Wednesday, September 30, 2020


Here is a food post as just a reminder that simple is good, simple is comfort and during these difficult times, we can all use a little (or a lot) of that.

One of the things we bought during prepping was several bags of Italian Farro.  It's a grain and at the time, was kind of new for us.  But wow do we love it.  We use the farro, a pound of beef stew meat we had in the freezer and some mixed vegetables.  

2nd Man sautéed the meat with some garlic and a little beef broth.  You just cook it the way you like it.  Meanwhile boil some water and add the farro (just like if you were cooking pasta) and reduce to simmer for about 30 minutes (we followed the bag instructions).  In the last few minutes, we added the frozen mixed vegetables just so they would thaw and heat up in the simmering water.  Drain all and add the meat and any pan juices/drippings.

You can add whatever seasonings you like and of course whatever vegetables you like.  

We just keep these ingredients on hand now and make it often.  We always have some bags of frozen vegetables and we keep several 1 lb bags of beef stew meat.  Then all you need is rice, pasta or grains.  In this case the farro was new for us but so good.  It's kind of hearty, almost like an oatmeal type grain.  Very filling and a great flavor.

Monday, September 28, 2020


Earlier this Sumer, we decided where to put the three fire rings we had been using as raised beds for some trees we lost a couple years ago.

We decided to put them in the area with our fruit trees to serve as a place for the three blueberry bushes we have. That keeps them near a water supply and electrical outlet for covering in freezes with lights.

Of course, I'm one who sees an idea and then says 'we can do this here too!'.  So if we have three on this side, since the other side of the orchard area is exactly the same, we can put in three more for future expansion!

We already had an extra one from the original purchase that was not put together so we only needed two more.  Unfortunately they no longer had them where I bought them originally.  It took some internet sluething but I found Menards grocery store online site.

Go figure.

I ordered two more and here they are delivered and taken to the farm.

They are 36" diameter and a foot tall just like the originals.  They come in four sections and just easily bolt together.  Will take about 5 minutes to assemble.

So here is where they will be...three on one side and three new ones on the other side.  The this year might at this point actually be next year but you get the point.

Now comes the "what do we plant" part in the other three?  We don't really want trees in them because that would be too close to the trees on each side.  These are better suited to bushes.  We could plant perennial herbs or veggies.  I know this sounds weird but we'd like to keep this area as the fruit.  We have plenty of space in the garden for future expansion in there like perennial veggies and herbs, plus I have an idea for a medicinal herb garden that will be elsewhere nearby.  

The obvious choice would be more berries and obviously blackberries would make the most sense.  However we have dewberries growing wild ALL OVER the property so we don't need those.  Raspberries don't grow in our area.  Neither do cherries.  Gooseberries don't grow here either.  We're gonna have fig trees nearby as well.  The citrus we want (lemon/lime/orange) are already growing in the middle beds.

We suppose six blueberry plants instead of only three would not be a bad idea in the grand scheme of things, LOL, but it would be nice to have some other fruit back there that grows in a bush form.

Any suggestions for something we might be missing for our "orchard"?

Sunday, September 27, 2020


On this lazy Sunday, I thought I'd share some of the color currently in bloom.

All of these are blooming in their pots as they have not been planted in the ground yet.  We wanted them around the house but with this year originally having been planned to be the year of the house being redone but of course, 2020...

This is the yesterday/today/tomorrow plant gifted to me a year or two ago.  It's doing great, we just keep it watered and it's happy.  The scent is intoxicating!

This is lantana.  These do SO great in our area. We know some people don't like them (they have a unique scent for sure) but they are so drought tolerant and usually freeze tolerant (for our freezes anyway) they make for great color in landscaping.  We have several of these purchased on clearance just waiting for their forever homes, ha.  

Honestly I can't remember what these are called but they have done well in our heat and only being watered occasionally.  They have a great pop of color.

Hope you are having a good weekend.  It's still hot here ugh, but the forecast is showing cool weather coming!

Friday, September 25, 2020


 On Friday in the past we have done a "Friday Food Debate" where we tackle some burning questions of the culinary world, ha. We have expanded it now to other fun and different regional uses of words in addition to food related words.

This week, the burning question is:

Ah, the most perfect of comfort foods.  The cheesy, meaty, ooey gooey goodness of a classic wait, is that a hotdish?

We've always called this a casserole but in the North and midwest apparently hotdish is the way you describe it.  A creamy sauce holding together a starch, a protein and a vegetable.  According to some research, a hotdish almost always is made with a cream of soup as a base but it has evolved over the years as just another way of saying casserole.  

So what do you call these?
Casserole?  Hotdish?  Something else?

Wednesday, September 23, 2020


This is a quick post...

"Beta" is almost over.  It was less of a bad tropical storm and more of a rain event.

There was localized flooding around town, though nothing as bad as we've had in the past.  But even with that, there are flooded homes and cars.

The rain has been upwards of 10" and more in some places.  There is still scattered heavy rain today as the remnants of Beta move back across the city.

We don't know the total at the farm, waiting to hear from 2nd Family.

Just wanted to post this so everyone had an update.  I'll catch up on comments and more later.

Monday, September 21, 2020


Well, 2020 just keeps on giving.

Another storm on our doorstep.  Fortunately this one won't be a hurricane (so they say) but it will unfortunately be a heavy rain event.

Three to ten inches of rain expected in our area.  As long as it is spread over a few days, we can handle it.  If it comes all at once though, there will be flooding.  For those in the twenty inches or more zone, yikes.

There will be flooding there for sure.

When we were coming back from the farm we saw these signs. Normally they're for traffic times, accidents ahead, etc but they change them for other alerts.

Good reminders for people to stay prepared.  By the way, these pics were taken from passenger seat, ha.

This was the farm Saturday.  Clear skies, coolish weather, no mowing needed. 

But that has all changed overnight.

And now we wait...

Saturday, September 19, 2020


2020.  Sigh.

An amazing woman.

An amazing life.

An amazing legacy.

Among her many fights for justice, equality, anti-discrimination, women's rights, voting rights, environmental issues etc, were it not for her vote (and four others) five years ago, we wouldn't be able to be married right now.

Thank you Justice Ginsburg.

Voting has consequences that can last long beyond four years.  The effects can last for a generation or more.




Friday, September 18, 2020


 On Friday in the past we have done a "Friday Food Debate" where we tackle some burning questions of the culinary world, ha. We have expanded it now to other fun and different regional uses of words.

This week, the burning question is:

Besides the fact that they are so good, we love a great stack of PANCAKES.  That's what we call them down here in the South.  In the West apparently the more common term is FLAPJACKS.  In the North and other pockets of the country, they can be called HOTCAKES.

I'm not sure, even though I grew up in various parts of the country, that I've not ever used anything but pancakes.  We do have a friend though that says flapjacks and she grew up in California.  Not sure we've ever known anyone who uses the term hotcakes.  According to some research I did there are other terms that have fallen out of favor over the years:

Flippers, slapjacks, flopjacks, flappers, slapjacks, flapcakes etc.  Fascinating!

So, what do you call them?
Pancakes?  Flapjacks?  Hotcakes?

Wednesday, September 16, 2020


Here is a super quick and delicious meal.  It's light and meatless (with vegetable broth it could be considered vegetarian).

Also a recipe request at the end of this post:

It's just thawed frozen veggies and medium couscous.  For those who've never cooked with couscous, do it, it's so easy.  We use a ratio of 1 3/4 cups liquid (in this case chicken broth) to 1 1/2 cups couscous.  Bring liquid and about a tablespoon of butter to a rolling boil.  You could add any seasonings at this point.  

Once it is boiling, take it off the heat, quickly add the couscous and veggies and cover for 5 minutes.  When you remove the cover, fluff with a fork and let sit for a few more minutes so the veggies are good and heated up. 

Dish it up and serve.  So easy and makes a great main dish or side dish.  It's flexible in that you can use different vegetable could use canned instead of could even add meatballs or shredded chicken.  It's even pretty to look at in the bowl (and as they say, we eat with our eyes first!)  Enjoy!

PS:  Putting out the call for a recipe!

Does anyone have a good tried and true recipe for a good old fashioned squash casserole?  It's kind of a Southern thing I guess but they sure are good.  We have some excess squash and would like to try one out.  I realize we can go to Google and search for one but we want one someone has made that they would make again.  Feel free to link to it in the comments, post the recipe in the comments or use the email me button on the side and send it that way.


Monday, September 14, 2020


I've been meaning to update our plans for the farm but just kept thinking let's wait and see how things go.
But 2020...

... a dumpster fire for everyone.
Things are not immune here either.

First, a very dear coworker had a tragedy.  Her husband died unexpectedly while out of town on business.  Only 45.  It kind of took the wind out of our sails because we are a close knit group at the office, we're like family and what hurts one hurts all.

Just heartbreaking.

Then, as some of you know, 2nd Man was laid off.  It's been a while now.  More than six months.  With the pandemic it's just SO hard to find a job because there are so many looking and with his background, companies if they are even hiring, are just being very specific, more so than in any year past.  I am employed and my job is secure.  The unemployment though has run its course and so now we use savings for needed expenses.  Thankfully, we have it but of course that was intended for doing things at the farm and this year was the original plan for that to start.

Well needless to say, that didn't happen.  We are in conserve/saving mode.  We had narrowed it down to a complete remodel and our backup was a prefab cabin type building (and that could still happen).

Have you ever watched one of those HGTV type shows where they gut down to the studs and then redo it?  That's what we have plans for that were drawn up.  Removing the dining room/mudroom addition and adding on a larger eat in kitchen and then remodeling the other rooms.  We owe so little on the house and land, it just made sense to get a home improvement loan and completely remodel.  We have a couple of contractors that came well recommended and will just need to visit with them when we get ready.  We hope that will happen next year but at this point it's the furthest thought for us.

We have a backup plan of a modular cabin type home but that would involve demolition of what we have now and then figuring out how to get the new cabin onto the property.  That adds a lot to the expense.

In the short term, we may get a couple of new window units that do both cooling and heating just to be able to keep it comfortable to go visit and have a place to get away until we get to the remodeling phase.  That would at least make it nice this Winter and next Spring Summer but then again, spending money right this moment on that seems like less of a plan until we have a better outlook for the job future.  We don't have to go out there this Winter so maybe next Spring we can get some cooling units for the hotter months.  We're still staying in the apartment, it will be easier to find a job here and if either of us needs to work from home, it's easier at the apartment.

And lastly, the latest "2020 Sucks" news...

...we just found out about this a couple of weeks ago but I couldn't post until everyone in their family knew; 2nd Family is getting divorced.


We've known them for 20 years, well, that's for both of us, I've known them for almost 30 years.  She is moving away, out of town, as is their daughter.  We weren't sure what was going to happen with their property.  We share the first part of their driveway and also share the well.  He is going to stay there, at least for now we believe.  He loves it out there but again, who knows what the future will hold for that.  

That means a new well and a driveway cleared from the road will need to be on our shortlist once we can afford to do that.  Again, not until some time next year, it just depends on how things go with him staying there by himself.  If things seem stable for him (and for us) we'll work on the house first and then the other things.

I took this picture the other day and put this quote on there to remind us of why we have done this.  Having a small place in the country to soothe our souls has been our dream for years and we're not about to let some crappy year ruin it for us.  We'll get there eventually, a few bumps in the road along the way, but we'll get there.  Until then, we have a wonderful property to go to and plant and plan and figure out fun things to do.

As dark as it seems now, the future is brighter!

Come on 2021, PLEASE be better than 2020.

Friday, September 11, 2020


On Friday in the past we have done a "Friday Food Debate" where we tackle some burning questions of the culinary world, ha. We have expanded it now to other fun and different regional uses of words.

This week, the burning question is:

You know when you decide to do some Spring cleaning (or Fall, Winter, Summer) and then figure 'why not make some money'?  So you lug it all outside early on a Saturday morning, stick some signs around the neighborhood and wait for the crowds to come spend money on your stuff!

What do you call that?  Here everyone says it's a "garage sale".  "Yard sale" is used as well, but we can honestly say "tag sale" is pretty rare here.  We've also never heard anyone use "rummage sale".

Now we know there are also "estate sales" but those are a specific event.  This is just more of the put it in your yard or driveway and sell it kind of thing.

Anything else they are called?  Regional differences?

So what do you call them?  Garage sale, rummage sale, tag sale, yard sale?

Thursday, September 10, 2020


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 over the last couple of years.

Here is one of the latest!*

*carried back up with gloves and washed thoroughly...

This is a really nice and usually shaped vase.  There is no scale for size but it's about 2 feet tall.

As you can see in this closeup, it's a rich, deep blue, almost a blue green.  It also has a crackle glaze finish that we love as it gives it an antique or vintage look.  The opening is small, not sure what kind of flowers or decor would be nice.  I was thinking that next Spring, when the Huisache trees are in bloom...

...a few branches with these yellow flowers on them would be nice trailing over the edge of the vase.

Of course it's also pretty enough to just stand on its own on a living room end table or maybe the side table in the dining room.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020


If spiders freak you out, you might want to scroll to the bottom of this post for a Hobart picture, ha.

These are spiders we have here in our yards.  They look scary (I wouldn't want to have one on me, ha) but they are not aggressive and are non-venomous.  They also eat bugs, wasps, mosquitoes.  They are friendly allies to have in the garden.

And we have apparently had a population explosion of them at the farm...

There is this one in the blueberry bushes on the porch...

This one in the Texas lilac vitex bush...

This one on a bag of potting soil...

This one on a bush...

This one on a landscape timber...

And this one making a home in a flowering vine...

Again, they are friendly, if not intimidating.

Now as a palette cleanser... is a picture of Hobart, sleeping on the work laptop a couple of weeks ago, doing his best to keep me from working.

Sunday, September 6, 2020


I thought that on this Sunday I'd just post some random photos that I've taken and been meaning to post but keep forgetting to do that...

Remember a few weeks back we did the "water fountain vs drinking fountain vs bubbler" question?  Some of you mentioned in these times they probably aren't even being used.  I saw this at the grocery store and thought 'YEP! No use for them now!" (and they called them water fountains, ha).

Saw these flowers in landscaping done by the city.  I was stopped at a light so I took a quick picture.  I always liked to see when something is professionally landscaped because it gives me ideas on things to do.  These are done in the layering effect with tallest toward the back.  Of course since these are done by the city landscapers, they have to be good selections to deal with our climate.  

We see Mexican heather at the front, then pentas maybe?  Are those zinnias near the back?  Can anyone ID it all?

We've had sporadic heavy rain on and off all weekend. It's OK we need the rain for sure. Things are very dry in this neck of the woods. I didn't have to mow so that was good, in this heat, it's fine.

I'm back in the office, the boss wanted us back in.  We don't allow customers in without appointment and then they must wear masks, social distance etc.  Now we are a small office but still I don't want everyone right up in my space so I put this sign up to keep coworkers from just coming around to stand next to or behind me.

Saw this image and loved it.  The numbers are coming down in the Houston area which is good, but we worry about this holiday weekend because people become complacent or go "hey, it's all better now" and we could have a spike.  We had one after Memorial Day that shut us back down, then another, albeit smaller one, after 4th of July.  People need to stay vigilant.  This isn't over.  Just wear your mask, no one likes it, no one likes the isolation but lets do this to be safe for everyone and then we can get back to some sense of normalcy at some point.

And last but certainly not least, this was a project I first heard about over on Marcia's blog a couple of months back.  It's a group that is reminding registered voters to get out and vote this year.  They wanted hand written notes on preprinted postcards because they are more personalized.  It was a crowd sourcing effort so you could request 25 to fill out or 100.  I signed up for 100.  Several times!  It was fun, I just wrote them out while sitting and watching TV.  They provided the postage paid return envelope and so once complete, I just sent them all back and they will be mailed out to all the addresses just prior to early voting for that state.  It's nice to a do a small part to help out in the election this year.

That's been about it for this weekend.