Saturday, January 30, 2021


Today, as this posts (well more or less about the same time, depending on how late I slept, ha), I will be on the mower (I call my Zen Machine for new readers), for my one time Winter mowing.  I do this every season so that I can mow over the dormant weeds and brush that during the rest of the year are green and they are brown and easy to chop up after a couple of freezes.  I also use this time to try and clear some new areas and widen the trails we already have.

After I do this, I'll schedule the pick up of the mower for its annual maintenance which includes...blade sharpening, ha!  New areas cleared, blade dulled by that, blade sharpened, time for Spring/Summer mowing season.  Win/win/win!

I started to save this task for next weekend but I figured it would be better to get this done while the weather cooperates.  Next weekend I'll bring soil for the garden raised beds and finish getting them ready.

I also hope to stop today at a garden center and get a couple of special plants (fruits) for the two galvanized rings I'll be planting in later this Spring.  Remember, we'll have six total but four are already reserved for two each of our two varieties of what will the other two be?

Stand by!

Thursday, January 28, 2021


This is a classic recipe.

I dare say famous.

It's also about one the easiest things you can make with only three ingredients!


2 cups Bisquick
1 lb of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 lb of ground pork sausage

There are many versions out there.  Some have cream cheese, mixtures of cheeses, other ingredients and they are all fine.  But I grew up on this original simple recipe and it's my favorite.  My parents used to make these every year at Thanksgiving and again at Christmas.  

Because they are so easy, I'm not sure why it was only at those holidays that we got to have them.  I say enjoy and eat them whenever you have a hankering, ha!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  While oven is heating, mix together the Bisquick, sausage and shredded cheddar.  Please note, pre-shredded bag cheese does not work as well in these.  It makes it too dry.  Also, you can use any brand of sausage and you can use any kind; spicy, mild, maple, whatever you like.  Again this is just the classic original recipe from Bisquick and growing up, we always used Jimmy Dean regular.

I made these twice at the holidays.  The first time I put everything in a bowl, put on some kitchen gloves and mixed it all up just like making a meatloaf.  The second time I did it in the Kitchenaid mixer with the paddle attachment.  So much easier (but more to clean of course, ha).  After mixing, if it seems too dry (this can vary depending on the sausage moisture content, cheese, etc) you can add up to 1/4 cup milk (a little at a time) to loosen it up.  The first batch this year I used about a TBSP of milk and the second time none.  Just like any baking, the humidity in the air can affect it.

Roll into balls, some say golf ball size, some say ping pong ball size.  Not sure if there's a different in that size, ha, but just roll them up and place on a parchment (or foil) lined baking sheet.  No need for greasing it, the sausage will provide that.

Pop in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the sausage is fully cooked and they are golden.

They are wonderful when done.  2nd Man didn't have the pleasure of growing up with these like I did so the first time he ever had them, he said they reminded him of having a sausage and cheese biscuit.  Let's just cut to the a pretty literal sense, that IS what they are; a leavened flour biscuit with sausage and cheese.  It's just all mixed together into one glorious package.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021


The news isn't looking good when it comes to COVID-19 in Houston...

There is a new variant and it will apparently be the what is causing the most cases everywhere.  Much easier to spread and more aggressive...

We're rapidly increasing in the Houston area...

We may end up working from home again in the not too distant future.  I have curtailed all going out at anywhere at lunch.  We're stocked up on food so I'll just order what we need and if I do need to go to the store, I'll hit up the small store out by the farm.  Fewer people out there, the store rarely has more than a couple people in there when I stop in.

And now, it's struck close to home.  Last week I found out my former boss and his wife are both hospitalized.  He was in serious condition but seems to be a little better (but still hospitalized).  She however has been put on a ventilator and is in ICU.  These are people I spent 16 years with, 40+ hours per week, week after week.  I watched their kids grow up.

It's been really tough.  

Now we found out that one of our coworker's husband has COVID and over the weekend was taken to the hospital.  She was last in the office on Monday.  She tested negative prior so we should be OK but now of course we're worried for her as well since she's been taking care of him.  She is getting retested.

2nd Man also has a coworker who tested positive but thankfully hasn't been in the office to be around them.

Wear your masks people.

Do it for yourself and do it for others.  There's an end in sight but we can not let our guard down now.

Monday, January 25, 2021


Woke up to this view from the apartment balcony on Saturday morning!

These are 40+ story buildings.  It was VERY foggy.  2nd Man had to work (from home of course) this weekend.  He was worried about me driving in the fog out near the farm (lots of curvy two lane roads) so I waited for it to burn off and then headed out.  My goal this weekend was to get started on the garden beds.  If we don't plant a Fall garden, I take a break in the Fall/Winter (i.e. neglect them, ha) until closer to Spring.

Our long range weather forecast basically says Winter is over.  We might have a cold snap in mid February but for all intents and purposes, they said we could pack up the parkas and put away the firewood, ha.

Here is an example.  I let the grass that grows in the off season go through a freeze or two so that it will die off and it'll be easier to pull up.  It's a bit messy (and looks worse) but it works well.

It takes work but I use a hard rake to help pull up the grass pretty easily.  Then the hard rake lets me break up the soil and move it around as well.

I got them done and pulled up the vegetable cages that I had left in, oops (told you I took a break from the garden ha).  I also removed all the soaker hoses (I dispose of those, the year of sun and heat breaks them down and they end up leaking if we try to reuse them).  Lastly, I take all the connectors off, clean them and get them ready for this season.

The unused beds get a new covering stapled to them if they need it.

I got all the beds done EXCEPT this one.  Well I did get this one "mostly" done, but then it started raining.  I'll leave it like this until next weekend, no big deal.

Can't really see the rain in this picture but it was pretty steady.  It's also bleak and dreary so I decided to call it a day.  It was about 4:30pm.  Since I got there at 9:30, that's a 7 hour workday, not too bad.

The next steps will be to get some bags of soil/compost to mix up and top off the beds.  I might do that closer to the time I plant just so I don't have to fight weeds/grass sprouting up.

With an earlier than usual ending to Winter, we're thinking we might start our plants earlier than usual.  I think that's where we've run into trouble in recent years.  We were late starting and while they take off and do great, by the time the veggies start developing, it's getting to be the HOT time of year.  We might get our tomato transplants in toward the end of February.  Last year it was April when we got stuff in the ground and it was mostly a bust.

It's only the end of January but blink and it'll be end of February.  I better make sure we are ready.

Sunday, January 24, 2021


A couple of years ago, I was gifted a box of old jars.  I'd been through them and most were just regular jars that were absorbed into our storage of other canning jars, some were just regular food jars (mayo, mustard, etc) that we didn't keep.  But this one stood out.

I stumbled across it again recently and brought it into town to run it through the dishwasher.  It was dirty and dull and I thought I'd freshen it up.  I hadn't heard of Atlas Mason but turns out it's vintage.  It's not really worth anything but as a collectible, it's kind of neat to have.  There was no lid with it but of course the standard regular mouth ring and lid fits.

Any suggestion for something fun to do with it?
Besides the obvious of a vase for flowers?

And of course because everyone seems to love a Hobart he is napping in the fuzzy tree skirt we had around the Christmas tree.  I put the tree in storage a couple weeks ago but he has adopted this blanket during our recent cold weather.  We guess next year, we're going to need a new tree skirt since this one now belongs to him, ha.

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Thursday, January 21, 2021


We like to collect things.  Thought it would be nice to occasionally have a post about something we collect.  So to start it out, we have this...

One thing we've had an affinity for is white milk glass.  It's not particularly valuable so that makes it affordable and usually easy to find.  We have these bud vases and planters and some larger vases (in another spot that we use in a different way, we'll share that later).  There are two shelves full of these.  We have about 30+ pieces.

That's just enough that when I see them now I go "oh we already have that one".  It's hard to find new ones but I still look on occasion.  I think most of them have been found and thrift stores and a few were given to us by friends who knew we liked them and those always hold a special place.  I used to put all the bud vases in the middle of the table with carnations in them, so pretty and colorful.  The white contrasts nicely with the colors of the flowers. 

It's fun to collect things.  I always said I got the collecting gene from my Grandmother who gave it to my Mom who gave it to me, ha. Grandma used to find something she liked, say, cat figurines for example.  Then she'd just start finding them everywhere until she filled up a bookcase with them.  My Mom loved panda bears and was able to decorate a whole guest room in a panda theme.  So here I am.

With 30+ pieces of milk glass, ha.  

What about you?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021


Every four years, our country goes through an election and then, usually, a peaceful transition of power.  This year things turned out differently of course and for a few hours, our democracy teetered on the brink of calamity.  But in the end democracy won and our transition is occurring. 

I'm a news fan, I love news, good, bad or in between.  There certainly has been enough bad, most of 2020 and now even the start of 2021.  Today is one of the biggest news days of the year as we celebrate change and that transfer of power.  Hopefully it's peaceful and a new direction for our Nation.  Politics aside, I think most would agree we need to heal this country and try to begin the process of bringing it back together.  We've been divided so deeply for so long.

Our first female VP!  And she's a woman of color!  The cabinet picks are amazing as well.  Such a great moment for all children to witness and realize that they too can grow up to be anything no matter their gender, race, identity, etc.  

Let's hope the next four years are much calmer than the last have been.  We wish them well!

God Bless the United States of America

Monday, January 18, 2021


Well, I uncovered the plants/trees from the freeze.  The two banana plants were fine (more on that in another post) and the two pineapples also looked great.

As for the citrus trees (lemon, orange and lime) it looks like they did fine, well most of them...

This is the Meyer lemon, it's nice and green.  FYI, the leaves fell off after the first freeze but again, still green and looking good.

The picture of the orange tree didn't come out (I moved as I clicked it).  It's the same though, green and looking good and even still has a couple of leaves.

This is the lime.  Looks a little browner.  I did scrape the trunk, it's green underneath.  The base is also green.  Some branches are dry and snapped off but others are still flexible.  I guess we'll just wait till Spring and see what happens.  But hey, in past seasons, we've had to replace all three trees so if we can get through this Winter and we only have to replace the lime, we're headed in the right direction.

Every year that the trees make it is one year closer to not having to worry as much for these light freezes that we usually get.  A really hard freeze, knock on wood, is rare for us but they do happen.  These are all safe for most freezes (except a hard) but only when fully grown.

Baby steps!

Friday, January 15, 2021


Recently I posted about finding the leak-proof reusable lids for canning jars.  The ones I found were for the wide mouth and I scored two packages of six for $2.00 per box.  The other day I went to another store of the same chain and they had the regular mouth reusable lids for $1.50 per box with the same clearance sticker on it.  Turns out it was shipped over from the closing store and they just left the sticker on there!  So I bought both of them so now we have a dozen of each.

Just as their canning lids, it's great that these fit on all regular mouth size jars, including the small little 1/4 pint jars I posted about as well.

They do sell these on Amazon HERE. Obviously more than we lucked into paying (so check your local stores).  Really looking forward to having them to use.  Thanks for all the suggestions, keep em coming now that we can use ANY Ball jar size or shape.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021


Some of our trees in the cleared area near the house have mistletoe growing in them.  It's hard to see in the Spring and Summer when they are all filled out and obscured by the leaves...

...but in the Winter we can see where they are.  These are several trees by the way, not just one with many branches.  We know Mistletoe is a parasitic organism but after some research, as long as the trees are well watered, there shouldn't be any harm to them.  Indeed, these trees have had these for years and they are just as healthy as ever.

Anyway, our thinking is that maybe in a year or two, we can do something like this...

...and give away (and/or sell?) fresh mistletoe bundles for Christmas!  The funny thing is, I have a huge roll of red velvet ribbon, just the right size, from a project a friend of mine had a few years ago...maybe it's a sign!

Monday, January 11, 2021


Got to the farm Saturday.  It was clear and cold but really pretty.  The yard and pretty much everywhere was SOAKED.  We had another couple of inches of rain on top of the almost six inches we had last week. I was going to work in the garden but it was just so wet and still pretty cold. 

Found two shingles in the yard so we had some pretty strong winds out there.  Of course, we've lost a few others over the years.  The house is safe though, that old hard wood in the attic repels water.  Another reason we need to do something out there so we can make the house our permanent home.  However we don't want to sink money into a new roof for something that might be torn down or gutted and remodeled.  We'll just include the new roof with whatever we do.

Anyway...then we had to wait for this:

...yep, we might have sleet and/or snow! We know those of you that live with snow all Winter probably go, "um, no, not big snow fans here", ha. 

The temps will just touch freezing but not for long and not enough to worry about freezing roads (at least in the Houston area) but with wind chills currently at 29, we need to protect the plants at the farm so that was my goal on Saturday...

I put our old standby box around the banana trees that are on the porch...

I covered the pineapples (have had those things in the pots for over a year, not going to lose them now, ha)...

And lastly for the citrus, I did something a bit different than last time.  The last time I used larger freeze cloths  and there was too much extra fabric flowing around and it touched the trees.  So this time I put blankets around the base of the trees and up the trunks and then used these smaller freeze cloth bags.  I put the poles with the tennis balls around the base and the fabric was perfect not to touch the trees (don't have to worry about leaves, they have all fallen off, ha).  

It's only one day and one night of crazy weather then temps go back up.  2nd Family is going to to go uncover the stuff once the danger is passed.  

It's all we can do long distance.

2nd Man took the cold weather in stride and made a pot roast with vegetables with cornbread on the side.

OMG so good and so wonderful on a cold, yucky day!

Sunday, January 10, 2021


Yesterday, while at the farm prepping for the Winter storm coming, I had watchers...

...these adorable donkeys!

This is the neighbor side that had the goats.  They goats are kept in a different area of his property and the donkeys are now on the side by us.  The fence was fixed so no worry about donkeys in the yard.  I walked over to the fence line to say hello, the one in the foreground came over and let me do head scratches and loved it but the others were too hesitant about this strange man making weird noises at the fence.  But they stayed around the whole time I was outside.

It was a good day, more of an update on that tomorrow.  Today we just wait...

...we're the red dot and the line between sleet/snow and just rain is getting ever closer to us!

Friday, January 8, 2021


The terrible events of Wednesday...

COVID is mutating into new strains...

The ever worsening pandemic with over 4000 deaths in one day...

At least this made us laugh when we saw it.  Hope you all get a small smile.  Sometimes we have to laugh so we don't cry.  Hope to get to the farm this weekend (weather permitting) and get a break from the news.

More later this weekend.

Everyone stay safe.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021


It's always nice to have a bit of Summer in Winter.

A few days ago, I found some heirloom tomatoes that were greenhouse grown.  It's a great way to have fresh tomatoes this time of year.

We made fresh tomato soup...

So yummy!
And so easy!

We use our Vitamix blender.  We put the chopped tomatoes in, some olive oil, a little salt and pepper and send it for a spin...

For those not familiar with a Vitamix, the centrifugal force heats the soup after a few minutes of running.

It gets cooked of course but still has a wonderfully fresh tomato taste...

We popped in some fresh basil and let it go for another minute or two...

That's it. It comes out piping hot. Seriously, there is steam coming off the top when you pop open the lid...

We poured it in bowls and made a grilled cheese sandwich (because, tomato soup and grilled cheese, am I right?).  Oh my, comfort food at it's best.

Monday, January 4, 2021


 Recently, there was a grocery store location going out of business near my office.  Well, they were closing this location but there are others in the chain.

The sales came in waves.  Always excluded were fresh produce, meat and things like milk, eggs, cheeses. I guess those items are best moved to other store locations.  The first part was all medicines, vitamins, and items like toothpaste, soap, shampoos, deodorant etc, were 50% off.  We stocked up.  We're good for a year or so on that stuff.

Then they made some food items 25% off.  Canned and boxed foods.  I bought a few things.  Then it went to 50% off and I bought more.  We got some good deals in the pantry and stocked up on the expensive things like oils and pasta sauces and canned tomato products.

The items I was most waiting for were the Ball canning products.  Unfortunately others were waiting too.  At 75% off whatever price was already marked, this was all they had left:

I snagged two boxes of these leak-proof lids.  They only had the wide mouth size but that's ok, they were $2.00 per box.  I put one on a tall wide mouth and they are really nice.  They will make for nice ways to store homemade dressings, sauces etc in the fridge.  These of course are not canning lids just storage lids.

I was hoping to get a bunch of jars but alas, they only had these left.  They are the small quilted crystal jars, a dozen of the quarter pint size.  I think the whole box ended up being about $3.00.  25 cents a jar.  Not a bad deal and this was a size I didn't already have so I'm sure I'll find something to can with them someday.

Maybe small amounts of canned jelly or jam to use as gifts?  Any thoughts?