Saturday, April 22, 2017

EARTH DAY AT THE FARM


Off to the farm today, we actually have COLD weather coming!  40's later this weekend.  40's for almost May is unusual for sure.  I hope to get the yard mowed, that's the biggest project but we've had some rain this week so I'm not sure how "wet" it will be.  Any day out of the city is a good day.  

I have some big plans for another project that I hope I can get done this weekend, but we'll see, the weather needs to cooperate.  I might only get half of it done and have to finish next weekend.  


I'll have an update post later.  Hope your Earth Day weekend is off to a good start.  Get out there and enjoy the Earth as she is meant to be enjoyed!


Friday, April 21, 2017

FLOWER PRESS TRASH TO TREASURE FIND

Regular readers know that I have a new 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, for people to put things they don't want.  I've found several cool items so far.


And here's another.  I love that some people just sit items at the side so they don't get lost to the trash forever.  Case in point, this was leaning up against the dumpster in the building's loading bay.  I knew immediately what it was and snatched it up.*

*(cue 2nd Man eye roll)

Flower press
A flower press! 

And from the looks of it, probably homemade. It still had some cardboard in it and even paper towels between sheets of paper and thinner cardboard.  I was hoping there might be some flowers still inside but alas, they were all gone.  

Homemade flower press
One thing about it, the bolts that screw down to tighten it (and create the "press" effect) stop before it's squashed down very far.  I'm guessing that maybe there are a few missing pieces of thicker cardboard?  Or maybe the thickness of flowers adds to that as well?  

We have so many wildflowers around the farm pretty much all times of the year, and a bunch more are planted or about to be planted, I'd really love to get into that.  And I'd love to decorate the top to make it more of "our own".

Anyone ever used a flower press?
Any tips/advice?  




Thursday, April 20, 2017

TREE STUMP DINING INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm.  
Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Tree stump dining set up, image courtesy of Southernliving.com
This is just cute.  And pretty.  And rustic.  
And well, it just hits all the points that we love.  I'm not sure we have any trees that could but turned into stump seats like this but hey, maybe someone nearby does.  It would make a nice little breakfast table in the woods for sure.

Be inspired!


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE RECIPE

Here is a great dish that is just a simple, good combination of flavors and really, isn't that what eating is all about?


It's sausage and butternut squash.


2nd Man took a butternut squash, peeled it and diced it into little cubes.  Instead of roasting them in the oven like one might normally do, these are cooked in a skillet with a little olive oil and salt and pepper (to taste).  Cook over medium heat. 


Next he minced up two small shallots...


...and added them to the sautéing squash.  


Finally, he sliced up a pound of Andouille sausage.  Andouille is a specially seasoned sausage that works wonderfully with the sweetness of the squash.  


This sausage is fully cooked (at least the kind we get) so it's just a matter of sautéing it with the other ingredients until everything starts to get a few brown bits (flavor!) and the squash is fork tender.

Butternut squash with Andouille sausage dinner
We served it with a side of mashed potatoes and was just delicious. We love the combination of flavors because it reminds us of the flavors of Fall or Winter.  I know we're in Spring now (at least in this part of the world) but if you can get butternut squash and sausage, it's good anytime of year.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

USING CARDBOARD IN LANDSCAPING AND GARDENING

 When we moved to the apartment, we found the holy grail of cardboard for all of our gardening needs.  Our building has a special recycling area that keeps empty "clean" boxes separate from the regular trash.  I guess with the amount of residents moving in and out there are always a plethora of boxes, not to mention, everyone ordering mail order items and having boxes left over (gotta love Amazon!).  


  We went down a couple of months ago and picked up a bunch, loaded it all into the car and drove it to the farm to store in the barn. Then I spent an hour pulling off all the tape (always pull off the plastic tape, it WON'T break down) and it was ready for use.

Cardboard in raised bed garden
I've used them in the raised beds for both the garden and the orchard.  They kill grass and weeds better than anything I've found.  Best of all, after a few weeks under the dirt, they just become their own compost as they break down.


I've used them to make the flower beds in front of the garden fence, it makes life so much easier.  I liked having the 'flaps' to use behind the landscape timbers.  It has kept the grass from encroaching behind the fence.

Cardboard in flowerbeds
They looked great when they were first done.  Then I just filled and topped it off with soil.  The beds are doing great and so far, they are weed and grass free, a month out from building.

Cardboard in flowerbed
Most recently I used some in the front flowerbeds when I made them.  It's a great way to not have to take up all the grass and weeds, this will just smother it out.

The next plan is to try just putting cardboard sheets down (in the future bee yard) with maybe some rocks or bricks on top to hold it in place and then hoping it will smother out the grass.  Then I plan to just put soil on top and plant some flower seeds directly into the soil.  No timbers around it or outline of a bed, just a "flower mound".  

Anyone ever done anything similar? 

Monday, April 17, 2017

FRONT FLOWERBEDS DONE

Well, they are done, except for planting!  But hey, that's the fun part!  So at the risk of boring you, here are some before and after pictures.  It was a lot of work but I enjoy sharing the fruits of that hard work.


This is the water faucet area.  It was a mess.  First, I cleaned it all out and then put down (missed the picture) the same weedblock fabric that we have in the garden.  


After I did that, I filled it up with gravel.  Actually, after this photo was taken, I added four more bags of gravel.  It's the medium size gravel, in between pea-size and large.  We wanted it to be easy to step on as we hook up hoses and such but not so small that it washes out easily.  This was the perfect in-between size gravel (and it's SO pretty when it's wet).

Notice, the faucet is not centered in the flowerbed.  We could have started the next section with an even space on each side of the pipe but we needed space for the hose.  We ordered one of those hose reel things that let you put the hose inside and then roll it up via a crank on the side.  Will have that next weekend and get it all nice and neat with the hose.


You can see the edge of the water faucet area with the gravel in this picture.  Once I placed the end piece for that area, it was time to move onto the next section.  So above is before...


...here it is with the cardboard down...


...and finally filled with soil.  Ready to plant!  I snapped this pic after I was finished with all of it, you can see a sneak preview of the last section already finished in this photo.  But before that, here it is...

Flowerbed before
...the last section before I started working on it.  Oh, that hose there?  I ran over it with the mower last season and thanks to all of you, I saved it so that I can use it for the fruit trees to prevent bark/trunk damage when they get a bit bigger.  

I put down more cardboard (lather/rinse/repeat, LOL), cut the timbers and put them down and in place.  All that was left to do was to fill it up with soil.

Flowerbed after
Pretty!  Since the timbers are in 8' lengths, I just worked in 8' sections.  Instead of having one long, never-ending flowerbed from one end to the other (which could get unwieldy), we opted for smaller 4' cross sections dividing up each flowerbed.  That will let us have different things in different sections.

Front flowerbeds
Here is a photo taken while standing on the porch stairs looking toward the end.  The part in the foreground is also 8', it's the one I blogged about HERE a couple of weeks ago, so lots of space there too.  Total length from edge of stairs to the other end is 32 feet (four 8' sections).     

Oh how I love clean, freshly filled flowerbeds.  They have so much potential!  We'll start with smaller plants so they can grow and get established.  I did have a few salvia I put in the first flowerbed, we'll see how they do.  We'd like drought tolerant plants and flowers, maybe a mix of perennials and annuals.  

Time to go back and look at some "Inspiration Thursday" pictures from the past!  

Sunday, April 16, 2017

HAPPY EASTER



Hope you all have a wonderful Easter.  



Our weekend the farm was cut short due to weather but hey, at least everything is getting watered!

Weekend update later, got stuff done (yay) but got stung by a wasp (boo)...



..but at least there is always chocolate to make everything better!



Saturday, April 15, 2017

CONGRATS APRIL THE GIRAFFE NOW IT'S OFF TO THE FARM

 Been up since 7:30am watching a giraffe give birth live streaming on the Internet.  Is this a great world or what?  Congratulations to April and her beautiful little (well, if 6 feet tall is little) calf.  It makes the world just a little bit brighter to see something beautiful like this...



Now it's off to the farm to get some more stuff done.  Beautiful day today, weather is cool(ish) and overcast.  Have a load of stuff in the back of the jeep (cleaning out one of the storage units) and have some thing to plant, need rot check the garden and the orchard, edge, and hopefully just sit back a bit and enjoy.  Hopefully I can skip mowing one week and focus on the other stuff.  

Hope your weekend is off to a fabulous start!


Friday, April 14, 2017

APOTHECARY JARS DEAL

We wish we could say this was a trash room find but we bought these...but a person in our building posted an email to the residents that she had some items for sale and among them were these.  

When we saw saw the picture, we immediately said YES!

Assorted Apothecary Jars
A set of five apothecary jars.  Or maybe not so much a set, since they are all different but they are beautiful.  The skinny one is more than two feet high.

We've never had these types of jars but know they are wildly popular in decorating now.  And the best part?  $10 each.  I'm pretty sure that's a good deal, I've see the tall for for $39.95 or more in stores. 

Not sure how many we will keep in town at the apartment and how many will make their way to the farm, or even how we'll use them for that matter, but we think we scored a most excellent deal on these!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

SLAB TOP OUTDOOR TABLE, INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm.  
Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!


We're always looking at tables for outdoor options.  We have enough spaces around we can have several different types.  We saw this and though it was so pretty.  The ironic thing is, about 8 years ago, we had a friend who had a large slab of granite that looked a lot like this, irregularly shaped, and they were offering it FREE to a "good home", ha.  Sadly, we had NO use for it at the tine, even at the house we had no backyard and it was just something we couldn't have imagined ever needing.  Sigh.  We won't make THAT mistake again!

Anyway, this is very interesting and certainly would stand up to the elements outside, ha.  We DO like the chairs around it too.  Nice decorative element being a bit different from standard wooden chairs, but of course being metal means shady spot only.  We have faith that the right table(s) will be there when we need them to be.  

Be inspired!


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

WILDFLOWER WEDNESDAY

Texas Wildflower season is famous for its beauty.  Here are some pictures I've taken.  All of these are on our property.  I guess we do have color, at least at this time of year.

Let's see...we have...


PINKS..


BLUES...


WHITES...


PURPLES...


YELLOWS...

There are others but this is what we have captured over the last few weekends.  

One of these days, we're going to make it to the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.

p.s.  A few of the pics above I'm using as wallpaper on my office computer.  A little touch of the farm at work during the week!

Enjoy natures beauty!


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

GARDEN GATE ENTRANCE

Calling all blog fans...


...this is the entrance to the garden.  Since we've got the flower beds built and filled with a few flowers growing, we feel like this bare spot should have something nicer on it instead of bare ground as an entrance to the garden.  

It can't be anything too high up because I do run the wheelbarrow back and forth through it on occasion so it can't impede the tires. Of course there is also foot traffic on a regular basis.  In fact, all the back and forth with feet and tires has compacted the ground there to where grass won't even grow.  Now that's not to say it wouldn't if I planted some there on purpose, like a couple of squares of sod perhaps? (but then I'd have to use the edger to keep it "trim")

Or maybe roughing it up (to help the new growth) and planting some ground cover of some sort?  

I could do gravel but let's face it, half the gravel will be washed out into the yard in the rain where it could become potential glass breaking flying debris from the Zen Machine mower (that might not be so "Zen", ha).

Any suggestions?


Monday, April 10, 2017

FUTURE FIRE PIT AREA

Now this wasn't this weekend, this actually all happened over the last couple of  month and I realized I needed to put up a post about it before it got too late.  

A couple of years ago, I blogged about our first burn pile.  Well, we've been cleaning up other areas bit by bit and we ended up with another huge pile.  We're not doing doing this anymore.  It gets out of control too quickly and looks horrible in the front yard.  Not to mention there's no telling what is living there! 

We're all about "curb appeal" now (for lack of a better description) so the house and yard look nice (albeit empty, LOL) when we pull up every time.  It's much less stressful when you don't see a giant pile in the front yard.


Thankfully, "R" from 2nd Family came to the rescue and said he would burn it for us while we weren't there and then clear off whatever didn't burn.  He did this over a few days and "J" took a picture for me.  

FYI it looks close to the barn and shed but that's just the camera angle. 



After burning most of a day, this is what was left.  


He burned the last few bits when I was out there to work on the garden last month and then he hauled off a big branch/stump for us that just wouldn't burn.  I was anxious to get mowing, as you can tell, ha. 

Future fire pit area
After it was all gone, I got on the mower and cleaned it off nice and smooth.  Here is the end result.  Now all the grass is starting to grow back but we think we'll keep this same area.  It seems positioned just right to be far enough from the house and the barn/shed so we could have a nice fire going (but still within water hose reach just in case).

Not sure what the exact diameter will be but we can make it big enough for a fire pit in the center, and then an area around around it for chairs, benches, or whatever we decide to put in.  Several of you have mentioned in comments over the years when I posted images on an Inspiration Thursday that fully in ground fire pits have their own unique challenges and above ground generally were the best option.  We'll most likely do something that is a combination of both, sort of set into the ground but having sides that extend up above the ground using a steel ring.  Stay tuned for some picture ideas as we decide.

This is all part of the project planning list and gets it one step closer to fruition.  2nd Man said "let's get it done this Summer and then it will be ready for next Fall/Winter..."  We'll see, I've got some other projects to finish first but so far so good on those!  This let us scratch off the first part of the project, clearing the spot so that it's ready for the rest of the work to be done.




Sunday, April 9, 2017

YELLOW FLOWERS, DUCKS AND CHICKEN DINNER, WEEKEND UPDATE

The weather has been incredible.  Clear skies and a cool breeze.  That's why I want to get as much done as possible on the flowerbeds and of course mowing and edging because soon enough, it will be rainy and then REALLY hot.

Yellow wildflowers
The road on the way to the farm.  
Lined with happy yellow flowers.

Ducks
When I got there, "J" from 2nd Family told me that their ducks were hanging around our house for some reason.  Sure enough, I got out of the car and there they were, just chilling in the shade under the back of the house.  They stayed for awhile and the one on the left in this photo kept coming over to my car to watch me unload stuff (and being very vocal).  But when I went in the house, the spot they were under is the mudroom above and my walking around in there scared them off and they flew back home.

About 20 minutes after they left, she called to tell me all three were happily splashing around in their plastic kiddie pool, ha.  

Country road
I got a lot done and headed back into town (the road on the way out).   I'll have pics of the work later.  Hint, front flowerbeds are done!  We were originally both going to the farm and were going to spend the night but 2nd Man had to work from home at the last minute (the company he works for runs 24/7 around the world so we never know).  He wanted to cook dinner for me after my hard work so hey, who am I to argue with that?  

Iron skillet roasted chicken
I came back to iron skillet roasted chicken.  

Super simple: rub with olive oil and salt, pop in an iron skillet and roast in the oven at 450 degrees for about an hour.  Golden and delicious.

Corn, peas and lemon thyme
Then one of my new favorite sides that he makes, corn and peas with butter and lemon thyme.  AMAZING flavor combination.  That's why we are growing lemon thyme at the farm!

As this posts, I'll be back out there mowing and edging.  Hoping to cut the day short and come back and rest, I'm definitely worn out after yesterday!