Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Remember this tree?

It was right in the line of sight from the front porch.

It was too close to the house and the newly repositioned porch steps.

It wasn't a "desirable tree", it was more like a junk tree that sprouted up once upon a time and was just left to grow.

Well,we decided it needed to go and as of this past weekend....

...here it is, or more accurately, here is what is left of it.  Just a stump.  I'll need to figure out a way to easily remove the stump.  Not sure if there are roots that go under the house/pier so I'd rather not just rip it out of the ground.  

Side note:  See how the yard has greened up since the summer?  Amazing what a little rain will do.

I know there are chemicals you can use, but I hate to start pouring toxic stuff around the yard.  Anyone have any suggestions?  Any natural solution?  We surely don't want it sprouting back, so something needs to be done. 

Monday, January 30, 2012


Oh my gosh, I almost forgot to post this.  I thought it was set to auto post, well, it was...at 8PM instead of 8AM.  Here it is, better late than never.

National Croissant Day

National Hot Chocolate Day

National Baked Alaska Day


National Dark Chocolate Day

National Tater Tot Day

National Carrot Cake Day

National Homemade Soup Day


National Stuffed Mushroom Day


World Nutella Day


National Frozen Yogurt Day



Mason Jars as Centerpiece
Here is a cool idea!

I've blogged before about using canning jars (Mason, Ball, Kerr, etc) as vases for flowers, but when I saw this online, I thought it was another great use for them.  Someone tied 9 of them together with a ribbon, and then filled each one with water and flowers.  Voila!  Together they become one, as a large centerpiece flower arrangement on a table.  So cute and "farm-y" (is that even a word?  If it isn't, it should be)!

Even two or three grouped down a table would be nice.



We have books!
We got the jeep loaded up, full of books (and a few other things we had room for) and we finally got the bookcases filled up.  The two bookcases on the one wall are all cookbooks, and the one bookcase on the other wall are all gardening/craft/farm related books.  Believe it or not, there are several hundred books there.  We're sensing a lot of lazy weekends of reading in our future.

We also brought that little stand because it fit in that spot perfectly.  Not sure if that crystal vase will stay there, I'm thinking a vase with something tall instead.

We have a few more books to bring out, but we can scatter them around in other spots in the house.  For now we are just relieved to have one more small project completed.  Baby steps!  They probably don't look as full as they could be, but we have plans for those empty spots on each shelf, something that looks pretty cool...that will come next weekend.  But more on that later.

We'll also need to figure out what to put on top of the bookcases as well.  Baskets for extra 'hidden storage'?  Artificial plants?  Pictures?

Do y'all have other suggestions?

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Remember when I blogged HERE about how to make homemade vanilla extract?  Well I thought since it's closing in on three months since I did it, (where DOES the time go?), I'd give you an update.

We keep the bottle in the top of a cabinet that is rarely opened and then a few times per week, just whenever I think about it, I take the bottle out and shake it up for a few seconds and then put it back in the dark.

I shined a flashlight on it to let you see that in just about 3 months, it's becoming dark and very 
'vanilla extract like', for lack of a better term.  Even though you can use this at about 3 months, we like to wait a full 6 months.  So for this bottle, we'll be looking at May 6th. And on that same weekend, we'll start another batch so more will be ready in November, just in time for holiday baking and gift giving.


Vintage Gardening Food Poster: Don't Sell Laying Hens
OK, I found an GREAT poster while surfing online for this weekend!

After my post Friday about getting the farm fresh eggs, I found this online and immediately thought, AWESOME!

Apparently, during WWII, it was wrong to sell laying hens and they put up these posters all over the place to remind people not to sell their hens.  In fact, they said it was both patriotic AND profitable to keep them!  

I love this description on the poster:

"All Spring she will be turning insects, weeds, garbage and waste into eggs for the Nation"

Too fun!  Enjoy!

As always, click on the "history" label and you can see all the ones I've posted.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


How sad is this?  LOL!
When we loaded up the Jeep last weekend, it was full to the brim with other stuff, so we only had room for one box of books.  The box I picked was heavy and full and so of course I thought "wow, this is a lot of books!".  Um, not so much huh?

Here they are put on the shelves
(a few more are out of camera range).    They look very lonely don't they?  Probably wondering where all their other shelf mates are.

They'll be out there this weekend on the next trip today...or two...or three...and come Monday, I can have pics of full bookcases!  I think.  I plan.  I hope.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Fresh Eggs
When we were out there this past weekend, 2nd Family had some good news; their hens, that had stopped laying a couple of months ago, started back again and they are getting about 6 per day.  We're not sure why they stopped, could be the time of year, but more likely, there have been some traumatic incidents in recent months...a hawk snatched up one of them while they were free ranging, and they think it was a coyote that got into the hen house another time and they lost two more.  "Security" has since been beefed up and it seems the "girls" are more relaxed and the eggs are coming regularly again.  Apparently, a happy hen is a laying hen!  They've had laying hens for years, and she said she hadn't purchased eggs in the store in so long, it was like a new experience having to do while they weren't laying.

Of course, 6 per day 7 days a week, is over 3 dozen...in a week!  They are a family of three, so the best part of their over abundance of eggs is that we get to share and will have some farm fresh eggs every time we go out there!  Those of you with chickens will understand when I say, there is NO comparison to the eggs you buy in the store.  2nd Man LOVES using fresh eggs like this in baking/cooking.  She gave us a dozen and we are so excited.

Their chickens lay these awesome blue/green eggs.  For those of you who don't know, yes, these are the way they come out, exactly this color.  It's pretty cool.  The color of the shell varies from breed to breed.

We have hopes of one day of having our own chickens out there, as I blogged about HERE, but being part timers for now, that can't happen.  Luckily, we don't have to wait and we get to reap the rewards of "chicken ownership" through the generosity of our "2nd Family"!

Those dozen above are now gone, used in some fresh pasta, a batch of cookies, and a breakfast of bacon of eggs.  Hope to get more this weekend.

So when they read this, a big THANK YOU, as always!



For all of my gardening friends out there, the USDA has released a new, updated "zone map".

For the first time ever, it is now available as an interactive map, you can zoom to county level, or simply plug in your zip code and find your zone.

Why is this important?  They have not updated the map since 1990!  This new map is based on twenty years of new weather data from over eight thousand weather stations across the country.  It shows a trend of warmer temps which means a slightly longer growing season for most.  Zones have shifted slightly Northward and they have even added two new zones.

I know ours has actually changed slightly.  We are now a 9a.  Good that it's slightly warmer for our gardening plans, not good this Summer when I'd rather it be slightly cooler instead, ha.

So click on the link above and check our your zone!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Flower Garden
Ahhh...I just love flowers.  It's the middle of Winter, everything is dreary and cold (and warm and cold and warm...here anyway, ha) and so when I see a picture online of pretty flowers, it's almost like the seed catalogs that inspire me for the veggie garden to come.  I can't wait to see some color in a few months.  

This picture, randomly found online, reminds us of Spring...please enjoy it and I'll be back here with you tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I know I've blogged about rain before, but you have to understand that until recently, it's been months, in some places, over a year, since there was significant rainfall in these parts.  So any time it comes, we're happy.
Enough rain?
And boy, today, did it ever!  Once again, we had possible tornadoes, strong winds, lightning, and most of all, a LOT of rain.  I was at work and unable to photograph the farm, but 2nd Family was kind enough to take this picture and send it to me.  No, this isn't lakefront property, this is their front yard as seen from their porch.  I don't think the birds will need that birdbath right now.

Our house is at the other end of the property and is at the high end of the land.  Water naturally flows down toward their house.  Good for us, bad for them.  Of course it flows on from their yard to the road and on down from there, so I guess it's all good eventually.

She said the rain gauge holds 5 inches and it was full.  So presumably it was more than 5 inches of rain today.  That's great for everything, the ponds, stock tanks, the ground, the plants and trees, and best of all, it filters down to the aquifer and refills the water we get from the well!

It can do this once a week for the next few months (minus the bad stuff) and we would be happy happy!


Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Just got finished reading this book and wow, what a wonderful journey it was.  And talk about inspiring!

The book is by famed author Barbara Kingsolver, and instead of fiction, it's a work of non fiction, chronicling her family's journey as they move from the life they've known in Arizona, to a self sufficient existence in rural Appalachia.  Once they are there, they decide to live for one year on just the food available locally to them, and only grown at the time of year they are eating it.  More often, they end up doing this themselves, starting with seeds and going through trial and error.  They raise meat birds as well, and the sections on that are hysterically funny.

The part I was most fascinated with was how she came up with a growing/eating plan called the "vegetannual".  It's a fictional plant that bears something in just about every month of the year over the course of one growing season.  It's sort of a 'visual' growing guide of what you should grow/eat at different times of the year.

The book is scattered with lots of useful information and facts written by her husband, and even recipes, written by her daughter, making it a sort of collaboration with her husband and children. One thing I love is that she doesn't sugarcoat their lives.  It's tough, it's hard to stay focused, it's hard work, and there is unpleasantness to deal with (processing the birds).  But in the end, it's a inspirational journey that shows one family, one person even, can begin to make a difference in the world.  Even if that world is their own local world of food.  Eating healthier and using more sustainable resources is something we can all benefit from.

The book is available just about anywhere, online or in bookstores or the library.  If you'd like to visit her website, you can do that by CLICKING HERE.  She actually updates their journey and how things are going on a regular basis (the book was written in 2007).  If we hadn't already embarked on our own journey toward self sustainability, this would have definitely been a trigger.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012


We found a really nice stainless trashcan on sale the other day and that was something that we didn't have for the farm just yet.  It's really nice, a good size (13 gallon), and has a removable inner bin to keep things clean.

It's funny how finding a location for something so important as a trash can is not very easy in a hew home.  We tried the mudroom first.  Then we moved it around the kitchen about three more times before we found its permanent home.  This is still in the kitchen, but close enough to the guest room, the master bedroom and the living room to be a great central location.  

We also found these awesome new (new to us anyway!) trash bags made by Hefty brand.  They are made with 65% recycled plastic and we love that.
It helps us keep things "green" at the farm.
Slowly but surely, things are falling into place.


This was a gift from 2nd Man about 10 years ago.  It's called a "Wardian Case", named for Dr. Nathanial Ward who discovered/invented it in the early 1800's.  Their use in the 1800's was to get samples of plants home safely in the long journeys across the seas.  Then they grew in popularity as a way for people to display rare and exotic plants in their homes and were all the rage for a long time.  However, as with most fads, they fell out of fashion after a few decades, only to be reborn in the 1970's as "terrariums".

This particular manufacturer is H. Potter (no, not THAT H. Potter, LOL).  They've been making them for a long time and they come in all different styles, from tabletop versions to large stand versions like this.  I've had ferns growing in it, on and off over the years.  But because we live in the city, and we have curtains on the windows (blackout style for cooling/heating savings), they didn't get enough light.  For security and privacy, we also leave them drawn during the day and to top it all off, there was never a wall close enough to a window where I could put the case so it would get what light did come through.  Something like this really needs to have a lot of natural light for the plants growing inside and needless to say, my experience was hit and miss.
Wardian Case / Conservatory / Terrarium
When we bought the farmhouse, I instantly knew that I'd want to move this case out there, and I already had the perfect spot in mind.  So, this is where I put it over the weekend!  It's in the foyer/entryway, right as you come in the front door.  It can stay in front of this window and have all the light it needs all the time.  I'll be able to put plants in it, get them watered and then without us being there on a daily basis, it should still be able to maintain the proper humidity and moisture level to only need to be watered periodically.  

Now I just need to decide WHAT to plant inside.  Violets?  Orchids?  Ferns?   I think it would be kind of awesome to create a carnivorous plant garden.

Any suggestions?

Monday, January 23, 2012


Well, for some reason, my company has decided to block all blogs from access.  Anything with a "blogspot" or "wordpress" address is now restricted.

Until today, I would use my breaks, or lunch, or coming in early or staying late, to work on the blog.  I could get ahead of the curve for future postings, reply to your comments, visit favorite blogs and make comments on them.  But now, it looks like I’ll be relegated to doing this at night when I get home.  So if you wonder why I don’t reply right to your comments right away, that’s why.

I have an iPad, and so I’ll have to work on that and see how easy it is to use for “mobile blogging”.  Hey, maybe there’s an “app for that”, ha.  Of course, wouldn’t this happen on the first day back from getting lots of pics at the farm.

Bear with me over the next few days as, begrudgingly, I get into a new routine.

Thanks to each of you for your continued loyalty!


Burn Pile!
It's our first burn pile.  I know, I know.  For most of you in the country, this is probably a regular occurrence.  For us, in the city obviously we can't have this and even in the country, there has been a burn ban in effect for over a year and no one was able to do any burning at all.  All of the stuff I have cut down and put aside, has just been in a pile for the better part of six months.  Flash forward to this past weekend when 2nd Family came up to the house and did a TON of yard work for us as a surprise and when we got out there, they were just starting the burn pile.  We got to help get it all set up and burning and then we were in charge of stoking it and keeping it going.  As you can see, there was a nice breeze blowing the smoke AWAY from the house...
Burn Pile Closeup
It was kind of exciting, and a mini milestone for us.  It's funny, we stood around for probably 30 minutes just staring at the fire.  What is it about a fire like this that is so primal and fascinating?  Of course, it was a nice cool winter day and the cool breeze and warm heat was awesome.

It also turns out that this is a GREAT location for a fire (on the property) as it's away from trees and away from the house.  So I'm thinking this might be a great place for a DIY ground fire pit that we have in mind.
I'll post more on that later. 

Until then, WE HAVE FIRE!

Woo hoo!


National Pie Day


National Rhubarb Pie Day

National Peanut Butter Day

National Irish Coffee Day

National Peanut Brittle Day


National Pistachio Day
National Chocolate Cake Day

National Blueberry Pancake Day

National Corn Chip Day


Sunday, January 22, 2012


As of this morning (thank you ED!) we now have 50 followers on our little blog!

I remember visiting other blogs thinking 'how on Earth do they get followers on a regular basis'?  I remember when we had our first few followers and how excited we were.  Then it was 10 and 20 and 30 and 40 and now 50...and we get just as excited about each new one now as we did about the very first ones. 

We can't tell you how honored we are that you all want to visit and read about our goings on.  I will take that to mean that I'm writing and posting things that you find interesting and they keep you coming back.  So much has changed over the last year and I can't even imagine how much is going to happen over the next year.  Gardening, decorating, cooking galore!

Thank you, each and every one!  We feel like we have 50 new friends!

I promise to keep things interesting and informative and maybe even surprising!


Vintage Victory Garden Poster Free Employee Garden Plots
Now here is a really REALLY neat poster/idea.

During WWII, this is circa 1942-1943, companies could sign up with the government to give up plots of land for employees to to be able to grown their own food!  How AMAZING is that?

According to this poster, as an employee for (unknown) company, you could sign up and get a 30' x 50' plot of land (!) that is already plowed, harrowed, and fertilized, to use for FREE!  That's a 1500 square foot garden plot!  How awesome was that?  They even gave out prizes for 'best gardens'.

I can't imagine any company doing this today but wow, wouldn't it be nice if companies could at least have a community garden for their employees?  I suppose it could all start with a single step.

As always, you can click on the "history" label and see all the vintage posters that I have found across the Internet.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Off to the farm with the checklist for this weekend:

  1. Take loads of books and put on shelves in living room
  2. Install dimmer switches on porch lights
  3. Take glass "Wardian Case" and find home for it
  4. Stake off garden site and confirm dimensions
  5. Mow, edge and remove downed tree **
  6. Finish 'faux shaker rail' in mudroom
  7. Install extra shelves in Gorm shelving units
  8. Put together white storage boxes for mudroom
  9. Make some drawings/plans for outside landscaping areas around house
  10. Take LOTS of pictures so I can share the on the blog
I'm sure there is more we are forgetting, we're taking a full load of stuff, so part of what we'll be doing is just finding "homes" for all the little stuff we fit into whatever space we can find in the car.  It's one of those trips where whatever we can fit into whatever open space we can find, we'll do it.  It's like moving...one small carload at a time.

Let's see how much I can scratch off by the end of the weekend...

Saturday update in red


I've noticed on a lot of my favorite blogs, there are postings of delicious looking meals, so I thought I'd share ours this time.

This is what 2nd Man made last night.  Roasted chicken, peas made with butter and herbs, and then one of my favorites, homemade fettuccine Alfredo.  Yes, he makes the pasta by hand and then makes an Alfredo sauce using butter, parmesan and a little pasta water.  It's heavenly...and one of my favorite meals.

What's on YOUR plate for a favorite dinner?

Friday, January 20, 2012


Reynolds Pan Lining Paper
Have you seen this new stuff?  We love it!  I recently blogged HERE about how we used foil and parchment to do this very same thing.  We saw this recently and thought it was pretty smart of Reynolds to combine the two. 

The purpose of this new product is to give you two sides.  The foil side that lets you "shape" it to the pan/dish you are using and remove it easily, and the parchment side that gives you non stick, and added strength to make it scoopable without tearing.  Best of all, when you're done, you just pull it out, throw it away and you should be left with a clean dish/pan.  Even if some leaked out, cleanup should be a lot easier because most has been contained.

If we had a negative about it, I would say it's the size...we wished it was just a bit wider.  Seems most of our baking sheets are a bit larger and this needs to be a couple inches bigger to fit most anything you would have in your kitchen.  But for casserole dishes, lasagna pans, average size cookie sheets, etc, it's awesome.  I'm not sold on it working for all types of baking though.  I can see it perhaps curing up on the edges, if you had a larger baking sheet.  I think this is best used for "messy" dishes, such as casseroles, to make for easy cleanup.

We still keep a roll of parchment on hand, and a roll of heavy strength foil, but this has certainly found a new space in our pantry and we'll use it often.  We'll keep you posted if anything changes or we find a new use for it.  It will be an experiment in progress.

Try it, you just might like it!


2nd Family down at the other end of the property said that there are a few deer that have been roaming around the property lately when we aren't out there.  Not sure if they are foraging for food now that we are in Winter, but I saw this and just had to laugh.

Sure hope this isn't in my future later this Spring!