Sunday, January 31, 2016

HE EATS A TON, VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY

Most every Sunday, we try to post an image of old posters that we find during online surfing.  We enjoy the ones that reflect farming, gardening and/or food preservation and rationing.  We enjoy them because we often wonder if anyone today would heed the kind of advice they gave back then...enjoy!

He Eats a Ton, vintage poster image courtesy of Wikicommons
Here is a WWII poster that encouraged, as most did, farmers to grow food to feed the troops.  It was part of the "Food for Freedom" program that actually gave tax benefits to farmers who grew extra food for the war effort.

Hope you are having a great weekend!  
Will catch up later!

Friday, January 29, 2016

LAUNDRY CONFESSION


OK...anyone want to confess?  

We won't judge.  
We do this more often than not....


HAPPY FRIDAY!



Thursday, January 28, 2016

PORCH CABINET, INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Every Thursday, we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm.  
Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and hopefully recreate it...enjoy!


Potting Bench Cabinet repurposed, image from BHG.com
Love this idea, perhaps though, not the color but we can look past that, LOL.  We have a fairly deep and long porch at the farm.  We've been thinking of what to put on the porch and we immediately thought of re-purposing some sort of furniture.  That's when we found this picture.  Something like this would come in handy, not necessarily as a potting bench type set up, but storage for gloves or small tools, or outdoor candles, glasses, vases, etc.  

Against the back wall of the porch, it's sheltered from rain.  Of course it's still outside in humidity and cold, so a good quality exterior sealing type paint (like we used for the beehives) would work well.  We need some outside storage that's not as far from the house as the barn and/or shed are.  We're getting ideas so that when we have the exterior redone, and the porch is part of that, we have ideas ready to go.  Of course, we could do this before then too if we were so inclined.  But not this color.  :-)

Be inspired!


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

BREAKFAST CARBONARA RECIPE


Here is a wonderful breakfast pasta, and yes we have had it for breakfast, on the weekend of course, it's hearty and healthy.  2nd Man sort of just made this one up himself but it's close to a regular spaghetti carbonara recipe.  Remember, being carbonara style means there are liquid eggs in the sauce (but they are 'cooked' by the heat of the pan and other hot ingredients).

Breakfast Carbonara 
We don't have step by step photos (he made it one morning before I woke up, LOL) but it's pretty simple.  

Ingredients:

1 lb fusilli bucati pasta
1 lb breakfast sausage
1 medium onion, diced
3 whole eggs
2 cups shredded cheese (we used a cheddar blend)
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried chives
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup hot pasta water, reserved (will only use what's needed)

Instructions:



Boil 1 lb pasta in salted water until al dente and reserve 1 cup hot pasta water.

Meanwhile in a skillet, cook 1 lb ground breakfast sausage and diced onion over medium high heat, sauté together until sausage is done.  Turn heat to lowest setting.  In a separate bowl, beat 3 whole eggs, add shredded cheddar cheese and the seasonings.

Add butter to sausage mixture and allow to melt completely.  Turn off heat.  Add hot drained pasta to pan with sausage and onion and stir until well mixed and coated.  Immediately add egg and cheese mixture to pasta mixture and stir.  It is important to make sure it is all hot and stir quickly, the residual heat will 'cook' the raw eggs but keep them creamy and then, if it does need to be thinned a bit, you can add enough of the hot pasta water to thin it out.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

CRITTER TALES BOOK REVIEW

I had the pleasure of reading another book from a fellow blogger.  Many of you know Leigh Tate from her blog 5 Acres and a Dream where she is chronicling their journey.  If you don't know her, well then get on over there and check it out!  In 2014, she released her first book, which I reviewed HERE.

Now she is back (not that she ever went anywhere, ha) with a new book that is just as wonderfully informative as the first one.  It's called "Critter Tales".  A book that covers everything you might want to know (or were afraid to ask) about having animals/livestock on your homestead.  From dogs and cats, to chickens and guineas, to llamas and goats, even honeybees!  The book is well over 300 hundred pages long and chock full of photos and resources.


This covers it all.  In fact you might say the good, the bad and the ugly.  We all know in our hearts that we want animals and livestock on our homesteads and farms but we also know, somewhere in the back of our heads, that it's not going to be as easy as it looks or sounds.  But she and her husband have been through it all, from first getting them and figuring out where to put them, to what to feed them, to what happens during illness and yes, even the end of life...and in this book, she covers all of that.  Since each section (covering different animals) ends with a description from Leigh about how the particular animal you just read about fits into their self sufficiency goals for their homestead, it really helps us to piece together the puzzle of how we are all, animals included, connected.




Will we make mistakes when any of us get animals for our farms/homes?  Sure.  Does this book mean we won't have to experience what she has?  Of course not.  There will be loss, there will be trials, and there will be tribulations.  But as you learn from Leigh, there will be many more moments of joy and hope and satisfaction.  Animals, as she so eloquently reminds us in each section, have minds and personalities of their own.  They don't follow what every book says, what the vet says, what the 'expert' says, but with Leigh's shared experience, you just might at least be prepared for the inevitable missing animal, sick animal, predator, surprise birth, etc that can happen.  You'll also fall in love with many of her animals, especially the dogs and cats.

Click here to visit her blog
So grab a copy of the book, it's both a reference manual and a personal story in one engaging book.  It would make a great gift for your own reading list or for someone on your gift list.  It's both hopeful and realistic, both uplifting and informative.

Here is the Amazon link:

Critter Tales: What my homestead critters have taught me about themselves, their world, and how to be a part of it


This link to the publishing company has all the online places where the book is available:


Just like her last book, we will use this one as a very valuable addition to our permanent collection of homesteading books.  It's a must have for sure.  We still hope that someday, when our farm grows up, it will be as awesome as hers.

Thanks, once again, for sharing your journey and knowledge with us Leigh!



Monday, January 25, 2016

MOVING THOUGHTS AND MEMORIES

When we closed on the house a few weeks back, it was bittersweet.  2nd Man was excited, and of course I was as well, but I still had mixed feelings.  Not that we did it of course, the fact that we are one step closer to the farm is definitely exciting.  I guess for me, it's more that I spent my formative years moving around.  Every time my Dad got a promotion (he was in sales) we moved.  We never stayed anywhere more than a couple of years.  I enjoyed it, it was always a new adventure and for me it was all I knew.  I think I've moved fifteen times in my life?  

But for the last 16 YEARS, I've been in one place...and I experienced something I never had before, I grew attached.  
It's the first place that ever felt like a true home to me, a home that I helped create.  


So here are some photos that I took as we were leaving, details I liked, memories we had, and I thought I'd share...(warning, picture heavy post):



We had the porch redone a few years back and added two more columns...they duplicated the details that were original to the house perfectly...



There are also three columns on each end of the porch that are original to the house...loved the details...



The brick columns on each side of the porch stairs have stood the test of time and welcomed countless people into the house...




Dentil molding details...



Porch lights that lit our way in the darkness...




Living room and dining room with built-ins that have held many memories, dinner parties, wonderful meals eaten, good times had by all...




The hallway, guest room, guest bath, hall closet. master bedroom...how many times have we walked this hall?  Thousands...




Can a sink be graceful?  I always thought the master bath sink was...


Shower and soaking tub.  Many relaxing baths in here after a long weekend at the farm...



The master bedroom kept us sleeping safely at night...



The kitchen...definitely the heart of the home...



And 2nd Man cooked the most amazing food here...




The pantry is empty now but wow, the food it held over the years...


The hardwoods are not stained, they are 'red heart pine' and this is the natural color...no longer available all these years later...when the sun came in through the windows, it was always so warm and inviting...



The glass doorknobs, glistened like jewels on every door...



What is this?  This is the corner in the hall where all three cats rubbed as they rounded the corner from room to room.  Of course we had it cleaned and painted over but we had to have a photo...they put their own stamp on the house and that means something...


So, thank you house...thank you for being a home...thank you for sheltering us from heat and cold...from storms and even a few hurricanes...thank you for the memories...

When we closed on the house, of course we got to meet the new owners.  They are very nice, a young couple with a 3 yr old daughter.  They should be good stewards of the house that's stood for 95 years now and counting, yep it was built in 1920...

But now we have a new adventure awaiting us and we are going to have fun...the apartment will be a new experience living in the heart of downtown and this sale will allow us to make the farm dreams come true.

One step closer!



Sunday, January 24, 2016

HELPING HAND GRAPEFRUIT JUICE, VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY

Most every Sunday, we try to post an image of old posters that we find during online surfing.  We enjoy the ones that reflect farming, gardening and/or food preservation and rationing.  We enjoy them because we often wonder if anyone today would heed the kind of advice they gave back then...enjoy!

Grapefruit Juice, a Helping Hand in the Garden, image courtesy of NY Public Library
Here is an interesting one.  It's an ad from a magazine that became a poster in grocery stores.  We will have to admit, we never thought about grapefruit juice in this way...the poster states that a glass a day keeps fatigue away and it helps restore vitamin C.  It's also interesting they choose the garden setting to persuade its use (we won't get into the obvious sexist overtones, LOL). 

I'll admit, I've never been much of a grapefruit fan, and I more often associate grapefruit juice with weight loss potential.  But heck, if a cold glass after working on the raised beds or mowing for 4 hours helps, I might just try it out later this Spring and Summer.  Maybe it will help my 'wilted feeling', ha. 

Cold weekend for us, not much I can do outside, but I won't complain as about 1/3 of our country is covered in record snowfall.

Hope you are having a good weekend!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

GREEN OFFICE BUILDING IN HOUSTON

When I was standing in line recently at a local farmers market in downtown Houston, I was glancing around at this office building and got to wondering "what are those things on on the roof?"  So I had to do some research and found the following:


This is the City of Houston's Permitting Center building.  It was a 1920's rice warehouse that they rehabbed into a usable modern space.  There are awesome features inside, including light shafts for natural lighting, showers for employees that bike to work, and a green bike loaner program that allows employees to borrow bikes for short errands during the work day.  

But the neatest part is the roof.  The objects on the roof are urban wind turbines (by Honeywell).  They are connected to a weather station on the ground that can control them based on weather conditions.

Honeywell Urban Wind Turbine
And what you can't see from the ground is that that in addition to the wind turbines, the roof is covered in solar panels.  This building is completely self powered and sells energy back to the grid.


Solar and wind, Houston building, image courtesy of CityofHouston.gov

It's nice to see city buildings do this, we just wish there were more.  We would love to have solar and/or wind at the farm.  We have researched options and it might be viable for us, in time.  We've actually thought about doing it in parts, perhaps powering the barn and shed with solar first.  And maybe a solar panel and battery set up in the garden area.  If nothing else immediately, we will choose solar operating lighting for different parts of the property.

As for wind, not sure how to incorporate that but we're looking at options.  

It's a beautiful weekend here, cold (30's/40's) but sunny and clear.  We are sending warm wishes (and stay safe) to those in the NE United States who are enduring the wrath of Winter Storm Jonas...


Friday, January 22, 2016

HOBART IS NOT SCARED OF HEIGHTS

Heard some rustling in a pile of packing paper...it was Hobart exploring things.


"What are you looking at?"


"Wait a second...what's this?"


"Ah...a cozy napping place.  Who cares if it's 15 stories off the ground?"


Gotta love the fearless kitty!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

RIVER STONES WATER FEATURE, INSPIRATION THURSDAY


Every Thursday, we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm.  
Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and hopefully recreate it...enjoy!

Image courtesy of MotherEarthNews.com
Now this isn't something happening this year, but while perusing uses for the river stones we brought from the house in town, I  saw this.  We actually have one really large boulder-like stone that could be drilled out someday.  Then the multicolored river stone would be beautiful in a water feature like this. 

I know there are lots and LOTS of options with water features but that is definitely something we want at some point.  Most likely when we are out there full time and can take care of it, but one thing for sure, it's pretty...and the sound of bubbling, moving water?  There's not much that's more relaxing, that's for sure!

Be inspired!


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

ROASTED SWEET POTATOES AND ONIONS RECIPE

Here is a super simple, but tasty combination to use as a side dish.  We love it and hope you do as well.  It is sweet potatoes, pan roasted in the oven, with onions.  







First, we chopped/diced up some sweet potatoes.  Cut them into small cubes, bite size, I think we used about 4 medium sized sweet potatoes for this.




Then we sliced up some onions, 2 mediums here.  You can leave them in rings.  Toss it all with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste (we put a dash of red pepper flakes on occasion). 



Roast them in a preheated, 400 degree oven, for about 15 minutes, depending on your oven.  Just keep an eye on them.  The small dice will make the sweet potatoes cook quickly and the onion "rings" will also brown up quickly.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Onions
Dish them out onto a plate and serve!  The sweetness of the potatoes and the caramelized onions are a great combination.  It's a quick dish to put together, simple but memorable.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

FOUND A PERCOLATOR


Percolator
A while back, I blogged about something we call "prepping in plain sight".  In other words, having things around that you can use anytime, but that might also be extra useful in an emergency such as bad weather or another natural or man made disaster, power outage, etc.

One thing 2nd Man enjoys is his morning coffee.  Me, not so much, I'm more of a tea drinker so for me, a tea kettle is all I will need.  We always have at least a couple of those floating around.  For coffee however, we figured something a little more old school might be best.  

So recently, I was digging around in some boxes (from my parents) in storage after our move and I found that my Mom had apparently bought this percolator but never used it.  It's brand new, and was still in its original store packaging.  The best part of all?  The package shows that it is also rated for use over a fire or camping stove!  So that means that we now have a way to make coffee, if necessary, without electricity.  For 2nd Man, that's a good thing...and for my sanity, it's ALSO a good thing, ha.  We haven't used this yet, that will come eventually, but I guess it's better know how to do it before we ever have to do it.  
I guess we just need to store up some coffee now, either ground or beans (with a grinder of course) so that coffee is always on the menu.  

Any 'must have' items you would go crazy without for a period of time without power?




Monday, January 18, 2016

MISTLETOE GROWING

I saw this tree on the property, with mistletoe all over it.  Yes, mistletoe is a parasite and can sometimes damage trees but removing it (permanently of course) can cause more damage than leaving it.  There is a great link HERE from Texas A&M Forest Service about its impact on trees.

Tree with mistletoe
This tree has had this in it for years and in the Spring/Summer it's green and healthy looking.  It's only in the Winter, when regular foliage is gone, that we see the mistletoe.

Mistletoe close up in tree
Having seen it scattered all around the property in various trees, 2nd Man and I were thinking that maybe next season, we'll have to harvest some and make bundles in time for Christmas...


Something like this would be kind of fun.  And hey, we'd be taking lemons and making lemonade!

Anyone ever used real mistletoe at Christmas?


Sunday, January 17, 2016

COOL DRY AND SUNNY

Today was a much better day, weather-wise, than YESTERDAY and would have been a better day to go to the farm...but today was also the running of the annual CHEVRON HOUSTON MARATHON.  

Chevron Houston Marathon finish line
No, we weren't in it, LOL, but since we've moved, we now live in the MIDDLE of it.  The starting line is a block over on one side of our building, and the finish line is right on the other side.  So needless to say, traffic is an issue with all the roads closed all over downtown.  Most residents say they just plan around it and stay in and since 2nd Man is sick, and I'm just getting over it, we stayed in.  

Still, it was fun to watch and cheer them on.  It's not farm life, but I thought I'd share a few pics anyway.

Houston Marathon final few hundred yards
This is the view from the balcony, the road to the finish line just a few hundred yards away.  Here, they divide the road into two, all the people on the right side in this photo are finishing up the half marathon, the other lane is for those finishing the full marathon.

Gebo Burka 
These are photos I took of the marathon winner as he ran past the building...

Gebo Burka wins the Houston Marathon
...and here he is running the last few hundred feet to the finish line.  His name is Gebo Burka and he ran the full marathon in 2 hrs 10 mins 54 secs.

TWENTY SIX MILES in a little over 2 hours.  Amazing that the human body can do that.  Well, not THIS one that's for sure!

Houston Co-Cathedral
While I was out taking photos, I took a few extra since I had the telephoto lens on.  Above is Houston's Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, opened just a few years ago.  It's a contemporary take on a Cathedral and I've been told it is beautiful inside, we will have to check that out sometime. 


Above is view toward the North, some classic old buildings mixed with the new high-right buildings.  We're enjoying living in downtown, it's a nice contradiction to our farm views and will get us our fill of urban life while we get things ready at the farm.  


It will DEFINITELY feel like a vacation when we go out on weekends and trade the downtown views for these views...