Friday, November 30, 2012

COOL THRIFT STORE FIND


I found this the other day at lunch.  It's a heavy, cast iron candelabra and I think I may have actually snagged an antique.  There are no "made in wherever" tags or marks...it seems like a very old heavy cast iron and has an old world look and feel.  It didn't really even need to be painted and you know me and my love of a spray can!  It looks great on the contrast of this doily.

Best of all?  It was $3.00.

I love a deal!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

INSPIRATION THURSDAY, WHITE FENCE AND PINK ROSES

Pink roses along fence, photo courtesy of: davesgarden.com forum
Sigh.  This picture just makes me sigh every time I see it.  What a beautiful combination of flowers.  For those who have followed the blog know that I love white picket fences and this is one reason.  I just think this is so beautiful.

I think if I had something like this, I'd just sit there and stare at it all day...after working to make it look like that, LOL!  It definitely inspires me.

Enjoy your day, today is my blog day off, I'll be back here tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

FARMHOUSE SAUSAGE AND POTATOES RECIPE

Here is a recipe 2nd Man has been making, it seems, forever.  Funny thing though, we always called this "Farmhouse" even though we didn't have a farmhouse.  It just seemed like something you'd eat for dinner on a farm.  There are probably a hundred variations on this theme out there, this is ours.

The ingredients are simple:

1 lb sausage (your favorite), diced
3 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 TBSP minced parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


In a large dutch oven or roasting pan, combine sausage, potatoes, thyme and olive oil until well coated.


Add peppers, onions, parsley, salt and pepper and stir one more time to coat.


Place in oven, at 450 degrees and roast, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, stirring periodically, until you have a nice color on the potatoes and sausage.   


Remove from oven, and serve!

Here, we had a nice big bowl with some homemade cornbread.  Nothing like a hearty meal of meat and potatoes!

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

SEEDS OF THE MONTH NOVEMBER


Seeds of the month for November
Got this month's batch of seeds from the Seeds of the Month.  Always a fun day when I go to the mailbox.  I usually always ask via a blog post about them each time I receive them, but this month, at least I know what they all are, LOL.
For this month, they are:

Pepper, "Jalapeno Early"
Onion, "Evergreen Bunching"
Tomato, "Marglobe"
Basil, "Large Italian Leaf"

Anyone used these particular varieties of each of these veggies (and herb)?  I'm curious about the tomato for sure as I haven't ever heard of this "Marglobe" variety that they shipped?

Thanks as always for any tips and suggestions!

Seeds rule!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

BLACK FRIDAY MAYHAW TREES

Two Mayhaw trees
While some people were out on "Black Friday" and all this weekend shopping for the latest TV or game system, I was prowling the garden centers looking for a good deal.  It's a great time of year for the end of season clearances at nurseries and garden centers.  Well, while looking at one local nursery, I found these!  They are "Mayhaw Trees".  I've been wanting one for the farm ever since we first thought about having fruit trees.  When I saw them, I ended up buying both of the trees they had left because two together were cheaper than just one was originally.  These are nice size too, about 5 feet tall.

Mayhaw, for those unfamiliar, is a fruit tree native to the Southern US.  It's a relative of the Hawthorne tree and is covered in thorns.  In May, it produces small red fruits that are not unlike cherries in size, shape and color.  They can be made into wine, syrup, and most importantly, jelly.  I've had a jar of Mayhaw jelly and let me tell you, it's wonderful.  Unfortunately it's not widely available because the trees are not as common as they once were.  Urbanization has eliminated much of their natural habitat and the thorns make mass production harvesting a bit more difficult.  But that won't deter me!
Mayhaw tree
Here's what I hope to have in a couple of years.  As you can see, it will be a nice size tree and, hopefully, will produce loads of fruit like the tree below.

I had a happy Black Friday weekend shopping experience, getting something for our future self sufficiency and best of all, no crowds!  How about you?

Mayhaw fruit
UPDATE:

I found this photo after searching online for a picture of what homemade Mayhaw jelly looks like and here it is.  It's a beautiful coral color.  I certainly hope we can create the same thing in a couple of seasons.
Mayhaw jelly in jars, photo courtesy of: Georgia Agribusiness

Sunday, November 25, 2012

VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY, EAT LESS BE THANKFUL

Vintage Eat Less and Be Thankful poster, image courtesy of US National Archives
This Thanksgiving weekend, I thought I'd post this one.  It's one of my favorites out of all the ones that I've run across in my continuing online search for vintage poster images.

This one was obviously a Thanksgiving poster, circa WWI that urged people to "Eat less and be thankful that we have enough to share with those who fight for freedom".  Pretty nice words, then and today, as we all spend this weekend with our loved ones, eating and being thankful. 

Hope you are having a nice holiday weekend, or if you aren't in a place that celebrates the holiday, I hope you are having a great weekend doing whatever makes you happy!  After all, that's what life is all about.

VERTICALLY ROASTED TURKEY


Vertically roasted turkey back
Have you ever cooked your turkey like this?  We thought we'd try it this year and oh my, we are hooked.

We bought a 13 1/2 lb turkey, and rubbed it under the skin liberally with olive oil and our own blend of salt and spices (we call it our "farmhouse blend", LOL), and did the same on the outside of the turkey.  One important thing we did was to pull the flap of skin that's at the neck end over the opening so that it traps the steam inside the bird as it cooks. Then we put it on a vertical roaster on a baking sheet, placed it on the bottom rack of the oven (with the other racks removed of course) and baked it at 450 degrees....for 1 hour!

It was fast, it came out a beautiful golden color and it was so moist and juicy and tender.  Best of all, it was golden and crispy all the way around, no soggy spots.  I think it might just be our new favorite way of cooking turkey.

Vertically roasted turkey front
UPDATE:

Several of you commented about the rack so I thought I'd add these photos.  Here is the rack we use, it's actually a rack made FOR a turkey.  It's very large and the metal is sturdy so that you can use the sides as carrying handles.  The turkey cavity slides down onto this so there is no room for stuffing but the heat does circulate throughout the turkey.

"Beer can chicken"?  You can see here that it is actually made for that!  It holds a standard can of beer or soda or whatever you want to use.  The bird slides down over it.  We didn't use that for this turkey because we wanted to see how it did without it and as I said we were very impressed with how moist it was.  Some day, we'll try a can of something.



Thursday, November 22, 2012

INSPIRATION THANKSGIVING THURSDAY


We are thankful on this day for each and every one of the friends we have made through this blog.  Thank you!

Posting will be limited the next few days as we enjoy the time off.  Hope to get some yard stuff done at the farm this weekend, and get a couple of DIY projects started as well as well as visiting some family.  We hope all of you have a wonderful holiday today and enjoy yourselves, doing whatever makes you happy this weekend.

I think we can all be thankful for this wonderful journey called life!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

MY CAR HAS ARRIVED, 2013 FIAT 500

2013 Fiat 500
Sorry for the lateness of the post today but there is a reason, I was at the car dealer.  Here it is!  My new baby.  It came in last night and I picked it up today.  You maybe remember THIS POST where I said I ordered it.
I also said there were some clues in that image.

As you can see I wasn't kidding:

 Four wheels,
small,
red,
and holds stuff!






Here is what the interior looks like on the model I have and yes, I got the white accents and the red leather.



 It's red!  And white!  Kind of like our future farm paint job!



I looked at a lot of small cars and it really came down to this or a Mini Cooper. They are about the same, size wise, but I just have to say, when I drove the Fiat, it was just plain old FUN to drive.  I liked the layout of the interior, it gives me plenty of space for carrying stuff (it's a hatchback and the back seats fold down, for all those thrift store finds), it still has a back seat if needed for passengers and it's really just a neat little car.  It was also more affordable than the Mini.  And oh yeah, it gets nearly 40 mpg.

It really was love at first sight.  The dealer I went to in Houston, for those shopping here, was Helfman Fiat.  They were wonderful from beginning to end, and I have no complaints at all.  If anyone is in this part of Texas and looking at a Fiat, I'd highly recommend this dealership and email me and I'll hook you up with the best salesperson ever.

I haven't named my car yet, but I will.  I need to get a feel for it first!

02/2013 UPDATE:

I have had the car for almost three months and I TOTALLY love it.  It's the best car I've ever had.  Sure it's small (though not any smaller than a Mini), but it's just more fun than I thought I could have in a car.

As for a name, after having it for a couple of months, I feel it has a male vibe.  Not sure why.  My last car felt like a female and I called her Kelly.  Can't come up with a male name for this one yet.  :-)

08/2013 UPDATE:

I forgot to update this post with the name.  My car's name is......

LUIGI ROSSO!

Monday, November 19, 2012

A WORK IN PROGRESS


I realized I haven't posted a lot of outside work progress shots lately.  Of course, a few weekends have been washouts, but here is one spot I've been working on.  There is this little half circle of trees in the front yard.  In the above picture, you can see what it looked like earlier this year.  The trees were a little wiry with suckers coming out from everywhere.  There were also saplings springing up all over the ground.  Then there were the bricks from some long ago project, many buried in the ground.  Also, pay particular attention to the area behind these trees in the 'before' picture.

And now below is the progress so far this year.  I've cleaned up the trees and made them look more like, well, trees, the bricks are all gone and dug up from the ground, and I moved a concrete bench from elsewhere on the property to this nice and shady spot.  But notice behind the trees...there you can see how much I've cleared out...all the way to the side fence line (about 3/4 acre).  The only major thing left is that larger Mesquite tree clump on the left side.  That big empty spot will be the site of the future barn.


As for this area, I have a vision for it.  I still need to clean out the grass under the trees and around the bench, then I will put edging around it in a large, circular shape and fill it with mulch.  I'd like to plant some bulbs in there as well, shade loving of course, and two varieties, Fall blooming and Spring blooming.  For any other reason, it would be a nice spot to sit and relax, but I have something else in mind for it to eventually become.

We hate to think about this but it is part of life...we have three cats (four counting the outside cat Gigi) and they are getting older.  Sydney, the oldest, is over 17 now, Brisbane is 12 and Gigi is 11.  Hobart is still a relative youngster of 6.  The day will come however when we'll have to think about this and we feel that having this spot as a final resting place might be a nice idea.  It's quiet, it's peaceful, we'll be able to go out and sit and think and it will be with us forever.  We even thought about future farm pets.  We feel it's better to make these decisions now while we aren't dealing with the stress of the moment.  It just seems like it will be easier to have a place for them ready when the time comes.


Does that make sense?  What about you?  Have you made a special memorial garden area where you are or have you thought about it?  Is it weird to plan for that?  Or is it smart to think ahead?  Share in the comments below.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY, DON'T WASTE FOOD

WWII Don't Waste Food poster, image courtesy of: St. Andrews University
Here is an interesting poster from WWII.  Again, the overall theme is to cut down on waste and urging people to eat it all, or share so that nothing went to waste.  On this one, they of course incorporated the "Hero" and "Villain" of the War, Winston Churchill and Adolph Hitler.

Better pot-luck with Churchill today than humble pie under Hitler tomorrow.  It's kind of a twist that they used images of people involved in the war, in a somewhat humorous manner to get the point across.

It's a fascinating glimpse into history.  As always, click on the history label below and you can see all he posters I've managed to find for almost 2 years now.  It's a trip into the past, more often than not, with lessons for today.

Friday, November 16, 2012

GIGI MAKES A FRIEND


Thought you might enjoy this "moment", captured (in town) through the back door window.  Poor GiGi, the indignity of it all.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

INSPIRATION THURSDAY, GARDEN FIREPIT

Firepit with seating, photo courtesy of: gardendesigns.com
This is dream of ours for the property.  I found this picture last year and loved it.  I have plans for an in ground fire pit and I already have the spot picked out.  I just need inspiration and when I saw this, I knew this could supply it.  I can come up with the in ground portion (have a great idea for that actually but more on that when the project starts) and then I just need a clearing, some nice chairs, landscaping and sand/gravel.  Not that much work huh?  LOL!

Seriously though, I really like this, and it would make a nice feature somewhere on the property.  Nothing nicer on a cool and/or cold evening that sitting around a blazing fire.

Today is my blog day off so I hope you have a good day and we'll chat at you tomorrow morning!



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

SILVER DRESSER TRAY

Blue and white dresser decor
Quick post today, I have about ten errands to run before work, at lunch and after work and oh yeah, I have to squeeze work in there too.

Here is the silver tray I found a few weeks back at the thrift store in its new home.  We put it on the dresser in place of the white bowl.  In fact, when I posted about the dresser after it was redone earlier in the Summer, there were a couple of comments suggesting a silver bowl/tray of some sort.  I had been patiently looking for one and I think this one worked out just perfectly.

Oh, and there is that blue glass vase that I found on the same trip.  It might not stay on the dresser, but for now, it adds a nice splash of blue color.

The blue and white bedroom is slowly coming to fruition.  Yesterday's surprise gift will fit perfectly in the room (and above is the earlier one as well).  I love it when a plan comes together, slowly, but steadily.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

ANOTHER SPECIAL GIFT


A few months back, a very sweet "friend of the blog" gave us THIS nice treasure.  We found a special place for it and it means a lot that someone from across the miles, that we've never even met, would think of us and give us a gift. Today, another friend of the blog, gave us this. It's a star shaped ceramic box, done in a pretty blue and white design...


When you take the lid off and open it up, it's filled with wax and has a wick.  It's a candle!  I'm assuming once you've burned the candle and the wax is gone, then you can use it as a little trinket box.  So another big thanks to another "friend of the farm".  Your thoughtfulness touches us more than you could know.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

UTILITY SINK FOR MUDROOM

Tabco Utility Sink
We have been searching for a utility sink for the mudroom, and wanted the right one.  Last year, we thought we had found it but we held off.  Now we really did find it!  We scoped out our local restaurant supply store last Saturday on a whim when it was raining (and nothing to do outside at the farm) and found one on sale. It was a floor model so we got a great deal on it.  They had the faucet for it and we got that as well. Here is the "official picture" from the website. 


This is the spot where it's going.  It's in the mud room where "Ma" (the previous owner) had her washing machine.  That means there is already hot and cold water and a drain in that spot.  It will need some minor plumbing work, but we'll work on that later, for now we have the sink and that's what we wanted most.  





Here it is after we took it out there yesterday and set it in its spot.  Yay!  I can't wait to add some shelves above it, maybe some hooks to hang things, and then we'll have a great sink area for filling large pots, washing hands when coming in from outside, and rinsing produce from the garden.  Hope to get this installed in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

VETERAN'S DAY 2012


"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude" - Cynthia Ozick


"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them" 
-John F. Kennedy

Thank you to all our Veterans, past, present and future...

VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY, FIGHT FOOD WASTE

WWII Fight Food Waste - Milk and Eggs, image courtesy of US Library of Congress
During WWII, the US Department of Agriculture had a Bureau of Home Economics (which I believe is what morphed into "Home Ec" classes in schools), and this poster was another they used in the Fight Food Waste campaign.

This one emphasized the keeping of milk and eggs at the proper temperature so that they would keep longer (and throw less away, hence no waste).  Milk and egg dishes should "cool quickly, cover, keep cold, and use soon".

I think today people could be urged to fight food waste.  Can you imagine what the people of that time would think today of the waste that our society creates?

Fight Food Waste in the Home!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

SEDA THE PIG UPDATE


Pig smile for the camera
Here are the latest figures for Seda the pig. 

PIG STATS AS OF 11/07/12:

Age: About 4 months
Length: 43"
Height: 21" 
Around the belly: 37"
Weight:  100 lbs!

He's eating well (obviously) and has graduated to the next feed level.
All is progressing well and he's right on schedule and in all the right percentiles.
Seda enjoying his feed

Friday, November 9, 2012

SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO THROW CAUTION TO THE WIND...

...and just do it.


First you create it...


Then you study it from all directions...


You look at it one last time...


You get it ready...


And then just like that, it's nothing but a fleeting memory...but at least you have a full tummy!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

INSPIRATION THURSDAY, FLOWER BEDROOM

Flower "Bed" display, image courtesy of gardenweb.com
OK, this might be totally 'out there' but I think this is just too cute.  I don't really know the details behind where this photo came from, but I love it.  It's a "flower bed" of course.  Actually more like a whole flower outdoor room, ha.  

I'm not sure how practical this would be in reality, but if I someday have some free time in the Spring, and run across some cheap and/or free bedroom furniture, I would totally love to do this.  It's even in the pretty blue color that has popped up in a lot of the photos I've found for inspiration postings.  The end tables would probably be easiest, open the drawers, fill with dirt and plant the flowers.  I suppose the "bed" could be built as either a raised bed type garden or just a mound of dirt filled with flowers that cascade down the sides.

Hey, we can dream, right?

See you back here tomorrow, enjoy your day, tomorrow is Friday!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

HOUSTON, TRADER JOE'S COOKIE BUTTER HAS LANDED

Houston recently got it's first Trader Joe's grocery store.  I've never shopped there but had always heard rave reviews about it.

For those not familiar, it's a grocery store chain of small stores, that carries  almost all it's own branded products.  The stores are smaller because they don't carry 15 kinds of mustard or 20 kinds of soup.  Since it's their brand, there are just one or two kinds of each item.  They are also able to keep their costs down without name brands and most of their products are made with no artificial ingredients and/or preservatives.  A lot are even organic, for the same price.

They are popular because they carry some unique items.
THIS is one of them:

Trader Joe's Cookie Butter
 Words can't even begin to describe this.  Think peanut butter but made with cookies.  Yes, I said cookies.  It's made with a cookie called a "speculoos".  It's a Belgium treat that is made of about 60% ground up cookies.  The jar says "reminiscent of gingerbread" but I have a better description.

Have you ever taken graham crackers and soaked them in milk?  You know how they get all soggy and mushy but are still delicious?  The flavor tastes sort of like that.  It has the exact same consistency and texture of peanut butter (in fact, for those who can't eat peanut butter, this is a great solution).  It's sweet and creamy and, well, amazing.  While the label says you can eat it on apples or spread on toast or waffles, I could just eat it have just eaten it right out of the jar.  I really couldn't understand what all the fuss was about when someone mentioned this strange product with the funny name.  Now I do.  

If there is ever an asteroid heading toward Earth, I'd want to make sure I was sitting on the porch at the farm, surround by those I love, and eating this when it happened.  If you've never tried it, and you have the chance to get it, do it.

Is it just me?  Has anyone else had it?

I'm sure you won't regret it.
Trader Joe's Cookie Butter on a spoon, the best way to eat it

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

VOTE



TODAY IS ELECTION DAY IN THE UNITED STATES.

No blog posts today other than this one.

Now go vote if you can and haven't already.


Monday, November 5, 2012

AND THE OCTOBER WINNER IS...


Then winner of our October giveaway is none other than "Annie's Granny" of the amazing gardening blog Annies Kitchen Garden.  If you haven't visited her blog, you should, tons of gardening wisdom from her amazing gardens
(over 1000 lbs harvested this year!).

Not to mention, she's just a sweet person.

Just email me Granny and we'll exchange particulars and I'll get your book out in the mail later this week.

Congratulations!  Now let's see some baking posts later this year!

Everyone else who entered, don't give up, we're having a book giveaway every single month and this weekend, I'll be posting the next book that's up for grabs.  

FARM / SURVIVAL BOOK RECOMMENDATION LIST


I recently asked for some recommendations of farm/survival/self sufficiency books.  We have a ton of just regular gardening books and of course cookbooks and all sorts of 'how to' books, but I thought it would be fun to have some fiction, or maybe first person account non fiction or historical type books about farming, or homesteading or even survival.  I got a lot!  THANK YOU!  In some of the comments,  several of you asked if I'd create a list.  Here it is, compiled from your suggestions:

Growing a Farmer - Kirk Timmermeister
Animal, Vegetable, Mineral - Barbara Kingsolver
Tender at the Bone - Ruth Reichl
Plenty: One Man, One Woman, & a Raucous Year of Eating Locally - Alisa Smith
This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader - Joan Gussow
Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer - Novella Carpenter
 The Omnivore's Dilemma - Michael Pollan
The Dirty Life - Kritsen Kimball
Wisdom of the Last Farmer: Legacies from the Land - David Mas Masumoto
Little House on the Prairie (series) - Laura Ingalls Wilder
Animal Farm - George Orwell
Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
Mill Farm - Elizabeth Castonier
Lucifer's Hammer - Larry Niven
Cider with Rosie - Laurie Lee
The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck
The Chronicles of Prydain - Lloyd Alexander
The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd
*most any book by Gene Logsdon
The Wild Life - John Lewis-Stempel
Dune (series) - Frank Herbert
Adventures in Contentment - David Grayson
First Person Rural - Noel Perrin
Planting Dreams (series) - Linda Hubalek
Bad Land: An American Romance - Jonathan Raban
Aquarius Rising - Fred Zengel
Daemon Trilogy (series) - Daniel Suarez
The Hunger Games (series) - Suzanne Collins
Last Night / Night Light / True Light / Dawn's Light (series) - Terri Blackstock

PHEW!!!  What a list!!  Thank you all for leaving suggestions.  It looks like I have lots of decisions and lots of reading material to last for a long time.  If anyone wants to add even more to the list, feel free to do so in the comments and I'll edit the above post to add them.