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 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 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 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.


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 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. 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!