Saturday, December 31, 2016


Well, it's been a yucky day here, we've had constant rain since about 4am.  No flooding thankfully, but still quite wet (and in the 50's so wet cold too)...

...since the water is still shut off at the farm (freeze preps), and the roads are wet with potentially crazy drivers out there, we'll stay in town today.  

As for New Year's Eve, we always stay in, just safer that way.  Plus it seems the older we get, the less we like large crowds.  Quiet is often better and it is certainly less stressful.  We will be enjoying a nice meal, some bubbly, and of course watching NYE unfold on television (we enjoy CNN with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin).  

2nd Man has a pork loin roasting in the oven (pics later) so we'll have a good evening with full tummies.  Hope everyone is safe and get to spend the evening doing what makes you happiest!

Do you celebrate out or in?  
Any NYE traditions?

Friday, December 30, 2016


And now for something more fun.  At a local hotel here in Houston, their pastry team created this large gingerbread house...

Check out these stats!

Hilton America's Gingerbread House
Now to be fair, the underlying structure is wood, as are the porch columns, because something this large would need a support structure. The railing "pickets" and the "snow" on the roof however, are white chocolate...

Gingerbread house
...and the detailing along the edge of the roof is white chocolate as well.

Gingerbread bricks
Here is a closeup of the gingerbread "bricks".  You can see where people have broken off pieces, which in a way is good because you can see how they are glued on with frosting.  The bricks look so real. Then frosting is put in between them to make it look like real mortar.  Pretty impressive.  

This "stone" fireplace chimney is made of marzipan.  It smelled wonderful!

Chocolate shingles
And of course, hello, CHOCOLATE FREAKIN' SHINGLES!  Standing this close to it was chocolate overload.  It smelled so good.  You can also see here where people have reached over and pulled off pieces of the chocolate shingles
(I hope not to eat, ewww).  It was really neat to see though, we loved it.

We wished there had been some candy around the outside for more detailing (you know, gumdrops, candy canes, etc) but considering the size, we understand.  Even though it was roped off, you could tell that it was big enough to be able to stand up inside.

Tis the season!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


This year has been particularly bad when it comes to celebrity deaths.  So many of them shocking, sudden, and unexpected.  

Of course that is as death often does.  

But when they come to our childhood heroes, our idols, the people that create the music that is the backdrop for a part of our life, well, then it's as if a little piece of our childhood is left behind.

Carrie Fisher.  

Actress.  Screenwriter.  Author.  She has a lot of jobs behind her name and deservedly so, but for millions, probably hundreds of millions, myself one of them, she will always be Princess Leia.  In the most recent movie, she had changed titles to General Leia.  And that's fitting, she was always kind of a bad ass in both her on screen roles and in her personal life.  She had struggles but was always open about those struggles, hoping that if someone could learn from them then something good would come of it.

I met her at a Star Wars convention once, in a childhood far, far away, and she was as nice and pleasant and friendly in person as I could have hoped for. This was even at the height of her Star Wars popularity but again just down to Earth and ever so sweet to a starstruck little boy meeting a "real life Princess" from a galaxy far, far away.  

The remaining movies will be missing a piece of their heart.

George Michael.  

Singer.  Entertainer.  Pop superstar.  Again, tragically, living a troubled life off stage but never letting that affect him onstage.  What a show he could put on.  I had the joy of seeing him twice in concert.  I saw him when he was one half of WHAM! and it was the first concert that I EVER went to.  What a memory.  What a concert.  Then I saw him a few years later, though from the nosebleed section of the arena, when he had his Faith world tour.  One of the best concerts I've ever seen.  What a beautiful man and what an amazing voice.  

He was just about to start work on a new album, now silenced far too soon

It sucks getting older...


And now we have lost the iconic actress Debbie Reynolds, one day after her daughter.  No words.

Can 2016 just end early?  


Yesterday, I posted HERE about Christmas Day dinner...

Texas tamales
So today I thought I'd share our Christmas Eve dinner.  This is sort of a Christmas Eve tradition for us, tradition at least from the last few years.  In Texas, tamales are hugely popular at the holidays and so we've adapted that into our tradition.  Occasionally we'll have beans and rice with it but this year we just had the tamales (saving room for Christmas Day, LOL!).

Christmas Eve tamales
We like to cover them with red and green salsa (Christmas colors!).  Now before you ask, we didn't make these tamales (though both of the salsas are homemade).  No, these were homemade by one of our dear friends who has actually promised to have us over sometime in January to help her and her mother make another batch.

Who knows, hopefully next year, they WILL be homemade!

Monday, December 26, 2016


Since some of you asked for it, just like we did for Thanksgiving dinner, here is our Christmas dinner in a series of pictures...

I was in charge of snacks again, so I made a plate of Colby Jack cheese and salami slices with pita crisps...

These are called "King's Nut Mix" and are sold at a grocery store here. I LOVE them, they are coated peanuts and rice cracker type crunchies, ha, so yummy...  

Of course we needed some potato chips...

I made this appetizer and it's super simple.  
Just take some cubed feta cheese, a few sun dried tomatoes, herbs and toss it all in olive oil.  It's delicious...

Cashews, 'cause, well, we love cashews...

2nd Man made two pans of homemade yeast rolls...

And a lasagna dish full of macaroni and cheese.  
Of course, this was when it was on the stove being prepared, it was baked in the oven after it was all mixed up...

Pan sautéed broccolini in butter and garlic...

And of course we decided on Ham as we usually do for Christmas Day dinner.  It always comes with glaze but 2nd Man is not a big fan of glazed ham.  He says the meat is always delicious and sweet enough without it, the glaze overpowers the taste of the ham.  

This was a honey cured ham from H-E-B (Texas grocery store chain) and it was indeed delicious...

Then it was time to put it all together on a plate.
It was the perfect Christmas Day dinner...

Of course, he also made a pie.  
An apple pie...

Apple pie a la mode
And what's apple pie without a little ice cream?  This is Bluebell homemade vanilla.  It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. 

Today we are both off work and so it's off to the farm (it rained most of the day yesterday) to check on things.  The water is still turned off from the hard freeze last weekend so we haven't decided if we'll turn it back on yet (cold weather coming again possibly next weekend) or just leave it off for a bit.  

I'll catch up on comments after the long holiday weekend.

Hope you all have full tummies, 
happy hearts, 
and lots of good memories...

Sunday, December 25, 2016


Thank you all for the Christmas wishes of the last few days.  We wish you all nothing but the best, hope you have a wonderful Christmas, have some great time with family and friends and of course, eat lots of wonderful food.

Speaking of, last night was Christmas Eve tamales, a tradition we have, and today we're doing a ham dinner with lots of sides.

Pics to follow!

Oh, and we do have a question we ask occasionally around the holidays:

When do you open presents?

Christmas Eve?
Christmas Morning?

Saturday, December 24, 2016


Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,not a creature was stirring, not even a  mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
and he whistled and shouted and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
with the sleigh full of Toys and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot. A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
and he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
and the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
and filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
while giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
and away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Friday, December 23, 2016


Including 1st and 2nd Man, LOL!

We are both home from work early for the long weekend...

The weather is gray and misty raining...

And the cats are sound to sleep...

So that is what we are doing as this posts.  
It's nice to have a nap in the middle of the day during the week.  

Hope you get a good nap in this long weekend!

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Every Thursday, we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm.  
Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Image via Pinterest
Our ultimate goal is to have the house painted the same barn red and white as the barn and shed and hives are painted.  We saw this and realized that we could still have some great decorations even with a red house.  Love the white lights and the candy cane stripes on the porch posts.  

Of course, we won't ever have that kind of snow...but it's still a pretty look.  

Image via
...and while our barn is not this big (more snow too!) it's a nice reminder that barns (and sheds) can be decorated too!

Be inspired!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016



Found this wonderful picture on Pinterest and loved it, just had to use it for this post (no snow like this here but I'm sure it is for some of you).

Today is the first day of Winter!

Posts will be sporadic since Christmas is almost upon us but I'll update with some good food and maybe a gift or two...

Stay warm wherever you are!  

Monday, December 19, 2016


Got to the farm Saturday and it was SO windy.  We've never seen winds so strong out there (when it wasn't during a bad storm of course).  We had gusts to was like walking in a wind tunnel.  It was also cloudy and misty raining, humid and the temp was 79 degrees.  The official high in Houston got to 80, which broke the record.  

Everything at the farm is looking more like Winter.  Desolate and whatever leaves are left are blowing off.  Soon it will be all brown.  

"R" from 2nd Family came up and helped us with the house water.  We turned off the main valve, opened all the faucets and let them drain out.  Then he brought his air compressor and put the hose in the outside faucet and blew air through the pipes.  It was pretty amazing, with he water shut off, and all the taps drained to where nothing was coming out and you'd "think" it was empty, however enough water came out with the air that it was like the faucets turned on high.  That's how pipes freeze even when water is turned off and you think it's all drained out.  Water expands as it freezes and any left in the pipes will freeze and split the pipe. There was still a lot in there but NOW we can be certain that it's empty. We also left the taps open just in case.

We were worried about the pipes because of the wind, our windchill is in the low 20's and with the house raised like it is (pier and beam) all that cold air is blowing around the pipes under the house.  

Of course, now I need to get an air compressor for our own use so I don't have to ask him to help every time we need it.  That way, we can turn it on and off as we are out there, in case we have a spell of warm weather and need the water turned back on again. 

Jalapeno Poppers
A nice snack to warm the insides...the recipe here:


Flannel Shirts
On the way back Saturday, I stopped and picked up a couple of flannel, long sleeve shirts for the farm.  I realized a couple of weekends ago when it was cold out there, we didn't have flannel shirts for wearing around in the cold.  We have coats but it was that temperature where you didn't need a big coat but you needed more than a regular shirt.  So I snagged a couple 100% cotton flannel shirts for $8 each at Walmart and then ordered a couple more online.  

Now we'll both be warm when outside doing stuff and even warm in the house where there is no heat.  When we sleep out there, we do have flannel sheets which are wonderful, and an electric blanket.  Of course all those do is make you not want to get up in the cold mornings, ha!

Brisbane decided to photo bomb my flannel shirt picture.  
Is that flash too bright Brisbane?  LOL.  
I think he was looking for a place to sleep but the flash made him run off.  

Sleeping Kitties
But never fear, he found his warm bed (and blanket) about 10 minutes later, on the couch across from Hobart who was already doing the same in the other bed (see top of picture).

Now the cold is here, it's been at or below freezing for two days now with wind chills in the upper teens and low 20's.  It's our coldest temps since sometime in 2015.  Definitely cold for us anyway.  

Stay Warm!

Sunday, December 18, 2016


Freezing at noon and "feels like" 24 degrees.  

Mexican hot chocolate and pan dulce 
(Mexican pastries).  

Nice way to warm up the insides.  What is your favorite "stay warm" treat?

Saturday, December 17, 2016


Yep...this is our forecast...

Today, a high of near 80 (could break a record I fact)...with temps dropping overnight to 40 (they say temp should drop 40 degrees in about 20 minutes once the front passed through).  Then it won't get any warmer on Sunday than Saturday's low and we have a freeze Sunday night into Monday morning.  

Then upper 20's on Monday evening.  

So today it's off to the farm to undo hoses, shut off valves, and wrap a couple of faucet heads.  This isn't pipe bursting weather but it's easier to do this in the warm weather now before the deeper cold hits in January.  I hate doing this stuff in the cold, my fingers always feel like they are freezing, ha.  

I'll harvest what I can from the garden too.

More later, as I'm sure tomorrow will be bundled up inside where it's warm!
Our apologies for being cold in 30's when we realize so many people are in sub-zero temps. Our hats, coats and gloves off to you...I don't know about 2nd Man but I would surely freeze up and wither away like a late season bloom if I was in sub-zero temps.  We don't know how you do it!

More later today or tomorrow!

Friday, December 16, 2016


Regular readers know that I have a new favorite place to look for bargains...our downstairs trash area!  Our building has trash chutes on every floor and they feed into a separate room, but for boxes and other things that people can't put in the chute, there is an area (indoor) near the loading dock, for people to put things they don't want.  I've found several cool items so far.

And here is what I found the other night.  A wire magazine rack.  It's in perfect shape.  I guess someone just didn't want it.  They just tossed it in with a bunch of boxes and so I saved it from the landfill.  

Not sure if I'll paint it.  It's a stainless color metal and I think with the wire design, it might be hard to get the paint on all parts of it.  Or maybe it would be cool and give it a distressed look.  For now, it's perfectly fine the way it is. We'll find a great spot in the kitchen to put some cooking magazines. 

Or maybe I'll put it beside the bed for some gardening magazines, ha!

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Every Thursday, we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm.  
Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Outdoor lighting, image courtesy
When we find pictures of outdoor seating areas we like, this is something we never thought about.  We were looking through some of the ones we've posted over the years (making some plans for next year) and 2nd Man said, "what about at night?  How do we sit outside in the evening if it's pitch black outside, we might want light".  At the risk of a bad pun, a light bulb went off.  We never thought about that!  So I started looking online for outdoor seating ideas with, of course, lights.  

Now with a a big piece of property, we'd need solar lights most likely as running electrical all over the place is not even a possibility.  Anyway, this is pretty and a good reminder for us to plan for lighting too.  Ironically, we have a tree that looks almost exactly like this.  

Be inspired!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


I posted an image of this a couple of years ago but it was in the background of another I thought I'd give it its own post now for those new to the blog too...we love it.

Kitchen wisdom
I bought it for 2nd Man as a birthday gift...or anniversary?  Valentines Day?  Christmas?  It was one of them for sure, ha.  It now hangs directly over the stove at the farm so we can both be reminded of the important things (and reminds me to help wash).  

So it got us to wondering, anyone have any witty or neat kitchen/cooking sayings?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Saturday, we decided to stop at Home Depot to get some cleaning products for the farm.  The garden section is pretty much desolate this time of year but I wandered to the back of the section anyway to look at concrete pavers.  

That's when I saw these two trees.

Crape Myrtle trees
I was standing there for a second and about to walk away and the guy that worked there said "you want those trees?"  I smiled and said "no thanks, I wasn't here to buy trees today".  He said "no, not to buy, I was about to throw these out, but you can have them if you want".


Natchez Crape Myrtle
This one is Crape Myrtle "Natchez", a white flower...

Tuscarora Crape Myrtle
This one is Crape Myrtle "Tuscarora", a hot pink flower...

Apparently they throw them out if they look scraggly and it's the end of the season.  Sad note, he said he threw out "about a dozen" a few days before!  I asked if they were still in the trash but he said no it had already been picked up.  Oh well, we'll take two free trees, especially flowering trees.  

Instant color for the farm!  

Crapes do extremely well in our climate, one of the few flowering trees we can grow.  In fact, they are THE most popular tree in Houston landscaping.  I believe  they do well in clay soils too but I'll amend when I can.  Not sure where we will plant them, maybe near the bee yard, or maybe near the house for quick color.

Anyone grow crape myrtles?

Monday, December 12, 2016


This was a couple of weeks ago and after the rains...

...squash was coming in again.  We've already harvested about eight large squash  from this plant but that was about it...

And this time we got four more yellow squash...  

Napa cabbage in raised bed
Then I decided it was time to pull up the squash plant which was surrounded by the Napa cabbage and give it a change to form.  It's doing really well, except that one that was pushed down by the squash leaves, and we should start harvesting them next weekend. 

The tomatoes are growing BUT not really producing.  Wasn't sure if we'd get Fall tomatoes, I might have started them too late, and now it's too cold.  Will pull this up next weekend.

Raised bed with greens
The greens were going crazy.  
We cut a bunch and ended up with...

Basket of greens
...this basket of mustard greens, collard greens and a bit of curly kale.  I see some bacon and greens in our near future!  I was riding up in the elevator when I got back into town and a man and woman said I could just drop them off at their apartment, ha.  

This Fall gardening is kind of fun!  It's our first one and we're just trying to figure out what works best in our climate.