Wednesday, March 30, 2022


 Spring is here for sure...because the fruit trees are all started to bloom!

One of the two apple trees is blooming...

The blueberries are all budding out (sorry for blurry picture it was windy)...

This is the nectarine (our former mystery fruit)...

And one of the two pear trees is budding out as well...

The plums haven't bloomed yet but they have tiny buds so probably a couple weeks away.  The reason not all of them have blossomed is that we have two varieties of each fruit so they all bloom at different times.

Fruit tree blossoming means it's almost time to replace the fishing line "fencing" we put up to keep the deer out.  We're going to do it a bit differently this year by adding an extra row or two so there are less gaps between the lines.  It worked great last year and kept them out so we'll see how it goes this time around.

Monday, March 28, 2022


Here's a project I've put off for a few years.  I'd think about it when it was the middle of Summer and that wasn't going to happen in the heat...and then in the Winter when stuff was mostly dormant I'd remember I needed to do it and then something else would come up and it would be too cold or rainy or whatever.  

Before we sold the house in town prior to the apartment, every time we went to the farm, we loaded up some large decorative rocks that we had in the backyard around the pool.  We figured they'd be nice to have someday for some project.  These are large too. Easily ten pounds a piece or more.

I tried to find a good "before" picture but this was the best I could do.  This was a few months ago after I sprayed them with some homemade vinegar weed killer.

After putting them there in a pile, they sat there.  I couldn't mow over them so I mowed around them.

And then grass grew up.

And weeds.

And the beginnings of small trees.

And it exponentially became a bigger project.

And one year became two and then three.

It was finally time this beautiful weekend to tackle that project.  I put on some gloves, grabbed a shovel and picked and dug them up one at a time.

Filled this cart up to the top and then realized it was so heavy, I couldn't push it.  Oops!  So I took some out and made three trips.  Then I broke out the Zen Machine and mowed over the weeds/grass (after stepping around the ground/grass over and over to make sure there were none hiding) and I finally cleaned it all up and got it looking much better.

This was after I had removed them and mowed it all (except that little pile, they were stragglers, ha).

Of course now we have them in a much larger pile.  This week we're going to pick up a large tarp and find a place to put it and put them there...for now.

One more project down, many more to go!

Sunday, March 27, 2022


It's Sunday.  And it's my birthday.  It's been a foodie weekend, ha.

Yesterday when I got back from the farm it was steak and duck fat roasted French fries...

Today's meal is still being planned but for breakfast it was breakfast tacos using homemade flour tortillas.

For dessert last night, Napoleons. Layers of raspberries, vanilla custard and puff pastry.  It was so good, it just might be one of my new favorites.  

As for today, he's in there now frosting a cake.  I guess we'll have to have a post next week for the rest of the food wonderfulness, ha.

Hobart is not the least bit interested in any of the festivities.  He'd rather be in the sunshine where it's warm.  Note the comfy bed next to him.  It's in the same sunshine but we guess the floor is more comfortable at this moment.  We were brushing him the other night and noticed that he's shedding his Winter coat.  He gets so fluffy in the Winter and now Spring is here and we will have to brush him daily...


Friday, March 25, 2022


We were driving back from the farm recently and saw this standing alongside a fence.  It's the biggest frigging bull I think we've ever seen.  A "Beefmaster" breed, they can grow up to 2600 (!!!) pounds!  Not sure the size of this beast but it was biiiiig.

They were watching the cows across the road.  Sure hope that fence was strong enough...

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 23, 2022


Occasionally, we like to share tips and things that we use that we've found we like.  This post comes from someone emailing us asking how we keep our sheet pans so clean when we use them so much.  When I said we cover them with foil, they said it must be strong foil.

In way, it is.

This is what we use for big things messy things: 

It's the "PITMASTER'S CHOICE" super strength foil.

Made by Reynolds Wrap of course.  Now there are other brands of course and they might call it something else, "super strength" or "BBQ foil" etc.  It's just not "heavy duty".  They make that too but "heavy duty" is not this stuff.  It's a bit more expensive of course but one thing that makes it worth it is the size.  This is much wider.

So wide that one sheet covers a full size sheet pan.  Speaking of, here's a tip to help fit a large piece of foil on a sheet pan.  Turn it upside down, shape the foil around the pan (as above)...

...then turn the pan upright and the foil fits right inside.  We use this foil for the turkey last Thanksgiving and put some parchment on top of the foil.

Here's the turkey sheet pan after removing the turkey that we roasted.

Here's a large full size sheet pan that had two meatloaves on it.  We removed them...

We carefully folded it up and removed it...


Sheet pan is clean as a whistle and can go right back in the cabinet. 

We use this for messy things that might cause a burnt on sticky mess.  If we're doing cookies, we'll use parchment only.  Other things we'll use a Silpat (silicone mat).  He just likes to keep his sheet pans looking nice.  

Believe it or not, these pans are about twelve years old now!

Monday, March 21, 2022


The Zen Machine was delivered Friday.  For those new to the blog, the Zen Machine is what I call our John Deere X320 lawn tractor with a 54" mowing deck.  Once a year, our local JD dealer has a special with free pickup and delivery, 10% off parts and a reasonable price for a complete tuneup.

They check the belts, lubricate everything, change all the filters and of course the oil, sharpen the blades, and best of all, they look for any issues that might be coming up and we need to get ahead of (none found this time, yay).  

This time (they are under new management) they even cleaned and detailed it.  I was amazed when I saw it. It looks almost brand new. And guess what?  It's TEN years old this month!

Of course where they dropped it off and left it meant I had to get on it to drive it to the shed.  I told 2nd Man I didn't really need to mow so I would just drive it to the shed.  It was then I realized I needed to at least see how it ran.  It was smooth.

Then I realized I needed to test the mowing deck and newly sharpened blades...

Maybe just a quick mow toward the shed.  But then I realized that it would look weird like that, so let me just mow around the front...

Well if I mowed the front I need to mow the back...

If I mowed the front and back, then I needed to mow the driveway so it matched the rest.

Well, you might guess where this is going, one thing led to another and... hour later, I finally got it into the shed, ha!

So the first mow of the season is now in the books, er, the app.  I skipped the trails this time as I don't know how wet they might be and we sure don't want a repeat of the great mud incident where it got stuck for a week.

The weather was cool and breezy with low humidity.  Even if the grass didn't really "need" to be mowed, I did it and I don't regret it, ha.  I had a great time!

Today however, we have bad weather heading our direction.  They are saying we could have some very heavy rains, which of course means it might be too wet to mow this coming weekend.  It could be fortuitous that I've already done much of it.

At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it, ha!

Sunday, March 20, 2022


Another week has flown by but finally, it's the FIRST DAY OF SPRING!  2nd Man recently had a birthday and every year on his birthday he asks me to make my tuna casserole.  I know, 1970 called and wants its dinner back, ha.  But he loves it and after all the good stuff he makes for me, I can at least give him what he likes too.

His birthday was during the week so he asked me to make it for the weekend.  I made it yesterday when I got back from the farm.

Tuna Casserole

It's a simple recipe (I think we posted once).  Cooked fettuccine noodles, peas, cheese, tuna, cream of mushroom, cream, seasonings, all mixed up and baked in the oven.  Pretty standard classic recipe.

We'll eat on it all weekend.

Casseroles are such comfort food.

Hobart was in another of his special spots behind me and I had to turn around and get a picture.  As for the spot, we have a sofa table behind one of the couches and we keep one of his blankets on there so he can jump on the couch and then onto the sofa table to sleep so he's close to us but on his own...because...


Friday, March 18, 2022


 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 quite a few cool items over the last few years.

Here is one of the latest!

These two dry erase boards were laying by the dumpster.  Someone just tossed them out, we guess no longer a need for them.  Maybe they worked from home and are now back in the office?  Ha!  We'll never know I guess but hey, score!  Each one is 16"x20" and have hangers on the back.  As you can see above, they still had stuff written on them and it must have been that way for a while because it took a bit of rubbing with a wet microfiber cloth...

...but here they are, now cleaned off and ready to use.  We didn't even realize at the time but one of them is a calendar board, where you write in the month and the days accordingly.  The bottom even has a cork portion for pinning notes with a pushpin.

I like anything I can use to plan when it's time to do things in the yard, for example feed the fruit trees or prune something or add compost to the raised beds, etc.  Plus the blank one will be great for jotting down notes about things we need to remember.  I will hang them up in workshop and/or shed.

Once again, someone's trash becomes something we will put to use and save them from the landfill.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022


Herbs from's one of our favorite herb blends.  Several of you asked about it after a recent post about a meal 2nd Man was making.

For those who may not know, it's a French herb blend.  It contains chervil, basil, rosemary, tarragon, garlic, marjoram, savory, thyme, parsley and LAVENDER.

A lot of times, you will find this in the store but without the lavender, but to be truly French, it must have this unique flavor.  Now cooking with lavender is always a risk.  Not enough and you go "meh, I can't taste it what's all the fuss about it".  But too much and you go "ugh, this tastes like air freshener", ha.  For us, the lavender is the unique and wonderful part.  In some blends that we have tried, the lavender is old and barely part of the flavor profile.

Take a look at these side by side.  The one on the left is a high end brand in the store, but it's sort of a finer grind, with some powder and it's all the same color beige.  Are we sure there is even lavender in there?

But now look at the M&B brand up close:

You can SEE the PURPLE of the lavender flower buds!  We know it's fresh and because they have put the ratios together in production, you don't have to worry about "too much" lavender.

We find ours at HEB but they do sell it on Amazon:

The way we use it most often is on a pork loin roast.  2nd Man will rub down a pork loin and mix a tablespoon or two into some olive oil and rub it all over with that.  Then he roasts it at 400 degrees until the pork reaches an internal temp of 160 degrees.

It's one of my absolute favorite meals that he makes.  Here we had it with some roasted broccolini...

But usually our go to version is with mashed sweet potatoes and peas.  Such a great flavor combo.  

Try it sometime, you might just like it!

Monday, March 14, 2022


Here is a post we meant to put up last Fall but hey, better late than never.

Last Spring, we had to pull up the remains of the citrus that died in the great freeze.  We hated to do that but it's what we had to do, they were deader than dead, no chance of them coming back.

Picture from last Summer

While that left us with three empty beds, it also gave us three spots for new fruit trees.  We did some research and looked for trees that are OK in our unique climate...occasional freezing weather and warm hot Summers while having both drought tolerance and rainy season tolerance.  Ultimately, we decided on a Fig, Mayhaw and a Pomegranate.

 Fruit trees were in short supply at nurseries and garden centers last year and we could only find one...

...a mayhaw tree.  They grow well here and are supposed to produce some great tasting jelly.  They are also hardy to below zero so we're good there.

We figured we'd try again.

We planted it last Fall in the center empty bed based on the fact that it has thorns.  The other two we are going to get don't have thorns so it's easier to just remember that the one in the middle will poke you, ha.

With Spring almost here, garden centers are finally starting to stock up so we'll be looking for the other two.  We might have to pay full price but we want to get them in the ground sooner rather than later.

Because when life takes away your lemons, limes and oranges, you make fruit punch instead!

Or something like that, ha.

Sunday, March 13, 2022


Here's some yummy food and a Hobart picture for today.  It's overcast and chilly and just kind of "blah".  One of those days...

Yesterday, we had some roasted seasoned chicken and 2nd Man made a quick stuffing to serve with it.  We also had a salad on the side, just simple lettuce and tomatoes with a lemon vinaigrette.

Hobart is sleeping on a different blanket today, in a different spot, because, well, as we always say...


Hope you all have had a good weekend.

Saturday, March 12, 2022


It's once again that time...

...time to change the clocks forward one hour, well, at least all the ones that don't automatically change.

Don't forget, it's also a good time to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors.  Stay safe!

Hope you are having a good weekend, it's been cold here, sunny and clear, but chilly.

Friday, March 11, 2022


Here's another still life moment from the desk at the farm.  Over the last year or so, we've been posting about items we have on the desk at the farm.  It's a scattering of things connected to our lives in some way.

These are some more:

The pig - the elephant in the room, er, um, pig in the room.  A few years back, we sponsored a pig for a dear friend's son who was in the FFA.  It was a black and white pig, or well really, more pink and gray not exactly like this and he named it Seda in honor of the farm.  When we saw this at a store, we knew we need to have it at the farm to remember that time.

The brass object - it's an antique tire pressure gauge!  My Dad found it in a box of old tools he bought at a garage sale years ago.  It was all dull and unpolished, as old brass often is.  He shined it up and as a kid I thought it was the neatest thing.  Looking at this picture now, I realize it needs a new polishing.

The pipe - in front of the pressure gauge is my Grandfather's pipe.  He used it for years and we can still smell the tobacco scent in it.

The Hope and Harmony stones - A friend of ours (who was moving overseas for work) gave them to us before he left because he said the words reminded him of us as a couple.

Bits and pieces of lives lived...

Wednesday, March 9, 2022


This is a recipe that a coworker gave me years ago but it's pretty ubiquitous on the internet these days.


24 jumbo pasta shells, cooked

1 egg

15 oz container of ricotta cheese

2 cups shredded mozzarella (divided)

1 cup grated parmesan

2 TBSP fresh chopped parsley

1 TBSP Italian seasoning

Sald and pepper to taste

3 cups marinara type sauce (or whatever flavor you like, garlic, basil, mushroom, etc)

I missed a couple photos of steps but it's pretty easy.  Cook the pasta shells to maybe a minute or two less than the package instructions.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 pan.  In a bowl, combine ricotta, 1 cup of the mozzarella, the parmesan, the beaten egg, and the parsley and seasonings.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  We sometimes put in a dash of nutmeg and a few red pepper flakes.

Spread the sauce in the bottom of the pan.  Take the pasta shells, drain them and once they have cooled a bit, spoon the cheese mixture into each one.  Since I usually make this, I like to put the cheese mixture into a gallon ziplock bag squeeze to one corner and snip off the corner with some scissors.  Instant piping bag and makes filling them very easy.  Lastly, just place the filled shell, seam side up, in the pan with the sauce.

Cover the top with the remaining shredded mozzarella.  Some recipes call for the sauce to be divided so you can use some on top at this step.  We've done it both ways but we like the cheese goodness this provides as the shells cook in a bath of tomato sauce goodness.  

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. 

Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until the top starts to brown.  We'll often turn on broil for just a couple of minutes at the end to really get some browned cheesy goodness.

Above it what it looks like out of the oven. Like any oven baked pasta dish (we're looking at you lasagna), let it sit for 10 minutes or so to firm up and cool down.

Then just dish it up and enjoy.  We sprinkle on some fresh parsley (missed that here) and enjoy it.  It's a very easy dish to make and oh so satisfying.

I swear I think I must have been Italian in a former life because I love all things pasta and sauce and cheese.