Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Here is the start of our future burn pile.  Don't worry about those tree limbs that appear to be over the pile, it's a trick of perspective by the camera angle.  The pile is actually in a large open space.  It's some of the tree debris from the trimming that was done last weekend.

We had a small one HERE a few months ago (way back when it was cold, ha), but it was pretty small.

We do not, however, want something like this:
Not OUR burn pile
If it can be seen from space, I think that's just a bit too big, LOL!
It will most likely be Fall, when the weather is cooler and the days are shorter, when we burn it.  I just have to make sure I don't add so much to it that it doesn't become something akin to a bonfire that's two stories tall.  If it looks like it might be getting too big to burn, I have no problem with burning it early, even if it's not truly "cold" outside. 

Anyone else in the country do a "burn pile"?  Any tips or suggestions, other than a water hose nearby?

Monday, July 30, 2012


Thrift store finds
I love sharing my thrift store finds, hopefully to inspire you to check out that thrift store you've been driving by all this time.  You might just find something you've been looking for, or maybe even didn't know you needed.

At my new job, I found that there are about 5 thrift stores and resale shops within driving distance at lunch. That could be dangerous, LOL.

On recent trips (last week), I found these random items:

A new silver tray, it's going on the blue dresser.  This is silver plated, not solid silver, but it has a similar design to the other tray I blogged about before and after a bit of cleaning, I think it will look just perfect.  $3.

Then the two cobalt blue glass pieces.  I wanted a vase for the bedroom, and found this one.  The other piece is a drinking glass, I'm thinking it might make a nice glass for the bedside table, or perhaps another small vase.  $4 for both.

And lastly, the metal easel, it's tall and would be perfect as is, but I actually have another use in mind for it, other than the obvious, and I'll keep you posted on that progress, check back next week.  It was the best bargain of the day. $2.

A $9.00 shopping day is always a good day!

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Remember when I blogged about THIS VINE and how it was threatening to take over the farmhouse, just like on "Life After People"?

Well here it is this week!  It's back and more aggressive than ever!  Just a week ago, I cut it down to the ground.  Now granted, I didn't pull it up at the time because it's wrapped up into the flower bed but still, look how fast it's growing!  

Oh sure, there are nice flowers on it, and if it were growing anywhere else on the property, I'd think it was pretty and I'd let it grow.  But this thing is taking over the porch so it has to go.  I still find it amazing how fast these things grow.

Overall, it was a good weekend.  On Saturday, we had the car window replaced, I'll spare you the gory details but suffice to say it was a several hundred dollar lesson learned in parking away from where I am mowing.  Then we ran some other errands related to the farm, shopping for little things here and there, found some cool things, and took them out there today.  I didn't get any yard work done though as mowing wasn't really necessary this week.  I probably could have if I had chosen to, but it wasn't that tall and another week won't be too bad...but that Jack and Beanstalk vine is another story!

Hope you all had a great weekend.  


WW1 Gardening poster courtesy of U.S. National Archive
I really like this poster (John?).

It was from here in the United States during WW1, circa 1917-1919.  The government was urging people to grow their food, and use conservation methods to get more food coming out of their farm.  In a sense, as the poster implies, that puts the family farms in the fight.  Patriotic and informative.

This could be so true today as well.  The fight for better food starts at home when we grow our own.  And we all know we should conserve where we can, and not just food.

Hope you're having a good weekend.
Off to the farm today.  Updates later!

Friday, July 27, 2012


Our neighbor's property, a favorite view
Here is a view that I enjoy.  We can't see it from the house but it is the view from the future garden site area.  Not a bad thing to be looking at when I'm someday pulling weeds and working in the garden.

This is one reason I can decompress when out there.  It's just acres and acres of nothing, no traffic, no other houses right up against the property line, just nature at its quietest and most peaceful.

I swear, a couple of hours out there feels like a whole day vacation from the hustle and bustle of the city.  I know that the days of even more hard work are yet to come but even the hard work out there feels more rewarding than the hard work in town.  Maybe it's because we are building a future.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


I love order in a garden or yard as much as anyone, and it has its place
(rows of veggies perhaps? edged flowerbeds?), but I think I love randomness in a property even more.  As you know from following our blog, we have a large piece of property that is oddly shaped and has lots of "au natural" areas.

One of you asked about what we'd do with that green lawn and I mentioned some random planting areas.  This is the kind of look that I'd like to have.

This is the inspiration type of photo for that.  I just love the random colors, the random plants and the look that it's just always been growing like that.

Blog day off, so I'll see you back here tomorrow morning, bright and early!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


When I was mowing the other day, I apparently snagged this somewhere along my journey.  I didn't see it until I got off and began to clean the mower. It was stuck in the brush guard on the front.  I was immediately intrigued as I pulled it off and looked at it.

It's got these small, green (perhaps unripe) fruits that are about the size of large marbles.  They are clustered in groups, but grow individually on stems. They were not squishy at all and were very hard, again possibly because they weren't ripe yet.

They have these dark green stripes that remind me of heirloom tomatoes. I cut one open and it has seeds inside that are similar to tomatoes and/or peppers.  I wish I knew where I got them so I could go back and see if there were more nearby.  If it's something cool, I might try to save some of the seeds.
Anyone have a clue?

UPDATE:  Thanks to all of you who commented.  After much research and some further asking of 2nd Family that lives out there giving us more details about its life cycle, this is indeed CAROLINA HORSENETTLE.  It is a very dangerous plant that is NOT edible.  Darn.  I was excited when I first saw it, but because it is in the nightshade family it only bears a striking resemblance to tomatoes but is not remotely edible.  If I do run across them, I'll have to carefully pull them up. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Here are the recent wall sconce finds up and in place:
Foyer wall candle sconce
 Above is the small, ornate brown one I found a few weeks ago.  I found a perfect home for it in the foyer above this little vintage picture right next to the front door.  Of course, I still need to find the right size pillar candle for it.  At the other end of the foyer on the desk, I have some hurricane glass lamps for tall pillar candles, I'll get a picture of those later.

Below is the pair of white cast iron sconces I bought at the thrift store. I put them in the guest room, mounting one on each side of the mirror I recently painted and put up.  They fit the space nicely and add a little bit of detail.  If I can find some pale yellow candles, I might switch them out with these white ones.  I really like to use the smokeless/dripless candles, but it's not always easy to find them in a wide variety of colors.
Pair of white candle sconces
The goal is to have some form of candlelight in every room, be it candles on tables and shelves or sconces mounted on the walls.  Of course I also want to supplement these with oil lamps., at least one for each room, but that will come later.  For now though, I'm happy with these finds.


When we were at our friends' ranch for the 4th earlier this month, they had to introduce us to the newest member of their neighbor's family...can you see him there?  That's Mama posing for the camera (side note isn't she beautiful?)  But wait, what is that little white fluffy tail standing behind her? 

Why THERE he is!  Isn't he cute?  His name is Hopi and he's the offspring of two miniature donkeys.  He's only about 3 weeks old and very sweet.  As you can see, Mama was always right behind, she never let him out of her sight.

At first, he was a little tentative, turning away as you reached out for him, but after getting down on all fours, yes, I was on the ground on all fours trying to make him more comfortable by not towering over him, he came around.  I can tell you that he LOVED the behind the ear scratching and chin rubbing.   

After a few minutes of that, he was on the verge of falling asleep while standing up!  He even started following me around the pasture wanting more attention.  He's just an adorable little thing and we can't wait to see him grow up.  It will be a bit of a drive to get out there, so we can't see him every weekend, but we'll try to get out more often.

Monday, July 23, 2012


So this weekend was mowing weekend.  After almost 3 weeks of rain, the yard was out of control.  Here it is as a work in progress, you can see the difference in before and after.  We also did some tree trimming.
After about an hour and a half, I had the area around the house done and it was time to tackle the trails and fence line.  Here is an example of the fence line before I mowed. It doesn't look too bad but that's about a foot tall.  Side note, frogs EVERYWHERE.  Must be all the rain and tall grass.  I tried to stop where I could and let the move away.

...and here it is after.  Much nicer and easy to walk.  It's always nice to keep the fence line cleared so we can make sure nothing is wrong with it, lest we end up with the neighbor's cattle in our yard.

Here is the front yard, looking nice once again.  I still need to do some edging around the trees and along the back pasture fence line, but it looks ten times better than it did before.  If we don't get rain again, I'll have to start watering a bit just to keep it looking halfway nice.

This view is looking down the driveway toward the house, from the gate at 2nd Family's end of the property.  All mowed and neat.  The tree debris there on the left side is from that tree trimming that and was on its way to the future burn pile.

And here is why it was an expensive mowing adventure.  Apparently, a tiny rock, shooting out from the mower at some point, hit the car window and cracked it!  To make matters worse, it is 2nd Man's new car.  Oops!  He was nice about it but I'm sure I'll hear about it again, ha.  We checked and it will be under the deductible but still cost a couple of hundred dollars.  Sigh.

I guess I need to be more careful on the big green zen machine.  With great power comes great responsibility, LOL!

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Life After People, courtesy of the History Channel
Did any of you ever watch the show "Life After People"?  It aired on the History Channel and was a fascinating look at how nature takes over and what would happen to iconic cities and sites and structures around the world if mankind just suddenly disappeared.  They found out that it would not take long for nature to quickly find a way...

Our porch with encroaching ivy
At the farm this weekend, I found out that it indeed doesn't take long.  A week ago, this ivy/vine was nowhere to be found, not even a blip on my radar.  Yesterday, it was crawling up the stairs, and coming up in between the porch floor boards and beginning to climb up the railing.

I have no doubt that this is how it begins, slowly and subtly at first, and then it goes aggressive and before you know it, it ends up just like this one...
NOT our house
So I immediately got out my clippers and took care of things.
No "Life After People" episodes will be filmed at our farm!


Photo courtesy of Dallas Historical Society
This was apparently a poster during/just after WWII but the image has cut off the details of the date and who put it out.  I'm guessing it was of course tied into trying to get people to eat more vegetables during the war effort.  It's also possible this was post war and was jut part of the healthy eating movement that experienced a resurgence in the 1950's.

Nothing wrong with that and the message today is just as clear as it was then, more veggies = good health.

UPDATE:  Thanks to Sunnybrook Farm for finding this information:

Poster by Fitton showing a selection of vegetables, produced for the Ministry of Food. The poster was designed to encourage people to eat vegetables which contain Vitamins A, C and K, as well as iron, protein and zinc, all necessary in a healthy balanced diet.


Enjoy your day!

Saturday, July 21, 2012


I'm thinking it's time for a blog giveaway!

Everyone has been so kind to us that it's time to pay it forward.

I've got some ideas, but today while I'm on the big green zen machine mowing the weed forest, weed jungleyard around the farm, I'm going to let it rattle around in my head for a few hours and morph into something.

Check back periodically over the next week or so and see what I come up with.

OK, off to Seda Bolsa, see you back here later today/tonight with an update on the progress I hopefully made in the yard after two weeks of nonstop rain.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Look what all the rain has done...

A month ago, this was turning brown in spots and getting sparse.  Here is the view from the porch looking toward the front mesquite tree.  Grass is rebounding everywhere and while the green is indeed beautiful, it's definitely out of control.  That bench under the tree is even starting to get covered up.

Here is another view and you can see how tall part of the yard is.  Yes the grass there is about a foot tall.  If it sounds like complaining, it really isn't.  Regular readers of the blog know that I love my time on my John Deere riding lawn mower, or as I call it, my big green zen machine so mowing is OK by me.

This close-up shows that it's not just grass, it's grass and weeds and who knows what else.  Whatever mix of greens it is, it all needs to be mowed.  So this weekend, with a couple days now of drying out and no rain in the forecast for a change, I'm hoping that I can spend some quality time doing that mowing.  It's definitely going to need it.  And as compared to last Summer, when we went almost a year with no measurable rain at all, we'll take the green wherever we can get it.  I'll be sure and take pictures if I'm able to get it done.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


This picture was one of the first I saved when I started looking at stuff for a "future farm" a couple of years ago.  I have no idea where it came from but I just remember looking at chicken coop pictures and when I saw this one I remember going "oh, yeah, that's awesome!"

Is it a fancy new one?  No.  But still I'm drawn to it.  It's probably the rustic older nature of it, the trees, the green grass and of course watching all those hens happily grazing on that green grass and imagining the dozens of eggs per weeks that they produce.  This is sort of what I imagine in my head when I think of what we can do on the side of the property by a large tree
(where I posted the planning stuff a couple of weeks ago).

OK, blog day off today so I'll be right back here tomorrow morning.  In the meantime, enjoy your day!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Rain, rain and more rain.  It has rained every day now for almost two weeks. 

At the farm the other day, I spotted these "rays of sunshine" that popped up in the field near the front of the property and so I braved the squishy, saturated  ground to snap a picture.  It's amazing what pops up just in the middle of nothing.  One week just dirt and a few sprigs of green, and the next week, this.



I'm not sure how many of you are watching, but this season of the FOX TV show MasterChef has been great.  One of the standout reasons to watch is a local favorite of ours, fellow Houstonian Christine Ha.
MasterChef, courtesy of FOX TV
She is very talented, genuine and kind and she is an awesome inspiration to everyone.  Why is she such an inspiration?  She is legally blind!  Yes, blind.  She suffers from a degenerative condition that is called  Neuromyelitis Optica and has gradually lost her vision over a period of years.  But that diagnosis didn't and hasn't stopped her from living her life to the fullest.  That means she's not just a nice "feel good story" for the show's backstory, she really is a valid contender and potential winner that we hope goes all the way. 

We are continually amazed as week after week she competes with the other home cooks to win the coveted title of MasterChef, which also includes a cookbook deal.  She certainly doesn't let her limitation hold her back and quite the contrary, she fights even harder to overcome it, winning several challenges, and being team leader as well.  She does things with food I couldn't hope to do, and I'm sighted.  It's really nice to see that the judges don't give her any special treatment (and something tells me she wouldn't let them anyway).  She's expected to do the same thing that everyone else in the competition is doing and she does it with grace and determination.  We will even admit to shedding a tear or two as she pushes herself to the limit in every episode.  Does she win every time?  No.  In fact, she has ended up in the bottom group a number of times (last night to be one of them) but she always takes her criticism from the judges, learns from it and comes back better the next week.

To me, it's just fascinating to see her in action while cooking in the kitchen.  It doesn't matter what, chopping, slicing, frying, baking, she does it all.  In recent interviews, she has explained that her other senses have come to help her in cooking in ways you wouldn't expect.  For example, she listens for the sound of water sizzling in a hot pan to know when it's ready. The smell of garlic in time to catch it before it becomes bitter.  The feel of meat to know what temperature and doneness level it's at.
Christine Ha, courtesy of The Blind Cook
I think that is one of the things that appeals to us about her; she's a breath of fresh air in the world of "reality television".  She is humble and genuine and truly an inspiration to everyone, sighted or not.

Her 'about me' quote on her homepage says it all...
"feeling my way through food, tasting my way through life".

You go Christine, we're with you all the way!

1st Man and 2nd Man are firmly TEAM CHRISTINE!

Please click here to visit her blog The Blind Cook

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Brisbane the sleeping cat
It's hard to make the bed when there is a cat sleeping in the middle of it.
Just like he owns the place!

This is Brisbane, our second oldest cat (he's 11).  I got up early, did some things around the house before work, then went back to make the bed and there he was, just as happy and content as could be.

I mean who could wake up that sleeping baby?  And, really, do I need a better reason NOT to make the bed?  Nope!

Sweet dreams Brisbane!


Drove to the farm to check things out after our record rains over the last week...

Nope, can't go this way, the road was closed...

Or this way, a tree had fallen across this road and they were cutting it up...

Or this way, another flooded back road...

But finally I took the back way and got there, no problems at all on those roads.  Once I got to the farm, it was all OK, no roof leaks, no flooding, just lots of water in the usual low lying spots.  This is near Barnabas the party tree, about 4 inches deep.  It will drain pretty quickly, but for now, no mowing and not much walking around either.

At least I was able to get out there and everything was fine.  So many other homes in the Houston area have had some flooding, we must be grateful for everything being OK for us.

Monday, July 16, 2012


This is a new addition to the farm, a wonderful little blue and white ceramic trinket box.  It's so pretty, it's a white background with a blue floral design on it that even matches the colors of the dresser knobs we recently purchased.

When you take it apart, you have a nice little place to put something.  We put it on the new 'blue' dresser, so it will have a special place.  The reason?  This was sent to us by a "friend of the blog"!  Such a thoughtful gesture.

A big thank you to our new friend!


Here are some thrift store finds.  Recently, I was meeting some friends for dinner and on the way over there, I hit a few thrift stores in the area.

First up, a pair of cast iron wall sconces.  It's hard to tell in the picture but they are in a distressed white finish, kind of shabby chic.  They will be perfect in the guest room, as is.  No painting necessary.  $2.00 each.

Next up was another one of those terracotta clay wine coolers.  I figured we might want to have more than one bottle cooling at a time, and it almost matches the other one so it's ours now.  99 cents.

Then I found a cool little glass dish, not sure what I'll put in it or use it for, but I liked the style and now we own it.  79 cents.

Lastly, the "big" purchase of the day, this ceramic luminary, in the design of a basket with flowers.  You put a candle in the back (tealight) and then it glows through the holes that are all over it.  It's really beautiful when it is lit up.  It will be perfect in the guest room since flowers are the theme in there.  $3.50

Less than $10.00, can't beat that!  I love a bargain!

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Help Scotland's Harvest poster, courtesy of: www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk
Here is a neat poster I found online at an archive.  It was related to Britain's "Dig For Victory' campaign during WWII.  Of course it was urging citizens to help with Scotland's wheat harvest.

Naturally this helped to feed the troops that were away, but with so many men off serving in the war, help was also needed at home to harvest it all.

It would be nice to offer a way for citizen's today to help, but I'm sure the legal/corporate/privacy/whatever laws today would prevent that, ha.

As per usual, feel free to click on the 'history' label below and you can see all previous posters.  Hope you are a having a good weekend!

Saturday, July 14, 2012


What a week we've had down here!  Rain, rain, and more rain.

A few crazy weather stats for our neck of the woods:

11"+ at the farm over the last 6 days.
5 1/2" in one day.
18" total in parts of the Houston area.
We haven't had this kind of rain event in over 2 years.
We've had more rainfall in the last week than in all of last year.
We've had a week of temps in the 80's and in 2011, only one time did we get into the 80's during all of June, July, August AND September combined.

Look at this below.  It's an image from the NWS showing the rainfall totals.  The bar on the side shows rainfall in inches by colors.  The farm is in one of the dark red colors.  Notice the pink/purple areas?  That's 16"-18" of rain in 4 days!

4 Day rainfall totals for SE Texas: Courtesy of National Weather Service
Thankfully, there is no flooding at the farm (other than standing water in some low spots in the yard), but there is some major flooding around Houston and sadly, homes have been flooded.  It's good that the farm property sits high up and is not near any stream or river or bayou so never really a worry about it flooding.  There have been times in the past when 2nd Family said the farm was cut off from the major roads for a few days with high water on surrounding roads, all the more reason to be as self sufficient as possible in the future.  Our thoughts though are with those who've had flooded homes in our area.

On top of all this crazy, wet weather, this has been my first full week at my new job.  I'm loving it, it's the same industry, just a new office.  It's always hard fitting into a new dynamic of people who've been together for years, but I've been told that I'm "loved" by everyone so that makes me feel good.  

More rain in the forecast tomorrow, so I'm not sure I'll make it out to the farm to mow, but I will go to check on things, make sure there are no leaks, etc.  I'm also going to try to catch up on all of the comments you've been kind enough to leave.  Hope you're having a great weekend doing what you enjoy!

Friday, July 13, 2012


It's that time again, my Seeds of the Month package arrived in the mail today!

So, without further ado, here are my four seed packets for this month:

Winter Squash, "Spaghetti"
Lettuce, "Black Seeded Simpson"
Beets, "Ruby Queen"
Salsify, "Mammoth Sandwich Island"

I know about spaghetti squash, and of course lettuce and beets, but I will confess to not knowing a THING about salsify??  What is it?  When does it get planted?  What does it taste like?

I know, I know, I could just google it, but that's what I love about this blog and all my great readers, you all have firsthand experience with some of these things and I like the personal stories.  They mean more to me than some random website I can find info on.

So please do share your knowledge and experience, on the salsify, or any of those other varieties of seeds that I received.  I've never grown spaghetti squash, does winter squash mean it's grown in Fall/Winter?  I know the lettuce and beets will have to wait until next Spring, so for now I need to start thinking about my next gardening "season".


Photo courtesy of a random Facebook find
I just couldn't resist this one.  Do you know what this is a picture of?

Why, it's a Shrimp on the Barbie!

LOL!!!!!!!   I thought this was hilarious when a friend sent it to me and it made me laugh so much, I HAD to share.  Even if it makes you groan, you have to admit, it's pretty clever.