Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fall Harvest

Butternut Squash, hot peppers, yellow squash, bell peppers and eggplant from our gardens

With the temperatures cooling down the plants are thriving again and the bugs are eating less of our harvest, that's good news as we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor from the towers and VGS (vertical garden system) and are also preparing to harvest papaya's from our raised bed gardens on the opposite side of the house.

Collard greens (far left), Kale, Eggplant, parsley and chives, and then bottom right is the yellow squash with microgreen salad mix in the upper part of this tower

Okra, basil picked for drying, eggplant and small green tomatoes

Colander full of hot peppers, middle photo of veggies, and yellow squash on the right

VGS  after cleaning out pots of old growth and trimming the herbs that are loving this growing system. I'll be starting more seeds to put into the empty pots here.

With this first season of growth under our belts, we have experience to go with the reading we've done for growing in this climate.  Though we still have a lot to learn, we' haven't done bad for our  short time here and what we've been able to produce.  We're hoping to continue increasing our skill level and our production for our family and to share with others, as we continue to learn to grow in our hydroponic systems and raised bed gardens.
Raised bed garden on the side of house

Our two lemon grass plants started from bases of lemon grass I bought to use for a recipe, are both doing really well.

We have two papaya trees both are producing a lot of fruit for their first year in the ground.  These papayas will be right pretty soon.  Upper right box has a photo of our jalapeno plant that is REALLY producing a lot of peppers right now.  I cut them and freeze them in bags for use in my salsa later.

My goal is to really have an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables producing year round in our own yard and to freeze for the months they aren't producing.  Next, I need to put into use my canning equipment as I tackle this new challenge to put food into storage using this method of preserving our harvest.  Stay tuned!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

California Trip and Dad's 80th

Mom and Dad's

It was a whirlwind trip leaving Florida last Thursday for California and returning yesterday.  Had a good time helping mom prepare for my dad's 80th birthday and getting to visit with my family in California, then enjoy celebrating this milestone birthday.

Parents house from on top of their hill and the surrounding view

Mom and Dad on their computers
On Saturday my brother Roger, his wife Karla and son RJ arrived as did my sister Anna, her son Jared and daughter Clara and after spending time visiting at my parents and getting food and house ready for the party the next day, we all went to dinner at a local restaurant called Cho Cho Sans. It's a Japanese restaurant where the food is prepared with a lot of flavor and flair on the large grills at the center of the tables. It's fun and delicious, I left stuffed!!!

RJ and Jared top, Mom, Dad and I lower left, then Mom and Dad

Roger and Karla top, Jared and Anna lower left, and Clara

Our tables chef cooking up our meal with a lot of showmanship

RJ, my parents and sister Anna

Karla, Clara and I

Roger, Karla and Clara

The onion stacked "mountain" with oil being poured in

Initial flames

Volcano looking result - quite impressive

Sunday we attended my parents church where the congregation acknowledged my dad's birthday by singing "Happy Birthday" to him.  Then that evening they hosted around 30 people and family to a bounty of finger foods, good company, cake and even though they said "no presents" people still brought them.

It was a beautiful evening, so we were all able to enjoy ourselves on the patio

With a single large candle on his cake dad was the center of our focus as we sang to him and celebrated his 80 years of life. After his recent health challenges the fact he's still here and on his way back to health and vigor we had a lot to celebrate.

Singing "Happy Birthday" and Dad's cake

Dad's cards lined up on the piano
Opening presents

I was regularly in touch with Kevin and kids back home, that included Face time conversations.  Love technology!!  They held down the fort without me and had everything clean for me to return to.

Had a great time visiting in California, but it's always nice to get home.  Am dealing with a bit of jet lag today, so we're just taking it easy on what is Kevin and my 31st anniversary.  Tomorrow we'll do a Disney day and Cameron can meet us at one of the parks when he gets done with school.

Mom and I

Mom and Dad - love you both!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ducks In A Row...

As the saying goes, I've been getting my "ducks in a row" in an effort to prepare for my trip to California.  I've been cooking and setting meals aside in the freezer so Kevin or kids can just prepare them by microwaving or heating on the stove for lunches and dinner.  I've stocked the refrigerator with fruits and vegetables to go with the meals.

I've got everyone's laundry done and the house cleaned.

Everyone's is put away now, just Cameron's pile ready to go to his room
The girls are set with their school routines and the calendar has the necessary info for lessons listed.

I'm packed, and have all I should need for my travel, SOOOO, I guess that's it.  Now, it's just waiting for EARLY Thursday morning and I'm off to California to visit with my parents and be there to celebrate my dad's 80th birthday.

California here I come....

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

In the children's rhyme it's "rain, rain, go away, come again another day".  For us though after several weeks straight of daily rain and in some cases record rainfall of over 10 inches in one day, combined with hot temperatures that have made it very humid we were ready for a break and desperately desired the temperatures to better reflect this Fall season we are supposed to be in.

Water pooling in my front planting bed

Yesterday, was the first real break in heavy rainfall and then last night the temperatures fell down into the 60's!!!  It feels amazing outside and in addition to us celebrating, it's as though all of nature,
plants included, are enjoying this wonderful change.

Side garden with fewer plants since I cleared out the older items and have started seeds for my cooler weather plants that will go in here.

Tower and VGS systems 

Jalapeno peppers


I went out to check on my garden and saw the pepper plants that have been hanging low with the heat or heavy drenching, standing upright and full of peppers.  Our papaya's are getting large and will be ready for picking soon. The tower gardens are beginning to produce again, after clearing out most of the old plants and then cleaning and replanting them with the cooler season lettuces.

In the back yard toadstools and mushrooms dotted the yard.  These short lived fungi are really fascinating in their detail and coloring.

Amazing details, almost looks like it has a fringed edge on this toadstool

We've all been busy with projects inside with the rain, but this nice weather has allowed us to venture out and take advantage of the sunshine without the heat,  I've been doing more of my stitching pieces, here's a sample of one.  I'll do a blog post later featuring these specifically.

Beads, buttons and ribbon flowers decorate this small ornament

Cameron has school assignments due and was drawing at the table initially, but can now go outside for subjects to draw for his class project. He's out back drawing now as I type this blog.

Learning cross hatching for shading as he has to do a pen drawing of a crumpled paper bag

The girl's have spent a lot of time, once school work is finished, making crafts and today is no different.  They continually make furniture, clothes, decor and food for their dolls regularly going online for  tutorials that give them ideas and how to videos.

Kevin's begun the restoration process of the Model A installing the ignition switch and battery he purchased.  In between this he's been roasting more coffee to renew our supply of coffee beans.

Colombian roast done, and House blend ready to roast

New battery installed and ignition switch is in.

The change in weather has been a welcome one, and we're hoping this signals the beginning of more of the same for awhile. Still, rain or shine we'll all keep busy with our various interests.