Monday, January 30, 2023


Well after skipping last week because of rain, and then the rain (and tornado storms) this weekend, it was time to check on things.

2nd Man stayed in town, there wasn't much we could do out there, I was just going to water the plants on the porch and check on roofs and trees.  When I left downtown, it was raining pretty heavily.  It was a sprinkle when I got out there.  No heavy rain thankfully, but it was wet.  In fact, even though my Jeep is 4WD, I was hesitant to park too close to the house so I stayed back as the photo above shows...

...because the water was like this in various spots around the yard and was muddy.  I've had the mower stuck twice before, don't ever want the car stuck.

I walked around to check on things, mostly looking for wind related damage, shingles, branches down, etc, but all looked good.  I watered the plants on the porch, moved some stuff to the mower shed and then the skies started getting dark again.  It was definitely going to be a quick trip for the weekend.  Grass is greening up but not growing tall yet.  We have another possibility of a freeze the second week of Feb (long range forecast) so maybe that will keep it at bay for a bit longer.

Here is near the fruit trees, at least we know they were well watered.  And the the well was watered, ha.

Speaking of fruit trees, one apple is budding out with blossoms.  Oops.

Don't get too excited Anna apple, Winter isn't over yet!

Sunday, January 29, 2023


Good food yesterday...

Steak with sautéed onions and mushrooms with a side French fries (nice change from baked potatoes).  Lest you think we didn't have vegetables...

...we had a nice salad as well.  Blue cheese, bacon, heirloom tomatoes and romaine.  Yum!

Today something a bit different for Hobart Sunday...we'll include his late brothers.  On one of my photo apps, this came up as "ten years ago today".  We thought it was nice to see this memory of all three of our kitties.  Although it's a little dark since they are all dark colored cats on a chocolate brown couch, thankfully the pillow gives them some definition.  In a rare moment of bonding, they all curled up together.  Sydney, our oldest...then Brisbane, the middle child...and Hobart, the baby.  It was a cold Winter day, the house was cold and so we gave them a king size pillow to sleep on.  Because...


Saturday, January 28, 2023


 After the tornadic storms of a few days ago, and the heavy rains and winds, I need to check things out.

Of course today doesn't look like this photo.  It's raining as this posts.  We had tornadoes, rain, it was warm for a bit, now it's cold again and raining.

This is about right for us lately, ha!

Hope you all have a good start to the weekend!

Friday, January 27, 2023


 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's another one (and several of you have wondered if we might find something like it again this year):

Look!  We found another tree!!


Ha, just kidding!  Couldn't resist, when I saw this dead tree in the trash I thought "ooh that'll be a good one for a post".  Then, a couple of nights later, I found this:

I DID find another Christmas tree!  This one is artificial, ha.  Here is it when I saw it.  One piece was outside the trash bag (that's what caught my eye) and the rest of it was in the bag.  This piece was the base, then the bag had three more sections and the stand.

I took the parts downstairs to our basement storage unit and put it together.

It needs some "fluffing" since it was all folded up and stuffed into a bag, but it's not bad at all.  It is six feet tall but not pre-lit.  I took it apart and put it into our storage room.

No worries, we aren't going to become Christmas tree hoarders, LOL.  We already feel that we have enough (four green in various sizes and the recent white one).  We promised the first one we found this year to a friend who decorates with multiple trees in her house.  We think she'll put it to good use.

Someone else no longer needed it but we'll get it to someone who can put it to good use.  Saved from the landfill and ready to be decorated next Christmas and for years beyond!

Wednesday, January 25, 2023


Wait, isn't that supposed to be "taco Tuesday"?  Tornado sounds about was an INSANE day of weather yesterday.  Several of you emailed to check on us.

About 10am, the weather alerts started coming in.

Tornado (radar indicated) near the farm.

Here was the radar image at 10:38, the dot is the farm.  

Then it only got worse.

An hour and a half later, still heavy rains and very severe storms.  At this point we also began having heavy hail.  "J" from 2nd Family said she was in the bathtub with a mattress over her.

Then almost 2 hours later it was STILL severe.  More tornado warnings and it was moving into downtown Houston and getting very bad at the office.

Then this came in on our phones:

This is the first time since the National Weather Service implemented the "tornado emergency" that it's ever been used in Houston (2017 I believe was the origin date of this alert in our area).

We had to look it up.  A "tornado warning" we are all familiar with...the NWS changed the usage and a warning means there is a radar indicated tornado or conditions indicate there could be one trying to come down/form.  Often these never materialize.  But now, with this new "emergency", they call it: "an exceedingly rare tornado warning issued when there is threat to life and catastrophic damage from an imminent and approaching tornado".  It's saved for when a reliable source confirms an actual tornado is on the ground and causing damage.  The threat is imminent and if you're in the path, your life may be at risk.                                                                                                            .
Our power went out a few times at the building and the wind was crazy high but the tornado stayed to the South of downtown Houston.

There was significant damage all across town.

At the end of the day, there were four confirmed tornado touchdowns in the area.  Lots of damage to suburbs South and East of Houston.  At the farm, "J" said we ended up with over 5 inches of rain.  Her rain gauge only holds 5 inches so it could have been 6 or so.

Houston broke a rainfall record for January.  We also broke a record for having tornadoes in January. 

Thank you all for reaching out.  The rest of the week is supposed to be cool/cold and clear/nice.

Winter in Houston...gotta love it.

Monday, January 23, 2023


Or would it maybe be early season blooms?

The avocado trees we got a few weeks back and put on the porch were saved by keeping them inside in the heat during the freeze.  They are doing great.

One of them has new leaves coming on...

...and another has actual blossoms coming on.  

Need to read up on how to care for them and find the right place for them to be planted in the Spring.

The bananas are doing great as well.

Here they are back outside on the porch.  We lost our others in a sudden freeze last year and so last Spring, the coworker who gave us the originals brought us these from her parents' plants before they moved out.  We also had the extra one that I got for free at the grocery store a few months ago.  

At least we kept them alive this Winter and of course they'll go back inside if another freeze comes between now and Spring.

Apparently, they all enjoyed their "spa week" inside where it was warm...

Don't forget to check Saturday and Sunday post in case you missed them.

Sunday, January 22, 2023


Another Sunday is here and today, as opposed to Saturday (see yesterday's post), today is beautiful and clear.  It's time for some good food and some Hobart!

We had this meatloaf frozen and vacuum sealed in the freezer.  We took it out and heated it up, made some mashed potatoes and gravy and steamed mixed vegetables on the side.

Classic and delicious!

Here is Hobart the other night when I got home from work. This is the cushioned mat in front of the sink where he likes to lay just before I get home.  Then he looks back and gives me the "where have YOU been all day, feed me" look.  Because...


Saturday, January 21, 2023


Today was a washout.  Not monsoon rains, but rain on and off all day.  We skipped the farm and stayed in town to run some errands.  2nd Man was going to get his haircut, but we drove by and they weren't open when it was already two hours past their opening time.  We called and someone answered and seemed to not know what was going on.  Next.

Then we headed to a fun place to roam around, the restaurant supply store.  Picture above is not today, it's from a previous visit.  I would have gotten soaked standing across the street taking this picture, ha.  It's a great way to spend a rainy hour or two looking at all things cooking and food.  We picked up a few things.

Lastly, we went to Penzeys to replenish our herbs, spices and seasonings.  We love Penzeys and are lucky to have a store here in Houston and so happy they survived the pandemic business slowdown.  We've been shopping there since opening day years ago and usually visit about once every six months.  We keep a running list of what we run out of and then on the day we go, we check the pantry to see what's running low.

It's also a good time to try some new items.  Today, our new try items were "French Four Spice", "Bangkok Blend", "English Prime Rib Seasoning" and "Bavarian Style Seasoning" which is currently on a pork loin in the fridge getting ready for tomorrow. 

We called it a day, early dinner, a nap, and some reading and TV rounded out the day.

Hope you all have had a good weekend so far!

Friday, January 20, 2023


So last weekend we mentioned working on the pipe that froze over the Christmas weekend.  

When crawling under the house, I thought "let me turn the lights on that I hung up for the freeze so there's some light under there". That's when I noticed that this one was burned out.  This is also the light that was shining on the area of the pipe that froze.  Of course, we'll never know which came first.  Did the light burn out and that let the pipe freeze?  Or did the pipe freeze and leaking water caused the bulb to burn out?

I'd like to believe that maybe the lights worked, since all the other pipes were fine, and so when the bulb burned out, this pipe froze.  But whatever it was that caused it, here is the result:

It wasn't as I had hoped it might be, a small crack that I could patch up.  No, it completely split and broke into pieces.  Here is one side of it...

...and here is where it was attached on the other end.  It you click to enlarge and look at the pipe section near the cinder block, you can see another split.  It was like this all the way down the line.  When I removed the foam pipe insulation to check it, it just fell apart into  multiple pieces.

As I said, we were hoping for a simple crack that could be repaired or at least patched up but alas, I'll need to get more supplies for this project.  If we decide to do it.

It's not really urgent, we can now turn off the water to the house but the faucet on the front is still active because it is between the house and the shut off so I can still use it to water the plants on the front and the fruit trees in back.  With the house being replaced this year, we might not really make this a high priority.

The water faucet for watering is before the shut off valve (for this very reason) so that the water to the house can be shut off and we can still access water outside for plants. "R" from 2nd Family did it this way for us on purpose.  We still have the hose that runs under the house to the back so we have porch watering and fruit tree area watering.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023


Chirstmas in Texas is tamale season.  With Hispanic culture so immersed in our state, their traditions become our traditions.  And a usual family tradition is making tamales for the holidays.  One of my coworkers made them and asked if we wanted to buy some


I got our handy dandy insulated bag (with a tamale Christmas theme!) and took it to work.

We requested 4 dozen.

Pork (x2)...

They are SO good.  She makes them large and filled with meat.  We used one dozen of pork (since we got two dozen of those) for dinner/lunch that weekend the rest we were putting up.

We sort them out and because of their size, we make packages of six each, vacuum seal and pop in the freezer for future meals.

Believe it or not, tamales (still in the husk) freeze well.  With rice and beans on the side, three large tamales each for a meal is nice and filling.  This will give us six meals of tamales to spread throughout the year. 

We can make this delicious Christmas tradition last a while longer, ha.

Monday, January 16, 2023


A lot of you have asked about the house update plans so that's what we are doing here with this post.

We had a post ready to go all Spring and then into Summer about a possible special announcement, but, well, read on...

You may have noticed a few times last year we mentioned having people out to the house.  Well, we were having a couple of contractors out to work up proposals for a remodel.

Here's how that went:

One group set an appointment, we got everything ready, etc, and then the day before, they said they realized it was too far from their office and they wouldn't be able to supervise it well enough.  Um, maybe use Google maps sooner?  Whatever. 

A second guy came out and talked to us, made some measurements and then we didn't hear from him for a while.  He finally said he was not really going to do whole house remodels anymore but he'd be willing to try.  Um, better to find that out before he started!

Another company never came out but after we reached out to them and communicated back and forth a bit to reschedule, we found some really terrible reviews about them and we were just really hesitant.  So nope.

Another referral we got a couple of years ago we reached out to and since the pandemic, he is no longer doing remodels and then ghosted us.  His loss.

Finally, we found a good one.  He wrote up a proposal for us.  He came out twice to measure, take photos, meet with us, etc.  When he asked our budget, he said we could tell him or let him come up with an amount so it didn't look like he was just going with our highest amount.  He gave us his best guess and it was a little less than the high end of our budget we had in mind.  We were OK with that.

Of course, he still had to work up numbers to come up with an actual proposal.  He came out another weekend and measured more and we even gave him a folder with some ideas of things we had in mind that we liked.

This is kind of what the plan was.  A complete gut and remodel on the inside and removing the addition and replacing it bigger and better.  Of course also a new roof, new plumbing, new electrical, new septic, an enclosed foundation, new windows, central HVAC, etc.  

Two weeks later he came back with the proposal:

About $75,000 HIGHER than our highest end budget.  The general thinking on a remodel is to allow an overage of about 20% for unforeseen problems, expenses, changes in plans.  With an amount like that, we could be easily be almost $100,000 over our already large initial budget.

To top it all off, now the interest rates are higher and on home improvement/remodel loans they are really high.   Most big city banks are hesitant to do remodel loans on rural properties.

What we've also found this year, through this journey of ups and downs, is that many contractors compensate for being so far away from a larger city by giving a higher amount.  They'd rather just stay around the area where they are doing other projects.  That limits the contractors in the area that are willing to do it.

We weighed the pros and cons and it would just be too much for a remodel.

In the end, we realized that if we paid this large of an amount, we'd still just have a remodel when done with inherit potential future problems.  That same amount could give us something brand new.

This house is where we will move permanently and work from home/retire.  We want it to be our forever home and we aren't getting any younger, ha.  So, we have scratched off the remodel and now we're either going with a new build or a new prefab of some sort.

We have an appointment with a builder next week.  We are also going to be visiting a modular home manufacturer in a few weeks and then hope to go to a pre-fab log home builder in North Texas when the weather is nicer.  Then we'll decide which way we go!

We want to get out there and start enjoying ourselves...and this should be the year that we get the big step of a livable house out there.

Sunday, January 15, 2023


Sunday again.  Is this year going to go by faster than last year?  Sure seems like it.

We've posted before about the jalapeños we've put up and last week we posted HERE about the bacon we also put up in the freezer.  Well, we used some jalapeños to mix into scrambled eggs.  2nd Man made some homemade bread that we toasted and put the eggs on top of that.  Finally, we topped it all with some of the bacon we had put up a few weeks ago.

It was definitely a good and satisfying breakfast.

And here is Hobart.  Just hanging around.  Notice his blanket on the sofa table he sleeps on.  He sometimes prefers the arm of the couch.  Because...


And here is a visitor passing through the front yard.  So pretty.  The new trailcam is taking some good pictures but the night pics are still not we had hoped.  There is a learning curve and I just need to figure out the proper settings so that they look better.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Saturday, January 14, 2023


Was at the store the other day and noticed something, then went to another store and saw the same thing:

At the second store I took a picture.  I was taking a shortcut to the checkout and this is the cold/flu aisle.  It (and the one at the other store) was depleted of almost everything.  Both sides of the aisles were mostly empty.

We're not sure if this is a supply chain issue, a sign of a really bad cold/flu season, or if Covid is making a comeback with the new variant.  Speaking of, the Houston area was upped from green to yellow a few weeks ago. 

We still mask up in crowds.  Have to say, even if we're in the minority now, it's actually been kind of nice not having any colds or flu for the last couple of years.
Today we're off to the farm to do a couple of things. It was brisk this morning, mid-30's but thankfully NO freeze, ha.  Speaking of, one thing I hope to do today is work on the pipe with the small leak from the freeze and 2nd Man is looking for a couple of specific cookbooks we think we have out there.

Not much else to do this time of year.  We will take time to sit on the porch and relax and stay warm in the sun.

This is last weekend, the big freeze definitely shifted everything into "Winter beige".

Looks like Winter now, but we're guessing the green will come back soon...and with a vengeance.

Hope you have a great start to your weekend!

Friday, January 13, 2023


 Last weekend, we packed up our Christmas stuff and put it all back in storage.  This was funny.

Here's a before and after:

This is the corner that we put the tree in.  The tree is big and fills up the space nicely.  Hobart ignores the tree but likes sleeping on the tree skirt (on the back side of the tree).

I packed it all up and went downstairs to storage to put it all up.  When I got back...

...this is what I saw.  Hobart sitting in the corner where the tree was.  Poor kitty.

We put our artificial plant back in the corner where it normally goes, pushed the wine fridge back down where it goes and put Hobart's bed back in its place.  He hasn't slept in it yet.

We think he's still mad.