GOTexan Holiday gifts, wines, food, recipes, and decorating ideas

I like the idea of helping local/state companies and artists by buying their products and promoting them for gift giving.  Here are a few to check out:

food:

Mary of Puddin Hill is just a few minutes from where I live and very famous too http://www.puddinhill.com/

Here are great GO Texan gift ideas, as well as recipes, holiday decorating ideas, and free e-zine subscriptions

http://www.agr.state.tx.us/gt/channel/render/items/0,1218,1670_19176_0_0,00.html

The 2009 Holiday Gift guide is here:

http://click.engagemail.net/?ju=fe3016717664017b761d72&ls=fdee16787d6406797310767c&m=fefe1779756005&l=fea315707664077d70&s=fe2116777d670c7d7c1d70&jb=ffcf14&t=

Great giveaway

Three are soooo many blogs out there it’s hard to know where to start, but I am on a few that I try out for awhile and usually they have links to their favorite blogs that lead me to others. 

Today there is a giveaway on this one you might want to read about for healthy eating. The contest rules are in this link and are easy to follow.  Act now, time is running out.

http://jessiehawkins.com/?p=89&cpage=43#comment-727

My wonderful veggies

Tomatoes and green peppers
Tomatoes and green peppers

I had only tomatoes last year and got enough to keep us eating fresh tomatoes into November from a couple of plants.    This year I planted six plants and they are growing like crazy.  I have realized I planted them too close together and so at some points during the day they are shading each other.  I will change that next year.

I did not have green peppers last year but we use them alot and they are expensive.  Right now they are going for over $1.50 EACH at the market.  I planted six plants and they are growing like crazy too.  Possibly I even planted them too close so I will space them out better next year.  

green peppersJuly green peppers

 

I have raised beds that came with the place, but we plan to add some more since we have some of our old fenceposts stacked and stored we can use.

Here are some before and after pics.  I planted after the last big freeze at Easter; the cool weather and rain in the spring I think slowed down the growth and the vegs weren’t ready to pick until June.  As the weather cools into the fall they should start another growth spurt.

late spring tomatoes

late spring tomatoes

summer tomatoes

Those crazy chickens

 

IMG_0018 I loooooove my chickens. I’m not personally attached to any, but I just love hearing them clucking, the silkie bantam rooster crowing, the guineas squawking when they see something unfamiliar, and drinking out of the alpaca’s water buckets. (The chickens have their own water fonts, but for some reason they like to hop up on the old tire that sits around the 5 gal. Tractor Supply buckets and swig away).

I was absolutely petrified about keeping them but then decided what have I got to lose (except maybe a few if I was a real klutz about it). I did my research to see what kinds I should have, and that went out the window when Ideal Poultry had a special on rare breed chickens package (all pullets). I love my rare breed chickens. I also love, love, love the Partridge Silkie bantams. They were a risk as they were straight runs (not sexed, you could end up with all males), but I was extremely lucky and had only one male. Of course you don’t know until they are full grown what you have.

I got a total of 30 (10 Silkies, 10 rare breed, 10 guineas). From zero to 30 is quite a leap but I wanted to have enough that if some did die I would have some left. I lost 3 after several weeks had gone by just because I think they were not thrifty. The others graduated into the coops just fine. Then, recently, with warm evenings, I was keeping the chicken hatch doors open on the coops and that’s when disaster struck. I found one guinea and one chicken dead on separate days (headless, the birds were apparently too big for the hunter to carry off). Then I started counting and found 4 of my Silkies missing (no scattered feathers, so I assume they were small enough the hunter could quickly snatch at night and carry off). Now I do close them up and everything has been fine.

We designed our own coops (very simple A-frames to economically utilize materials and enable good air flow from low venting up and out the top screened vent gables). If you would like more info on the design, let me know. If you need any support in getting started, I have some books and hints that can help you. You can contact me. The only thing is to first check your zoning laws if you are in the city limits, and also your homeowner assocation laws or property deed restrictions.

I advertised on LocalHarvest and got 2 regular egg customers that ends up paying for the feed which is just fine. I’m not looking to get rich, but if it helps pay for something it helps. I sell them for less than the store and one buyer has a co-worker who puts in an order and she takes to her. Local Harvest is the best place to advertise. Selling at farmer’s markets requires some paperwork and I am not quite ready to get out that early and sell yet. You can also find chickens to buy if you don’t want to go through the dependent chick stage. Get a chicken breed that fits you best; do some internet research. Ideal Poultry has a section on breeds descriptions. Give it a try and you will love it

A Handmade Christmas: Success

We got a very nice thank you from my husband-the-architect’s boss and wife, who appreciated very much the “food basket” we gave them for Christmas.  We decided to be very observant of the economy and focus on gifting from local suppliers. 

We found (accidentally stumbled upon) a little country store in Farmersville, TX,  that actually has rented  space in a storage facility. The facility is not fenced so it is easy to enter, and their space faces out to the fairly busy Highway 78.  They have made nice signs and the big roll-up door is open all the way where they have set up simple tables and shelves inside to display the  many wares.  They have a commercial refrigerator like the stores, with clear doors and have some fresh produce and milk,locally supplied  eggs,  etc., to choose from.  But mostly it is jams, jellies,  honey, salsas, nuts,  that is supplied from area farmers, and fruits like oranges and apples that are much larger and nicer than the stores. 

We endorsed and supported our area farmers this Christmas with our purchases.  Then to get such raving appreciation was a good feeling.   Plus, they like the products so much they are going to get some products by the case to gift to their friends.  How about that?  You never know how one action will affect someone, and in this case, it was several people: the boss and their friends, the store, and the farmers.

We packaged up the products in a very nice sturdy basket with a strong handle to adequately support all the jars. The baskets were unused in our attic, so we recycled them. I made some very nice hanging kitchen handtowels 

My handmade Christmas themed hanging kitchen towel

My handmade Christmas themed hanging kitchen towel

 to include in the gift as a cover over all, kind of like Little Red Riding Hood’s basket of goodies for grandma.

It was nice of them to let us know how much they loved the gift and we will be sure to do more of the same gifting in the future. 

Be sure to look up products for sale in your area under Local Harvest, the link is in the left column.  When inside, enter your zip or city,state, etc. You can see all the products categorized and sign up for regular updates too.

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