Florida Freeze!

B2784127-FB09-40F5-8357-06B32E70DA12This morning I wake up to freezing cold! It’s 22 degrees here! You may not think thats a big deal but this is Florida! BRRR! It’s rare that I want to stay inside but after I feed all the animals I am staying inside today. We are kinda spoiled here in Florida. Most of the year we are outside. Even on super hot summers you can usually enjoy the early mornings or evenings. The problem here is we are not used to this kind of cold! Non of us, people, plants, animals. The last few winters here have been pretty mild and all the plants have been thriving. So this cold weather causes a whole lot of extra work, blanketing horses, covering plants, turning on hoses, so the pipes don’t break, uhg. And getting all bundled up to go outside with jackets, and gloves, and scarves, and hats, and boots, makes me feel claustrophobic, like I’m in a straight jacket or something! And then after all that, the next day it can be like 80 degrees out! So you never actually have the time to get used to it. The cold is usually short lived so you have to go and uncover everything plants, animals, etc. Everything turns brown and ugly and they say not to cut back the brown stuff because it can protect the plants the next time a freeze blows through. So now you get to enjoy all the ghastly dead looking plants in your yard until spring!

I’m really not complaining I embrace it all! It is actually quite refreshing as long as you don’t have to stay out in it too long. The dogs love it, they are running around the yard like maniacs, this is Lulu’s first winter. The horses are spunky and spry, snorting and prancing. The frost on the ground looks beautiful shimmering in the morning sun. I am very lucky to be able to stay in my warm cozy house, today I think I will try a new recipe,  Winter Vegetable Soup with Turkish Meatballs*! Sounds delicious and nutritious on this cold winters day.

I’m sure, even with my best efforts, I will lose some plants to the cold. Some trees are too big to cover, sometimes a cover blows off in the middle of the night, sometimes you forget that one little plant hiding in the corner. Nature is amazing and tenacious! I am already catching ” Spring Fever”! I can’t wait to see what pops back up this spring!

This recipe*is from Eating Well magazine, I can’t wait to try it!

 

 

Soups On!

Today I am having trouble sitting here and writing. It is beautiful outside and the weather is calling me. I have had a cold for a couple of days so I am trying to take it easy and give myself a chance to recuperate. I haven’t had a head cold in years and this is really annoying! I have been on a roll, eating healthy, and exercising. Yoga everyday which is definitely helping the mobility in my shoulder. As I said before, I have been taking back some control in my life and getting on with it! I was really feeling wonderful and then this…a head cold! Runny nose, watery eyes, headache, sneezing, sniffling, whining. Yes whining! Why now when I have so much to do? Funny. Is there ever really a good time to have a cold?  All I can say is this needs to hurry up and get on outta here so I can get back to my plans!

This is the time of year for soup. I love soup. It is so warm and comforting. I am going to make a huge pot of French onion soup, one of my favorites. And everyone knows a good hot bowl of soup is good for what ails ya! I just found a recipe that uses five different kinds of onions, scallions, shallots, yellow, red, and leeks. I make my soup with a beef broth and a little pinch of cloves. I remember one time, when I had a cold, I made this soup and when I was chopping all the onions my eyes started watering, my nose started running, loosening up all the congestion in my head. Not a pretty sight but afterwards my cold was gone! Onions have many healing properties. I am hoping this works again! Ta ta for now I have to go get chopping!

Recipe

1 lb mixed onions

¼ cup butter

2 pints beef stock

2 twigs of fennel

1 clove

salt and pepper

1 tsp sugar

provolone for topping

splash of brandy

Slice onions, cook in butter in a large cast iron pan until transparent. Bring stock to boil and pour over the onions. Add fennel, clove and seasoning. Lower heat and simmer 30 minutes. Carmelize sugar in a long handled spoon by holding it over heat until it melts and turns a lovely golden brown, stir into soup. Remove soup from heat. Add brandy. Serve with a nice toasty french bread. If you have oven safe crocks, put the toasted slice of bread in the bowl, ladle in soup, then put a slice of provolone cheese on top. Put the bowls on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler for just a few minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. To your good health, enjoy!!!

 

Just a little bike ride?

5FFC9C53-E95E-4D63-95BE-1056B4ADCB46Sunday I went for a little bike ride on the greenway. It has been years since I had been out there. What an amazing place, practically in our back yard. People come from all over the country to ride the mountain bike trails there. I went with a few friends, we didn’t go far, but I was thrilled! I am starting to trust myself again, and it feels good!

I think that sometimes when things happen to you and you feel out of control and/or overwhelmed your mind kinda shuts things off. Like I can’t deal with all of this right now, check back later. Last year was kind of a blur for me. People would say things like “Oh you are so strong, what a fighter.” I never understood what they really meant by that? I didn’t have a choice. I had to deal with it. I had to leave it to professionals that, hopefully, knew what they were doing. Uncomfortable tests and needles and poisons (chemo). Bone marrow tests, and the constant blood transfusions. Crazy steroids and medication with terrible side effects. Feeling so weak and almost passing out in the beauty salon, embarrassing and scary! I never thought I would or could ever imagine myself here, doing any of this! At the time it was either do it or die! Not much of a choice! So you just accept it and deal with it. Your hair falls out, you don’t feel like yourself, you don’t look like yourself. It seems you become a shell of who you were. Your thoughts and dreams are put aside, you are just hoping to survive. It is all pretty overwhelming. Not to mention, regular life is still going on with all its own trials and tribulations.

Of course, I tried to stay positive, but I’m not gonna lie, things got tough sometimes. Its also hard on your family and friends who don’t know how to help you or deal with you. The hair comes back, your face becomes familiar again, the constant doctor visits subside, you start to feel reminders of who you were before. I think I am beginning to understand the whole,” you are a fighter” thing now. As I mentioned before, my recent test results have been coming back good. Now is the time you have to be brave, brave enough to fight and take your life back! For some reason, actually many good reasons, my mental fog has lifted! I am alive and I am going to be stronger than before. I have new perspectives, I have a new appreciation for life. I didn’t want this article to be about my cancer, I wanted to share with you how a small shift in my attitude, my mental state, made a huge, HUGE difference! This happened last week and I can tell you for the first time in a very long time I feel like I can breathe! Now I have choices and I choose to take my life back into my own hands. I am pushing myself, working out harder, hiking, being disciplined, eating healthy again. I bought myself a new pair of hiking shoes instead of some slippers! Taking care of MYSELF the way I know how! My aches and pains have almost miraculously diminished!

I went for a little bike ride on the greenway, what a marvelous day!

Almost Over

I’m not sure what I think about 2017. It was a tuff year for sure. It had it’s ups and downs for me. People just seem so tense and there is drama at every turn. I think I will be happy to leave it behind.

For some crazy reason I carry this dread around, I have cancer. And it makes me do strange things. I think that I put it out of my mind but, its always there lurking in the back of my thoughts.  Why is this hurting, what is that from? Will I ever get stronger? Will I just have to live with this pain in my back, thigh and shoulder? I think we all know that we are going to move on one day but when you have a diagnosis like cancer it brings it a little closer to home. Maybe I should pamper myself more? Maybe it doesn’t matter if I get back in shape? Maybe I shouldn’t  push myself too hard, I might hurt myself! Damaged goods, etc., etc., etc. NOT ANY MORE!!!

This December has been a a month of tests, medical as well as personal. I am coming to some conclusions. This month I had a Pet Scan, mammography, ultrasound, X-rays, blood work, more physical therapy, and a new medicine, zometa. The medical results are in, and I am happy to report that everything looks good! Weeks of test results coming back good, more and more reassuring! This week I went to an orthopedic oncologist, the last of the tests and consults for this year. Besides his findings that most of my aches and pains can be reversed, the most important thing this man said to me was, “Live your life, if you don’t, cancer wins.” Just like that! That was all I needed to hear! This was the icing on the cake! I came home feeling revitalized, like a new person! I am not a patient! I am not cancer!

That evening I got Liz back! I started really working out! I decided to quit physical therapy, although it helped, I can do the exercises and stretches at home without wasting so much time driving to PT. I am hiking with my dogs again! I am eating right! I even pulled the old mountain bike out! I feel like me again and its only been a few days! I am looking forward to kayaking and riding the trails again. The weather here has been amazing and I will be spending a good portion of my time outside, living my life!

An Anniversary to Forget?

IMG_2349Last year at this time I was in such poor health that I ended up in the hospital. Things were not looking good. My spleen was swollen. I was severely anemic. I was having trouble breathing and no interest in eating. I was so weak I could hardly roll over in bed. The doctors were puzzled, I was puzzled. What the heck was happening to me?… After a month of testing and a bunch of blood and platelet transfusions I got my diagnosis, stage 4 breast cancer. What a year it has been! Wow! Cancer sucks, it tests your limits in every way! I am so grateful to the doctors and all the people that took care of me, I owe them my life, I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for them.

Fast forward a year. The weather has been amazing. I have organized and am preparing for a little block party tomorrow. We live on a dirt road and we are getting together to work on it. Trimming branches, raking, picking up sticks, and dragging the road. I will be out there with my pitchfork and loping shears! As silly as it sounds, I am so excited and thankful that I can even participate! I know my neighbors were worried about me and I can’t wait to show them how well I am doing! Today I am making a huge pot of chicken and yellow rice to feed everyone after our work day. I might even make some cupcakes?

It has been a long hard journey, I’m not gonna lie, and I am still recovering. I have been going to physical therapy three times a week, for my shoulder. Oh it hurts so good! LOL I feel like I am getting fitter. My shoulder is getting better, slow but sure. I sometimes still get frustrated with my slow progress but it is progress non the less! I do have to remind myself about how bad I was just a year ago. I finally got to see the neurologist Tuesday and found out I have Meralgia Paresthetica in my thigh which I can work on with exercise, stretching, and losing some of this extra weight.  Which is just what I wanted to hear! My body lost so much last year, fitness, muscle, stamina. I was so weak. I lost all my core strength, which is very unnerving for a normally strong person. I felt like I was in someone else’s body and it couldn’t be trusted! Now with everything cleared I can really get going again, I love moving and being physically active! I am being careful, going slow but steady, everyday. I enjoy taking care of my body it makes me feel empowered. Working out with bands, walking, and calisthenics, eating healthy. Today I even unloaded a fifty pound bag of feed from my car! I kinda shocked myself! I didn’t think I could do it but I thought I would give it a try. It was a bit of a struggle but…I did it! Watch out world, I am going to be stronger than ever!

My Place

 

A dream of mine has always been to own a bed and breakfast. I love cooking, baking, entertaining, and meeting new people. I live on, what I think, is a pretty amazing piece of property. But I certainly don’t have the house to do anything like that. Idle Wild Farm has always been a special place to me. It has been in my family for over thirty years. It is covered with beautiful old oaks. There are wild untamed spots and thoughtfully designed spots. We live down an old dirt road which makes it seem like we are in the middle of nowhere but we are actually pretty close to everything. We live only minutes away from the greenway which offers hiking, biking, and trail riding all the way across the state. It still gets dark enough here that you can see the stars at night. We have horses, a wonderful little barn, and a nature covered (trees) arena. We have chickens for fresh eggs, our beloved dogs, and a pet rabbit. Oh, and I can’t forget our crazy little barn cat, Twyla.

We have lots of fruit trees, peach, plum, nectarine, orange, tangerine, grapefruit, persimmon, loquat, meyer lemon and lime. We have raspberry and blueberry bushes. I grow fresh organic herbs and vegetables on my deck. We have tons of wildlife here, butterflies and honey bees, raccoons, armadillos, hawks, woodpeckers. Gopher tortoises and every once in a while a snapping turtle comes through, heading to the neighbors pond. We have lots of squirrels and we once had a white tailed squirrel come to visit. We have bats, flying squirrels, and owls. Believe it or not, Jerry can actually call the owls in at night! We have our very own, resident, sandhill cranes that on some years grace us with their babies.

As you can see, we are blessed with an enchanted, special place that I gratefully get to call home. I have tried to create a peaceful little hideaway. Being here, surrounded by nature, makes me feel grounded and allows me to relax and unwind from the outside worlds hustle and bustle. I get to travel this path called life with the animals that call this place home, they are  gentle reminders to stay in the present and just be. I think there is a special energy here, a healing energy. I love to mindfully walk barefoot through the grass and find a lovely place to sit and contemplate the next garden or adventure…

Speaking of my next adventure! I want to share a little bit of this with others who would like a little shelter from the storms of this modern life. People that want to come out and reconnect with nature. We are almost done restoring our first little vintage camper, it is looking amazing! We are doing a total, down to the frame restoration. I am faux painting the walls and ceiling. I am decorating it to be cozy and comfortable. When it is all finished, I want to park it in a strategic place on my property and with landscaping, my goal is that you will feel privacy and peace. I want to rent this as a place to camp and relax for the weekend.

This will be a work in progress. My goal is to have 3 little spots to camp out on the peace and privacy my property. I want to have the camper and 2 tiny cabins, which we are building out of reclaimed materials. I want to do lots of landscaping to enhance whats already here. I want to build an outdoor kitchen to cook amazing, locally crafted meals in. I want to have paths for walking and benches for meditating or bird watching. I would love to make a zen garden or a labyrinth.  Of course, everything must fit in seamlessly with the nature that surrounds it.

Eventually, I would like to offer artists retreats, cooking or cake decorating weekends, horse back riding lessons, organic gardening classes, etc. of course on different weekends of the year. This is giving me the opportunity to to use my creativity and resources to their fullest potential! And also to have a way to make a living doing and sharing the things that I love! In the pictures above, the two cabins are what I want to build. If you have any old building materials, wood, metal, garden furniture, plants or resources that you think I could use, and you live relatively close to me, please let me know, it would be greatly appreciated!  Also, with this beautiful weather, if any one feels like coming out and giving us a hand with building, gardening, or painting please let us know. We can use all the help we can get, as we are doing this all by ourselves!

 

 

 

Puppy Power

Lets get a puppy, it will be fun! A cute cuddly little puppy. Who doesn’t love a puppy? Ah the joys of puppyhood. I do absolutely love my puppy! We have been going to beginner obedience class, she is so good. We are graduating next week! She is seven months old and she is a ball of fire! She has so much energy! She is either full speed ahead or fast asleep! I am so happy she is in my life. But she is a mess! She loves to play outside, she brings the outside in! Her wet muddy paws all over my floors. Stickers, leaves, and sand in my bed. Water, omg the water, she sticks her whole face in the bowl to drink! Then she shakes her wet mop face all over the place. Every water bowl in the house is full of sand. She is making so much extra work for me. She has just recently found the joys of digging so now I am raking and cleaning, and washing constantly! She loves toys and is an expert at tearing them apart all over my carpet! I must be crazy!

She has finally stopped getting car sick so now I can take her places without the fear of having to clean up my car when we get home! She chases my chickens and plays with sticks. She loves to play frisbee and swim in her pool. She loves tackling and wrestling with McKenzie, my poor older dog (she loves her too, most of the time)!  Who’s idea was this?!

She is getting so big. I bet she weighs 40 pounds by now. I know that because she likes to jump up on the bed in the morning and lay on my chest to wake me up! She eats socks and drinks out of the toilet. She chews up shoes, flip flops are her favorites! Her personality is huge, she is outgoing and gregarious. Tallulah Bleu, she is a handful! What was I thinking?! I love her and I can’t imagine life without her.