Thursday, November 28, 2019


Hello!  We hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your family and friends.

It's a gloomy day in the Houston area.

2nd Man has a terrible toothache, but we're making the best of things.  We opted out of a full turkey dinner but we're making a homemade turkey pot pie.  That counts, right? 

Hope you have a great next couple of days!
We will check in later this weekend

Hugs from both of us to all of you!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


Short post today.  For millions of people it's either prepping food or last minute shopping or traveling out of town.  

The last few days I've posted some yucky food ideas and so here another.  Anyone want a Spam bake on a cold Winter's day?
No you say?

(click to enlarge)

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I LIKE Spam.  Grew up eating it fried on occasion and it was good.  This however, not too sure about.  You take a loaf of Spam, slice into it, shove peach slices in between drizzle with peach syrup and brown sugar and bake.  

Yum?  Or no?

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


Anyone up for some celery flavored Jell-O that's been turned into a shaped mold filled with vegetables?

Turns out Jell-O used to make a celery flavored variety and a "mixed vegetable" flavored one.  I'm guessing we can all figure out why those didn't stick around to find in stores today.

We will have to say, while visually the mold is pretty, it's pretty as more of a decorative item than something you'd actually EAT, ha.  Cauliflower and tomatoes suspended in Jello-O.

Um, that's a hard no...

Monday, November 25, 2019


When I was out in the yard at the farm, working with the fruit tree beds behind the house, these cows were grazing behind the fence.

I had my music going and they actually seemed to graze closer when the music was playing.  I think I seem to recall reading an article once about cows liking music.  I should test that out next Spring with various types of music, ha!

At the other corner of the back yard, a different neighbor's property, I heard this little guy.  I walked over to the fence line and tried everything I could to get him to come closer...

...I wanted to give him some rubs but he stayed wary of me and only came a few feet closer.  Oh well.  He sure was cute!

Here in the US it's Thanksgiving week so posts will be short.  I do have some of those fun "regrettable holiday foods from the past" to post (first one at the bottom of this post).

It's a short work week: a holiday on Thursday, a day off on Friday, a friend's wedding on Saturday, the farm on Sunday and back to work Monday.  It'll all be a blur by the time it's done.

Hope you have a great week...and think about this for your Thanksgiving feast:


Friday, November 22, 2019


It's time again...

Regular blog readers know that we make our own vanilla extract.  Usually twice a year.  The last batch was ready back in June.  We should have started some then but we forgot.  Now we're getting low but should be OK until this batch is ready, ha.  

You can CLICK HERE to see our last post about it.  We still get our beans from our favorite place, Vanilla Bean Kings.  Prices have come down over the last year so that's always good.  They are definitely a quality source for vanilla products.  

10 vanilla beans, sliced in half lengthwise...

...and dropped into a 750ml bottle of vodka.  This bottle had a special "wrap" label all the way around it so we removed it to see the beans more easily.

Store in a cool, dark place, once a week gently turn the bottle a few times to move the beans around and in a few months you have wonderful vanilla extract.  It should be ready after 2 or 3 months, we just let ours go for 6 to get maximum flavor.  Either use straight from the bottle or pour through a coffee filter.  Definitely cheaper than buying it already done (assuming you have the time to wait of course).

Thursday, November 21, 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!

Saw this while doing a flowerbed search.  Those who have followed the blog for a while know that we had a bunch of large rocks at the house that we moved to the farm before we sold the house (in town).

They are more on less scattered around the property in a few piles. Side note, I need to find a new place for them all in one spot sometime before it gets hot again. Anyway, this is kind of a neat idea for a focal point somewhere in the landscaping when we get new beds around the house (whatever form that takes). We like the flowers growing in between, kind of looks low maintenance but looks can be deceiving.  

Be inspired!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


I finally got a fig tree for the yard.  We have one I've blogged about and we loved the few figs we got but it wasn't planted correctly and is in the shade so it hasn't really grown.

So the other day, I found a really nice size one at the garden center.  It was normally $35 but marked down to $10, good deal.  I carefully loaded it into the car and headed to the farm.

But on the way...

I had to stop suddenly and it flipped forward and the taller branch hit the top and snapped off.  The tree is still good, albeit a bit shorter than it was...

When life hands you lemons, make a lemon tree.  At least something like that in this case, ha.  Here is the branch.  I snipped off the branches, sliced the bottom diagonally and put it into a small vase with water.

This is about a week later and it's already rooting and the green is still green and actually starting to grow.  I have heard that it was easy to root a fig tree cutting and, so far anyway, it's doing what it's supposed to do.

Anyone ever root a fig tree and get a viable tree in the long run?

Monday, November 18, 2019


So we went to the farm Saturday.  It was cool but beautiful.  Clear skies.  The ground was wet, we had about an inch of rain on Thursday.

The coldest we could tell that it got out there was 28.  The pipes were fine, thankfully.

The grass is now officially dormant with that cold blast so this last gasp of green will soon become only shades of beige and brown.

This is the vital "Texas Lilac".  It's done for the year but thankfully even though it looks like this it comes back just fine next year.  I'll prune this back in February or so.

Here are the two banana plants.  The cardboard box we put around them worked great, they are fine.  We folded up the box and left it behind there for easy access next time we need it.

Now the citrus trees were a different story.  When I went behind the house to look at them, two were still covered just fine but one (the lime) was uncovered.  In fact the cover was just gone.  Had no idea where it was.  We were sitting on the porch taking a break when we noticed this...

I said "is that the cover?"  Sure enough, it had blown off in the wind and was about 2 acres away from where it started.  Oh well, at least we didn't lose it forever.

This is the lime tree...the leaves were a bit brown.  This is the one that lost the cover so it must have come off after the freeze (there were storms later in the week).  If it had been uncovered at 28 degrees I think it would have been frozen. All was OK.

This is the orange had a few more frostbitten leaves but still overall it was OK as well. It remained completely covered the entire time.

This is the lemon was also completely covered and the base was wrapped nicely but I think the covering touched the leaves and many of them were damaged.  We hope it comes back.  I shook the tree and most of those "burned" leaves fell off.  I checked the branches and they were all still green and looked OK.  So we're hoping it's just cosmetic damage and nothing that will keep it from coming back in the Spring.  

I spent Sunday doing some research on protecting citrus trees and placed a few orders for some stuff.  New covers (that will actually cover the entire bed), one strand of old school style C9 outdoor Christmas lights for each tree, extension cords, a timer, some bamboo poles, and some tennis balls (what? more on all this when I get it all set up).

There are no freezes in the next 10 days so we're good for now.  This weekend I'll work on getting the rest of the things we need (some pipe covers, etc).  

The next time we are expecting a hard freeze, I'll make sure everything is ready to go.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Friday, November 15, 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:

OK, this is a no-brainer for us.  We always keep ours in the fridge.  Growing up it was in the fridge.  But one day at a restaurant, we asked our waiter about the ketchup on the table and he said it stays out on the tables all the time.  We came home, did some Internet checking and sure enough, there is a debate about it.

Some people say they don't like cold ketchup on hot fries so it make sense to keep it in the pantry or a cabinet.  Apparently the general rule of thumb is to err on the side of caution and just keep it cold.  But there are many who still say it's no big deal to leave it out and just stick it in the cabinet.  Some say they leave their mustard out too!

So...where do you keep your ketchup?

Thursday, November 14, 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 want one of these wagon wheels in the worst way.  We know, sounds weird. Why do we want one?  To do something like this.  Just a cool little piece of landscaping art.  It's fun, it's whimsical and it's kind of neat to see.  Would be pretty simple to execute a design like this as well.

In these parts however, we'd be hard pressed to find a wheel like this.  They just aren't something that common here.  We've heard they are more common up North and East but even then we're guessing they are probably expensive. 

Be inspired!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019


As this posts, we just had our coldest night of the season.  They forecast low of mid to upper 20's.  After I get home tonight, I'll update this with the "official" low.  The current record low for this date goes back to 1907.

At the farm I tried to get things ready for the freeze.  There was enough warning to have time to get done what I needed.  I dug out the freeze cloth box with the bungee cords.  We used these a couple of years ago for the citrus that was behind the garden.  They are round openings at the bottom and the thought was they would go around the square boxes.

Of the 11 fruit trees we have now behind the house, the only ones that need to be protected are the three citrus trees.  The apple, pear, plum and peach trees are all fine into the single digits or even below zero.  Barring a "Day After Tomorrow" scenario, we won't ever have to worry about those kinds of temps.

Now the plan, as I had mentioned, was to drape them over the boxes themselves.  Alas, since they were round openings they didn't work (the old square peg in a round hole conundrum, ha).  So I had to improvise.  I took mulch and mounded it up around the base of each tree.  Then I put the covers on.  I used some coat hangers to try to keep the bags off as much of the foliage as possible.  Then I just tied them off around the trunks.

All we can do is hope for the best.

On the porch, I put this box around the banana trees.  I also draped a sheet over the top.  They should be OK.  2nd Family is going to come remove the sheet after the cold snap.  I told them to just leave the cardboard on so they leaves didn't get any burn from the chilly wind.

As for the rest of the plants on the porch, they are all freeze tolerant.

I packed up the garden trellises that I should have done last Summer and put them in the mower shed.

I disconnected all the hoses around the house and garden and removed the manifolds like this one. I did however forget to wrap this pipe. 

 We're worried but 2nd Family said they would get up there and wrap it if necessary.  The original forecast was 30, maybe 29 and even that was only for about 3 hours.  That's not a big deal and we don't have to worry about pipes in that weather.  But then last night as the new weather models came in they were showing mid 20's possible.  As I typed this last night, it was 30 at the farm.  Hoping they are wrong and it stays around the 28 or 29 range.

Stay warm!

Monday, November 11, 2019


It was a bit cold this weekend, but beautiful.  I finished the projects that I needed to finish...

Raised bed garden
The garden is done for the season and ready for next year's planting...

Raised bed orchard
Side note, we've always liked this view.  It's the side of the house as you walk toward the back and you first see the orchard.

Backyard orchard
I also got the orchard beds cleaned up as best as possible.  I cleaned out the weeds and grass inside of each one and then I edged all around them.  It looks neat and tidy now which is what we wanted.

We really need to figure out a way to prevent that next year.  I don't mind edging around them, that comes with the territory, but the grass in the beds, not sure how to prevent that.  We had all of that beautiful mulch down a few months ago and then it was filled with grass.  I don't know if weed block cloth and nothing else is what we need?  Or if being black it would heat up the soil? 

After last weekend's spiders and snake this weekend was free of creatures.  Well, let's be clear, it was free in the sense that I didn't SEE any of them and that's a good thing.

Tomorrow, the freeze prepping...

We would also like to give a big shout out today to all the veterans who have served our country.  You have sacrificed so much for the nation. Thank you for your service and thank you also to all who serve now.

Sunday, November 10, 2019


Hope you are having a good weekend.  It's been a cold one here but clear and beautiful.

Platinum sourdough instant yeast
A week or so ago I bought a new (new to us anyway) product for 2nd Man.  It's a package of instant sourdough yeast.  I found it at HEB but you can buy it on Amazon here: Platinum Instant Sourdough Yeast

So he decided to make bread on this cold weekend.

Homemade sourdough
He made two loaves and they came out very nicely.  Crispy crust...

Sourdough bread and butter
...and had a great crumb inside with nice holes from the bubbles.  The sourdough flavor was good (though subtle) and we have been eating on it all weekend with butter.  It's very good.

Sleeping kitty
And what else to do on a cold day?  Sleep we have slept and of course that's what Hobart is currently doing.  Sleeping on his afghan (yes, this thrift store find has become HIS preferred sleeping blanket).  Of course it was placed in the sunshine coming through the windows.

Life is good.

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Friday, November 8, 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 another thing that we didn't realize was so polarizing.  Apparently it started after emojis were released that showed cheese both under the meat patty and of course over the top.

So we did some checking and it caused a debate on the Internet with people taking up both sides. 

If the cheese is on top of the meat, it melts and drips down the sides of the meat while holding the top ingredients in place.  Others say that if you put it on the bottom, the heat still melts it but the cheese keeps the juices from soaking into the bottom bun.

An interesting perspective but 2nd Man and I have always done the cheese on top of the meat and then condiments on top of this.  Of course, then lettuce over or under?  I guess the debate could be on several aspects of burger "design". do you stack your burgers?

Wednesday, November 6, 2019


Was in the store at lunch the other day and saw these...

Ball Jars brand has a new color.  It's called Collector's Edition and is Aqua Blue.  At first I thought "what's the difference with this vs the blue they came out with a few years ago?" 

 Then I went back and looked at the blue from then and compared it to this aqua.  

Definitely a difference.  I think when they are all in the box they seem bluer but these are definitely an aqua green just like old school originals from about 100 years ago.  Another difference, these have a galvanized style finish lid and seal like the originals and most differently, they have the original flat bottom style like the old jars.

Hmm...since we have sets of the previous colors, purple, blue, green, etc, well I guess I'm just going to have to get a set or two of these to add to the collection for future use.