Always Tacos! Even Shrimp!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

I recently shared a picture on FB and IG of my lunch on a cold dreary day... shrimp tacos.  I had numerous comments, private messages and even emails asking if I would share my recipe.  I don't really have a recipe.  This is one of those things that many  years ago on the quest to make the "perfect" shrimp taco I came up with this.  It has been a hit in my family ever since.   So, today because it sounded good, I made more shrimp tacos and here's my little tutorial for you!

December Monthly Moos {Winter Walking!}

Thursday, December 1, 2016

It's been called to my attention that I am WAY behind on my Monthly Moos posts!  Honestly, it is kind of hard to write about the happenings on the farm when nothing very exciting happens!!!

However, one thing that we did this summer that is a very big deal is that we put in a post and rail fence around our house and hilltop.   I thought I had written about it here, but I realized that I wrote about it where I blog for MaryJanesFarm.  (That is the problem in blogging in two places - I never remember what blog I wrote on!) So if you would like to read about our fencing project, you can read about it here.  

However, the update since that post was written is that Eldon painted the fence and it is so gorgeous.  Can you honestly believe that I got out of painting the fence?!  He purchased a great sprayer and it made very quick work of the job.  I was very happy to just stay out of his way!   We love the fence and loved being able to do away with the electric fence around the house! 

So, a little off the subject here.  Our son is a runner and actually does some of the Ultra Marathons that are ridiculous and crazy and so of course it gets Eldon and I thinking about the half marathon that we ran/walked in April of 2015.  It is called the Oak Barrel Half Marathon and is only open to a small number of people so you've really got to be on your game to get in.  Last year I didn't manage to get us entered but this year I did!  Our son is going to fly out for the race in April and run it with us.  So.....  with that in mind I've been trying to build up to some running by doing some major speed walking around the farm.  

 I've been using some of the trails that Eldon has cleared in the woods that allow me to walk the entire perimeter of the farm; according to my Fitbit it is about 2.5 miles to walk the entire perimeter.   I like to do it twice a day.  

So I thought that Belle and I would take you along with us today!

When we head out the yard gate I walk along the tree line down this hill in the above picture.  Pictures never really show how steep the hills are on our farm, but this one is actually very steep and I've been known to slip and slide in the leaves a bit as I head down!

The above picture is partway down the hill looking up to the back of the house.  Those trees are really beautiful in the summer and I named them The Island when we moved to the farm, as that is what they remind me of.  

Once we get to the bottom of the hill we come into this opening in the woods to a trail that we've named The Nut Trail.  There are Hickory and Black Walnut trees lining the trail and so it is covered in nuts.  It is sort of a magical trail.  

Belle loves The Nut Trail.   A couple weeks ago she jumped a Bobcat and ran it right next to me and up a tree!  Usually it is squirrels and deer that we see, so you can imagine my surprise when a little Bobcat came flying past me with Belle in major pursuit.  Needless to say that scrapper dog went home with a bloody face!  

Once again, pictures don't show the incline here but it is a nice steady climb and I'm always huffing and puffing!  I try really hard to not break my speed walking pace!

We come out of The Nut Trail and if you look up the hill next to us you'll see the tip top of the Hickory Tree that is next to our house.  So, if you were to walk straight up this hill (a VERY steep walk) you'd come out to the house.   

A little more walking around the base of the hill and then the house comes into view.

The trail I take continues along the base of the hill where I can get glimpses of the front of our house. In the summertime these trees are too thick to see anything!

I head completely off the hill to our hay pasture down below and walk along our gravel drive.  

We've been having a new road put in to our farm and this is where the new road joins in.  We no longer use the straight road ahead that you see in the above picture.  

Our new road branches off to the right and goes under this big tree...

... and alongside this old pond that never really holds water and has always been kind of gross.  BUT, we had all the trees removed from along the bank, some repairs done to the pond and all the drainage ditches from the road lead right into the pond.  So once the winter rains start it should really change the look of this pond.  Eldon also planted winter wheat all along these areas where the dirt has been moved.  It should be pretty and green all winter! 

 Belle and I continue along the road to the highway where we then follow the fence line around the perimeter of the hay pasture.  That's the least exciting part of the walk!    (Incidentally where you see our gravel road come to the little highway is where we always park our flower cart in the summertime.  We'll be improving that entrance for parking in front of the cart and prettying it up a bit.  I promise to write a blog post on that in the spring!)

After we pass through the hay pasture, through the corrals, and around the cows we come to another set of woods that is great in the winter time but honestly it is super creepy in the summer!

It is really thick with trees and kind of dark in the summer.  And one time I watched a black snake (harmless, but still...)  climb a tree in here and all I can think of are snakes up in the trees as I walk under them!

Then we break out of the thick woods to the upper part of our gravel road.  I always love how the sun shines through these trees. 

Then we start the steady climb up along the side of this steep hill.

And then turn the bend and make the final climb to the back entrance of the house!  The back door is always the door that everyone uses.  I've always been a fan of the saying "Back door friends are best"!  

I'm ready to step up my 15 minute mile speed walk to a 14 minute mile run!  Ha Ha!  Seriously though, I'm so happy that I have the half marathon in April to motivate me!  And happy to have our farm trails to walk on.  At least until the bitter wet and cold days at which point we will join the gym for three months!  I did write about our last marathon experience if you'd like to read about it here.  It was a super fun day and we're looking forward to doing it again.  

We do have numerous projects coming on the farm that I promise to update you about in January or February!  And this week we had rain after weeks and weeks of no rain, so things on the farm are fresher and prettier again!  Hopefully your winter is off to a good start too!

Gifting Home-Made!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

I think I have realized something about myself and that is that I love to sew and I love to create and gifting home-made sewn items is my favorite thing to do.  

With the holidays coming up and people really wanting to buy home-made items, I decided to list a few of my Essential Oil Bags here on my blog, as well as a few Cosmetic Pouches too.

I'm listing what I have made and available for purchase today.  However, I'm always happy to make one in different colors or patterns.  Please email me with any questions or special requests.   I am quick to get orders filled and shipped!

(If you need more details on my Essential Oil bags you can read the blog post here, where I have described them in detail.)

If you are interested in ordering one of the pre-made bags listed below just send me an email with your choice and I'll take it from there.  My email:

Essential Oil Bags:
$40 each (that includes priority shipping)
Pockets for 10 oil bottles attached to inside of bag
Removable pockets for an additional 12 more oil bottles
Quality workmanship, fabric and zippers

Cosmetic Box Pouch Bags:
$40 a set (includes priority shipping)
Large pouch measures 7" length x 5" width x 6" tall
Small pouch measures 5" length x 3" width x 4" tall
Quality workmanship, fabric and zippers

Once again, if you would like either an Essential Oil bag or a Cosmetic Pouch set made with fabric color of your choice, please email me!  

Thank you to all my loyal customers that have purchased bags from me in the past and keep coming back to purchase from me again!  

Happy Thanksgiving!

What Our Flower Farm Means To Me

Saturday, September 17, 2016

All summer I've been wanting to write a blog post about the flower farming business that my daughter and I have.  Every time I think about it, this thought comes to my mind:  "How would I describe why our flower business is so special to us"? And the words just evade me.

Because our flower stand is operated on the honor system, we don't always have much interaction with our customers, beyond Facebook and Email.  But this morning as we were tying the labels on our bouquets and putting them on the stand there were two things that happened.  A very beautiful and classy Southern lady drove up and got out of her car.  I smiled at her as she walked towards the flower stand and she said, "Good mornin' Darlin, 9:00 couldn't get here fast enough for me.  I've been drivn' around the country roads waitin' to see you come with the flowers.  Do you know how happy I am to see y'all?"  Honestly, my heart was just smiling.   I couldn't even think of what to say.  I actually wanted to just hug her.  Over her arm was a large basket and she carefully placed four jars of flowers in the basket and she was talking in that totally beautiful Southern drawl that I love so much.   She thanked us, put her money in the box and said "I'm so happy I finally got to meet y'all.  You make so many, many people in our community happy." And she got in her car, tooted the horn and drove off.  I stood there blinking back the tears.  It just meant so much.  

A few minutes later as I was finishing up filling the flower stand, another car drove up.  The lady in this car also got out with a basket - this one was more like a basket tray.  I smiled and told her good morning and she said these words, "Do y'all have any idea what a special service it is that you provide to this community"?   I said something about how much we love it and what it means to us to have customers that buy our flowers.  She proceeded to tell me that her daughter is in the hospital having a baby and when she told her she was going to go buy her some flowers her daughter said, "Momma, buy some of our flowers.  Don't buy flowers from the store or the florist".  And the lady explained to me that they consider the flowers my daughter and I grow as their flowers.   I felt like that was one of the greatest compliments we could receive.  I know I was smiling from ear to ear.

After these two incidents this morning, I finally felt like I could sit down and write what our flower farming means to me.

You cannot see our 1/3 acre of flowers from the small road where our flower stand sits.   If you know exactly where to look through the fields you can see the roof of our open work shed in the garden that our husbands built for us last summer.  But you cannot make out the plants or the blooming flowers.  So people have this assumption that our garden must be this amazingly beautiful place.  An English garden sort of beautiful.  But it is not.  It is a working garden.  Rows and rows of plants that get thoroughly picked every single day and magically bloom overnight to be picked again.  

A garden with grass that grows between the rows faster than our husbands can keep it mowed for us.  Weeds that take over when we have a super busy week and can't keep up with them.  Flowers that need dead headed so that they will continue to bloom.  

But the garden is the most beautiful place to us.  

It is the place where my grand-daughters play amongst the frogs, butterflies, caterpillars, bees and other bugs.  

The place where they are learning not only the names of all the flowers but how to cut and arrange them in jars all by themselves.

It is the place that my daughter and I talk about everything under the sun as we pick together, weed together, and arrange flowers together.  

It is the place that I go when I need to cry.  The place that has a healing that makes the troubles of life seem so insignificant.  The place that makes me happy, even when I'm on my knees in the dirt pulling weeds by hand, or stressing over the fact that all the sunflowers came up but the birds pulled them out one by one, or the caterpillars that are eating every zinnia bloom they can get their mouths on.  It is  still the happiest place on our farm! 

The funny thing is that I don't get these feelings in my vegetable garden.  There is something about growing flowers that is so magical, it is actually beyond describable.

I love that even though my son-in-law has a full time, very busy job off the farm and my "retired" husband has a full time job keeping up with the farm, they love the flower garden as much as we do.  My husband does all the tilling and hilling for us.  He diligently gets a dump truck load of manure every week all summer and composts it for a year to spread and till into the soil in the spring.  They both mow, string trim and help us however we need it.  It truly is a special thing for the whole family!

By this time of the summer we are tired.  The plants are tired.  They are actually looking very rough around the edges but still they keep producing and we keep picking.  And even though meeting at the flower garden at daylight every day is starting to take a toll, the thought of the season coming to an end is very sad.

When we started this flower farming endeavor, we never dreamed what joy it would bring to us. We had no idea that growing flowers could be so complicated, yet so simple.   We were not prepared at all for the demand that our flowers would be and the stress that comes from trying to keep up with the demand; but the opposite side of that is the absolute reward that comes in providing something that brings utter joy to the person... so much so that they will drive out of their way to pick up a simple little jar of flowers.

We were not prepared for the kindness and honesty in people; the cards left with words of thankfulness and appreciation for our flowers.  The notes that say, "I didn't have money for flowers today but I'll be back tomorrow with my money" and they are.  The boxes of brand new jars left by an anonymous customer, with a note of gratitude.   The pictures shared with us on Facebook of parents teaching their little children to buy flowers for an elderly grandparent, or a Daddy bringing them to buy flowers for their Momma.  The letters that tell us they buy our flowers because they are the same flowers their grandmother grew and it brings back happy memories.

 I hope that I never forget what a special privilege it is to grow and provide flowers for such a wonderful little Tennessee community that has not only purchased flowers from us, but embraced our flower stand like it is a "place to go"!

Fall is coming and we will be wrapping up the season in a few short weeks and then we begin the next phase.  Going over our notes from the summer so that we can learn from mistakes we made this year.  Talking about changes that may improve our production and maybe make it a little less labor intensive.    And even though we will have a winter to rest, sleep in a bit, and not stress over the flowers... they will never be far from our minds.  And we'll be dreaming of another year of flowers.