Friday, September 30, 2016


Sometimes...things aren't so clear...

I came upon this stoplight the other day and it was this way in BOTH directions!  

 I did stop and look both ways, but then another had stopped and didn't know if they should go and another person just drove right on through without even blinking.  I did immediately call the city and report it so that it wouldn't cause an accident. 

Thursday, September 29, 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!

Table around tree, image courtesy of 
When looking at ideas for seating areas around trees, we stumbled across this...literally a seating area AROUND a tree, ha.  Kind of a cool idea.  Great for dining of course, as in this picture, but I was thinking more of something along the lines of a writing table.  A place to sit and blog, write, think, plan. And while I am quite sure this isn't TOO hard to make, I have zero wood working tools that would allow this (for now anyway), cutting curves is not easy as it looks ha.

But we do have a tree that that would work for this and so now we add this to our list of future projects. 

Be inspired!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Tip of the Day...

Save and freeze your hard cheese rinds!  

They usually are leftover from a hunk of Parmesan...put them in a container or resealable bag and pop into the freezer.

Save your Parmesan cheese rinds
Why would you do this?  

Well, 2nd Man often makes homemade broth and in Winter we always having a soup or stew of some sort...and he uses these all the time.  Just like you can toss a ham bone or scraps into beans or soup for flavor, you can do the same with the hard cheese rind you have leftover after using up the cheese.  It gives a LOT of added flavor...and when the soup/broth is done, you just pull it out and throw it away.  You've used every bit of flavor that you could from that cheese.  

They are great in almost any kind of soup where you want to add that depth of flavor and you think it will be a good match.  We've used it in a potato soup, a chowder, bean soup, minestrone, broccoli cheese, etc.

No waste!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


These were the okra plants in July.  
We weren't sure how well they would end up doing...

What's that towering green bush inside the garden?

HUGE okra plants
Why it's the same two "little" okra plants.  
Well over six feet tall!

Okra up close
I swear, one weekend there were no pods and the next weekend they were EVERYWHERE on the plants!

 For those that don't know about okra, they go from flowers to small pods, growing upwards like this, in clusters.  They really have to be harvested almost daily as they grow that fast.  We had to let a bunch go because we just couldn't get to it quick enough.  2nd Family took some as well but it was coming in faster than both of us could keep up.

Basket of okra
This is one basket of okra, one of about six like this that we had during this end of Summer harvesting.  We'll definitely grow this next Summer (and plant it a bit sooner, this was coming in a bit late this year).  They grew like crazy, LOVED the heat and humidity, and were very drought tolerant.  A true Southern veggie!

We've pulled the plants up now, did that this weekend.  More in upcoming posts about how we ate it...and how it went over with 2nd Man.  

Anyone else like okra?  
Does it normally grow crazy like this?

Monday, September 26, 2016


On the way to the farm last Saturday, I remembered that we needed some veggies to start getting ready for Fall garden planting.  So I popped into the garden center.  Then I saw some trees over in a corner.  They looked like fruit tree from a distance and sure enough, they were.  I asked the cashier and she said they just got them in but didn't know how much about them.  She checked and said "they're $15 each because it's the end of the season". 

I looked at them and once I realized what they were...I said to myself "SOLD!".

Joey avocado trees
First up, AVOCADO trees! 

And a quick search of Google revealed that they are the variety best adapted to our climate.  These are the "Joey avocado", hardy down to 15 degrees and drought tolerant once established.

Lemon, orange and lime
Then I found 2nd Man's citrus trees.  

He's been wanting citrus at the farm and so I got "the trinity" of orange, a lemon, and a lime.  The orange is not a true orange per se, I mean, not like a's an Owari Satsuma, the lemon is a Meyer Lemon, and finally a Persian Lime.  Once again, the best varieties for our area and climate. 

Arbequina olive trees
And these, for $15 each are probably the best deals...they are two Arbequina Olive trees!  I've seen this size for $60 and up in catalogs.  We got two for $30!  We already have one, in a container, that was in our backyard at the house in town before we moved.  We took it to the farm and it's growing out there, though contained in a large clay pot.  As with the others, we did our research and this is the variety grown in our part of Texas.  

With the other trees, they will be planted in our orchard area...for the olives I need to do some research.  They can live hundreds of years, want to make sure they are in the right spot, ha!!  Seriously though, we do need to think ahead.  I think they would be better together, but I'm still trying to keep all the trees closer to the house and water.  Who knows, maybe three olive trees will give us our own olive oil someday.

A few down, still a few more to go!
Go fruit trees!

Sunday, September 25, 2016


Bacon and eggs
Bacon and eggs before heading out...I like my eggs over-easy with a bit of Sriracha on top (sometimes Tabasco sauce)...and my bacon, well, bacon is nature's most perfect food, LOL!

Rain is coming
It was another beat the rain day.  

On the way to the farm, I had to stop at the garden center to look for fruit trees, more on that in another post.  I was able to get everything mowed, pulled weeds in the garden, did a few other things and then it started getting darker and the smell of rain permeated the air.  Time to head back.

Old cookbook
On the way back, I stopped at a thrift store in the town where the farm is and found this book.  It's from the early 60's and has HUNDREDS of great vegeatble recipes, including a few pages on okra!  Woo hoo!  

50 cents.  SOLD!

The day was not without incident however.  When I was moving a large plant in a container, I dragged it over my foot at just the right angle to pull back the toenail on my big toe...while inside the shoe!  

I will spare you THAT picture, ha. 

Pork chop and veggies
We couldn't stay overnight because we have plans in town today and so when we got back into town, 2nd Man pan seared some pork chops and made a rice and veggie side dish.  It was delicious.  

And now today it's going to be raining all day, which is good because we do need the rain (hard to believe I'm saying that after this past Spring).

Hope your weekend is going well!

Friday, September 23, 2016


We always try to post something animal related on Friday's, and so I thought we'd share this moment from a couple of weekends ago...

This is 2nd Family's dog Ruben and of course the now blog famous horse Artax.  She was grazing in the back pasture and Ruben decided to chase this "cow bird" (horse bird? LOL).  I wish I had the 'after' photo for this moment but I was walking back toward the house when it happened. 

The bird landed on the ground beside Artax.  Ruben ran after it and then it flew off and landed in a small tree.  Ruben ran after it again but this time, the bird flew back toward him and he took off running....IN THE OPPOSITE direction.  That bird scared him enough that for the rest of he day, he just sat by the fence and watched.  Lesson learned I suppose...

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


2nd Man made these with our steak the other night, and I just love them. 
It's your standard oven roasted potatoes.

I missed the step with the bowl and seasonings but he sliced some russet potatoes into wedges.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, crushed garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl and then add sliced potatoes.  Toss to coat and place on a lined baking sheet, cut edge up.

Oven roasted potatoes
Place in the oven and roast at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes or until they are starting to brown and crisp along the edges but are still tender inside.

Steakhouse potatoes
And that's it!  Remove from the oven and serve!  They are crisp on the edges and soft and tender inside, the way an oven roasted potato should be.  It's like a french fry meets a baked potato.


 6 Potatoes (can use Russets, red, Yukon Gold, etc)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

If you use more or less potatoes, just use more or less olive oil and vinegar.  We like the ratio of this so just make it 4 and 2, or 6 and 3, or 2 and 1.  The best thing about this is that you can add red pepper flakes, use garlic powder instead of minced garlic, minced rosemary or other herbs, etc, whatever you like, it comes out yummy!  


(P.S.  I'll be catching up on back comments, keep 'em coming!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Well, this came in out of the blue.  As I worked on clearing the area where our hive was and our future additional hives will be, we thought we should get a sign.  2nd Family often has visitors and while they are rarely on our property where the hives are, you never we thought it would be a nice reminder.

Caution Beehive Sign
Well, we had ordered this a few months ago but it was out of stock.  We actually forgot that we had ordered it until it was charged to our card and arrived in the mail.  A not needed right now reminder of our loss but also a reminder that we should persevere and keep moving forward.

We bought ours via Amazon, there are multiple signs and different styles, so there is something for everyone.  

Click here BEEHIVE SIGN at Amazon for the search if interested.

Bee Yard Sign
I stuck it in the ground where the hive is (this hive is the dead one which I need to take care of once the cooler weather arrives).  But I wanted to stick the sign in the ground anyway and see what it looked like.  It will be a nice reminder for visitors to be cautious in that area.

And now I think the beekeeping bug is slowly creeping back...but we have plenty of time to get ready.  If we order bees, we order in November but don't pick up until next Spring.  

One more thing for "the list", ha.

Monday, September 19, 2016


Busy weekend, a few projects done, more on those in the coming days. But this started out our weekend.  

Guess what this is?  Besides another side eye roll from 2nd Man, LOL!
It's my latest find, Friday night, downstairs in our building's trash/recycle area!!!

Someone threw away these two metal chairs!  We can't tell if they "tried" painting them pink (or peach?) but if they did, we guess the outcome was less than perfect and they gave up.  Or maybe they were outside on the balcony and the color faded over time?

Ignore the "watcher" cat at the end of the hall, he was worried about these two new additions to the apartment, 2nd Man probably told him to stare me down...but he got over it (the cat AND 2nd Man, LOL!).

Either way, their trash is our treasure!  Here they are at the farm this weekend.  You can tell the odd color (whatever you want to call it) in these sunlit photos.  Seeing these photos, they really look like they just faded...

But no worries, they are nice and sturdy and now I have a painting project on my hands for this Fall (when the weather is cooler).  We've posted several pictures of chairs in outdoor sitting areas over the years in our Inspiration Thursday posts, now we have to go back and pick a color!   

Rich red?  

Cheerful yellow?  
Calming blue?

We'll see in a couple of months when this weather finally cools down. 


Sunday, September 18, 2016


 Yesterday was a good day, probably because I woke up to this...

...homemade pancakes with butter and syrup!  
Now that's what I'm talking about!

 We got to the farm and were greeted by the Texas lilac which is still in bloom.  
Such pretty flowers, and they like our soil and climate, ha!

It was time to harvest what we still have growing, which is okra and jalapeños (and some herbs).

Several of you have asked how big the front yard is....well this doesn't give you the width, but this does show a bit of scale.  The veggies are sitting on the porch railing.  You can see up there at the top, that's what we call "snack corner", where Artax, 2nd Family's horse, comes to visit.  "Ma", who used to own our house, would go to that corner and share scraps and snacks. The area with their horse and fence line is their back pasture.  It's about 2 acres.  That horse remembers, ha!  That corner is a straight line down which is the driveway where we come in, the driveway being about a 1/4 mile long from the road.  

I got some garden stuff done and a few projects as well.  One more day to go, let's see what gets done today!

Friday, September 16, 2016


I got on the elevator last weekend after coming back from the farm and I was carrying this small basket of random veggies.  There was a lady already on there, young (late 20's maybe?) and she saw the basket.

"That looks good!" 

"Thanks, we have a place out of town with a garden and I'm just bringing back some of the harvest."

"Oh, you grew those in a garden?"


"That's so cool...I didn't know people still did that!"

The doors opened and I got off on our floor.  As I was walking down the hall, shaking my head, I was thinking yes, people actually do...

Thursday, September 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 dining, image courtesy of
This kind of dovetails nicely with the table set up we posted a few weeks back for the garden.  A nice long table.  I think it's the chairs that we like in this, combined with the rustic table of course, but they do look nice.

We have two major areas for future dining.  One is under the tree beside the house (a tree we've named Barnabas) and the other is in the garden.  That table will be for more than just dining, it would also be for sitting and laying out vegetables as we harvest, sitting and planning future expansion, or just taking a break during working.

Be inspired!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


I'm still on a list from our former neighborhood where people sell/give away things.  Mainly for THIS reason.  One of them posted that they had trimmed their firespike plants and had the cuttings laying out, free for the taking.  Many times I miss the timing because someone will post something for free while we're at the farm or at work.  But this time, the email came while I was driving near the neighborhood.  

I made a u-turn and drove by...

Firespike cuttings
This is what they had out, a pile of cuttings.  They said they are easy to multiply by just sticking in the ground and watering.  Why not?

Propagating firespike
They'll also root by just putting in water.  So when I got them to the farm, I sat down on the porch, got a bucket of water and started trimming the ends (fresh cuts for water absorption).  I got them all trimmed and cleaned up and put them in the bucket.  I had to leave them last week but when I went back this weekend, they were fine. 

Planting firespike cuttings
So before the rain came, I dug some holes, stuck them in, filled in with dirt and watered.  Thankfully we have more rain in our forecast later this week so they'll get some water that way too. 

Firespike plant, image courtesy of Wikimedia
This image is what they should look like when fully grown.  They are apparently very popular with hummingbirds and bees, are drought tolerant and can handle both sun and shade...WIN, WIN, WIN!  

Hey, if they are truly this easy to propagate, once they are established, we'll have an endless supply to put all around the farm and they are kinda pretty!

Anyone every grown the Firespike?

Monday, September 12, 2016


This was the harvest haul of jalapeños from the garden two weeks ago. ONE plant produced all of these in just a couple of weeks.  It's been a prolific plant, that's for sure.  

So when life hands you jalapeños....

...the canning bug tells me to make jelly!  This was the weekend where it rained heavy both days and we stayed in town.  

Jalapeno jelly ingredients
This is the recipe from the Ball Website.  When you're a newbie to canning (like me), it's best not to experiment with canning until you really understand how it works.  So I found the official jalapeño jelly recipe.  It's 12 ounces of jalapeños (since ours were smallish, all of them weighed 12.2 ounces.  Then it was just 2 cups of apple cider vinegar, 6 cups sugar, and a pouch of liquid pectin.

I took the stems off, sliced the jalapeños in half (I didn't de-seed them, we like it spicy), and put them in the chopper along with ONE cup of the vinegar...

Whiz them around until they are sufficiently minced...

Making jalapeño jelly
I poured it into the jam pan along with the sugar and the other cup of vinegar...

Heat to boiling over high heat...

Once it reaches boiling, set your timer for 10 minutes and continue to boil, stirring frequently...

At the end of 10 minutes, get your packet of pectin out and pour it in.  The foam almost immediately goes away.  Stir and let boil hard for 1 minute and then remove from heat.  Some recipes add green food coloring to turn it a bright green.  I like this natural greenish/gold color.  

At this point, I skimmed off any remaining foam...

Jalapeno jelly jars
I had my area ready, the jars washed and cleaned of course, and filled them up, leaving 1/4" headspace...oops, spilled a bit! 

Loaded them into the canning rack...

And lowered them into the waterbath.  I processed them in boiling water for 10 minutes...

Canning jalapeno jelly
...and then removed them to a towel to await the "lid popping".  
I just love that sound!  We ended up with 11 of of these smaller jars.

Jalapeno Jelly
Aren't they pretty?

Jalapeño jelly with cream cheese
Of course, we HAD to have some...on club crackers...spread with cream cheese (we used the whipped kind) and then topped with the wonderful sweet and spicy jelly.  Oh my, it was SO good...I also took some to work and it was enjoyed!

Anyone else like and/or make jalapeño jelly?


PLEASE NOTE:  You are responsible to know and understand the current canning and processing recommendations for safety.  Canning is fun but you MUST follow guidelines to make sure you are doing it safely. I had to learn (and still am) so do your research on safe canning techniques.

 A great link to official information is and 
of course, the literal bible of home canning information, the Ball Website.