Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Autumn Asks: Have You Ever Been A Member of a CSA?

We absolutely love checking the fields first thing in the morning and seeing growth. Get ready, more Home Grown Goodness coming your way very soon!

I have tried to join CSA's all over the states over the last decade or so. CSA stands for Community Sponsored Agriculture.  Basically its a local farm that you buy direct from -- like a membership. Most of them raise organic crops so you can eat healthier than the stuff from the grocery store. Many CSA's have a waiting list as they can only support so many people depending on the size of the farm.

I was delighted when we came back to Texas and found that not only was there a CSA available (actually I think there are two), but they had openings.

The Home Grown Farm is a family owned business. Most of your interfacing is with the two brothers. They are also unique in that they have a website that you go to for your order that next week. You can pick growers choice, or you can customize what you get. Most CSA's just give you a box of what they harvested that week with no choices. This is far better than having things your family won't eat.

Unfortunately I do have to drive into Waco to pick up my box. There are many locations you can choose from, but none of them is close to me. This is hard as pickup is on a school night during dinner time. I do have a three hours window to work with, but it does get old driving that far every week.

And that is my only complaint.

You get more than enough food. You can even choose to skip a week if you want. I haven't done that, I've been putting up the extra instead. Extra doesn't usually happen when Hubs is home, but when he is gone there are many nights that I don't cook from scratch.

Extra cabbage has become sauerkraut. Pinterest instructions of course. I did use one jar in a kielbasa crockpot recipe. It was good and it was on the first day you could use it so the rest should get a little stronger. This first jar was really mild. Also one of the jars did not seal well. I cannot describe to you the horrible odor.  LOL.

I dehydrated some of the extra mushrooms for later use- another Pinterest tutorial. This was my first try with this dehydrator which we picked up at a Goodwill for $5. It doesn't have a temperature control for different settings but it works just great. We have used it for jerky a few times.

I have also frozen mushrooms, onions, peppers, turnips, beets and carrots for cooking.  With extra potatoes I made up frozen hash browns.

So I have been working on canning, dehydrating and freezing. I also have a foodsaver that has a jar attachment for sealing and uses the ziplock bags that you can pull the air out of. LOVE IT.

Although a CSA is more expensive that grocery store veggies, I do recommend them if you can afford it. Its organic. You can visit the farm and get to know the farmers. Its supporting your own community.

Anyone else a member of a CSA in your area?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Asparagus Season

One of the really neat things about our place is this fully mature asparagus bed in the side yard. I'm glad the last owner told me what it was because I would have been clueless.

I love asparagus.

This spring has been a real learning experience because I had no idea what to do or how to care for it or anything.  Luckily it seems to be pretty fool proof since it is an established bed.

I did some reading in books and on the internet. Looks like I have a good amount of new roots spreading so I have stuff that I was cutting at first that really should have been left alone to grow this year. They are very small stalks. I caught on after a few weeks and now leave those to grow so they will be bigger next year.

For 4 weeks now I have been cutting asparagus daily. Its awesome. But I am getting a little tired of eating it so I am now trying other things.

recipe for canning spicy pickled asparagus!
This is a Pinterest pin for Spicy pickled asparagus which can be found here.

I made a jar but I have not tried them yet. Like I said...I'm a little tired....
Mine do not look anywhere near as pretty. My stalks are much thinner than the ones on Pinterest. I will have to let you know how they taste when I try them.

Right now sitting on the counter are:
3 glasses. I read somewhere to put them in a glass with some water in the bottom and cover with a plastic bag for humidity and they will store in the refrigerator for 4 days. I was losing them in a day before I found this information. This set I am going to freeze - instructions compliments of Pinterest of course.

I have two bare spots in the bed so I am thinking of getting two new root sets to plant in them. I know you cant eat them the first year (like my little sprouts) but I have plenty I can eat. I'm not sure how long the plants produce for (as in years) so I think it might be a good idea to add more.  Anyone know?

Unfortunately the artichoke plants did not survive the winter so no new learning on that front. Not sure if I will buy more plants or not. Not this year anyways.

So do you have a favorite asparagus recipe? I could use some new ones. Please share!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Pinterest Project #25

One of my friends here celebrated a birthday in the last few months. We all got together to do a dinner to celebrate her.  I think this is probably my favorite thing we do (after the road trips) together -- make a meal and enjoy each other.

So we all bring something to share. Right up to the night before I did not know what to make. So, to Pinterest I went. Seems like a good time to try out something I pinned to try some day.

I picked the Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips recipe. You can find the recipe here.

Oh. My. Goodness.

This stuff was fantastic.  And we ate almost the whole thing.  Everyone wanted to know what was in it and several wanted the recipe.

I made it again when I had company a month later.

I will say that the first time I used raspberries, but the second time I couldn't find any and had to use blueberries. The raspberries were far superior in taste. I also used a raspberry fruit spread and cut the sugar.

After the first batch I also ended up buying a type of cutter to help cut the fruit up like this. The first time I did it I spent over an hour just cutting the fruit in little squares. Too much work.

This guy made it so much easier the second time around. Plus I've used it for some other things now also.

So if you are looking for a fruit recipe to try I would recommend this one.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Work on the Bathrooms

We pretty much finished the bathrooms finally.  Not that we did a whole lot, but with four to handle it seems like we did.

The master bath will not be done until we do the next flooring upgrade in 3-4 years. We will need to tear the carpet out, change out the bathtub and the counter tops. Low priority.  Although we did put in a towel bar and hand towel rings. There weren't any -- just hooks in the closets. The hooks don't allow for good circulation and the towels don't dry well. I guess the last owners just didn't like to see towels out.

Mouses bathroom we reused the same towel bars and stuff. The light fixture was painted but not replaced. She was the only one that got an upgrade on the counter tops this time around.

The guest bath did get all new fixtures. The old ones were nice, but with a gold base. I changed to silver/pewter tones. I found the new stuff on ebay after checking around town and not finding anything I liked. We don't have the greatest selection on things in a city this size. The lights were also upgraded.

This room and bathroom ended up with a sea or coastal theme. The neat thing about that is we had plenty of stuff to use with having lived in Florida and vacationed there so many times.  I had things that we didn't use anymore but I still held onto because of the significance or memories attached. I'm glad I did.
                                Jar of shells we picked up on Tyndall Beach over the years we lived there.
                                                  Jellyfish paper weight picked up on Galveston trip.
Mermaid picture picked up on Mexico Beach Trip. I did have to buy the frame for this one.

The bath off the den didn't need much other than the wallpaper removed.  It is a big space with no storage though.  And it is right next to the hot tub room so I wanted to be able to store the towels in there.  I don't really liked many of the over the toilet storage shelves and also did not want to put shelves on the wall.

I ended up using furniture in the bathroom.
There wasn't anywhere to put the soap for people to wash their hands, or for lotion or anything else. A day spent hitting the local antique shops found a painted and distressed lingerie chest. And it was priced so low I had the cash in my wallet.  Storage and a place for the soap and lotion.

I also pulled the heavy long curtains out of the window and just left the valance. Since I put the privacy stuff on the windows there was no need for all that extra fabric to hand around and get dusty.

I found an old brass tray to sit on top of the chest to catch any water or soap drips. This was next to nothing on ebay as it was very tarnished. I used my new paste on it and it polished up nicely. The fixtures in this bathroom are brass so I thought it tied in nice. I had a round tray on it first but that just didn't look right.

For the hot tub towels I put and old bookcase in the room and just rolled them up. This bookcase was one of the first pieces of furniture we bough as newlyweds. It was a $19 Kmart press board  disposable buy. It also has survived every move we ever made and 27 years later is still going strong. Unbelievable.

Now I just need a nice plant in there.

They might be the smallest rooms in the house, but it sure was nice to have something finished.  Well, finished with what we have. I'm sure there will be some changes over time, but for now we used stuff laying around and a few purchases to flesh it all out.


(for now)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


One disadvantage to buying a place with a large house and a large yard is obviously clean-up.

Since we are really on three lots, Hubs knew he needed a lawn tractor/riding mower for the yard.  Of course he does. Who in the world would want to push mow that much grass in Texas 110 degree heat? I think we are a little too old for that at this point.

After a few months I also began wishing there was such a thing as a house tractor. There is an impressive amount of vacuuming that has to go one in this house. After thinking about it a bit I decided to call my sister and ask her about her iRobot. They have a large house and a dog and two kids also. They are also dueling master degrees that research everything before they buy....so it seemed like the perfect place to get a real opinion.

What I learned from her is yes, the automatic vacuums do work as long as you don't buy bottom of the line. You want a more expensive one for it to be worth the time. This is not an item you skimp on.

Well, I really didn't want to spend a large amount of money so I put it off.

The grass that was coming in from the dogs and people was maddening so  I did some searching online. Much to my dismay, the vacuums I was interested in are not something you can shop around and find better deals on. Seems like the price stays within a couple of dollars no matter who carries it. Darn it.  I went ahead and asked Hubs about getting one. Of course he wanted to know what ELSE it did besides vacuum for that price. Hah! Even though it doesn't do anything else, he did go ahead and give me the green light.

I couldn't do it. It costs alot. For a vacuum.

And I held out for another two months before I caved and ordered one.
Meet Jeeves. I love him.  Yes.  I really, really love him.

I ended up with the newest model as all the improvements had to do with hair pick up and not tangling up the system. With two dogs and my massive shedding on a daily basis, this seemed like something to go ahead and pay the extra money for.

Jeeves is amazing. He goes from carpet to tile to brick to wood with no problem. With so many different types of flooring, I was concerned about how well it would work out. No problem whatsoever. He is also programmable so I can set him to run whenever I want.

He does not do my whole house on one charge. Since he is rather thorough in each room this is not surprising. I have him run on program in the den so I can do the rest of the house on the day I clean.

So, for anyone interested in a robot vacuum, I would highly recommend the iRobot. Its not for everyone obviously due to the high price.  Also, if you have a real small house I don't see how it would be a big help. If you have a larger home, the income to make it feasible, and a busy schedule or work hours...then do it. You will not be sorry.

I am not being paid for this opinion -- I just had to share because I love him so much.

Best house purchase since we moved in. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Has It Really Been That Long?

Wow. Seems like I'm making a habit of falling off the face of  the earth.

Really its because life is just so.....ordinary.  I spend more time at home than anywhere else, which limits the stories that I get to turn into sarcastic funnies.

Hubs is gone more than home. Last trip we lost a week to him volunteering to cover for a man that wanted to be home for the birth of his baby. Kinda hard to be upset over something like that. And this time there is a week long school he is attending. When all is said and done at the end of the year I bet his time home doesn't add up to a full 5 months.  Makes for a lonely life.

I hired a landscaping company to do an extreme amount of work around the place. They are putting sprinklers in the garden beds and around the house. Not the yard at this point.  We might add that later. Not this year.  Lots of clean up work and pulling some stuff out and replacing with easier care plants.

My sister and the kids came for a visit. It was awesome. And we ended it with a trip to Six Flags. This was the first time Mouse could ride everything. She rode her first roller coasters. It was funny. She was all hunched down in her lap with her head on her knees, screaming. In those photos they take it looks like I'm in the car alone. But she kept going on the next one and the next one.

Mouse is bringing her grades up now in school. She needed time to settle in I guess. It was a little scary at first as she was doing so poorly. But she turned it around and is doing well now.

I'd say the house is pretty much together now. We haven't finished the shop, but most of the house is set up.

As you can see, this is all pretty tame and lame stuff. I'm going to try and write more simply because I like to get it out of my head...which I accomplish by writing.  But I'm just not finding my voice right now so it will  probably be pretty boring until I find it again. Sorry friends!