Saturday, December 31, 2016

That's A Wrap

Family picture at the Gaylord Palms show Ice

Here we are at the end of the month and the end of another year.  Wow, where does the time go?  It's been a great month celebrating the Christmas season and a time for getting a lot done around the house and property.

We of course began the month with Christmas decorating, baking and all the preparations that are a part of this time of year.  I covered much of this in my last post.  We went to the annual presentation of Ice at the Gaylord Palms on the 20th.  We experienced this the first year we were in Florida when the theme of their show was Frosty the Snowman.  This year it was the Peanuts Characters and as usual the ice artists from Harbin China did an amazing job of creating wonderful scenes in ice for an enjoyable adventure walking around the frosty environment they're able to create in the convention center when they seal it up and drop the temperatures down to a freezing 9 degrees and their amazing winter wonderland is enjoyed by thousands who put on the blue parkas provided and wind their way around the carved scenes,

Getting ready to go into the Ice experience

Lauren and Hannah wrapped up prior to our receiving our big blue parkas

One of the Ice designs with Linus

The Ice slide with Lauren on the far left

Hannah just after her slide

Cameron came down so fast it's good they had the non slip pad at the bottom!

Then there's the ice slide.  It was here I froze my hand trying to get pictures of the kids as they came down.  My phone wouldn't take the picture with my gloved hands so I had to remove one to get the pictures.  It didn't take long in that cold before I couldn't feel my hand. Brrrrrrr!!!!

Charlie Brown and Linus - amazing details on all the scenes there

We added extra layers this year, we learned this after our first visit 3 years ago, still with our thin Florida blood and 9 degrees we were cold and really ready for a hot coffee or cocoa from the cafe at the end of the event.

After our time at Ice we drove to Disney Springs to walk around and then have lunch at the T Rex Restaurant.  It's a loud experience, but Uncle Bill hadn't been there before so it was worth trying.

This was the first time for the kids and Bill to see this area since Disney changed it from Downtown Disney to Disney Springs.  It was a beautiful day for walking around.

These cute penguin figures were part of the decorations 

I mentioned with Kevin's longer vacation time I would have projects for him and indeed I did.  I'll cover these in other posts, but the main project I'm thrilled he completed was replacing Hannah's horrible sliding glass door with a beautiful new window. He still has a few final touches to do, but the difference already is amazing.

We had a wonderful Christmas with Uncle Bill and Tarzan staying the night to be able to join us for our early morning start to the day.  It was great having them here and then Grandma and Poppie came over for Christmas dinner.

Uncle Bill gave us all Christmas T shirts, so we donned these for our family Christmas photo with Tarzan joining in
Another exciting event of 2016 is the news from my oldest daughter Amber and her husband Eddie. Both live in Oregon and called us to let us know we are going to be growing our family!! Grandbaby number one is on the way - SO EXCITED!!!

Their instagram announcement

Now it's time to take the decorations down and prepare to start the new year.  2016 has been a great and productive year for us and I hope it has for you all too.  From our family to yours, we wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017!!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Prepping

Wow, what happened to November?  It flew by so quickly I failed to even get a blog post done.  It wasn't anything major, just a lot of life's regular events that took precedent over blogging.  So now here we are at the end of 2016 and Christmas preparations are in full swing and good thing too since we are now only 10 days out from that day!!

The kids have their individual trees in their rooms and I just put the last of my decorations up. Kevin has taken some extra vacation time so starting this weekend we'll be able to enjoy 2 weeks of his presence.  Think I have some projects to tackle (insert BIG smile here), as well as some family time enjoying the added activities this time of year brings. So here are the decorations we have up now.

Starting at the front door.  It doesn't feel like Christmas here in Central Florida with temps that have gone between the mid 60's to up in the 80's, but we can still look festive.

Entry hall decor

Wreath on interior side of the front door

Then in Kevin's office I have the animated  Mr. and Mrs. Claus with a small tree.

The Mr and Mrs Claus were bought when Cameron was still a little guy.  He's 23 now - yikes!  The Father Christmas at the top of the tree was the first tree topper I bought when Kevin and I were first married.  That's 33 years ago now.

On top of my desk I have more decorated small trees and coordinating decorations.

I have a lot of angels and Father Christmases in my collection.  When they were young Cameron and Amber used to give me them as gifts each Christmas.  So I put them together by themes or coordinating colors. 

Our main tree is in the corner adjacent to my desk this year.  I always love taking out the decorations we've collected over the years and from around the world to add to our tree.  So many memories attached to them.

The angel topper was a gift from the kids years ago.  I love a full tree with ribbon, pearls and ornaments.

My Ebeneezer Scrooge was an ornament I bought for myself in a fancy Christmas shop at Horton Plaza, San Diego back in the 80's when we were still living there. The egg shaped cloisonne next to him was purchased on our second trip to China when we went there to complete Lauren's adoption

The Father Christmas was another ornament I bought myself at the same time I got Scrooge, and the angel is a tree topper my parents had on their tree when I was growing up.  They bought her before I was born on a trip they made to Germany. Her head and hands are made from wax and has delicate and detailed painted features. The cloisonne egg ornament is another one bought in China in 2011,

This beautiful cloisonne ornament was purchased in Beijing the first time we were there in 2005 when we went to get Hannah.  It was the first time we saw the craftsmanship involved in creating these beautiful pieces.

The heart is one of the pieces I make by sewing lace, beads, jewels, buttons and flowers onto felt pieces I've cut out.  I love making each one unique so that no two are exactly the same. Here are two more of my cloisonne purchased in 2011.

This is a smaller ornament I made

One of 3 Santa head ornaments I have and the delicate bells are from an estate sale I went to the first year we moved to Florida.  They were so pretty, I couldn't pass them up!

More of my hearts and another bell from the estate sale

This is a close up of the ornament to the right of the bell pictured above. It has some of the Czech glass beads I ordered online and just love for their color.

The detail and color of this pear cloisonne piece is amazing.  The ornament with the bow on the right is one I hand painted on a clear glass ornament a few years ago.

Another heart and more cloisonne

This baby shoe cloisonne was purchased in Beijing in 2005, just before we left for the Hunan province to get Hannah.

Decorations on the top of the book shelves in the living room, and then new decorations on the mantle.

The Father Christmas on the far left is one I made, then the angel and other Santa's are from the kids

I'm still looking for a large mirror for my mantle, so I used a lot of smaller items in combination to fill this space

My white and gold collection for the top of the TV armoire.

This is my gold and white collection

This Santa used to be animated when Amber and Cameron got him for me, but the years have taken their toll on him and he can only stand there holding his bag and bell now.

Then in the back sun room I've set up these decorations and tree.  It's really pretty at night when it's dark outside and all the lights are on there and in the house.
This is the tree that used to be in the sun room at the front of our home in California. I found the gorgeous ribbon I use on it several years ago, and then found ornaments that would compliment the colors and jewels sewn on it.

My mixed collection on the side table.  The stained glass angel on the right is one my parents made.

This Father Christmas is one my mother made several years ago and the little church is a decoration that my parents had before I was born.  I used to love when I was growing up to help put it together and then light the candle inside the church door that heats up inside and turns the chimes. Cameron's taken over the assembly job over the past few years.

Now that our house is decorated it's time to finish my Christmas shopping and then begin my food menu as we prepare to celebrate,

That's it for now, I'll post some more as our family spends time enjoying activities this time of year brings with it.  Have a safe and happy Christmas season.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Life After the Storm

Besides taller plants being blown over along with some pots and everything soaked, the front survived well

When Hurricane Matthew roared through Florida at the beginning of this month we had our first taste of battening down the hatches here in Central Florida.  We added extra tie downs to the chicken coops, picked up yard items that might blow or cause damage if they became air born.

Roosters in the tractor were the most vulnerable so we staked the chicken
tractor down with metal stakes and wire and placed them between heavier plants

Since we are on a well we always have stored water for possible power outages, but we stocked up on extra in preparation for the storm. We'd already topped off the vehicles with gas, had food stocked and picked up extra propane for the generator and gas grill.

Thankfully we were blessed when prayer was answered and the storm moved further off the coast and didn't take the original course of coming right up the center of Florida as it first looked like it would. It hit us at a Category 3 with sustained winds of over 80 mph and brought with it loads of rain!!!  It poured and blew all Thursday and on through the night. At 3 in the morning on Friday the main part of the storm had passed us by, but we lost power.  It would stay off until Sunday night when at 8 pm it came back on.

We were really glad we had the preparations of extra water, food, batteries and most of all the generator.  We ran it to keep the refrigerator and freezer going and some fans when the afternoons became uncomfortable.  At night we used our candles and kept in touch with news with our storm radio.

As evening arrives we lit the candles and listened to the storm radio for news updates

Cameron and Hannah in the kitchen
The propane generator operating in the back sunroom keeping the freezer and refrigerator cold and brewing our morning coffee - priorities!!

After the storm passed we were really glad to see that damage was minimal considering what could have happened if we had been hit with what they originally expected to come through. We had a smaller oak topple in the yard, so we cut that up and cleared it out ourselves.

Thankfully not a large oak, so clean up was easy.  We had been debating about whether to keep this tree here since we've planted an olive on one side and two jackfruit trees on the other.  So I guess this made up our minds.

My banana leaves were shredded and one of the larger ones couldn't handle the strong wind and snapped in half.  So I cut that down to make room for the pups around it to grow.

My poor banana bent in half and the pigeon pea near it that became too top heavy and lost some branches. The chicken tractor in the back had two roosters in it that road out the storm between the bushes that sheltered it and the extra tie downs they did fine, a bit freaked out, but fine.

Poor banana tree and  the shredded leaves of others around it

We have a large pine in amongst the pine trees that has fallen over and will have to be removed later when the tree companies aren't as busy as they are now.  Since it isn't endangering anything we're not so concerned.

We lost a couple of panels in the roof area of the pools screened porch, so that will need to be fixed.
 Then there were potted plants blown over and evidence of lots of leaves blown down, but all in all not much damage.  We've been raking up the pine needles that were all over to put on the floors of the chicken coops, because with all the wind and rain there was about 4 inches of water that made for a very muddy coop area.  The pine needles worked well to create a decent flooring as everything dried out.

Screen panels down from storm will be fixed along with older
panels that were damaged when we moved in.

Cochin pen is swampy

Main coop is a mess prior to our putting down pine
needles to help out while this dried up

Birds still walking around in the muck rather than being in the dry coop or on the roost.  There's a reason for the
phrase "bird brain".

So with the cleanup done we'll make note of ways to prepare in advance of an event like that again through storage items and as we continue to create our edible food forests and gardens so that they can take care of themselves in the future.

We are now in full swing with our Fall planting to be able to enjoy the many things that grow well in the cooler temperatures we enjoy in our almost year round growing environment here in Central Florida. I'm busy starting seed to replant the hoop house with the hydroponic systems that I've dismantled to clean and as we put down new flooring material in there. So I'll update on that as it progresses. The girls and I have been harvesting our peanuts and and preparing those beds for new plants.  Cameron wants to make peanut butter with the peanuts we've harvested.  I'll do a post on this once we've finished with this project.  That's it for now.  Will post on some of our harvest soon.