Sunday, December 31, 2017

PREPPING FOR THE BIG FREEZE NEW YEARS EVE

I think most everyone in the United States knows that the country is in the grips of an Arctic air mass...


...while this certainly isn't as cold as many other places in the US, for us, it's almost record breaking.  They are saying will could see temps we haven't seen in 20+ years.  Possible TEENS.  Wind chills in the single digits.  For us, that is COLD.  And homes here aren't built for that.  And our plants, well, they are most often "tropical" in nature.  Hardware stores are out of supplies and garden centers are putting plants indoors.  I spent yesterday at the farm getting things prepped there.

I covered the citrus trees with special covers (more on that in an upcoming post).

I disconnected all the garden hoses and sprayers and put them up. 

I moved all the portable freeze sensitive plants inside the house (after watering of course) so they would get through the week.  This included the Aloe Vera that we forgot about last Winter and it froze.  A small part survived and came back so we want to keep that going this time around.


I thought I had done everything but realized I had forgotten the Olive trees.  They are freeze "tolerant" but not into the teens.  So I took the cart and moved the one on the left into the house.  Notice the one on the right?  It had a fire ant bed in it!  Arghhhh!  So I put some ant killer on it but still couldn't keep it in the house.  I put it in the mower shed, which is small and hopefully warmer than the barn would be.  I snuggled it up next to the Zen Machine and put cardboard around it.  

Lastly, "R" from 2nd Family came down and helped me drain the pipes.  We shut off the water to the house first and opened the faucets furthest away, the bathroom tub and sink.  He put his air compressor nozzle into the outside faucet and blew air into it which forced out water in the pipes through the faucets and into the sink and tub.  Once there was not much coming out, we opened the faucets in the kitchen and mudroom and he blew air in again.  We did that until there was nothing coming out but air meaning there was no water left in the pipes.  We left the taps open so there is no pressure in the system and that's it. We have done this the last two years and it's made it through the freezes just fine.  OH and of course we leave the water heater on so it keeps the water in the tank hot and there is no danger of that freezing.


It looks cold.  

It is cold.  

And getting colder. 

Fingers crossed there are no issues.  


We stay in for NYE, we like to watch the coverage on TV and stay away from crazy drivers on the roads.  And tonight it will be crazy drivers PLUS ice.  No thanks.

It also seems the older we get, the less we like crowds, ha.  

Steak is on the menu tonight and a bottle of sparkling shiraz that we love and save for special occasions.  More later.

Be safe and be warm!

Friday, December 29, 2017

OUTDOOR BAR AREA, INSPIRATION FRIDAY

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!



SO YESTERDAY, THERE WAS A COMPUTER ERROR.
 OR WAS IT OPERATOR ERROR?
PROBABLY BOTH? HA!!

Many of you noticed it and let me know, thank you, and I pulled it down during the day.  

So here is yesterday's post today.

This is nothing we'll do right away but both of us wanted an outdoor bar area even in the backyard at the house (if we had had room of course).  Our backyard was small and mostly pool.  Now we have plenty of room and just need the time/resources, ha. 

So we started looking online and finally settled on something like this.  This is definitely a style we like. Nothing fancy, kind of rustic and seems to "fit", and definitely simple. What a great place it would be to serve drinks and just sit and have a snack.

Be inspired!

Oh and...


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

COLD BLAST COMING

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend!  


It was cold at the farm, really cold.  And wet.  Things are finally starting to turn "Winter beige" after the recent freeze and surprise snow.  Took this picture when it was a wind chill of about 35.  

There is some interesting weather coming in our forecast for next week:



Look at next Tuesday.  Low of 25, and that's in Houston.  At the farm it could be a few degrees colder.  It's the kind of weather that makes us nervous, so it looks like this weekend will be draining the pipes and getting the house and plants prepped for a freeze.

 

Will catch up on Christmas weekend comments later tonight. Postings might be sporadic this short week and longer weekend.  We can't believe 2018 is just a few days away?  Where DOES the time go?

Monday, December 25, 2017

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM US TO YOU


2nd Man and I wish you all the best!  Have a wonderful day and we hope you get everything you want.  

Stay safe and warm, eat lots of good food, spend quality time with loved ones and be sure to watch out for...


Rudolph!  

We had this sighting at the farm a couple of weekends ago!  We think he and Blitzen were on a scouting mission...

Saturday, December 23, 2017

WHEN DO YOU OPEN PRESENTS

We like to ask this every year at Christmas...



When do YOU open presents at the holidays?  

Christmas Eve?
or
Christmas Morning?



Growing up, once I think I "understood" how things worked, we were a Christmas Eve family.  2nd Man grew up with Christmas Morning always being the present opening moment.  

We go back and forth with our own tradition.  We're settling into one present Christmas Eve and the rest the next morning.  One thing for sure, it certainly makes for a sleepless night, even as an adult!



Thursday, December 21, 2017

CHRISTMAS DECOR 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!

Image via Pinterest.com
Red barn?  Check.
Christmas lights?  Check.

We are always looking for interesting decorating ideas and when we saw this we thought "wow, this would be so cool to do."

Porch tree image via southernliving.com
Another thing we saw online was this "outdoor" porch tree.  What a fun idea to put a tree on the porch and decorate it (along with other porch decor).  One thing I thought about though, all the creatures that might want to make their home in the tree!  Still it's pretty!

Be inspired!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

CLEARING AND MAKING THE TRAILS


Since we're almost at the first day of Winter, and everything has gone dormant, we've been looking back through photos from the last year.  

So we thought we'd share these and reminisce about Spring and the work to come, ha. 


This is what I do with the Zen Machine (other than the regular yard mowing).  I create new trails and open areas on the property.  

Mowing a trail
They meander around and curve.  Sometimes I just look at an area and say to myself "this needs a path through it".  Then I walk it first to make sure there are no big stumps or debris and then I mow through it.  Once I've done that, if I just mow it regularly, nothing grows back there except the grass. Even when I have to miss a week or two of mowing (due to rain) it just stays grass, which is kind of nice.

It's almost like nature knows to just keep grass in "this spot".  Many times, it's Winter when I do some clearing because it's SO much easier to clear brush when things are dormant.  I'm anxious to try that this season (missed doing it last Winter because the Zen Machine was in the shop).  

Driveway clearing
Here is a spot that we wish we had a before picture of.  But that's why I put the lines on there, next best thing.  The lines are about the width of the driveway when we first bought the property and all that brush you see on the right side was pretty much right up to the edge of the white line.  Over the last 3 years or so, I've been slowly widening it, moving up to the fence line on the left side and widening it on the right side to where it is now.  I don't think we'll go over any further though.  We like where it's at now. The thought is that this bigger area would be a perfect parking area for a large get together later on.  That would keep the cars out of the front yard, ha.

John Deere X320 - Zen Machine
Can you tell I'm missing my Zen Machine?  

Sunday, December 17, 2017

COLD AND WET WEEKEND UPDATE


Not sure if a picture can convey cold, damp weather but I thought this one might. It was just a yucky day yesterday and today. Temps only in the upper 40's but windy and wet so the "feels like" was upper 30's.


This is the temp in the house.  52.  I could turn on the heaters.  We have some of those plug in radiator style heaters, they work well but take a bit to warm things up.  This is one reason we don't stay overnight out there in the Winter months. It's just too cold.  A central heating system is on the list for later.  

If we ever have the danger of a pipe busting freeze, we shut off the water, drain the pipes (including blowing it all out with the air compressor) and leave the valves open.  It's worked every time so far, including down to 21 degrees.  Once we are out there permanently, we'll need heat for sure.  


Garden is growing nicely.  Hope to have some collards soon.  Cabbage is taking its time.  Garlic is of course for next year sometime.  


We had a nice dinner of oven roasted chicken with Alfredo pasta.  Today we are meeting a friend for brunch so we'll be nice and full tonight, ha. 

It's been a good weekend.  Hope you are all having a good one as well!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

COLD AND SOON TO BE RAINY

Off to the farm.  

It's cold now and soon to be cold AND rainy.  


I don't think I'll have to worry about watering today.  It's supposed to rain on and off all week.

Not sure how much I'll get done outside before the rain comes but we'll see.  

And now an obligatory cat picture:

Two cats on a desk
Here are Hobart and Brisbane, trying to share a blanket that was laying on the desk.  The sun was shining in and it was warm.  And it was good. 

Hope your weekend is off to a good start. 


Friday, December 15, 2017

WOODEN WINE BOX TRASH TO TREASURE FIND

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 several cool items so far.
Here is the latest!


This was a neat find, not 100% sure what I will do with it but it's nice. It's a wine crate.  We're assuming a fancy boxed set came in this. Sadly, I think I missed the sliding lid, as there is a groove cut for that.  I suppose it would be easy to recreate.


By using them as they were, they are of course one box with a lid that covers up the whole thing.  Separately they are two nice size, very sturdy wooden boxes. Not sure what we will do with them but hey, it seemed too good for some sort of use to just throw out. Like I said, this is a good, thick wood, very durable.  Storage is the obvious choice but that makes me wonder...

Anything else?



Thursday, December 14, 2017

OUTDOOR CHALKBOARD 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!

Outdoor DIY chalkboard image via Pinterest.com
Here is another, perhaps, odd one. Yes, something I've always wanted just like that TeePee a few weeks back. Maybe it's the inner child in me but I've always wanted a large chalkboard!  Perhaps there is some childhood incident I can't remember involving going up to the chalkboard in front of class, ha. Of course having a large one inside the house would take up a lot of room, not to mention we literally have NO wall that would have space.  Plus where would you put it inside?  The bedroom?  The dining room?  Not a lot of obvious spaces.  So when we ran across these the other day we thought they were pretty cool. 

Outdoor chalkboards!  There are numerous online DIY projects like this, so you can find them in you need to.  Instead we just thought we'd share a couple of pictures.  Pretty cool huh?

Outdoor chalkboard image via Southernliving.com
We have plenty of spots for something like this.  It could go on the house somewhere (on the backside), or of course the most obvious spot, either the barn or mower shed.  Lots of large, blank walls there to hang something like this!  It would be fun to just randomly draw on, maybe make notes about something, or even put a menu or schedule of events someday when we have a party out there.  We'll see!  For now the post is up and saved and we can check back at a future date!

Be inspired!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

ROOM DIVIDING CURTAINS UP

When the weather is too extreme outside, it's a good time to do something inside.  There is ALWAYS something to do inside.  Recently, we decided to tackle this spot in the bedroom. 

 The dilemma was this.  We have the sitting area (hereafter referred to as the craft area) off the master bedroom.  First thing to do was find a rod that would fit from side to side of the opening.
It is a WIDE opening.  

RoomDividersNow.com tension rod
We found this one on Amazon.  Here is the Amazon link: RoomDividersNow Tension Curtain Rod 
*affiliate link*

It spans the space, has the tension to hold it up and best of all, there is no sagging in the middle. You pay more for them of course, but there's a reason, they are heavy duty and actually work!


Next, we went to Bed Bath and Beyond and found two panels.  The first set we got were not lined and the light came through after we put them up.  Even though it divided the spaces, we needed something that would still make it look and feel like two separate spaces.  We went back and found these on sale. They were lined and the perfect dark blue for the bedroom colors.  

Room dividing curtains open
Lastly, it was just as simple as putting up the rod with the curtains on it (grommeted so they slide easily) and that was it!  It took a bit of adjustment to make them just right (and since the tension is tight, it does take some effort to make it fit just right), but once it was done, it was perfect.  

We can slide them open...

Room dividing curtains closed

...or slide them closed.

Now we have a way to divide that area off and help keep the bedroom a bit warmer and/or cooler, depending on what season we are in.  

See those open areas on each side?  When we had the house remodeled inside, we had those half walls put in to separate the area and create an additional space.  We also decided that we didn't want them going all the way up to the ceiling so that more light could come into the room.  

Now we find that with the curtains up, the openings somehow seem empty. We were thinking of a vintage stained glass window on each side.  Not permanently mounted in the space but the kind that hangs from a chain.  Just to further divide it but still let light come through so the bedroom is not so dark.

Any suggestions for those spaces on each side?

Monday, December 11, 2017

WINTER SNOW HOUSTON 2017

OK, a warning, this is a picture heavy post but it's because we don't see this around here very often.  In fact, we could count on one hand the number of times we've had a snow like this in the past 20 years.  

So, as small as it was compared to what other parts of the country get, it was pretty exciting around these parts.  Be sure to at least see the last photo, our absolute favorite and a COMPLETE lucky shot...

(as always click on any picture to enlarge)


Pink is sleet/freezing rain and of course snow flurries mixed in. Light blue is snow.  At midnight here in town, we had just moved from rain to freezing rain (the dark blue is only rain). The farm however was about to experience snow.


This was at midnight, snow just mixed in lightly with the sleet and freezing rain.


So pretty.


By about 1:30am we were in full on snowfall at both places.  I got a text alert saying that heavy snow was falling and so we got up and I went outside on the balcony to take some pictures.  


Same picture angle as earlier, snow much heavier.


This is a parking lot we can see from our window and the light from a sign was shining up.  I tried to capture the heavy snow as it passed through the light beam (probably should have used video, ha).


Remember the first city picture I posted above?  Same angle, same direction, just a couple hours later.  For us, a blizzard!  

We went back to bed but it continued.  


4:15am.  Still coming down pretty heavy in Houston but getting lighter at the farm.  


7:30am it was wakeup and time for getting ready for work.  Still snowing in Houston, but it had stopped at the farm.  Of course now it was daylight and time to go out and see what it looked like.


Remember the view with the ray of light shining up through the snowfall?  It was from this parking lot. Normally by this time of morning, employees streaming into downtown have mostly filled up the parking lots.  Not this morning.  In town, it just barely got to freezing and because the day before had been above freezing, nothing stuck to the ground.  It just covered whatever horizontal surface it landed on.  


Like the pool furniture at the apartment.  


And the palm trees.  We always love seeing palm trees with snow.  Such a contrast in "seasons". It's like Winter crashed into Summer.


This was outside my office.  By 8:30am, it had begun melting and by noon, it was all gone.  

We know what you are wondering, what about the farm?  Well thankfully 2nd Family took some pictures for us.  We're always grateful for them to keep us up to date with photos of major events out there so we'll have them as part of our history. 


The driveway in.  


Mesquite trees aren't normally covered in snow, ha. 


One of the trails that I mow every week.  Normally green and lush, now definitely looking like Winter.


Pretty safe bet that the plants know that Winter has arrived by now.  We're sure the grass will be dormant in a week or so and the last of the leaves on the trees will drop off.  

So as we scanned the trail cam photos/videos, we were hoping we might capture something like snow coming down or at least the white yard.  Never could we have imagined we'd capture this:


Talk about absolutely PERFECT timing!!!

These two deer (could have been more we suppose) were galloping through the snowy front yard.  The video portion only captured the tail end of one, so we're pretty excited to have somehow captured this wonderful moment in time.  

After the nightmare of Hurricane Harvey, Houston needed this kind of rare event.  There were no icy roads or bridges (at least around here) and no frozen pipes or things like that.  First we win the World Series and now we have a snow for the record books!  We'd say that's a pretty good recovery so far...

The Great Snow of 2017