Friday, March 31, 2023


When we were out last weekend, we stopped to see some wildflowers.  Were hoping for some bluebonnets but they were nowhere to be found in the area we were.  Might be a bit late for them or they didn't have as big a season as usual. We still saw some pretty ones!

Loved this because of the old metal building in the background.  Pictures still don't do these scenes justice, it's just color scattered around everywhere.  Literally looks like you are in a real life painting as you stand there and admire the view.

Saw these near our farm that we see every few years.  I think someone called these ditch lilies or something like that.  So pretty.

Usually see these later in the year, but with temps in the upper 80's already, we guess they are confused, ha.  Something about these flowers just make us smile.

We love that nature just has flowers just popping up all over the place.  Texas wildflowers, thanks in large part to First Lady Ladybird Johnson, are ubiquitous at Springtime in Texas.

Hope you are having a Good Friday, the weekend is almost here!

Wednesday, March 29, 2023


Trying something new.  You know how we love to put up things in the freezer using our vacuum sealer.

A coworker had an overabundance of bananas and asked if anyone wanted some.  I took a dozen.  We left them out on the counter for a couple more days to get them nice and ripe.

I peeled them and put them in vacuum bags.

Then I sealed them up and popped them in the freezer.  Of course, we got three bags of four each, which is about 2 cups mashed when used in a recipe.

That now brings us to the question:  Other than the ubiquitous banana bread, what are some other good uses for ripe bananas like this?

Anyone got any good recipes/ideas?

Monday, March 27, 2023


Well, we are a week into Spring 2023 and the fruit trees and bushes are blooming out all over.  Always a good sign that they made it through the Winter and are ready to do their thing:

Plum blossoms
Both plum trees are blooming.  The plum blossoms are so pretty against a blue sky.

Nanking cherry blossoms
This is one of the cherry bushes.  They are the "Nanking cherries" and both plants have blooms on them for the first time since we planted them. A few cherries in our future?  Fingers crossed.

Pear blossoms
Both pear trees are blooming, here is one of them.

Nectarine blossoms
This is the nectarine, finally coming back after it had a bumpy Summer with our drought.

Tiff blueberry blossoms
Here is one the two varieties of blueberries we have.  This is the "Tiff Blue" and both bushes we have of this variety are coming in nicely.

Austin blueberry blossoms
And here is the other blueberry variety we have, the "Austin", both of them are coming in nicely as well.  Already have the bird netting up on these.

Mayhaw blossoms
Look!  Flowers and actual fruit coming in on the Mayhaw tree.  Kind of exciting. We're guessing not enough to make Mayhaw jelly, but it's going in the right direction for some of that wonderful jelly in our future.

Apple blossoms
Here is the apple tree (not the new one of course).  This is our leaning "Anna" apple tree.  Lots of blossoms on it and it looks strong and healthy.

Flordaking peaches
Last but not least, we have actual fruit coming in on the peach tree!  Did not expect that, this is our Flordaking variety that we got to replace another one and this year it finally has actual fruit.

Two other trees have yet to show noticeable blooms or development from Winter dormancy.  The fig tree seems a bit behind.  Maybe it's a bit early for buds on it, not sure but no leaves at all yet.  The pomegranate is not doing well either, we think the freeze may have hurt that one but we'll give it some time.

Spring is here!

Sunday, March 26, 2023


 Well this weekend was thrown off schedule, yeseterday we went to a Home & Garden Show out in Katy (suburb of Texas) and talked to some builders, designers and even a banker who does rural homes.  Could be some interesting things coming in the weeks and month or two ahead!

We stopped at a burger place out there to eat, we had been wanting to eat there for a while.  Thought we'd share that picture because a) we haven't been out to eat much and b) the burger was so unusual.

We went to eat at Willy Burger.  It's a place that started in Beaumont TX a few years back and they put their only other location in Katy.  They are craft burgers with sides and even have desserts like funnel cakes, coke floats and malts and shakes (we skipped those, ha).  

2nd Man got a classic cheeseburger, double meat Angus beef, with mustard, bacon and grilled onions and a side of fries.  I got what they call a "Hee-Haw burger" with onion rings.  Funny name but OH MY.  Angus meat, housemade pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, lettuce, bacon and topped with red pepper jelly.  No words.  Definitely good food!

In Hobart news, I was getting some quilts ready for storage and had this one folded up and laying on the table.  Somehow, he found his way up onto it and there he was, sleeping the afternoon away.  We didn't move him.  Because...


Friday, March 24, 2023


Took this picture last weekend, just a half mile down the road from the farm...

Texas wildflowers
The picture doesn't do it justice but we're still happy with how it came out (as always, click to enlarge).  It's just so pretty and calming.  Texas wildflower season is indeed a thing of beauty, a sea of color everywhere.  Bluebonnets are the state flower of course but all the wildflowers are just so stunning.

We are going to a home show this weekend to check out some things we are considering and when we're done, we're going to head around the area and see if we can find some more great shots.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 22, 2023


We get these periodically to stock up our freezer for future meals.  Recently, we used up the last pork loin roast we had so I've been watching.  These were on sale at the grocery store for $1.25/pound.

It was time to replenish our stash!

Picked this one up, it was almost 10 pounds.  It was $11.85.  You can always cut these into thin cutlets or thicker chops, but we like to cut them into roasts.

The pork loins are always a little wider on one end so I started at that wider end.  I got three nice sized pork loin roasts cut from it.  The other end was a little narrower and a bit scraggly for some reason.

So I took that last section and instead of having a weird looking roast, I cut it into pieces/cubes.  They will be nice for a stir fry or rice and gravy with pork.

Then I used the vacuum sealer to put them up.  Three pork loin roasts, almost 3 lbs each and then a nice package of pork pieces.  Popped it all in the freezer and now we're good for a few months.

This is our favorite way of using them, olive oil, herbs de Provence and roasted in the oven but of course we're going to be branching out with our newest Penzey's seasonings blends.

They are great to have on hand and with this loin costing $11.85 before cutting, we got FOUR future meals out of it.  That's a $2.96 per main course meal!

Monday, March 20, 2023


Well the weekend started out as a bust.  Cold, rainy, even sleet if you can believe that.  No freeze, just the right conditions for some frozen precipitation to make it all the way to the ground.

The goal was to work on several things.  Didn't figure I'd need to mow since it was so good last weekend but Saturday was a bust.  I woke up Sunday and it was cold but clear so I figured I'd venture out to the farm and see what I could get done.


If nothing else got done, I HAD to clean up the fruit tree area.  With Spring doing its thing, it was starting to get out of control.  First I edged around them all.  Then I pulled all the weeds inside each bed.  Then I used the electric mower to clean up in between narrow areas.  Finally, I got on the new mower and used it to "clean up" all the clippings and debris.


It looks SO much better and it is a great relief that it's done.  There is something about getting a mess cleaned up that makes you feel like you accomplished so much, ha.  The next thing to do is to get the beds mulched for this season.  This year, I'll be using the truck for what it was intended for...a trip to the garden center to load up the bed with all the bags at once instead of a few at a time in the back of the Jeep, ha.

Isn't this a pretty picture?

This is the front yard, still looking nice after last week on the new mower.  I was so glad I went.  It was cold at first but turned out to be a perfect day.  I was dreading pulling all the weeds and working on all of that in the heat, so we ended up with a bonus nice weekend.  This coming weekend is supposed to be nice.  We have plans Saturday so it will be another Sunday trip. 

I'll be mowing and we'll be preparing for some trees/brush to be cleared the following week.

Sunday, March 19, 2023


 Sorry for late posting on this.  I thought I had this set to post but it was set for the wrong date and I was at the farm and missed it.

Weather is incredible today.  A far cry from yesterday.  Today is cool, breezy, sunny, and nice.

Tuna casserole
2nd Man's birthday was a few days ago and for us to eat this weekend, he asked me to make my tuna casserole that he loves so much.  So with yesterday, being cold and rainy,  I made up a large pan of it.

Tuna casserole and garlic bread
Here it is dished up.  So good and comforting.  We had it with garlic bread.  It was nice and he was happy.

The recipe is HERE

This is Hobart while we were eating.  The light was putting him all in shadow and we weren't sure if he was facing toward us or away from us, ha.  He got a little treat of some tuna and he was happy too.  Because...


Saturday, March 18, 2023


Had big plans today.  But alas, the weather had other plans for today.  When we wake up early on Saturday, the first think we do is check the radar and specifically what's going on at the farm.  I checked about 7am and it was raining.  So, I went back to sleep, woke up at 9am and checked the radar again...

Here's the radar from then.  The red pin is the farm.  Pretty heavy rain.

2nd Family sent us this picture a bit ago, cold and wet.  She said we are at about 1 1/2 inches of rain so far.

Oh and we got this alert:

Sleet reported!?!?  It wasn't freezing but of course it was cold and raining and ice was falling and what didn't melt became sleet coming down in some places.

And here is the temp out there just a few minutes ago.  46 degrees.  Windy, rainy, standing water, sleet and temps in the 40's?  

No thank you...will try tomorrow.

Hope your weekend is going better.

Friday, March 17, 2023


These are some of our books at the farm...

The two bookcases on the left side are all cookbooks.  The one bookcase on the right holds gardening, chickens, beekeeping, and farm related books (and some canning books).  In other words, two for 2nd Man and one for 1st Man, ha.  We love to read and collect books on all sorts of topics that interest us.

Sure, all of this info is probably somewhere on the internet, but there is still something endearing and ultimately satisfying about holding a book in your hands and leafing through its pages. 

Other books we read, fiction and non fiction novels, biographies, sci-fi or thrillers, those are in two smaller bookcases in another room.  

We can fall into the pillows on the couch or a comfy chair and just look through a book for hours at a time.  When we have the house redone, we hope to get a dedicated room as a library of sorts (sounds fancy but really just a study with floor to ceiling bookcases, ha).  Put in a couple of comfy chairs by a big window and it would be absolutely perfect.

2nd Man would also like a spot in the kitchen with some shelving for his favorite (and most often used) cookbooks.  I think that's fair, ha.

Anyone else just love a good, old fashioned, "real" book?

Wednesday, March 15, 2023


When we posted our rib dinner a couple weeks ago, a few people reached out to ask about it.  We have posted the recipe/technique once before but here's an update.

I use two racks of baby back ribs.  Remove the silverskin on the underside.  It's tricky but makes them easier to eat in the end.

I coat each side with a rub, you can use any flavor/brand/combo you like.  We don't have a go to homemade blend but this time I used a combo of a Cajun rub for some heat and Jack Daniels Pork Rub (Amazon link).  Then I put them in a large pan, meaty side up.  We get the extra large disposable foil pans, a pack of two, and one fits two racks perfectly.  Instead of them resting on the bottom of the pan, I put some silicone racks in the bottom.

Pour a can of coke in the bottom (this is the moisture).  Don't pour over the ribs, you'll wash off the rub.  Also add in a tsp of liquid smoke.  Cover tightly with foil.

Make sure it's sealed well, you want them to keep in all that moisture and heat.  Put them in a 350 degree oven for two hours.  Don't peek!

When the timer goes off, remove the foil (be careful when you open it, lots of steam and heat).  Here they are after the two hours (you can see the silicone racks better here).  Now comes the last step.

Grab a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce, we love Sweet Baby Ray's original, and pour it over (or spoon it on).

Turn the oven up to 450 while you spread the sauce all over.  I use a silicone spatula to spread it all over (they are still hot of course).  You only need to do the top part side though if you're careful, your spatula or brush can find its way underneath.  At this point they are almost falling apart tender.

Put the pan, uncovered, back in the oven for 20 minutes or until your desired color.

Here they are done.  I like to bump it up to broil for about 5 minutes at the end and get that char-grilled look and taste.  I took these to a dinner once and people thought I had them on the grill all day.

I considered that a compliment. 

We make these and eat on them for two days.  We spilt a rack on each meal.  Here's a serving, a 1/2 rack of ribs with homemade coleslaw and pickled onions.


It's become our tradition now on Daytona 500 race weekend and again on Fourth of July weekend.  It lets us have them a couple of times a year so we can look forward to them without overdoing it.

Monday, March 13, 2023


Well, several of you guessed right on Saturday's post...the two stripes we posted as a hint were official "John Deere green and yellow" colors.

It was a tough decision but Zen Machine 1 had served a useful life.  It was 11 years old and heck, still going, albeit a bit weaker.  With more areas to mow (coming soon) and just our progression to living out there after we get a house, in the end we decided we needed something stronger and more reliable moving forward.    

Isn't it a beauty?

This is the 2023 John Deere X380, the upgraded newer version of our first one with a lot of features.

Same 54" mowing deck as before (it is the largest they have).  However, the mowing deck on this one is deeper now so it allows more time for the grass to be inside getting chopped up before being discharged.  Finer texture means less in the yard.

And aesthetically, the deck is green instead of yellow.  Simple change there but hey, I like the look of it.  The tires are bigger on the rear now and there is better suspension.  More horsepower too.

The seat is WAAAY better than the last one.  It's like a car seat, it fits snuggly and I can lean back and be more comfortable.  It's also a stitched and heavier material instead of the one piece vinyl of the last one.  This is to prevent the cracking that comes with use.  There are also movable seat springs to adjust the ride.

Here's another favorite new feature:  A small lidded box to hold stuff.  The best use for this is as a cell phone holder.  Since I run the Mowerplus app while I'm on it to track the mows, I usually had my phone in my shirt or pants pocket and I was always afraid it would fall out, plus it got sweaty, ha.  I had my phone in the compartment the whole time on Saturday and when I opened it up at the end of the day, it was just as clean as when I put it in, no dust or grass.  Very useful!

And here's another great change for cleaning/maintenance:

This is the mower deck.  In the previous model, you cannot open these (the spindles and belts run through here).  You just had to try to figure out how to use something like a blower and your fingers to clean out grass and sticks and debris.  But now, you can just push a lever and pull it up (spring loaded to snap shut).

Here it is after mowing.  You can imagine 5 or 6 times of mowing, this gets pretty clogged up.  I used my cordless blower and hands to get it all out...

...and here it is after.  It looks brand new again!
I LOVE this feature and there should hopefully be fewer belt problems in the long run.

Here is another wonderful upgrade.  An actual instrument panel (of sorts).  It shows usage, battery level, speed, has warning lights, etc.  But the best part of this new set up?


Right there in the center.  The old one did not have that.  Instead, it had a translucent fuel tank that you could see from the back and you would jiggle the machine to make the fuel slosh around so you could see the level.  Of course, that required me to get off the mower, which shut it off, just to check the level.  Now, I can watch the fuel level as I use it, you know, just like in a car, ha!

I was mowing for about 45 minutes and I noticed on the "instrument panel" the speed was where I used to push it to at the max end on the old one.  Then I saw another spot above that one with a little icon of tall grass blades with a cut through it.

Hmm...I wonder what that means?  I wasn't at max speed or RPM's as I didn't realize that the throttle could be pushed a little higher.

Let's find out...

Wow!  It was like warp speed on the mower!  It sounded like the subtle roar of a jet engine, ha.

It's apparently a new higher speed for cutting heavier grass and get the optimal performance.

The last time I mowed was October 1st, a little over five months ago.  This is the end result Saturday.  WAY fewer clippings left than before.  I'm sure you all remember pics with lots of grass clippings all over the yard after I mowed.  The grass was pretty tall this time and very little left this time.  And what was is very finely chopped up.

I checked the app and the last mow (which would not have been as thick as this one) I mowed 6.8 miles, 3.7 acres and had a speed of 3.5 mph.  Now, as you can see, almost 8 miles of mowing, almost an acre more of coverage and a faster speed.

After was all said and done, it was parked in its new home in the mower shed.  I feel like it sits up higher and kind of looks it in this picture?

And I was happy.
It was a great day!