Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Water Conservation: How Do You Conserve?

Growing up in Houston where the water is plentiful not much emphasis was placed on conserving water. It has been a continuing education to figure ways to conserve water since moving to the Texas Hill Country and using a rain water collection system. Rain is not plentiful in this area and the area has been in a drought for some time. Last year in 2008, we only had 11 1/2 inches of rain. The top soil was blowing away. And while we are over 13 inches this year, we still are in a drought and I see more top soil blowing past my windows as well as into the house. :D We are not totally on rain water because we do have a well as back up. However, we much prefer the rain water to that in the ground. Rain water tastes sweet, gives a good lather, and you get the full flavor of coffee.

When we added the rain water collection system and as appliances needed replacement, we sought out low water users for the washing machine, the dish washer, keep a little sink filled with soapy water to rinse off the dishes before placing in the dish washer, make sure there are no dripping faucets or running commodes, and replaced a 16 year old roof with a tin roof. When brushing teeth or washing your face, we turn the water on and off instead of letting the faucet run while performing the act.

I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with ways to conserve water until last Friday. I met a couple of ladies at our local farm stand and learned two new ways to conserve: put a gutter and drain pipe on everything, no matter how small an outbuilding, and catch the air conditioning condensation as it drains to the outside! You will find uses for it. I have come a long way from my Houston days, but these ladies put me to shame. lol

My question to you is what do you do to conserve water? I am open to learn new ways. You see you can teach an old dog, er lady, new tricks. I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

Until next time, God bless.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Beef Stir Fry

Here is a recipe for one of our favorite meals, beef stir fry.

1 1/2 pounds lean round, sirloin, or flank, in strips
1 onion, sliced
8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms, or more if you like mushrooms
6 cups fresh broccoli
2 large green peppers, sliced
2 cups zucchini squash, sliced or in bite sized pieces
2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
Optional: carrots


5-6 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1/2 cup of soy sauce
1/2 cup of water
1 tsp. of ginger, more if freshly grated
3-4 T honey

Pour marinade over the beef and allow to sit 4 hours up to 24 hours.

Coat your pan with olive oil, saute onions, add meat and the marinade. After meat is cooked, add broccoli, then a few minutes later add the squash, and a few minutes later add the mushrooms, and then tomatoes. I try to keep the broccoli a little crunchy by not cooking too long and sometimes add more soy sauce.

Serve over rice -- brown, white or wild -- your choice.

Many times I divide the recipe in half for freezing after cooking the meat and onions.

Until next time, God bless.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Straight Out of the Camera Sunday

I am afraid that I've gotten carried away with photos for Straight Out of the Camera Sunday, a meme at Murrieta 365. SOOC is for those photos you have taken that are so perfect no tweaking is needed. There is no theme for SOOC Sunday. I took several photos this week that required no tweaking except to jpg optimize for a quicker download.

This one was an accident but love the delicate blue sky with fluffy, white clouds.

A visiting Los Angelian taking a walk in the Onion Creek Farm corn field. Onion Creek opens a farm stand every Friday. Marianne at the farm ran out of jalapeno peppers that a customer wanted. She grabbed her straw hat, her gloves, a basket, and walked out to pick the peppers for her customer. It was neat.

Fried green tomatoes, anyone? Rows and rows of tomatoes at Onion Creek Farm filled with green tomatoes that should be ripe by next week. I can hardly wait. Around this house, a really good dinner consists of sliced, fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes, onions, and corn on the cob. Yum.

This flower looked a little strange in the veggie field. I did not realize it when I took the photo, but I think it is among a row of basil.
Pico and friend after yesterday's round-up and transfer to the neighbor's pasture.

Pop over to Murrieta 365 for more photos.

Until next time, God bless.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Home on the Range

Today was round-up day for a neighbor's cattle. And let me tell you that Texas is hot and dry. Just before we walked out the door for this chore, I looked at the thermometer which registered 103 degrees in the shade.

Where most people with cattle have a quarter horse, we do not. Our round-up consists of honking the truck horn, dumping a few feeder cubes in a bucket, shaking the bucket so the cubes make noise, and the cattle follow you. I have to admit that I keep looking back to make sure the cows are not too close. In fact, hubby told me that the bull, Pico, got up close behind him and butted hubby with his head. Fortunately, Pico is not a terror of a bull, but Pico is a bull. You have to keep your guard up because one never knows when a bull decides to get frisky and bulls are moody animals. Never completely trust a bull no matter how friendly and gentle it might be.

Then there is always at least one cow that decides she does not want to do what you want her to do. We almost gave up today on one cow. We thought we would have to try again tomorrow. However, hubby refused to give up. Finally, the cow, who has just been named Mary Contrary for the purposes of this blog entry, went through the gate.

Not only did Mary Contrary, above, refused to go through the gate for a time, she refused to a group photo. :D

Group photo of Pico, the bull, and four of his heifer friends safely in their pasture.

After a couple of passes with a kerchief across the brow to wipe off the sweat, we gave a sigh of relief that the deed was done and headed to the house for a cold glass of lemonade.

Until next time, God bless.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Farmers Market Photo Challenge

Dripping Springs does not have a Farmers Market yet. The city is working on having one regularly -- there was a trial run a few weeks ago and it was a success. However, Onion Creek Farm Stand is open every Friday at 3 PM to 6 PM. I have been promising myself to go but would find an excuse not to do so. But I promised Squirrel Queen of The Road to Here that I would enter the Farmers Market Challenge. I am so glad to have gone; I ran into a couple of people I know, met at least one new friend, took some photos, bought some fresh produce and bought an organic round steak from a local cattle grower. Can't beat that: no mystery meat!

Rows and rows of tomatoes.

Rows and rows of corn. Hubby loves fresh corn better than anything. I have to keep a close eye on when this corn is ready, otherwise, it may be grounds for divorce if I don't bring him some!

Took a quick stroll out into her fields. Fat honey bees were all over these sunflowers except when I was ready to take the shot. I got lucky though and caught this one before it flew away.

BTW, hop over to The Road to Here to see photos of Farmers Markets around the country...or maybe the world?

Until next time, God bless.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

24 Hours in the Texas Hill Country

Early in the year we had a small break in the drought, but the drought is not over. At one point today our thermometer showed 109 degrees. We have not seen a drop of rain since June 11 and we only had a little over an inch in May. There is no grass and we had to get out a big roll of hay for the cows on Tuesday.

The cows were happy.

The cows are still happy.

Let me introduce the newest member of the herd: New Guy. He was born Tuesday night or sometime Wednesday. Cows usually hide the calves for a few days before bringing into the herd. He looks healthy and strong.

Isn't this a face that only a mother would love? This is the second batch of barn swallows that nest just a few feet from our bedroom door.

I tried to capture a photo of a couple of young bucks yesterday evening, but I'm not up on what to expect from my telephoto lens. All were out of focus as I am still in the learning stage. I spotted the deer when I was throwing the ball to Luc; looked to be four pointers. They could have been ten pointers and they would have been safe from us. We are not into hunting, field dressing, and all that. But, when it comes to the creepy crawly thing below, well, let's just say I have no second thoughts! I grab my weapon and go to work.

Ugh. Horrible isn't it? I walk around barefooted all the time. However, this morning I saw this dreadful centipede in the hallway. He doesn't look too good for I had smashed him with the weapon below.

The weapon is a fireplace shovel. We've lived out here since 1982 and this is the first centipede found in our house and the second centipede that I have ever seen. Last year we saw one heading for the house one night when we took the dogs out for their nightly sentry check. :D It was bigger and longer. We learned something that night. You whacked 'em full force, full body for if you bring the weapon down cutting it in half, it runs off and you can't find it. I've gotten use to scorpions; but if I had stepped on this thing with bare feet this morning, hubby would still be trying to get me to come down from the ceiling. BTW, I'm wearing shoes, no more bare feet for me until I forget about it, but I may have nightmares for a week.

To end on a happy note, here is hubby communing with Pico, the bull.

Until next time, God bless.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Brenda's Photo Challenge

I am so excited that I was asked by Janice of The Butterfly Gardener to host the next The Brenda's Photo Challenge. The theme is Shadows and the date is July 11, 2009. This gives your plenty of time to get your photos and still have plenty of time to enjoy July 4! Hop over to the Brenda's Challenge site to tell her you are in.

On the Friday night before the eleventh or on the day, post your photos and come back here to tell us you are ready for viewing. When leaving your comment that your photos are up, be sure to leave the name of the blog where the photos can be found.

Since I've been participating in this challenge, I have found so many wonderful and talented photographers. Looking forward to July 11 to see what you've done.

Until next time, God bless.

Give Away's

Prior to discovering blogs, I almost never entered any contest or give away, but these blog give away's are just too easy: leave a comment and your name. I'm becoming addicted to submitting my name. Maybe, some day I'll actually win. lol But, I am wondering if there is a 12-step program for blogging and give away's.

While I did not win the Rare and Beautiful Treasures give away bath makeover consultation from Layla of The Lettered Cottage, I did purchase a consultation. I submitted four photos of the bath plus one of an old stained glass window that I want to use with any makeover. Layla is an extremely talented designer and I just know she will come up with a "WOW" bathroom. She is so in demand that there is a 6 to 9 week wait time.

There is another give away connected with Layla. Hop over to Houzz and leave a comment so you, too, can be an entry. If you haven't come across The Pioneer Woman, visit her blog. She is always giving away something and her blog is a hoot.

These are all the give away's I have found so far; but, hey, I'm pretty new to the blog world. Needless to say, I follow a blog for a few months before I submit my name. I have to trust the giver. :D

Have you found any sites with give away's that you trust to leave your name? If so, care to share? Pleazzzze.

Until next time, God bless.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Scissortail

When taking these pictures, I had the sun blotting out my screen and I did not want to get too close to frighten birds for them to fly before they were ready. The baby birds will probably leave the nest tomorrow or the next day.

It is truly amazing how fast the babies grow. The photo of one of the babies in Brenda's Photo Challenge was taken on June 18; all four were still huddled down in the nest. These were taken today, June 21, and at least one of the birds moved out to a nearby limb which I tried to capture but only got surrounding leaves. lol I did not want to press my luck by going back for more and possibly upsetting the little family.

Enjoy.One of them is discovering its wings.

This is the best I could get of Mama, or maybe it is Papa. Note the tail. Too bad I could not get her during flight when the split in the tail looks like a pair of scissors.

Until next time, God bless.


Here is a link to Once Upon a Miracle. Read about a little girl named Gracie. Please leave a comment if you are so moved to do so.

Until next time, God bless.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

SOOC - Sunday

Straight Our of the Camera Sunday

Murrita 365 started this cool meme. There is no theme but to post whatever comes out of your camera that does not require tweaking. Also, it has to be your photo. :D

I had to go back a couple of weeks to find these. Click over to Murrita's site to see what others have posted.What can I say? I was taking pictures for the Black & White Photo Challenge.

Scissortail nest prior to baby bird occupancy, but 4 of the prettiest light cream and reddish brown eggs were on the bottom. Next year I may drag the ladder out to take a picture should I find a nest this close to the ground.

Until next time, God bless.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Black & White Photo Challenge

When I posted some black and white photos, several people told me how much they liked black and white, which, in turn, gave me the idea to issue this challenge. Again, I got carried away with using what I learned in the recent Paint Shop Pro X2 lessons by adding masks, edges, and frames. Even though I jpg optimized, adding those extra elements makes for fairly large files and possible slow downloads.

Check comments to get the addresses for those that are participating in this challenge. Since I'm posting first, I haven't seen any photos but can hardly wait to see the black and whites in this challenge.

One of the roses hubby gave me for my birthday.

The tractor. lol

Until next time, God bless.

The Brenda's Photo Challenge

Butterfly Gardener is hosting The Brenda's Photo Challenge. The theme is "Getting Close Up with Macro." Be sure to go over to Butterfly Gardener to check out the terrific photos. BTW, I've been into using what I've learned in the Paint Shop Pro X2 lessons, i.e., adding masks, frames and matting. Even though I jpg optimized, adding those extra elements makes for fairly large files and possible slow downloads.

Up close on one of the roses my hubby gave me for my birthday.

One of four baby scissortails nesting in our Bur oak tree. Momma was sitting on the fence giving me the what for as I was photographing her babies.

Until next time, God bless.

Friday, June 19, 2009

NOTICE: Black & White Photo Challenge

UPDATE: June 19, 2009
Tomorrow is the day to post your B&W photos. Be sure to leave a link after letting us know you've posted your pictures.

Let's have a black and white challenge on Saturday, June 20. If you are interested, leave a comment, post your photos in your blog on that date, return here on June 20 to let us know your photos are up and leave your address.

Until next time, God bless.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bath Consultation

Rare and Beautiful Treasures is giving away a bath consultation by Layla of The Lettered Cottage. I am in dire need of a consultation. This is the last room that needs updating. I've been on a five-year house update mission.

To enter your name, we have to post photos of the bathroom............groan. To publicly show my bathroom is almost an embarrassment but not so much if I get chosen for the bath consultation! Gad, what I will do for a giveaway. lol After posting photos, I go over to Rare and Beautiful, leave a comment, leave a link to the photos, and hope like crazy they decide "this girl really, really needs a bath consultation."

Here goes:
Since this is the front bath, I've been wanting it to have the "wow" factor. And since I've not come up with a "wow" factor idea, it stays drab and uninteresting. I made the shower curtain, added the black print valence hoping it would spice it up. Ummm, no it doesn't.

To the left. As you can see, it is quite small; the dimensions are 5 feet by 8 feet. The art work above the commode is an original I bought in Houston at least 35 years ago.

Last September, I changed the vanity to a Stilestone, added a new brushed stainless faucet, framed a mirror from my mother's house in mesquite, and left the back splash for me to do a coordinating fused glass tile. There is approximately 5 feet of back splash area. As you can see, no back splash yet -- I've some glass for it but got twisted off on blogging, creating a garden, doing fused glass pendants for friends and for a street fair, and taking classes on Paint Shop Pro. In short, I'm procrastinating.

This old stained glass window hangs in the bathroom window and serves as a wet towel rack since I made a mistake when building the house and did not put a wet towel bar in the tub area.

That's about it. Now it is a matter of waiting for an email that I was chosen for the consultation. Keep your fingers crossed. BTW, if you are in need of a bath consultation, be sure to register for it at Rare and Beautiful, the more the merrier.

Until next time, God bless.

Say What? No Wonder!

I had the biggest laugh on myself yesterday. But, first here is a quick background. I've been wearing contacts off and on for at least 20 years. I do monovision: one eye reads and the other eye sees the distance, i.e., one contact is for a nearsighted eye and the other corrects a farsighted eye.

When I first started getting contacts, you got one pair, cleaned them, and took care of them for a year or until you needed another pair. I don't remember exactly when the throw aways came out, but I eventually got some. When you have one pair to take care of, you do not get the prescriptions mixed up. However, after getting the throw aways, I did not know or forgot which prescription went into which eye. I have complained for years that the contacts are not very good and wore them only when I left the house.

Yesterday, I went to get a new prescription for both glasses and contacts. The eye doctor gave me some contacts to try for a couple of weeks to see how I liked them, etc. Anyway, I did not want to put them in because I was wearing mascara and was afraid that I might trap a piece of mascara under the contact. Believe me, you don't want to do that! I did once and had a dreadful case of pink eye! The doctor told me she would have the one of her assistants put the contacts in my eyes.

Now here is the "Say what? And no wonder!" I saw the farsighted prescription number as the girl started to put the contact in my right eye and told her that was the wrong eye. The doctor looked at the records and told me that this prescription was for the right eye not for the left one! Bottom line, I have been wearing the wrong contact in the wrong eye and the prescription for both eyes would be wrong anyway. No wonder I haven't been seeing very well all these years when I'd wear contacts. Even though I had the wrong contact in the wrong eye, I could see very well to drive, but it was very difficult to watch TV or read for any length of time.

I have got to say that this has been the biggest laugh on me, probably ever! It has gone on for years, I've complained to my husband, I've fussed to myself, and gotten very frustrated. If there is a moral to this story, I do not know what it is. However, henceforth, I think I'll be very happy with my contacts and will probably wear them around the house more often. :D Computer work will be much more enjoyable since I will not have to tilt my head up for the bifocals to see the screen. lol

Until next time, God bless.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Speaking of Frames

Since I mentioned frames in the previous post, I thought I'd go back into Paint Shop Pro X2 in order to change the edges and frame the masked photos.

Works pretty good, doesn't it? I'm beginning to think I have too much time on my hands. lol

Until next time, God bless.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Week 5 - Paint Shop Pro X2 - Masks

This week's lesson from LVS Online was working with masks, creating masks, and saving in a transparency file format for Word and Excel. The transparency format worked in both Word and Excel, but Blogger would not import a true transparency.

The above two masks look more like a frame or matting.

This transparency is more of a matting.

If used in Word or Excel with a colored background, the outer edges are transparent. But again, Blogger would not accept a true transparent file, although, perhaps, you can get the idea.

I'm ready and waiting for Week 6, the last in a 6 week course.

Until next time, God bless.