Thursday, May 31, 2018

Farm Crazy... and slightly forgetful!

Monday holidays should be outlawed.

Am I the only one who can almost guarantee I'll mess up something on a week following a Monday holiday...

And for a week following a time change in spring or fall.

And I even wrote myself a note on Facebook on Tuesday, reminding myself that it was Tuesday... and that Wednesday was sure to follow!

While that's no excuse, I'm running with it because youse are all kindly folks and understand.

Planting time is clutch time here. To take advantage of every good moment to plant the pumpkins and seeds and plants that Seth has nurtured from seeds or tiny plants and will become the fall extravaganza come Labor Day....

So cooking is minimized. But we're doing homemade PIZZA (RECIPE HERE!) this afternoon (with bottled sauce, of course!) and I'm going to try broccoli salad this weekend because I love it... and our grandkids are coming up from North Carolina for a four or five day holiday to see planting on the farm!

There will be crepes tomorrow for Nathan (RECIPE HERE!!!)

And we'll be watching Dave and Eli play baseball on opposite sides of the city.... and Emma and Anna play soccer....

And planting in between!

Plus a trip to Abbott's Frozen Custard of Hilton (my favorite ice cream/custard place!)

And Sullivan's Char Broil on Ridge Road.


We will have a wonderful time and a lot of work and that might be part of my absent-mindedness.

So forgive me!

I'm just a scatterbrained author who really needs to pay attention to the calendar better!

But I love youse! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Armadillos are NOT Cute

All these years of coming to the ranch, I've seen armadillos and thought they were cute. They're mostly nocturnal animals that don't see very well, though they have a very keen sense of smell. Which means, if you're downwind of them, you can sometimes catch one.
This is from quite a few years back, but why the boy felt compelled to catch one (yes, he let it go), I will never understand. Kind of like climbing a mountain. Why? Because it's there. (Which will never be a good enough excuse for me)

Now that we're living here at the ranch, and most recently, I have come to a very different opinion of these little armored creatures. 
See this mess in what was one of my flowerbeds? 
And this one.
All of this trenching is the work of an armadillo looking for grubs and other bugs. So what if the pansies and snapdragons were almost spent, the little booger didn't have to uproot them. 

Well, hubby found Mr. Dillo's hole in the bushes, so we dumped a box of mothballs down there and sprinkled more throughout the beds. Remember what I said about them having a keen sense of smell. 

Then it was time to replant. With temps already in the 90's, we needed some summer color. This year, it's in the form of Vincas.
The nursery called these shades the Lipstick Blend.
And I'm happy to say that the mothballs worked, because the flowers have gone untouched for three days now. 

Last week I mentioned that it had been a  year since we started the renovations on my in-laws home, so I thought I share a couple before and after pics with you today.
Removing that brick wall at the front that was used to create a courtyard was priority number one and, boy, are we glad we did. Not only do we have a space we utilize now, all those windows finally have views of the great outdoors which brightened up the inside of the house, too. It was a win-win all around. 

Unlike Mr. Dillo. But I am not sorry to see him go. He has plenty of space to tear things up in the woods without terrorizing my yard.

Now it's your turn. What type of flowers will you be planting this year? What is your favorite?

Three-time Carol Award finalist, Mindy Obenhaus, lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, the youngest of her five children, two dogs and countless cattle. She's passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she's not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day 2018

Happy Memorial Day from your friends at the Cafe!

Memorial Day

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields. 

WWI British Cemetery at Abbeville in France, 1918
public domain 

That poem was written May 3, 1915 by John McCrae. He was a Canadian: a soldier first, and physician second. He had volunteered for service in the Second Boer War, and at the age of 41 volunteered again for duty in World War One. On May 2, 1915, during the second Battle of Ypres, his friend, Alexis Helmer, was killed in battle. Lieutenant Colonel McCrae wrote this poem for his funeral.

Why do we celebrate Memorial Day? So we never forget to remember.

So enjoy your picnics, rest, and family time. But don't forget to remember why we hold this day separate from all the rest...

Have a great holiday, a wonderful week!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Thrown-together Sloppy Joes

Missy Tippens

I had a pound of ground beef thawed out for dinner the other night and couldn't decide what to make with it. Then I saw a pack of hamburger buns and decided to make...

Sloppy Joes!

I looked at a couple of recipes, but of course didn't have all the ingredients. So I just shut the website and jumped in with what I had.

I browned the beef with some dried onions (I would have preferred freshly chopped Vidalia onions!), then stirred in some tomato paste. Then I seasoned the beef and tomato paste mixture with a spoonful of brown sugar, several glugs of Worcestershire sauce, and a hefty sprinkle of two types of paprika. (Don't you love those measurements?!)

Next was a large can of crushed tomatoes.

I let the mix simmer for a bit. Then it was ready to serve!

They're delicious on buns! We usually serve them open-faced so we can eat them with a fork. :)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Spring at Last!

We have leaves.

We had daffodils!

We had tulips!

We've got iris growing and tomato plants ready to be transplanted and baby corn plants and squashes and pumpkins, all babies, just coming to life in this new creature we've dubbed "sunshine"! And with sunshine comes warmth.

Hooray for warmth!

There's a lot of stuff going on here right now. I'm utilizing my middle-of-the-night writing time for storytelling, but at seven A.M. I switch gears. Get my young friends off to school, clean up the kitchen, and then on to some spring things...

Cleaning water gardens is the least favorite.... we're in Northeast Woodlands. If you don't mow it or till it, a forest will grow, so the water gardens all fill with leaves in fall. Once spring comes I pump out the water.... then rake out the debris (I am not going to tell you what I find in the debris, but let me say that it's not always JUST LEAVES....) So once that's done, I refill with water... and start the fountains... and weed the gardens around them and trim the plants and then I repeat this two more times because we've got three water gardens in the front yard.

And I love them! They encourage all kinds of frogs and toads to make our yard their home... and birds, too!

Logan is a frog/toad lover like me.... I remember when Taylor was little (one of my first daycare babies, she's almost 17 now) she came over one evening and filled buckets with toads, hopping around the gardens and the sidewalks, feasting on bugs beneath the outside lights.

It was the coolest thing! And then of course we let them all go... because we want them to have lots and lots of frog/toad babies!


Before Memorial Day the bunting must go up. Half the reason I had porch rails installed years ago was to hang bunting!


I love bunting. I love old houses with patriotic bunting.

I'm such a dork!

Farm prep time without a greenhouse:  Summer squash and zucchini plants started:

And then tomatoes:

We order tiny plants and then transplant them into trays or sleds.... and then we plant them this week  on the farm. That cuts our costs by a lot and we turn our display yard into an interim nursery.

Sweet pepper plants and corn plugs! This way we start the corn up front and then plant it out back this week.... and we keep doing this.

The pumpkin seeds are in trays too, they're about to pop and they'll go in next week... and then the major planting goes for the next three weeks, plot by plot.

This is the antique wagon I'm hoping to dress up this summer so folks can use it for a photo op by September. We'll see if I'm good enough to create a fun wagon, but just that frame and those wheels makes me happy!
It's about 12 feet long, so it's a big-based wagon and those wheels are to-die-for. I was thinking red and yellow for the wheels.... and a rustic bed for the wagon, to display pumpkins and flowers and decoratives..... and make folks smile!

Okay, that's it from here.... we don't do much cooking right now, but Lacey is making chicken scampi tonight.... and that's some mighty good stuff!

I'm in North Carolina for the next two days, helping with grandkids and seeing them dance/play/dance.

I am so blessed!

And this is the latest Ruthy re-release for Kindle or paperback:

A beautiful story of the most unlikely match... that becomes quite likely. Link to "More Than a Promise

Wishing you all the most beautiful of Memorial Day weekends, the blessings of faith, hope and love and the gratitude for all who have served.... and saved us from oppression and tyranny. May God bless our troops... and our country.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Winging It

by Mindy Obenhaus

This has been a fairly uneventful week around the Obi household and, trust me, I'm not complaining. Not after the year we've had.

Friday was the one year anniversary of our big move from the suburbs of Dallas-Ft. Worth to our family ranch in south-central Texas.
And after months of renovations, I am happy to say that we are pretty well settled into our new digs. One of these days I'll have to share some before and after photos.

I have to say, I am truly enjoying small-town life. They had a festival this past weekend and it was such a delight to be able to walk the courthouse square beneath the shade of century old magnolia and live oak trees, savoring the music and chatting with friends. Life moves at a slower pace here and that's fine by me.

After savoring some of the festival fare Friday and Saturday nights--they had several food trucks, one of which had some delicious fish tacos--the cooking was up to me on Sunday. I decided to keep thing simple with some grilled chicken wings.

I know I've shared these before, but some things are worth bringing up time and again.

Start with a bunch of wings. You a can buy them already cut, but I usually cut up my own. Whichever way you choose, toss them in a big bowl then add some of your favorite seasoning. I mix my own basic seasoning for meat. It's comprised of kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika.
I mix up a big batch every couple of months so it's always at the ready.
Then, for the wings, I like to add some smoked paprika.
A good bit of it, actually. I love the smoky aroma and that hint of smoke it imparts to the meat.

So sprinkle those over your wings.
And toss to coat.
Cook on a preheated grill, however the times will vary depending on your grill. Ours cooks with indirect heat and the temp stays at 400 degrees, so I usually do about 12 minutes per side, sometimes less, depending how cooked they are when I flip them.
If your grill is direct heat, don't have them too close to the flame, them monitor them after about 5 minutes. And remember, just because the outside is charred, which sometimes happens with direct heat, doesn't mean that the meat is cooked on the inside.

After the wings are cooked, you can sauce them as you like.
I kept mine au naturel and added some sweet potato fries I'd cooked up in my air fryer. Exactly what I was craving. Especially with my absolute favorite fry sauce. 
Some mayo, a little ketchup and a couple squirts of sriracha sauce.
Mmm, mmm, mmm. Now that's some good eatin'.

Of course, our dogs really love the country life. Remember this squirrel I've shown you a couple of times? The one that lives in the mulberry tree just outside our bedroom.
Yeah, well, Dixie finally discovered he was there.
Now, this is where she likes to spend her days.
The squirrel must have been active when I took these pix, because Dixie usually lays under the tree, occasionally looking up, watching for any signs of movement.

Now it's your turn. If could choose between city or rural life, which would you pick and why?

Three-time Carol Award finalist, Mindy Obenhaus, lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, the youngest of her five children, two dogs and countless cattle. She's passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she's not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at