Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Texas Drought Continues
Just saw on the news, CLICK HERE TO READ, that experts say the drought we have been experiencing is going to last into next year as well.  We are already behind almost 30" in rainfall for the year.  Many small ponds and lakes have dried up, and other, larger ones are now extremely low.

There is a natural pond site on our property...about 2 years ago, I walked over to it and it was full of it's dry and empty and just looks like a low spot in the ground.

I'm not sure how this will impact our gardening, not to mention the fruit trees that I bought that are still waiting to be planted.  Sometimes I wonder if we bought at the right time?  We want to make a beautiful yard with productive gardens and flowers and peaceful places to relax...but that's going to be hard with limited water resources.

Now granted, we are on well water at the farm but there isn't really any way to know how in danger that is of running low/out.  It does come from an aquifer that everyone in the area is tapped into and using.
We sure don't want to be the neighbor on the road that uses too much water.
"There they go again, watering their grass!"  Honestly, as pretty as I think green grass is, I don't mind if it doesn't stay that green, heck it's less to mow.  I do however just want to get our self sufficiency going and keep our veggies and fruit trees and herbs growing so that we can actualy USE and ENJOY them.

We can always hope the "experts" are wrong, and hope we have a wet Winter and Spring.  At least if it rains then, it will refill the aquifers a little and we won't have to worry as much.  Of course, a good tropical storm or two next Summer would be nice as well.

No hurricanes though, been there, done that, don't want to do it again.


Hundreds of Books all in a Row
"Hello, we are 1st Man and 2nd Man, and we have a book problem..."

Yes, we love books.

Cookbooks, gardening books, craft books, how to books, country wisdom books and just about anything we think we could use on the farm...we've been collecting them for years.  We just can't pass up a used book store, or a sale at a regular book store or even something fun on Amazon or eBay..  

Prior to this photo, they were in four bookcases in the guest room in the city. When we were deciding what furniture we could move out to the farm, we realized that we could move the bookcases out there and finally have our books all organized where they need to be.  No TV will mean lots of time for reading books, something we can't wait to do.

So this weekend's project was to get the bookcases emptied.  Got them all emptied out.  We're leaving one here at the city, and taking the other three to put into the living room at the farm.  

Books to the left...
Books to the right...
These aren't even all of our books.  This is a 10 foot long window seat in the dining room at the city house.  As we emptied the bookcases, we removed the cushions on the window seat and started lining the books up in two rows.  When that was full, we lined some up on the dining room table.  After that, we put the last dozen or so on the floor of the guest room.

But it's done, they are cleaned out, we already moved one bookcase into the living room and now we have to choose which books we are going to keep in the city and then the rest of them will head out to the country to go into the three bookcases we are putting out there.  I think we'll have one or two carloads full of just books!  But we'll definintely have plenty of reading to do out there and that's what we are looking forward to.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I think this is such a cute idea, and we are totally going to use this at the farm.  There are a couple of trees on the property that have died in the drought this summer and I was going to have to cut them down at some point anyway.  It always makes me sad to lose a tree, but looking at this, I think it would be a PERFECT use for one of those trees.

We think it would be neat to have one right off the front porch, near the PARTY TREE so that it would be a great conversation piece when company comes over to visit.

I love the flowers around this one and the brightly colored signs.  Not sure I'd do the birdhouse at the top, I might have a different idea for that.

This could be a project I start on soon.  I can only hope it looks half as good as this one does.  Now I'll just need to figure out what cities/towns/countries to point to!  There is great potential for being goofy and silly in choosing them.  It should be fun!


Blue Damask Bed Set
We avoided the "Black Friday" crowds for the most part, but we did head out to Macy's for this awesome find.  For those following our decorating adventure, you probably remember THIS POSTING about our bed frame and the color palette we want to use in that room.  Well, we found this one online and went to a nearby store to see it in person.  We LOVED it.  It's absolutely perfect for our design plans in that room.  Of course, this is the picture from the website, not our finished room, ha ha.

It's from Macy's and is part of the Martha Stewart Collection.  We like the fact that it's a bit more on the bold side.  It also has the exact colors we want and still has a bit of a vintage look to it with the blue striping.  Best of all, it was more than 50% off!  This set comes with the dust ruffle, the comforter, two standard and two European pillow shams.  We also ordered, online during the Cyber Monday sales, the matching "completer set" that is available.  It comes with 3 more pillows (including a "breakfast pillow", whatever THAT is!).

Of course, no mattress yet, but we wanted to make sure we got this while we could.  Being the focal point of the bedroom, we wanted to get this while it was available and then we'll decorate the rest of the room off of this.  Can't wait to start on that.  Once the mattresses are in, things will happen faster.

Just had to share!

Monday, November 28, 2011


With Winter approaching (and already here with a blast for a lot of you!) our thoughts turn to keeping the green going.  One way to do that is to grow plants inside during those cold and dreary months.  One of the best places to do this is often a kitchen window, since it's usually over the sink.  That makes for ease of watering, sunlight for the plants, and gives you something nice to look at while standing there washing dishes.

At our house in the city, we do have a kitchen window sink, but it's ledge is pretty much non existent.  Maybe an inch wide at the most.  At the farm however, we have a nice, deep ledge above the kitchen sink so lately, I've been looking for ideas on how to keep some green plants going inside.
Here is some of what I found:

Vintage Coffee Can Garden
This is not in a windowsill but of course could be put in one very easily.  It's a collection of succulents growing in vintage coffee cans.  Very neat and colorful with all the graphics of the labels on the cans.  I'm sure cans like this could be found on sites such as eBay or Etsy and of course garage sales.  Very pretty.
Windowsill Garden Using Colored Glass Bottles
This is always a good choice, especially for a sunny window ledge.  This one uses colored glass bottles as vases.  The nice thing about this is that the glass acts almost as if it was a stained glass window, and when sunlight streams in, you get the nice color of the bottles as well. 

Twinnings Tea Windowsill Plantings
This one we love.  I don't know what it is, maybe the colors of the tins?  Or the retro style of the containers?  The square shapes?  Whatever it is, we just like the look.  Again, these would probably have to be found online at an auction type website if you couldn't find any in the stores.

Air Plants in Glass Beakers Windowsill Garden
This one is definitely unusual.  In this one, the person put air plants that grow without much watering (just an occasional spritzing of mist is all that's needed) inside laboratory style glass beakers.  I suppose you could put soil in them as well, but remember not to over water since the water can't drain out. 

Windowsill Herb Garden
And of course, you can always just use pots or containers of the same color, shape, and style in order to keep a more uniform look.  These are all white (might actually even be plastic?) and they are growing herbs.

The only thing left to decide after you pick your container is what will you grow in it? As you can see in the above pictures, you can grow just about anything with enough light and water.  Air plants, succulents, herbs, cuttings from other plants that you are trying to root, even flowers
(African Violets are a great choice for that).

Make sure that whatever you use, there is proper drainage.  If you use the vintage containers, there needs to be a hole in the bottom so water drains out.  What a lot of people do is put them in the sink to water them, wait for them to drain and then put them back in the window. You can of course also use something with a saucer.

I haven't yet decided what we will do, but all of these are nice.  


Have a great Cyber Monday and
shop till your mouse breaks
(I know I will)


Sunday, November 27, 2011


Mason Jar Place Settings
How adorable is this?  I've always liked convenience and organization and this combines the best of both worlds.  In this case, they used bandannas for a real country feel, but I think you could do this with any sort of napkin or cloth that fit your decor/theme.

Just put the napkin, along with the fork, knife and spoon, in each jar and then you can either keep them all together in one spot (like this awesome galvanized tray) or you could could go ahead and put them at each place setting around your table.



Dr. Pepper Victory Garden Picture
Every weekend that I do these, I spend some time researching historical Victory Garden information and I'm constantly surprised by what I find.  In this case, it's a picture/poster from the Dr. Pepper museum that shows how Dr. Pepper supported the war effort.

Basically it's telling Victory Gardeners to keep up their good work, and of course, cool off and stay energized by drinking a Dr. Pepper at 10-2-4 
(the old ad campaign for drinking a Dr. Pepper).

I love the "Onward Garden Soldiers" tag line at the top.  Sometimes gardening feels like being a soldier these days, ha.  Just a cool thing to see.

While we personally try not to drink too many soft drinks around here (a conscious choice about 2 years ago), I do admit to liking a Diet Dr. Pepper on occasion.  Maybe I'll have to have one or two next year when I'm working in the garden and I'll smile and think of this poster.

Hope you're having a great Thanksgiving weekend!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Awesome belated thing to be thankful for, RAIN!

It has been raining here all day long.  It's finally lightened up this evening, in anticipation of much colder air pushing through later tonight.  We have had almost an inch in the city and, according to the weather station nearest the farm, we had slightly over 2 inches out there.

We'll take all we can get!
At this point in our drought, nothing is TOO much.


I decided to start a new fun feature, to VOTE on a question/poll each week.

I'll put it up every Saturday morning, describing what the vote is all about, and the actual voting will be done via a click poll right here inside the post.

It might be a random silliness vote, or we might ask for an opinion on something we are doing at the farm.

I'll leave it up all week, ending Friday night, that way, more people can vote.  You don't have to comment, just click to vote.  Then, if you are so inclined, please also feel free to discuss it here in the comments, but again, voting only is just fine too.

SO...let's start things out with this one:

What is your favorite season?

Click, vote, and chat here about it.  And if you ever miss one, just look for the "Weekly Poll" label and vote on all the prior ones (today is the first).


"You can complain because roses have thorns or you can rejoice that thorns have roses."
                                                ...Ziggy/Tom Wilson

Friday, November 25, 2011


Turkey Cake
OK a few weeks ago, I posted HERE about the Bacon Pig.  I said then you'd either be horrified or think it was the funniest thing.  I'm pretty sure I'll say the same with this idea.

This came out last year, and was sort of under the radar on the Internet.  If you search for a "turkey cake" you're liable to find all manner of cakes shaped like turkeys.  This one is wildly different.  It's a savory "cake" made up of turkey meatloaf, dressing, potatoes, sweet potatoes, even cranberry sauce...
it's a great way to use up lots of Thanksgiving leftovers.


Long story short, it's two turkey meatloaf layers, separated by a layer of dressing, with layers of mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.  It's then all "frosted" with mashed potatoes, topped with sweet potatoes and marshmallows and heated up in the oven (turkey meatloaf is cooked ahead of time).  We think it's pretty awesome and would love to do something like this at the farm.  Not just using up leftovers but just making an unusual main course at a dinner party.

It's neat when people think "outside of the box" with something like this.



Have fun on this big retail shopping day!


Thursday, November 24, 2011


Kind of fitting that "Inspiration Thursday" is also Thanksgiving.

I found this picture above online, and the colors just spoke "Thanksgiving" to me.  Then I added the banner at the bottom because we want to make sure we wish each of you a wonderful holiday.

This is blog day off as usual, but being a holiday weekend, it might be a few days off as well.  I'll post as I can, but it will be less than normal as we'll be doing all sorts of stuff out at the farm (hopefully anyway). 

It will be the first Thanksgiving at our farm, Seda Bolsa, since we closed on it last April.  No appliances out there yet, so no dinner there.  We're spending Thanksgiving with some very dear friends, but we'll be out at the farm doing something the rest of this long weekend.  We have a lot this year to be thankful for, not the least of which is each of you who visit us and have been coming along for the journey.  There is still so much to come as we create something out of nothing.


Enjoy your weekend with your friends and family!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


The little tree is no more.  Ironically, I just had a post ready that I was going to make about this tree and how it had died in the drought we have been having. I was going to give it a second life in an outdoor art project.

Alas, Mother Nature had other things in store and when I stopped at the farm the other night, this is what greeted me as I pulled up...

The tree was not really big enough to cause damage (though I suppose it could have broken out a window) but it's still scary to see a tree fall so close to your house.  Thankfully, all the large trees around the house are healthy and in no danger but it's still kind of unnerving to see as you drive up...

I'll replace the tree with another one elsewhere on the property.  We always try to replace any tree that has to be removed (either willing or unwilling, ha)  with a tree in another spot.  That way, it feels like we haven't lost anything.

RIP little tree 200? - 2011


I'm not sure I shared this part of the outside porch work we had done.  This is the end of the porch, by the front door.  This goes toward a different part of the property and we thought it would be a nice place for an additional set of stairs that wasn't there before.  

So this first picture above is what it looked like right after we closed on the house and I had started taking down the lattice and vines...

...and this is what it looked like when I was done clearing everything off and getting it ready for the work to be done.  Much more open and nice but still not quite finished...

...and this is what it looked like after all the porch railings and new stairs were put on.  We love it.  It really finishes things and we like that it leads right toward the "party tree".  Isn't this a much better view? 

Now we just need a cobblestone path similar to this meandering off in that direction...and of course the plants, and flowers, and well, all of it....ha.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Sunset in the Country
Last night, I drove out to the farm after work to visit a family member who was in town, and while I was driving there, I kept watching this beautiful sunset.  Of course, if I had waited until I got there, it would have been gone, so I pulled over on a lonely country road and snapped this picture with my phone.

What is it about sunsets in the country that are so much prettier than in the city?  Is it the trees?  The wide open space?  The lack of buildings and power lines?

The stress of the workday melts away, the pile of papers on your desk disappears, the phones stop ringing and life is peaceful... 

Whatever it is, I can't wait to see more of them!


More Shelving for the Mudroom
We got one more set of shelves for the mudroom, a set that's not as 'deep' as the other ones, so that it will fit behind the door and then the door won't hit it every time it's opened.  We put them this direction so that they have a different purpose.  We're going to put our cleaning supplies and other related items on that set of shelves

While I was messing around in there putting stuff together and rearranging, I saw a couple of nails in the wall that we missed and I just randomly hung the brooms up there.  We liked the look!

So, I am thinking that I'm going to do something like this in that spot...

Shaker Style Rail
This is called a Shaker Rail.  It was the way the Shaker community
(masters of organization and utilitarian design) stored things such as brooms, tools, coats, even their chairs were hung up this way.  As it happens, I have a long board left over from assembling the corner unit that will fit perfectly in between those two shelves (with a big of cutting).  I'm thinking I could mount it between the two shelves and then use the preexisting holes in the board to put pegs in.  Then we could have our own version of a shaker rail, and hang our coats, or brooms or just about anything that we want to keep out there in the mudroom.

That might be this weekend's project.

Monday, November 21, 2011


This is something I surprised 2nd Man with.  I know it sounds silly.  The sink is nice, since it's all one piece with the counter, but it's wide and narrow and it was hard to direct water around the sink to each corner and the sides.  So I found this aerator at the hardware store the other day and decided to get it, put it on, and try it out.

It's a stream in the up position and then a spray when you pull it downward. It made a HUGE difference.  It even has a green aspect to it by reducing water.  Best of all, it swivels 360 degrees and literally reaches every single square inch of the sink.  He loved it.  Anything that makes life easier is well worth it. If you haven't tried one of these, I recommend it.


This is all you need to make homemade vanilla extract.  A package of vanilla beans, a bottle of vodka, and a knife (or scissors)!  That's it.  We have been buying our beans online for the last few years from the same place, they have a great quality product.  Their website is

For my "recipe", I buy a package of 20 vanilla bean pods, and then I get a 750ml bottle of Vodka.  Now in this picture, you'll see I got the higher alcohol vodka.  That is only because it's what was on sale and cheaper than the other.  Otherwise, you can get whatever you can find.

Slice each bean in half lengthwise.  This isn't necessary but it does speed up the process by exposing the tiny vanilla seeds.

Speaking of, do you see that on the knife blade and the stuff on the upper right side of the picture?  Those are vanilla seeds, the tiny little black specs you see in vanilla bean ice cream.  That's pure flavor!


Just open the bottle and pour off a bit of the top (now WHERE you pour it is entirely up to you, LOL).  This is a necessity as the volume of the beans will displace the vodka and cause an overflow. You don't have to pour off much, I usually just wait until the beans start causing it to get to the top, then I pour a little out.  Just don't lose the beans you've already put in!

You can either slice them all in half first and then drop them in one at a time, or slice and drop each one as you do it.  Really, it's whatever you feel like, there is no right or wrong way.

Here is a closeup.  As you can see, it's just a matter of dropping them in, one at a time. They don't float, so you don't have worry about that, they will fall to the bottom of the bottle.  Notice how clear the Vodka is in these pictures?  And then see the brownish tint starting and all those little flecks of black?  That's after I shook it up.

After you're done, make sure the cap is screwed on tightly, slap a label on it so you can remember when you started it (I just put on some masking tape with the date) and then keep it in a dark place like the back of your pantry.  With this many beans, you can use it in about 3 months.  However, we like to wait for about 4-6 months to get the best and strongest flavor.  Shake it every couple of days and that's it.  Just wait...and as you can see above in the picture on the right, it will eventually turn a dark, almost cola color.  This was the second bottle of our last batch from almost a year ago.  We pour it into smaller bottles as we need it.

When the time is up, you just filter it out and use it.  This process is easy as well.  What we use is one of those gold, permanent coffee filters you can get just about anywhere, and we add a paper coffee filter to it for extra filtering.  Don't use your current coffee filter, it's best to buy a dedicated one.  We bought a permanent filter JUST for this use.  You don't want coffee flavor in your extract, LOL.  You can also just pour it through two or three paper coffee filters into a bottle.  We sometimes use it just filtered right out of the bottle and into a measuring spoon (this however, takes a bit of finesse, ha).

Either way you do it, you will end up with wonderful, pure, vanilla extract.  Better than what you can get in most stores (i.e. not artificial), and certainly cheaper.  The vodka was $10 for the bottle, the beans were about $15.
This 750ml bottle of vodka will yield about 24 ounces of pure vanilla extract.  At upwards of $8 for a small bottle at the store, it's definitely a cost savings.
Not to mention fun!


Sunday, November 20, 2011


Vintage bird cage in corner
Here is another thing grabbed from storage.  It's an old cast iron birdcage that we found once upon a time.  We won't have birds, ha ha, we just think this looks really neat.  It fits in the corner of the living room just perfectly.  Not sure if that will be it's final home, but for now, it is one more step toward making things look more like a "home" inside.

Vintage bird cage closeup
Here is a close up of the cage.  It's done in a wonderful original paint color of red and black.  The feeder and waterer on the sides are actually ceramic that look like they may have been painted gold once upon a time.  Not sure if that's original or something done somewhere along the way.  The only thing "new" on here is the spring at the top.  We replaced it because the old one was worn out and tied with a string.  To me, it's very "Art Deco" so it could very well be from that era.  Again, no birds, just a nice conversation piece.


Red Berry
Anyone know what these are?  I see them springing up around the property.  I'm sure it's some sort of decorative berry but I'm trying to identify the stuff we find out there on the farm.  I've been a city boy for too long, LOL!

I do know it's not a holly berry because of the leaves.
But after that, I'm stumped.



Wow, even children's cartoons helped with the Victory Garden effort.
This one is from about 1942.

It's a rare occurrence, but for this weekend's vintage poster, I found a corresponding video!  It's a very cute cartoon.

Yes, you can click to watch this cartoon on our YOU TUBE CHANNEL HERE.

What a great way to get children interested in planting and growing their own food.  We need more cartoons like this today!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


We sat on the porch for awhile today after we got our stuff done, for the day anyway, inside and the picture above was when we first sat down on the porch to relax and then the picture below was after about 45 minutes, heavier, darker clouds were moving in.  We decided to head on back into the city.

That's one thing we can't wait to do, spend a rainy afternoon out there, listening to the rain come down on the roof of the porch.  We can't quite do that just yet with no furniture to sit on, or beds to nap on, or fridges to get a drink out of, but that's all coming soon!

We're hoping by the end of the year to at least have those items.  We've got the appliances on layaway, almost paid off, so we just need two mattress sets, and a couple of sofa's for the living room.  Everything else can wait until later or come as we find it.