Thursday, April 30, 2020

FARM SIGN ENTRANCE 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!


This is something we are definitely going to put at the farm but we always thought about it coming once we have a new/redone house out there and we can transition to moving there full time.  

This is a sign with the farm/homestead name put at the top.  We'd put our farm name on there, Seda Bolsa.  Mounting it on a post like this and then adding the galvanized tub of flowers would be so pretty at the entrance of the driveway.

Be inspired... 

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

CAPTURED LIGHTNING

When I was at the farm the other day, there was a storm that moved through.  Some very interesting clouds including some being "newly classified".  More on those in another post.

But this photo excited me.

I was taking photos of the clouds and had the shutter setting on sport mode.  It lets you take a rapid series of pictures, useful during the rugby games or someone running, etc.  I thought if the clouds were moving fast I could get some in a series.  Little did I know I'd catch a lightning bolt.


I took about 10 photos in rapid succession and three of them had the lightning.  


Here is a zoomed in image.  This is the first time I've captured lightning with a digital camera.  YEARS ago when I was younger I got one with an old school camera and film (remember those, ha!).  Alas, it was a blur when I had the film developed. 

For those wondering, yes I was on the porch while taking these.  I heard thunder and went inside immediately.  Sat on the rocker on the porch and that's when I saw the clouds and started taking some pictures.  Being a weather buff from way back, I can't wait to try next time.  Now I will know to use that shutter setting to capture some more images.


Speaking of weather, wow we had some major storms blow through this morning.  You can see the time stamp on this radar image was from 4:43am.  I was awakened by all sorts of alerts and warnings about an approaching storm and so I checked and yep this is what it looked like, a straight line of heavy storms just moving toward the area.  

That all came through with lightning and hail and heavy rain and wind.  I texted 2nd Family at the farm a little bit ago and they said it was pretty scary looking but the worst just skipped by.

Stay safe!

Monday, April 27, 2020

CHRISTMAS IN APRIL

Several of you have asked where we have found flour.  Pre-pandemic, I stocked us up with all that I could find, we had about 15lbs of each (all purpose and bread).  But with a batch of bread a week and the occasional pie crust and pan of biscuits, we were running low.  AP flour was low and we were already out of bread flour.  Of course flour in the stores around here is about as scarce as toilet paper.  We've been checking the King Arthur Baking Co. website from time to time and one night they showed the flour we needed as "available". 

We ordered 10 pounds of each and waited.  

King Arthur Flour box
The website of course has a disclaimer about delays in shipping times.  We were fine with that.  In fact just a couple of days later, the same flours showed sold out/unavailable.  We guess word got around.

It took a little over two weeks to arrive from when we ordered it but over the weekend it showed up!

Shipping flour
We opened the boxes and there they were, nice and neatly packed, two brand new 5 lb bags of each.

King Arthur Flour
2nd Man said it's like Christmas in quarantine.  Now I know what to buy him for Christmas, LOL.

  For those looking for flour, King Arthur is posting flour in stock as they have it available and then once it's all spoken for via online orders, they change it to "temporarily unavailable". Delivery is still delayed a bit because they are operating under limited staff and enhanced safety protocols.  When they have more available they will update the website.  Our best advice is to check once a day and see if it shows up.  Once you order it you are locked in for that batch so just keep checking.

Here is a link directly to their "flours page":


We don't get anything for sending you there (but King Arthur if you're listening, we love your products!).  Good luck and happy baking!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

YESTERDAY WAS A WASHOUT


Went to the farm yesterday...it was a 'beat the rain' day.  I knew I had to mow since it's been a couple of weeks and in these quarantine days I am trying to limit how often I have to go out and/or to the store.

Here it was as it started getting darker and I still had a few stretches to go in the front yard.



A little faster than usual, probably because I was in a hurry to beat the rain coming in from the East.  Speaking of, I have some great cloud pictures and snagged a picture with lighting!  More on that in an upcoming post.  Overall, it was a good mowing day...kind of cool and low humidity.


I got it done and the skies cleared a bit but there was more coming so I called it a day for that kind of work.  I worked in the garden for a bit pulled some weeds, deep watered the fruit trees and the stuff on the porch and called it a day. 

On the way back, I stopped at a local grocery store near the farm to just pick up a few supplies.  It was a great trip.  They were out of the obvious things, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, flour, etc but they were fully stocked with just about everything else.  I wore my protection and replenished the items we were getting low on. I told 2nd Man that this might be where we go every couple of weeks to top off supplies.

Hope you are staying safe and having a good weekend...

Friday, April 24, 2020

DON'T FORGET TO WEAR PROTECTION

Wait, what?  LOL!

Not THAT...the "new" getting dressed to go out...


...the other day when I headed downstairs in the building to get the mail and drive to the farm, 2nd Man reminded me to wear protection.  That made us laugh.  It is indeed a strange new world we are in right now.

The first time I put on the mask and gloves and headed downstairs I thought "I'm going to be the only one dressed like this".  I walked into the store and there were fewer people NOT dressed like this. 

Beginning Monday of next week, the city of Houston will require ALL people 10yrs and older to wear masks when out in public.

So far we have two boxes of the these blue masks and that's what we wear.  We need to invest in some cloth ones so we can wash a set and have a set clean and ready.  We already had a box of gloves because we've always used them when working with raw meat, cleaning things, changing the litter, etc, stuff like that. 

So how are YOU all handling this 'new normal'?


Thursday, April 23, 2020

FLOWER FOCAL POINT 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!


Cute focal point.  It uses whiskey barrels which we love...flowers for color which we love...and there's a well/water pump that we love for added decoration.

Sometimes simple can be best and obviously something like this would be much easier to pull off.  

Be inspired and be safe!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

DOUBLETREE COOKIE RECIPE

Recently, the Doubletree Hotel chain finally released THEIR COOKIE RECIPE. It's been a secret for over 30 years but with everyone stuck inside for quarantine, they decided to release it.  It seems that everyone with so much time on their hands has decided to bake them.

Of course 2nd Man had to try them as well.


The link above goes right to their website so you can click there and read about it.  We also copied it for you below.  Even though supplies are running low, it was worth it to try a new chocolate chip recipe.

DoubleTree Signature Cookie Recipe


Makes 26 cookies
½ pound butter, softened (2 sticks)
¾ cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 ¼ cups flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch cinnamon
2 2/3 cups Nestle Tollhouse semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 3/4 cups chopped walnuts 
Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes. 
Add eggs, vanilla and lemon juice, blending with mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, then medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy, scraping down bowl. 
With mixer on low speed, add flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, blending for about 45 seconds. Don’t overmix. 
Remove bowl from mixer and stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
Portion dough with a scoop (about 3 tablespoons) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about 2 inches apart. 
Preheat oven to 300°F. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and center is still soft. 
Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for about 1 hour.
Cook’s note: You can freeze the unbaked cookies, and there’s no need to thaw. Preheat oven to 300°F and place frozen cookies on parchment paper-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake until edges are golden brown and center is still soft.

Now we haven't been to a Doubletree in years so I don't remember the cookies that well but I do remember they were good.  Then again, warm chocolate chip cookies are always good, ha.  These have a couple of "different" ingredients for CCC's.  Lemon juice and cinnamon.  They say the lemon juice adds a chewiness and the cinnamon just adds a slightly subtle twist to the flavor.  They are really good.  We froze some dough for later use.

Because we believe chocolate chip cookies during a quarantine is a rule...

Monday, April 20, 2020

FRUIT TREE UPDATE

Fruit tree updates:


This is the mystery peach that we think is actually a nectarine, which by the way we're fine with, it's one more fruit we didn't plan for but we'll gladly eat it if it grows well, ha.  It is finally budding out.

And here's some good news:


Here is the lime tree...blooms!


This is the orange tree, blooms on it too!


And lastly, the Meyer lemon, blooms on it as well!


The other apple tree has finally blossomed out.


And this is the other (actual) peach tree and there are at least a couple of peaches developing on it.  The next plan will be to get some sort of fencing around each tree to help keep out the deer...or at least deter them. 


Sunday, April 19, 2020

SUNDAY MORNING QUARANTINE EATING

2nd Man baked a loaf of 7-grain bread yesterday afternoon while I was at the farm.


It will last us a few days.


This morning we had a simple but filling breakfast using very few pantry/fridge staples.  Toasted bread with butter and scrambled eggs with dried herbs.

Simple and filling is what we want during these times in quarantine.



Today is a stormy day.  We're under a tornado watch for most of the day, there have already been severe thunderstorm warnings we've had some hail too.

A good day to nap.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

BLACK AND WHITE TREES

Kind of fits the mood of the world...


Just playing around with the black and white setting on my camera.  It's amazing how haunting the same setting is.  Green and bright in color, dark and somewhat ethereal in black and white...


Off to the farm today but not much to do today.  No mowing and just checking the garden.  Will water the plants on the porch and just check on things.  Storms are coming later today and tomorrow which is just a typical Spring weekend in these parts of the country.

First time setting foot outside of the apartment since last Saturday.  Not even to get the mail.  It's amazing how long we can stay inside when we have to.

Such strange times.  

Hope you are staying safe!


Thursday, April 16, 2020

METAL TUB FLOWER 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!


Would love to do this.  How simple and pretty is this?   Of course for us the appeal is the whole package, the fence, the grass, the rustic nature of the galvanized container etc. it just screams "farm", ha.  

 A galvanized tub, drill some holes in the bottom, fill with soil add some pretty flowers and instant decor.

Be inspired and be safe!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

DELUXE GRILLED CHEESE QUARANTINE EATING

Every few days, we are going to post some food/meals we are eating.  Usually there will be no recipe, what we want to post is just a reminder that simple is good, simple is comfort and during these times, we can all use a little (or a lot) of that.


2nd Man makes a couple of loaves of bread once a week.  He usually looks up a recipe online to try something new.  This was a rustic white bread.  We're getting low on flour but have some on order, hopefully it will arrive before we run out.  

Anyway, we eat bread in all ways you can but what better way during these pandemic quarantine days than to have a good old fashioned grilled cheese.


I stocked us up on cheese before the quarantine because, well, CHEESE, ha.  We've always liked two kinds of cheese on a grilled cheese sandwich, one of which should always be cheddar.  This time we used sharp cheddar and provolone.  I also found these grilled peppers (and some sundried tomatoes by the same brand that we'll save for another recipe).  People were buying other stuff and skipping these packages...big mistake on their part because these things are WONDERFUL!  

We layered it all up, bread, a slice of cheese, some grilled peppers, another slice of cheese, bread, spread some butter on both sides and grilled it on the stovetop in a skillet. 


So good and definitely comforting in these times of being stuck inside.

Quick and easy and doesn't use up many ingredients.  

Eat well and most of all, be safe!

Monday, April 13, 2020

STARTED THE GARDEN

Well here is the update from last weekend.  That Saturday was a washout with lots of rain so Sunday it was.  It stayed overcast but was cooler and a breeze.

On the way out, I stopped at the store and got some veggies, at least what worked for what we wanted and what they had in stock.  The mom and pop nurseries are closed due to the pandemic so we had to go to big box stores.  At least we could get some things in the ground.  


Here is the sky and grass.  The grass was growing slowly so I was OK with that.  Yesterday's update, you'll be able to see that I finally mowed.


I planted one yellow squash.  The last time we tried this I planted a yellow squash AND a zucchini in the same bed and it did not work.  They were both too big.  So this year we'll just let one plant take over the whole bed.  We opted not to have a zucchini this time around and since we LOVE yellow squash we figured that would work fine.  Hope to try some delicious squash casserole in a couple months.


In this bed we planted three bell peppers.  Green, red and yellow.  2nd Man wants to try some stuffed bell peppers with the green and of course he LOVES to cook with red and yellow chopped up peppers in many other dishes.


We used the bigger bed for tomatoes.  We're going to try them again but with different varieties.  The celebrity is of course one of the most popular tomatoes grown and does well in our area...the big beef is supposed to well suited to our humid and hot summers and is prolific...and the rutgers is an heirloom that does well here and is known for it's great 'canning' tomatoes.  

You can see will still have room for a 4th variety.  Not sure what we will get, the two big box stores had some more varieties available but these three were the ones I knew could work in our area.  That was part of the plan this past Saturday, find another (and some more veggies) but the choices were slim.


And here is officially the world's loneliest herb garden, ha.  I found exactly ONE basil plant.  For some reason, our basil (in this bed always) grows like crazy and it will eventually fill up most of the center of this spot.  The stores were completely out of most herbs.  Oh sure they had rosemary (don't need), lavender (would like to have but that would have to go elsewhere), cilantro (doesn't last long in our heat) and a ton of mints (we already have some of that and don't want it taking over this bed).  This coming weekend I'll try a couple of other places and see what we can get.  2nd Man really wants some thyme and oregano.  Maybe a couple of those at each corner and that will be it for the herbs this Spring.

On Saturday they had all been in the ground for a week and are doing great even though I don't have the watering system set up yet.  That's on the plan for this coming weekend.  I water them deeply when I'm there and then we've had cool weather with a couple of rainy days during the week so it's been fine so far.  Our backup plan is 2nd Family who will come up and water for us if we asked.


Sunday, April 12, 2020

TRANQUIL MOWING

Yesterday was a bust at the garden center.  No veggies that we wanted but that's ok, we had gotten several last weekend and I'll have an update on that tomorrow.  Today we are awaiting the chance of storms but so far it's been pretty clear.  

Yesterday was a mowing day.  It had been a little over two weeks since the last time.


So I hopped on the mower and started.  Here it is about halfway through the front yard.  Yeah, the green sure is pretty and when we live there full time someday, the green will stay around more often.  But I need to cut it short in these times of the pandemic so I don't have to go as often,  less stopping at the stores to get stuff and of course don't have to go out if we decide to just stay in town or if the quarantine rules become more extreme. 


Not sure why but this time was longer than usual.  I think because I was going over some new spaces and trying to get rid of some brush that was encroaching on some areas.  I also went back over the clippings to disperse them better.


When it's done it's nice and neat.  Should be a couple more weeks before I have to do it again.  Who knows what the word will be like then.  Will we be starting to get back to normal or will it be more of this weird  "new normal"?  Time will tell.


The property behind us (a couple hundred acres) had their cattle rotated to the space behind us so I had an audience the whole time.  Eventually they came closer to the fence line but it's always fun to mow and see them watching me.  It makes for a very peaceful and relaxing day.  It was cool, though overcast, but a nice way to get away from the chaos of the world right now.  Tomorrow a post on our vegetable garden, small as it may be, ha. 

Stay safe!


Saturday, April 11, 2020

OFF TO THE FARM AGAIN

We have literally NOT left the apartment since I got back last Sunday. So today will be nice to get out into the fresh air once again.


As I was typing this post, I realized that we didn't have a post last week to show what I got done at the farm last weekend.  It rained Saturday and so I had a shortened weekend on Sunday but got some veggies in the ground!  Today the plan is to get the rest of what we need and get them in the ground as well.  And depending on how wet the ground is, I'll probably have to mow as well.  

The good news is the weather is gorgeous today.  They said maybe rain but so far we don't see anything on the radar.

Zen Machine + Planting in soil = mental vacation


Thursday, April 9, 2020

WELL PUMP YARD DECOR INSPIRATION

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've posted about this once (or twice) before.  But they just keep coming back to haunt me, ha.  Here is another old fashioned well water pump.  Love this one painted in a bright red color.  We think this would be such a fun focal point in the yard with plants around it, some flowers, etc.  Heck, this shady area with a fern looks good too.

Maybe someday I can find one at a junkyard or someone who has one they don't need anymore.

Be inspired...and stay safe!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

FIG TREE CUTTING IS IN SOIL

Remember when I bought a nice big fig tree and then broke off the top by accident?


Here it is a couple months ago after I put it in some water to root.


...and here it is the other day when I potted it up in some soil.  Maybe by Summer we'll have a decent little tree to plant.  Of course it will be upgraded to a bigger clay pot soon, we just figured we better get it in some dirt now so that it starts doing more.

The tree that it broke off of is getting bigger and has also fully leafed out and it will go in the ground as soon as we figure out the right place for it.

We know they can get big but they do well even in our soil here so we can put it just about anywhere.  We'd like to keep most of the edible trees in the same area so we can easily water them and take care of them.  


Because at $7 for a dozen small figs, we're gonna need actively producing trees...even if 2nd Man is not the greatest fig fan in the world.

Monday, April 6, 2020

PANDEMIC FOOD PREPARATIONS

Thought we'd share what all we got before the shelter in place/quarantine.

I am a big news person, I watch a lot of what's going on in the world.  I told 2nd Man back in January that this virus in China was something we should keep an eye on.  In February I started stocking up just in case it made it here.  I noticed then a reduction in supplies of hand sanitizer, gloves, etc.  Food hadn't yet started to dwindle so I started stocking up.


This is the main pantry.  We've got all sorts of stuff in here.  Yes, you see that correctly, there are some processed food items, don't judge, ha.  In times like these you need comfort food, you need easy and you need shelf stable.  This pantry is deep which we love.  Normally we'd worry things would get lost in the back but this time it helps  That top shelf is filled two rows back.  Several boxes of cereal, crackers, Kraft mac and cheese, stove top stuffing, even some hamburger helper boxes.  Behind all that are several bags of potato chips.  Oh and pop tarts.

Because, well, pop tarts.

The next shelf has the baking supplies, honey, baking soda/powder, cocoa, chocolate chips, extracts etc.

Under that is a shelf with pie fillings, cans of sweetened condensed milk, "cream of" soups, lots of canned beans and some vegetables.  Then we have a lot of jarred sauces...for example alfredo, marinara, sauces for slow cooker meals etc and then a lot of tomato paste, sauce and cans of diced tomatoes.

The shelf under that has more canned tomato products (2nd Man uses those a lot), more beans, canned tuna, chili, manwich, different flavors of soup, cooking oils, vinegars, etc.

The bottom shelf has containers of rice (we have about 15 lbs), brown rice, instant potatoes, several jars of peanut butter, etc.

On the floor are two large baskets and two green storage containers.  The green containers are each filled with ramen noodle packages, a dozen each.  What college student hasn't lived on ramen noodles.  We like them on occasion but of course 2nd Man  always gives them an upgrade. 

The two baskets are used as follows: 


This one is full of pasta.  All shapes and sizes.  Believe it or not, this basket has 16 packages of pasta.  The long ones are on the bottom (spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine) and the rest are just other shapes, penne, rotini, rigatoni, farfalle, etc.  On the floor behind this basket are 3 bags of egg noodles.


The other basket has potatoes and onions.  We have it full (added some more from a last minute trip to the store before the quarantine).



On the counter we have these large jars.  They hold more onions (and it's full) our garlic (full with the last of our farm garlic from last Spring's harvest) and since we have regular potatoes in the basket...


...this one is full with about 15 lbs of sweet potatoes. 


We have another box in a different cabinet that is full of dried beans, lentils and grains.  Here is some of what we have in that box including couscous, pinto beans, kidney beans, 15 bean soup blend, barley/peas/lentil blend...


...and then bags of barley, farro, and red and brown lentils.

Since this is not like a hurricane prep where we might lose power, we decided to stock the freezer and fridge as well so we'd have meat to go with the pantry items and we can make meals. 


We bought 6 chickens (over the course of a few weekends) and roasted them two at a time, let them cool and pulled all the meat off the bones.  I bagged up the meat from each chicken into separate vacuum seal bags.  That way 1 pkg = 1 roasted chicken for any recipe we want to make (casseroles, enchiladas, flautas, pot pies, soup, etc).  2nd Man used the bones to make chicken stock which we also have frozen in the freezer.

Our freezer already has several packages of roasted turkey done in this manner as well.

We also bought some boneless/skinless chicken breasts and vacuum sealed them (uncooked).


Same with beef...we bought 6 lbs of ground beef and vacuum sealed them in 1 lb packages.  Also did six steaks this way (2 per pkg) and some beef chuck roast cut into chunks.


Same with pork...we have four 1 lb packs of ground pork vacuum sealed into packages, pork loins that I got on sale and cut into sections for pork roast dinners, and 4 packages of thick cut pork chops (2 each per pkg) as in the package above.

Also in the freezer we have a LOT of frozen vegetables.  All the bags of corn blend, stir fry blend, broccoli cauliflower blend etc, it's a great way to have  as close to fresh vegetables without them being canned.  A bag makes a great side dish and of course they also make great ingredients in other dishes.


In the refrigerator, we bought meats that we didn't have to seal up right away but would last a longer time without freezing.  We love the packages of sausage that are sold like this.  They are great for roasting in the oven, chopped up into pasta dishes, stir fries, etc.  It's a great meat to have on hand and they come in so many varieties for every taste.  The are also usually good left just like this in the fridge for a couple of months (these all have a best by date of May/June which is why I bought them).  


These thick sliced ham steaks are wonderful too.  Sealed and good for a couple months in the fridge.  We slice them in quarters and can make them last longer.  Good in a skillet with eggs, good on sandwiches, etc.


We wanted to regular creature comforts of breakfast food and so I bought a few packs of breakfast sausage.  In order to keep them longer I cut the packages in half and vacuum sealed them.  The vacuum seal is to help them last longer.  They had a best by date of end of April.  When we reach that date we'll freeze whatever we haven't used.


Got two large packages of thick sliced bacon and cut each in half and same thing, vacuum sealed to last as long as possible.

We also filled the fridge with eggs (4 dozen), a few quarts of milk and related products, lots of cheese (bags of shredded, sliced cheddar for grilled cheese, slice other flavors for sandwiches, some parmesan and similar cheeses), sandwich meat of course, hot dogs, and the usual like condiments, jelly, etc.  


And then lastly we have flour (all purpose and bread) and sugar (regular granulated in the big one as well as things like brown sugar, powdered sugar etc in smaller jars).  These jars will be refilled soon, we have some bags we haven't poured in yet because 2nd Man has been baking bread and using up what we already had.  Found them years ago and love them because they hold about 10 lbs each.

I have not been to the store in over 2 weeks now which is kind of neat.  I think we'll be good for a while longer.  I've been taking pictures of what we've had, I'll start posting them just to share ideas.  We try to eat simply during the week, nothing too elaborate.  Some nights it's cereal and toast and other nights we have a sandwich or quesadillas. Other nights maybe pasta with a simple meat sauce.  On the weekend we try to make a meal that will last a couple of days or can be repurposed into a new dish, or we have something like steak, baked potato and veggies, just to have a "fancy meal", LOL, in the brave new world.

Hope you all are staying safe and eating well in this new normal!