Friday, January 31, 2014


A view from the porch
Took this picture at the farm last weekend and just loved playing around with the camera settings to create something pretty.  Enjoy!

Off to the farm way of the lumber yard to get the last of the wood for the last of the raised beds.  There is rain in our forecast for "Superbowl Sunday", so I may only have Saturday as the window of opportunity for any outdoor work.  Then cold again next week.  Sigh.

Anyone else have big plans?  Whatever you end up doing, we hope you have a wonderful weekend...updates as things warrant.


Brisbane...LASER CAT!  
I've always loved glowing cat eyes, it's so mysterious and fun.  And, I wistfully imagine that they harbor all sorts of crazy powers.

In this case, Brisbane becomes LASER CAT!

More this afternoon/evening.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


A sunflower house, image from Pinterest
We've always wanted to do this.  This is part of a trend of growing sunflowers and turning them into 'sunflower houses'.  I think it's such a neat idea.  Sunflowers are such a 'fun' flower and growing them deliberately in a pattern like this so as to make a small 'room' of sorts is a great idea.  

Sure it's for kids, but hey, can't adults enjoy it as well?  I could envision a table and chairs in the center?  Or a rocking chair?  Or maybe, just like in this one, a blanket on the ground?  I've never tried growing sunflowers but if they would get this big, it would be an awesome sight to see, ha. 

Be inspired!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Who doesn't love a good roasted pork shoulder?  We do ours very simply and it comes out wonderfully every time.  First, we put a couple of sliced up onions and a few garlic cloves in the bottom of a large covered pot along with about 1/2 cup water.  Score the fat cap on top.

Then, just simply put it in the oven, covered of course, and cook it at 350 degrees for about 3 hours.

This is what it looks like after you take it out of the oven and open it (and the house smells wonderful).

Just use some tongs to pull out the bone  It should wiggle and slip out easily, but if it doesn't, put it back in for another 30 minutes.  Peel off the fat cap and pull off any other pieces of fat that you don't want.

Then just start pulling it apart, first in chunks and then into shreds.  You can use the tongs or a couple of forks to make it easier.  You shouldn't have to drain anything, it all just adds moistness to the meat.

And believe it or not, the pan cleans up well.  All that dark stuff just comes right off when you shred the pork and stir/push it around.

The onions and garlic have, at this point dissolved into everything and you are just left with wonderful shredded/pulled pork ready to use.  We like it just like this with some coleslaw on the side.  We sometimes add barbecue sauce to it for wonderful sandwiches.  We've put the pork into flour tortillas with cheese and salsa for a Mexican twist and we've even used it for a shepherds pie.


Monday, January 27, 2014


These corners are SO awesome, I can't sing their praises enough.  Now whether they will hold up for years, of course, remains to be seen.  But for now, they were a lifesaver.  I would put three pieces down (U-shape) and screw them together with two brackets and then...

...flip them up on one end, and lay the fourth and final board across the two side pieces and slip the brackets on.  Then I just screwed them in place and it was done.  I could move them like large square wheels and get them to where they needed to be.

While the corner brackets are awesome...the screws they come with don't look very substantial.  So I splurged and bought these "Deck Mate" screws.  They are guaranteed for life against rust and that's important to hold the beds together. 

The hardest part was getting them into the correct position and distance apart, because I couldn't just slide them into place once they were down for fear of pulling up the weed block fabric.  So after some maneuvering and measuring, I finally got them positioned where they needed to be.
Raised bed garden
And here is the view of it all from the front garden gate.  There will be one more row of four beds behind the ones I did this weekend (hopefully, weather permitting, this coming weekend).  The large open space near the front, I already have some ideas for, special planters, etc, and future expansion

One step closer!

Sunday, January 26, 2014


Farm sky
Today was absolutely gorgeous, 72 degrees, a cool breeze, not a cloud in the sky...and below is the forecast for Monday night through Tuesday night...

Houston Winter forecast
It looks like this go round of a Winter Storm might even be worse (for us) than Friday.  We're also going to have temperatures in the low 20's Tuesday night (pipe protecting time again).

And get this, by Friday, it will be back up in the 70's!  The weather this year is certainly screwed up in our neck of the woods!  Stay warm wherever you are in the US.  I know others of you in the world need me to say stay cool, huh?


Vintage mice can eat bread poster, image courtesy of Imperial War Museum
Here is an interesting poster.

It dates from WWII as well, via Great Britain.  The purpose of this one was to remind people to be conscious of conservation.  In this case, by reminding them to protect their valuable bread, because "two mice can eat half a loaf in a month".  I think at the farm, one mouse could eat an entire loaf, ha. 

I think this one is unusual because it's so minimalist.

Speaking of mice, ha, today is when we're at the farm and I'm building some more of the raised beds.  There are eight more going in and yesterday I bought the wood for four of them.  Next weekend, I'll get the wood for the last four.

More later this afternoon/evening when we get back. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014


Several of you asked about the wall mounted oil lamps we had in the dining room POST the other day.  I purchased them here at Lehman's.
Other than a seed catalog, it's one of my favorite catalogs to dream with. 

I think at one time or another, we've wanted to buy most of everything in there, ha.  They call themselves the non electric catalog because everything they have is, well, non electric.  It's got a whole range of items, from lighting (of course) in the form of oil lamps and candles and related accessories, home goods, garden, outdoors, tools, to emergency essentials, books, and even food.

Lehman's Storefront, image courtesy of
They actually started in 1955 to serve the Amish community in Ohio in which they are located.  Today, they are the worlds largest seller of historical tech.  I'm sure there are those you who are actually lucky enough to live near it and have visited it.  Anyone been?  That's on our bucket list of places to visit someday (along with taking a tour through the Amish country). 

By the way, not getting anything from Lehman's for this shout out, just a fan! 

Off to buy wood on this cold day so that tomorrow I can start building the remaining raised beds before the next wave of cold weather comes.  Hope you are having a good (and warm) weekend.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


OK, at the risk of those in the North and East laughing at us, this is the forecast for Houston.  Of course the local media is covering it like it's the end of the world, LOL, hence the blog post title.

I guess what you must remember is that we hardly ever get this kind of weather.  Cold sure, but ice/sleet/snow is rather uncommon in these parts.  Houston is a city of millions of people, most of whom have rarely, if ever, driven in icy road conditions.  With one of the most extensive freeway systems in the country, there is potential for absolute traffic chaos in the morning.

Houston Freeway System
The trip to work should be most interesting...
UPDATE: Made it to work, took the back roads and stayed off of bridges/overpasses and made it safely.  Saw a car spin and hit a wall (not major, it was a very slow spin).  Most of Houston is shut down and they have told people to stay home.  Lucky me, our house in town is about 5 miles from the office.  2nd Man is back in town and gets to work from home.  I don't have that luxury, ha.
So far so good...and get this, Sunday it is supposed to be 70!


Picnic table dinner, image courtesy of
OK...this picture pushed us over the edge to a picnic table for the tree area.  We've been on the fence, but after the image I posted a few Thursdays back, which I thought made us sure, I found this one and now we're DEFINITELY sure. 

Now granted, this is a different style of picnic table, but it's less about the design and more about knowing that a picnic table can be decorated nicely for dinner.  Plus they don't need chairs!  I did have a random thought that we could put a chair at each end for us, 'the hosts', when we do finally have that big dinner.  Until then it can just be us and we can practice decorating the table, ha. 

Be inspired!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Wall mounted oil lamps off
When we spent the night at the farm a couple of nights last month, we used the wall mounted oil lamps that we bought last year and this time, I finally remembered to take some pictures so we could share what they look like.  They put out a surprisingly large amount of light when all of them were lit.  There is one more to the left of the photo, just out of camera range, five total.
(pay no mind to the missing roller shade, it will soon be replaced, ha). 

There is no overhead lighting in the dining room and while we do have a couple of wall outlets that we could plug lamps into, for now anyway, we're going to try it with oil lamps and candles as the lighting source in the dining room.

Wall mounted oil lamps lit
It's soft light, inviting and warm, and it harkens back to an older time.  It's obviously still a work in progress but we think it's coming along nicely!

We have to remind ourselves we don't have to be in a hurry, it will all come together as it's supposed to and this lighting is just one more step.

The next step is an old fashioned tabletop oil lamp for each room and we've got some ideas for that (and even already have some options).

They are pretty and practical to have hanging up all year round, and in an emergency, they can be our light source for any room.  I guess you could say this is all part of our prepping in plain sight I blogged about a while back.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Raised bed garden area
So when I got to the farm, this was what I had remaining.  It looks harder than it really was.  I was thinking about what to do first, build the rest of the raised beds (eight more 4'x4' squares) and then put the weed cloth down or do it the other way, put the cloth down first and then put the beds on top of it. 

Putting down the weed block fabric
 It really made more sense (and was WAY easier) to just put the fabric down on all the rest of the empty space.  I put down the newspaper and cardboard that I had left (ran out but oh well) and then rolled out the weed block fabric.  Thankfully it wasn't as windy as the weekend before so it was not too bad.  I would roll it out a few feet at a time and then use the lawn staples to hold it down and then go a few feet more.  It took about three hours but I got it done.

Update:  Some of you have asked about the lawn staples.
Here is a LINK TO AMAZON that might help guide you to finding them.

Raised bed garden with weed block cloth
As you can see above, I finished it, on both sides front to back and around the existing beds.  Then I decided to leave a path down the middle, from the front gate to the back gate.  This will make it easier to build the rest of the beds (better to build them as close to where they will end up as possible) so that later on it will be easier to wheelbarrow the mulch into the area and spread it around.  Then I'll put down the last roll of cloth and cover that as well.  I 'may' also do a path of some sort through part of that area, different from the mulch.  There will be an empty spot in the middle that I also have plans for (later on).

I'll post a drawing of the entire garden area plans this weekend.  I decided instead of doing it piecemeal, different parts at the same time (a habit I have due to the nature of my job and having to multitask constantly), I would just complete each step and then move on to the next one.

Step one - Get the weed block fabric down and ready 
Step two - Build the last raised beds and put into place on top of the fabric
Step three - Hook up the irrigation method for this seasons beds
Step four - Mulch delivery
Step five - Plant!

This weekend I hope to be able to complete step two, but there is a forecast of possible sleet and icy roads on Friday.  We'll just have to see how it goes.

Monday, January 20, 2014


Update later on the weekend and weed-fabric progress, but until then,
look away if creepy crawlies bug (ha, no pun intended) you!

Red ants
OK, I know this might seem like a strange post and an even stranger thing to say, but I was happy to find these large red ants.  Now mind you, these aren't fire ants.  These do sting (or bite) of course, but they aren't really aggressive to you like fire ants are.  I remember them from my Summers as a child staying with my Grandparent's in Oklahoma.  I used to spend hours watching them go to and from their nest.  I have rarely seen them in Houston, and at the farm, I had never seen them.

So during this weekend's unusually good weather, it was nice outside and I just stopped to watch them do their thing and take a few photos.

Yet more red ants 
It's fascinating because they are so large and easy to see, you can watch them pick things up and carry them around, follow the same trails, stop to 'communicate' with each other, etc.  It's fun, what can I say?

Red ants
Just another day in the country, watching ants, LOL.
Hmm, now that I think about it, is that the same thing as watching paint dry?

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Vintage poster image, Don't Waste Food, image courtesy of NY Public Library
This is a fun one.  Urging conservation as well as growing it, it reminds civilians during the war that they should not waste food.  Not a crumb or drop!
I love the "Play Square" line.

Food was so important at the time, and remember, these were the days before packaged and processed food.  They were talking about not wasting food that was freshly grown, freshly prepared, etc.  It's hard to imagine a time when food was in short supply.  Makes us wonder what people would do today if all that food in the grocery store just stopped coming?

Change in plans for us today, 2nd Man is going to be traveling for work and so we had to run some last minute errands and then he's flying out of town tonight and will be gone all week, heading to Arizona.  I'll be spending this week with just me and the kitties...a good time to finalize plans for the garden at the farm.

Hope you are having a good weekend!

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Nosey cows
They're baaaack...

I forgot to post this when it happened, hence the green grass even though we are now in the middle of Winter.  But I figured better late than never.  The cows had been grazing on another part of their property so I hadn't seen them in awhile.  But they came back and as usual, they spent their day grazing and 'observing' my every move in the garden area.

Fast forward to this weekend.  I was at the farm most of Saturday working in the garden area and doing other little projects and guess who came over to the fence to visit?

Friendly black cow
This one was curious about what I was doing and came right up to the fence to say hello...literally.  I heard some mooing and turned around and took the pic.

Pretty Texas sky
It was a beautiful day Saturday and supposed to be even prettier for Sunday.  It was partly cloudy, there was a nice breeze and it was cool.  I almost forgot we're still in the middle of January!  Two weeks ago it was pipe busting polar vortex weather and now it's gorgeous and Spring-like.  Of course, I'm sure 2 weeks from now it will be cold again (though here's to no more polar vortexes!).

Hope you are having a good weekend!

Friday, January 17, 2014


Spider webs in a field
"J" from 2nd Family snapped this picture for us one day and emailed it.  I wanted to share it with you.  She was on a morning walk and and saw this field on our property that was just covered in spider webs.  Even though it's hard to tell in the picture, she said that the dew on them glistened like tiny jewels in the  sunlight.  I'm glad she captured the image for us.

Nature can be so beautiful!

Tomorrow will be more prepping in the garden.  Hope to build a few more raised beds and of course for sure get the rest of the weed fabric down.


Hobart, the solar powered cat
Hobart doing what he does best...finding the sun wherever it is streaming in and then he just lays there, soaking it up.  Of course, shortly thereafter, he goes on a wild rampage through the house.

We think he's actually solar powered. 

Yay, it's Friday.  Seems like it's been a long week.
More later today!

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Pretty flowers in a yard, photo courtesy of
Oh the promise of Spring in the middle of gloomy Winter.

Love it.  Don't you miss this?  I love color!

Be inspired!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Once again, at lunch I ran over to Marshall's Home Goods and found a couple of great items.  First, this wonderful bright red bucket.  It's a glossy, brilliant fire engine red and the second I saw it I knew it had to be at the farm. It's also really large, hard to tell but it's like twice as big as a regular.

Then I saw this set of burlap baskets.  When I first saw them, I thought they were neat but almost didn't give them a second look.  I'm glad I did though...

...because they are printed with these great graphics  showing 20lbs, 10lbs, and 5lbs.  I'm hoping that one day, we can fill them with produce from the fruit trees.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014



Several of you asked about the Fire Ant killer I used, it's a simple mixture of lemon juice and vinegar poured over the ant mound.  It's all natural and has worked well for us. I poured about 2 cups total over the large mound we had.  Hope it helps!


I was roaming around on one of the trails recently, when I heard some noise in the underbrush.  Shortly thereafter, I got the distinct smell of skunk.  No mistaking that smell!  As I rounded the corner, I saw this tuft of and white hair.

I looked down and saw another tuft.  Now 2nd Family does not have a black and white dog, so I'm assuming that there was a skunk fight of some sort nearby.  I certainly did NOT stick around to see who won or lost that fight.

It's amazing how fast fire ants can build a nest and/or take over.  I pulled the cover off the zen machine to check on things and discovered this; a fire ant mound had built up next to the tire!  They had even carried dirt up into the tire treads.  Of course, what happened first?  I pulled off the elastic cover as usual, it snapped back and flung fire ants all over everything.  Had to put it in neutral, push it out and then get the broom and water hose to get them off.  I used a mixture of vinegar and lemon juice poured over the mound to kill them while I did other things.  After a couple of hours, there was no sign of fire ant activity.  Good riddance.
I hate fire ants.