It’s Been A While

I know it’s been quite a while since I last blogged. I am fine. I have just been super busy. Felt like I couldn’t slow down long enough to share my thoughts. As I am feeling better and stronger my passion for living and life has come back with a vengeance! The weather here has been amazing!  I had a super bad case of “Spring Fever” I have been gardening and landscaping like crazy. I have planted vegetable gardens, flower beds, and trees. I have trimmed and raked and watered until my hands feel like they are gonna fall off! We built a new deck on the house which we are enjoying immensely! I have put up some solar lighting and a few wind chimes. My place is becoming the little oasis I had imagined.

Everything is in bloom, even some things I thought I had lost in the freeze! The fruit trees are loaded. I have so many peaches on one tree I had to prop up the branches! The hummingbirds are back. The resident Sandhill Cranes have a baby. All the critters here at the farm are fat and sassy (including me)! I have been working out, trying to get back in shape. It is good to be alive! I am starting to hike again well…last week I went canoeing with a friend and kinda sprained my knee. So, I have to take a few days off, but thats alright. I have been religiously practicing my cello! I love playing so much! I hope I am good enough to just really let loose and play one day. My puppy (Tallulah Bleu) turned a year old last month. She is amazing. We have graduated obedience and rally class so far, looking forward to whats next.

Oh my goodness! One of the best things that has happened is that I am painting again! Finally! I have completed 6 paintings in the last 2 months. I just couldn’t do it when I was sick. I was worried that I would never get back to it but finally, the passion is back! I have found a new direction with my life and with my work. I guess nearly dying can give you that perspective!

So any way, I am back. I hope to hear from you all. Tell me what you have been up to. I have lots more to share. Love and light to you all!

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!

 

 

Summertime Makes Me Feel Fine

I don’t know if I am crazy but…I always have stuff going on! So far this year it has been a slow travel year. But that doesn’t mean I have not been busy. The farm is in full summer mode right now. We had a pretty mild winter and a wonderfully long spring but summer has come on full force! Heat and humidity. Constant grass cutting. Everything is wilting by noon! We had an amazing bunch of delicious peaches and raspberries this year. Grew a few heirloom tomatoes but other than that this is a pretty harsh time of year to keep much of anything growing (except the grass!) The herbs that are on my deck seem to pull through and hang in there, I have had my sage plant for years. MacKenzie, our dog, prefers the ac. this time of the year. The horses are sweating just standing in the field, I have to get up pretty early in the morning to work the horses before the full heat settles in.

We have had a pair of Sandhill cranes raising their family in our yard this year. This is the first time we have ever had them here and I feel privileged that they chose our farm as their sanctuary! It is so much fun watching the babies grow, and I love the little purring noise the grown ups make, it is so peaceful to be in their presence.

Just this morning I watched a family of Kites flying above the trees, looked like the parents were giving the youngsters flying lessons! It is nice to be here. I am very grateful for the peace and serenity we have in our own backyard.

So my mind shifts elsewhere…I have been painting a lot and designing some cool furniture. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a nice little vintage trailer to take to art shows and what not? Like a traveling boutique, you know, to sell art and furniture out of…

I FOUND ONE!

Spring Around Here!

Oh the weather around here has been wonderful! We had a very mild winter, and spring has lasted for what seems like a very long time. Which unfortunately for me, when all this pollen is in the air, I have vertigo. It is a very unsettling feeling. Want to be outside and just don’t want to breathe anymore pollen! But finally I think it has passed! Everything is blooming and looking amazing, just in time for the crazy caterpillars, chewing up everything in sight! Even though these things can be maddening, there is some comfort in it, the lengthening of the days, a familiar season coming around again.IMG_0113

It is always busy here on the farm, but springtime is the busiest! Watering, fertilizing, planting, and weeding. Getting all the mowers and tractors back up and running. Animals shedding, bugs coming! Just when you think you have it all under control and are enjoying the lovely evenings you find out the mosquitos are back! I have this little secret mosquito repellent, I stumbled onto a few years ago. Natures Gate has an organic body lotion that has lemongrass and clary sage in it, it works wonders! I just rub a little on whatever skin is exposed and they won’t bite! No chemicals and smells good too! We even tried it at the drive in last summer, the mosquitos were swarming but we didn’t get one bite!

Last weekend we, went to Crones Cradle Conserve, a wonderful place just north of where we live, it is an ecological preserve and organic farm. They were holding a natural foods and sustainability festival. This is something near and dear to my heart! I really try to incorporate as much local, organic, sustainable food that I can into my cooking. There were 5 guest chefs preparing all kinds of delicious natural and organic foods, most of which were harvested right there on the farm! Such a great idea, we got to sample grass fed beef and free range chicken, lots of beautiful organic produce, prepared in wonderful ways, goat milk cheeses and cheesecake, the blood orange pound cake was divine. The closest thing to Farm to Table we have here. Very inspiring for sure!IMG_0114

The citrus season is wrapping up here and as a final send off, I made a tangerine upside down cake, so moist and delicious. This is one I would definitely make again!

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Peeps!

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Chicks!

Chicks!

Wow these little egg shaped critters are so cute! I am learning all about raising them. Right now they are in my tub under a heat lamp. Not too hot not too cold! Messy messy messy! There is a lot to know, I am surprised. But I think they will make a wonderful addition to the garden.  They eat bugs, aireate the soil with their scratching, they will provide compost, and help clean up the kitchen scraps. Not to mention the eggs! Fresh eggs are the absolute best! Naturally raised, free range chickens produce eggs with dark yellow yolks the darker color means more vitamins, which come from the healthy variety of foods they eat.  Eggs are an excellent and inexpensive form of protein. They contain complete protien with all 9 essential amino acids that humans cannot produce themselves. They also contain vitamin D, which promotes strong bones and reduces inflammation.

The chickens I got are supposed to lay colored eggs, I can’t wait! There are so many ways to eat eggs. Hardboiled, scrambled, poached, in omelets, in almost everything you bake! But I really enjoy the classic dessert Creme Brûlée this is a recipe that I baked over the holidays and it was fabulous!

This is a wonderful recipe from Williams-Sonoma.com

A classic dessert, vanilla crème brûlée should be experienced in its purest form before embellishing it with additional ingredients. You might try steeping lemon or orange peel with the vanilla bean, or adding a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom. Either way, this simple recipe will produce a smooth, velvety custard with a delicate caramel topping.
Ingredients:
1/2 vanilla bean
2 cups heavy cream
3 egg yolks
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup plus 4 Tbs. sugar
Directions:
Preheat an oven to 300°F. Have a pot of boiling water ready. Line a baking pan that is 2 to 3 inches deep with a small kitchen towel.

Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise down the middle and scrape the seeds into a 2-quart saucepan. Add the cream, stir to mix and set the pan over medium-low heat. Warm the cream until bubbles form around the edges of the pan and steam begins to rise from the surface. Remove from the heat and set aside to steep, about 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, salt and the 1/4 cup sugar until smooth and blended. Gradually add the cream to the egg mixture, whisking until blended. Pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Divide the custard among four 5- or 6-oz. ramekins and place the ramekins in the prepared baking pan. Add boiling water to fill the pan halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil and bake until the custard is just set around the edges, 35 to 40 minutes.

Transfer the ramekins to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

Just before serving, sprinkle 1 Tbs. of the sugar evenly over each custard. Using a kitchen torch, melt the sugar according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve immediately.
Serves 4.
Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

False Sense of Security

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It is true… I live in Florida and we have amazing weather! Don’t get me wrong it can get brutally hot in the summers but…well…it is Florida, ya know! Any way it is spring here and it is amazing on the farm everything is bursting out in bloom, the trees are a vibrant lime green, there are honey bees and birds everywhere! It just makes me feel happy to be alive, and sometimes around August I feel a little bit guilty complaining about the heat, especially after the paralizing winters our neighbors to the north have been having. Tons of snow, ice, freezing temperatures, and mud, I couldn’t even imagine not being able to leave the house or go out to work. Most of the year it is warm and sunny here with an afternoon thunderstorm or two. On most days you can get out and about to do whatever needs doing.

Right now gardening and yard work is taking up a lot of my time and my thoughts. We have a ten acre farm and we are working towards becoming a bit more self sufficient.  We have citrus trees orange, grapefruit, tangerine, lemon, and lime. We have pomegranate, peach, plum, pear, nectarine, persimmon, fig, loquat, and olive trees. We have blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, and mulberry bushes. We have bunches and bunches of herbs. Oh it can be a wonderful cooks paradise! I love incorporating these delectable delights into my meals. But it requires quiet a bit of work too!  Weeding and planting and trimming and fertilizing and mowing and on and on and on!

This weekend was the local master gardeners spring festival. We go every year and even though you would think I have enough stuff…I had to get more! I love Hass avacados, so I bought a little avacado tree, which I have no idea where I’m gonna plant it, I do my research and apparently they can grow up to 50ft tall! I also got some beautiful nasturtiums to use on cakes and salads. This time of year is so exciting! All the promise of the new and delicious!

So, most of the time we have mild winters. Not too bad at all, a couple of light frosts, a few nights to blanket the horses and cover the plants. This year we had a really mild wet winter. Lulled into a false sense of security the plants were happy, blooming, and some were even setting fruit! I was getting spring fever and then it hit! We had one night of a twelve hour freeze! Even things I covered got frost bite. I lost all the loquat fruit this year,  some peaches, and it almost killed my lime trees, which are very sensitive to cold and were covered. Very sad, but that’s the way Florida is in the winter, it can be in the 80’s one day and freezing the next. I guess this just gives me the opportunity to plant new stuff!!!