Monday, April 30, 2012

CLEARING OUT UNDER THE PARTY TREE


This is the area I got chopped/mowed/dug up so far under the big tree over the weekend.  It's where we want to put an outdoor dining table.  I'm trying to get rid of as much as possible since it's totally shaded and the only thing growing is tall, grassy weeds.  I think (hope?) I made a pretty good dent.  There is just about as much cleared when turned to look the other direction.

I'm thinking it's at a good enough stopping point (soon anyway) for me to put down some landscape fabric/weed block cloth, throw some heavy stuff on top, and let it sit to "smother" out the leftovers.

The only thing I'm not sure of, is how much more I'm going to weed along the perimeter.  I like the green and leaving it natural, and whatever that grass is, it's growing just fine...it could also just be a lot more work that I could concentrate elsewhere for now, since so many areas on the property need work.  Then maybe next Fall, I could do some more clearing.  I'll have to put some sort of border around the edges anyway to hold in the pea gravel (or whatever ground cover we go with) so clearing it out totally is not really necessary, it's just more of an aesthetic thing.

RED WHITE AND DEWBERRIES


Some unripe, red Dewberries, some ripe dark blue/black ones, and some white flowers.  I thought it was such a pretty combination of colors.

I picked another couple of buckets full of dewberries yesterday, and after last weekend's picking party, we have quite a large stash in the freezer.





Here is a bowl that we put berries in when we ran out of space in the the buckets.  This bowl was actually filled up twice...






...and then I filled this "berry bucket", not once, not twice, but FIVE times.  There are 8 cups of berries in one bucket!

Look closely at this picture, this is what a ripe, ready patch of Dewberries look like.  See all of those little purple/black beauties?  They are ready to be picked.   There are a few red 'stragglers' that aren't ripe yet so we may squeeze out one more weekend of berry gathering, fingers crossed.

I'll show you later in the week how we prepped them and got them all in the freezer.  Of course, throughout the year, there will be an occasional pop up 'berry recipe', since we like to hoard these for use all year long.

After all, it IS another year long wait for more!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

BUSY WEEKEND AT THE FARM

Field of Yellow Flowers
Wish I could say this was in our front yard, but it is just across the road.  SO pretty I had to pull over and snap a picture.

It was a great weekend of stuff to do.  The weather was beautiful and I worked on the farm property and getting the garden worked on in the raised beds in town, and even scored another large bucket full of Dewberries!  I'll of course share photos and all the accompanying adventures in the upcoming week.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY, USE SPADES NOT SHIPS

Image courtesy of: Kennedy Museum Exhibition
I just love this poster.  Talk about a great graphic design.  Speaking of, it is by famed British graphic designer Abram Games, whose work spanned over six decades.  This was, of course, popular during WWII and the point was to get people to grow their own food, so that the ships and related supplies could be used for other purposes during the War.

This poster is nicely done, I love the contrast of the spade on one half and a ship on the other, and then the rows of crops on one half and the ocean waves on the other side.  Too cool.

"Use Spades, Not Ships".  Makes sense to me.  Nothing could be a truer sense of being a "Locavore" than what this says.  Today, we might say, grow your own, use spades, not delivery trucks, airplanes, cargo containers, and well, you get the picture, ha.

Enjoy and as always, just click on the "history" label below and view all the ones I've posted, every Sunday since early last year.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

RANDOM FARM FLOWERS


Just a random picture from the farm.  These are probably weeds called "Verbena Bonariensis" (thanks to all the commenters), and are very pretty...I even cut some and brought them in to put in vases.  The butterflies were all over them too, so that's nice.


At the farm today, working my tail off I'm sure, updates as I have time.


Until then, enjoy this picture and hope you're having a great weekend doing what you enjoy!

Friday, April 27, 2012

SILVER TRAY, THRIFT STORE FIND

Here is an $8 thrift store find from a few years ago that I want to put on the coffee table. It's silver plate and was tarnished beyond belief.  Then, it sat in storage for about 3 years and got even worse.  I got it out recently and this is what it looked like.  I wasn't even sure it would ever turn out like I hoped it would.  So I scrubbed hard the last few days, and this is the result!
I used a toothbrush and scrubbing sponge, soaked it with vinegar and baking soda, and finally rubbed it with SILVER POLISH.  I would NOT recommend vinegar and baking soda for your fine silver, but it's perfect for getting out the small bits of tarnish in a shabby chic piece.  It ended up shiny with the edges and handles still kind of dark, sort of a casual chic.  Next stop, coffee table!

GARDENING AS THERAPY

Image courtesy of: bamboo tshirts
I can totally relate to this, as can many of you I believe.


My best times of late have been when I'm at the farm and I'm either on the mower, or digging in the flower beds.  I call it my "Zen time".  Even just roaming around exploring or taking pictures, I'm just so at peace.


I might add that yes, you get tomatoes...and of course other veggies and herbs and fruits and berries and flowers...well, you get the picture.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

INSPIRATION THURSDAY, OLD LADDER AND FRUIT TREE

Photo courtesy of: Bear Swamp Orchard
Here is another one of those photos that I saw before we bought the property and while I'm not sure we'll have red apples growing (though I do have a golden apple that is supposed to be good for our zone, ready to go in the ground), this very image is what made me imagine,
"what if we could have something like this?"

Green grasses, established fruit trees, an old ladder to get up in the tree and pick some fruit...heck, if there was a hammock near this tree, I'd just stare at it and drift off to sleep, ha.

We're just getting our small fruit trees in the ground, so we have years before they look like this, but the day will come, and I can look back at this photo and remember when.  At least that's the plan, LOL!

Enjoy, today is my blog day off, see you back here tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

BLUEBELL ICE CREAM AND WILD DEWBERRIES

Down here in the Southern US, we have a brand of ice cream called "Blue Bell". It is so very good and for years, was only available in Texas. It has spread to other parts of the country but it's still not sold everywhere. Anyway, I thought the freezer at the farm needed some so I bought these individual serving containers and stocked it up.
Last weekend, after our berry picking marathon, we needed a break. So we broke out the vanilla, put some still sun warmed dewberries on top, and dug in.  Let me tell you, it was pure heaven.  Sitting on the porch with a breeze blowing, birds chirping, a rooster in the distance, eating vanilla ice cream covered in wild berries...it was a moment I'm still dreaming about...

CLEARING THE FENCE LINE

Property view looking North
I wish I could take credit for this work, but 2nd Family borrowed a tractor and bush hog (or is it brush hog?) attachment from a neighbor and did this for us, clearing a path all along the fence lines.  He also cleared some paths through the brush all over the property to make it easier to walk, which is awesome and so I thought I'd share some pictures of the property.  Here, I walked about halfway down the fence line and turned one direction to snap a picture and then, standing in the same spot, turned and faced the other direction, hence these two photos.  You can see in the one above where the house in in relation to where I was standing, and in the photo below, how far down the main road is.  The property is sort of wedge shaped, wider at the front by the road and narrower at the back where the house is.  It will be years before we get this all cleared, but for now, I like the random, natural look.  It's kind of nice having such a natural buffer between the road at the house, it certainly makes for privacy and part of what I like doing, as you've seen in other photos, is just exploring and seeing what all we have on the property.  There might be all sorts of hidden gems for us to find; plants, flowers, animals, cool trees we didn't know we had, etc.

Of course, you can see on the other side of the fence, it's a cattle grazing property and it's pretty much cleared and, for the most part, treeless.  On our side, we'll keep the area around the house clear with a yard and put in our gardens and fruit trees and all that fun stuff we have on our bucket list, but this part can remain as it is for wildlife and left alone.  I will use the John Deere mower to keep this, and the other paths, mowed and maybe things will just naturally adapt, leaving the paths as they are.  I'll share some more photos later of various other parts of the property, including the really exciting part, a natural "pond site" that we got close to last weekend for the first time. 

Property view looking South

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

WHY DOES BLOGGER DO THESE THINGS


Pay no attention to the mysterious white boxes floating around the blog.

As many of you know, Google recently changed the Blogger tool.  It's about to become mandatory.  Along with the change we now apparently have some glitches.  Part of this are these random white boxes.  They are somehow connected to a Facebook widget, but I've looked and I can't find a Facebook widget on my interface, so I'm not sure what's going on.

I'm not comfortable editing HTML code, so I'm trying to figure out what's going on, how to find if I have some sort of hidden widget, and what the best course of action is.  Hopefully the white boxes will be gone soon.

UPDATE:  I think I've fixed it.  I had to adjust some settings, apparently it's a Facebook widget problem.  If anyone else is having issues, let me know and I'll explain how I fixed it on mine.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog reading....

USING AN ITEM AS COLOR INSPIRATION IN DECORATING

I get a lot of people asking me how to come up with colors the for the rooms.  How do we make things look good together?  All we really do is try to keep with a similar color palette for a room.  If you are stuck for inspiration for colors, consider choosing a favorite piece you have and look to it for the color cues.  For example, this is a vintage bowl that was given to us by a dear friend years ago as a house warming gift (for the house in the city).  I always liked the design and colors, because it reminded me of Spring.  It was also a favorite of my Mom's.  So, when we were looking to decorate the guest room, I looked at this for design cues. The roses and flowers, the pale pink, the pale yellow, the white, it looked like the perfect choice for colors in that room.  Of course we already had a couple of pieces of furniture that were in a yellow and seemed to match, so it was just a matter of building off of that.  We found things in pale pink, pale yellow, pictures and accessories with flowers on them, even some green color.  It's all coming together now in that room.  When I'm out shopping thrift stores and sales, I think of this piece.

Here is another example, it's an item that we are using for inspiration in the living room.  Since some of our furniture was already brown (the bookcases, etc) and the couches are a pale cream and white, we decided we liked the look of the bright yellow in combination with the brown and white.  It's vibrant and colorful...so now I'm looking for bright yellow pillows, pictures for the walls with white and yellow, and other accessories for the room that take their cues from this vase.  Ironically, the yellow actually reminds me of the Huisache tree flowers that we have on the property I blogged about last month.  I guess that shows there is inspiration in nature as well.


Courtesy of: macys.com
Here is what gave us the color inspiration for the master bedroom.  We were a total blank slate when we thought about the master bedroom color scheme.  We were open to pretty much anything.  Well, we found this comforter set months ago and fell in love with it.  We bought it before the bedroom was even finished being remodeled, and now we are using it to build off of for colors in the room.  Blue, white, and black (the bed frame) will be the main colors.  I'm thinking some of our white milkglass pieces, some cobalt blue glass, maybe some blue, black or whitewashed furniture pieces, and we'll have a finished bedroom. 



Our newest find is a shower curtain for the bathroom that will give us its colors, the towels, the rugs, the accessories, they will all build off the design and color of the shower curtain.  The bottom line is that design inspiration can come from anywhere or anything; a favorite piece of china or ceramic, a linen like a comforter or quilt, maybe a curtain or a rug, or even a favorite painting. Don't be afraid, try it and you may just end up with a room that looks like you had help but in reality, it was all you!
Good luck and have fun!

Monday, April 23, 2012

A TALE OF TWO TREES


I noticed this on the property this weekend and it makes me just a little sad.

This is a spot where I had hoped to one day put an outdoor soaking tub (I blogged about that HERE).  These two trees were planted years ago at the same time and it created a perfect spot between the two.  However, in last years epic drought, the one on the left somehow survived, the one on the right is dead.  I held out hope it would come back, but alas, I checked it this weekend and it's definitely dead all the way through.  It's fascinating how two trees, within 10 feet of each other, the same age, getting the same amount of water, can have such different outcomes.  Perhaps one is of a better genetic stock than the other?

I realize of course, that I can still put my soaking tub here someday, but the balance will be "off" just a bit.  Plus I had grand plans for a canopy between the two trees, ha.  But I'm sure I'll figure out an alternative solution when the time comes, that's half the fun, right?


We (collectively Texas and a lot of the Southern part of the US) lost millions of trees last year.  There is a huge park in Houston, called "Memorial Park" and it alone has lost more than 10,000 trees.  When you have acreage, there is just no way to water it all.  You have to let nature take its course and keep your fingers crossed for some rain.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

DEWBERRY PICKING PARTY

Today is DEWBERRY PICKING DAY.  We're so excited.  I've picked some the last couple of weekends, but today, as you read this, two friends I used to work with are coming out to visit...so we're having a picking party.
Large Dewberry patch
Above is one of the patches we'll visit.  They are all over the property just like this.  This, however, will probably be the last good weekend for them, though with the rain we got Friday, we might squeeze in one more weekend.

I'll have an update later this evening when we get back and let you know how the haul went.  Here is how they looked just the other day:
Closeup of ripe Dewberries
Lots of ripe berries just waiting to be eaten!  Fingers crossed.

Sadly though, as with all good things in nature, they are fleeting.  Still, it's awesome to eat something that is just growing wild all over the property.

We'll pick them and then wash and freeze them (more on that in a post this week) in vacuum packed, two cup measurements for future use.  Dewberries are great in cobblers, pies, fresh and of course they make great jelly.


Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY, VICTORY GARDEN SEED COLLECTION

Will's Victory Garden Seed Collection
This is a neat poster from WWII that combines canning and growing veggies the Victory garden movement.  This was a poster for seeds that were being sold and the company was selling them as a package/group for a garden of specific size (25' x 80') and rows 25' long.

It was nice to see the seed companies tie it in with the Victory garden campaign and showing the canned "results" of the harvest was a nice touch.  It would be so cool to see companies do this again.  Our country really needs a movement or push toward being more self sufficient.  It's an art that's becoming lost and it's so important, perhaps even more so today than in ever.

I say we all "grow, can and save!"

Saturday, April 21, 2012

IT'S A BRIGHT SUNSHINY DAY


Saw these on the side of the road today while driving back to the city and just had to pull over and snap a picture.  They made me smile.  Probably the last of the wildflowers for this season but what a fitting end.
There is something about yellow that is just a happy color.

Today was a good day, got the property around the house mowed (have I told you I love my John Deere? LOL), worked in the flower beds some more, turning the soil and pulling grass which helped define the edge, lots of little projects in the house (such as putting those slider things on the feet of the dining room chairs, working on the bar cart, etc).  I stayed from this morning until about 6pm.  We still don't have lamps in the house, something we need to work on, so I have to leave before it gets too dark.  Working on some oil lamps  as an alternative, but need to get the parts for them.  They were lamps that were in my Grandparents' cellar for years.  More on those in a future post.

Anyway, tomorrow will be a fun day, have some friends coming out but we're going early so we can get more stuff done.

Hope you're having a good weekend!

CLEARING THE BRUSH

Some of you have asked how much we got done this weekend.  So here are some more pics (taken in between snake sightings of course).  The red lines in each photo are where the edge of the brush WAS. You can kind of see the edge of the green grass and then the arrows point to how far in we were able to get things cleared and mowed.  More of this this weekend.

This spot is over at the side of the property that we cleared ALMOST to the fence line.  Phew!  I'll have to keep this part mowed down regularly so the brush doesn't come back.  Maybe it would be a good place to start naturalizing some plants or putting down some grass seed or bulbs? 
 


Here is the place that, after clearing, we really are leaning toward making it the spot for a small barn/storage building.  It's in the front of the house and since the house sits close to the rear property line, I'd rather have the storage in front of instead of in back.  Still have more to clear but it's a big start.

 
This space has a huge tree or maybe even two, full of snakes I'm sure but I digress, that had brush so high around it, we couldn't even get close to it.  You can see how much we got removed as now we're almost close enough to wander "in". It will be a great spot when we're done clearing out all around it.  Can't wait to see what the tree looks like up close, later of course, much later.

Friday, April 20, 2012

GUEST ROOM QUILT, THRIFT STORE FIND


Found this awesome quilt (new but 'looks' old) at a thrift store.  It had never even been used, still in original package with tags still attached.  We took it out to the farm and put it on the guest room bed and it looks perfect.  It has the colors of the room and some flowers to boot, all wrapped up into one great looking quilt.  Best of all?  $12.00!
I love finding stuff like this.  It's fun to be frugal!

GARDEN TOO SMALL, FRIDAY FUNNY


Now this is cute AND funny.


I have to share a story that I can relate to with this.  I friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, decided to build a raised bed a few years ago.  This person told me all about it, was so excited, said they built a 4x4 bed.  I thought that was a great start and so I asked what they planted.


Their list was just about as long as the one above.  Tomato seeds, pepper seeds, cucumber seeds, radishes, and about six different herbs.  All in a 4x4 bed.  Hey, at least they tried, that's what matters, right?  They ended up with nice tomatoes and some herbs but not much else.


Anyway, I thought this was funny, hope you enjoy!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

INSPIRATION THURSDAY, PEACEFUL TREES

Peaceful Trees, photo courtesy of: davesgarden.com
I've always loved this photo.  It speaks to me of all things I always wanted on a piece of property.  The first time I saw it, I told 2nd Man "I want property that looks like this!".  Actually, substitute a couple of Mesquite trees for the ones here and this might be a spot on our property.

Of course, when I saved this picture on my computer, I never thought we'd be owning something so similar.  This truly was an inspiration then, just as it is now.  Actually, seeing this picture now makes me want to leave sections of the property natural like this photo depicts.

Blog day off, see you back here tomorrow morning with a
Friday Funny to start your weekend!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

TILLING THE FLOWER BEDS, PART 2




Here is the other part of what I got done.  This is what will become the front flower bed, running the full length of the front of the house.  As you can see it was all grass and again, nothing ever really planted there so I just had to use the machine to dig in!


A few sore muscles later, here is the end result; a 30 foot long, by about 3 feet wide bed of soft dirt.  It looks a little uneven but that's because there is dirt and grass that was thrown into the area around it.  Time for plants!  I do need to come up with some sort of edging or border, haven't decided what to use yet.  Don't want it to be too formal looking, I don't think that would fit.  For now I just want some "life" along the front.  That's such a better look than just grass and nothing else.  The fun stuff is always decorating, and I consider landscaping to be "decorating the outside".  As you can see from the front of the board under the porch, painting will be on the agenda in a month or so.  Just one more step along the journey. 

TILLING THE FLOWER BEDS PART 1


One of my Saturday projects was to start getting the flower beds prepped.  This is the area between the two sets of stairs on one corner of the house.  I used the tiller on it so that I could get the ground turned under and softened.  It doesn't seem that anything has ever been planted there so it needed to be prepped.


It takes a bit of practice to use it, it's more like a jackhammer at first, as it goes into the hard ground, and then with this tiller, you pull it back toward you instead of pushing it, but it works great.  It was kind of fun, though my arms are sore after.  Nothing like a good "yard work out", ha.  Anyway, here it is with the process started. 
And here it is completed. It looks prettier in person, ha.  I went in a curve from one set of stairs to the other, creating a sort of 1/4 piece of a circle.  The extraneous grass was removed on Sunday so now it's all fresh dirt, very soft dirt, about 8" down. Should be great for planting soon!  I'll do some more fine tuning this weekend, creating a more defined edge and then I'll be ready for the actual plants and flowers.  Hope to look for some drought tolerant natives.  We're not sure if we'll have another dry, hot summer but better to be prepared.  Now that we have the John Deere and I can keep it mowed, I just want to plant some things so it will begin looking good on the outside as well.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SNAKES IN A TREE, ADVENTURES IN THE COUNTRY

Thought you might enjoy this story of my Sunday afternoon the farm, in a little more detail.  I sent this as an email to a friend out of state and she said "you should post that to your blog" and I thought, why not and I'll add some fun photos for your viewing pleasure.  Enjoy!
-------------------------------------------
So, part of my weekend yard working plan was to check out some tree branches that might need to be trimmed next weekend, so I went in here...


Somehow I missed the sign and wandered "in".  As I glanced up to see what branches I could prune, and moved a couple out of the way, I reached for another one and saw a snake curled around it.  It was probably about a foot long, but really, it might as well have been 10 feet long.  It scared me, I scared it, it moved higher up the tree by corkscrewing around the branches, and I corkscrewed back out of the area and exited the way I came as quickly as possible.  

 

Then, in a flash of momentary blogger thinking  brilliance insanity, I thought to myself “oh a picture would be a great idea for the blog, let me go get my camera!”


 So, I go back under the tree, armed with a hoe in one hand and a camera in the other, looking up for my little snake friend.  I don’t know what prompted me to look down instead, but when I finally did look down, this is what I saw...

  
About three feet longer than the little one I saw on the branch, which puts it at about four feet long (or was that 110 feet?), slithering on the ground in front or me.  Was this one just up in the tree earlier as well?  Had I walked under it and didn't notice?  If the one I saw earlier was Jr, this one could be Momma and I sure didn’t want to wait around and see Daddy...


I snapped the pic, got goose bumps, realized I almost stepped on it, then I saw my life flash before my eyes:

Did I really once dress like Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice?  Yes I did, hey it was the 80's, cut me some slack.

Once again, I quickly exited the area.  Serpentine! Serpentine! 

So I go up onto the porch, taking a break with my glass of tea, sitting in the rocking chair to look at the photos I had just taken, hands shaking, still amped up from the great "snakes in a tree" event, when I heard an animal running fast and panting heavily. I saw it out of the corner of my eye, coming at full speed, right up onto the porch where I was sitting. 


With visions of a rabid coyote lunging at my throat, for the second time that afternoon, my life flashed before me.


Did I really wear leather pants once?  Hey, it was the 90's, cut me some slack.
Why do the fashions keep coming up?


Thankfully it was just 2nd Family's dog, ‘Blue’, who was coming up to say hi.  He's a sweet dog, just a little "sudden" and "overzealous" in his appearances.  With the skies becoming dark and hearing some thunder, I took it as a sign that it was time to call it a weekend.

On the way out of the driveway, I saw these pretty flowers and they instantly reminded me of why we want to live out there full time...

...and you know what?  I wouldn't trade anything for that adventure; snakes, phantom coyotes, and all.  I can't wait to go back out there and do it all over again in a few more days...minus the fashion faux pas remembrances of the last century of course. 

HORTON HEARS A WHO FLOWER

Is THIS what Horton was hearing?
How cool is this?  I saw this at the farm this weekend.  Not sure what type of flower it is but as soon as I saw it, with its pink color, fluffy texture and tiny yellow speckles, all I could think of is the pink flower from the classic Dr. Seuss story "Horton Hears a Who".  Isn't nature awesome?
Horton Hears a Who
Hmmm, should I listen closely to one the next time I'm out there?
1st Man Hears a Who?


LOL!