Adventures of Mrs Pen

Musings from a Very Lucky Penny


Home on the Range

Diary of a Sweet Potato Garden

I’m going out on a limb in writing this post. My hope is to keep a running log of how the half of a sweet potato in my window sill right now turns into beautiful sweet potato vines that eventually produces sweet potatoes that can be eaten. However this story may abruptly end because I have a notorious black thumb. These are strawberries I was growing just a few weeks ago:

I wish I could show you a picture of them now, but they’re dead as a door nail now. Just like the tomato plant I faithfully watered and sweet-talked for months… Dead as a dead nail now.

To make matters worse, prior to executing this experiment, we went to a plant nursery and asked the botanist how to grow sweet potaters. She told us the best thing to do is just buy sweet potatoes from a grocery store like a normal American. She said sweet potatoes are labor intensive and finicky. I took her comments under advisement, yet I’m still taking a whack at growing them myself. Here we go..

December 15

A few weeks ago, I cut a sweet potato in half, and used lollipop sticks to suspend it in a jar of water.

January 15

After a month of soaking up water and sunlight, my little tater had two roots shooting out of the bottom.


January 24

Now, exactly 23 days after being “planted” in the jar of water, my little tater has a tons of roots coming out of the bottom.


All around the top of the potato, little baby potato plants are beginning to sprout. If this experiment goes as planned, each of these like sprouts will turn into its own potato plant.


Ok that’s all for now. I will continue this report when I have more to add.


PS- I accidentally called my potato plant a tomato plant for half of this post.

March 18

Dang, where has the time gone?! I blinked and I’m like way way past due for an update on my taters. Ok here’s a quick catch-up sesh:

By the end of Jan, my little guy had developed a healthy root system and was starting to get some nice little stems a’goin!


Somewhere near Valentines day, the stems were ready to go live a life of their own. So I clipped em and put each stem in an individual jar of water to develop roots.


About a month later, each stem had grown a pretty set of roots and big ol’ happy leaves. Now its ready to be planted! This is where I go rogue. I don’t know much about gardenology… So I’m making this part up y’all. If you have a suggestion, please pass it along!!

That Brings Us To Today


As the sun was setting on our little ranch, and my baby played in his playpen wearing only a t-shirt and undies ‘cuz we’re classy like that, I started pouring soil in a big ol’ barrel.


I was planning to have a big raised garden bed, but as my adorable hub started making plans to build it for me, I decided I didn’t want him to put so much effort into it if I’m really not cut out for the world of growin crap. So we decided this season, I’d grow stuff in pots. If it goes well, we’ll start a real garden next season!

Following the instructions on the miracle grow bag, I filled the barrel about 3/4 full of dirt, and then buried my little plants almost entirely, leaving about one leaf exposed to photosynthesize.

Ok y’all, there ya have it. You’re all caught up. Cross your fingers from here, we’re in uncharted territory!

Signing off,

May 14

Bad news y’all! Ok I had been watering them suckers and fertilizin them and my sweet potatoes were looking beeeeyoooteeeful! They’d turned into lovely vines that were taking over. Even a super windy day that took my tomato plants out did not harm my sweet potatoes. I was biding my time until approximately July when I was planning to dig them up and see what I got. I wish I’d taken a picture at this point.

A few days ago I was thinking how happy it makes me to see my lovely sweet potatoes every day and I went outside to water them, and they were GONE! dum dee dum dum dummmm. Apparently our local jack rabbit (which is the size of a coyote, mind you) took it upon himself to eat my whole garden. My sweet potatoes, the rest of my tomatoes, zucchinis, and cucumbers. Gone gone gone. I wish I could be mad, but he just did what jack rabbits are meant to do.

So that’s the end of my sweet potato story. We’ll try again next year! Thanks for sticking it out with me.

Mrs Pen


My Country Life, Week 11

What a weeks it’s been!

1. We had a really big storm this week and our roads turned into the Great Lakes.


2. The first night of the storm my baby and I got stranded in town and couldn’t go home until morning and we didn’t even have our pajammies. Fortunately my baby had his spare Pooh Bear costume.


3. Thankfully we have a bunch of big ol trucks (sorry environment) so we can get through knee-deep muddles (thats supposed to say mud puddles, it was a typo but it just worked.) Our truck is now the fashionable ombré color. The next truck we get will be mud colored to begin with.


4. Also this week I’m so grateful I’m married to a mechanic.


6. And my baby likes to work on his little car.


7. Totally unrelated to the storm and our trucks… Two of my four tomato buds have gone to be with The Lord this week. It’s ok, I only wanted two tomatoes anyways.

8. I also added strawberries to my garden, and I have half a sweet potato in a jar of water on my window sill. So you can call me farmer Jane now.

9. One of our neighborhood cows had a calf this week! Also we saw a few goats but I’ve featured one too many goats on this blog, so here’s a picture of my baby meeting his first tortoise.


10. This morning we watched our church’s Christmas play and every character wore hunting camouflage. Afterwards our pastor gave a brief lesson on different kinds of camo. Nothing reminds me of the magic of Christmastime like camouflage!

I hope your Christmas has been as magical as ours!


My Country Life, Week 10

Here’s what we have to report for this week:


1. My tomato plant has FOUR buds now!!! I’m going to make salsa and spaghetti sauce and tomatoes and ketchup and all the things with my homegrown tomatoes!


2. I found this picture this week. It’s of my hubs as a child.


3. He hasn’t changed much over the last 25 years.


4. My baby went to his first Ugly Sweater Party last night! He won the most festive sweater award.


5. His Uncle Davey won the ugliest sweater award. Uncle Davey is wearing a sweater from his everyday sweater collection. What can I say, we have a talent for ugly sweaters in our family.


6. Here’s another awkward family photo.


7. Here’s another awkward family photo taken this week. Our kid is so lucky.


8. In other Christmas news, we have a special room in our house for Santa’s Workshop. Except instead of cute little elfs, my hubs works in it. And instead of making toys, he makes rifles. Otherwise it’s almost identical to the North Pole.


9. In more other Christmas news, this is what we’re leaving out for Santa on Christmas eve this year. Hostess will always be alive in our home.


10. In more other Christmas news, my baby just wrote his letter to Santa. Yes I am THAT mom. Well to be honest, he dictated it to me and I wrote it. But the chew marks on the corner are straight from him.

So that’s what we have for you this week. Happy Hanukah to those of you celebrating this week!

MrsPen, my baby and my big ol’ Elf

My Country Life, Week 9


1. It’s Christmas! I just love Christmas and I just love going overboard on things! Its the 2nd of December and my baby has already met Santa twice and had 3 Christmas photo shoots!


2. Santa came early this year! We’ve had more Twinkies in the last two weeks than I’ve had my whole life.


3. As I previously mentioned, our mail is delivered to a row of random mailboxes nailed in no particular order near the paved road a few miles from us. Well we were having trouble receiving mail due to the previous owner’s name painted across the side of our mailbox.


4. Well now our row of mailboxes isn’t gonna know what hit it.


5. Plus it matches the fabric I just got for my baby’s Christmas pajammies!


6. My baby took his first stab at driving the truck this week. His feet were just a tiny bit too short. Also, he’s not embarrassed by his socks.

7. Unfortunately I recently learned that if you get a speeding ticket for going 22 miles over the limit in our town, it is very expensive. But the good news is, a violation against our Town Code does not count on your record.

8. When I was paying the traffic ticket, my dad was paying his traffic ticket. At least I get it honestly.


9. Due to our lack of television, we like to watch TV shows on DVD sometimes. That’s how I realized my baby makes a convincing Sheldon Cooper.

10. The biggest and most important news from this week is as follows:

My tomato plant has a tiny little yellow flower! It’s a Christmas miracle! It’s going to grow up to be 100 tomatoes. I know it.

11. In conclusion, I hope the rest of y’all are having an awesome holiday season, overflowing with John Deeres and Twinkies and Blooming Tomato plants too!


My Country Life, Week 8

Holy Macaroni I cannot believe its been nearly 2 months since we moved out here. Here are the highlights of last week…

1. We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family in town and then came back to the country to celebrate with my hub’s family and then went back into town for a bonfire at my parent’s. I put approximately one battrillion miles on the truck that day.

2. Someone who shall remain nameless learned an important lesson this week about making sure there’s gas in the truck so you don’t run out of gas when you’re on a dirt road nice and far from anything that resembles a gas station, for the second week in a row. And that person shall remain nameless because it’s me.


3. This is my baby and his Abuelo having a good ‘ol fashioned Thanksgiving staring contest.



5. I totally copied that picture from my friend Andi. I swear, I wish it wouldn’t be weird for me to put a picture of her daughter in a Santa hat. It’s so adorable it’s dangerous.


6. My baby had a good chat with Santa. He knows he’s on the Nice list. He’s smug about it.


7. All my baby wants for Christmas is a horsey. Or a ceiling fan. Or something crinkly, like news paper.


8. I’m not sure I’m ready for the upkeep of a horse, but if I accidentally leave the gate open and a cow wonders in and decides to become my baby’s Christmas present, then so be it.

9. All I want for Christmas is for my tomato plant to bloom. Hint hint Mother Nature.


10. Happy Christmas from our family to yours!


My Country Life , Week 7

I just don’t know where to begin this week..


1. Yesterday I came home to find 4 cows pacing back and forth on the road leading to our house. Were they staging a protest? Practicing the dramatization of their “How did the cow cross the road?” jokes? I’m not really sure.

2. We got a dishwasher this week! My friend Meredith pointed out we’re not exactly roughing it anymore. I feel no guilt. I feel no guilt.

3. A few weeks ago I mentioned I took a back road and nearly killed myself (read about it here). Well now that’s my favorite shortcut into town. Thank God for Ford pickup trucks.


4. This sign indicates that you are on a dirt road. It is approximately 2 miles from any paved roads, in every direction. I appreciate the head’s up.

5. With a heavy heart I must tell you one of our neighborhood cows went to be with the Lord this week. That’s how I learned that if a cow is laying on the side of the road, they put one of those neon stickers on their hiney, like they do for abandoned vehicles.


6. These gals had a little less pep in their step that day. Betsy, you’re always in our hearts and memories. Gone but not forgotten.


7. In more sad news, I’m sure everyone knows about the loss of one of America’s most beloved snack companies. In other words, I don’t have any room on my freezer at the moment.


8. My baby experienced his first and probably last Hostess Cupcake this week. Well at least he got a good taste of the wrapper.


9. He got a taste of a lot of things this week. He also said his first words. It sounded like “GUH-BUH-THhBt” but I’m pretty sure that means “I love you mama.”


10. As I already mentioned, we had a couple of our great friends over for a Pre-thanksgiving practice feast this week. It was the highlight of my week. I’m not kidding y’all, each and every one of you is invited over to the ranch for dinner! Just shout me a hollar.

11. Most importantly, I hope every single one of you has a safe and freakin awesome Thanksgiving and you stuff your face and you get so full you can’t look at a turkey for a whole year without feeling full again. That’s what I’ll be doing on Thursday.

In loving memory of Betsy, Twinkies, and our Thanksgiving turkey.


My Country Life, Week 6

1. We had a special event today, so both my guys wore their best flannel. Apparently they have the same best flannel. Awkward.


2. We survived our first rainstorm this week. Storms are a big deal because the road to our house turns into the Great Lakes in the rain. I love this adventure more when I can pretend I’m a pioneer roughing it in the olden days. (Well sorta… Don’t take away my indoor plumbing)

3. My nephews go to school not far from us. Their school got put on alert because there was a black bear siting nearby. So there’s that.


4. The biggest deal this week was our town’s Pecan Festival. Our pecan orchard is the largest in the world. It was converted from a cotton farm in the late 60’s when synthetic fiber was developed and cotton farms were no longer as necessary. Did you know that? Me neither until I read the brochure a few minutes ago.


5. My baby wore his Batman hat to the festivities. A lady asked me why he was dressed like a teddy bear. Um… Lady…


6. This is an ice cream maker made out of a super old tractor engine from this farm. This is scientifical proof that God created me to live here.


7. This is a goat at the Pecan Festival.

8. The Pecan Festival happened to be on my husband’s parent’s front lawn. There were some chickens running around that were part of the pecan festivities, and they were mistaken for renegade chickens that belonged to my in-laws and were thrown into their chicken coop. My mother-in-law had to sort out which chickens belonged to them and which were part of the festival. That’s a problem I never thought I’d encounter.

9. If you did the math, you might have figured out that my hubs grew up in the middle of the world’s largest pecan farm. He hates pecan pie. The irony kills me.


10. There was a George Strait cover band at the festival. George Strait will always have a special place in my heart because it was the first concert my hubs and I went to. The next one will be Reba and the next one will be Johnny Cash. I swear.


11. In conclusion here is a freakin adorable picture of my baby. He is not dressed like a teddy bear.

My Country Life, Week 5

And this is what we have to show for ourselves this week:


1. Our town’s hardware store is having a very exciting sale. 50% off Christmas Tooth Pick holders. Get em while they’re still here folks!!


2. I went to the right farmer’s market this time, it was not in a nursing home.


3. This is a goat hanging out at the Farmer’s market.

4. My baby brother was coming over for dinner, and I texted him to see how far away he was. He said he might have gone too far because he was almost to the international border. Nope, that meant he was almost here.


5. My hub’s family runs a successful farm in Mexico. When we moved here, this little orange tree was dead. He took it under his wing and now it has flowers! Once a farmer, always a farmer.

6. Another plant under my care has gone to be with the lord.

7. I don’t mean to brag, but my tomato plant still isn’t dead! I’m going to feed all the children of Africa with it.


8. We might not get nippy weather or autumny colors, but when I see the fields of dried out buffalo grass and cactuses around our house, it makes me want to cozy up around the fire with some apple cider.

9. I have a gnarly mark from when I spilled a frying pan of sizzling butter on my thigh this week. Luckily, pain doesn’t feel too bad now that I’ve experienced natural childbirth.

10. I was going to show you a picture of my burn, then I realized most people don’t think it’s as cool as I do.


11. This is my handsome farmer. I’m gonna go make him some biscuits and gravy.

12. That is all, the end.

My Country Life, Week 4


1. I wore what I thought was my Sunday Best to church. When I got home, I realized I looked like I was pretending to be a Texas Beauty Queen.


2. And my baby looked like Lil’ Abner.


3. This week my baby learned how to put his binky in mouth and escape from his little bouncy seat, and he got his first log cabin.


4. And he got some livestock.*

5. My hubs caught a mouse and asked me with sincere concern to stay away from the trap until he could get home and take care of it. Um… Don’t worry honey, not a single bone in my body wants to go near that wild beast.

6. The next day he caught a bigger mouse, and then I felt like I should mosey on over and check the situation out.


7. I went to our town’s Farmer’s Market. They sold stuff from farms. Well that’s what I would have found if I had gone to the right Farmer’s Market. I got lost and ended up at a Farmer’s Market in the next town over. It was in a nursing home.

8. Our moonshining friend from last week gave me his family’s bread recipe and offered me some of his choice rum.

9. My hubs’ declined the offer for free rum. I’ve never drank in my life and he thought homemade whiskey would be an unpleasant introduction to the world of alcohol.**


9. We went to a harvest festival last night and ran into every single person we know.


10. I’m so excited to take my little Batman trick-or-treating, but there are only 2 houses within a mile of us and I think one of them is just used for livestock… I’m not sure how this is going to work.

11. I feel like I had more to tell you about, but nothing’s coming to me right now. I’m going to go back to sleep.

12. That is all, the end.

*This is at his grandparents’ house. Both sets of grandparents have chickens. We never will. I swear.

**I just found out rum and whiskey are not the same thing.

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