Friday, August 31, 2012

ONCE IN A BLUE MOON WE BID A HERO FAREWELL

Blue Moon - color enhanced photo courtesy of space.com
Today is a relatively uncommon occurrence...there is a Blue Moon.

OK, OK, so the moon is not actually blue, that's a name that came about years ago.  Simply put, the Blue Moon refers to the second full moon in a one month period.  Normally of course, there is just one full moon in a month, so there would be twelve per year.  This year, the first full moon was on Aug 2nd and today, the 31st, is the second one.  We'll have thirteen full moons this year.

The last one occurred in December 2009.  If you miss this today, you'll have to wait around until July 2015 for the next one.  It is this long period of time that helped coin the phrase "once in a blue moon", to describe a rare/unusual event.

When was the last time you said something only gets done once in a blue moon?  Well today is your chance!  Do it!

Ironically, today is also when the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, is being laid to rest in a private ceremony.  Sadly, he passed away last weekend after complications from heart surgery.  I was still a small child when he first set foot upon the moon, but in the years following, I considered him to be one of my greatest heroes.  My parents had a house built when I was about 6, and I asked for a NASA themed bedroom.  I got Apollo 11 wallpaper and red white and blue shag carpet (hey, it was the 70's).  I had space pictures everywhere, and built model kits of rockets and hung them from my ceiling.  For a brief few years, I wanted to be an astronaut (along with most of my friends).
He inspired a generation and his heroism, and those at NASA that helped put him there, will not be forgotten.

His family released this statement:

"For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request.
Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."  ---  Armstrong Family

I think that's a pretty neat thing to do tonight.
What will you do with your blue moon?

BONELESS CHICKEN, FRIDAY FUNNY

Photo Courtesy of: The Far Side © Gary Larson
So that's where boneless chicken comes from!  I always wondered!

This was always one of my favorite cartoons, I remember when it came out originally.  I think I even had it on the fridge for a period of time.  It's by the always hilarious Gary Larson, creator of "The Far Side".  One of those comic strips that makes you think.

Too funny, hope you enjoy.

Update: Somehow I turned off comments for this post, sorry.  It was a typo.  Comments open now so feel free to comment.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

INSPIRATION THURSDAY, PICNIC TABLE

White picnic table photo courtesy of:  southernliving.com
This is something I've always wanted...a picnic table.

Maybe it's about how simple they are and how they invoke the feeling of family and camaraderie.  But not just any color, I always thought a white/whitewash one would be particularly nice against the green of grass and trees.  It just needed to be in the right place.  Our backyard in town is just too small to have picnic table in without it looking out of place so something like this was on the "someday" list.  

Now we have the farm property and there is this great meadow area that I "discovered" while mowing the trails that I think would be a great spot for just a simple white picnic table.  It might not exactly look like this view, but it will be pretty.  All I need is the picnic table.  And the basket of course!

Blog day off, see you back here tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

AWESOME SUNFLOWER BENCH

Look at this great find!  Got this at a garage sale last week and got it out to the farm over the weekend.  It's a bench, painted in a red color with a design of sunflowers.  When I saw it I knew it would be perfect for the farm kitchen. The yellow brings out the yellow from the Nadeau hutch, and red will be an accent color in the kitchen. Here's the best part:

Sunflower bench with storage



It opens up!
As you can see, lots of storage potential. It's so important to find decorative pieces that also combine storage since the house is so small.  I'm thinking this will be a great place for storing some extra kitchen towels and linens.  I think it might even be mouse proof, LOL.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

OVEN ROASTED EGGPLANT RECIPE

With our recent abundance of Asian/Japanese Eggplant, I put out a call for suggestions.  I haven't done them all yet, but we did do this one and BOY is it delicious!!!  Thank you MARCIA

The ingredients are about as simple as you can get.
Eggplant. Mayonnaise. Parmesan.  That's all!






Slice your eggplant into about 1/4"-1/2" thick slices, it's really just whatever thickness is your personal preference.




Pour some of the parmesan onto a plate.  Then, get your mayo ready, open the jar and get out a knife.



Spread the mayo in a layer on each slice, just on one side.  I found a quick way was to spread it on one, then put another on top like a sandwich, rub them together and pull apart.  You can do them 'twice' as fast this way.





Then take each coated slice and press it, mayo side down, into the grated parmesan cheese.





They should look like this.  At this point, you could sprinkle with pepper if you desire, or maybe even red pepper flakes for a little heat.  


Spread them in a single layer on a greased or lined baking sheet.  We've done them on both a greased pan and on a parchment lined pan and noticed no difference in the outcome, other than cleanup of course.





Bake them at 450 degrees for about 10-12 minutes or until the tops are as browned as you'd like.

Here they are in all their close-up, yummy glory.  They really couldn't BE any easier.  They are soft and tender and have a bit of texture on the top.  A great quick appetizer or snack.  They aren't fried either so they kind of give you that fried taste/appearance while being baked instead.

Oven roasted parmesan eggplant
It's our new favorite way of eating eggplant.
Enjoy!

Monday, August 27, 2012

OF MOUSE AND 1ST MAN

What a day!  The "Zen Machine" (i.e. John Deere riding mower) is always willing to give me a new experience and this weekend was no different.

Let me set the scene.  Picture it...a lazy Summer afternoon in the country.  I was on my mower, big straw hat on, iPod going with earbuds in my ears listening to a little Adele, wearing my jeans, tshirt, and Brahma work boots.

I was about 10 minutes in when it felt like something was stinging the back of my calf.  A fire ant perhaps?  I ignored it for a second, and then felt it again.  So I reached down to scratch it. 

 I FELT A LUMP, SOMETHING CRAWLING...INSIDE MY PANTS!

It's amazing how fast the human brain works in a panic situation like that.  All I can say is that I'm glad I was in the country with no one around because it all went down something like this:




After a bit of profanities that would make a sailor blush, I reached down to see what it might be and lifted up on my jeans to create slack in the fabric. Whatever it was, quickly moved up into, um, let's just say, an area you don't want a creature to be.





At this point it was full on profanities and that's when it started; the strip show.  I jumped up, ripping the iPod earbuds out of my ears, sending Adele flying into the grass and then the straw hat came off sometime during my fall off the mower.  Thank God the John Deere has auto shutoff when you get off the seat or I could have lost a limb.

Now of course, it started to flash through my mind what could actually be sharing my clothing with me:






Could it be a snake that had been on the mower or inside the engine compartment and it just decided to slither out and up my pant leg?
Oh hell no, just kill me now.






Could I have run over something that stirred up  a swarm of bees, or hornets or wasps?  Was this destined to be my fate?  A blurb on the local news and an addition to the annual Darwin Awards website?











Or was it something like this, a freakish, genetic mutation of a spider that would make me a footnote in some medical journal as the first victim of a new killer species?  





As my mind raced at the possible outcomes, I felt something on my back.  Whatever it was had moved up and out the back of my pants and was scratching or clawing or biting its way up my back.  All I knew is that I had to get naked as quickly as possible (insert youthful indiscretion flashback here).  As I began running for the porch (like that would save me? What was there?), my shirt was the first victim.  I pulled it off and threw it on the ground.  The next thing I started to do was unzip my pants to take them off.  It was then that I realized my boots were laced up and I couldn't just kick them off no matter how hard I was trying.  Mental note, maybe tennis shoes would be more easily removed in the future.

Nevertheless, my pants came down.  Thankfully no photographs exist as I stumbled, shirtless, with my pants around my ankles, underwear only, up the stairs and onto the porch while screaming and releasing even more profanities.  Since there are no photos, I'll use this for your viewing pleasure:


So there I stand, heart racing, adrenaline pumping, in my underwear.  Wait, what was that dripping on my back?  Was that blood?  OMG, am I bleeding?  Oh wait, it was just sweat.  No gaping wounds, no puncture holes, I was intact.  Phew, but what was it that caused this potential public indecency charge?  I pulled my pants back up after looking around to make sure no one saw me
(um yeah, no, we're on 10 acres) and that's when I noticed it; the t-shirt that was on the ground was moving!

It was the moment of truth.  I lifted up the shirt with a broom handle:


OMG!!!!!!!!  KILLER MOUSE!!!!!!!!

Oh OK, fine....


It was a tiny, furry, brown field mouse.  Cute.  But let me tell you, when it's using its tiny, scratchy claws to make the journey from your ankle, up your leg, around areas you don't want it to be, out the back of your pants and up the back of your shirt, it certainly doesn't matter how "cute" it is.

He scurried into the underbrush near my discarded iPod.
Poor Adele.

I got dressed and then sat in a rocker on the porch to ponder the possibilities.
Was it in my boot?  When I get to the farm, I change clothes and put on the boots that are in the closet. I just stuck my foot in, laced it up, and went outside to mow.  Could it have taken a few minutes to wiggle out and then went up my sock on its journey to freedom?

Or, could it have been ON the mower, and as my legs were straight out on the pedals, it sought shelter in the dark tunnel of my pants leg?  Or maybe I ran over some brush and it escaped up onto the mower and again, up my pant leg?  

It goes without saying, I will check my shoes from now on.  And I might tuck my pants into my boots before I lace them up.

Just another weekend in the country!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A VERY ODD CLOUD FORMATION

Strange Cloud/Storm
How weird and/or creepy does this look?  We stopped to get gas the other day and I noticed some people pointing and looking up.  When we looked up, we saw this.  I snapped a quick picture with my phone.  The strange thing about it was that it had these tendril-like clouds hanging down that seemed to be constantly moving, almost like a giant jellyfish!

Definitely unusual and fast moving.  Even though it was ominous and apocalyptic looking, it was only followed by brief heavy rain...thankfully no tornadoes or hail or meteors or alien motherships.

VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY, KNOW YOUR ONIONS

Vintage poster image courtesy of US National Archives
Do you know your onions?  Ha, this is a neat poster from WWII, 1941-1945.

During the war, of course the major campaign in addition to growing your own food (i.e. Victory Gardens), there was a movement to prevent waste.

The tag line for that was "Food is Ammunition, Don't Waste It".  So here, they used the phrase "Know Your Onions" as a means to remind people to make all the food go all the way.  Use it all, don't waste it!  Even the onions!

I think a campaign today to stop food waste would be awesome but those of us that like to grown our own probably already know not to let it go to waste.

Hope you are enjoying your weekend, whatever you are doing.

Friday, August 24, 2012

WOW A BLOG MILESTONE AND NEW GIVEAWAY COMING

We interrupt today's Friday Funny feature for this important announcement:

We hit a huge milestone some time during the day yesterday.

Our unique visitors count pushed past this amazing number,


Yes, more than half a million people from all over the world have stopped by because they were searching for something, or saw something that caught their eye.  Somehow, people find their way here and many of you stick around and come back regularly.  I hope those of you who stop on occasion will make us a favorite and keep coming back.  There is always something being posted here.  It might be a recipe, a decorating tip, a random picture, a link to something fun, maybe even a rant about something but I'll always try to give you new content every day.  Not to mention you'll be able to follow along as we turn this land and house into something worthwhile.

We've said it before but it's worth repeating again and again...thank you.

So, in honor of this huge milestone, we're going to start a new, regular, monthly giveaway!  Still working out the plan but I'm pretty sure it will involve books.

So check back on Saturday September 1st and I'll have the details.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

INSPIRATION THURSDAY, FENCE AND FLOWERS


Photo Courtesy of: Country Living
Here is a picture that inspired me and encompasses everything a lot of what we've always wanted on a farm.

The split rail fence, the random and natural layout of the flowers, the assortment of colors...it all just makes me want to roam around in the middle of it (maybe not in the middle of Summer of course).

Of course, no mountains in the distance here, and the trees aren't quite that tall, but you get the idea.  Something rustic and beautiful and serene about it.

Enjoy your day, see you back here tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

NADEAU HOUSTON STORE IS AWESOME

Nadeau Buffet Table
We've been on the lookout for a piece of furniture for the dining room, something that gives us a bit more storage as well as some horizontal space for extra things during (future) dinners.  We wanted something antique or vintage and it had to be just the right size.  It couldn't be too long or it would overwhelm the narrow space.  We also hoped to find something that "fits" in with the overall style and if it matched the table and chairs we got last year, even better.  Most of all, it needed to be affordable.

Flash forward to our recent visit to our favorite furniture store, NADEAU.  They have several locations around the country, but of course we visit our nearby,
LOCAL STORE here in Houston.  We wandered around for a bit before stumbling across this piece tucked into a corner.  It seemed to fit all our wants.

Storage?  Check!
Antique/Vintage "Look"?  Check!
Not too long?  Check!
Matched the table and chairs?  Check!
Low price?  Check!

Here it is below in its new home in the dining room.  I think it fits perfectly.  Best of all it has drawers and some small cabinets.  We just put some random items on top for photographic purposes, not sure how it will end up being decorated.  I'm thinking a runner of some sort on the top.

Nadeau Buffet Table in Dining Room
It's a never ending process huh?  You get one thing.  Then you need another thing to match it.  Then you need another thing to decorate it.  Then another thing to decorate the decoration...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

CALLA LILY


"When you have only two pennies left in the world,
buy a loaf of bread with one,
and a lily with the other." 
                                        ...Chinese proverb

THE SILVER COFFEE TABLE TRAY


Remember the SILVER TRAY I found at the thrift store and cleaned up?

I got a lot of suggestions on what to put on it and while I still haven't entirely figured it out, I did take these metal tins that were elsewhere in the house, put the two of them together and placed them on the tray.  I think they look nice on there.  They really match the style of the tray, almost the same design and they are even a similar color (though these round tins are not silver or silver plate, LOL).  I'm not sure what to put in them, but as many of you know, in a small house, any storage space is good storage space.  I'm sure we'll figure out something fun to use them for (suggestions always accepted).

As for the little vintage ceramic bunny, she just seemed at home there, at least for now and since we have wild bunnies living around the farm property, it somehow seems appropriate.  So until, or even if, I find something else, little "sunny bunny" can live her life happily on the tray.


Now this old thrift store find is in use once again.  I always wonder about something like this that I find and reuse...the journey it took to get to our coffee table in a little farmhouse outside of Houston.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

OVEN ROASTING RED PEPPERS

 After my RECENT POSTINGS on Hatch chile roasting, one of you asked if you could do other peppers.  Absolutely!  Here are some roasted red bell peppers that we did a while ago.  I missed the picture of them in the oven, but same as the Hatch, just put them on a baking sheet (foil lined is optional for easy cleanup).  Here I put the oven rack under the broiler one level lower because they were large peppers.



I put them in a paper bag since I was out of Ziploc bags at the time. Paper works just fine, drop them in, roll it up and let them steam for about 10 or 15 minutes.


After they have "steamed' in the bag, same thing as the Hatch, just start pulling the skin off.  The blackened skin should just peel right off and if you're lucky, they'll sometimes slide off almost intact. Then just pull the stems out and they should pull out the seed core.  
All that's left then is to just slice them up.  It's a great way to use them up if you have an abundance and it's also a great money saver.  A jar of 'roasted red peppers' is not cheap at the store. As for flavor, it is so rich and wonderful that it adds a whole other dimension to your recipes.  We love them on sandwiches and burgers but you can use them in all sorts of things.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY, EAT MORE FISH

Vintage food poster courtesy of:  US National Archives
Here is a pretty neat poster from WWI and what an unusual message it has.

In the first World War, the United States set up an agency that was called the "Food Administration".  Not to be confused with the more modern FDA, this particular agency was created to be responsible for the food reserves of the allies during the war.

Of course, since a primary concern was conservation of resources, more specifically food resources, in this poster, they reminded people to "eat more fish".  Because "they feed themselves", ultimately, it helped save the food that was grown on land to be used to support the war effort.  It was definitely an interesting message to say the least.

Hope you are having a great weekend.  We have had a wet and rainy one so far with more in the forecast for today.  Rain is nice but how about during the week while at work so we can have a productive weekend?  Ha.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

THE ORANGE AND YELLOW FLOWERS OF TEXAS LANTANA

Wild Lantana
Found this growing wild on the property the other day.

I knew what it was when I saw it, as I've grown (on purpose) its more common cousins that you find at the garden centers.  I did double check though to confirm in my WILDFLOWERS BOOK that it was indeed lantana.  This particular variety is actually called "Texas lantana" or lantana horrida.  It's slightly different than the more common wild lantana and the lantana that, as I mentioned earlier, that you can buy at the garden centers in a multitude of colors.

This one was growing in the corner by the fence and it's just so vibrant with its orange, red and yellow colors.  I love the contrast of the old fence post and the bright, sunshiny colors.

I'm sure if I tried to cultivate this elsewhere on the property it wouldn't work but I might just have to try because I'd love to have this closer to the house where I could see it on a regular basis.  Right now it's at one of the furthest points away on the property.  I'll just have to see if I can figure out how to root some cuttings.  It can't be that hard, ha.  Stay tuned!

MORE GARDEN QUOTES, FRIDAY FUNNY



Saw these funny garden related quotes and thought I'd share;

"Annual" means disappointment just once a year

Your lawn is always bigger than your desire to mow it.

Whichever garden tool you want is always at the back of the shed.

The only way to ensure rain is to give your garden a good soaking.

Weeds grow at precisely the rate you pull them out.

Nothing ever looks like it does on the seed packet.

Autumn follows Summer, Winter follows Autumn, drought follows planting.

One way to guarantee some color year round is to buy a garden gnome.

However bare the lawn, grass will appear in the cracks between the paving stones.  

Evergreens go a funny shade of brown in the Winter.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

INSPIRATION THURSDAY, OLD CLOTHESLINE

Farm Clothesline, courtesy of: gardenweb.com
When I think of inspiration for wanting to have a farm, or at least space of our own out of the city, one thing that always came to mind was being able to dry clothes outside.  I remember my Grandmother drying sheets outside and those sheets were the most wonderful things to sleep on.  

So when I saw this picture, I was immediately drawn to it.  There's the ubiquitous white picket fence in the background too.  It's funny, as I stare at this picture, other than the fence, it could be a spot on the farm over by some trees.     Putting up two poles like this for a clothesline is on our ever growing list.

Maybe this weekend while I'm on the zen machine I'll find the perfect spot. Until then, today is my blog day off, enjoy your day and see you back here tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

FARMERS ALMANAC 2013 AND BONUS

2013 Farmers Almanac courtesy of: Almanac.com



Came home from work last night and had a pleasant surprise in the mail.  I just received my copy of the 2013 Farmers Almanac. I know you can get these at just about any store or garden center, but I splurged and ordered the special hard copy edition. I figured it would make for nice reading at the farm and help with next year's garden planning.  Best of all, because I actually pre-ordered it earlier in the year (and honestly forgot, hence the surprise), there was a special gift they sent along with it....
Farmers Almanac 2013 Calendar courtesy of: Almanac.com




...the companion calendar! It's funny, the other day I told 2nd Man that we'll need to get a cool calendar for the wall in the mudroom. Now we have one.  It will be nice to start the new year with this as it's not only full of fun facts and gardening info, the artwork each month is very pretty.  It will add a nice touch to the wall.  Do y'all use the old Farmer's Almanac?


For those of you in other parts of the world that don't know what this is, click HERE for the Wiki entry about it, and to visit the Farmers Almanac website, just click HERE.  There is lots of great gardening info on the website, no matter where you are.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

HOW TO ROAST AND FREEZE HATCH CHILES PART 2

Hatch Green Chiles
More Hatch chilies!  We had our own Hatch-a-palooza here at the house!  For those unfamiliar with Hatch peppers just go to Google, type "hatch chili recipes" and you will get thousands of options.  Here is how we save ours for use long after the season is over.


When WE LAST LEFT OFF, the peppers had just been removed from the broiler and roasting pan and placed, hot, into a Ziploc bag.  Let them steam for about 20 minutes.  This loosens the skin and lets them get cool enough to handle.  I open the bag and just keep it next to the cutting board, pulling them out one at a time as you need them.




If you've got a good char on the outside, you can get lucky and this happens; the skin just splits open and you lay it open like the pages of a book.  When it does, and if you're careful, you can get a whole pepper out of the deal, useful for stuffing later on.

Another way of peeling them is like a banana; hold it with the stem, start at the pointed end and peel it 'down' toward the stem just like that famous yellow fruit.  One thing I do when I first pull one from the steam bag is gently roll it back and forth. This pulls the skin away from the flesh of the pepper and can make it easier to remove.


When you've got a really tender pepper, you can just firmly pull on the stem and it pops out, taking a ribbon of seeds with it.  You can also cut it off like this, which more or less opens up your pepper and you can scrape out more seeds.  It's really just your own preference. 

Here is what your 'trash pile' looks like after some time of peeling and chopping.  These are all the skins and stem ends from the peppers.  The skin is tough and papery and leathery, sadly it's not useful for anything else. 
I'm sure all of this could be composted, we just don't have a compost pile set up yet at the farm. 


I just lay them on a plate as I go.  You can still see a few seeds still on them. Some people don't want any seeds at all and if you don't, you can rinse them off.  I try to get off as many as I can but I don't obsess about it.  When I thaw them later, if I'm using them in a recipe where it matters, I can rinse them then, otherwise they'll go in as is.

After you are done, store them any way you'd like. We love our FOODSAVER, it's a great way to keep them frozen long term.  You can also put them in baggies, jars or plastic containers.  They will keep for up to a year in the freezer.  We ended up with 24 of these bags.  That's about two recipes per month...if we plan it right, that will be just enough until next Summer.