Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Snowy Engagement

We came to our Beech Mountain, NC home to spend ten days after Christmas.  We arrived to blizzard conditions and, although we have 4-wheel drive, we had to get chains on our front tires to keep from slipping and sliding.  The snow stopped after two days and we have had blue skies and warming conditions.  In fact, today it's in the low 40's.  We expect some rain/snow later in the week with colder temps.  I really love the snow so it's always welcome in my book!


After dating for a year, our oldest son Mark Robert, Jr. proposed to Vanessa on December 28th at the Beech Alpen Inn Restaurant on Beech Mountain, NC. Robert and Vanessa are planning to get married in the fall.  They actually grew up together, going to the same schools, riding the same school bus.  Vanessa is David's age, three years younger than Robert.  I remember Vanessa as a little girl and it's like having a preview of how darling our grandchildren will be.  I bought her a Bride's Magazine at the mall and she was so excited.  We poured over all the pretty gowns in the book, what fun!  Robert and Vanessa are very happy, and their families are thrilled too!  Maybe next year Vanessa's parents can come with us to NC.


Wedding date:  October 22, 2010.  Location will be revealed once they make a decision.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mo's Girls

When I first started Miranda's new baby cousin Lyla's quilt, I followed the paper pieced pattern exactly, then decided I didn't like the size (too small) and the material scraps I used just didn't seem organized enough for a newborn's quilt.  So, I  am giving this quilt to Lyla's big 5-year old cousin.  I assembled this quilt using remnants of material from several other quilts I made in the past. The green floral border is overage from a quilt I made for Miranda's Great Grandmother Wise's Card Trick quilt.  The pink hearts blocks were originally made for Mo's baby quilt, but I decided to use lots of colors, so why not incorporate those hearts for the one they were made for?  I'll bet Miss Mo will notice!  She doesn't miss a trick!  Paper pieced dolls and machine pieced by me, then professionally quilted.  Size - 37"x37".

Lyla's Dolly Quilt

This quilt was made especially for my new grandniece, Lyla Grace.  This quilt measures 34"x38", was paper-pieced on my Brother CS-80 sewing machine by me, then professionally quilted at my local quilt shop.  The border is made of squares from the material used for the aprons on the dollies. The quilt is square, the photo was taken at an angle. Here's a picture of beautiful baby Lyla on her birthday, November 23, 2010.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fire In The Kitchen Datil Pepper Sauce

Yep, I made me a mess o' datil pepper sauce!  Uh huh, my fingers burned for two days cuz I thought wearing gloves was sissy.  This paper plate is holding about 1/3 of the peppers I used.  I grew these datil peppers from a plant I got at last spring's family reunion in St. Augustine.  I have some seeds from my cousin Chris that I am going to start after Christmas.

First, I wanted to keep some of the seeds, so I took the seeds out of about half of them.  I didn't want to chop up ALL the seeds, as they add too much heat to the sauce.
I mixed in all kinds of secret ingredients that I am sworn to secrecy to keep the SECRET, but have to admit, I cannot follow another person's recipe, no matter how secret it is. I have to make it my own!!  So I added this and that, and oh my my my my my, this is one batch of hot goodness!  Mark and I had a sampling of the sauce the night I cooked it on some fried fish - on my goodness gracious, meow meow, and holy toledo too!  It's some good stuff!!

Canning is new to me and I learned today after talking to my sister and searching online.  It was a breeze and I'm glad a bought a jar grabber when I bought the jars.  I used my own pots, but think if I plan to ever can again, which I am sure I will, because it was vastly enjoyable, that I MUST have a canning pot with the jar holder/lifter insert thingy.  I worried that my jars were too close to each other, the sides of the pot, and whatever.  Also, I didn't have anything to keep the jars from the bottom of the pot, so I opened up a metal vegetable steamer thing and used that.  Hey, ya do what ya gotta do!  I was pleased to fill 11-1/2 half pint jars.  It was very satisfying to hear the jar lids suck tight as they cooled, little kisses.  I got some of the cooked sauce on my fingers and am burning all over again.  Whew!  That's some hot stuff!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Table Runner Instructions

It's easy to make a holiday table runner and only takes 10 minutes.  The runner I made measures 42" long, 15.25" wide.
 
Fabric Requirement:
1/3 yard for center (I chose printed)
1/2 yard for back/edges (I chose red)
Batting is optional.  Use very thin batting,  cut  1/2 inch smaller than the 1/3 yard fabric and about 42"- 45" long. Cut length when you trim selvage.

Place fabrics right sides together with selvage on the ends.  Sew sides together to make a tube.  Turn right side out.  Press so you will have equal back (red) fabric on each side of the center (print) material, about 1.25" on each side.  If you choose to use batting, slide it inside the runner now.  Trim selvage ends straight across.  Fold the runner length-wise with center (printed) fabric on the outside, Iron only the ends (about an inch or two) to set fabric for sewing.  Sew across folds on the top and bottom, using 1/2" seam (photo 1 below).  Press seam open (photo 2 below) and flip inside.  Iron and secure with a button (photo 3 below) or just tack the center down.  You can get creative and add ric-rac or some other decoration.  If you chose to use batting, it is recommended to stitch in the ditch of the two lengthwise seams.
  

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lyla Grace's Quilt

So after illness, work, travel, broken sewing machine, and more travel - finally, FINALLY, I have Lyla's quilt top finished.  I will take it to the quilt shop today to be professionally quilted and another strip of bubble gum pink material will make the binding around the edge.  The  back is so sweet.  It's actually at the bottom right of this photo.  Lyla Grace is due to be born a couple of days before this Thanksgiving.

I have harboured a concern that the baby would find a magic marker and make faces on the dollies...It's an heirloom!  But then, I thought of how sweet that would actually be as  an adult, for Lyla to see her own artwork as a child.  Then again, perhaps she never will feel the need to draw in faces.  I have let go of this concern.  Now, what shall I name this quilt?

Castoffs for Mo

Lyla Graces quilt began with completely different dolly blocks.  The original ones I made from scraps didn't suit me for an infant gift, and so I tossed them aside and started over.  Lyla's cousin Miranda is five years old and she will get another quilt.  The castoff dollies.  Mo's baby quilt was all hearts and I came across some pink hearts that I never used, so I incorporated those hearts into Miranda's newest quilt.  The green border material was leftover from a quilt I made for my mother, Mo's great grandmother.  She might find material that she recognizes from her cousins quilts in it too.  The backing is the same green material as in the first dolly block on the right. I hope to find some pink material in my stash to make the binding. 
What shall I name this quilt?

A Gift for Grand-Nephews

PILLOWCASES!
Because I made Lyla a baby quilt and I made her cousin Mo a quilt with some dolly block remnants, I decided the little boys needed something special to commemorate Lyla's birth.

For Lyla's oldest brother, 7-year old Chris gets an African animal pillowcase.  I've been to the zoo with his family.  They had annual passes and Chris loved it.



For Chris' little brother, soon to be a big brother to Lyla, 3-year old Joshie, gets frogs.  Joshie's family has an aquarium that houses a pet frog named Charlie. 
Cousin of Lyla, Chris and Joshie, and big brother to Mo, 7-year old Ben gets a hunter's pillowcase.  Ben is very proud of a some deer antlers that he has hanging in his bedroom.from a deer his daddy shot.  Too bad the colors on this one came out so flourescently strange in this photo.

Monday, November 8, 2010

In Memory of Jon Kersten

My earliest memory of my neighbors Jon and Cathy Kersten was 23 years ago.  We met on the street of our neighborhood, and exchanged phone numbers. They had four children, their baby was about six months old, the same age as our youngest son, David.  That afternoon, I dialed their number, "Can you come over? My husband is out of town and I just got home and the front door is wide open!"  Cathy and Jon came over, he in fatigues and carrying a baseball bat, and they checked every room and closet in our new house. I slept sounder that night knowing I had friends that would protect me in Mark's absence.
Jon was a man that was all about family and fun.  Music adds joy to everything and Jon was always be-bopping and skiddley-dooing and drum-tapping his way through every day. His children got the benefit of a daddy that played, really got down and played, with them.  As adults, their father was a mentor, driven to do what was right and good.  His childen and grandchildren have sweet memories.  Jon didn't wait for lemons to make lemonade!

My dear friend Cathy and her husband Jon had the kind of loving relationship that other couples should emulate.  Theirs was kind, caring, thoughtful, and selfless.  Cathy and Jon were in sync.  What a gift that they married so very young...more precious years together.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Quilting Baby Dollies

"Once upon a time...
...there was a beautiful little princess...
...she lived in an enchanted castle."

Click twice on photos to see enlarged version.

The quilt top is nearly finished.  How do you like Lyla's Dollies?
And the darling princess backing, just adorable, isn't it?
The next step is adding border.  I tossed a few scraps (middle picture) beside the top to see how a simple mix of apron fabric blocks would look.  Decision made!  I'll sew a strip of 4" squares of the four different apron fabrics to make a colorful block border.  Once that is complete, I can sandwich the top, some lightweight polyester batting, and the princess fabric backing, and take it  to be professionally quilted.  The binding will be bubblegum pink with white dots, same as the base of each dolly's dress.  Finished size should be about 57"x39".

Fall in the Mountains

Fall in the North Carolina mountains is a wonderful experience.  This photo was taken on the Blue Ridge Parkway, between Blowing Rock and Grandfather Mountain.  Leaving is always the hardest part.
What a difference a day makes!  Same view of the same tree  in my front yard, but less leaves.  Blame it on a rainy, windy night.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Will I Be Homesick?

Contemplating the day we sell our house, a big home on a pretty piece of property with a pond out front and woods behind.  It's actually gotten too big.  We don't ever use the formal living room or dining room, opting instead the coziness of an eat-in kitchen and family room.  I converted Robert's room into a sewing room and plan, once David moves, to move my sewing stuff into his room with more windows and bright afternoon sun, making Robert's room a guest room.  Will I miss bears and racoons that plunder our garbage?  Nope.  Will I miss the amradillos that turn our lawn into a bombing range overnight, holes everywhere?  Maybe.  I love the wildlife here - turkeys, red-tailed hawks, sandhill cranes and the many water birds , gopher tortoises, bunnies and deer that frequent our yard.  Hearing a pack of wild coyotes screaming at night is frightening and will sit you upright in bed from a deep sleep.  Twenty-four years in one place and one plants deep roots.  My neighbors are my dearest friends.  All things must come to an end and one day, more sooner than later, Mark and I will sell our home and move to our NC place.  One winter there, and I feel confident that Mark will be ready to bail out from the snow and get a second place here, in Central Florida.  A condo or a small place in a retirement community would suit me fine.  I wonder what the future holds?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lyla's Dollies Baby Quilt In The Works

Because I decided the original dolly quilt was more for a four year old than a newborn, I went shopping for some different material.  This delay cost me a few days.  Then I got sick.  Ugh.  A few more days.  Then I started sewing and my bobbin winder quit winding.  Another delay!  Finally, I am underway!!  Here are six of the nine blocks I will put on the quilt top.
Won't it be a sweet quilt?  There will be three rows of three, (8.5"x8" blocks) holding hands, and some sort of fabric strip between each row so they don't look like they are standing on each other's heads.   Do you like the retro fabric I used for their aprons? Bubblegum pink dotted fabric will border edges and the sweetest fabric for the back (I'll show you later).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chicken Coop

I want to get two or three chickens. I want fresh eggs and that "I'm almost a farmer" feeling one gets from raising an animal for food.   If you allow your chickens to roam your yard freely your eggs will be higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and lower in cholesterol, among other health benefits.  I want a chicken tractor/coop like this one that a local Apopkan makes, that can be dragged around the back yard so my chickens can free range in the safety of a cage.  An egg-laying chicken will provide other valuable functions besides being a loved member of the family: they're tick-eating, mosquito-eating, and fly-eating  fertilizer machines.

Alektorophobia: Fear of chickens.
I do not have a fear of chickens.  I  fear what may be attracted to a chicken coop.  Our home backs up to the woods of a state park, the home to bears, foxes, bobcats, opossums, raccoons, owls and hawks.   These are just a few wild animals that come to mind; some want the chickens, some want the eggs, and some want what the chickens eat.

Melissophobia: Fear of bears.
I am not afraid of bears.  I am afraid of the havoc a bear can create in his search for a meal.  A bear  can smell food from two miles away.  Chickens eat cracked corn.  Corn is like crack to a bear.  I can do things to protect my hens from the other animals, but a bear will just tear a door off, crash into, or knock over the whole coop to get to a scattering of corn the hens may have left behind.  Once inside the coop, a bear may take advantage of an eating opportunity and go for chickens and eggs, but fruits and vegetables are their main food interest.  I will have to keep our chicken feed in the garage.  That, and maybe get an electric fence to go around the coop.  An extension cord to a simple electric shock fence may ward off all chicken-eating critters.

Chicken Varieties: If you've ever been attacked by a mad hen (as I have before) a docile chicken is a must!  Other requirements would be one who is a good layer,and  tolerant of Central Florida's summer heat.  I am fond of the Easter Egger, who fits the bill, plus they lay pretty green or blue eggs.

Spent Hens: Chickens that are past their prime as egg-producers.  The older they get, the fewer eggs they lay,  usually 3 years old.  Will I be able to get rid of a useless chicken?  "A hen in the pot" just doesn't appeal to me, especially if that hen has been my little buddy. 

My mother just called and told me about the horrors of raccoons.  When they had chickens, daddy had to kill two raccoons, one in a tree that was eating their young guinea hens (they're great guard dogs, "pu-tawk, pu-tawk, pu-tawk!") that roosted in the oak tree, and another one that had gotten into the hen house and was killing newly hatced chicks.  I cannot imagine Mark or me with a gun.  Maybe a pellet gun, but stinging a hungry animal wouldn't be a permanent fix, now would it? 

As I type, my mind is ticking and I'm thinking of a comment my neighbor Kyle said, as she showed me her two horses and mule on property she and her husband have two miles from our neighborhood.  She said they used to have chickens there, but they wandered away.  I wonder, would Kyle like a coop co-op?  There, they could run free during the day and enjoy the protection of a closed coop at night.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Cadillac Couch

My father inherited a Cadillac from his recently deceased friend, Dr. Fleming Roach. Dad is in the used car business and knows the value of this great car, 1996 Sedan DeVille with only 50,000 miles. With people concerned with gas mileage and being ecologically correct, it would be a slow resale, but it is a great car and daddy gave it to me!

This car drives like a dream, feels like you're sitting in a cloud, on a comfy sofa. It's big. I decided to call it "The Couch."

We have too many cars to insure - our oldest son in his last year of law school drives an Explorer Sport, son #2 is looking looking looking for a job and while we wait wait wait, we insure his Camaro. Then there's the "back-up" green Monte Carlo (that David currently drives until he can get his oil pump fixed on his Camaro). I'd like to sell The Lizard, Mark's Corvette (he's SO attached), and although the GMC Jimmy's 4WD is convenient in the winter when we go to NC, I'm thinking it should go too.  That, or rent a garage near the airport closest to our NC home.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

That's Venus...That's Mark

Sunset from our back deck of our NC home. August 28, 2010 - the air was crisp and a cool 58F and the crickets were incredibly loud! Too bad you don't get the full effect in this video. It was about 8:30 PM.

video

Sugar Maples are already beginning to show some color at our Beech Mountain home..
Hazy blue mountains - how the Blue Ridge earned it's name.
Mark and our friend Sig, ahead of me on a Blue Ridge Parkway hike, Cold Prong Pond Loop. The berries that weren't ripe in early July were gone, but a few wild apple trees were loaded!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Moo, Whinnie, Cluck

 
Our next door neighbor Kyle popped over for a visit.  Somehow the conversation moved to raw, unpasteurized milk straight from the cow.  Yep, I can hook you up, girlfriend!  We called Ann, a high school biology teacher and licensed Apopka farm owner.  She has two brown Jersey's for milk, a bunch of chickens, horses, and the friendliest short-legged stocky black cows called Dexters.  They're a pretty sturdy breed that does well in Florida.  I admired the bull's curly bangs and Ann told me that those curls are a sign of virility. She didn't have to tell me...I saw his footballs!  Kyle got a $10 gallon of Jersey Juice and we both learned a lot about cow and horse feeding, chickens, and well, everything farmy.
  
On our way home, we stopped at Kyle's barn to feed her horses.  She has a beautiful tall Tennessee Walker, whose previous owner named Harley.  Kyle isn't fond of that name, so I changed it to Carly.  She just didn't seem like the motorcycle type, and I have always liked Carly Simon.  This Carly has a beautiful brown coat with a glorious splash of paint on one shoulder, black mane and white polka dot knee socks. Carly holds her head high, far superior to all others in the stable.  Carly's colt Bambi is nearly grown and not yet broken, but Kyle showed me how calm she is with a saddle blanket on, and when Kyle draped herself over Bambi's slick  back, the young horse just enjoyed all that loving and hugging.  Louie is a stately Mule.  He's the biggest, prettiest, long-legged mule I've ever met.  Actually, Louie is the ONLY mule I've ever met.  His alert ears are long, high, and close together and this makes him look ever so smart.  I didn't know that mules are so easy to care for.  They eat less than horses and they don't have a horsey smell, in fact, nose pressed against Louie's side, I could only detect the mild hint of the grass he rolled in earlier in the day.  Who woulda thunk?  Best of all, like the horses, Louie is very sweet.  Kyle invited me to go riding with her, and says her big girl Carly is a smooth horse to ride.
Velvety soft horse noses, friendly curious cows, the sweet smell of hay, and a nice friend to share it with made this a perfect day.  I think I'm ready for a couple of chickens!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

America is Tired and Poor

The American flag is supposed to fly the highest, a sign of respect often ignored or forgotten in word and in deed.  Emma Lazarus' words reached out to those looking for political, economic, and religious freedom.  It was a long and expensive trip on a crowded and unsafe ship, followed by a frightening visit to Ellis Island for a medical exam and intelligence test that would determine their future.  A quarter of a million immigrants never made it past Ellis Island, deported back to their country of origin.  Some were sent home because they were suspected of being unable to support themselves without becoming public charges.  It was a privilege to become an American and those that were allowed to stay were excited to become a part of this great country and live the American Dream.  Let that flag fly high!

Give me your tired, your poor.  We have become the tired and the poor as we are forced to support those who do not belong.  American citizens represent many countries, but  it seems the melting pot simmers a bit slower these days.  We lack patriotism!

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me has become a charity we can no longer afford.   Our taxes are high because we are helping everyone but our own.

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Visa overstays,Visa fraud, and slipping illegally across our borders, the benefits outweigh the risks.  If you are caught, you are sent back home, not even a slap on the wrist. Start a family and you'll never have to return to your home country. If you manage to evade the border patrol, you are home free to receive public assistance, free education, and free medical.  Illelgal aliens have rights and don't pay taxes. You can't get that back at the old casa!

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Our jails are country clubs compared to those back home and our criminal justice system is overwhelmed with wretched refuse.

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.  Knock, and wait for an invitation to enter, and pay for your keep.  Who tolerates an unwelcome stranger that barges in, robs the pantry, and then demands more?  When will our government see the light? 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pileated Woodpecker

This morning I heard, then saw two crow-sized male Pileated Woodpeckers - black feet and black bill and red head, looking all pretty.  It reminded me of the time when our youngest son, David, was about four.  He was playing outside and came running in all breathless and excited and red faced, "Mom, come quick! There's a ptarodactyl in the tree!"  If you've ever seen how gangly they fly, with head jutted out and lifting themselves clumsily on huge black and white wings, each stroke of the wing is loudly accompanied with a chuckle call, similar to a bird in Tarzan movies. (but not the peacock).  Add to this the pointed feather tuft at the back of their head, and why yes, these woodpeckers DO favor the prehistoric bird! 

Come, my little dinosaur.  No need to bang your beak into the trees for a snack...A feast of neon-green hornworms that are wreaking havoc in my tomato plants awaits you!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Getting Closer to a Beach at the Watson's

Juliet "helps" the boys dig.  David and neighbor-friend Billy both wear size 14 stompers, and you can see how very small our diggin' doggie actually is as she tries her paw at a little hole next to their shoe prints.  Julie doesn't miss a trick, noticing the newly opened screen, and she zipped outside, did a little dance, then came back in through the loosened screen panel.  David's friend Drew will replace the screen tonight.

Finally, a picture of the sand-filled pool garden. I'm ashamed for you to see our slimey pool. Mark will brush it down again tonight and add chlorine and clean the filters. It is really a beautiful pool!




Pool Garden - Our New Sand Box

The Sand Man arrived, drove the giant dump truck through the big double-gates of our side yard and right through the back yard to dump a pile of sand. First, my friend's brother Matt dug dug dug the weeds and plants out of the pool garden.  Next, our son David dug out more dirt.  Now we need to fill  an even foot deep by 70 square feet, which equals just under 3 cubic yards, or 8100 pounds of sand.  David and I both expected to see a much bigger pile of sand and wonder if this is truly 3 cubic yards.  It'll seem like a that pile never ends once David starts filling the wheelbarrow over and over and over again!  Ugh, the pool looks disgusting!  David and his friends left all the floats in yesterday, then it rained and rained, which always starts an algae bloom.  Clean up and chemicals tonight.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dolly Quilt

My niece Robin is going to have her third baby later this year and, after two little darling boys, this is a girl!  I have a quilt for each baby born, and so making one for a girl is extra special!  This is a  picture of the pattern I ordered, and  below is a (very poor quality) picture of the first dolly I made.  Each block will measure 7" once it's sewn into the quilt. I am not sure how many I shall use.  I LOVED making the first block!  It's a new technique (to me) called paper piecing.  You actually sew the material onto a paper pattern, and only after the whole quilt top is assembled, then you remove the paper.  A tighter stitch is required to make the paper tear off easily, but any mistakes results in a much more difficult stitch removal.  I know first hand!!  I'm not fond of the circles mid-quilt (they remind me of bottle tops) and so I might just make an entire quilt of different dollies.  The one I made has dark skin, and I have a variety of skin tones and hair colors, and lots of different scraps to make pretty dresses and aprons and backgrounds.  It's like a photo album!  Will baby like it?  I hope so!
Such a poor quality picture.  The seam allowance is shining through because I took this picture with light behind it.  They won't show when the quilt is complete and sandwiched with a nice cotton batting, then quilted around the dollies.  I haven't decided if I will be able to hand quilt, or if I'll have it machine quilted.

Friday, July 30, 2010

35 Year High School Reunion

Where did 35 years go?  We are supposed to be 35 years old!
Reverse those numbers and you have 53. I'm good with that. 

Here are a few friends that gathered for breakfast the morning after the reunion: Left side - Jacques Klempf, David Kampfe, Karol Eilermann Smith, and Marty Wise Watson. Right side - David Bard, Barry Smith, Cheryl Bernstein Bermann, and Bonnie Baumgarten Friedman.

Reconnecting with old friends was nice, but out of 600 students, we only had 60 at the reunion.  We made plans for the Class of 75 to get together with at a local restaurant once a month or a quarter.  The first will be this coming weekend, only a week out from this reunion, but someone from far away will be in town, so why not?  Don't count on me.  It's a little soon to turn back around and drive the 2-1/2 hours to Jacksonville.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Quilting

Quilts have once again called to me.  I joined a "block of the month" at the local quilt shop, and next June I shall have a lovely Underground Railroad sampler nearly complete.  A picture of a completed quilt is on the first page of The Material Girl's newsletter.  I also have finally decided it is time to make my Rock Candy lap quilt.  It is cut out and ready to piece, a first quilt for myself, as all my other quilts have been gifted.  I'm anxious to see it finished, as the material is the prettiest batik fabric, chosen to look most like the actual pattern.  More pressing than my own quilt, however, is a quilt my niece Robin's baby.  Lyla Grace will be born in November or December, I think.  I am sure I have plenty of girly girl colors to choose from in my material stash to create a feminine crib quilt.

Green Thumb is not Fruity

I have huge and gorgeous tomato plants.  They're big and leafy with strong thick stalks.  These are plants to be proud of!  I got my plantlings from a reputable feed and seed store.  They are planted in beautiful dark organic fertilizer.  They get water from my rain barrel, I've fed them organic tomato fertilizer, but there is not a single bloom or green tomato to be found.  Same goes for my datil pepper plant.  Nobody has ever seen a more healthy plant, but not a pepper in sight!  Where have I gone wrong?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Puggie Puppies!

I had to take my car to the mechanic today.  After a nice lunch with Mark and our younger son David, I spent the afternoon riding with Mark on his giant Snap-On Tools truck as he went from auto shop to auto shop, selling tools to car mechanics.  One of the mechanics showed me his 9-week old miniature Pug puppies.  They'll grow to be about 5-6 pounds.  Ohhh how darling!  They crawled all over me and when I left, my shirt dirtied with tiny pawprints and the sweet smell of puppy kisses lingering on my skin.  It was a humid and roasting hot day, that's why I'm so red faced and curly haired.

Photo taken with my brand new, bought today, iPhone 4.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Raw Cow's Milk

A local middle school teacher named Ann has a small Apopka farm and sells free-range eggs and raw cow's milk. My 23 year old milk drinking maniac son and I drove over to see what's what and we were pleased to walk out into the pasture to meet Clover, and Paris - who is ready to calf at any moment.  Paris is not being milked so near to delivery.  We got to watch Clover being milked (with a machine) and she produced 4.5 gallons of Jersey Juice.  These two Jerseys are sweet pets that will live out their lives on the farm, even after they are no longer productive.

Most people who drink raw milk are "foodies" and are particular about what the cows get to eat, where the live and how much "cow time" they get.  Ann's Jerseys eat a soy free diet of grain and grass and free choice hay. Florida's soil is worthless for sustaining a milk cow; we don't have real soil, it's sand, and dairy cows would starve to death on just Florida grass. Ann has a friend who is allergic to soy and could not drink any milk (grocery or otherwise) until Ann found a soy free cow food, because soy is one of those things that does pass through the cow and end up in milk.

Ann also has a small herd of about a dozen Dexters, small black cows, and she has one butchered occasionally, which I am curious to try out.  She names the Dexters too, but they have "reality names" like T-Bone, Burger, and Stew.  Ann has a variety of chickens that scratch what they want, wander in the fields, and enjoy the sunshine.  When she gets a bully rooster, he becomes dinner, as it should be. She sells big brown eggs with strong healthy shells.

I just drank a glass of delicious custard yellow milk.  It tastes similar to Gustafson's Farm milk from the store, but it is creamier than whole milk.  The cream seperates, so you have to give it a shake before pouring.  I can use a turkey baster and take some of the top cream for my coffee.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Florida Fruiting Flora

I have several thriving plants on my front porch: a topsy turvey tomato, hanging upside down from it's stem and always begging for the roots to be watered (more than a normal tomato would!), three tomato plants in 5-gallon buckets, a fast-growing fig tree, a healthy and thick datil pepper plant, and one sorry excuse for a Japanese plum.  How is it that all the other plants are so excellent and the one I want most to survive is floundering?  Hmmmm...  I so love the way a JP looks when it's grown to be a big tree, heavily laden with golden fruit.   Maybe it hates it's pot!  Today I will transplant to a better container, prettier than the mustard yellow 5-gallon bucket with holes drilled in the bottom.  I'll get a pot that offers the beauty that this poor plants leaves need to survivie!  Everyone else just gets water!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Unjustified Beach Fears

Oh what a nice week at Cocoa Beach with my family!  David and Audrey, Robert and Vanessa, my cousin Julie, and of course, Mark.  We go this amazing new blender, 600 watts of ice-crushing power, and we made some yummy foofy drinks.  The sun was bright and shiney, the skies were clear and blue, the fish were biting and Julie and I caught sheephead in the intercoastal.  The evenings were fun-filled with Apples to Apples games, guitars, and poolside entertainment.

I have one fear, one stupid stupid unjustified fear.  I am not afraid of sharks, heights, muggers, snakes or being left alone on a deserted island.  I do not fear death.  I am, however, completely terrified of stepping on a crab in the shallow water at the beach. A really big dog with teeth bared and hair up doesn't frighten me as much as the prospect of a crab under my feet.  What is wrong with me?!

I enjoyed the swimming pool and took nice long walks on the beach.

Sharing my fear with my dog, in miniature.  Fiddler crab was actually bait, which I don't mind handling at all. Juliet, however, was completely traumatized when the crab latched on to her whiskers!  She may need psychological care now.