blends into the fence, you almost don't even see it.

Pretty cool!
Enjoy!


A COUNTRY SUNSET

A dear friend that I've known since childhood, the one whose parents' ranch I blogged about HERE, sent me these photos on his way out to that ranch last night.

Beautiful Country Sunset

The End of the Day in the Country
I love seeing a sunset when away from the big city.  You just don't get the same images here in town.
Not sure if it's the wide open space or what, but I can't wait for the day when we can relax on our front porch and see images like these.
Soon, very soon!  Until then, thank you "R" for sharing and sending the pictures to me.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

INSPIRATION THURSDAY


No matter how many trees you have or bushes or flowers, there is something pretty
about a large expanse of nice, green, grass.

Notice the bench in this picture?  The person who owns this can just sit there and admire their property.  And of course probably worry about mowing it in a few days, ha.

Speaking of mowing, must do that.

See you back
here tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

TROPICAL STORM DON COMING THIS WAY = RAIN?

Never thought I'd say this, having lived on the Gulf Coast for most of my life,
but I sure hope it comes this way...

Photo courtesy of:  WEATHER UNDERGROUND
We need the rain.  Not the wind of course, but we definitely could use the 5-10 inches of rain they say it might bring.
UPDATE THURSDAY:
Looks like the "cone of uncertainty" is moving slightly further South of us, which means we might not get as much rain as we had hoped.  We'll see what happens Friday.
UPDATE FRIDAY:
Well, now it's even further South of us.  That's the nature of predicting storms so far out from landfall.
Looks like we won't even get any rain, possibly a shower or two, but more than likely, our much needed rainfall isn't coming in the amounts we want.
FINAL REPORT:
Almost 2" of rain at the city house, barely a drop at my office.  Not sure about the farm yet, but radar showed some storms over the property for a period of time.  Still not what we had hoped for and definitely way short of what we need.  I guess we'll have to hope for another storm
(NOT a Hurricane) soon.

THREE NEW CEILING FANS

PROGRESS??

Three little ceiling fans all in a row
Is it progress when you buy stuff FOR the farm but haven't put it up yet?  Ha.

That was today's mission, to get three new ceiling fans for the farm.
There are four currently; one in each of the two bedrooms, one in the kitchen and one in the living room.  As so often happens with old ceiling fans, these are past their life expectancy.  You know how it goes, they get rickety and the blades start to get wobbly (and in a couple of cases, a bit 'curled').  Not to mention, the ones in there now aren't the style we'd like, they are more decorated and ornate than we want, so it will be out with the old and in with the new.

Today at lunch, I bought these three fans (pictured all lined up in the back of my car), by Hampton Bay, the Farmington model.  They are sold by Home Depot and you can read about them HERE

They have very high ratings on the website and besides, we have a Hampton Bay ceiling fan (not sure the model) in the city house that literally runs 24/7, only stopping it to clean it regularly of course.  It has run for years with no problems.  Best of all, they are only $45 each!  We bought three in white, so when the room walls and ceiling are painted white, they will sort of disappear into the decor.
White Hampton Bay Farmington Ceiling Fan
We'll replace the the two bedroom fans and the living room fan.  We have decided to not replace the fan in the kitchen.  Reason being, there are two light fixtures in the kitchen and one is currently a ceiling fan.  We found some awesome farmhouse style cabinets for one wall of the kitchen a couple of months ago, and they go all the way up to the ceiling.  Replacing that one fan there would just be too close for comfort when putting things in the upper cabinets.  Plus we'd like the extra light of a regular light fixture in that room (always need lots of light in a kitchen for cooking).

Speaking of, notice how these fans don't have light fixtures?  We have decided to try it without.  It's easy enough to add a light kit later on, but for now, we'll put them up and use lighting like table lamps, etc.

So, I mark this as progress.
Another step in the road of many steps yet to come!

CLAY POT BIRDBATH FOLLOWUP

The other day, I blogged about some cool clay pot birdbaths.

You can read about those HERE

Today I stumbled across perhaps the simplest of all:

Simple Clay Pot Birdbath
I think this is the method I will use.

You don't even have to glue the saucer on top,
though I would do that just to keep it from falling off it's perch.

You could also fill the top with birdseed and have a couple side by side.

Anything to make the birds happy!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

GARDEN IDEAS - WORK IN PROGRESS


Last week I mentioned a new Wednesday feature where I would go over some various garden theme ideas and get together lists of what plants to use, ways to decorate, etc.  

Due to work commitments, I haven't been able to do as much research as I wanted to do,
therefore I'll implement the new weekly feature next Wednesday.

I now return you to your regularly schedule blog!

PINNACLE RUBBER MULCH RECYCLED TIRES - GREEN LIVING

Green Farm Living
One of the things we have to do, is figure out all sorts of aspects of what we want to do at our farm.  And one thing I've mentioned is that we want to try to be as 'green' as possible.  Since we're starting a home/farm from scratch, we can make the environmentally correct choices whenever possible.


Flash forward to the other day, when we were at Discount Tire getting new tires on 2nd Man's car, and I picked up a brochure on 'rubber mulch', by Pinnacle.


Here is their website:  Pinnacle Rubber Mulch

Brown Pinnacle Mulch
I've seen and heard of the rubber mulch before, but it kind of fell off my 'radar' for awhile as I didn't need mulch at the time.  In the city, I only have two small beds at the front of the house, and then the area around the raised beds in the back yard.  I used some good mulch for those and it looked great....for about a year, then it started washing away, fading, and degrading into the soil.  I bought more to replenish the next year, and then a year later, the same thing.  It kind of gets expensive redoing it every year.


This mulch is made of 100% recycled tires.  What a great use for something that would sit in a landfill for the next who knows how many years.  Sure this is a bit more expensive than regular mulch (about $7.50/bag) but it's got a TWELVE YEAR warranty for color.  If you don't have to replace it for years, it is definitely worth the extra cost.  Now will I use this by the truckload?  No, that would be TOO Much, but around the house and the vegetable garden, I think it's a great solution for appearance.
Brown Mulch in Flower Bed
It looks very nice in use as these pictures show.  We used a chocolate brown mulch at the city house and I really like the look of that color the best.  It reminds me of freshly turned dirt.  So I was happy to see that they offer a dark brown color.  They also have blue, sandalwood, red, black and green.


I will start with trying it at the city house and see how it looks and holds up.  We have the perfect spot in around the raised beds I blogged about.  If we like it, I'll eventually use that at the farm around the house when I put in the flowerbeds, and maybe around the raised vegetable beds, as a surface to walk on and hopefully keep out the weeds.

Monday, July 25, 2011

TOAD HOUSE DIY

What is this?  It's a Toad House!  Yep, a place to call home for your garden's best little helper, the little toad!  Toads are beneficial because they eat bugs, lots of bugs, in your garden.  They like dark, damp, shady places, that's why you will sometimes find them making a home under a rock, or an overturned pot that has created a dark, damp, space.  So this is a great DIY that I stumbled across a couple of years ago and saved the website.  It's a pretty simple project that recreates the conditions toads like best:  All you need is an 8" clay pot, a bag of small stones (your choice of color), and some glue or grout.  Glue the stones on HALF of the clay pot, once dry, dig a small hole in the ground, put the unfinished half in, fill with dirt and leaves and your Toad House is good to go!

--------- View the full instructions HERE ---------

I'm going to make several of these using some of the clay pots Ma left behind when she moved.  I figured that was a great use for them, since I might not necessarily need all of them out there because I have ground to plant in.  I will, however, have happy toads, and happy toads eat bugs!  Lots of bugs!

JAIL TIME OVER FRONT YARD VEGETABLE GARDEN? SERIOUSLY?

Did you all hear about the woman in Oak Park, Michigan that was facing JAIL TIME for planting a vegetable garden in her front yard??

Oak Park Front Yard Garden
I couldn't believe this story when I first heard it.
The city really was going to fine this woman for growing her own food.
She even faced 93 days in JAIL over this misdemeanor.
The neighbors, and neighborhood children, thought it was a great idea and many of them even helped her plant and take care of the garden!

Oak Park Front Yard Garden Close Up
Do you find this offensive?  I find it awesome!

With the way the economy is these days, everyone is looking for ways to save money, cut expenses, etc, and growing your own food is the best way to start that process.  She put them in her front yard because the city sewer problem caused her front yard to be dug up in order to repair the problem.  So she decided  to do something practical and had nice raised beds installed and then filled them with vegetables and herbs.  Shortly thereafter, she was told by a city inspector that the garden needed to be in the backyard, or she would face fines and penalties. 

Well, after her story went viral, the Oak Park city council was inundated with phone calls and emails from AROUND THE WORLD, complaining about what they did to her.

Finally, after a week or so of this negative publicity, the city dropped the charges.

You can read all about it on her own website/blog she started after this all started just a few weeks ago.

Click HERE to visit her webpage.

Hmmm, I wonder if anyone might find something like THIS wrong?



This is one reason I will love having land, I can plant my garden anywhere I want and NO ONE will complain
(except maybe 2nd Man, but I can win that one, ha).

So, if you can, go plant a garden in your back yard, throw some herbs in the front yard, some berries in the side yard, just plant something and enjoy having your own produce department in your yard!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

TERRACOTTA CLAY POT BIRDBATH


This is a neat idea.  The website I found the pictures at linked to blogs that no longer exist, but they look pretty simple.

This one is made of four plain, terracotta clay pots and a saucer:

Clay Pots Birdbath

This one below looks to have been painted by hand, with three white pots and a saucer:

Glazed and Painted Pots Birdbath

The instructions seem to be fairly obvious. three or four clay pots of decreasingly smaller sizes,
stacked together to form a base, and then a larger matching clay saucer on top for the actual birdbath water portion.

I would presume they are glued together with a glue or sealant to hold them in place, most specifically the saucer on top.

Be sure to start with a large enough base so that it is stable when you find
a home for it in your yard.

VINTAGE GARDENING POSTER GROW MORE IN 44


I didn't realize until I saw this but I guess major corporations were sponsors of these movements as well.

Here, it's Texaco, urging everyone to "Grow More in '44", and of course
that will help lay the groundwork for victory in the war!

Would be nice to see more corporations today back a home gardening movement, such as Nabisco recently did with their Triscuit "seed" boxes.

Enjoy!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

TRUCK FARM YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS


I stumbled upon this photo while surfing the Internet, and I visited their website.
I just thought it was such a cool idea, spreading gardening awareness to people everywhere, that I should
give them some publicity.


Here is the WEBSITE.

Two guys set about proving that fresh veggies could be grown just about anywhere, and they decided that the "anywhere" could even be a 1986 Dodge Pickup truck.

CLICK HERE to visit our YouTube Channel where I have the video linked.

It was a huge success and they made a film of it.  I'm definitely going to have
to look for a copy of it.  Should be fascinating viewing.

If you visit the website, you can see a short trailer of the film to see what they did and how and why they did it.

We wish them well in all their endeavors and thank them for bringing gardening to more people.

Friday, July 22, 2011

NICE GARDENING QUOTES

I was just surfing the internet and I found these two quotes that I really like, and interestingly, they are both by the same person, garden designer, Gertrude Jekyll:

"There is no spot of ground, however arid, bare or ugly, that cannot be tamed into such a state as may give an impression of beauty and delight"

and

"The love of gardeing is a seed that once sown, never dies."

I have to say that these both are near and dear to my heart.  I want to take all those spots of barren, plain ground, and turn them into something beautiful.  And the seed that was once sown was sown by my Grandparents, on boths sides, when I was very young...and it's only today I can (hopefully) make it come to fruition...

OUR NEW CROCK POT

Growing up, my Mom (and one of my Grandmothers) always had one of these in the cabinet....a Crock Pot.  I remember many fond meals coming out of it, for awhile anyway.

But then it always seemed like one of those things that eventually got relegated to the back of the cabinet and not used as often.
Crock Pot Touch Screen
Flash forward 20 years or so and this past weekend, we decided (well, 2nd Man decided) we just had to have one.  I think he was watching
Cook's Country or America's Test Kitchen and they were using it for cooking and were raving about the benefits.

We went to America's Test Kitchen website and luckily, they tested several models and this was their highest rated model, and it performed the best in all of their tests.
It's the Crock Pot brand, Touchscreen Programmable 6 1/2 quart model.

Crock Pot Touch Screen with something delicious cooking
Now we haven't cooked in it yet, hope to do that this weekend, but we were thinking that it would be a great choice for us during this whole farm remodeling process.

We could either throw something in there in the morning when we head out to the farm, and then come back home to the city and a waiting dinner, or we could take it with us out there to the farm, plug it in, and put something on while we work out there.  At the end of a long day, dinner will be ready for us, without having to heat up the kitchen.  Appliances (a stove and a fridge) will be among the last things we buy out there so this might be the perfect dinner option for having a hot meal.

I checked out a book from the library on Slow Cooking, and they had several...apparently slow cooker cooking is making a comeback.

These are three really good cookbooks:
Click for link to Amazon
Click for link to Amazon
Click for link to Amazon
Not Your Mothers Slow Cooker is the one I checked out from the library.  Just got it last night so we haven't had much book time with it but it looks like some good options for dinner.

The Gourmet Slow Cooker is one that I found at Half Price Books the other day.  Some GREAT recipes in there, they require some prep before going in the slow cooker, but look to be worth it as an end result.

Slow Cooker Revolution is sort of the one that started us down this path, since it's put out by the folks at America's Test Kitchen. I've ordered this for 2nd Man as a surprise (no worries, he rarely has time to read the blog so I'm safe there, ha ha), but it has not yet arrived.  I have no worries about getting this book sight unseen, as their cookbooks are ALWAYS awesome, and filled with background on how they worked to develop the perfect, final version of each recipe.

So there you have it, our fun, new kitchen toy.
Hopefully it will help us on those long days of working on the property.
We will, of course, keep you updated!

So, any good recipe ideas you all have to share?

EDIT:  Adding, based on Kelly's suggestion, a link to the website for the entire Fix it and Forget it series.  There are some awesome recipes on the website too!
You can find it HERE.

ENJOY!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

INSPIRATION THURSDAY


Peaceful and tranquil....a nice reminder of the beginning of Spring, here
in the middle of our hot summer.

Daffodils always seem like a flower that can make you smile.

We have several trees around the house that I'd like to do this with.
Instead of a formal flower bed, it's a nice, on purpose but "random" way of planting flowers.
Very natural looking, looks like they just popped up one day.

Have a great day and see you back here tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

DIFFERENT GARDEN IDEAS

With so much wide open space out there at the farm, I've always wanted to have some different "types" of gardens scattered about on the property.
Of course there are vegetable gardens......


         



                 ...and flower gardens.......









...and herb gardens....




But within these types of gardens, there are many different things you can do with plants and we hope to try several, if not all, of the following garden ideas:

TEA GARDEN


MEDICINAL GARDEN


AROMATHERAPY GARDEN


MOON GARDEN


COCKTAIL GARDEN


ITALIAN CULINARY GARDEN


CHINESE CULINARY GARDEN


MEXICAN CULINARY GARDEN


BATH GARDEN


Who knew there were so many things you can do?  There are more of course, and I'm sure I will run across them (and when I do I'll post the info here), but that gives you an idea.


So, what I am going to do soon is each week (maybe Wednesdays?), I will post one garden plan idea, after I've done all the research on what types of plants to use, themes, decorating ideas, etc, so that we can all learn about it together.


Really it's only limited by your imagination
(and labor and money of course, ha).


So come back soon for the first garden idea!

OUTDOOR DINING IDEAS

Another thing we've always wanted, and of course couldn't have until we had
actual large yard / land, was an outdoor dining area, for al fresco dining.

So I've been saving pictures, as I run across them, of outdoor dining "rooms" to give us inspiration.

So here they are, in no particular order, some of our favorite ideas.


Here is a nice table set up under a tree....


Several picnic tables next to each other make for a nice casual area, but they've got it decorated so
nicely, it turns it from casual to semi formal.  Very nice.


Not sure we need anything this long, ha, but it sure would be fun to have this many people to dinner at the farm.  Of course 2nd Man might have a nervous breakdown cooking for that many people, but still, it would make for one memorable evening!


Colorful and homey, a nice picnic type area under a shady spot.
The checkerboard tablecloth is a nice touch.


This table is nice, but I love the checkerboard grass pattern underneath, what a cool idea.


This might actually be closer to what we end up with, we have a similar spot under the Mesquite party tree i blogged about, and the assortment of random, mismatched chairs looks very inviting.

We already have a tabletop, I'll have to take a picture of it, it used to be a door that Ma had in the house.  My plan is to attach legs to it, seal it with some weatherproofing polyurethane, and re purpose it
as an outdoor tabletop.  Living in Houston, we have access to lots of thrift stores, as well as more garage sales every weekend than you could imagine.  Finding chairs shouldn't be a problem.

I'll keep you posted on the progress, until then, enjoy these outdoor dining experiences.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

CONGRATULATIONS

Our two dearest friends just welcomed their first child into the world today.
WOW.  What an amazing moment that was for them.

Cameron is just beautiful and adorable and just plain awesome!
We're going to be the best "Uncles" ever!

We can't wait to introduce him to the joys of living in the country.
Oh sure, he'll have the best of city life, exposure to museums, art, music, etc, but
we'll make sure he also knows all about nature and the environment
and appreciates food and all things natural as well.

Congratulations A & C !
Thanks for letting us share in the moment!

MY NEW FUN TOY (ON LOAN) A WALK BEHIND TRIMMER

Last time I was at the farm to do yard work, 2nd Family down the driveway had just gotten this cool yard tool.  It's a super duper weed eater....how's that for a technical description?  OK, it's actually a Murray Select 6hp walk behind gas powered dual head trimmer with a 22" cutting path.

It had enough power to push through just about anything...I could go along fences, up under the house in between the piers, around the trees, it ate stuff up like it was nothing.

I called it a lawnmower on steroids, ha.


I can't wait to use it again.  It made life so much easier than a standard weed eater.  I would highly recommend one for any large property.  It really does do so much more than you could imagine.

I have to add here, that 2nd Family has been SO generous with us, letting us use the tools we don't have but they do, sharing the eggs from their hens, and even giving us their manpower and skills when we need them.

It will take a long time to repay their generosity and kindness
during this whole process, but we'll do our best!
Until then, I'll have fun playing with this.  I guess if it makes yard work "fun", there's nothing wrong with that!

Monday, July 18, 2011

MINIATURE HORSES - RANDOM FARM CUTENESS

Adorable miniature horse
OK, I just couldn't resist, might have to make this a regular feature.

I was looking at farm pictures online (as I often do) and I saw this, a picture of two miniature horses.
Apparently this is the mother and her baby.

TOO CUTE!

FINDING A PAINTER


One of the hardest things we've had with regards to this farm is finding an interior painter who wants to tackle it AND shares the same vision as us.

The guy who did the foundation, and he did an excellent job on it by the way, his vision was sheet rock over the original walls, take up the hardwood floors and put down laminate, etc etc.  He said he could make it look like a brand new house, one room at a time.

That's not our vision.  We like the old charm of the house, it doesn't HAVE to be new. NEXT...

A second guy came and looked at it and, after not calling back for several days, he finally left a message saying yes he could "probably" do it, but he couldn't guarantee anything and then he dropped this little gem,
"you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear".
Really?  Really?  Did you just DISS our beloved little farmhouse?  NEXT...

So I found two people now, one comes highly recommended through a coworker at another office of my company, and the other replied to my email describing our project and said
"that sounds like my kind of job".  

SO, we might have progress here.  I'm going to see when they can go out and take a look at it, hopefully it will be sometime SOON.

The best way to find a painter is to ask around.  You'd be surprised how many people know someone who either is a painter, or recently had something painted themselves.  Even through your business, you can ask around.  I've found that when someone is referred to you, no matter who referred them, they are more apt to do a much better job, because word of mouth is everything.  Of course, when all else fails, just go to Google and start looking.  What I always try to do is when I find the name of a company on a website that I am interested in, I turn around and Google the name of the company, and sometimes add the word "review" or "service" or even "scam" or "avoid" to the search terms and, hopefully, get some listings of the kind of work they do.  If your area has a Better Business Bureau, you can check them out there too.   When you do get your first or second or third choice, don't be afraid to tell them you are still looking around, don't tell them they are your only choice so far.
They'll work hard to earn your business.

In our case, the house is old, we know that.  There is paint bubbling up in spots, rough patches, some areas where we want to sheetrock over and cover up (an old doorway for example), even some unpainted spots.  But like I said, it doesn't have to be perfect, it just needs to look fresh and updated.
Fingers crossed....again.