Friday, August 30, 2019


It's time for the "Friday Food Debate" where we tackle some of the burning questions of the culinary world...LOL!

This week, the burning question is:

Mac and cheese...perhaps nature's most perfect food item.  Sigh.  It's among my most favorite things.  I like it ANY way it's cooked.  But for this debate day, I did some Googling and found that there is a debate about this wonderful dish.  And that is what do you use to eat it?

Apparently there are two schools of thought.  Some people use a fork to spear the noodles and eat it up.  

Others use a spoon to get the noodles and every last bit of cheesy goodness.
According to an online poll we saw, 72% use a fork.  The rest use a spoon.  In our house it's mostly a fork.  In the interest of full disclosure though, our set of flatware included SPORKS!  Yep, we have nice, stainless steel sporks to eat with if we choose.  
But let's not include that in this debate. do you do mac and cheese?
Fork or spoon?

Thursday, August 29, 2019


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 someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

The long, hot, dry days of Summer are in full bloom and our thoughts turn to cool weather planning.  I like seeing garden designs and areas for planting flowers or herbs etc.  Above is an herb garden that I just love looking at. I like the tree in the center (though I have no idea what that might be, ha) and then the herbs around it and the stones and then more herbs.  It's a nice, tight design, almost like a small pocket garden.

Be inspired!

Monday, August 26, 2019


It's now been over FIVE weeks since the last major mowing.  I did do a quick mow about 4 weeks ago just to trim things up and keep it short but as far as growth, it's been over a month...

Here is the same angle I've been using the last few weekends to check the growth...or lack thereof, ha.

We had rain in Houston yesterday, some areas on the East side of town got a couple of inches but it was very localized.  There was a large area of rain and storm in the Gulf that they thought would move this way but it just barely skimmed by Houston and the farm didn't get any of it.  In fact, our last measurable rain out there was in July.

The only real green left is around the fruit tree beds.  We're guessing that's because I'm watering them and spraying water around every weekend.

This is the side of the house by the big tree, it's completely brown there.

These are some of the large cracks in the ground that have formed (and a few remaining green blades of grass).  Amazing that the ground can do this.  Of course after the first heavy rain it will close up like it was never there.

Here's another shot by the mower shed.  It's just brown.  All over.  I'm enjoying the break in mowing during the heat of Summer but we do need rain. 

The forecast for the next seven days is no rain and highs in the mid to upper 90's.  The weather people are saying we have entered a period of drought.

We need a good rain dance, ha!

Sunday, August 25, 2019


We've got rain all around Houston.  About midday it POURED in the city.  I checked the radar and nothing at the farm.  I've reached out to 2nd Family to check but no reply yet.  I was at the farm yesterday (more on that tomorrow) and it was hot and dry.  

Hoping for rain but the odds are fading fast...

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Friday, August 23, 2019


It's time for the "Friday Food Debate" where we tackle some of the burning questions of the culinary world...LOL!

This week, the burning question is:

First of all, you have to be a bacon lover.  We realize not everyone loves bacon (though that could be considered a sacrilege, ha).  So when bacon is cooking there are two ways it can come out.  

You can cook it until it is crisp.  That texture with the crunch or snap when you bite into it.

Or you can cook until it's just done but still soft and chewy.  

We realize there are varying degrees of doneness from just barely cooked to burned.  This is really just one of the two ways you generally find it cooked.  Breakfast buffets at restaurants seem to have big pans of chewy soft bacon.  A diner generally seems to serve it up crispy alongside eggs and hash browns.

Here in our household, we both like it both ways but honestly, most of time we cook it until crispy.  I have been known to go steal a piece out of the pan once it's cooked but still soft, and that I love on a slice of white bread. do you like your bacon?
Crispy or chewy?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019


Just about a year ago, we posted HERE about the bees that took over the one hive we had left.  It was 100% my fault for not removing the "tempting" empty home when we lost our bees.  I removed one hive but not this one (see post for details).

Then some wild bees took it over.  At first we thought capturing a wild swarm can be a good thing.  But after observing them, we found the new bees to be aggressive.  VERY aggressive.  There are reports in the area of Africanized bees.

A few times they chased me to the house.  I finally just stopped mowing in the former bee yard.  We called a couple of bee removal experts but either the wait was long or they wouldn't come that far out.  They also charged a LOT of money.

Since we were not going to that area anyway, we just sort of left them alone.

The grass grew and the hive became just part of the background.  I could always see bees on it (the white color makes that easy) and so I just stayed away.  Flash forward to last weekend.  I looked in that direction as usual but didn't see any activity.  I carefully got closer and didn't see anything.

The hive was empty.

Here it is after I got up close.  Definitely empty.  What a relief.  I'm not sure where they went or what happened but we're OK with it.

I removed the top so that another hive will not be tempted though I don't think they would since the other creepy crawlies have taken over.

It was too hot to deal with disposing of the pieces we don't want (most likely all of them). Some of you will wonder about honey.  There was none that we could salvage as ants and bugs had taken over. Plus the wild bees took over a hive where the wax had melted and honey had fermented so if there had been any, it would probably have tasted pretty funky.

 We still have one complete hive put up in storage along with the matching copper roof from this hive (wasn't going to let THAT go).  Not sure what else will be salvageable but I think when we next venture into beekeeping, we'll start with keeping just one hive alive for a few seasons as a start.

Monday, August 19, 2019


Just kind of an update post today.  Had a great weekend.  We ran errands, did some window shopping, had some great food and just relaxed.  Knowing that we were going to do this, I took Friday off and went to the farm.  I figured without rain there wouldn't be much mowing.  If you saw the update yesterday, you can see a picture of the yard and there was no mowing.  We're now over three weeks (four this coming weekend) since the last time.  

While I miss my time on the Zen Machine, it was a "feels like" temperature of 108 yesterday.  I'm good staying inside where it's cool, ha.

The bumblebees were out in force.  I love watching them.  So big and slow moving,  Plus the buzzing sound of so many is actually kind of peaceful.

Did you know that August 17th is (was) National Black Cat Appreciation Day?  Now this is not to be confused with National Black Cat Day which is later in the year, ha.  This day is a day to celebrate the black cat and dispel the myths around them.  I didn't know that black cats (and dogs) are less likely to be adopted.  Poor babies.  Black cats are just like any other cat, they are wonderful!

Hobart however was not impressed.  He was laying in this patch of sun and we told him we appreciated him...he could barely be moved to open his eyes, ha.

From our anniversary post I mentioned that we had a tradition.  On our fourth anniversary, the place we had been going every year was gone.  So on a whim we went to a place 2nd Man remembered from his childhood.  Also, it is a Houston institution.  It's called Barbecue Inn.  Sure they have BBQ but they are known for their fried chicken.  See this screen grab above.  They are consistently in top lists around the country.  Best fried chicken we've ever had.

I had the dark meat plate with french fries, two thighs and a leg...

2nd Man had the white meat plate with baked potato, two breasts and a wing...

They also come with salads.  It's such a good comfort food dinner.  We go twice a year.  Once on our anniversary and around Valentines Day.

They've been around for over 70 years and the place is PACKED all the time.  We're pretty sure we're good for a while, ha.  Hope you had a great weekend!

Sunday, August 18, 2019


Knowing that we'd be running errands all weekend and wanting to just stay in and relax for a change, I took Friday off and went to the farm to check things out and of course water the fruit trees.

Here is the front yard, over three weeks now since the last mowing.  You can still see the lines from that mowing.  We would say that is zero growth.  If no rain this week, there will be no mowing next weekend and that will mark one month without needing it.

Thank you all for your sweet comments on our anniversary post.  We will reply to each one.

Hope you are having a great weekend!

And we'll leave you today with some very wise words of wisdom...

Friday, August 16, 2019


20 YEARS...the first date

We still remember the place we went on our first date.  We went every year for the first three years until they went out of business.  Now we have a new tradition at a different restaurant.  That's on the menu this weekend.  More on that later.

20 YEARS....16 + 4

It's been 20 years together but with a twist.  While a few of you know this, many do not.  Four years ago, when the Supreme Court legalized marriage for us, we got married.  We were able to use our anniversary date as our wedding date so it's always the same.  It was a small civil ceremony with two wonderful friends to witness it.  Irony of ironies, the judge knew 2nd Man's parents from years ago.  He was so excited to perform our ceremony.  For us it was wonderful to get the acknowledgement and validation of our love for each other and great to finally have all the same legalities that all married couples have had.  No more worrying about hospital visitation if needed, no more worrying about financial issues, buying and selling property, we even get a better deal now by filing taxes jointly.  Sometimes it's the things others take for granted that mean the most to those who have never had them. 

20 YEARS...take the good with the bad

There have been good times but also sad times.  Too much loss (all four of my grandparents and both of my parents, a dear friend, and two of our beloved kitties).  Thankfully those are offset by many more happy times.  Our first house.  The purchase of the farm and land.  All the sweat equity we've put into making a place for our future.  And of course LOTS of wonderful food.

20 YEARS...of adventures

A few job changes for both of us and a few moves.  Then toss in a couple of tropical storms and a couple of major hurricanes.  Add in some great trips and vacations.  We have had a great life together so far and can't wait for the adventures of the next 20 and beyond.

20 YEARS...together

As we remind each other every year, in the end the most important thing is that we have each other.

"Just you and me" we like to say...
"that's all that truly matters".

Thursday, August 15, 2019


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 someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Can just a book and a chair and some flowers and a cold glass of something to drink be an inspiration? Of course it can be.  A place to rest.  A place to read.  A place to dream.  

Nothing wrong with that.  Once we get something done with the house (be it a new one or a remodel) I've made it clear that we need a porch, we need that place to sit and relax and survey our domain, ha.  And do things like this. 

Be inspired!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019


Regular readers know that I have a 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 where people can put the things they don't want.  

I've found several cool items so far.
Here is the latest!

I found this stool.  It's very heavy and solidly built.  The legs are heavily welded and are powder coated. 

When I flip it over, there are just four simple screws holding on the padded top section.  It is just generic vinyl that looks like leather.  

Instead of using this inside, I want to use it outside, mainly in the garden for sitting on while pulling weeds, planting seeds, digging holes etc in the raised beds.  I know you can buy some garden rolling seats like that.  I've actually had one of those in the past.  The rolling part didn't work because it was just too difficult to move.  Perhaps on concrete for sure but with the uneven weedblock covered ground didn't work. Having something small that I can pick up and carry and put back down, this will be perfect.  

I'll definitely redo the padded seat with something more "outdoor ready".  Some Sunbrella fabric for the top, maybe they make an outdoor cushion to put under the fabric, the rest would be fine as is.  The powder coated metal is rustproof.  Just need to source the materials.  

Then I can have a small and movable place to sit while gardening.

Monday, August 12, 2019


Houston Forecast: Triple Digits As Far As The Eye Can See

We are in for a long 100 degree stretch that will last through at least late next week.

It's been hot.  We were over 100 Saturday and Sunday and the city is warning people to stay inside where it's cool and stay hydrated.  There appears to be no end in sight either.  So we took the advice.  I went to the farm Saturday morning and stayed about two hours.  I just had to check on things and then water the fruit trees and the plants on the porch.  

I did not need to mow...

Dry grass
I posted the picture above last week after I mowed...

Drier grass
...and here it was this weekend.  No growth at all (you can still see the mowing paths!) and it's a little "browner" than the weekend before.

The grass under this tree is fading fast.  A few years back we had a horrible drought going almost a year without measurable rainfall.  Everything died at the farm.  The grass I mowed maybe twice in the year.  So it does come back...eventually.

I did a deep watering on the fruit trees and the plants on the porch and that was it.  I took some pictures, put a couple things in the barn and called it a day.

Duck fat, beef tallow and bacon fat
Here is something neat I found at the grocery store.  This comes from Kroger.  They now sell jars of rendered duck fat, beef tallow and bacon fat.  Now the bacon fat of course we always have some of that  in the fridge so no point in buying that.

But the duck fat and beef tallow, well they seemed like good ingredients to have on hand, so I bought them for 2nd Man.

Steak and potatoes
This weekend he used a bit of the beef tallow in a cast iron skillet to cook some steaks.  And then he sliced some Yukon Gold potatoes into wedges and roasted them in the oven...after tossing them in duck fat.  I don't think we've ever had better steak and potatoes.  They were AMAZING. 

Saturday, August 10, 2019


Left from in town about 8am, got to the farm about 9am.  It was already 89 degrees...

...back in town by noon and it was already 97.

It is hot.  We're under a heat advisory and the city of Houston is telling everyone to stay inside unless absolutely necessary.

So the rest of the weekend will be inside where it's cool.  Stay cool wherever you are.

Friday, August 9, 2019


It's time for the "Friday Food Debate" where we tackle some of the burning questions of the culinary world...LOL!

This week, the burning question is:

This could be one of the biggest food debates in recent memory.  Not since the dress color debate or the Laurel/Yanny debate has something lit up the Internet:  Pizza toppings, or more specifically, pineapple as a topping.

Some love the sweet and salty bite of a slice of pizza with ham and pineapple.  It's the taste of Hawaii on a slice of pizza.

Others think it's an abomination, something sweet like that does not belong on a slice of pizza...ever.

After two weeks in a row of being a united household, here we are divided once again.  I love pineapple with ham on a pizza.  After all, I like glazed ham and that's sweet/savory.  2nd Man says, quite bluntly, it's gross. you like pineapple on pizza?
Or is that a big no?

Thursday, August 8, 2019


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 someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Lately, I've been getting the canning urge again.   A couple of seasons back, I canned a bunch of jam. We've eaten almost all of it over the last two years.  Amazing to have our own food that we made and saved for all this time.  Just pull some out and use it when we run out.

Recently, 2nd Man said "you need to make more".

So, I've been dipping my foot back into the canning world (hence the reason I posted yesterday about seeing the smooth sided jars in the store, I was in the canning section, ha).  Anyway, while looking online I find all sorts of interesting pictures. This is one of them. We could only imagine having this much stuff saved up.  Not sure we could eat it all before it would be expired, but it sure would be nice to try.

Be inspired!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019


Was at the store at lunch and saw these in the canning section.  I have never seen them before but of course the box says "new" so there is that...ha!

Anyway, they are "smooth sided jars" from BALL canning.  I had never thought about that being a thing but seeing as how it was new I needed to know more.  So I checked them out online to get more info ball smooth sided jars  and here is what they look like out of the package:

I wasn't sure if I wanted to add them to the collection of jars for future canning use...until I saw this picture.  I can imagine they would be stunning filled with brightly colored veggies or pickles.  Of course, as with all Ball/Mason jars, they would be nice filled with just about anything.  It seems they come in various sizes though the store only had the quart. 

Might have to make a return trip to pick up a know, for future use.   

Monday, August 5, 2019


When I was watering the fruit trees, I noticed that the tops of some of the lemons had small scrapes on them.  We were guessing that could be from birds testing them?  

Lemon damaged from birds
 It was just enough to expose the white pith of the fruit and was only on a couple that were on the tops, easily exposed to an aerial assault, ha.  I've read that if the outer layer is damaged like that they may not go on to develop properly.

That led me to articles about bagging fruit on the tree while it is growing. Some people use ziplock style baggies but here in Houston, with our unrelenting heat, humidity and frequent rains, we felt that might create a bad environment for the fruit if we are not there every day to check it. 

So after some online checking, I found these mesh bags that come in different sizes.  They "breathe" and so that lets light through and moisture out while providing pretty good protection from birds, deer and even some pests like caterpillars, etc.

Mesh fruit bags
I ordered a package from Amazon to try out: 

There are various sizes.  I figured with a package of 60, we would be using them next Spring with pears, peaches, plums and apples so we better get a size that would work for those as well.

Fruit bagging
I bagged up a few to test and see how it works. I bagged the undamaged ones and a couple of the damaged ones just to compare and I also left a few uncovered to have a control for comparison.

And now we wait!

Sunday, August 4, 2019


It's been an odd weekend weather wise.  Overcast and sprinkling in some areas, sunny and dry in others.  Still hot and not enough rain but it was a good day to mow.  

It's the first time in two weeks.  I could have actually skipped it this week but I decided to take advantage of the overcast day and went ahead and mowed.

This is the app that tracks my mowing.  It was one of the fastest mowing times I've ever had (well, since I've been using the app).  Normally it's about 3.5 acres total so you can tell that there were areas I was able to skip.  The grass just isn't growing.

I edged last weekend so needless to say that didn't need to be done again.

Here is a different angle.  This is the driveway looking toward 2nd Family's direction.  We are all the way at the back of our property.  The road is way at the end of that long driveway.  One of our future projects is to make this a more proper driveway with it graded and covered in crushed gravel.

Hope you are having a good weekend!