Farmtastic Tips


My name is Tammy, and I am a porch-oholic. Yes, I admit it. During this glorious time of year before we are are melting under the sunbeams of summer, I am reveling in time spent on the porch. After I emerge from my day job, Cowboy generally asks if I am headed to hang out on the porch. And of course, yes, yes I am. I take a favorite book, pour a glass of citrus sweet tea, and retreat to the porch. In fact, I’m blogging from the porch right now.

When Cowboy and I built our barndiminium, a big ole giant porch was a must. I always knew I wanted a big front porch, but I just did not realize how much I would absolutely, unequivocally love it. It really is one of the most important rooms in our life. We can sit out here, grill out here, eat out here, and just hang with our critters. I can see the horses and donkeys clearly. I am in love.

There is just one itsy bitsy thing that challenged me about falling in love with my porch. And that is simply the costs to decorate it and make it cozy, comfy. This year, we splurged and invested in some furniture with actual cushions, but I wanted to share my top five tricks to deck out your porch on a budget and with your own pizzazz.

  1. Find it and paint it – Let’s face it, outdoor furniture is getting expensive. Heck at the prices it’s going for these days it ought to be front and center in the living room. To help stretch the budget, I love to find odds and ends pieces of furniture and paint them all the same color. This summer I’m in love with Valspar Paint’s Woodlawn Juniper, a National Trust for Historic Preservation color. And the best thing about paint, if you change your mind you can paint again. (But please don’t tell Cowboy I said that, painting is his absolute least favorite farm chore. If you want to see his otherwise good nature start sighing, just hand him a paint brush.)
  2. Repurpose – Cowboy and I love old things, and we often joke we were born too late. But that means we are always on the hunt for cool old things and that we can turn into something else. For example, I use an old porcelain metal top kitchen table for a gardening table, and it works beautifully. And I’ve got that puppy front and center on my porch, painted to match of course. Oh, and vintage coolers and boxes make great storage for gardening tools and seed packets.
  3. Keep it simple – I looked at outdoor dining tables, and holy moly did the prices and the fancy astonish me. I’m not feeding the queen of England, I just want a place where folks can set down their mason jar of goodness and snack away on some fresh watermelon and grilled perfection. Which brings me to the humble picnic table. They are super affordable, can seat six, and when you need a higher perch you don’t feel badly about sitting on the table top. Once again, just slather on your favorite color and you have something really special.
  4. Wind chimes – Part of country life is pure unadulterated peace and quiet. From the porch I listen to birds chirp, hear the hummingbird wings buzz as they flutter by, and relax to the sound of my wind chimes. Investing in a nice quality set of wind chimes is so very worth it. And with our Texas breezes, those things will clamor on a windy night, so you best get clamoring that you enjoy.
  5. Have Fun – If there is one thing you can count on around here, we are not the serious, stuffy sort of folks. Try the unconventional. Plant your plants in old kitchen pots. Decorate your garden with plates. Indulge in those little rabbit lawn sculptures and sneak them in here and there. Find some bright throw pillows. Just have one fun time making your porch your own.

Farm living is the life for me, and porch sitting is a big part of what we enjoy out here on the backroads. I’d love to hear how you make your porch your own and see photos of your favorite spot to sit and relax. It’s okay to be a porch-oholic. You are in good company.







Farmtastic Gardening

A Plate Full of Fun

Spring is inspiring around the farm.  Spring cleaning.  Spring planting.  Spring painting. (Admittedly, this last one is Cowboy’s least favorite on earth.) One thing all farm girls know is that you have to find creative ways to be thrifty.  Around here, we call our style farm chic. Enjoy some of our easy tips for use in your farmtastic spring garden.

Last year I wrote about how you can use dishes to liven up the garden.  They are affordable, and can easily be picked up at garage sales and thrift stores for less than a dollar a piece.  Well this year I found an even more exciting way to use them.  As plant markers in your garden.  The beauty is that you can use a Sharpie marker to write on them.  Water won’t wash it off.  However, if you want to reuse the plates, the Sharpie will come off with household rubbing alcohol.  Magic!

I’ve also struggled with finding pots that I love and that are affordable.  I just want to pot some plants not bury gold.  Terra cotta is classic, but it cracks and, let’s face it, it’s HEAVY when planted.  I’m not up for breaking my back.  So what’s a farm girl to do?  Galvanized buckets.  You can pick them up at your local hardware store. Simply drill a couple of holes in the bottom and line with a layer of pebbles or rocks for drainage.

In the same realm, I had an old kitchen stock pot that I burnt and warped the bottom of.  (It was a braniac move where I put the pot on the stove and turned it on to heat up but got distracted.  I can’t imagine how I got distracted with the zoo of critters around here).  Anywhoodles, it’s making a great home for my rosemary, and it looks super cute to boot.

Admittedly, I’m a garden novice and still learning each season what works and what fails miserably.  But hey, it’s the journey not the destination, as they say. Let’s just hope this journey yields us some fresh veggies, fruits, and herbs this year.  Happy planting!



Farmtastic Gardening

“Digging” a Fall Garden

Gardening Photo - Butterfly Bush
The butterfly bush in October bloom. It’s gone from buzzing with humming birds to buzzing with bees.

It’s one of my favorite times of year around the farm.  The Texas heat has given us all a break, allowing us to emerge from our air conditioning cocoon and take a reprieve from the two-shower-a-day minimum if you dare work outside.

Best of all, the garden is getting its fall surge.  My butterfly bush is in full bloom, the hummingbirds have moved south for the winter, and yes, Maybelle the puppy is still digging up my yard like she’s on a mission to find gold.

Admittedly, I’m a gardening novice.  But with each season I’m learning something new.  It’s a big fat game of trial and error.  What I’ve learned so far:

  • Garden plates make adorable edging, but puppies will dig them up and sit in the middle of the plate as if they are serving themselves up for dinner.
  • Shasta daisies are quite hardy and great bloomers, but puppies will dig them up.
  • Big old dogs are content to lie in the grass or on the porch as gardening companions, but puppies will steal your tools and dig right next to you.

Are you sensing a theme here?  Maybelle is a whopping 10-months old now and she is full of spunk and energy.  And she loves to be outside.  This has put a damper on my fall gardening plans, as I might as well be planting dollar bills with her digging habit.  But, Maybelle loves to sit on the  porch and watch the cows and the horses, so I’ll invest in my patience a bit.

In spite of the puppydom that has hit us this year,  I have learned a couple of useful things about gardening.  Around the farm you have to be resourceful.  So this fall when you are harvesting seeds, look no farther than your kitchen.  I found a cutting board and butter knife to be the best tools to sort my seeds.  It made quick and easy work of this task.

My final tip for fall gardening, put those adorable pumpkins up high or puppies will make their own version of pumpkin pie.

Dog Photo - Maybelle on the porch
Maybelle – one of her evening porch sitting sessions watching cows, horses, and donkeys.
Farmtastic Gardening

Everything’s Coming Up … Dishes?

For those that know me personally, I’m a grand fan of shabby chic, or as I sometimes call it farmgirl chic.  If it’s chipped, dented, has faded paint, a great floral pattern, or just some lovely old thing, I am simply smitten.  I fell in love with this style early on in life for the romance of it, and later in life for the shear practicality of it (read adorable on a budget).

As you can probably guess, I also love a good garage sale, tag sale, or antiques store to rummage through.  And it’s on these many journeys that I am always drawn to the dishes.  Cowboy will moan, “You really need another dish?  You realize there are just two of us.” Luckily for me, the moaning is followed by the handing out of cash.

So what’s one to do with a fabulous dish?  Well there is the obvious of adding it to the ever-growing stash in the cabinet, or if it’s extra special finding a spot for it on the wall.  (NOTE: Arrangements of plates make great wall art.)  But what about taking the dishes to the garden?  Yes, I said garden.  Here are some great tips for using old dishes outside:

  1. Use them as a border – I dig small trenches, bury the plates halfway deep, and voila instant unique garden border.
  2. Add them to pots – I am a fan of using old galvanized buckets for pots.  I often tuck a small plate in next to the plant to spruce it up.
  3. Wire them to a fence – I am desperately trying to grow a rose bush over one of my fences right now.  Plates add some immediate color while I’m patiently (read not so much) waiting for the plants to bloom.

The great thing is they are cheap (you can easily pick them up for under a dollar a piece), you can mix and match, they are unique to your collection, and they are plenty durable for the outside.

Happy planting and plating!