Wednesday, August 23, 2017

COLOR ON THE FARM

Even on the farm in the blazing heat of Summer, we have some color.  It's hit and miss, but it's there.

Lantana carnival
The happy multicolored lantana...

Yellow marigolds
The bright yellow of these marigolds...

Pentas
The deep red of the pentas...

Orange marigold
More marigolds this time in orange...

Texas Lilac
And this purple of the Texas lilac (vitex)...

Now we just need to multiply all this by tenfold, ha. We do have more lantana planted in the flowerbeds and a few pentas, and of course several vitex scattered around, but we need more, lots more. Next year might have to be the "year of color" at the farm.  

For now, we'll take what we can get!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

ECLIPSE 2017 HOUSTON

Here are the photos we captured yesterday.  

No, they don't come close to the breathtaking pictures from the areas that had totality, but it's fun to share what we had here in this spot in Texas.

Houston Eclipse 2017
2nd Man took this picture from his work.

They used binoculars (that's why there are two), holding them up toward the sky and letting the sunlight come through onto the ground below.

Sort of like the cardboard box pinhole method.  

Houston Eclipse
Then I did this at my office. I snapped a few pictures by sticking my phone out over the railing, face up, and putting it in selfie mode.  I snapped the pictures then came back in to look at them.  The sun was pretty in all of them but then I noticed the little white spot in all the photos...


...and zoomed in.

Turns out my phone ended up reflecting the sun/moon eclipse onto the ceiling of the walkway and I sort of got a reverse version of the pinhole effect. 
Pretty cool!

Houston had 66.7% of the sun blocked out.  It was like an overcast day but the shadows were in the wrong places.  That part was very eerie.  For example, I walked out to the sidewalk that is always in sunshine and it was in the shade. Then just looking around, things seemed "different". Amazing how we get used to things we don't realize we've paid attention to and recorded to memory. I can't even fathom how people reacted hundreds or thousands of years ago when these celestial events occurred. 

Very neat to witness indeed...  


So this ends the 2017 Eclipse-mania around the country and now we prepare for...


Eclipse-mania 2024!

This time it moves across Texas, not far from the farm!  We may just have to make the short drive when it happens and experience totality.  
God willing all is still good in 7 years! 

I'll leave you with this quote we saw online...

Eclipse 2017 is a great reminder that all darkness is only temporary...

Monday, August 21, 2017

ECLIPSE DAY AND LEAST WORK POSSIBLE WEEKEND UPDATE

Hot
Not sure if a photo can show the heat but it was hot on Saturday.

How hot?


This is when I left.  2pm.  97 degrees.  Feels like 111.  We reached an official high of 101 and the feels like made it to 118.  

August...the month of doing as little as possible.

Flowerbeds
So with that motive in mind, I edged but skipped mowing for this week...

Flowerbed
I watered everything deeply, including the flowerbeds and fruit trees...

Raised bed
I cleaned out a raised bed in the garden.

That was more than the least possible but I need to start getting ready for Fall garden planting.  So I did this one and one more.  Still have to clean out the giant basil plant bed but that will have to wait for the next time.  I got this straw removed and then turned the soil. Didn't get a picture of that though, not walking back to the garden after forgetting the camera WAS the least possible in that moment, ha 

Eggplant harvest
Here's what may be the final harvest of the Spring/Summer season.  There are also more jalapeños under all that purple, ha.  


And of course we would be remiss if we didn't mention that today is Eclipse day.  We are in an area where we will get a 66.7% totality with the decrease in sunlight peaking at 1:16pm. 

There is a cool LINK HERE that shows what you'll see and at what time based on your zip code. 

REMEMBER TO BE CAREFUL AND DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY.  

If you are in the direct path, come back and post a comment about what it was like. The next one is in 2024 and it will pass over Texas...

Hope your weekend was cooler and more productive!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

FRENCH TOAST SUNDAY

It's hot. 

Officially 101.  

Feels like 118.

I did the LEAST AMOUNT POSSIBLE YESTERDAY (more on the Monday weekend update).


Today we are staying in town inside with the A/C.  2nd Man spent the day yesterday making some homemade bread.  He made two loaves.  

We ate some last night with dinner and then this morning...


...he sliced it up and made some French Toast for breakfast.  

French Toast
It was good (with some special Pennsylvania maple syrup over the top).  Now we just stay inside and watch movies all day.  Dinner tonight will be a Shepherd's Pie.  I'm OK with that.  

Stay cool and eat well, that's what we always say.




Friday, August 18, 2017

MAGNUM WINE BOTTLE TRASH TO TREASURE FIND

Regular readers know that I have a favorite place to look for bargains...our downstairs trash area!  Our building has trash chutes on every floor and they feed into a separate room, but for boxes and other things that people can't put in the chute, there is an area (indoor) near the loading dock, where people can put the things they don't want.  I've found several cool items so far.


This was the latest find.  
OK, so it's a wine bottle, no big deal?


Well here it is next to a REGULAR size wine bottle!  Yep, this is what I believe they call a "Magnum" of wine (or maybe it's even bigger than a magnum?).

I routinely see wine bottles downstairs (if I ever need any for a project there are lots available) but this one was was just SO enormous, I couldn't pass it up. I'm not sure what we'll do with it but I'm sure I'll find something fun someday!  I don't want to think back and go "dang, I should have kept that bottle I saw that time". 

Without having to drink a magnum of wine of course...or maybe that's not a bad thing, ha.




Thursday, August 17, 2017

STOCK TANK POND 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 someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Stock tank pond, image via gardenweb.com
This is not anything we will do right away, but when we saw this, we were definitely intrigued.  Using a galvanized stock tank as a pond is a pretty cool idea. A great way to have a pond/water feature without all the digging, etc.  

We'll have to do some more research but we think this is a definite "keeper" for our "someday" list of things to do at the farm. Side note, must have some of those retro chairs, they SO remind me of my childhood Summers with my Grandparents...


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

SALSA FRESCA GROUND BEEF TACOS RECIPE

Here's something we love, especially on "Taco Tuesday" ha.  

Pico de Gallo vegetables
We start with a large lime, some tomatoes, jalapeños, cilantro and an onion. These were (the tomatoes and jalapeños and cilantro anyway) fresh from our garden at the time I took these pictures.

These are the ingredients in Salsa Fresca, or Pico de gallo as it's also called in Tex-Mex cuisine.

Browned ground beef
We brown a pound or so of ground beef and drain it.  Add a little salt and pepper and dash of cumin (all seasonings are optional, use what you like).

Charred vegetables
I missed the picture prior to this, but we toss these veggies into/on a hot pan/griddle to get a nice char on them. No oil, just a really hot pan. It definitely brings out the flavor.  You could roast it all in the oven too, whatever you prefer. Once this step is done, dice everything into smaller pieces. 


Add the charred, diced tomatoes to the seasoned meat and stir over medium low heat.


Then add the onions and continue stirring for a couple of minutes more or until they start to soften.


The next to the last step is to add the chopped jalapeños and stir, continuing to heat on medium low.

Ground beef with salsa
Finally, add the chopped up cilantro and stir.  To this mixture, we also squeezed the juice of one large lime.  This is an important step, it really brightens the overall flavors, so don't miss it. 

Pico de Gallo beef tacos
Spread the mixture onto a tortilla and you are done. This night, we used soft corn tortillas.  Of course you could use flour or even crunchy taco shells.  We like to change it up a bit each time.  These are topped with Queso Blanco cheese, also know as Mexican crumbling cheese. You can use any cheese you enjoy.

Salsa Fresca beef tacos
Fold them over and eat.  YUM!  They are so good.  You can add anything to this, guacamole, hot sauce, more cheese, whatever you want extra. We like them simple on occasion and this is definitely simple. 





Tuesday, August 15, 2017

STARS ARE PAINTED

Got this done, in the heat (it dried REALLY fast, ha).  


Used the Rust-Oleum white Ultra Cover which is a paint and a primer in one.  


These are the stars that we got to "decorate" the backyard fence at the house in town before we sold it.  We made sure to buy something we could repurpose at the farm and these were perfect.  


I suspended each one from a chain on a tree branch and painted them one by one.


Just the front side, why waste paint by covering the back? It'll be mounted flush against the wall.


We had two of these large ones and three of the smaller ones. Got them all painted white.  

Barn star
One large one will go on the front of the barn at the top, above the double doors. Of course, guess what we discovered this weekend?  We don't have a ladder that will reach that high!  Oops!  

That's OK, too hot right now to do it anyway so this will be a Fall project.  At least we are halfway there!
  

Monday, August 14, 2017

THE LEAST POSSIBLE

We have decided that, barring some sort of drastic change in climate, August around here will be the month of doing the least possible amount of outside work.


This is why.  

Almost four o'clock in the afternoon and it "feels like" 115 degrees.  Yep. 115.  Again.


I mowed.  But didn't edge.  Oh, not sure if I  mentioned it already but we had 5 inches of rain this past week!  The ground has been so dry, it soaked it up like a sponge.  I didn't even SEE any standing water or mud while I was mowing.  


I watered, the fruit trees of course, whicht are doing great.  The 5 inches of water really made them happy and since no rain is in the forecast this week and 100+ degree temps all week, I gave them more water.  I also watered the flowerbeds and we were happy to see that everything is hanging in there.  This includes here, in front of the garden, where the lemongrass and rosemary are finally thriving after a bit of trouble getting started. 

Basket of jalapeños
The only thing left growing in the garden are the jalapeños.  I picked another big basket of them (left some to turn red) and have some special plans for these later this week.  

Pork Chop dinner with stuffing and cranberry sauce
We even had a simple dinner. Thick cut pan roasted pork chops, a quick batch of cornbread stuffing and some good old fashioned cranberry sauce from the can, just like at Thanksgiving, ha.  

Sometimes it's the simple things in life.  

Good weekend to stay inside where it's cool, eat good food and do the least possible...  

Sunday, August 13, 2017

GUARD SPIDER SUNDAY

Saw this yesterday...after I had walked under it a couple of times.  

Avert your eyes if spiders freak you out.


This garden spider (we call them "banana spiders" or "golden orb spiders" down here) had woven a web between the two posts of the garden gate, way up near the top.  


Here is a closeup as I walked in...


And here is the backside as I turned around to get another photo from the other direction...

These don't scare me, as intimidating as they look, they are harmless and eat lots of bad bugs.  Now don't get me wrong, if one was ON ME, that would be  an entirely different story, ha.  

They seem to be in various places around the garden, and I'm OK with that.  I figured she was standing guard at the entrance to the garden and we're fine with her staying there doing what she does best. 

It's been hot this weekend, dangerously hot again.  Believe it or not, the farm had 5" of rain earlier this week.  It was all dried up though, the ground soaked it up like a sponge.  

More of an update tomorrow, off to run errands today...in the air conditioning!