Monday, September 30, 2019


After skipping last weekend because of the flooding and busy week leading up to it, it was time to head out and see how things were at the farm and get back on the Zen Machine!

I was happy to be back on the Zen Machine*

*not me
*not the Zen Machine

It was hot, low 90's (hello, Fall?) but it was still a good day to be mowing and it always looks so nice when it's all done...

Looking at my mowing app, it wasn't as long as normal, about 35 minutes shorter than average and I had a faster than normal average speed.

Still not growing much, even wth some rain last week.  I haven't edged around the buildings in about a month and after mowing they still look edged.

You can see here though that it is still brown in some areas.  I'm not sure how much is because it's dry and how much is just Fall has arrived and the grass is doing its normal cyclical thing.

In the good news category, remember when I posted that the fig tree/bush had turned white and all the leaves fell off.  Well I left it alone, no watering or messing with it because we really thought it might have died.  Well, here it is...busting out in leaves and new growth all over.  Go figure.

We still want to get a couple more trees to plant in a different spot next Spring.

When everything was done, I made a tall glass of iced tea, dropped in a couple of fresh picked mint leaves, went to the porch to sit on the rocker and just enjoy the view.  This is looking straight ahead from where I was sitting.

It calms us and is peaceful.  Even though we don't live out there yet and are not sure what form the house will take, this view will remain and is one of the reasons we bought the property.  

When we came back into town, 2nd Man cooked some fresh pork chops we bought Friday and made some mashed potatoes and peas (my favorite).  Oh and a couple glasses of wine.  

It was a good weekend.
We hope you had a good weekend too!

Friday, September 27, 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:

Apparently this is a regional thing, which we find fascinating.  The question is, what do you call a long sandwich filled with meat, cheese, toppings and whatever condiments you like?

Sure it's technically a sandwich and different ingredients abound, but when they end up like this, depending on where you live, they can have a specific name.  Do you call it a HERO?  Or maybe you say give me a HOAGIE?  Or perhaps, like we do here in the South, I want a SUB?  In other areas of the South it's a PO-BOY.  And in parts of the NorthEast it's also called a GRINDER.

EDITED: today to add two more names I completely forgot about but you all mentioned in the comments. Thank you!

So...which way do you say it?

Wednesday, September 25, 2019


Here is something we enjoy making when we have an abundance of herbs.  Traditionally of course, pesto is made with basil and pine nuts but we love to use cilantro and pecans to make a bit different version.

Start with 2 cups of cilantro.  We chop the longer stems off but since they are going through the chopper, no point in chopping up the leaves themselves.  Set aside.

This is 1/2 cup of pecans, minced in the container of our stick blender.  You can use a food processor or blender whatever you have on hand.

Add the cilantro and whizz it around again until it is well mixed.

Next get some olive oil and have it on standby. You might not use all of it but about 1/3 to 1/2 cup should be enough. Drizzle in the olive oil in a steady stream.  Starting with the smaller amount first whiz it all around until thick but loose.  If it is too thick, add a bit more of the olive oil as this will thin it out.

I missed a photo but drop in a garlic clove or two (optional) and lastly, after the olive oil, add in 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese. You shouldn't need salt since the cheese is salty but you could add other seasonings, red pepper flakes for example, for some heat.  Quickly whiz this all around one last time until mixed and that's all there is to it. 

Now what to do with it?  For this meal, we took a few spoonfuls, put it into some freshly boiled pasta and stirred it all together.

Cilantro and pecan pesto with pasta
Sure it's a bit odd to see green pasta but we served it as a side dish to a pork roast and wow was is ever good!  We were hooked. 


  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 2 cups gently packed cilantro
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves (depending on taste)

For step by step, see photos above...


Monday, September 23, 2019


Didn't go to the farm this weekend, too much going on from work and knowing the upcoming week will be crazy busy (insurance biz) so I needed a break.

Plus 2nd Family told us we ended up with a little over 3" of rain.  No flooding out there, which is good, but the ditches were full of water.  I figured there would not be any Zen Machine time.

"S" from 2nd Family ran up to the house to check on things for us yesterday (so sweet of them) all was fine and YES, rain again!  Not much though, they said it lasted about 30 minutes and then it was clear.  I'm guessing the grass is going to be ready for mowing this coming weekend for sure.

The good thing is that not only the yard and natural trees but also our fruit trees got a great soaking, the most they've had all Summer.  Remember we haven't had measurable rain out there since mid July.

I'll catch up on comments this the meantime...'s the first day of Fall!!!

Of course our temperatures don't reflect that just yet but we're hoping the cooler weather is coming soon...and hoping the floods stay away. 

Friday, September 20, 2019


Behold...the power of Mother Nature:

This is an animation of the life cycle of tropical storm Imelda over 2 days...and actually this ends before the final worst of it yesterday afternoon.  The darker colors, including the black, is when it was heaviest beyond what the radar can color.

First of all, we are OK and so is everyone we know (thank you to everyone who has checked in on us).

The farm is West of Houston so the rain, thankfully, was not nearly as bad out there.  In fact, the first day of landfall it never even rained at the farm.  Yesterday however, we ended up with almost 3" of rain out there.  That's a nice soaking and desperately needed.  Houston and surrounding areas however...

...yeah, that says 43" of rain.

One of the local stations said the color graphics on their radar to show rainfall totals could not get a grasp on the totals and couldn't come up with the right colors. There were also over 500,000 lightning strikes in a 24 hour period.  One weather person on Twitter said they had never seen that many strikes in that time period in over 30 years in weather.

Just unbelievable the power this storm had considering it just came from nothing in a day.

As of yesterday, Houston has had:

2685 weather related telephone calls

1024 water related water rescues

544 flooded cars towed away
(I'm sure this number will go way up today)

I am waiting to see from 2nd Family how wet it is out there this weekend.  Will need to check things out.

I've lived here 40 years.  2nd Man was born here.  We have NEVER seen the likes of what we are seeing every single year here now.  I remember in the late 70's into the 80's, we'd rarely have this kind of flooding.  Sure we had hurricane Alicia in 1983 and it had a lot of rain.  There were other storms that would drop some rain but nothing like the last few years.  It might be 4 or 5 inches and that was a big deal when it happened because it was so rare.

Now we're regularly having thunderstorms dump 16 inches of rain in early Spring.  Then another thunderstorm dumps 12 inches a few weeks later.  Then we'll have a tropical storm with 25 inches and another thunderstorm with 35 inches, then hurricanes and more storms with 40, 50 and yes, Harvey, 60 inches of rain.  They've gone from saying something is a "1 in 100 year" flood to "1 in 500 year" to "1 in 1000 year".  Now we've had TWO "1 in a 1000 year" floods in in two years!

Something has definitely changed.

Still, we remain...

Wednesday, September 18, 2019


On was rain later in the week.

On was an area of disturbed weather.

Tuesday was a tropical depression.

By noon was tropical storm Imelda.

By mid afternoon made landfall.

The winds were never over about 45mph (and that was around the coast) but it's the rain that we are all watching now.  A tropical storm like this in the Gulf of Mexico can produce what they call "training"...which is pulling moisture from the Gulf as it swirls, pulling more and more and dumping it over the same general area over and over as it slowly moves North.

You can see how that works in the radar loop above. 

...and that area is of course all of Houston and surrounding areas.  The farm is in the outer edges, but so far, at least for our property, it has not rained much at all.  "J" from 2nd Family is keeping an eye on things for us.  It might tell me if I need to mow, if I'll be able to mow, or maybe even let me know I don't have to go water. 

From a local news website:

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Tropical Storm Imelda has been downgraded to a tropical depression after making landfall Tuesday afternoon near Freeport. The storm formed at about midday, roughly 15 miles south of Freeport in the Gulf of Mexico.

The main threat from the storm will be extremely heavy rain leading to extensive street flooding, and possibly creek and bayou flooding if it lasts into Thursday.

Our latest forecast calls for 6-12" of rain with isolated spots over 20" along and east of the center's path, which is currently moving north through western Harris County. Chief Meteorologist says that means the threat for street flooding will increase overnight for all areas south and east of downtown Houston

So this is our life for the next few days and we'll see what happens.

Careful what we wish for, right?

Monday, September 16, 2019


Guess what I got to do?  

Yep, mowing!

It rained at the farm but not much.  Maybe 1/4 inch according to 2nd Family.  We figured not enough to grow the grass but apparently it soaked it up and had a growth spurt.  It was enough to make it slightly more green than it has been.  You can see above (from my mowing app) that it wasn't like the usual mow. I was able to skip a few areas that were still brown and then it was just the regular mowing spots.

I mowed the driveway and the yard all around the house and outbuildings.  It looks better and as it turns out, it was good that I did mow because they are saying we may have some heavy tropical moisture coming this week.  That will DEFINITELY give us a growth spurt.

In a patch of green grass I saw these white flowers that had popped up...

Not sure what they are but they are brilliant white.  So white that the sun reflecting off of them made them overexposed on the camera, ha.  

Of course I mowed around them.
Because.  Beauty.

Remember our fig tree/bush that I posted about a couple of months ago?  

Above is the tree at its peak a few weeks back when it was bearing fruit...

...and this was it this weekend.  WHAT THE HECK??  I've never seen it do this before in the years it has been growing there.  I've read conflicting info online, some say it's a fungus others say it's "Fall" and this is normal.  Not sure.  I do know it is getting more shade than it probably should.  When it was first planted, the mesquite tree next to it was much smaller.  Now it's bigger and casting a shadow.  I also started watering it when it was producing fruit but maybe I over watered it.  Not sure.

We do know that we want another fig tree or two and have a sunny spot for them with all the other fruit trees behind the house. 

It was a good, albeit brief, weekend.  Still hot here, upper 90's and we even made it to 100 one day last week.  But again, supposedly rain coming this week.  They were mentioning flash flood possibilities.  Of course it quite often rains in Houston but not at the farm so we guess only time will tell!

Hope you had a good weekend! 

Friday, September 13, 2019


So the other day, my boss brought some wooden hangers from home, they were doing some Fall cleaning and no longer needed them.  So he had a big bag of those really nice solid wood hangers with the metal hooks like these....

I carefully stacked them, much like the photo above, and put my arm through them to carry them to the car.  I put them in the back seat.  I reached in to move my umbrella out of the way and when I pulled it out, it got caught on them and they all fell out into the parking lot.  Then picking them up was just a jumbled mess.  

I share all this to say that when I got back to the office and related my story, my boss said it was like that old game "Barrel of Monkeys".  I had not thought of that in YEARS.

That broadened into a larger conversation of toys of our youth (those of us of a certain age of course).  These were so much fun.  Do kids even know about these now?  There's probably a "Barrel of Monkeys" app, ha! 

Here are some we came up with...

I grew up with LEGOs and today those are even better than when I was little.  But what about Lincoln Logs?  Oh my I loved building those cabins and buildings.  A friend and I made a whole 'neighborhood' of cabins and then we pretended that a tornado blew through.  Yeah, we were weird like that but my imagination ran wild with possibilities...

And then there were Tinker Toys!  I would create all sorts of weird objects.  Where Lincoln Logs pretty much limited you to creating buildings, Tinker Toys would let you create all sorts of shapes.  Sometimes I just went full on artist and made random "sculptures" that my parents would let me display on top of the TV for a while.

And of course there was the ubiquitous Lite-Brite.  I remember punching the holes in the black paper with those little plastic pegs that lit up like glowing jewels.  It was pure magic when you turned off the room lights and turned on your creation.  Once I made the roosters and rainbows and smiling suns, I started making spaceships and planets.  I think it was Star Trek inspired.

Would kids today know about these?  Do you think they'd be bored with them or would it spark imagination once again?  I find that many kids today don't seem to have the imagination we did when growing up.  Maybe there is too much information available and that takes away some creativity?

Or maybe we're just getting old, ha!

Thursday, September 12, 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!

We have an old birdbath at the farm.  It was left by the previous owner when she moved.  It's heavy and concrete and not being used for a birdbath.  Kind of hard to keep water in it when we're not there full time.  Someday we'll have a birdbath for birds (more than one!).  

We've always wanted to do something else with it.  It's currently in two pieces (base and bowl) in the killer bee area, ha.  Now that the bad bees are gone, I can go back and get this and move it closer to the house to do something with it.  

This is a neat idea to fill it with soil and plant something in it.  Shallow rooted of course as above.  

Or perhaps something like this, maybe succulents or even cactus.  So pretty and different.

Be inspired!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


I'm sure we all have a memory of where we were when we heard.  When we saw it.  

It seems as though when the years go by that it becomes more of a distant memory, something that someday young people will only know by us telling them our memories.

For me, the days after 9/11 are a bit of a blur because we found out on 9/12 that my Grandfather had passed away, in his chair with the TV on.  The general thinking is that he had a heart attack while watching the coverage.  Just one of probably many others like that around the country.  

At the last office I worked at, I got to speak to a lady that moved here a couple of years after the attack.  She was in the South tower when the North tower was hit.  What she described is something that can only be described by her words, not by anything we've ever seen on TV footage.  I found out recently that she passed away last year, complications from breathing the air at Ground Zero.

On this day we remember all of those lost in the terrible attack and the brave first responders from all places that came to help and continue to struggle today...

Monday, September 9, 2019


The yard seems to be hanging in there...

Cloudy but still no rain
...there are still some green blades there in a few spots, ha.  Again, this is no mowing since end of July.

Very dry yard
Here is what it looked like when I pulled in and parked where this part of the yard is definitely more dry than others.  This time of year, in this heat, it's just bare minimum work out there.  The temp was 100 degrees with a "feels like" of 107

Dry yard
It's funny (or not when I have to clean it out later, ha) that the only place there is good strong green is in and around the raised fruit tree beds.  Not much I should worry about cleaning out now, I'm still watering.  And it's too hot to mess with.  I'll save this project for the Fall when it's cool.

Penzey's Spices
I stayed long enough to water to keep the trees living and came back into town.  2nd Man and I went to Penzey's (the spice/seasoning store).  There is only one in Houston and it is a cook's paradise for sure.  We always go a little overboard when we go.

Sheet pan chicken and veggies
We came back home and we made one of our sheet pan chicken dinners.  One chicken cut up, seasoned with olive oil and seasoning and tossed on a sheet pan with sweet potatoes, onions, and cherry tomatoes.  Roast at 425 for about 40 minutes or until chicken was done and veggies are nice and roasted.

Cherry pie
Then 2nd Man got a wild hair and made a cherry pie.     I'm always OK with that, ha.  Alas, we didn't have ice cream but it was still very yummy. 

Hope you had a great weekend.

Friday, September 6, 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:

So here is this week's debate.  There are two schools of thought on cereal.  Some people like it crunchy like it is right after you pour the milk in it, you eat it quickly so it stays crispy and crunchy.

Still others like to pour the milk in and let it sit for a few minutes so that the cereal starts to get soggy and the milk takes on the flavor of the cereal.  Great for drinking after the cereal is gone!

Around here I think we are split again but I could actually go either way.  I love how crispy it is when it's first poured but in the end, I like it soggy and that delicious milk that's left over.  2nd Man wants it to stay as crunchy and crispy as long as possible.

So...are you team crispy or team soggy?