Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Here are the last of my "Happy" shots until I have time to get to town and take some more. We have several historical markers around town, which I think will be fun to share. My sister has posted some of her pictures from our stroll around town on her blog. I liked reading what she remembers from our childhood.

This is the Brooks Memorial Chapel. It used to be the Presbyterian church. It's the church where my brother, sister and I were christened. We were the last babies christened there. When the church membership decided to close because of numbers and age, they sold the building to a funeral home in Canyon. Brooks did an outstanding job refurbishing/remodeling the building. It is neat that a piece of our history is still a usable asset to the community.
This is the top of one of the elevators. You can faintly see the words "Harman-Toles." It's now owned by Attebury Grain. My dad worked here until Attebury bought it, then he started farming.
Here the cousins are on our shoot. You may have noticed that our Main Street is brick. I think that makes it cool.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

More shots of Happy

This is the south side of Main Street. The brick building houses Happy State Bank. It was founded here in 1908 (I think). It has grown into a very competitive regional bank with branches all over the Panhandle. My Aunt Judy has worked here for as long as I can remember. My kids always look forward to the sucker and balloon they get when we stop by. On our photo shoot last week, Judy invited us in to the back to watch coins being rolled.
Beside it is the Grand Theater. A local lady, Carolyn Bloodworth has refurbished the outside and is in the process of doing some work on the inside. She had her annual craft fair there. She's also working on a pictorial history of Happy. The Masons used the building after the theater closed. I've been to many a Rainbow meeting there. The Bloodworths purchased it when the Masons and Eastern Star quit meeting. We're lucky that someone is interested in keeping a building up. unfortunately, most of the buildings on Main Street have fallen into disrepair.
This is a very poor shot of our fire station. It sits on the North side of Main Street. We have an outstanding volunteer fire department with great equipment.
I'm not sure who owns the part of the building on the corner. I do remember it being a drug store and then a restaurant in my lifetime. The white building to the west of the fire station is the old Lions' Den. The Lions no longer meet, but I believe the Cub Scouts use the building for their meetings. A chiropractor from Lubbock (with Happy roots) comes either weekly or monthly and sets up shop there as well.
This building, the "Happy Center" is where the senior citizens meet. A group of ladies quilts weekly. I believe they have monthly luncheons and either weekly or monthly game nights.
You can see our "new" water tower in the background. To the west of the Happy Center is Jackson's Tax Service. She does taxes and keeps books for people. One more store to the west (not shown) is where my grandparents used to have Tirey Hardware. I'll try to get to town and take some better pictures if it ever warms up.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Around Town

I bought myself a new camera for Christmas. I have no idea how to use it yet, so I'm just leaving it on Auto. Yesterday, my sister and I took our kids for a photo shoot around Happy. For the next several posts, I'm going to share some shots of my town with you. It was a very overcast day yesterday, so the sky was terribly gray.
First off, proof that there really is a place called Happy, Texas. This is our post office:
Our old water tower:
A shot of the elevators along the railroad tracks. The elevators you see are concrete and were built by POWs during WWII. I'm not sure about all of the details, I'll try to go read the historical marker and get back to you on that.
There are more behind me and some to the west of the tracks. Unfortunately only one is open all the time now and one is open seasonally.
Happy sprang up along the railroad when it went through. It was important to the cattle industry and eventually to the grain industry. My grandmother told us about how they used to drive the cattle to town and put them in the pens (that would have been south of the current post office) by the tracks and then load them up to ship north. She told about how her uncle road the train with the cattle in 1918 and caught the flu and eventually died because of complications. (All of this happened before she was born.)
When we have a good wheat year we cut our grain and bring it to town to the elevator. Sometimes we even harvest maize in the fall. The grain is eventually shipped out on railroad cars.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Day at Home

T.S. woke up in the middle of the night with a stomach bug. I've been fighting a cold and Robby is terribly busy at school, so we made the decision to have me stay home with T.S. today. This was my first "day at home" since school started.

I wasn't quite sure what to do with myself. I got caught up on laundry, finished some craft orders and made marshmallows. T.S. was better by lunch time. I even got some presents wrapped. It was an interesting afternoon watching the progress of the cows that were out most of the day and of the electric coop as they replaced a pole in the pasture to our south. We even had some uninvited visitors to our north. By the time I figured out we had company, they realized I was home and left. It appeared to be two men with some sort of bird--I'm guessing either a hawk or a falcon. They were up near our tree line and would hold out an arm periodically and a bird would return to it. It kind of made me wonder what all goes on out here when we're not home.

I enjoy my job. It has been nice to be among adults and be a part of civilization, but I was reminded today how nice it is to just be at home.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ready or not, it's winter!

Well, we've survived a VERY cold week. I'm not sure how many days we were below freezing or right above. I'm hoping this week wasn't a taste of what the rest of the winter will be like. It's funny how fast you can block out the memory of making sure all of the animals have unfrozen water. I'm hoping for a warm up next week.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


In the tradition of the season, I'm going to take the opportunity to list a few things for which I am thankful.
  • My family and our health
  • We live in such a great community--not many kids get to participate in a Thanksgiving feast at school and actually give thanks before they eat.
  • The zoo--T.S. found one place the chickens have been laying, so he got to throw the old eggs at the tree. Somehow he ended up with egg on his socks and shoes.

I could list more, but I'll stop there for now.

I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with all you want and that you remember to keep an attitude of Thanksgiving throughout the year. (Especially when you start your Christmas shopping and have to deal with the million other souls who are shopping, too)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I really am still here...

Despite the fact that I haven't posted in a long time, I am still here. This month has been a blur of school activities, lessons after school and preparation for a craft show. Happy hosted it's first annual Cowboy Christmas Roundup. I chose to be a vendor at the show. I spent two weeks prior to it making bottle cap pendants, jewelry frames and decorating clip boards. Originally I had planned to include a few more items in my inventory, but time was not on my side--maybe next year.

The craft show was a huge success for me. I'm very grateful for all of the people who purchased from me since I was able to pay for most of Christmas (and purchase a few things for myself)with my proceeds. I still have several orders to fill, and there is quite a bit of interest in my bottle cap pendants. I haven't been able to photograph them well, but when I do I will post them.

We are all busy, the kids are good, the show animals are thriving. We are definitely looking forward to the Thanksgiving break. I keep thinking I'll get a better handle on balancing work, family and blogging, but it hasn't happened, yet. I've nearly got the work, family thing figured out--blogging will eventually come.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Farm Tale...

I was in charge of feeding Sadie's show lambs today. As I was about to leave the pen, I noticed one of our bottle calves (now 1 1/2 years old and way passed time to be sold) had come up into the pens to see if I had a treat for him. Not wanting to be licked and head-butted (He has a huge head and horns and likes to "nudge" you from behind.), I chose to climb over the fences to get out.

Fast forward to 20 minutes ago...
Robby jumped up, got a gun out and ask if someone was supposed to be here. I responded, "no," grabbed the phone and followed him out. Stripes and Tiger were right by our bedroom window. The "brilliant" puppy we got this summer hadn't barked at all.

I had forgotten to close the big gate to the pens when I chose to climb out.

I'm sure the two of us were a site trying to persuade the calves back in. Thankfully, they respond well to feed being shaken in a bucket. Hopefully the black heifer that is in the pasture with them is still in the pasture--hard to find a black calf at night.

Just another day/night on the farm...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Why I Love Trick-Or-Treating in Happy...

Last night I was again reminded of how blessed we are to live in our little community. Here are a few reasons why:
  • You don't have to get out at every house with your kids for two reasons. 1. Everyone knows them. 2. You'd never finish trick-or-treating because you'd visit too much.
  • My kids received candy from some of the same people that used to hand it out to me.
  • If you do get out with your kids, you can almost bet you'll walk away with a piece of candy, too.
  • When someone opens the door, you hear, "Come on in here."
  • The first year T.S. went trick-or-treating, a friend of ours opened both hands and gave T.S. a choice--candy or a golf ball. T.S. chose the golf ball. He's gotten a golf ball from him every year since.
  • I came away from one house with new crocheted pot holders.
  • Sadie was sad that we, "couldn't stop by Roberta's this year." How often does a 9 year old remember that a 90+ year old passed away since last Halloween? You could never leave Roberta's house without a sack of candy and a hug/kiss. She always wore bright lipstick, too.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Christmas Shopping

As much as I hate to admit it, it is that time of year--time to get out the Christmas list and get busy shopping. This year, a new event is happening that should solve some of your gift dilemmas. You can go to the Cowboy Christmas Roundup right here in Happy. Think about how cool it will be to shop locally. You'll save gas and support local businesses and crafters.

There's a link on my sidebar for more information.

Hope to see you on November 14-15!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Craft Project

Since the house is a wreck, laundry is overtaking us and I have two meetings tonight, I thought today would be a perfect day to tackle a project I'd had in my mind for a while. I painted a wooden frame, stapled some screen on the back, screwed in some mug hooks, attached a ribbon and I now have a new jewelry holder. My fishhook earrings fit perfectly in the screen. My necklaces are organized and it doubles as "art." I'm not wild about the hot-pink ribbon, but it is what I had on hand. That can easily be changed.

I already have several orders for Christmas. I've found different sizes of the frames. I plan on embellishing some of them and using a variety of paint colors on others. I left mine plain. Not bad for an hour's work.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Chicken Update

The white Leghorn is Teagen's rooster. The small brown one is T.S.'s hen, Bob. She's been sneaking into the garage to lay her eggs. The black Polish rooster in the background seems to take great delight in terrorizing T.S.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Drill Carrier

Here are the pictures of the drill carrier. Mom finished cleaning the wheat out of the drills. Robby was helping her hook back up to them so they could be parked out of the way until it is time to plant again.

The carrier is backed over the drills, and chains are hooked to them. Once everything is secure, the carrier lifts up with the help of hydraulics and it is ready to move. Pretty cool, except the last time I helped I hooked the chains wrong and we had to unhook and rehook. I tend to make tasks take longer than normal around here, which is why we have Robby.
The wheat is up, a nice rain would be great.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The City Skyline

These pictures aren't great (remember, I want a new camera--this would be one more reason why). But, I thought they were cool. I took them the other evening when I was helping Mom get vehicles situated. I guess we were about 3 miles from town.

Happy "sprang up" along the railroad when it went through in the early 1900s. Grain elevators soon followed. The ones you see in the picture are concrete (a few may be metal, I need to go to town and check). Anyway, the original ones would have been wooden. I guess you'd call these "modern" even though some were built by POWs during WWII, which is a whole different post.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sowing Wheat

Mom has been busy sowing wheat--we plant winter wheat. My sister wanted me to post a few pictures of the process.

Mom pulls Dempster drills behind the tractor. If you look closely, you can see that the drills are really quite simple (I'm sure mom would say otherwise as she has had several chain issues this year.) A drive chain on the axle turns a rod that is inside the drill boxes. That rod turns and pushes the wheat into a hole in the bottom of the drill box. The wheat seed then travels down a tube that deposits the seed right behind a drill "shoe" that has made a small furrow in the ground for the seed. The press wheels are positioned behind the shoes to cover the seed. You can make adjustments on the drill that help control the amount of grain flow.

This is the front of the box. You can see the tubes coming out of the bottom--the grain travels down these.
This is a picture of the drill shoe. You can see that it makes a small furrow. The press wheels are in the background. I'm not sure why they call it a shoe--it's a very small sweep.
Sadie was excited this summer when we saw some of Leonardo da Vinci's machines at a museum, because she recognized the drive chain from the drills.
Originally, farmers might have only pulled one or two boxes behind their tractors, depending on the side. You can see that mom has 5 hooked together. We have a drill carrier to move the drills from field to field. Mom backs it over the drills (that are unhooked from the tractor), chains the drills to the carrier and lifts them up to transport. I'll try to get pictures of this soon. She has a grain truck that she carries the seed in. It has a small auger in it that she uses to fill the drill boxes. When planting, you have to make sure that all of the chains and rods are turning, otherwise you aren't sowing any seed. You also have to check you boxes and keep them full. Mom has been doing this enough to know about how long she should be able to go before filling the boxes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I took these pictures of T.S.'s boots the other day. We were at the fair, and, of course, he didn't want his picture taken. He did, however, want me to photograph his boots. I wasn't thrilled with the background. (T.S. was actually standing on an over-turned trash barrel.) I changed the picture to black and white and antiqued it. I can't decide which I like best: color, black and white, or antiqued.

Black and White:


What do you think?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Fall, Y'all!

We ushered in fall with a very cool front. The change in weather was nice. The kids and I picked pumpkins today. The picture is just of our bushel basket full of mini ones. We ended up with 17 white pumpkins and 27 orange ones. We've been busy with lambs, spelling lists, and life in general. The laundry fairy is doing a better job than she was, though.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Happy Happenings

The seasons seem to be changing around here. Tarantulas are on the move and we've seen evidence of snakes changing into their fall wardrobe. We're busy on the farm with chores, homework, a new instrument and life in general. I received my first "real" paycheck in nine years today.

On our way to the 4-H meeting tonight, I stopped at the post office to get the mail. I was greeted by a man as I came out. He was wondering where our gas station was. I glanced at my watch and told him he was out of luck...it was after 5:30. His expression led me to offer to get him some gas from our key pump. Just a little FYI--if you're traveling through and think it'd be fun to say you filled up in Happy, please try to make your trip on a weekday before 5:00 or 5:30. If it's a Saturday, get here before noon. We only have the one station. Quite a few of us have pump keys...but you can't always guarantee we'll be around.

I tell you this because the other evening a lady was shocked (or possibly dismayed) that we:
1. don't have a grocery store
2. don't have a convenience store (Jackie's is convenient if you are in town during the hours I mentioned before...he has fountain drinks, some candy bars, eggs on occasion and special treats for special customers sometimes, too.)
3. We can't eat out whenever we want or "run" to Sonic just because it is happy hour.

The nearest "conveniences" are about 15 miles away. Life in our small town takes planning and forethought. And, that's just the way we like it.

The joys of small town life are abundant.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Things Accomplished

Not trying to toot my own horn, but things are definitely looking up around here:
  • Laundry is caught up (for at least the next 4 hours).
  • I made two casseroles last night--one for supper, one for the freezer.
  • Last night, I also I cooked and cut up the chicken for another casserole on the menu this week.
  • Two of the three bathrooms are clean. You can see the floor in the utility room. The kitchen floor is swept.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's a really long tunnel, but the light is there.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


I find myself in the Land of Overwhelm--where laundry, dishes, dirty bathrooms and more are screaming for attention. I am enjoying my job. It's been a nice change of pace, although I do miss my boys (probably more than they miss me). The one thing I am not enjoying is figuring out how to take care of the house, laundry, meals, kids, etc., etc., without 1-being totally exhausted and 2-feeling like I have no free time to enjoy anything.

I know that many of you have been doing this juggling act for years now. I am a mere novice, so today I'm asking for help. If you are a working mom/dad/person, what's a tip or trick for getting life in order?

Please share...my kids and husband will thank you for it and I will be forever grateful.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Today's Thought

This afternoon I watched as 20 minutes of my life vanished while I was on the phone trying to straighten out a problem with my order from Dell. The first phone call ended with the lady telling me that she'd need to hang up and call me right back. I bet you can guess how that turned out.

The second phone call had me transferred to 4 (YES, FOUR) different departments. I'm pretty sure it was an international call as well. (I will not even go into details on this.) It occurred to me, while I was on hold for all of the transfers, that if the people putting you on hold had to listen to the lovely music, they'd probably get to your call more quickly.

Why We Do What We Do

Today, a friend and I were working on a task that wasn't necessarily fun. He made the comment, "I'm still wondering why we do this." Me, too. Have you ever stopped to think about why we do what we do?

Why do teachers keep trudging onward amidst mad parents, troubled children and standardized tests? Why do people spend their Sunday evenings cleaning up a community center instead of enjoying a restful day? Why do farmers toil long hours with the hope (not guarantee) of making a crop?

The only thing I can come up with is it's how people are raised (sorry, Mrs. Smith--I know it is reared, but it sounds so funny**). It must be ingrained in us or genetic. Something continues to push people to go the extra mile, to do what is difficult rather than easy, to believe in the impossible.

And, I am thankful for that something.

**Mrs. Smith was my high school English, reading and Spanish teacher. She always said, "You raise corn and rear children." I am grateful to her for teaching me many things.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Working Mom

I've been a working mom for three days now. So far, it is pretty good. It's hard to say how things are going for sure since this has not been a normal week. Our church had a revival that started Sunday and ended this evening. It was a wonderful time of learning and fellowship. I will say it was hard finishing up school, rushing home and then rushing back to church. I'm looking forward to next week so our routine can officially begin (HA).

I've enjoyed my job so far. I'm an aide for the fourth grade (Poor Sadie is stuck with me all day--this could get interesting before the year is over). I have the opportunity to learn new things every day and watch amazing teachers work their magic (literally). I am so thankful my kids have the opportunity to go to school here. We truly have a great school filled with outstanding teachers who care deeply for every student.

On another note--T.S. started Kindergarten and LOVES its (so far). I was so proud of him the first day. He has continued to be excited all week about going to school.

Hopefully I will do a better job of posting as things settle down and we figure out how it is all going to work. The plan is to find the garden tomorrow and salvage what might be left. I'm hopeful the pumpkins are still alive...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New Things

So, you may have noticed that my header is a little different. As of Tuesday, I will no longer be a stay-at-home mom. I have a new job. I'll be an aide in the elementary school (for my daughter's class to be exact).

Was I not content to be a stay-at-home mom? No, I was content to stay home, watch kids, eat bon bons and watch TV. It was fun and easy being home and not working. (Hope you are reading the sarcasm.) Actually, I was very content taking care of the house, our kids, other people's kids, and having flexibility to fit things into my schedule. Unfortunately, Sadie will need braces soon, the cost of living has risen considerably at our house and staying home just isn't an option any more. T.S. starts Kindergarten this year and I was fortunate enough that a postition came open at school. (That doesn't happen very often.) I am blessed to be working with some of my really good friends.

I am excited about this new venture. It'll be fun for me to be back among adults. (Hopefully I can hold up my end of the conversation.) I will miss the kids I keep and eating bon bons--it really was a plush life...

Anyway, we're off on a new adventure and it should be very fun.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bulletin Board

I finally finished one of Sadie's bulletin boards.

We took an acoustic ceiling tile (about $2 at Home Depot), painted it the same color brown as the shelves in her room, added some pink beaded fringe and pink ribbon to hang it, and...

Voila! Instant bulletin board.

Now if I can just get the other one started, hang the frames, find some curtain tie-backs, paint some flower pegs, build a window seat...Sadie's room will be finished.

(Please note: I am HORRIBLE at taking pictures of my projects--I am sure a new camera would fix this. If you'd like to contribute to the "buy Laura a new camera so we don't have to look at horrible pictures fund" please let me know.)

Friday, August 7, 2009


Are you like me?
Are you wondering where the summer went? How it went by so quickly?
Did you start the summer with a long to-do list only to see very few items checked off?

Are you like me? Are the few projects you did start about 3/4 finished?
Yesterday I was contemplating the "loss of summer." I realized that even though it didn't seem like we'd had much summer, we sure have fit a lot of activities in. The kids have had fun, I've had fun, I think Robby has had fun (although several more rounds of golf would have made it more fun.)

So, what is the point of summer? Is it to cram as many activities and projects in or is it to rest and relax and enjoy? I think our summer has been a fairly good combination of both. Maybe we can fit a little bit more of the rest and relaxation part in next year.

And, hey, I still have one week before I start my new (gasp) job, so maybe I can at least finish the one project I started...in between all of the Happy Days Celebration activities, buying shoes for the kids, shopping for school supplies.....

Oh well, there's always next year.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


The exciting thing in this picture is not the broccoli (although it has a nice flavor). The exciting thing is the okra in the basket. I realize it isn't enough for a meal, but the kids and I are frying it today anyway. We have been patiently (or in my case impatiently) waiting for it ALL summer.

This year has been a strange one for our garden. The summer started out unseasonably cool--good for broccoli and Sadie's third grade cabbage. Bad for okra and tomatoes. The okra is finally beginning to produce and I am hopeful that we may harvest at least one tomato before frost. We have enjoyed potatoes,onions, squash, zucchini, corn and broccoli, so I shouldn't complain. The black-eyed peas are finally producing and the green beans are thinking about blooming. We'll probably dig the rest of the potatoes next week--it is too wet to right now. We have four different varieties of pumpkins growing, too.

Am I going to be able to put up all the vegetables I had hoped? No, but there is always next summer.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sadie's Flower Mirror

I finished Sadie's mirror today. I can't decide which one of the three I like best. It is hard to see but there are thin lime-green stripes and even some glitter stripes.

Please join me in hoping that Hobby Lobby restocks soon, or I"ll have to rethink some Christmas gifts.

BTW--any project you see here is available for purchase--leave a comment and let me know if you are interested (sorry for the shameless plug, I'm saving up for a nice camera--you should really help me out, it'll make reading my posts much more enjoyable when the pictures are better.)


I just finished making jewelry holders for two of our friends for their birthday. I found simple wooden flowers with mirrors in the center. I painted the flower and added four cup hooks and some ribbon to hang the flower. I thought these would be neat to hang necklaces, hair bands or whatever little girls need to hang.

My next project is a picture frame that I'll paint, add cup hooks, and attach hardware cloth to the opening of the frame. The hardware cloth will be for hanging earrings. I've got several different sized frames to try. It may be a while before you see the finished product--we still have to finish Sadie's room and I have an order for 20 clip boards.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Win Free Ice Cream!!

I read a blog called We are THAT Family. You can go there today to enter for a year's worth of FREE ice cream!! Way cool. While you are there you can sign up for her newsletter that is coming out in August. I think it'll be interesting.

I think you'll enjoy the blog. I've found it entertaining. Go check it out.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Post Script 2

So if you read yesterday's posts you know that I had severe problems shopping the other day. Now that Wal Mart has changed their packaging, I now have to actually READ the box of resealable bags before grabbing one out. Used to, I'd grab the red box for regular and blue for freezer. Easy--just grab and go. Sadie did point out that regular has a picture of corn on it and freezer has strawberries, but my feeble mind can't process such things. I stand there thinking, "Was corn freezer? No, it was regular, I'm not sure." If Wal Mart only knew the amount of time they are taking from my day by changing things!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Post Script

While I was cooking lunch, I remembered that I meant to add a few more things to this morning's post:

While confused in Wal Mart because of starting at a different end of the store than usual, I had trouble finding items that I buy all the time. Why wasn't I finding them? I reached for the Great Value quart and gallon bags that are always in the same spot, red for regular, blue for freezer. Well, Wal Mart went and changed the Great Value packaging on me. Can you believe? Such nerve!

I finally found the bags--the new packaging is a very boring white. Sadie realized that regular have corn on them and freezer have strawberries (I think, it may be the other way around).

This confusion continued throughout the store. Each time, I thought, "You're kidding, they quite carrying ...?"

I guess I should be embarrassed that I am such a slave to routine and things being the same. No telling how long it will take me to get used to the new packaging.


Wednesday Sadie and I HAD to go to the grocery store. My list was incredibly long. I go to Wal Mart--I know there are those of you that despise the place, and let's face it, it isn't my favorite. That being said, they have nearly everything I need in one place and I really have checked prices on the groceries I buy every month, and, well, it's where I shop.

I have a routine there. I park on the same aisle (I have a habit of misplacing my car). I go through the store the same way. Sadie thought it would be fun to start at the front of the grocery part rather than the back. By the time we were half-way through, I gave up and went to the back and practically started all over. It seemed to take forever and I felt like I was in a foreign land until I went back to what I was used to.

Isn't it crazy how we are creatures of habit?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Eating Locally

Yesterday, without meaning to, our whole lunch was grown locally. We enjoyed roast from a beef that our relatives raised, fried yellow squash (I used the egg from our hens for the batter), roasted potatoes with onions, and zucchini bread. I guess the only things we didn't get locally are the flour, spices and shortening. I thought it was kind of cool for all of our main ingredients to be home-grown.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Flower Beds

When we moved out to the farm, we removed some old cedar bushes that had just become too overgrown. The problem is, the trunks are almost impossible to remove without a tractor. If we remove them with a tractor, we will have to take part of the fence down, and, we are fairly certain that when uprooted, they'll tear up the majority of the yard (which might be the only way I'll ever get a sprinkler system...)

So, this year I happened upon a small stock-tank that had a hole in the bottom. I brought it over to the yard to use as a flower bed. (I have big plans of actually putting in a bed in front of the house, but that will require quite a bit of labor, and I'm pretty sure the dog will get in it and make a mess.)

I wanted to build a bed around the cedar stump, but didn't really want to spend much on it. This spring, to my good fortune, and mom's misfortune, we found out that the large stock tank in the pasture by the house had a hole in it. Robby was kind enough to cut the bottom out of it and cut it in half. We placed it over the stump and filled with cheap top soil, potting soil and peat. I planted flowers in both tanks and am pretty pleased with the results.

I planted perennials with the hope that they will eventually fill in the whole bed. I added some vinca (an annual) this year to fill in some gaps.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Firecracker Fun

When I was a kid, my mom taught me how to "blow up cans" like she did as a child, now my mom is teaching my kids how to do it. I love the traditions we hand down from generation to generation. If you have never done this before, you need to try it--it amounts to hours of entertainment at our house.

First, find two cans that, when empty, just fit inside each other. (Mom was nice enough to find some out-of-date ones in her pantry and empty and clean them out when she came. She's also very smart--she brought a set for each kid.) Then, punch a hole in the end of the can so a firecracker will fit very snugly.

Pour a small amount of water in the large can. (You'll learn that the amount of water affects the height the can goes--that's the fun part, experimenting)

Place the can with the firecracker in like this:

Mom says the secret is to put the can in the can with water, then put the firecracker in.

Light fuse:
and get away:
The can will launch into the air.

Collect the can, and do it all over again.
To see more photos and read more about our family celebrates the Fourth, go here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Before we left on our trip to Hico, T.S. and I planted pumpkins. We planted the mini variety directly into the garden. I don't have the spot ready for the other varieties, so we went ahead and started them inside. We planted three different kinds: Big Max--these are supposed to get really big, Jack O'Lantern, and Lumina--these are white pumpkins. Last count was 27 seedlings. Right now we're waiting for the garden to dry out so we can transplant them.

Hopefully we'll end up with a lot of pumpkins and either be able to sell them or share them with our friends.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Garden Curiosity

Sunday evening, after a hard day of work in the garden, curiosity got the best of me. I've been wondering just exactly how the potatoes are doing and how big the onions are. So, I dug a few potatoes and pulled a few onions.
I washed everything really well; chopped it into big chunks (added in some yellow squash I'd picked earlier as well as some garlic), put it on a baking sheet, seasoned it with salt and pepper, added some olive oil and put it in the oven at 375 for a while (at least 45 minutes; don't stir it, just put it in and leave it alone). The roasted vegetables were great--the best part was, we grew everything but the garlic.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Warm Zucchini Bread

Last year I found this recipe for Warm Zucchini Bread on Food Network's site. It is by Emeril Lagasse. I made a few changes--pecans for walnuts and omitted the lemon zest. The kids and Nonnie really enjoy it. I make it in mini-loaf pans and leave the nuts out for the kids.
The best part is, in summer we always have zucchini on hand. You can grate and freeze the zucchini, but it becomes really watery when you thaw it, so you have to drain it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I Made Cheese!

Earlier in the week, while visiting our family in Hico, my sister-in-law Jennifer taught me how to make mozzarella cheese. It was actually a pretty simple process.

Start with 1 gallon of milk--this is whole, raw milk that they buy from a local farm family.

Pour it into a large pot, place a thermometer in and start it simmering. When the temperature reaches 55 degrees, add citric acid that has been dissolved in water. Once the temperature hits 88, add part of a rennent tablet that has been dissolved in water. After that addition, you let it simmer until it reaches 100 degrees. At that point, remove the pot from the heat.

Remove the solid part (curd) and place it in a bowl. Drain more whey off and push/knead the curd to remove as much of the liquid as possible. You repeat the process of removing the whey three more times, placing it in the microwave for 30 seconds in between times. Once you've done that and removed as much liquid as possible, you begin stretching the cheese.

Sorry, I didn't get a picture of the stretching part.
When the cheese is to the consistency you like, reform it and place in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. You can keep stretching and eventually end up with a string cheese.
The cheese was very mild. Jennifer used it on homemade pizza the next day.

Very fun, educational and tasty!