Monday, September 16, 2019

BACK ON THE ZEN MACHINE AND OTHER HAPPENINGS

Guess what I got to do?  

Yep, mowing!


It rained at the farm but not much.  Maybe 1/4 inch according to 2nd Family.  We figured not enough to grow the grass but apparently it soaked it up and had a growth spurt.  It was enough to make it slightly more green than it has been.  You can see above (from my mowing app) that it wasn't like the usual mow. I was able to skip a few areas that were still brown and then it was just the regular mowing spots.


I mowed the driveway and the yard all around the house and outbuildings.  It looks better and as it turns out, it was good that I did mow because they are saying we may have some heavy tropical moisture coming this week.  That will DEFINITELY give us a growth spurt.


In a patch of green grass I saw these white flowers that had popped up...


Not sure what they are but they are brilliant white.  So white that the sun reflecting off of them made them overexposed on the camera, ha.  

Of course I mowed around them.
Because.  Beauty.


Remember our fig tree/bush that I posted about a couple of months ago?  

Above is the tree at its peak a few weeks back when it was bearing fruit...


...and this was it this weekend.  WHAT THE HECK??  I've never seen it do this before in the years it has been growing there.  I've read conflicting info online, some say it's a fungus others say it's "Fall" and this is normal.  Not sure.  I do know it is getting more shade than it probably should.  When it was first planted, the mesquite tree next to it was much smaller.  Now it's bigger and casting a shadow.  I also started watering it when it was producing fruit but maybe I over watered it.  Not sure.

We do know that we want another fig tree or two and have a sunny spot for them with all the other fruit trees behind the house. 


It was a good, albeit brief, weekend.  Still hot here, upper 90's and we even made it to 100 one day last week.  But again, supposedly rain coming this week.  They were mentioning flash flood possibilities.  Of course it quite often rains in Houston but not at the farm so we guess only time will tell!

Hope you had a good weekend! 

Friday, September 13, 2019

TOY MEMORIES OF YESTERYEAR

So the other day, my boss brought some wooden hangers from home, they were doing some Fall cleaning and no longer needed them.  So he had a big bag of those really nice solid wood hangers with the metal hooks like these....


I carefully stacked them, much like the photo above, and put my arm through them to carry them to the car.  I put them in the back seat.  I reached in to move my umbrella out of the way and when I pulled it out, it got caught on them and they all fell out into the parking lot.  Then picking them up was just a jumbled mess.  

I share all this to say that when I got back to the office and related my story, my boss said it was like that old game "Barrel of Monkeys".  I had not thought of that in YEARS.


That broadened into a larger conversation of toys of our youth (those of us of a certain age of course).  These were so much fun.  Do kids even know about these now?  There's probably a "Barrel of Monkeys" app, ha! 

Here are some we came up with...


I grew up with LEGOs and today those are even better than when I was little.  But what about Lincoln Logs?  Oh my I loved building those cabins and buildings.  A friend and I made a whole 'neighborhood' of cabins and then we pretended that a tornado blew through.  Yeah, we were weird like that but my imagination ran wild with possibilities...


And then there were Tinker Toys!  I would create all sorts of weird objects.  Where Lincoln Logs pretty much limited you to creating buildings, Tinker Toys would let you create all sorts of shapes.  Sometimes I just went full on artist and made random "sculptures" that my parents would let me display on top of the TV for a while.


And of course there was the ubiquitous Lite-Brite.  I remember punching the holes in the black paper with those little plastic pegs that lit up like glowing jewels.  It was pure magic when you turned off the room lights and turned on your creation.  Once I made the roosters and rainbows and smiling suns, I started making spaceships and planets.  I think it was Star Trek inspired.

Would kids today know about these?  Do you think they'd be bored with them or would it spark imagination once again?  I find that many kids today don't seem to have the imagination we did when growing up.  Maybe there is too much information available and that takes away some creativity?

Or maybe we're just getting old, ha!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

BIRDBATH PLANTER 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!



We have an old birdbath at the farm.  It was left by the previous owner when she moved.  It's heavy and concrete and not being used for a birdbath.  Kind of hard to keep water in it when we're not there full time.  Someday we'll have a birdbath for birds (more than one!).  

We've always wanted to do something else with it.  It's currently in two pieces (base and bowl) in the killer bee area, ha.  Now that the bad bees are gone, I can go back and get this and move it closer to the house to do something with it.  

This is a neat idea to fill it with soil and plant something in it.  Shallow rooted of course as above.  



Or perhaps something like this, maybe succulents or even cactus.  So pretty and different.

Be inspired!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

REMEMBERING 9/11


I'm sure we all have a memory of where we were when we heard.  When we saw it.  

It seems as though when the years go by that it becomes more of a distant memory, something that someday young people will only know by us telling them our memories.

For me, the days after 9/11 are a bit of a blur because we found out on 9/12 that my Grandfather had passed away, in his chair with the TV on.  The general thinking is that he had a heart attack while watching the coverage.  Just one of probably many others like that around the country.  

At the last office I worked at, I got to speak to a lady that moved here a couple of years after the attack.  She was in the South tower when the North tower was hit.  What she described is something that can only be described by her words, not by anything we've ever seen on TV footage.  I found out recently that she passed away last year, complications from breathing the air at Ground Zero.

On this day we remember all of those lost in the terrible attack and the brave first responders from all places that came to help and continue to struggle today...


Monday, September 9, 2019

SAME OLD SAME OLD HOT WITH GOOD FOOD

The yard seems to be hanging in there...

Cloudy but still no rain
...there are still some green blades there in a few spots, ha.  Again, this is no mowing since end of July.

Very dry yard
Here is what it looked like when I pulled in and parked where this part of the yard is definitely more dry than others.  This time of year, in this heat, it's just bare minimum work out there.  The temp was 100 degrees with a "feels like" of 107

Dry yard
It's funny (or not when I have to clean it out later, ha) that the only place there is good strong green is in and around the raised fruit tree beds.  Not much I should worry about cleaning out now, I'm still watering.  And it's too hot to mess with.  I'll save this project for the Fall when it's cool.

Penzey's Spices
I stayed long enough to water to keep the trees living and came back into town.  2nd Man and I went to Penzey's (the spice/seasoning store).  There is only one in Houston and it is a cook's paradise for sure.  We always go a little overboard when we go.

Sheet pan chicken and veggies
We came back home and we made one of our sheet pan chicken dinners.  One chicken cut up, seasoned with olive oil and seasoning and tossed on a sheet pan with sweet potatoes, onions, and cherry tomatoes.  Roast at 425 for about 40 minutes or until chicken was done and veggies are nice and roasted.

Cherry pie
Then 2nd Man got a wild hair and made a cherry pie.     I'm always OK with that, ha.  Alas, we didn't have ice cream but it was still very yummy. 

Hope you had a great weekend.

Friday, September 6, 2019

CEREAL TEXTURE FOOD DEBATE

It's time for the "Friday Food Debate" where we tackle some of the burning questions of the culinary world...LOL!

This week, the burning question is:


So here is this week's debate.  There are two schools of thought on cereal.  Some people like it crunchy like it is right after you pour the milk in it, you eat it quickly so it stays crispy and crunchy.

Still others like to pour the milk in and let it sit for a few minutes so that the cereal starts to get soggy and the milk takes on the flavor of the cereal.  Great for drinking after the cereal is gone!

Around here I think we are split again but I could actually go either way.  I love how crispy it is when it's first poured but in the end, I like it soggy and that delicious milk that's left over.  2nd Man wants it to stay as crunchy and crispy as long as possible.

So...are you team crispy or team soggy?



Thursday, September 5, 2019

TREE FLOWER BED 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!



One of the projects I want to do next season is put some flowerbeds around the trees over in our wooded section that I cleared.  It's a big open area with trees that we are keeping and it just seems kind of empty.  We think some pops of color would be awesome in that space.  Something like this, just some areas around each one planted with some simple color would be nice.  It might be nice to scatter some bulbs in there too.  

Of course we'll need something growing that is partial shade loving or likes dappled sunlight.  Flowers preferred, ha. 

Be inspired!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

HOT AND DRY LAZY LABOR DAY WEEKEND

It was a nice weekend of rest.  Having a three day weekend is always welcome, especially after a long hot Summer.  We ran some errands but mainly just relaxed and enjoyed the time off.

Hot and dry
It was another hot and dry weekend outside though.  Here is the photo from roughly the same angle I've been taking each time at the farm.  The green is hanging on, ha.


We had a glimmer of hope.  This was the radar the other day.  It was POURING in Houston.  There was brief flooding, hail, wind, lightning, and about 2" or 3" of rain.  This is the radar image from when it was happening.  The storm literally only encompassed the main part of Houston proper, there was NO rain anywhere else.  Crazy how that can happen.

Drought cracks in the ground
The cracks in the ground are getting wider.  This is about an inch wide.  It runs for about four feet.

I watered the fruit trees and plants on the porch and then left.  Really there is not much else to do out there.  With only one window unit a/c in the house it's just too hot to deal with trying to cool down the house.  Yet another reason we're working diligently to remedy that situation.  Hope to have an update soon on that front.  

Bay leaves drying
2nd Man was getting low on on bay leaves so I snipped a couple dozen and brought them back into town to dry in the window ledge for a few days...

Home grown bay leaves
Then I put them in a bottle and up in the cabinet for him to use.   He was happy.  

Hobart the cat
Hobart was his usual self all weekend.  Sleeping wherever he found the most comfortable spot.  Of course, in retrospect, we kind of did the same thing...

Hope you all had a good weekend.

Friday, August 30, 2019

MAC AND CHEESE UTENSIL FOOD DEBATE

It's time for the "Friday Food Debate" where we tackle some of the burning questions of the culinary world...LOL!

This week, the burning question is:



Mac and cheese...perhaps nature's most perfect food item.  Sigh.  It's among my most favorite things.  I like it ANY way it's cooked.  But for this debate day, I did some Googling and found that there is a debate about this wonderful dish.  And that is what do you use to eat it?

Apparently there are two schools of thought.  Some people use a fork to spear the noodles and eat it up.  

Others use a spoon to get the noodles and every last bit of cheesy goodness.
                                                                                 
According to an online poll we saw, 72% use a fork.  The rest use a spoon.  In our house it's mostly a fork.  In the interest of full disclosure though, our set of flatware included SPORKS!  Yep, we have nice, stainless steel sporks to eat with if we choose.  
But let's not include that in this debate.  

So...how do you do mac and cheese?
Fork or spoon?



Thursday, August 29, 2019

HERB GARDEN 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!


The long, hot, dry days of Summer are in full bloom and our thoughts turn to cool weather planning.  I like seeing garden designs and areas for planting flowers or herbs etc.  Above is an herb garden that I just love looking at. I like the tree in the center (though I have no idea what that might be, ha) and then the herbs around it and the stones and then more herbs.  It's a nice, tight design, almost like a small pocket garden.

Be inspired!

Monday, August 26, 2019

WE'RE IN A DROUGHT

It's now been over FIVE weeks since the last major mowing.  I did do a quick mow about 4 weeks ago just to trim things up and keep it short but as far as growth, it's been over a month...


Here is the same angle I've been using the last few weekends to check the growth...or lack thereof, ha.


We had rain in Houston yesterday, some areas on the East side of town got a couple of inches but it was very localized.  There was a large area of rain and storm in the Gulf that they thought would move this way but it just barely skimmed by Houston and the farm didn't get any of it.  In fact, our last measurable rain out there was in July.


The only real green left is around the fruit tree beds.  We're guessing that's because I'm watering them and spraying water around every weekend.


This is the side of the house by the big tree, it's completely brown there.


These are some of the large cracks in the ground that have formed (and a few remaining green blades of grass).  Amazing that the ground can do this.  Of course after the first heavy rain it will close up like it was never there.


Here's another shot by the mower shed.  It's just brown.  All over.  I'm enjoying the break in mowing during the heat of Summer but we do need rain. 

The forecast for the next seven days is no rain and highs in the mid to upper 90's.  The weather people are saying we have entered a period of drought.

We need a good rain dance, ha!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

SO CLOSE YET SO FAR


We've got rain all around Houston.  About midday it POURED in the city.  I checked the radar and nothing at the farm.  I've reached out to 2nd Family to check but no reply yet.  I was at the farm yesterday (more on that tomorrow) and it was hot and dry.  

Hoping for rain but the odds are fading fast...

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Friday, August 23, 2019

BACON TEXTURE FRIDAY FOOD DEBATE

It's time for the "Friday Food Debate" where we tackle some of the burning questions of the culinary world...LOL!

This week, the burning question is:


First of all, you have to be a bacon lover.  We realize not everyone loves bacon (though that could be considered a sacrilege, ha).  So when bacon is cooking there are two ways it can come out.  

You can cook it until it is crisp.  That texture with the crunch or snap when you bite into it.

Or you can cook until it's just done but still soft and chewy.  

We realize there are varying degrees of doneness from just barely cooked to burned.  This is really just one of the two ways you generally find it cooked.  Breakfast buffets at restaurants seem to have big pans of chewy soft bacon.  A diner generally seems to serve it up crispy alongside eggs and hash browns.

Here in our household, we both like it both ways but honestly, most of time we cook it until crispy.  I have been known to go steal a piece out of the pan once it's cooked but still soft, and that I love on a slice of white bread.

So...how do you like your bacon?
Crispy or chewy?



Wednesday, August 21, 2019

THE BAD BEES ARE GONE


Just about a year ago, we posted HERE about the bees that took over the one hive we had left.  It was 100% my fault for not removing the "tempting" empty home when we lost our bees.  I removed one hive but not this one (see post for details).

Then some wild bees took it over.  At first we thought capturing a wild swarm can be a good thing.  But after observing them, we found the new bees to be aggressive.  VERY aggressive.  There are reports in the area of Africanized bees.

A few times they chased me to the house.  I finally just stopped mowing in the former bee yard.  We called a couple of bee removal experts but either the wait was long or they wouldn't come that far out.  They also charged a LOT of money.

Since we were not going to that area anyway, we just sort of left them alone.


The grass grew and the hive became just part of the background.  I could always see bees on it (the white color makes that easy) and so I just stayed away.  Flash forward to last weekend.  I looked in that direction as usual but didn't see any activity.  I carefully got closer and didn't see anything.

The hive was empty.


Here it is after I got up close.  Definitely empty.  What a relief.  I'm not sure where they went or what happened but we're OK with it.


I removed the top so that another hive will not be tempted though I don't think they would since the other creepy crawlies have taken over.

It was too hot to deal with disposing of the pieces we don't want (most likely all of them). Some of you will wonder about honey.  There was none that we could salvage as ants and bugs had taken over. Plus the wild bees took over a hive where the wax had melted and honey had fermented so if there had been any, it would probably have tasted pretty funky.

 We still have one complete hive put up in storage along with the matching copper roof from this hive (wasn't going to let THAT go).  Not sure what else will be salvageable but I think when we next venture into beekeeping, we'll start with keeping just one hive alive for a few seasons as a start.

Monday, August 19, 2019

BUMBLEBEES BLACK CATS AND FRIED CHICKEN

Just kind of an update post today.  Had a great weekend.  We ran errands, did some window shopping, had some great food and just relaxed.  Knowing that we were going to do this, I took Friday off and went to the farm.  I figured without rain there wouldn't be much mowing.  If you saw the update yesterday, you can see a picture of the yard and there was no mowing.  We're now over three weeks (four this coming weekend) since the last time.  

While I miss my time on the Zen Machine, it was a "feels like" temperature of 108 yesterday.  I'm good staying inside where it's cool, ha.


The bumblebees were out in force.  I love watching them.  So big and slow moving,  Plus the buzzing sound of so many is actually kind of peaceful.


Did you know that August 17th is (was) National Black Cat Appreciation Day?  Now this is not to be confused with National Black Cat Day which is later in the year, ha.  This day is a day to celebrate the black cat and dispel the myths around them.  I didn't know that black cats (and dogs) are less likely to be adopted.  Poor babies.  Black cats are just like any other cat, they are wonderful!

Hobart however was not impressed.  He was laying in this patch of sun and we told him we appreciated him...he could barely be moved to open his eyes, ha.




From our anniversary post I mentioned that we had a tradition.  On our fourth anniversary, the place we had been going every year was gone.  So on a whim we went to a place 2nd Man remembered from his childhood.  Also, it is a Houston institution.  It's called Barbecue Inn.  Sure they have BBQ but they are known for their fried chicken.  See this screen grab above.  They are consistently in top lists around the country.  Best fried chicken we've ever had.


I had the dark meat plate with french fries, two thighs and a leg...

2nd Man had the white meat plate with baked potato, two breasts and a wing...

They also come with salads.  It's such a good comfort food dinner.  We go twice a year.  Once on our anniversary and around Valentines Day.

They've been around for over 70 years and the place is PACKED all the time.  We're pretty sure we're good for a while, ha.  Hope you had a great weekend!