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Saturday, July 8, 2017

# 573 - Rooster Love

Our roosters are kind of adorable, even when mean-mugging me.


They are big, healthy boys who get along and wake us every morning to their crowing.


Sometimes it seems they are posing for me, literally strutting their stuff. Roosters can look quite regal. This is Pavarotti; he's got a beautiful voice.


I love the classic rooster stance with one foot in the air. The roos look great when shaking their tail feathers.


I think I heard him whisper under his breath, "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful."


Thursday, July 6, 2017

#572 - Gardening for Bountiful, Beautiful, Tasty Delights

For nearly all of my adult life I've had a vegetable garden, on some level. Even during my worst years as my green thumb withered, I still grew some sort of vegetables, most often tomatoes, bell peppers, and other kitchen staples.

There's no doubt that I'm addicted to homegrown tomatoes, but this season I tried growing potatoes...again.

In the past I've tried and not enjoyed much success. This year I bought GMO-Free Adirondack Seed Potatoes, and I planted five. All were fantastically successful; it was interesting to see the potato vines and leaves grow to a bluish color, and this is beneficial as you'll always know which potato variety is the Adirondack Blue.

As you can see in the photo below, the potatoes have a purplish skin and the flesh is bright purple. Unlike other purple potatoes, these maintain their beautiful purple flesh after being cooked and are VERY high in antioxidants! You can see how large these got by looking at the upper middle photo of the collage where I'm holding one of the potatoes; they're such big beauties!

I prepared oven-roasted potatoes for dinner one night, mixing Adirondack Blues with regular Russets, and the purple color made cooking feel more delightful and cheery, but the purple roasted potatoes on the plate made dining seem more fun and exciting.


From now on, every year I'll do my BEST to plant Adirondack Blue potato seeds in our garden because an abundant harvest allows me to give these beautiful potatoes as gifts to family and friends who are creative home-style chefs, but who might not have the space to have their own vegetable garden.

Later, I'll write about my growing techniques because my potato crop was a success; my harvest was quite handsome; I feel like a proud momma! However, potatoes are a crop that can be planted three separate times throughout the year, so I'll be making sure these potatoes keep going in our garden, and I'll write more details for potato lovers in a post that's soon to come.

This season, so far, my Walla Walla onions, sown from real seeds, tiny seeds, didn't seem to germinate. That was disappointing because I was eagerly anticipating two rows of onions being at our disposal for a long period of time...I wanted to walk out and pull up a couple of onions for meals whenever I wanted, but my want, want, want turned to nada, nada, nada for onions. I had doubted the health of those seeds, but went against my gun instinct when planting those seeds...shoulda, woulda, coulda.

However, my scallions were comfy at home in the garden and grew nicely. Same with the carrots; they love their growing spot. I love to pick baby carrots when they're tender and sweet, plus the chickens love the carrot tops as a treat. The below photo even shows a couple of pitiful potatoes that had been accidentally left behind in the garden, the tiny runts that simply struggled to keep up with the pack...I'll not let them go to waste.


Oh Bell Peppers...how I love thee! This is vegetable that can truly be expensive at the grocery store and is an ingredient we love to cook with. It's wonderful to grow fragrant, tasty bell peppers on our acreage. I love making several foods with bell peppers...stuffed bell peppers, chicken fajitas that do NOT taste nearly as good if cooked without bell pepper slices, king ranch chicken where I mince the bell pepper so my youngest daughter doesn't pick through her plate, grilled chicken or beef shish-k-bobs that include bell pepper chunks, and so many other delicious meals.


I've been thrilled to get corn from our garden this season. Now, corn is an incredible food to have on hand. You can take one ear of corn and cut off the kernels for a meal variation, grill it on the pit or it can be cooked several other ways, but corn is a great food to add to a meal. Corn is a continuous crop, so if you like eating it often or consistently, then you need to plant new seeds every two weeks for the entire planting season. I'll have to improve my gardening skills and time-table to get into a good groove for corn, but I DID grow some corn this year!


Jalapeno Peppers are my husband's delight. Well, ANYTHING hot and spicy suits his palate. I prefer the milder extra large jalapenos, and I stuff them with cheese, wrap in bacon and cook...one of my all-time favorites. The jalapenos I grow at home are smaller and HOT. But, it's great to have them on hand to prepare home-made salsa or pico de gallo, along with other dishes.


The Texas heat is now battering the best out of my precious tomato plants, but they've been producing quite an impressive bounty of tomatoes. From seed, I grew several varieties...of course my garden is completely Heirloom or GMO-Free plants, so I grew Black Krim, Beefsteak, Old German, Yellow Pear and my Bootcreek Green Beefsteak...some tomatoes get up to TWO POUNDS in weight! The smell and taste of our homegrown tomatoes is something that cannot be replicated in an ordinary grocery store full of produce that's grown as rapidly as possible to make as much money as possible...our home-grown, heirloom varieties are allowed to linger in the garden, to grow at their natural pace and be free of any kind of growth stimulates or chemicals, and they are allowed to hang out on the vine for as long as it suits them, then they're savored.


The harvest we get from our home-grown vegetable garden brings tremendous joy and value to our lives, home, kitchen, meals, wallet, self-esteem, and to our tastebuds. Not only do we find fulfillment from gardening, we learn and utilize real-world skills that are priceless because there's MUCH MORE to gardening than just sticking some seeds in the soil. Each lesson is treasured and no matter how much I read, study and research, there just isn't the same level of absorption for a topic than to just dig in and do it. Every year I gain more knowledge by doing some level of gardening, whether it be in containers, or a very limited garden or a more extensive garden where I'm taking things to a new level.


One thing is for sure, gardening can bring out the introspective side of me. After the rains we've had last week, the weeds can be an unrelenting beast, but gardening teaches and re-teaches me life lessons. This week, I'm reminded that life always has bad things trying to creep in, but we must be diligent and watchful, always eager and energetic to halt unhealthy intruders before they attempt to ruin all that we've worked so hard to enjoy. Life is like that...from destructive thoughts to destructive behaviors and destructive people, we need to weed as much of it out of our life as possible. Then, we should focus on the beautiful parts that will give back to us. Our hard work DOES come back around, and there is such amazing joy when we reap the fruits of our labor.

I'm celebrating!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

# 571 - A Country House and Back to Blogging

Years ago I began blogging. So much happened over those years. We went through our house being destroyed by Hurricane Ike, getting our kids through high school and then college, selling our house in Greater Houston, then moving to our acreage in the country and living in an RV for nearly three years as we built a house.


Weather conditions were difficult as we got started. It took much longer to clear the site for the house because of constant rains. It was awful. The large equipment couldn't maneuver in the muddy ground, so we had to simply practice PATIENCE.


It was difficult to imagine a house standing on the acreage we'd owned since our kids were young. David was determined to get his wrap-around porch...that was his non-negotiable feature. Mine was to have large rooms, especially nice sized bathrooms. We've owned homes with TINY bedrooms and this house wouldn't have tiny accommodations.


Another feature we both longed to have in our country house was dormer windows, and we got them...three of them. I love that they are well balanced with the size of the house because sometimes a dormer window can end up to look like an afterthought. Our builder did a fantastic job.


The house is just over 3,000 square feet with over 2,000 square feet of wrap-around porch. Crazy porch space, but that is David's dream.


We kept the forested landscape all around the house. Of course, that's not difficult to do since we live in the Big Thicket.


Our detached garage became a huge construction project in itself. We decided to go all out. On a solid, re-enforced foundation, we built an oversized two-car garage with extra space aside, a four-car carport, and a loft overhead that's over 900 square feet that we use as "attic" space for the time being. We build a full staircase inside the garage to lead up to the loft. I had intended that space to serve as part attic space with a separated area to be used as my art studio. However, this house is such a huge undertaking that it will probably take another two years to wrap up the main house, so the loft continues to serve as an attic storage space. I must say it's wonderful to walk into the attic and to not be cramped.


We now have our garage and attic full of many of our belongings and many things of all size...furnishings, boxes, appliances, etc., that our oldest daughter has stored there for the time being. We are ALL looking forward to the day when they can move their big ticket items out of these spaces so we can use the garage as the wood workshop David truly needs to utilize since we must do many projects to finish this house. For now, we look like true Rednecks with far too many things on our wrap-around porch because they will not fit in this huge garage that's stuffed with everyone's things. We will be working that out this year or me and my daughter will be having a garage sale!


Our builder had been waiting for the bad weather to clear out so he could start construction on our house. It was a miracle, but once he began building from the floor to the metal roof...we did not have ONE rainstorm. The weather remained dry and hot while they built the shell of the house, which pleased me immensely. This was indeed a huge and unusual blessing!

I have loads to catch up with on this blog. I had a problem with pictures, but it seems that issue is resolved, so perhaps my loaded pictures will no longer disappear and that's a great motivator to return to regular blogging!

As for construction on this new home...we have a long way to go to finish, but we are thrilled to be fortunate enough to live a dream. Each day is a challenge and a learning experience, but the rewards of doing so much of the work ourselves is beautiful.

Today I'll be putting up a couple more shelves in the closet of a the downstairs guest bedroom. Each small step puts us closer toward enjoying the house of our dreams.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

#570 The Family GROWS!

We're still building the country house, dubbed "Bootcreek Farmhouse." I predict that we have another two years of details to confront before this house is finished. It's a BIG project.

If you have followed this blog, you might know that we sold our home in Greater Houston, in 2013, then moved to the acreage we've owned since our kids were young. We didn't have a house on the property, so we bought a nice, new and shiny RV, but NEVER expecting to live in it for THREE YEARS. Selecting the spot for constructing our new home wasn't an easy task.

The goal was live on the property for a minimum of one year so we could see how weather patterns and seasons affected the land itself. Since our acreage is in a heavily forested, rural region, we couldn't just refer to the opinions of others in the area or upon documented issues because there has been no one living here to record anything whatsoever.

I'll be sharing some of our progress as I catch up with some posts.

But, the best change over the past few months has been the wedding of our youngest daughter, Stefie. It's hard to believe she's 26 years old now. Finally, she married Brice...a young man we love and welcomed with open arms into our family.

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Our oldest daughter, Heather, is in the maroon dress and our
daughter, Stefanie, is the Bride. Me and Sarge are flanking Stefie.
My dad is standing next to me and my in-laws are next to him.
This is our growing family. Our sons by law are handsome,
my two grand-babies (the smallest girl and boy in arms) while
my cute niece stepped into the shot!
But, we do have more pictures with the entire clan.

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Stefie's wedding was a fairy tale event.

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She was a truly beautiful bride. And she actually wore my veil...the veil that survived over 30 years in storage. I must say, it looked as if it were made just for her.

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The family heirloom she wore for her
wedding...the veil. There is a 30 year gap
from the time I wore it on my wedding
day to marry her daddy, until the day
Stefie wore it for her own wedding.

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Stefie with her niece and our grand-daughter, Coraline.

Here is Sgt. Dave during the father and daughter dance to Butterfly Kisses.

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Their wedding will always be remembered.

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And I'm so proud of my daughters. They are sisters who are always there for each other.

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The wedding has been a sacred event that started out 2017 with a beautiful BANG! The wedding was January 14th, and it turned out to be a BEAUTIFUL day in Texas with temperatures in the 70's. It couldn't have been more perfect.

I'll post more about the wedding and details with the decorating later.

I'm glad to be back. Happy posting everyone!

*******

There's still no answer to why my pictures disappeared from old posts...still searching for an answer and a possible move to a blog domain that won't be subjected to such severe blogger issues. Wordpress seems too expensive and analytics only come with the $20+ per month subscription. No thanks. In this blog, I've mostly copied and pasted all photos from my own photo supply, not using a third party, such as Picasso. I've never had an issue, until the past few months...it seems. If anyone has a suggestion of how to blog without such issues, I'm open to advice.

Monday, March 6, 2017

#569 - Long Time No Blog...Missing Photos on Past Posts

It's been way too long since I've made a post. Today, I decided to get onto my blogging site and to do some catching up, but was met with the HORROR of seeing all the copy/pasted photos from past posts have disappeared! I'm doing research in an attempt to figure out what has happened, but am not successful, as of yet.

I do not use Picasso, etc., for my blog photos and haven't done so in a couple of years because I copy them from Facebook and then paste into my blog post. So, it's so sad to see the pictures that accompany my posts being absent.

If anyone knows why this has happened, I'd appreciate any information so I can figure out if I am going to keep posting through this blog or start another with a different provider. I've been with Blogger for so many years that it's difficult to start all over again.

Bummer!

Otherwise, I'd love to share some of life's events over the past several months. The construction on Bootcreek Farmhouse is slow going, but it's still GOING. Our youngest, Stefie, recently married her sweetheart, we have two scrumptious grand-babies and so much more to share.

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Stefie feeling the love from this mom and dad on her wedding day.

Perhaps I'll figure out the problem, so I can fix the magically missing photos and have faith that new posts won't be altered at a later date by a Blogger blip. Since I do not use Picasso or any other photo provider, I find it odd that they can cut out info that is copy and pasted...info belonging to me.

I hope everyone is doing well...looking forward to catching up some more with old blog buddies, so everyone take care, and I'll be checking comments to see if anyone has an answer as to why the pictures are now replaced with a blank box that has a little x in a box at the top left corner.

Blogger...no Bueno.

#568 - PICTURES on Posts Disappeared!

I've been away for too long, but am getting back to my blogging. Does anyone know why the pictures in my posts have magically disappeared? I'm stumped and disheartened!

Monday, July 4, 2016

# 567 - 30 Years of Marriage - An Edited Thought

On June 14th, just a couple of weeks ago, Sgt. David and I were married 30 years. I can't believe so much has happened over the last 30 years, but being married during all of it has defined the meaning of staying together better and for worse. We definitely know how to stick with it.

So, I wanted to mention this life-time achievement award category of a 30-year marriage under our belts. Plus, we clean up pretty well for pictures, so I better prove it while I have the opportunity.

Here we are the week of our anniversary eating at one of our favorite local restaurants.


However, the majority of time, since moving to the country in 2013, this is how we appear on most days...


Getting started in 2013 on our acreage, as full-time residents, was hard work. It's still a lot of work.






Yet, we always find time to explore local restaurants. Our mission is to try all of them.


Some days I am cold, tired and worn out. And I look it.


Other days I am able to get with it.


One of the things I've done with each room is to stomp the sheetrocked ceilings, this gives them texture in the style you determine via your stomping method. I find it humorous that I "stomp on the ceiling." Lol.



Sgt. David used the machine to texture the walls and he ends up looking as if he walked through a storm of baby powder.


When we're not working in the house or jobs, both of us love to explore.


One of my favorite things to do is to get supplies for the garden. Here we are getting two huge pallets of sod. It's a very good idea to water the pallet from top down, so the top layers of sod don't peel away and get lost on the trip home. If they are too dry for the trip, they are too light. Watering them makes the soil heavy and they stay flat while driving home. We stopped at a gas station with a water machine and watered the top of the pallets. On hot days in Texas, the top layer dries extremely fast while driving home. Some people cover them with a tarp, but we had already used the tarps on our furniture that was also being transported home.







We work on the land and get sweaty, covered in dirt and gross. But, we have times of rewarding ourselves, such as in the photo below where we are back at the Farm House Restaurant for lunch; it was delicious. This place is on Lake Livingston and you can also sit outside on the deck to overlook the lake and feed the hundreds of turtles that are looking for food.


A fun day was picking up the new tractor. In just over a year's time, that tractor looks 30 years old. The poor thing is used and abused. In our lifetime, we won't buy a brand new tractor ever again. That's a lesson learned. NEW is way too expensive for the beatings it gets.


And here is the day I was able to sweep out, pick up broken glass and bits of trash from the storage shed we'd stored our main household items in for nearly three years. It was a wonderful day to get our belongings out of this shed. Like Christmas.




Then, the tired days roll around again. We seem to have a LOT of tired days. Here is a day I couldn't find a ponytail to keep my long hair out of my face while I was working, so Sgt. Dave found a piece of copper wiring and he wound it into my hair to create a makeshift hair tie. It worked. And I became a "Copper Head."

And all that grey hair!!! Where did THAT come from? Yes, in my family, the women get grey/white streaks at a young age. They should magically disappear again, soon.


We try to have fun moments, on purpose. Sometimes planning a fun moment can be a challenge because we must take time out and pursue the fun; it can be hard to do when we have so much on our plate. But, once we do something different and have a good time, we're always glad we did it.


One day, Sgt. David will be able to retire and he will be a different man. With facial hair. On a rather recent extended vacation from work, he was able to give me a glimpse as to what the future will bring with his appearance. I like it.


And even on our busiest of days, we find time to notice each other and to say "I love you." Throughout my ENTIRE LIFE, those are words I've been happy to reserve for my most treasured family members...they are not words carelessly given to another. I must mention that we are warned Biblically that our affections are supposed to be guarded, and I've been successful in this goal. Most of us have seen the devastation that follows when someone does not guard their affections. So, I'm content with myself in knowing that my marriage and my love was always a priority.

There is peace of mind that comes with knowing my love had always been reserved for one person throughout marriage...for 30 years. To be honest, it wasn't difficult...not because my husband is phenomenal, but because I took my vows before God seriously, and I truly put God first. If I had put my husband first, I would have strayed, but God gave me this inner-strength to never give any temptation a foothold in my life. I'm grateful to the Lord for taking my dedication seriously and for meeting me halfway to give me strength where I was weak. If someone handed me their phone number or asked me to lunch, etc., I NEVER took the next step toward that person...sometimes taking the first step toward faithfulness is to not take a step or to take a step away, not toward, the temptation. But, we all have free will and people will do what they want to do; if they are interested in the temptation as being something they'd like to explore, they will take steps toward it and justify it all day long. We know it's a choice. All along the way, we have choices, and we are the whole of our choices.

Loving a spouse takes more than love...it takes loyalty, faithfulness, honesty and the love that is given should never be forsaken for any other person. And when you do offer mature, meaningful love for your wife or husband, you understand that vows spoken to each other should mean something. Vows are more than a ritual of words...the very MEANING of take VOWS is to make promises to each other. And if you have a sacred wedding ceremony of saying vows to each other, before God, then you better know what those vows mean because God does not take broken vows lightly. He would rather we make no vows than to make a vow and break them. I suppose if God had a "pet peeve" that this would be one of them...according to His OWN words of having great distaste for those who break their promises. And this is another reason the Lord dislikes adultery and has it on His short list of TEN COMMANDMENTS that we should not break. God knows our vows are serious.

So, if vows don't mean something to you, then why should they matter to your spouse and in what way would the vows serve you, if you don't serve them? So, don't fail to remember that those vows are your glue; don't take actions that would disintegrate that glue because a marriage experiencing broken vows can be damaged beyond repair.

Boy, I've been learning lessons during construction of this house...lessons that apply to all areas of life. We cannot take our meaningful relationships for granted or they will fade away.

Relationships take diligent work. If pathetic half-a$$ efforts are made toward a marriage, then the results will reflect it. In marriage, you don't have to be Super-Woman or Super-Man, just don't mess up so massively that the damage is permanent. And be nice.

For those who have done everything they can and are not met with the level of commitment necessary to maintain a marriage, I'm deeply sorry for your loss and for the betrayal against you and the marriage. Sometimes knowing that everything humanly possible was done on your part to make it work is a beautiful truth that will eventually be a comfort. You hear advice to do everything "humanly possible" to make it work, but if you run out of "humanly possible," then it is okay...you were never destined to make a marriage work by yourself. That wasn't the arrangement. If one of the two fails the marriage in a way that is irreparable, then there is not a marriage left to repair. The choice avoid such damage should have been the priority; the repair of a damage marriage does not rest solely on the shoulders of the one who is betrayed. So, sometimes you must accept that a partner put the marriage on the chopping block. And miracles do occur, but if you have a partner who keeps putting the miracles on the chopping block to hack away at it again, then there will never be enough miracles to create a whole marriage with that person.

We see too many who think one partner is obligated to carry the important weight of the marriage...the faithfulness, the monogamy, or maybe one is too deep in addiction to be a dependable, consistent marriage partner and their addiction makes them a stranger who you didn't choose to marry...so many things in life can go sideways. And that's the reason marriage is not for the faint of heart or for the romantic-minded person who doesn't understand that dirty diapers, bills and cleaning the toilet isn't romantic. Being realistic is great preparation for marriage. Being a person who remembers and honors wedding vows during the strongest of temptations is a great way to make marriage work. However, for those who are left betrayed, I know God restores the broken and that He might even give you someone, eventually, who will restore your faith that vows and commitments can indeed be honored...that person might just be YOURSELF and your relationship with God. But, I do believe many brokenhearted people can be shocked to one day find themselves honored by love instead of hurt by it. If you are brokenhearted, be kind to yourself. Yes, you deserved better and God is watching.

Marriage is an unending puzzle, but the wedding vows make many things clear and easier to confront. If the vows are honored, your steps throughout marriage will take you to a higher and higher place...that's a sacred place few can reach. If you know the meaning of keeping your vows, then you will reach it, but if you broke vows and made excuses for doing so, then the steps have already crumbled beneath your feet and you just don't know it yet. I hope those who made vows will remember them and keep saying them to each other regularly, either with renewed vows in a ceremony or over an ordinary breakfast with just the two of you present, but vows should not be said just once on a wedding day and then be tossed to the back of the heart. Remember your vows to your marriage partner and keep them close to your heart before they can be callously or mindlessly broken.  


Love can hurt, but it's not supposed to be hurtful...love is supposed to be healing, kind and considerate. The best way to remain in a loving marriage with ongoing healing, kindness and consideration is to honor your vows, then the goodness of the rest will follow, naturally.

Last bit of advice, if you don't think you can stick with clear, traditional vows, then you better write your own that you know can be kept. If you can't keep promises, don't make them.

Anyway, that's my 30 year wedding addition I had to edit into this space before I could move forward with more posts.

Here we are at the tax office. Sgt. David is having a great time on his phone while I have a great time on mine...the joys of modern love.


If you can pay taxes together and enjoy yourselves, albeit independently via electronic devices, then you might survive life and maybe even marriage. Taxes are definitely not romantic.