Tuesday, January 16, 2018

SHEET PAN CAPRESE CHICKEN

Here is something I threw together one night and we loved it!  It's a variation on Caprese salad (one of our favorites) with chicken and of course all of it baked in the oven.

Oh and yes, this is me, 1st Man, cooking dinner, ha!


Other than olive oil, salt and pepper, these are all the ingredients. 

1 1/2 lbs diced chicken breast
4 cups shredded collard greens
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup diced tomatoes (about 1 large or 2 medium)
4 basil leaves, chopped
8 oz mozzarella, diced
1 tsp Italian seasoning
olive oil, salt, pepper


These are collards from our garden.  I rolled up stacks of leaves and then sliced them, turning them into wonderful chiffonade strips...


I put them on a sheet pan, and drizzled them with olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Then I tossed it and spread it out in an even layer...


I missed a picture step, but I also tossed the cubed chicken in a bit of olive oil and 1 tsp of Italian seasoning.  Next, I scattered it around on top of the collard greens...


Then I sprinkled the tomatoes and mushrooms all around the chicken...  


Lastly, spread the mozzarella cubes and finally sprinkle the chopped basil on top of it all...


Pop in the oven at 400 degrees.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is done.  At about 15 minutes in, I pulled it out and poured off the liquid that had come from the collards and the tomatoes.  That keeps it nice and 'roasted'.   

At the end, I did change the temperature to "broil" and moved it to the top rack for 5 minute, just to he brown it off a bit.  


Dish it up, serve and enjoy.  It's really good.  The collards are tender, the chicken is good, and the cheese has melted and is ooey gooey wonderful.

And this is even healthy(ish). Low carb, no sugars, just meat and veggies.  Enjoy!







Monday, January 15, 2018

WINTER IS BACK AGAIN


It was cold this weekend.  I always like to take a picture that "looks" cold and we think this one does.  It certainly looks like Winter (minus the snow).


These are the wind chills this weekend.  Saturday was cold and Sunday got colder.  Now it's even colder as this posts today.

I went to the farm Saturday, really just to cover the trees back up and check on things.  We uncovered them last weekend, just to let them breathe, even though it says you can leave the covers on all Winter.  Still would rather have them off when no danger of a hard freeze.  Some of the leaves yellowed but the trees are still green and flexible.  Fingers crossed.  


Lost the lemongrass.  Well, at least what we can see above ground.  We'll see what comes back in the Spring after we trim it back to the ground.  But lemongrass we knew was not hard freeze tolerant. We just hope the underground root portion will make it come back in the Spring. 


The garden is doing fine.  Slow growing, but we did bring collard greens back home.  Will use those this week.  The cabbage has tiny little heads, not sure if they will produce.  I think we might have gotten these off to a late start after the hurricane rains and the late warm weather.  The garlic is doing what it's supposed to do above ground, hoping it's doing the same below ground, ha.  


Had a nice dinner of pan roasted pork chops and Brussels sprouts with bacon and balsamic. Pork and pork?  Sure, why not, ha.  It was delicious. 


Woke up to this alert today from the city of Houston.  Tomorrow (Tuesday) we may see sleet and/or snow.  

Stay safe!  And stay warm!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

VINTAGE FARM PHOTOS (SORT OF)

Playing around with the photo editing filters on this cold weekend.  Thought we'd see what the house and barns would have looked like in an old photo, ha.  


Here's a view of the house I'm not sure we've posted (at least not often).  For reference, this is the back side, you can see where the original house ended at the roof line and then "Ma" added on the back section about 20 years ago.  That was originally a porch but is now the dining room (the windows) and the mudroom (the non window portion).

Looks kind of cool as an "old photo", ha.  



We suppose the barns should be more "worn out" to look like this was an actual vintage photo, but it was still fun to do and see the outcome.  


It's a cold day here, sunny today, but cold.  And we have snow/sleet in the forecast this week.  

More tomorrow...hope you are having a good weekend. We're just hanging inside where it's warm.

Friday, January 12, 2018

VINTAGE BOOKS THRIFT STORE FIND

So back to blogging.  We're adapting to life with one kitty now and it's a different dynamic for sure.

Anyway, a couple weeks ago, I stopped by a thrift store at lunch, it was the first time in awhile.  I was roaming around for a bit and found these:

Vintage novels
It's a set of vintage "classic novels", probably made to be books for children to read.  There are no dust jackets, and some staining but overall they are in great shape.  We took them to the farm and put them on the dresser in the guest room.  They look kind of neat all lined up. 


There are illustrations too.  

And inside one of them, we found these:


This and...


...this.  They are two "four leaf clovers" that someone, a child most likely, put in between the pages a long time ago.  How neat is that?

We'll consider them our good luck charms now.  

Classic novels of childhood
I'm sure there were more in the series but these are some good ones to read.  Oddly there was no copyright date but after some Google research, they appear to be from the 1930's into early 1940's.  Best of all, they were $1 each (so $10 for the set).

As technological as we are now as a society, tablets and smartphones and eReaders, it's sometimes fun to just pick up an old book and read through it.  We think it will be nice to catch up on the childhood classics on a cool Spring day...  

Thursday, January 11, 2018

YOU ARE OUR 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!


After the sad events of this past weekend, the loss of our sweet Brisbane, we were blessed with so many wonderful comments from all of you.  So instead of our usual Inspiration Thursday post, today we want to take this moment to say that on this day, we are inspired by all of you.  

Instead of replying to each comment we thought we'd post one big note and tell you.  This is for each of you, to tell you how much your words meant.  Poems, thoughts, sympathies, prayers, even things that made us laugh when we needed it (residents of Brisbane, all is well with your fair city, ha).  They all meant the world to us and really helped.

We had no way of knowing when we started this blog a few years ago that we'd make so many friends from all parts of the world.  We learned just how many after all of the comments you left and the personal notes that were emailed to us directly. 

So we are... 



...to all of you.

Monday, January 8, 2018

WE HAVE LOST BRISBANE


Tears flow from both of us as I type this post.  Our absence the last few days is because our beloved Brisbane has crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  We had to make that most difficult of all decisions to do what was fair for him.  As selfish as we want to be and keep him here with us, his quality of life had diminished rapidly in recent days and we made the decision to let him go. 

We took him to our vet Saturday and they agreed, he was starting to shut down.  They said they could do some tests and perhaps prolong his life another few months but there was just something we could see in the way he looked at us that he was trying to tell us he was tired and he was ready.  We think he has been ready for a while.  So we made that hard choice and we stayed with him beyond the end.  It was peaceful and gentle and through the tears, we told him how much we loved him and how thankful we were for him being our lives. 

Watching him the day and night before, knowing what we had planned for him the next day but him not understanding that everything he did was his last, was perhaps the most difficult part.  His last dinner.  His last time on the couch.  He last snack before bed.  His last night sleeping between us. His last time being with Hobart.  His last time in the carrier.  His last time at the apartment.  His last car ride.  Sigh.  It was a difficult couple of days with moments of terrible sadness.  Now we begin to adapt to life without him and give extra love to our remaining kitty, Hobart. 

Brisbane came to us in our back yard in June of 2000 as a stray, abandoned by his mother at 2 weeks old. His eyes had just opened and he had to be bottle fed every few hours.  2nd Man did that (he was working from home at the time).  It was a bond that remained, he was always 2nd Man's baby.  

We just have to share this picture with all of you:



Is it not THE most adorable kitten face ever? 

Now you can see why we fell in love with him!

This was literally the first photo we took of him, after we brought him into the house and put him in a makeshift box with a towel and he looked up at us like "OK, I'm home".  We'll share more pics at another time, when it's easier to go through them all.

It was taken almost 18 years ago.  2nd Man and I have been together almost 19 years, so Brisbane has been with us since the beginning.  He was part of us.  A part of our life.   

He lived a wonderful life.  
A good, long life.

But we already miss him terribly.

We know the tears will stop eventually, they did after we lost Sydney a few years ago.  But it takes time.  We thought blog posting would get back to normal this week, but it may take a few days to get our mojo back and get back to replying to comments, putting up new posts, etc.  Hang in there with us. 

This poem, as difficult as it is to read, helped...

The Last Battle

If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then will you do what must be done,
For this — the last battle — can't be won.
You will be sad I understand,
But don't let grief then stay your hand,
For on this day, more than the rest,
Your love and friendship must stand the test.

We have had so many happy years,
You wouldn't want me to suffer so.
When the time comes, please, let me go.
Take me to where to my needs they'll tend,
Only, stay with me till the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.

I know in time you will agree
It is a kindness you do to me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I have been saved.
Don't grieve that it must be you
Who has to decide this thing to do;
We've been so close — we two — these years,
Don't let your heart hold any tears.

— Unknown





Goodbye sweet Brisbane...

You are already missed so very much!



Friday, January 5, 2018

FELINE FRIDAY

Quick post today...


Hobart (left) and Brisbane (right) "sharing" the desk in the bedroom. And why yes, that is an afghan and a blanket on top of the desk put there for their comfort of course.  

And yes, we removed the lamp, and the pen holder, and the other items so there was room.  

And they share.  Sort of.  

It was a cold day and the warm sun was so inviting, we almost laid on the floor in front of the desk.   

More later this weekend and then next week, everything back to normal with daily postings and  replies to all your wonderful comments.  

Hope you are having a good week.  


Thursday, January 4, 2018

SITTING AREA, 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!



Just a random neat thing we saw online. With all the space we have (albeit not all cleared of course) things like this intrigue us.  It's nice to just imagine having a quiet respite and something like this this is a pretty neat idea. Simple pergola, with space under for a couple of chairs and a table. 

Nothing fancy but it looks nice...and we're pretty sure this set of chairs has an incredible view, ha.

Posts and comment replies have been sporadic due to the holidays, time off, the weather, etc, but things here will get back on track next week.  Stay warm, it's a crazy cold Winter so far!

Be inspired! 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

PROTECTING CITRUS TREES FROM FREEZING TEMPS

As this posts, it is currently 27 degrees.  Windchill was in the teens overnight.  As you probably read on Sunday's post, I spent Saturday getting the farm ready for this weather.  The house was pretty simple, shut off the water, drain the pipes and leave the taps open.  It's worked the last few years.  

This year however, we have our new citrus yard planted.  One thing for sure, citrus and freezing temps don't mix.  We had to come up with a solution, albeit a solution with an as yet unknown outcome.  There isn't much we could do except to cover them.  Covering and uncovering is easy when you are there to do it every day but not for a week at a time.  And as wonderful as 2nd Family is, it's too much to ask them to do it for us daily.  

Agfabric Plant Protecting bag
I bought these items. Three of these plant protecting bags and some bungee cords.  

After much research, we opted for these bags.  The bags come in different sizes and different thicknesses for colder temps and they keep the air inside the bag warmer by up to 8 degrees.  How warm remains to be seen but a citrus can survive maybe 29 or 30 but not 21 or 22.  So we'll have to see how it worked.

Here is link (affiliate) to the various brands:  AGFABRIC PLANT BAG

We chose the size that worked best for the trees and their round planters. Since they can be used season after season, we can also allow for some tree growth.

Here is the link (affiliate) to the bungee cords:

Our galvanized ring beds are 48" diameter and so we figured two each would stretch enough for the circumference of one.  

48" bungee cords
This is how we fit them on.  They stretched just enough to be able to be easily handled, but tight enough to hold the covers down.

Prepping the citrus trees for the freeze
Once we got everything together, it was time.  I added mulch, watered them well, put the bag over the tree and then put the bungees around that to hold it all down.

Citrus tree covered for a freeze
Here is the final result.  Nice and tight and (hopefully) protected from the harshest freezing temperatures.

Citrus trees covered with Agfabric covers 
All three are covered and ready.  Not much else we can do except this and hope for the best.  The good thing about these bags is that they are able to be left on "all season" according to the manufacturer.  I guess in a harsh Winter climate that might be the only option but we are going to remove them on the weekend.  If a freeze is in the forecast for the following week we'd leave them on but otherwise they'll be off most of the time this Winter.  We just need to stay on top of the weather forecast from week to week. 

Speaking of time, time will tell (this coming weekend) if the trees survived.  If they did, it will have been a wonderful solution that we'll always have around.  If they didn't, well, epic fail and we'll be buying new trees in the Spring.  

We'll soon find out...

Stay warm!

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 IS HERE



Another year has flown by.  2018 is here.  Seriously, it seems the older we get, the faster the years go by.  

Why is that?  

We're inside, staying warm.  It's freezing currently and we have a "feels like" temp of about 19.  

It's a good day for some comfort food and since we don't really make resolutions anymore, it's a great time for planning what we want to accomplish this year at the farm. 

Do you make resolutions?