Wednesday, January 31, 2024


With our recent cookie jar gift, it was time for some more cookie cutters.

The last year or so, I've been picking up cookie cutters for 2nd Man.  Usually around or after a holiday when I can find some on sale/clearance and of course they are holiday themed.

This year I picked up a "Santa with his toy sack", "star", "snowflake" and the two at the top, a "cat" and a "dog".  Hey we have to have pet equality in our cookies, right?!  I paid $3 for all of these. 😉

Now we need to find a good sugar cookie recipe, perhaps one that is "healthy" for us and "regular" to share with others.

Monday, January 29, 2024


Took this picture last Summer...

I always have to move the truck and my car at the end of mowing so I can mow the grass underneath where they were parked.  When I was pulling them back, I ended up having them side by side.  I finished mowing where they were parked and I parked the mower next to them...I went to the porch to get some water and I looked back and saw this.  Too funny.

One of these things is not like the other?

Can't wait to be cleared to mow and get back on the Zen Machine.  The timing is working out well since this is the time of year when I'm not mowing anyway, so  until then, it's almost time to get the Zen Machine 2 in for its first ever annual maintenance and get it all ready for the Spring.  And we all know that will be here before we know it.

2nd Family said final rain gauge total was 8.25 inches of rain for all of last week.  Thankfully, it was not all at once so, while the yard was flooded, the roads were clear and no creeks or rivers were in danger.

Saturday, January 27, 2024


Not going to the farm this weekend.

Too much rain.

Click to enlarge. These are multi-day rainfall totals around the area.  2nd Family said we had a little over 7" total but that was before yesterday's rain.  Yep, it rained Mon/Tue/Wed and Thursday was beautiful, but heavy rains came back Friday afternoon/evening.  We are probably at about 8" of rainfall out there at this point.  Speaking of all that rain... 

This is the view from 2nd Family's front porch.  This is looking out into their front yard, toward the road where we drive in.  She said it is SO wet and standing water EVERYWHERE.  We decided to skip this weekend.  We certainly don't need to water, ha, and it's too wet to even try to do anything like moving stuff to the barn/shed, etc.  No sense in risking getting stuck or having the yard messed up.  Plus it's damp and on the chilly side so we'll run errands today.

I'm meeting some coworkers for breakfast, and then 2nd Man and I will make a Costco run to stock up healthy food items.  We're really getting into soups and trying different versions since it's Winter.  We can make a huge pot of whatever soup we decide on and with a salad before, we can eat on it for days.  Easy for weeknight meals and minimal shopping.

More later, hope you all are having a great start to the weekend and stay warm/dry wherever you are.

Friday, January 26, 2024


 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.

You all know I'm feeling better when I'm back to my old self, searching for a deal/bargain, ha!

Saw this up against the dumpster.  I thought it was broken at first but picked it up and moved it over to the door so I could see it in the light...

Was it an easel?  Hmm, I moved it around a bit and then realized what it actually was...

A nice folding desk/table!  It's a really good size, about 4 feet wide when folded out and very sturdy.  It's painted in a gray stain/wash kind of color.

It is in perfect shape, no damage at all and the cool part is being able to fold it up and store it away until needed at a later date.  Not sure how we'll use it, we have two nice desks for use in the house now.  One is 2nd Man's desk for work here at the apartment and the other is a really neat desk in the foyer of the current house.  I thought about using it in the barn/workshop as extra space or even as a gardening/potting table type of table?

Any other ideas?

Wednesday, January 24, 2024


This is a wonderful "get well" gift we received and we just had to share.

Check this out!

A beautiful, ceramic, red barn cookie jar!  It has great little details and is the perfect shade of barn red, complete with hen!

Of course, the roof lifts off with a good tight seal from a rubber gasket and a place to store cookies inside.  2nd Man is currently researching healthy cookie recipes so we can put it to good use. I remember my grandmother having two or three ceramic cookie jars and she was always putting cookies in there.  Haven't thought of that in years and this brings me back.

It will have a special place on the counter for sure!

Monday, January 22, 2024


So, we went to the farm to check things out.

This was last week, it got to a low of 16 at the farm.  This was at 6:33am but I capture this because the "feels like' was 1 degree.  ONE!  Now, we realize that there are plenty of areas in the country that are well below zero for actual temps, but down here in these parts, for us to even feel like it's 1 is highly unusual.

Temps in the teens have definitely turned the grass into normal Winter grass.  I'm OK with that.  No mowing anytime soon.  Speaking of, almost time to send the Zen Machine II off for his annual spa day, ha.

But alas...

...there was a pipe casualty.  Sigh.  This one burst and split.  The water to the house is turned off, but the house is so old and has been patched so many times, we're not sure where the water is coming from, ha.  The only active water to the house is supposed to be the one that runs to the front water faucet.  But wherever, I was able to crawl under the house and patch this. I basically just sealed it off.  There is a small drip now but we can live with that.  It won't be long before we don't have to worry about it.

The truck started right up!  Didn't even hesitate.  It's been sitting un-driven for a week, parked outside in the mid teens...meanwhile, my car that was driven just two days before the freeze, and in a parking garage where it didn't freeze, needed a new battery, ha.

I popped the hood on the truck to see what kind of battery it had (the previous owner had replaced it before we bought it) and it's a Duracell.  We didn't even know they made car batteries but hey, this was a great test and it passed!

The plants we took inside enjoyed their respite from the cold and looked great.  We took them all back outside onto the porch and gave them a good drink of water.

We're hoping the fruit trees/bushes survived, they are all hearty down to single digits so fingers crossed there.  Well, except for the fig...not sure if it will come back but we shall see here in a couple of months.

Now we are expecting flooding rains all week.

Never a dull moment in the Houston area!


Sunday, January 21, 2024


2nd Man continues helping us eat healthy.

Here is a recent breakfast.  He made whole wheat waffles, no butter, a little pure maple syrup, some sliced bananas on the side and two slices of turkey bacon.  We found the Trader Joe's turkey bacon has the lowest calories and has ZERO fat.  Also lowest in sodium compared to other brands.  We still limit ourselves to once or twice a week but still only two slices each.  We really like it and it gives us our bacon fix when we need it.

Hobart has managed the cold blast as best as he can,  by making sure we cover him up and keep him warm!  Because...


Friday, January 19, 2024


So this week has been crazy with the cold and on Wednesday, when the roads were no longer icy, we all had to head back into the office.  I went out to my car to start it...DEAD.  So I popped the hood, used my Halo portable jumpstarter and it took about four attempts to get it started.  I hopped in and started to work.  Drove about 3 blocks down the road and everything in the car went dark and it died.

In the middle of the road.
In rush hour.
My heart rate may have gotten a bit elevated, ha.

I hopped out, used the jumpstarter and once again, it took about four attempts before it started.  I figured three blocks from home would get me three blocks BACK so I turned around and made it back to the parking garage.  I left it parked and running while I came in and made some calls.  

As one might imagine, places around town were crazy busy but just down the road was an NTB.  I headed over and got in right away.

I waited about 30 minutes, they tested it and two dead cells.  A couple hundred dollars later, I left with a new battery and a warning to keep an eye on my alternator.  My dashboard display has an option that shows battery voltage.  It was 13.7 when I left, 13.9 when I got to work, 14.2 when I got home and yesterday it topped out at 14.5 which is normal.  I guess that means the alternator is working and doing what it's supposed to do, but I probably should still have it checked just to make sure.

2nd Man's car is rarely driven since he works from home 100% of the time so we're guessing his battery will be dead and/or need to be replaced as well.  We haven't even tried to start it yet.

It's always best to expect the unexpected, ha.

Yesterday was my FIRST full day in the office since my heart attack on 12/8.  It seems like a lifetime ago.  In a sense, I guess it was...a new lifetime now.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024


Have worked from home the last couple of days...

And for good reason.  Our roads froze over everywhere.

Here is the traffic map when we woke up this morning.  Ice on just about every roadway in town.  So everyone pretty much stayed home.

More healthy soup to keep us warm...chicken, mushrooms, carrots and lots of healthy, dark, greens.

Warm fuzzy socks on...

...and our wonderful Berkshire velvet soft fuzzy sheets on the bed. sleep. always.

Monday, January 15, 2024


Saturday was an absolutely beautiful day, before the bottom fell out yesterday and today.

2nd Man had a last minute work meeting online and were it not for needing to prep for the arctic freeze, I would have skipped.  Certainly no mowing this time of year, as you can see above.

But 2nd Family offered to come help so I went on out and we got things prepped.

We left the lights hung up under the house last year so I'm grateful that was not needed.  We did have one that was burned out, thankfully it was near the edge of the house and I could change it easily.  All we had to do was plug them in, one in an outlet on the back of the house and the other on the front porch.

Also got the clamp on lamps in the bathroom (away from anything flammable) and pointed them at the water heater/under the sink.  The bathroom is small, and with both doors closed, it gets nice and warm.

Under that random box (thank goodness for downstairs recycling area) is the pipe and faucet that comes up from the main valve (which is shut off).  It was wrapped with a towel, bubble wrap, a piece of foam over the faucet and another smaller cardboard box with this one over it all and weighted down.  Not the most attractive look but hey, it worked last year.

"J" helped me carry the plants in (I got the small ones she got the heavy ones) and we put them in the kitchen and a few in the utility room.  We turned on the two oil filled radiator heaters and all was done.

When I got back into town, 2nd Man had two loaves of whole wheat multigrain bread baking in the oven (he was great and multitasking, ha.  It smelled wonderful and tasted equally amazing.

Now we cross our fingers and wait.
And pay the high electric bill when it comes in, ha. 

Stay warm and safe.  It seems most of the country is in the midst of crazy cold and dangerous weather.

Sunday, January 14, 2024


Time for some good food and of course, some Hobart on this cold Sunday!

We're eating a lot of salads, with almost every meal.  This one is arugula, with some shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and sunflower seeds.  Then, 2nd Man made a vinaigrette with balsamic and olive oil, just a couple teaspoons over each. 

Arugula is a heart superfood.  This cheese is recommended, in moderation, and we use paper thin shavings that give us all the flavor with minimal addition.  The sunflower seeds are raw and unsalted.  Lastly, balsamic vinegar and olive oil are also considered superfoods for the heart and lowering cholesterol.

Boom, healthy salad!

Pork chops and lentils.

Chops are lean, thin, pan seared in just a tsp or two of oil, sometimes olive oil, sometimes avocado oil, to keep them from sticking and add some color.  NO salt at all, just pepper and other spices from the cabinet as the sides may dictate.  For the side on this meal, 2nd Man made lentils with garbanzo beans, again no salt, and he used turmeric and some curry.  Is that sour cream?  NOPE!  It's Greek yogurt.  Zero fat and very minimal sodium.  Oh my, so good!

And Hobart continues sleeping next to me on the couch just to keep an eye on me I suppose.  Plus I have to reach over occasionally and pet him.  Because...


Saturday, January 13, 2024


 Welp, here we go again...

An arctic blast is heading this way and will be here Sunday morning.  Lows are going to be extreme (for us and for most of Texas).

We're getting into the teens by Tuesday.


We had hoped to not have to deal with this one more Winter (plants and pipes) but here we are.

As this posts, we are headed to the farm to make preparations.  We left the lights up under the house that I put in last year near the pipes so all we need to do is plug them in.  We do have extra bulbs in case any are burned out.  Then, we will bring all our sensitive porch plants into the kitchen (again, like last year) and turn the heaters on in there and in the mudroom to keep the pipes warm and, of course, the plants alive.

Now...let's hope the Texas power grid stands up to the huge demand that will be placed on it...

Thursday, January 11, 2024


One of the things I got during my recovery was a box of Harry and David's pears and apples.

We had never had them, of course, we have heard of Harry and David's for years.

Let me tell you...we have NEVER had a pear as good as these.  The apples were great too but the pears...

One of the pears in their gift box is always wrapped in gold foil.  It's not any different from the others, just makes one special.  I told 2nd Man that was for the sick person (it's not, ha).

They were SO good.  Turns out the variety they use exclusively are called "Comice Pear".  Now they have rebranded them since they have their own orchards and they call them "Royal Riviera".  Comice pears were first propagated in France in 1856 and were once called the "Fruit of the Kings" because they were a favorite with royalty.  We can see why.

So sweet and smooth and buttery, you can literally just eat them with a spoon.  Wish we could grow THOSE here in these parts.  But alas, we'll have to stick with our old "southern homestead pears" that grow down here in our heat and humidity.

Monday, January 8, 2024


We went to the farm Saturday to check things out.  I drove all the way out there and back with 2nd Man as my copilot and did great, no problem at all.   It's been over a month since I was last out there and thankfully, it was all good.  "J" from 2nd Family had been watering the porch plants (the avocados, bananas, goji berry, etc) and they were all doing great.

I was hoping the grass hadn't grown since it's Winter and sure enough, it looks about like the last time I mowed it.  We've also had regular rains this Winter and so the fruit tree area is happy.  Of course, they are pretty much dormant now, waiting for Spring!

It was blue skies and an absolutely GORGEOUS day.  I watered the plants on the porch and we took some stuff to the barn/shed.  I also drove Bill the truck since it hadn't been started in weeks.  He kicked right in and started up and I drove around the area for a total of about 10 miles so all is good there.

We just sat on the porch for a while and enjoyed the view and discussed life and how blessed we are.  We also talked about the future and plans, more on that soon (no worries, all good news, ha).

It was one month ago today that I was in critical condition and in ICU following my heart attack and stents.  Wow.  Today as this posts, I'm back in the office, 1/2 day in and 1/2 day work from home this week as the doctor said he wants me to be close to the bed/couch should I need to rest.  Next week will be full time back in the office.

I'm also now wearing my "new bling", ha.  I deleted some info from the photo, phone numbers, names, etc, but you can see what else it says.  It's peace of mind as EMT's need to know about the stents, other info and who to contact I.C.E. (in case of emergency).

Life is good!

Sunday, January 7, 2024


2nd Man has been tweaking our normal meals and making them healthier.  Low to no salt, but using so many wonderful spices and seasonings, we don't miss it.  So the other day, he made some vegetable and chicken soup.

Diced up chicken breast (we roast our own, no oil, skinless, no salt, just other seasonings) and then lots of vegetables; mushrooms, onions, carrots, parsley, spinach, and green onions....

Cooked all together with water and low sodium chicken bouillon (the only actual sodium in the entire pot and then it's very little) and an hour later...

We enjoyed a nice bowl of healthy chicken and vegetable soup.  He is also now regularly making loaves of whole wheat bread and multigrain bread so that we control the ingredients.  Low sodium and avocado oil instead of butter.  So good!

For dessert, sliced bananas (super good for the heart) with a sprinkling of sugar and then lime juice and zest over the top of that.  It might sound weird but it is a WONDERFUL combination of flavors.

Of course, here is Hobart...sleeping on the couch next to me, super comfortable, using the couch cushion as his pillow.  Because...