The Homemade Ice Cream Contest — With Recipe

Food & Drink, Kitchen Gardening, Recipe

13558969_10154291867443735_893099404995619577_oSpoiler alert: I did not win. Did not even place. But, wow, what an experience. And the things I’ve learned about homemade ice cream along the way… Well, that’s why I’m writing this post.

As the days here in Central Texas have crept ever-upward into double digits, I’ve contentedly puttered around in the kitchen, conjuring up delicious (and sometimes even healthful) desserts on my homemade ice cream machine.

What started out as Honey Vanilla and Salted Butter Caramel soon progressed to Pear Vanilla Sorbet, Buttermilk Basil (Weight Watchers) Sherbet, Blackberry Sorbet, Sweet CreamChocolate and Vanilla. I’m not kidding — I seriously made ALL of these since mid-June when I purchased a dedicated ice cream maker at Costco. (No wonder my Weight Watchers effort has stalled in recent weeks!)

Along the way, I’ve developed a bit of confidence, maybe even swagger. So when I learned that the (first ever, but extremely promising) Independence Day Spectacular festival put on by our local newspaper would be holding a homemade ice cream contest, I was intrigued. [click to read on…]


Hope, Hope, Hope, Hope…

Kitchen Gardening, Nature, Photography

I almost hesitate to say it, for fear of jinxing it somehow, but this has absolutely been my most successful year in the garden thus far. Who knew how much difference a fence, dogs keeping deer away and two additional raised beds would make?

Well, I did, of course, and now I have no one to blame but myself (and weather and pests and equipment malfunctions) when things go wrong — as they inevitably do. The potatoes, for example, once growing so prodigiously, completely died off after our seemingly endless rains turned to a seasonally-appropriate hot spell. Well, that and the fact that I had to send the irrigation controller for repair after it apparently got wet. Hm. [click to read on…]


Progress in the Garden

Food & Drink, Kitchen Gardening, Nature, Photography

Between the voluminous rain and weather warm-up, the garden is going gangbusters. Flowers abound, promising future fruit.



[click to read on…]


Fighting the Good Fight for Chickens

Current Affairs, Livestock

I’ve mentioned our little flock of hens before, but have I mentioned that they are actually forbidden in our neighborhood? We only got ours when it appeared a vote to change the rules was a done deal, but we became renegade chicken-keepers when it failed to pass. I’m not all that proud of the decision, but we chose to keep them and keep them as hidden as possible.

But it didn’t work. Though some of my neighbors have been keeping chickens for years and years with no troubles, someone apparently saw ours and complained to the property owners’ association (POA). Now, we’re having to relocate our chickens — hopefully temporarily — but simultaneously I’m waging a battle to get our neighborhood restrictions changed.

[click to read on…]


How I made my drip irrigation system “smart” and automatic

Kitchen Gardening, Nature

garden-irrigation-planThough this site mostly chronicles my adventures in the natural domain, astute readers may have guessed what a tech dork I actually am. If you haven’t, you’ll be certain after this post.

In my work life, I’m online all the time and I’ve seen software developers make great strides recently toward automating formerly mundane tasks. For example, when someone fills out a form online, I used to be emailed the output and that’s all. Now I can have it auto-imported into a contact management database and sent to a spreadsheet at the same time, so I can sort it, update it and refer to it super easily. Previously, this would have required me to do data entry in a variety of different places — and each time there was the potential for me to make an error.

Of course, I’m eager to apply these time-saving shortcuts in my non-work life, as well. Hence, the project I’ll outline here. [click to read on…]

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Return of Flowering (and Fruiting) Friday — the Garden Edition

Free Ranging Fridays, Kitchen Gardening, Nature


It’s only taken 3 years (gardening means patience, remember?), but, at last, our Darrow blackberry vines are bursting into flower. When we planted them originally, they were bare-root and nearly bare-leaf tiny little things. I think we got one blackberry last year, but things are really showing promise now. [click to read on…]