Saturday, November 30, 2013


Vintage Thanksgiving postcard
We just love these old postcards.  They seem to reflect a stylized image of a simpler time, don't they?

Today we're off to the farm to check on things and make sure everything is OK.  It's still cold and damp, but we'll see what we can get done.  

As you might have read on yesterdays post, I'm sick.  Did great at Thanksgiving we had a lovely dinner with 2nd Man's family, but then Thursday night I started feeling funny and then Friday I woke up sick as a dog. I've coughed so much my stomach muscles hurt.  Sigh.  Above was supposed to be today's plans, and it may still be, just depends on how I feel.  Feeling a little better today (sleeping from 8pm last night until 10am this morning might have had something to do with that), so we'll see how the rest of the day progresses.

Have a great day whatever you are doing!


Friday, November 29, 2013


Vintage Thanksgiving postcard image, "Peace and Prosperity"
Hope your "Black Friday" is going well, whatever you are doing.

Visiting with family, shopping, eating leftovers, Fall cleaning, watching sports, or just resting.  Our plans for today are for some Fall cleaning, including tackling one of the storage units we have that is full of stuff from my parents.  I am hoping to find some cool stuff we can use at the farm, we'll see how it goes.
Oh and we might check on some of those leftovers.

I'm getting sick!  Arrgh!  The best laid plans sometimes don't work out.
Been home in town in bed ALL day.  Taking lots of Vitamin C and Zinc, drinking orange juice, and warming up some tea with honey.  Sigh.

Enjoy your day!


Thursday, November 28, 2013


Vintage Thanksgiving postcard
It's still cold, we had our first freeze, a low in the upper 20's last night, but that somehow seems appropriate for this time of year.

2nd Man and I would like to wish all of you a wonderful and, as the card above states, a joyful Thanksgiving.  We appreciate each of you and we are thankful to consider all of you our friends, friends we just haven't met in person!

We're going to take a few days off from the blog and just enjoy the long weekend.  It's a bit cold but we're going to see what we can get done.

We love these old postcard images.  I used to have a large collection of old postcards but sadly, I lost them in a break in at an apartment once upon a time.  Now I just have to enjoy seeing them online.  Over the next few days, I've got some posts ready with quick updates and I'll share some Thanksgiving themed postcard images that I found online.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013


What in the heck are these?

Closeup of compost turner and how it works
No, they are not the latest in zombie killing tools from an upcoming episode of The Walking Dead TV show.  No, they are a pair of "Compost Turners" that I bought when we got our bins last month.  They were out at the time and I went ahead and bought them and just picked them up the other day.

Here is how they work:

Compost Turner by Orbis
You push it down into the compost pile, and as it goes in, the hinged end closes so it travels downward into the compost.  Then when you pull up on it, the hinged head opens up and creates resistance so that it mixes the compost, or turns it, as you pull up.  You simply do this several times up and down.  We bought two because we figured we might spend half our time walking back and forth to each compost bin as we forget the if one fails, we'll at least have a backup.

These are made by the same company that helped sponsor the bin and rain barrel sale with the city, But at the link above, you can see that several different types are sold via Amazon.  You never know, it could be a neat gift for someone you know that has a compost bin.


Monday, November 25, 2013


A couple of weeks back, I blogged HERE about something eating/scratching/chewing on some of our fruit trees.  Well, our recent wet weather was a bit of a blessing, because it allowed me to find THESE:

Deer tracks
These are, I believe from my research anyway, deer tracks.  I didn't have anything to put down for scale but they were smallish, so I'm guessing, just as several of you commented about, that young deer rubbing on the trees, were the culprits.  I have seen some rabbits around too, so it could even be some sort of combination of the two.

Whatever the creature is/was, I came up with this solution.  Hopefully it's a bit better than the strong smelling basil.

Fruit trees with foam pipe protectors
These are the foam pipe protectors used in Winter to cover pipes to keep them from freezing.  Since they're already slit on one side, I just wrapped them around the trunks. They have been keeping them safe for the last week until I can get some chicken wire fencing around them.

Foam pipe protector around tree trunk
I came up with this idea while cleaning out some stuff and found them.  They aren't tight around the tree so they do breathe, but just in case, I decided to Google it.  I found others who have done the same with no problems.
If anyone has any other suggestions, please post below!


Sunday, November 24, 2013


It's the holiday season and time for giving, so we're going to have a giveaway!

A couple of weeks back, I blogged HERE about starting our composting adventure for the farm.  I found this book the other day at lunch and since it's geared toward beginners, I bought two so that we could give one away.

This is the GREEN GUIDES edition of COMPOST by Rachel Strauss.   It covers 'how to use', 'how to make', 'everyday tips', 'why we should compost', 'what you can and can't put on your heap', 'different types of bins', and more.
It's 256 pages long and full of information.

So who wants to join us on a composting adventure?

As always, and for those new to the blog, the rules are as follows:

You need to be a "friend of the farm" (follower) and then leave a comment here on this thread letting me know that you want to be entered, because after all, it might be a book you already have.

The contest will run until midnight at the the end of the month (next Saturday night at midnight) at which time I'll randomly pick a winner and then you can email me your address at that time.

The contest is open to everyone, even those in other countries.

One entry per person.

Thanks and good luck!



Vintage Plan For Winter Now poster, image courtesy of NY Public Library
Well, with my post yesterday, and the cold weather encompassing much of the U.S., this one seems appropriate today.  It's a poster from WWII and urged people to conserve fuel that was needed for the war effort by winterizing their homes, and checking their heating systems.

Wise words this Winter 2013 as well!

Stay warm!

Saturday, November 23, 2013


For the first time in months, we aren't going to the farm at least one day this weekend.  It's cold, rainy and wet.

There is certainly nothing I could do outside and inside it would be cold as well.  You see, we don't have heat in the farmhouse.  We have had a couple of small heaters we've used a few times, but it really wasn't until this year that the house was fully livable inside (just got hot water last Spring).  So we had air conditioning via window units and that got us through the heat.

Now the cold has arrived and therein lies the quandary.
What type of space heater to get?

I know there are all types, propane, wood, gas, and of course electric.  In reality, at this point in the farm progress, we can't do anything permanent like central heat or a piped gas system.  Can't really do anything that requires any sort of venting out the wall or roof (need a new roof first).  So that really limits us to electric heat or something that doesn't have to be vented outside.

In electric, there are the oil filled radiator types, quartz, ceramic, etc.
Does anyone have suggestions and/or personal experience with these?

We were thinking of one of the oil filled radiator types for use in the small bathroom, but we need others that will heat the bedroom well, and of course a couple more for the kitchen and living area.  Something that will just keep the rooms at a warmer temperature?  

The house is very well insulated and the windows are newer and so even when it's pretty cold outside, it's surprisingly not as cold inside.  It's been in the 30's outside and the house was hovering in the 50's with zero supplemental heat.  That's not so bad.  The rooms are also small so they could be warmed up individually but on the flip side, because of the house being chopped up into smaller rooms, we'll need supplemental heat in each room.

Also, any advice on tricks to keep the heat in and the cold out once we get something?  A dear friend in Wisconsin mentioned covering the windows with plastic to get a good seal on them and insulate from the cold coming through the glass?  But I wasn't sure how to go about that.  We also put the heavy fabric 'doors' on each room last Spring so we can keep the warmth in or conversely, keep the cold out of whatever room we are or aren't using.

Hope you are warm wherever you are!

Friday, November 22, 2013


What you say?  Chile?  Chocolate?  Yuck?  

This came from one of our grocery store chains in town, "Central Market" which is owned by HEB.  They go Hatch Chile crazy every season and this year they came out with this chocolate bar.  It's wonderful!
Hatch Chile Chocolate Bar

This one is dark chocolate.  It's smooth and creamy.  When you eat it, the first taste is sweet and rich and then as it melts in your mouth, the heat comes.  Kind of a spicy, smokey heat that lingers for a bit and then fades away.  Utterly delicious!  Great way to start the weekend!


Flexible cat

Oh to have the flexibility of a cat.
I might get some more yard work done, LOL.

This is Sydney, the old one, sleeping in some sort of "L position".  Of course, this was a few years ago when he was a bit more flexible.
Now he spends most of his days curled up.  I swear they are part slinky. 

It's a cold Friday here, hope you are warm wherever you are.
More this afternoon.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


I've been looking for some projects for our upcoming Winter.  Of course, I could go back through any of my Inspiration Thursday posts and find lots (and I am doing that too).  But last night, I was commenting on another blog about window boxes and that reminded me that I've wanted them for the windows on our farmhouse as well.

So I did some googling and found these images as examples.  I just love how much they can dress up a house.  This is something I can do this Winter, and have them ready for next Spring.  I've got to find a style we like and then figure out how I'm going to install them on the side of the house.

Image courtesy of
Hope you are having a great week.  We've made it to Thursday! 

Be inspired!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Here is a quick something we threw together and it couldn't have been easier.  Apologies ahead of the time for the photos, the flash on my camera was acting up and so some photos were sharp others were blurry.
We had some butternut squash, peppers, pears and sausage.

First up, we diced the squash, peppers and pears and put them on a baking sheet.

Then we diced up some Andouille sausage into about the same sized pieces as the veggies.  We tossed it all in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and popped it in the oven.

We roasted them all at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the squash was tender and everything had a nice color to it.

While that was roasting, we made a pot of mushroom soup rice.  Just white rice, some vegetable broth and some cream of mushroom soup.  We had a few fresh mushrooms leftover that we added after it was cooked.

Roasted Squash and Sausage with rice
Then we just put some rice in a bowl and topped it with the roasted veggies and squash.  The Andouille sausage has a smokey flavor and that, coupled with the roasted squash and the sweetness of the peppers, was just wonderful.
It was a delicious quick dish, and definitely has all the flavors of Fall!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I was working in the garden and about to put my camera down on the fence when I saw this.  It's amazing how fast your mind processes things and runs through the list of possible outcomes.  Scorpion?  Giant spider?  Something from the next SyFY channel movie?

Nah, it's the shell of a crawfish, or depending on where you are from, crayfish, mudbug or crawdad. My guess is a bird snatched one up from a puddle somewhere and sat here to dine on it.  You'd think they could clean up after they're done!  It would certainly be better for my heart rate the next time.

Monday, November 18, 2013


This is the compost bin that we got at the recent City of Houston sale I blogged about last week.  It is the EARTH MACHINE, which is also sold at many retailers.  We were able to get it via the city for a steeply discounted price and we bought two of them so we could double our fun, ha.

They came packaged like this, the top half inside the bottom half, along with a manual and some earth anchor screws.

It was pretty easy to assemble.  You line up the arrows on the top half with the bottom half and then the tabs snap into place.  All that's left is to snap the door into place and find a spot for it to go.

Once you pick the spot, there are four of these long plastic screws that they call 'earth anchors'.  The are just screwed into the ground and surprisingly, they work really well to stabilize it.

This is where we put them, one in each corner of the back side of the garden area.  They are inside the fence so that they are somewhat more animal resistant.  You can also reach over the top and unscrew the lid to add material to it without having to go in the garden.

The lid has a nice little reminder for composting, "no meat, fats, bones".
Both of them already have some grass clippings, leaves, coffee grounds, and some vegetable scraps we saved during the week in town.  I tore up a small cardboard box and tossed in there as well.  I snapped this picture and then added some more clippings on top.

Beginning compost
We are excited to start our new adventure in composting!
Any tips or advice is always appreciated.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Calling all my gardening friends

Shallots sprouting early
We were at the farm yesterday and I found that both the shallots AND the garlic that I planted just a couple of weeks ago, are already sprouting!!
So this newbie asks, is this going to be a problem?

Garlic sprouting early
I am happy of course to see something sprouting that I planted, that's always a great feeling, but we may also have our first (light) freeze next weekend.  I don't know if that's another issue.  Should I trim these back?  The hay mulch we put down got blown off in a windstorm.  Should I put more?  Leave it as is?

Otherwise, it was a good time at the farm.  Got to mow, did some inside and outside projects, relaxed a bit and of course 2nd Man cooked a great meal.
It's always good when we can have a weekend like that.


To all your comments helping this newbie worrying about his garlic, LOL.
I love having so many friends who can point me in the right direction.


Keep on Saving Coal... vintage poster, image courtesy of UK Imperial War Museum
I swear, every time I see one of these posters, I'm amazed at how relevant they would be today.

This one comes from Britain and urged people to continue saving valuable energy resources (including paraffin).  With the "Sun" peaking in the window, I could see this as some sort of modern day solar power poster.

It's a drizzly day today, and while yesterday was overcast, I still got some zen machine time at last, yay!  More on that later. Hope you are having a great weekend!

Friday, November 15, 2013


Small rosemary
I had a friend ask us about the rosemary that we we planted in a large pot on the front porch and they wondered how it was doing.  I thought I'd update everyone.  It's now been in this container for over a year and a half.  Above is what it looked like when we planted it (the portulaca is long gone, ha), and below is what it looked like last weekend.

It's apparently very happy in its home on the porch, and we're very happy to have it for cooking.  It's such a versatile herb.  And best of all, it's a perennial, so we should have it year after year.  Of course, I think I might need to trim it up a bit.  Anyone have any suggestions for how to trim and/or how to save some?  Can it be dried or ground up?  Any other way of saving it?  I mean, we'll have a lot, so I guess it doesn't matter, but I just hate to waste it.

Large rosemary
Off to the farm today.  Almost 2 weeks now without significant rain, so it should finally be dry and allow me some time on the zen machine.  More updates later this weekend.  Enjoy yours!


Hobart and the Judith Loeber stuffed cats
These are some neat stuffed cats by an artist named Judith Loeber.  They were inspired by the musical "CATS" and they were handmade, they even have glass eyes.  Very neat works of art in my opinion.  My Mom had purchased them years ago (1990's) when they lived in Louisiana.  Of course I inherited them and they now reside on the guest room bed in town.

Whenever we can't find Hobart, he's in there laying next to the stuffed cats.  We always laugh and say he's trying to hide.  

Friday is here!  Phew, what a week.
Check back later today for a bit more!

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Country flowers, image from
Just some random pretty flowers on this cold (for us) Thursday.  I like when flowers are just sort of randomly growing, deliberately random in appearance anyway (I'm guessing).  When I'm riding around on the zen machine, I'm always eyeballing spots for future areas like this.

Plus I like seeing color now that cold is here.  Soon, all will be brown and dormant, and our dreams will turn to Spring.

Hope you are having a good week.  We're cold here, finally.  We dipped into the 30's for the last two nights.  Chance of rain this weekend though, UGH, but we'll just have to see what happens.

Be inspired!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


A few posts back, I mentioned that we were going to dinner for a special Day of the Dead celebration.  Texas has, and has always had, a large Hispanic influence.  It's part of our history and part of our culture and people.  A celebration that is growing in popularity is the holiday called Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. 

Click HERE for the Wiki entry about it.

Day of the Dead
November 1st and 2nd are set aside to honor deceased relatives and other loved ones that have passed away.  Altars are set up with photos of the deceased and are decorated with flowers, toys, candles, folk art, favorite memories, even foods and other trinkets.  It is actually a derivation of All Saints Day and All Souls Day and other ancient beliefs that have become known in Mexican culture as the celebration called Dia de los Muertos.

It it believed that on the night of October 31st, the gates of Heaven open and allow the spirits of the departed children to reunite with their families.  Then, on November 1st, the souls of adults are allowed to enjoy all the offerings left for them by their family and friends.  It's a very nice tradition, recognized by colorful and lively skeleton decorations, wonderful baked breads, and ornate and elaborate candies called "sugar skulls".

Day of the dead altar
One of our favorite authentic Mexican (not to be confused with TexMex) restaurants in Houston is HUGO'S.  The head chef creates a special menu every year for the three days of the holiday.  Above is the altar they set up and patrons were invited to bring their own mementos and/or photos.

We had a wonderful dinner that included one of my absolute favorites, a seasonal dish called Chiles en Nogada, pictured below.

Chiles en Nogada
They are poblano peppers, roasted and stuffed with pork, and then covered in a walnut cream sauce and dotted with cilantro and pomegranate seeds.  2nd Man had a braised lamb shank with pureed butternut squash that was delicious as well.  It was a three course meal with appetizers, desserts and a couple of we left very full.

I told 2nd Man that eventually, I'd like to have our own Day of the Dead dinner at the farm and invite friends and family.  It's a neat and different alternative to having a Halloween party type get together.  We'll see when we can make that happen!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I was riding around not he zen machine and passed by the pear trees and noticed this.  I about fell off!  (not so 'zen', ha).

Something has stripped and/or eaten the bark of of two fruit trees.  They just so happen to both be the pear trees.  All other trees, knock on wood, were ok, so something was appealing about these two in particular. 

I thought maybe deer, though we've never seen any at the farm yet.  And any deer would have eaten off the leaves on the upper part and they look fine.  Rabbits?  Raccoons?  Something else?  It almost looks like something from ground level was standing up?

I decided I needed a temporary fix to cover the bark a bit and maybe deter whatever it is.  So I remembered reading that many animals don't like strong herb smells.  I had a basil plant in a pot that had gone to seed and I was going to pull it up anyway.  So I did, got out the clippers and some garden twine.

I cut up the long thin branches of the basil and tied them onto the trunk of each pear tree.  I left the leaves on and tied pieces all up and down the lower length of the tree.  I'm sure if someone stumbled across my temporary remedy, they might assume it was some sort of Blair Witch Project type offering.  Hey, maybe that would scare them off, ha.

Does anyone have any suggestions?  Will I lose the trees with the bark stripped? Most of what I read said they should bounce back, especially with Fall/Winter here and it goes dormant.  Still, I'm worried, of all the trees I planted, these were the most trouble free so far and were doing well, dang it.