Tuesday, September 16, 2014

And They're Off

EARLY this morning, as in 3:30 A.M., Kevin and I picked up his mom and headed to Orlando airport for Grandma's flight to Pennsylvania for her visit with family there, and Kevin's flight to California where he will get the rental truck to carry the goods and model A truck from my parents home for his solo cross country trip home.

This was the trip my dad had originally planned to make with him, while my mom flew here to Florida to wait with us for their arrival.  Sadly, dads health issues and hospitalization had to put a stop to these plans, but with his ticket already purchased and plans made Kevin decided to move ahead with the trip.

Signing "I love you" for us, it was time for Kevin to head off

After dropping both off to catch their respective flights it was home to our still sleeping kids and dogs, to begin the wait for Kevin/dad's return home.  He'll keep touch as he travels and began this morning by leaving each of us a note at our places at the table.

Girls holding their notes.
So we'll keep ourselves busy here, as we follow his travel progress cross country.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Dad/Grandpa's Home

After 9 days in the hospital being poked, prodded and checked inside and out, my dad was able to go home after the blood clots in his legs and lungs were treated.  They found too that his oxygen levels were too low, so for now they want him to remain on oxygen to ensure he gets what his body needs to aid healing and his overall state of health.

Dad enjoying a snack on their patio, Thanks to my sister for the photo update : )

I am very grateful to everyone for your prayers, and to God that he allowed this to be found and dealt with before things may have taken a turn for the worse.  Dad's doctors are baffled as to why he didn't show more symptoms, considering the degree of clotting he had, but dad's always been strong and a tad bit stubborn about acknowledging he can't push through not feeling so great (smile).  Just glad to see him home again and able to enjoy having the freedom to get up and move around.  Something we all take for granted, until you find yourself stuck in a hospital room with limited mobility and others dictating your moves.  They took great care of him and were very diligent to deal with what needed to be done to get him back on his feet again, so I'm thankful for everyone who was attending to him.

Kevin is due to travel out to California soon, and the plan was he'd fly out, rent a truck and trailer as he'll be bringing some things and towing a 1932 Model A Ford pick up truck back.  Dad was originally to have traveled back with him and my mom was going to fly out so when they arrived we could all spend some time visiting and have an earlier celebration of his 80th birthday.  Travel is now out of the question at this time for him, but Kevin already had flight arrangements and the truck set up, so  is still going to follow through with flying back and will be driving cross country on his own.  I'll plan a separate visit by myself, to be there for a birthday celebration of this 80 year milestone.

That's it for now - giving thanks for so much!!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

August Ends And September Begins

Wow, summer is officially over and our school year has begun again!!  The girls started back with school work half way through August to ease our way into the routine, but now it's full speed ahead for Hannah in the 5th grade and Lauren in 3rd.  This is a case of the students being much happier about this than teacher, aka Mom.  I like my summer breaks and wouldn't mind it lasting longer, but let the homeschooling begin again.

I'm a bit behind in posting so I'll do a recap our our last few weeks of activity.  We had another chance to visit with the Bartlinski family at their vacation house near Orlando.  It was another fun day for the girls to play and the adults to spend time talking.  Loved it!!

The last of the shed's came together and we can now pull stuff out of the garage to organize and make more space that will allow a vehicle to actually park in there!!

After the heat of the last couple of months we cleared out the struggling and dead plants from the Vertical Garden System and Towers .  With this done, I took apart and cleaned one of the towers and I've started seedlings to begin our new growing season.  Over the next couple of weeks we'll take apart the other two towers and clean them as well.  We have a lot more shade cloth up on the structures Kevin made to help offset the intense afternoon sun.  As cooler temperatures arrive we can remove these.

The empty and cleaned tower on the left, the middle one has a few new lettuce plants and kale that is still thriving, the last tower on the right still has okra, eggplant and a tomato that are healthy.  I'll wait until I can clean it before adding more plants to the second and third towers.

With most of the plants removed from the vertical garden, we cleaned the pipes, trimmed the remaining herbs and root systems and are ready to add the seedlings once they have sprouted enough to put in here.

Seedlings started

Our raised gardens on the opposite side of the house got a good trimming to tame the jungle of squash vines and keep what was left healthy.  Once we managed to control the awful pickle worm that ruined so much of our squash, we got a pretty good harvest of butternut squash and pictured here are only a few of the MANY eggplants we harvested from the towers.

Our gardens each have papaya's growing in them.  They were each about a foot tall when I planted them, but look how much they've grown and they have fruit starting on each one.

We celebrated Grandma's birthday with a party and swimming at Pat and Jen's who were down here from Pennsylvania.

Cameron's on his 3rd month and 3rd set of classes after getting A's in the last 4 classes he took over the past 2 months.  It is a very accelerated paced school program, and really keeps him on the go, but he is loving it.

Dragonfly on the top of my tea plant and a lizard on the trunk

Closeup of the dragonfly, not bad for this having to be photographed from inside the house

Finally, we've been anxiously awaiting new updates on my dad and praying for complete healing as he was admitted to the hospital this past Tuesday with blood clots in both legs and lungs.  He's in great spirits despite this and still brags it's only the second time in his almost 80 years that he's been in the hospital.

Dad with a get well bear my sister got him along with a snickers bar to ease the boredom of being in the hospital

That's a quick recap of the last month of summer and the beginning of Fall.  The temperature doesn't reflect this new season yet, and I will be happy when it does.  That's it for now.  Take care.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Tractor Storage Shed

I posted before about having Lowe's deliver block and sheds so we can organize and make room in the garage.  After completing the 1st small one near the tower gardens to hold the pots, fertilizers etc..., it was time to start on the first of the two larger sheds.  We chose a spot near the well house in front and then had to clear some small trees and shrubs and level the site.

The site before.  The well house and wood pile from previous owners.  We plan to eventually redo the well house. The shed is now where the trash cans were in this picture.  The palm and small tree to the left of it had to be cut way back

These are the sheds and block on the day they were delivered

Once this was done we began to lay the cement block base to give a secure footing to the shed floor and to raise it a bit to keep the interior dry in our heavy downpours.

Block pile ready to be used, and Kevin measuring out the base area.

Once he measured everything out we leveled and he began setting the blocks in place, as I restocked his supply of them and hauled off the materials we'd cleared for the green waste pickup

Kevin took the time to be sure all the block was absolutely level, so when he was all done we could set the shed's rubber base in place without having any problems because the foundation wasn't just right.

Once the block was all done and leveled, the rubber base of the shed was set in place.  Kevin put the windows into the shed doors and sides and then it was time to start putting the shed together.  Cameron came out to help with this.

The base came in two pieces that once laid down were secured together with screws

Base done

The windows for the door set in place
Side panels going up

Doors, back window and front panels are now in place.
Once all the sides were fitted together, the side roof panels were put on and finally the top piece.  These were all secured with the screws provided. We were now ready to pour the rock in the front to allow Kevin to drive the lawn tractor into the shed.

Roof panels added

Shed done

Kevin, then installed pegboard with hooks and shelves so he could hang garden tools.

The tool holders on either side of the shed.  There's also room in the back to add shelves and we'll do that later.

TA DA!!!!

All done!! It looks great, even if I do say so myself. And has already opened up a large area in the garage now that the tractor is out of it.  It was so hot during this project, that we had to do several changes of clothes and take A LOT of water breaks, to deal with the intense heat and humidity, but I think the effort was worth it.

The clearing has started for the last of the sheds we bought.  It's another one like this shed and will go up near the tower garden area.  I'll cover this in another post.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Roasting Coffee

Returning to some of our Do-It -Yourself goals Kevin tried a new challenge of roasting our own coffee.  We are coffee lovers and really enjoy a deep roasted, rich cup of coffee.  So after doing a lot of online research of the various types of coffee, how to sources etc...  He located suppliers of the green beans and ordered a 5 lb. bag of Colombian and a 5 lb. bag of the House Blend from Caracolillo Coffee, a store and online supplier of mills, beans and other coffee related goodies. Here's their link :ccmcoffee.com

We had found an old air popcorn popper at an estate sale for $4.00, that's the style that many of the sites say is the best for this simple method of roasting coffee beans and now with our beans it was time to put this to a test.  Kevin got all his supplies together and  set them up in the garage because we wanted the air flow and to control the smell as some sites said it could get quite strong. We didn't find the odor offensive at all, in fact the garage smelled wonderful, We did find though, that you need the air flow we could get with the partially opened garage door, or you would need a good exhaust fan to clear off the smoke it puts out in your work area.

With the beans measured out.  A box he set up to catch the chaff as the beans roast, his phone set up as a timer he was ready.  We watched as they whirled around the popper and then as they heated up the chaff began to fly off.  Then as the time hit about 5 minutes the first pops known as "first crack" took place and we could smell the roasting beans and begin to see a color change.

You can see the pale green color of the beans here

Kevin with the popper and his box set up to catch the flying chaff as it roasts

We kept watching not wanting to burn the beans by letting them go too long, but wanting them dark enough to really get the flavor we like.  A "second crack" of the beans happened a little bit later and then at the 16 minute mark we achieved the color and smell that looked right.

The beans are then poured into a strainer to let them cool, then placed in a jar with a loosely placed lid for about 24 hours to let the oils release and the flavor set in.  Kevin has made several batches now and is becoming quite proficient at this.  The flavor is really good and it's been a truly satisfying experience.

Beans in popper ready to start

As beans roast and get darker you can see all the chaff flying off here

Bean color before and in process

We'll keep looking for these old poppers at thrift stores and garage sales, until a time we may want to invest in a more substantial roaster.  Since the green beans can last for years, we'll probably stock up and keep them on hand especially since coffee prices are expected to get higher, it can be our little hedge on inflation and an indulgence for something we are hard pressed to do without (insert big smile).

Color difference of the green beans and the next day with the roasted house blend beans

This has been a fun and really worthwhile experience.  Kevin will be making a video and have all his resources soon on our Project-128 blog that I have a link to on my side bar.  All this has made me ready for a nice cup of coffee!!

Have a great day.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Do You "Pin It ?"

I have a new obsession Pinterest.  It's been around for awhile and I've checked other peoples boards for some time now, but more recently I began making my own boards.

It started on a rainy day, and we've had LOTS of those lately!!  Not really having anything pressing to do I thought I'd start a board of pretty things I found and wanted collections of these "pins".  After creating my first board "So Pretty", this led to a Classic Style board of clothes and styles I like.  Then I began a board on beautiful gardens that inspire.

Shortly after starting these I was invited to contribute to a board that's a collection of pretty, romantic and inspiring pins.

When I have time, I'll sit and spend a bit of it searching for inspiring pictures to pin to my boards, and now as I prepare to get my yard and gardens looking better I've started a board for planting ideas for Central Florida's climate and unique challenges as well as opportunities.  Having a desire to get the house more organized I also created a board for organizing ideas.  These boards serve to have a quick reference for helpful ideas and with the pins linked to sources, articles or blogs there's helpful information attached with the images.

So, how about you. Do you Pinterest?