Monday, June 30, 2014


Yay, it's time for another giveaway!

I was recently contacted by Jarden Home Brands to host a giveaway of a new set of their Ball brand jars and in exchange for hosting it, we were given a set as well.  There certainly isn't much I can say about Ball brand jars that hasn't already been said (and always good!).  They have been made in the USA for over 100 years and the name is virtually synonymous with home canning.

Last year, they introduced something new to their ubiquitous line of canning jars and supplies.  A new limited edition heritage collection of jars in different colors.

For 2013, they were "Heritage Blue" Ball brand jars, as seen in the photo below.

They were only available for 2013.

For this year, 2014, they have introduced a new color, "Spring Green".

These will of course only be available this year.  They would be so great for canning and of course, as all Ball brand jars, for decorative or storage purposes.

Pickles would be so pretty... 
Drinks and even as a vase of flowers, beautiful...

Yellow peppers look nice behind the green glass...

We got our case of them and oh my gosh, they are SO pretty.  We can't wait to can something with them.  I think tomatoes would be gorgeous in this color glass.  They have such a vintage feel to them.  As much as I like the blue, I love these even more.  Another home run from Jarden Home Brands! was blue last year, green this year, I wonder what next year's color will be?  Purple?  Amber?  Red?  I hope they keep coming with colors, they are certainly pretty.

So, all that being said, Jarden Home Brands has very generously agreed to give a set of these "Spring Green" vintage style Ball brand jars to one of our lucky readers.  See details below:

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

You need to be a "friend of the farm" (a follower) and then leave a comment here on this thread letting us know that you want to be entered.

The contest will run for one week, until July 5th, next Saturday night, at midnight.  The following day, we'll randomly pick one winner and then they will need to email me their shipping address at that time.  I will relay the winner's information to Ball brand jars and they will ship your item directly to you.

Unfortunately, since this is being shipped by and from the manufacturer, entries have to be limited to the United States only.

One entry per person.

Thanks and good luck!


Sunday, June 29, 2014


In a heavy rain, this is how much of the front porch gets wet.  Not too bad, we can actually sit on the porch in the rain and be dry (mostly).  

Farmhouse porch in the rain
For those new to the blog, our porch is deep and long.  It's 10 feet deep, and 36 feet wide, along the front of the house.  That means we actually have 360 square feet of outdoor living space!  Or as I like to think, another 360 square feet of decorating space!  We haven't done much on the porch yet, it's something that we won't do until the house is painted and finished outside.  Then, we'll be able to start 'furnishing' the porch.

Until then we have the rockers that "Ma" left behind and really, isn't that all you need on a porch, a rocking chair (or two)?


Here is a wartime poster that asked citizens to save bones and turn them in.  To make glue to use in housing, fertilizer for growing food, and for other things such as soap making.  All of this of course helped in the war effort at home.

I often wonder if there were similar campaigns today that showed people what one recycled item could make, if they would be successful.  We all know about recycled paper and aluminum and things like that, but this is definitely interesting.  Do they still use bones for glue?  And how is it used in soap? 

We hope you are having a good weekend!

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Radar image of the farm
Well, after rain every single day this week, the weekend is turning out to be no different.  No heavy rains or flooding, so that's good, but a couple of inches total (not counting today).

Today, we stayed in town and did some cleaning and organizing, something we've neglected the last couple of months.  It's a nice change of pace, though I know the grass is getting crazy tall out there after this wet week.  

Rain clouds coming, photo courtesy of 2nd Family
I'm off Monday so it should be a nice day, assuming Sunday is rain free, to mow.  It gives the ground time to dry out.

Hope your weekend is going better!

Friday, June 27, 2014


Butterfly on a flower
I took this picture, several in a row actually, while trying to capture just the right moment...and I did.  The above photo is very pretty and the detail below when I zoomed in is incredible (you can click to enlarge).

I love taking pictures of nature's beauty!

Butterfly closeup
Not sure how much I'll photography I'll get done this weekend.  It's rained most of the week, on and off, and now it's supposed to rain again this weekend.  We'll see how it goes!  Hope you are off to a great start!


Almost Yin and Yang cats, Sydney and Hobart
This is Hobart and Sydney, having the rare moment of sleeping next to each other, near but never the two shall touch.  Sydney just never really accepted Hobart into the family so the best we could say is that they tolerated each other.

There was a rare moment one Winter where all three were in a big pile, but I think the poles shifted, or a comet was seen in the sky, something like that.    Could have just been an optical illusion too.  For those wondering what they are sleeping on, it was a few sheets of styrofoam from a package we opened.  Cats will sleep on anything 'different' won't they?

More this afternoon!

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Bee garden, image courtesy of
This is a picture of a bee garden.  I don't know the backstory so I'm not sure where the beehive is or perhaps it's just grown to attract and take care of bees that come from somewhere else.  Either way, it's pretty.  We hope to have something like this eventually for our future bees.  I've always liked the look of a random jumble of flowers, different colors, textures, etc.

It just looks so much more natural and random and carefree.  Well, not literally carefree, I know they require a lot of attention, ha.

Be inspired!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


 In the interest of full disclosure, we were given these flowers in exchange for a review.  We get offered many things to review, most of the time they don't fit in with what we feel you would want to see or we would want to promote. 
But flowers, well heck, we love flowers, who doesn't?  Bring 'em on!

The Bouqs company grows their flowers on the side of a volcano in South America.  This keeps them growing fresh and not cut until just before they are ready to ship to you.  For $40, you get a bouquet, with quite a few to choose from, no vase, no fancy packaging, and the price includes shipping.
A $10 upgrade will get you a bigger bouquet. 

Baby Chicks Bouq
Of course, our first choice in a bouq was the one above.  It is called "Baby Chicks".  They give fun names to their different bouquets.  Their latest is an assortment of roses, called "Red, White and Bouq"...

The box arrived via FedEx, just a few days after ordering...

Here is what ours looked like upon arrival.
They are simply, but carefully packaged...

It comes with a card that reminds the recipient that they are shipped straight from the farm...

Bouq flowers, the "baby chicks" arrangement
Here they are in in a vase on the desk.  We just love yellow flowers, they are so uplifting and 'happy'.  Even in a simple vase, they look impressive!

Bouqs flowers
We also trimmed a few and put them in a smaller vase in the bathroom.
We love to have a little of that sunny color scattered around the house.

There were a few flowers, the smaller ones, that were a bit wilted, but it didn't take away from the beauty.  We hope you'll give them a try but as always, do your own research if you decide to try them out.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


The lowest tomatoes on the bushes are being eaten by something.  At first I thought it was birds when I saw a damaged one last week, but I now think that was a split from the heavy rains a couple of weeks ago.

This is what happened this weekend:

Something eating tomato bottoms
It is the lowest fruit on the vines and only the bottoms of each are eaten.  I'm guessing rabbits?  We had not had any problems in the garden so I was hoping the pickets on the fence were close enough together that they weren't able to get in but alas, I believe the garden has been breached!

The only 'upside' that I can think of is that the rest of the toms are much higher up in the bushes so I think they are safe.  Until then, I'll be getting some hardware cloth and fighting the good fight!

Cornmeal to kill ants in raised bed   
The other problem was ants in the eggplants.  Two of the three plants were for all practical purposes, dead.  So I pulled them up.  Then I got some cornmeal, something that a few of you recommended that as a garden safe treatment.

I sprinkled it all over the beds where the ants were, and I could see them gathering it up and taking it down into the nest.  I'm assuming all sorts of bad things (for them) will result, but as long as they are gone and we can get some eggplants growing, I'll be happy!

Hope you are the only things eating the product of your gardens!

Monday, June 23, 2014


Every Monday, Daphne's Dandelions hosts "Harvest Monday" where bloggers can post their harvests.  Click her link above to see what others are harvesting and see below for what we harvested.

Harvest Monday Basket
Kinda looks pretty all together huh?

Not too bad this week.  Tomatoes are still slowly coming in, but we are losing a few, I'll blog about that later.  There were quite a few jalapeños ready and it looks like we have enough to make some jalapeño poppers!

It was kind of hard to see in the above picture how many herbs there were so I took this picture to show you the bundles:

Herb harvest bundles
These are bundles of oregano, chives (both garlic and regular) and two types of basil; regular Italian basil and Thai basil.  I think we're going to put them in the dehydrator and see how that goes, unless anyone has any other suggestions.  We'll probably get this many more again next week.

One of the eggplants has bounced back, the other two died (ants) and I pulled them up.  Squash is still struggling.  Once again though, not too bad for being out there once a week and not getting them watered by hand on a daily basis.  This is a test this first season to see what we need to change for future seasons and we're taking good notes on what does and doesn't work.

Vegetable harvest:  1 lb 8 oz
Herb harvest:         9 oz

Total harvest YTD:  3 lb 2 oz

Sunday, June 22, 2014


US Join a Pig Club vintage poster image, courtesy of NY Historical Archives
Here is an interesting poster image.  It dates from WWI and urges kids to "Join A Pig Club".  Raising pigs can help win the war.  I'm guessing it was a food thing to make sure there was enough for troops and those still here at home.

This of course predated the FFA founding but I'm sure a large participation in this program didn't go unnoticed.  I wonder how many kids today would do something like this if asked?  I know the FFA does great work and attracts a lot of participation, including our dear friend D's son who raised a pig he named for our farm.  But so many other kids now are into tech and gaming, it seems farm related things are, sadly, fading from popularity.

Hope you are having a great weekend!  We had some sporadic rain yesterday but I got the property mowed and harvested some things.  More later!

Saturday, June 21, 2014


A friend of the farm recently sent this to us.  She saw it and thought of us.
(Thank you!!!  We love when people see something and think of us)

We certainly fit the bill for the show.  We would definitely call our farm a weekend getaway, a Summer (and all other seasons) sanctuary, a second home...and we'd even add future retirement and bug out location to the description.  However, we and Seda Bolsa, are not ready for our closeups, LOL.

Not sure if this show will become a hit or not (we'll certainly watch when it debuts) but if it is a hit, well, who knows, maybe there will a reality show in our future.  We'd have to give it a lot of thought and of course the most important aspect would be to see how they portray the people on the show.

What about you all?
Would you ever want to appear on something like this?
If any of you do sign up, tell 'em we sent you, we don't get anything but maybe it will score us points later on, ha.

Friday, June 20, 2014


So today begins the first step of a couple of big projects.   The first one, and probably most important, is a new roof on the house.  Here are some pics:

Farmhouse roof
Above is the general main part of the roof over the house and porch.  Not too bad but some shingles are coming up and there is some waving in the decking.  Below is the section over the mudroom that as you can see, is sagging a bit. (by the way, same color shingles, just the way sunlight was hitting them makes it look different).  

Farmhouse roof with sagging
It’s not in the best of shape.  It’s one of those things we’ve put off time after time.  We’d rather buy furniture and plants and build garden beds and fences.  You know the stuff like that!  Alas though, it’s a necessary expense.  Now that the inside of the house is more or less finished and furnished, we should make sure that there are no leaks to ruin what we’ve done inside.  Time to start working on projects on the outside (as evidenced by lack of paint and wood needing repair in the same photo).  So today, while we're both at work, a roofer is coming to give us an estimate.

While we will most likely go with shingles, we’re also going to get an estimate for the difference in making it a metal roof instead.  A metal roof is more expensive of course, but on a small house such as ours, we’re hoping it won’t be too much more.  We need to see if we can justify the expense.  A metal roof is resistant to hail and wind and other nasty stuff and it would certainly last the rest of our lives.

Shingle vs Metal roofs
What we’ve always heard is that rain sounds wonderful on a metal roof.  Is it loud though?  Does anyone have experience with it?  The house portion will be insulated from sound a bit with attic space between the ceiling and the roof so it wouldn’t be overly loud.  The porch however would definitely be metal over the ceiling with not much of a space  in it would definitely be louder than inside the house.  Sitting on the porch in rain under a metal roof?

Sounds (no pun intended) like it could be nice!

Now of course, they may come back and say “regular roof is X amount, metal roof is ten times that amount”.  If that’s the case, then regular roof it is!  Then there are shingle colors to think about…it’s always something.

Shingle colors, image courtesy of Owen Corning Shingles
We're looking forward to having a nice new roof on the house...then it's on to the next few projects.   

UPDATE:  Haven't heard from the roofer, he went out between 12-2.  We are hoping he didn't run from the property screaming NO WAY!  haha.
It is more likely that he is working up estimates.  Will keep you posted!


Cats tattling on each other
Boys will be boys...we walked into the kitchen once when we were doing laundry (this was at the house in town) and discovered Sydney on the table, where he's not supposed to be, and then Hobart lounging comfortably in the laundry basket, also not really where he was supposed to be.  I had to quickly snap a pic because it really did look like we caught them both doing something they shouldn't be doing.

More later this afternoon, including an update on the next house project.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Flower meadow, image courtesy of

I think if we ever have this at the farm, and there is a chair next to it, I'd never leave.  I saw this online and loved the explosion of color.  Along those lines, I have a question for you flower gardeners out DOES one go about doing this?  Do you have to just clear an entire section of grass out?  It sort of looks random.  But I wonder if in the Winter it's just a big patch of dirt and you have to keep it weeded constantly?  Not sure I could do this just being there sporadically during the week.  Maybe in the rainy season, ha.  

Enjoy the day.

Be inspired!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


OK, this is something I wanted to share because they just work so well.  One thing I've discovered with the raised beds is that normal rakes and shovels can be a bit large and unwieldy, especially in a 4x4 area full of plants.

So here is my solution.  I found these:

Raised bed rake and shovel
We purchased them at Home Depot but I'm sure they are sold elsewhere.  Do you know what they are?  They are children's garden tools!  Surprisingly, they are well made metal implements with sturdy metal handles and they even have holes at the top to hang them with.

They are a nice length (28") to use in a raised bed.  Because a raised bed is elevated up somewhat, there is not much bending over to make them useful.  Even better, their smaller tool ends make them a cinch to rake between plants and dig small trenches and holes without damaging existing plants.

Best of all, they only cost $4.88 each!

Cool small tools for raised bed garden
Just thinking outside the box!
Sometimes you just have to do that don't you?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Watched a really fun, cute and enjoyable movie and thought I'd post about it in case you haven't see it.

It's called EPIC.  They have a fun website centered around the storyline of the movie HERE.

Epic is loosely based on William Joyce's children's book "The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs".  It's a beautifully animated CGI movie about a teenage girl who gets shrunken down and transported to a world small enough that we can't see it, but big enough to be full of adventure.  You see, it seems our gardens are a hot bed of battles between good and evil, between flowers and green plants and decay and dead plants, all watched over by tiny people riding birds and living among the plants.  It's EPIC!

While some of the themes have been seen before in other animated movies, strained parental relationships, feeling like an outcast, good vs bad, etc, the film creates such a vibrant and exciting world that is hidden from our everyday view, it really connects to those of us who enjoy the mystery of nature with a healthy dose of fantasy.

It was released, theatrically a year ago so it should be available on DVD, onDemand, etc and if you love nature and being outside in your yard, we really think you'd enjoy this one.  It might just make you think twice the next time you see  a hummingbird fly by or see something move out of the corner of your eye while you are outside in the yard...

Monday, June 16, 2014


Every Monday, Daphne's Dandelions hosts "Harvest Monday" where bloggers can post their harvests (click her link above to see what others are harvesting). We're hoping that each weekend now, for a while anyway, will provide us with something to post about each Monday.


Garden Harvest
It's our first ever harvest! (don't laugh)

Almost missed the two tomatillos as they were hidden up under the bush.  I was worried because there are so many blooms but no actual tomatillos that I saw.  Then I spotted these two.  As you can see, I think they were a bit late in being harvested, because they outgrew their husks.

The large tomato is a Homestead 24.  There was another larger one but it had been half eaten by something.  Since it was eaten from the top, I'm guessing a bird was the culprit.  Dang it!

The cherry tomatoes were so good.  I say were because they didn't last long after this photo was taken.  Warm off the vine, they were like candy.  I swear, one tiny tomato has ten times the flavor of the biggest store bought regular.  I did notice the some of the cherry toms split.  Any suggestions?  We used all the rest of the tomatoes in a nice salad.

The peppers are doing well, we should get some next weekend.  The eggplant, sadly, is getting overrun with ants but it's hanging in.  The squash bed has been a failure.  I watched the automated watering system while there and that raised bed was getting flooded.  My guess is they are getting OVER watered.  I'm going to need to change the soaker hose on that one to something more like a drip line hose.  I disconnected it from the system for now, I'd rather sacrifice those two small plants in order to keep the tomatoes, peppers and herbs coming. 

Speaking of, I also harvested a bunch of herbs (see plants above) but forgot to weigh them.  They will be dried and saved for future use.

Total weight of this harvest, 10 3/4 ounces.

I think we started our plantings a bit late this season while fiddling around with getting the watering system worked out. Now it's hot (really hot) and some plants are struggling.  I know it's not much, but hey, it's our first and we couldn't be happier. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014


2nd Man and I have both lost our Fathers, 15+ years ago, but we still think of them today and every day.  I never got to meet his Dad, but he got to meet mine and he welcomed him with a hug.  Can't ask for more than that.

We wish everyone out there a great Father's Day, for those that are with us, and for those who are gone but never forgotten.

Saturday, June 14, 2014


It was a beautiful day Saturday at the farm.  The little Fiat was loaded up with some plants and I got there early.

And guess what?

The Vitex/Texas Lilac/Chaste trees planted a couple of weeks ago are all blooming!  We finally have some color at the farm, LOL.

I was there for about 7 hours, digging holes, used the weedeater, mowing on the Zen Machine, planting in said holes, working in the garden, etc etc.  More on all that in later posts.

Best part of all, when I got home, 2nd Man had this cooking on the stove:

Grilled Italian sausages with onions and peppers...

...and One Pan Pasta (recipe previously blogged about HERE).
One pan pasta and grilled sausage
It was yummy and filling and accompanied by a glass of Chianti.
Perfect end to a productive day!

Friday, June 13, 2014


Do you know what these white flowers are?

They are Yucca flowers!  Last year, I discovered a couple of Yucca plants growing, CLICK HERE, and several of you said that they bloomed.  We had never seen them bloom before and so when we pulled up at the farm and saw the white flowers in the midst of all the green, we thought "what is THAT?".

Too cool!

Yucca plant blooming with flowers
I understand that they are edible too.  I think we'll harvest some this weekend and see what we can come up with.  Might be fun to try.

We finally got air conditioning at my office so it was a good day yesterday.  Now the weekend is here. More planting for me today and of course to check on the stuff that was planted in the last couple of weeks.

Yucca update:  Well, when we got back out to the farm, just about a week and a half after I took these photos, the flowers had all turned brown and many were gone!  Dang it!

Didn't know how fleeting they were...something to put on the list for NEXT year so we can plan ahead of time.

At least now we know!


Cat stare down
Don't you ever wonder what cats stare at when they just focus off into the distance for a period of time and then gradually close their eyes and fall asleep?

Ours are masters at staring at nothing and then of course experts on sleeping!

More later this afternoon!