Saturday, August 31, 2013


I will be taking a vacation from the blog this long weekend.
We're actually both taking off work Tuesday and Wednesday in addition to our Monday holiday so it will be a whole five days off, yay!

Rockers on the farmhouse porch
We have lots of plans.  Let's see how many get accomplished, ha.  It's going to be hot, hot, hot this weekend, again, so that might alter some outdoor plans but we'll see.  I've got some decorating projects, some organizing things, more shelves to put up, lots of plants to buy a the garden center, hoping to have the Zen Machine back up and running so I can mow, might go ahead and start building the next set of raised beds for the garden so I can work on the drip irritation when the weather cools down and be ready for early Spring, and I'm wanting to try a few cooking crafts (homemade cheese is one).

I have scheduled the regular posting for Vintage Poster Sunday, but for the rest of the time, I am going to re-post some old articles to share with all our new 'friends of the farm' who might not have seen them before.

Of course if there was some sort of exciting breaking news, I might find a way to post that and share. But while we're at the farm, we hope to be disconnected from the world for awhile, but we'll see how THAT goes, ha.  

We wish you all the best, feel free to comment away and I'll read them as soon as possible but will reply later next week.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, August 30, 2013


Sorry for the fuzzy picture, this bird landed in the yard while I was edging last weekend and I had to quickly whip out the camera and snap the picture before it flew away.  I'm assuming a Heron of some sort?  

It is called a "Cattle Egret".

He/she hung around for a little bit, picking around in the grass and then, as quickly as it arrived, it flew off.

It was definitely fun to see something different at the farm for a change.
I hope we get a return visit sometime.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Crape Myrtle and Garden Implement, image courtesy of
Here is a picture I found online once that appealed to me.  But as much as I love the Crape Myrtle tree and how pretty it is, I think I love the old, rusted farm implement just as much.  I've always liked the look of something that is old and abandoned.  Some people might see it as junk but I think, done correctly, it can be a neat focal point in a yard.  

I suppose that someday, I could ask around the area and see if anyone has anything like this that they want to get rid of.  I consider it a kind of garden art of sorts.  It somehow seems appropriate?

Be inspired!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Mesquite sap amber, closeup
Two random farm photos that I just thought were pretty.
Above is some sap from the mesquite tree that had hardened and turned to amber.  I wish the camera would have picked it up, but when the sun hit it just right, they sparkled like little golden jewels all over the tree. So pretty. 2nd Family's daughter has been collecting it, and has a little box full of the amber.

Below is from 2nd Family's house, right by their front porch, and it gives me hope for color at our farmhouse.  This is called "Texas Sage".  I found out it is drought tolerant, grows in any soil, and best of all, blooms into this beautiful bush covered in light purple flowers!  I'm definitely getting some of these (maybe quite a few actually) this weekend at 70% off at the local garden center.  I wouldn't mind these all around the perimeter of the house.

Texas Sage in bloom

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


2014 Old Farmers Almanac with Calendar and historic reprints

I always forget about this until it arrives unexpectedly.  And yesterday, it arrived.  I subscribe to the package that sends me a hardcover version of the venerable gardening standby, The Old Farmer's Almanac.  Included are free gifts too (well, part of the purchase price I would presume, ha).  First, an awesome gardening calendar (that goes in the mudroom) and then reprint copies of their issues from one hundred years ago, 1914, and two hundred years ago, 1814.  Those are always a fascinating read.

I save them all though, hard as it may be, until later in the Fall when the weather is cool and thoughts turn to next Spring.

They sell it above at the Almanac website, and they sell the less expensive softcover on Amazon below by clicking this link The Old Farmer's Almanac 2014

Anyone else read this?  They claim an 80% accuracy.

Monday, August 26, 2013


Muscadine grapevine
This was a pleasant little surprise.  It's a Muscadine grape vine that I bought last year on end of Summer clearance.  I didn't put it in the ground because I can't just put it anywhere without some planning for a trellis and it got so hot so fast this year, I was concentrating on the fruit trees themselves.  So I've been babysitting it in the backyard in town, keeping it watered.  It's not the most attractive plant at the moment since all I've done is water it and it's kind of gangly, but notice the little surprise we found... actual small cluster of grapes!  Only three here, but hiding behind another set of leaves were...

...four more ripe grapes!  We're excited that it actually produced fruit, while still in their small, plastic, garden center container.

Then we ate them.
The grapey-est (new word) grape flavor we've ever had.  Wow.  I had no idea they were so good!

So, I'm on my way to the garden center this week to get some more while they are 70% off!  I'll just keep them in town for now and I guess we will be planning a spot an area at the farm for several grapevines next Spring.  I mean, if I can leave them in a small container for over a a year without major intervention and get a few lovely grapes, what might happen if they were put into the actual ground?

For those unfamiliar with the variety, Muscadines are a grapevine species native to the Southern United States.  They make great jelly and can even be made into wine...if you were so inclined to do that of course.
Hmmm, homemade wine?  That sounds self reliant, huh?

HERE is a great link to the Texas A&M website about them.

Muscadine grapes in use, image courtesy of
This is the photo from a Southern Living article on using the grapes and all the possibilities for them.  Can't wait to see what the future holds.

Anyone ever grown them?

Sunday, August 25, 2013


UGH.  Didn't go to the farm today, and so I didn't get to water the fruit trees.  The weathermen were certain that today would bring heavy rains.  The radar even showed the Gulf of Mexico full of heavy storms just offshore.  The skies were dark and overcast all day long.  I even heard thunder once.

But rain.

It's still in the forecast for tomorrow, so we'll see, but if it doesn't, I might be making a trip out after work in the middle of the week to water.

The rest of the weekend was good, and I'll have the usual update posts during the week.  Hope you all had fun doing whatever makes you happy.  I will be visiting your blogs to catch up.  And please send us rain!  We need it!  It's been a month without measurable rain and even with that, we are still way behind for the year and technically in a drought status.  A good soaking would be welcome.


Sugar is Scarce, vintage poster, image courtesy of US War Archives
Here is an unusual one from WWII.   The graphics aren't the most interesting, kind of plain, but it did remind people about conserving valuable commodities.

It's hard to believe there was a time when sugar was scarce isn't it?  In today's world especially where everything seems like it's got some kind of sweetener in it.  Of course, we have to remember as "sweet" as everything in the store is today, back then, there were no artificial sweeteners, and while there was corn syrup, there was no high fructose corn syrup which was used to sweeten things without sugar.  That wasn't around until the mid 1960's.

Hope you are having a good weekend.  We're hoping for rain today and tomorrow, and as this is being typed, I'm looking out the window and it's getting darker and darker.  We're in town today so as to not be stuck out there  at the farm if it starts flooding, which is perhaps wishful thinking, ha.

More later!

Saturday, August 24, 2013


This is Brisbane, he was sleeping on a pillow he took over we gave to him.  His front legs arms were sticking straight out and his ears were twitching...I'm pretty sure he was dreaming of being a superhero...

It's Brisbane, The Cat of Steel!


Hoping to head off to the farm later after running some in town errands.
Rain is in our forecast this weekend, which would be nice if it happens.

Updates later, have a great weekend doing what you love!

Friday, August 23, 2013


Baobab Tree in South Africa, image courtesy of wikipedia
Isn't this awesome?  It's a very old Baobab tree in South Africa.

How many rings do you suppose are in this one?  If ever there was a tree that could be called the "Tree of Life", this would be it.  I would love to see something like this in person.

Nature continually amazes me.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Wheelbarrow with Flowers, image courtesy of
Two pictures this week!

OK, this is something I'm doing soon (as soon as it's cool of course).  I was trying to get flower ideas recently and was looking for pictures when I stumbled across these two.  We have a wheelbarrow that sort of 'died in place' and it actually looks much like the one above, only red.  It was left behind when we bought the house so it sort of just came with the property, ha.

I think this just looks so nice.  We've been wondering what to do with ours, short of trashing it and we like to re-purpose when we can.  It's very country chic and would be a nice way to rotate flowers as seasons change.  Ours has some rust holes in the bottom so I won't have to worry about drainage.

I'm guessing just some potting soil and flowers and we're good to go.

Have a good day!

Be inspired!

Wheelbarrow full of Flowers, image courtesy of

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Haven't been to the thrift store in a couple of weeks, I know, I know, falling down on the job, LOL.

So I went yesterday at lunch and found a few cool items for the farm.

 This was actually sold as a set.  Three nice candle holders in the blue and white ceramic that we've been putting in the bedroom at the farm as accessories.  It all started with a wonderfully kind gift from a friend of the blog, and then another similar piece someone else sent, and now I try to find more that match.  I'm not sure if this is a "style" or what you even call it, but we like the colors.


$5.00 for the set.

And this was just too unusual to pass up.  It looks like it was once a  soup can that has since been etched or carved with cut outs all around it.  You put a tea light candle in the bottom and it gives off a wonderful dancing pattern in the room.  It's not fancy but I find it fascinating.


75 cents.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


So we're at home in town the other day, and I spot this in the backyard.  Apologies for the picture quality, I had to zoom in from the back door so I wouldn't scare him/her off before I could get some pictures.

It's a "Black Squirrel".  They are fairly rare in these parts, and not as common elsewhere as the grey or brown squirrel, but our neighborhood happens to be home to a small colony of them.  They are very neat to see since they look so different from all the other squirrels we see on a daily basis.

Apparently, some lovely nuts were hidden away in the potted Arbequina Olive tree (put there in the Winter?) and made for a wonderful snack.

Thanks for stopping by little black squirrel!

Monday, August 19, 2013


With the weather outside being so unbearably hot, we've been doing more inside projects this Summer.

Open kitchen cabinets
Here is a recently done quickie project, "before and after".

Our kitchen cabinets had open shelving on the lower portion and while we liked them, it was a little sterile and not so "farmhousey"
(I think I just made up that word, spell check didn't like it, ha).

Back in the 1930's and 1940's, it was not uncommon to see kitchen cabinets that were open like this, skirted with fabric.  We thought that our cabinets might be 'softer', as well as adding some more color into the kitchen, if we covered them with fabric just like the old school kitchens.

Fabric skirted kitchen cabinets
So a very sweet friend found us some really cool fabric.  We gave her the dimensions and she sewed these for us.  We popped up a couple of spring tension rods and just like that, we changed the look of the kitchen.
Here they are up close (the far away picture doesn't show the color as nicely).  It's a bright red stripe ticking for that vintage look.

Kitchen Cabinets with skirts

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Well, the weekend ended on a down note.  Big Green Zen Machine decided to stop running!  Yep, got on it, all ready to do some mowing and 'click click click'.  Did all the standard checking, plugs, filters, fuses, etc, and of course tried jump starting the battery and nothing.

I'm guessing it's an alternator or wiring harness issue.  Phone call in the AM to the John Deere store.  It has a three year warranty so we should be good but now the grass will be even taller and meanwhile...

...the utility cart still sits idle on the porch.  I was planning on using it for the first time this weekend.  I had a load of bricks to move and other fun times planned.  Oh well.  By the time I finished trying to diagnose the problem, it was so hot there wasn't much left I could do outside.  So I just did some random things around the house, most I didn't get a picture of. 

We put up some of these over the door hangers, they work great for extra storage.  And since they are the same color as the door, they sort of blend in.  Put one on each closet door and then one on the inside of each bathroom door.  They'll be great for towels and robes and whatever else we need them for.


Vintage Save Your Cans poster, WWII, image courtesy of NY Library Archives
Aluminum was valuable during the war and so just as they urged people to save and conserve other resources, urged people to save their cans.  It certainly brought the people together for a common cause.  This poster shows a woman's hand giving cans to a soldier that then become ammunition for the troops. I guess that gets the point across.

Apparently, they recycled everything during the war, cans, old pots and pans, even old wheels.  If it was scrap and could be used, it was.  Not a bad way to live then and not a bad way to live today.

Hope you are having a good weekend.  For us, it's errand running.  Did get some farm time in, even though it's hovering around 100 again, ugh.

More later this afternoon!

Friday, August 16, 2013



Remember when I posted about finding these round metal tins at a discount store?  I was trying to figure out what to put in them.  Well, I decided to use them to be practical and make them the hidden storage for candles and related accessories.

I think it's a great way to be prepared in plain sight.  I'm not quite finished, but the small one has matches of different types and sizes and a couple of lighters as well, and the large one has tea lights, votives, and some small candlesticks.  They make it easy to know right where they are when we need them, for any reason.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


To a true inspiration...

Julia Child 08/15/1912 - 08/13/2004
...thank you for everything Julia,
you are truly missed!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Here was my surprise anniversary gift over the weekend.  I know, I know, who knew a utility cart could be an awesome gift? But it is!  This is the John Deere 10P "Utility Cart".  It's designed to be hooked up to the back of my Big Green Zen Machine (i.e. mower).  This will be an asset for doing things around the property.

It has a carrying/hauling capacity of 600 lbs!  It has slots on the edge for railing and slots inside for dividers.   I'm thinking of figuring out some way to carry water tanks to make it easier to water the trees and (future) landscaping that are far away from the length of the hose and faucet.

And here's the best part.  It's a DUMP truck!  You get your stuff to where you want it, you push a lever with your foot and it tilts back and dumps out whatever you have it loaded with.  This will be a nice feature when loaded with dirt, compost, rocks, wood or whatever.

OK, I couldn't resist this photo.
You suppose the cart could handle highway speeds?  Kidding!
(warning, do not try this at home)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Clearing part of the yard
Even though there hasn't been much gardening this year, I've still been doing things outside.  This is an area that last year was all overgrown and I couldn't even get to the fence.  I pulled vines and cleaned up broken limbs and leaves and then started mowing it regularly.  It's now turned into a nice little clearing, with a view of the neighbor cows on occasion.  There is still more to do, but for now, I can just keep it mowed and I'll be happy with it as is.  This is off to the side of where we want to put the dining table under "Barnabas the Party Tree".

And speaking of...

Old Mesquite tree we named Barnabas is an angle of Barnabas that shows why we think he's such a cool old tree.  That arch portion to the left of the center of the photo is 7 feet tall, so that's where you just sort of 'walk into' the area.  It's why we want a dining table under here.  It's shaded, it's peaceful, it's close to the house and best of all, it's got great character.

Another old Mesquite tree
Then behind the future dining area under Barnabas, is this spot.  This is another area I want to clear but that will have to be a later project.  Still, there is something cool about this tree too.  It's got something under all that 'future' work', I can just tell.  Perhaps a spot for a hammock?

Monday, August 12, 2013


Prepping: Present participle of prep (verb)

1: Prepare (something); make ready
2: Prepare oneself for an event

When we bought our farm, our goal was, and still is, to become more and more self sufficient and create a place to retire to.  Along the way in this process, we've come to realize that in our own way, we are also creating, hopefully anyway, a safe retreat to go to in the event there is some crisis that forces us to leave our house in the city.

When we searched for a property, we wanted something out in the country, away from the city, along the back roads, and out of the general public.  When "Ma" decided to sell, of course we wanted to buy.  Our initial plans went into motion and we started the long process of transforming it into what we have always dreamed of.  We are doing it because we want to, and we enjoy it and we called it becoming more self sufficient, but we are discovering that we are doing is actually a form of prepping.

Words like "preppers" and "prepping" and "bug out location" are popular today.  There are many, many websites on prepping.  There are TV shows and books and radio shows and Internet videos devoted to it.  It's become mainstream now and it's in the general consciousness   There is some great info out there.  Sadly though, because of some of the extreme people they show on TV, it's also become something that many people don't want to mention that they do.  

Funny thing though, our Grandparents and Great Grandparents WERE preppers.  They grew their own food.  They did their own stockpiling for Winter or droughts or other weather events.  They prepared for a time when they might have to do without.  During the Great Depression, many of them did.  They recycled, they reused, they learned to live on less.  But to them, less was more.  They didn't do it 'just in case', they did it 'just because'; that was the way they lived and the way they had always lived.  They weren't doing it to be trendy or fashionable or politically correct, they didn't have a special word for it, they just did it because it meant the difference between living and perhaps something worse.  It was what they knew and it was how their parents had lived, and their parents before them.

Somewhere over the years, that's gotten lost in our processed, prepackaged, disposable, instant gratification society. 

So as we build our self sufficiency at the farm, we are also thinking of what would happen if something big went down and what we'd need to be to be OK.  For example, we live in a hurricane threat area and we've been through several over the years.  The last one, IKE, left us without power in town for over 2 weeks.  No air conditioning, no refrigerator, no freezer, no fans, no TV, no way to charge phones.  We lost all the food in our fridge and freezers, most stores were closed, we got low on gas, and it was well into the 100's with not even a fan.  It was what might be called the perfect 'bug out' scenario.
Alas, we had no place to bug out too.

But now we do have a place.  So I've been reading up on it and the more I read about stocking a home for the unexpected, the more I want to make sure that we are doing it properly.  It's only in the natural course of developing the farm that we realized that we have the rare opportunity to create a safe place to relocate to (if the need arises) from scratch.  We have a water well, so we're good if there is no water.  We have septic tank sewage so we're good there too (toilets will still flush!).  We're building a garden area.  We've planted fruit trees.  We have some backup water in the form of several 5 gallon bottles.
We're stocking the mudroom with canned goods.  Cleaning supplies.
I'm collecting a supply of heirloom seeds of all types and storing them properly.
We've got a couple of grills and plenty of firewood.  We're just storing things so we don't have to go shopping as often, but in the process, we're also creating a backup plan.  And yet there is so much more to do.

If a Cat 4 or 5 hurricane hit, we now have a place of safety to go to that's far enough away from the Gulf that we'd be safer at than we would be in Houston.  If there was no power in town, we'd have a place with power.  Food?  Shelter?  Water?  Check, check, check.  But what else?  What if something else happened that forced us there for an even more extended period of time?  Another two weeks without power in town and we're good.  But what about terror attack?  Man made disaster?  Some sort of outbreak or illness?  We live in the shadow of a major metropolitan city with millions of people.  It might not take much to make people crazy and make us want to leave to the sanity of the country.

We're not worrying about aliens or asteroids or Mayan prophecies, and we certainly don't think about it 24/7, that's just not who we are, but why not be prepared for the unexpected?

Here in the US, the CDC has a funny approach to the serious subject of being prepared.  They are advertising it from the point of view that "if you are prepared for a zombie apocalypse", you are prepared for any emergency.
Of course it's silly, but it gets the point across.

So now we think of other things we don't have at the farm yet that will help us be more prepared for our future.  We need more alternative lighting, oil lamps for example, flashlights, extra clothing, batteries, radios, more first aid products, solar powered devices and chargers, etc.  In a way, anyone visiting the house would just assume it's a farmhouse in the country.  And it is.  But we are actually preparing it for self reliance and I guess if you want to call it prepping, then yes, we are prepping in plain sight.

Update:  Such a great response to this post, I'm going to start sharing things we've done and how we've done it, ideas I've read elsewhere, and hopefully learning from you all as well.  I've also added a new 'category/label' below, PREPPING so that I can organize the posts and make them easily searchable.

Will also reply to all of your comments, just ran out of time now. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013


It was a good weekend but hot again.  Summer can't be over soon enough.  There were little projects done inside, some cleaning and reorganizing so it was productive.  I also got a nap in while being in the peace and quiet of the country and that's always a good thing.  We also had something delivered, that I'll blog about on Wednesday.

OK, taking advice from all of you, I tackled the wasp nests this weekend.  Mission accomplished!  Thank you!  Since I didn't have time to stop and get stuff, I decided to use what I had on hand.  Sprayed the one up on the ceiling of the porch with WD40.  Here it is after, empty and all wasps gone.  I'll leave it up as a warning to other wasps, ha.

Here is the one in the rosemary bush and for that one I sprayed it with PAM so as to not contaminate the rosemary.  Here it is after, there was one wasp left on it but it flew off later and never came back.  I haven't removed this nest but will cut the branch off and dispose of it all together.

Inside, where it was cool, I put up another curtain in a doorway, this is the opening between the foyer and the living room.  We figured there was no need to cool the foyer space if we aren't using it (farm has window units) so I got another curtain that matched the others I used a few months back.  Click HERE to read that post.  It helped the room get cooler much faster which is perfect!

And how hot was it?  Pardon the picture quality, I used my cell phone since I was already in the car and the camera was packed in the back.  I didn't realize how dusty my lens apparently is, ha. This was the outside temp when I left the farm, at 4pm!  Ugh. Hope you had a great weekend doing whatever makes you happy!


WWII Vintage poster, Save Waste Paper, image courtesy of US National Archive

Here's one I haven't seen before.  During WWII, they urged all sorts of conservation, and this one was no exception.  Here they were wanting people to save all types of scrap paper.  Boxes, bags, newspapers, magazines, etc.

This is something many people voluntarily do today, though it would be nice to see posters around now reminding people to do it.

Hope you are having a great weekend.  We're hot and dry again, though there were some scattered showers yesterday but nothing substantial.  More later!

Friday, August 9, 2013


Wasp nest on porch
Was at the farm and happened to look up above the front door on the porch and saw this giant nest.  Haven't taken care of it yet because we don't have any wasp spray.

So then I was going to gather some rosemary from our corner planter to bring back into town and as I reached toward it to snip a few pieces, I saw this!

So my conundrum is that of course even if I get wasp spray, I can't spray it into the rosemary without making it permanently inedible.  Any suggestions?  Something natural that won't hurt the rosemary?

Wasp nest in rosemary bush