Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Flowers

Our rather drab yard is starting to turn absolutely beautiful.  I try and remember to stop and just be thankful.  There a lot of people going through some difficult times and just stumbling through the day without being thankful for all I have just seems wrong.

   
I love my Japanese Maple.

   

I think these are lilacs and wish they flowered more, but I still love them.

   

These will be apples, God willing and the Fire Blight don't rise, to paraphrase...

   

 Potential blueberries.

   

It looks like we may get cherries this year for the first time.

   

And I just plain ol' like my pink Dogwoods

 

And I am grateful for it all.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Monogram

   

When I bought my new embroidery machine, I was told I could send off our logo for the B&B and get it digitized.  Cool!  So now I can put it on everything.  Maybe the towels.  Or the bathrobes for the room.

   

Check out all the colors I can choose from!

   

I could go crazy and do napkins and tablecloths.  Make a picnic cloth to go with the picnic basket we have.

The really sad thing is this is probably what the kids will be getting for Christmas forever more.  Monogrammed somethings. 

And because we have a married daughter who is still using her maiden name, we will have to make one for each.  And we have a daughter who JUST got engaged so she will need current and future monograms.

   

It is a good thing I bought this machine.  It is so useful!

   

Thursday, April 25, 2013

They're Back


   

This morning the cows were back. It seems as they came down the hill, they split around our fence, half on our property and half on the neighbor's land. 

   

 Lee tried to herd them back up the hill.  They split off in different directions.  He didn't want to spook them into doing something stupid, so we just called and let the owner's know.  It seems they had repaired most of the fence and were going to fix the rest when they had time.  I guess they will have time today.

   

Claire seemed to like them.  Or at least liked looking at them.  Should have made her a cow pony.

   

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cows

   

We had a few more stumps to pull this morning.  As we drove out to the field we discovered we had been invaded by cows.  It seems the grass IS greener over here.  Who knew cows were fond of clich├ęs?

   

 RJ loves to bark at cows.  In general they aren't afraid of him and stare him down.  Eventually they move off.  He gets them started in the direction he wants and then comes back to make sure we recognize his bravery.  Ten minutes later they were back with reinforcements.  Now we had 15 or 20 of them.  It seems EVERYBODY wanted this greener grass.

   

We lost the number of the cow's daddy.  This is not a new phenomenon and we used to have the number on our fridge.  But it has been awhile and then I cleaned the fridge and put the number in a safe place.  Where we wouldn't forget it.  Good thinking on my part.

Wind or rain will knock down a tree across the barbed wire between out two properties and here they come.  Because the fence is way up in the woods, we don't know it is down until the presence of cows informs us.  Lee called the cow's daddy's Uncle's wife, which was the only number we knew. Whew!   She kindly called the cow's daddy to come and get 'em.

Then I noticed that RJ had rolled in something stinky.  This is a favorite RJ activity.  Usually it is a dead something.  Today it was a fresh cow plop.  This is a euphemism, in case you are wondering.  But these were cow and not bulls, so THAT word wouldn't fit. But it is still gross and disgusting and so now he is clean and shinny and still kind of wet.  And I am beat from digging out more stumps and from bending over and giving a dog a bath when I had better things to do.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Stump Pulling


   

Pulling stumps is not as much fun as it sounds.  We had some bushes that I think are Mountain Olive.  When we first moved here we were told that they were a nuisance bush.  We didn't see why.  THEN.. Now we do.

We had two big bushes, or maybe areas of bushes.  They were right in the middle of an area that we cut for hay.  I wanted to remove them.  But when we cut them down, there were big knots of stumps where multiple bushes all grew together. 

You can't leave big stumps in the middle of a hay field.  The grass will grow up over the stump so that you can't see it until you drive over it and it wrecks your equipment.  There is a very nice man named Aubrey that cuts hay here.  It would not be nice to ruin his very fine John Deere equipment.

One year we put a large empty stock tank on top of a field that we were going to have cut for hay.  It had been horse pasture for a few years and now it was available for haying again. Nicely fertilized hay, I might add.  Because it had been a few years and the grass covered the stump we wanted to make sure Aubrey knew to avoid that spot.  He told us that once he has cut a field he knew every rock and lump from then on.  I can't imagine knowing that in flowing fields of 3 foot tall grass, but I believed him.

But now we have cut down the Mountain Olive and he might not remember there was a bush where there is no longer a bush, and he might not believe we are the kind of idiots that would leave tractor killers about.  And kill his tractor.  So they have to come out.

If you use a chainsaw and it hits the dirt, then you just have a spinning chain and not a saw.  Instantly dull.  Don't ask me how I know this.  We tried to dig down around the stump, but there were roots as big as my arm in every direction.

   

Time to get out the tractor. 

   

We have some heavy chains we use for this time of work.  At one point the tractor reared up like in one of those tractor pulls.  Not good.  More digging.  More chopping with an ax to get rid of some of the roots.  More pulling.

   

Most of the roots are out.  We can cut the little ones with some hand tools and rake everything smooth.

   

 But not today.  Today I am beat.

   

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Whole Lot Of Railroad Ties


   
We just bought a whole bunch of railroad ties.  Not the things you sometimes buy at home improvement stores, but the ones dug out from under train tracks.  I guess they have to do that from time to time to make sure they don't rot or fall apart or something.  In fact there are currently about 10 or so of them on the corner of our property where it meets the railroad right-of-way.  We will wait a year or so and then call and see if we can have them.  If they sit there long enough, you can get permission to use them.  No stealing, now.

   

So we went to a salvage yard and bought them.  Are you aware that each one weighs about 175 pounds?  EACH ONE??  Me, neither.

   

We bought 10 and then came home and dragged two off the truck.  Then we moved it forward a bit and dragged off two more.  Did I mention 175 pounds?  We used a crowbar, a pickax and a sledge hammer to position them. 

   

Oh, and brute strength.  Lee is the brute.  I am the minor assistance.  I used to be a lot more help.  Not so much any more.  Plus, Lee hurt his sciatic nerve recently, so we don't want to do a stupid. 

   

After a bit, he went and got the tractor.  He could push or drag them with the front loader and the scraper. 

   

We even used a hand truck when we couldn't use the tractor.

   

This whole project is to line the back drive.  It is a scraped dirt road/driveway and looks rough.  It also causes a lot of dirt and dust to fly into the screen porch whenever any one uses it.  I use it at least twice a day to get to the barn.  It is also the way to the fruit trees and the garden, to the entrance to the B&B and to half the farm.  So we use it a lot.  When guests drive here, they will need to drive or walk around this way to the B&B half of the house.
 
   

Each tie had to be muscled into place and then nudged a bit this way and that to get them mostly straight.  We also had to make a few cuts to make openings to the back porch

   

and the stairs to the lower garden. 

   

Have you ever cut a railroad tie?  They are soaked in creosote and become VERY hard.  We used a chainsaw.  Then had to get a new blade, all for about 4 cuts.

After those got placed, we went and bought 10 more. We dragged them off, pushed them to either side of the drive so I could use it to get to the barn and then called it a day.

   

Today we finished arranging them to suit us.  Funny how we get less picky as our strength leaves us.

Next half of the project is to kill all the grass and go get a couple tons of crushed rock.  There is a big scoop that will dump the rock into your truck bed.  Then all you have to do is shovel it out!  Just ton or so.  Then go back and get more.  And then do that again.  That should do it.  And it should do us in from any back breaking chores for awhile.  Or sledge hammer breaking....

   


Friday, April 19, 2013

Most Of The Tile

   

The tile guys got most of the tile installed.  I think they would have finished by now except for the fact the "in stock" tile was out of stock!

   

The kitchen and bathroom floor are pretty straightforward.  But I wanted to do something different in the foyer.  I was going to buy a fancy tile for an inner border, but didn't see any that we thought would go with the tile we picked.

   

So I found a tile I liked and had the contractor cut strips of it and use that for the border.  I like the way it turned out and it had the added bonus of being a whole bunch cheaper.  The center of the border was turned at an angle and it givers it some interest without being fussy. 

   

We had to come in a tile and a half to make it even and to accommodate the buffet/sink we will be installing when we find the right piece.  I didn't want the border to be obscured by the furniture.  Furniture for which we are still looking.  MORE trips to antique stores.  I don't want something super nice or expensive as I am going to cut a big hole in it to put in a sink.

   

Now they need to grout what they finished and start work on the shower.  It's starting to look like a house!  We are just waiting on the tile store to get in stock the in stock tile!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Seeds

   

We have a patch on one hill where nothing much grows.  Because of this, and the bowl shape of the hill, every time it rains, we get a mini washout.

   

If Lee doesn't get up there with the tractor to scrape it smooth again, the little washouts get bigger.  But then again, every time he scrapes it smooth, he damages what little vegetation there is on the hill.  A vicious cycle.

The last time I went to Southern States to buy horse food, I asked about grass seed.  I don't want lawn grass.  I don't want a hundred pound bag of grass hay seed.  Guess what?  I can buy it by the pound.  So I did.

   

Lee drove the Mule and I was the seed broadcaster.  We used to have a walk-behind thing that sprayed out seeds or fertilizer. 

   

We also used to have large cup that had a crank you could turn and broadcast seeds, etc.  We no longer have them.  They could still be in California,  Or tossed.  Or in a box somewhere.  Who knows?

   

I have no idea if any will germinate.  It is supposed to rain today and I hope it is a light sprinkle.  At any rate we did SOMETHING.  We have visions of birds eating and rain washing, but there is a chance that some little seeds will survive to hold that hill.  Grow little seed, grow!

   

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Healthy Chicken Tenders


A few months ago I was in California and I happened to be in a Trader Joe's.  I love Trader Joe's and they don't have one here in Southwest Virginia.  I came across some almond meal.  It is almost almond flour, but not that finely ground. I bought some and brought it home for some vague future use.

The package mentioned that it could be used for breading.  What a good idea!  After a quick peek around the Internet, I discovered that by using this for breading chicken tenders and then baking them, I fit in with a bunch of healthy diets.  It works with Atkins, Paleo. and plain old low fat!  So give it a try.

   

Healthy Chicken Tenders

1 pound chicken tenders, or chicken breasts sliced into strips.
1 cup almond meal
2 eggs

spices of choice... some suggestion are cumin and coriander and chili powder for a Mexican flavor, or garlic and Italian seasonings. On this occasion I used:

1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon paprika
pepper


   

Preheat the oven to 400.  Use foil to line a baking pan and then spray it with Pam.  Or use parchment paper.

   

I prefer to snip the tendon and remove the bit of white membrane on the tenders.  Then rinse the tenderloins and pat dry with a paper towel.

   

Break the eggs in a medium bowl and whisk them until smooth.

   

Put the cup of almond meal in a good sized bowl.  Add the spices and stir together with a fork. 

   

Now for the assembly line.

   

Dip the tenders into the eggs and then coat both sides with the almond mix.  Place on the prepared baking pan and then do all the rest,  leaving a bit of space between each tender.

   

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

   

 I cut one in half to make sure they were done.  If you want them to crisp up a bit more you can place them on a cooling rack, but I was hungry and just put the hot tenders on a plate and served them with some Ranch dressing for a dip.  The bottoms got a bit soggy, but they tasted great.  Lee could taste the almond, but I couldn't.  Maybe it was the Ranch dressing I used!

   

You can't just have meat for dinner, so I steamed a bit of broccoli to go with the tenders.  I had some Alouette spreadable cheese left over from making ham roll-ups a few days ago.  It was the garlic and herb flavor, but any flavor you like will do.  The Alouette is low carb and does not have  a whole bunch of fat, so I had a plan.

   

After steaming the broccoli, I put the hot vegetables on top of the 1/3 cup spreadable cheese I had placed in the bowl.  The broccoli melted the cheese into a delicious sauce.   I  had cut the broccoli and cooked it in the time it took for the tenders to cook.  Bam!  Dinner!