Tuesday, December 28, 2010

In the true spirit of the holidays....

Food, family, friends and fun....

This past long holiday week-end spent at my daughter's home, we had 4 woman cooking in the kitchen. There were times, you would have to wait your turn to get to the stove, which is gas and I still haven't figured it out. We had as many as 17 for dinner on December 25th, with the food served, a vast array from many ethnic back grounds.

My overall favorite dish, was a Greek potato salad served on a bed of greens with sliced fresh beets, Feta cheese, avocados and tomatoes. Feta cheese in lieu of a large amount of mayonnaise made this Greek potato salad creamy and incredibly yummy. Unfortunately there was no recipe, so I will have to improvise when I attempt to duplicate it. This dish was truly too pretty to not take a photo of...so I did!

And in the true spirit of the holidays, our family complied! We ate, we ate.....and we ate again.

Mrs. C, your entry was truly the winner in my mind.

Spoken as I sit here in front of my computer still "grazing" on a left over Peruvian dish that I could not tell you the name of. Yum!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Who has been eating my eggplant???

I guess I should consider myself lucky, as my "edible garden" has escaped the critters of the yard.....up until now. My eggplant has been healthy, producing and most of all untouched by the critters of nature, providing the main ingredient of many recent meals. (sauteed with ginger, green onions and lots of garlic, served over brown rice, being one of my personal favorites).
I guess those days are over, a thief of the night has found it's way into my garden. Two days ago as I looked over the garden in the early morning, I noticed an eggplant had been snacked on. I immediately plucked it off the plant and discarded it. At that time I didn't take it too seriously. But the next day....the same thing, with a 2nd. eggplant, so I decided to leave it and see what happens. The photo above is that eggplant the next morning, perfectly scooped out and eaten. At least the little culprit went back to the same one he had gotten into the night before and left the others on the vine intact. They are still much smaller. I really don't know what I can do from here about this situation. I consider myself fortunate that it took this long for the critters to discover my garden and I realize that I have enough to share, within reason.
Recently, my three dogs have been digging down into my plants and they are in most definite "hunt" mode, especially Niko. I think that they are on to something. I believe that whatever animal is snacking on my eggplant, is also residing in my garden, right under my nose. I will have to keep an eye open and see if I can solve this little problem.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Get the dirt on how to have a great garden at the Seminole County Master Gardener Expo, a Horticultural Exposition. Whether you only have a really small garden or a huge garden........ No matter the size of your garden or the type of garden is your interest, this is the place to "Ask The Experts"! Gardening is for everyone! Come out and and speak to and listen to local and regional celebrities EXPO will take place at one of Seminole County’s finest lake-front settings. The Seminole County Master Gardeners have invited exhibitors from a wide variety of interests in urban horticulture: growers, retail sales, landscapers, non-profit organizations plant societies and more. The objective is to bring these varied urban horticulture interests together in Seminole County for residents, visitors and others to experience. Expert speakers and instructors are scheduled to speak throughout the day along with entertainment and food service. Sample some great tasting foods while wondering around the exhibitors displays.

Something for every one's taste. Have food, fun and MORE!  
Learn new craft ideas
Find out all about bees
Meet Sir Gus, the kissing Camel
(You haven't been kissed until you have been kissed by Gus)
Enter contests to win prizes

 Purchase plants and horticulture items
See beautiful plants & landscape ideas
View vegetable gardening demos and alternative gardening demos
The Seminole County Master Gardeners have been working on this project for over a year and hope to see you out at Expo 2010.

Red Bug Lake Park
3600 Red Bug Lake Road
Casselberry, FL 32707
Saturday, November 6, 2010
10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

For more information, please call (407) 665-5550

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Serenity in the Garden....

Like this bunny perched upon the tree stump, I think that I continue to find my serenity in the garden. I continue to be amazed by the wonders of nature and it's ongoing display of magic. And, to think maybe I did have something to do with all this. So what's happening in the garden? With the cooler weather and nights here in Florida finally, some changes are obvious.
Here is a flower on my Bird of Paradise, or Strelitzia. Strelitzia is a tropical plant with spectacular flowers reminiscent of an exotic bird. Plumage is another word used to describe Strelitzia as the flowers resemble a bird’s beak with spiked head plumage. The Bird of Paradise is an evergreen plant with leaves similar to the banana plant only much smaller.

As the evenings get cooler the "edibles" in the garden have become rejuvenated and are again producing. My Native Wild Florida Everglade Tomatoes the size of a marble are incredibly tasty. If you can locate the seeds for this teeny tiny tomato, these delectable tomatoes have now been grown in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico as well as several Caribbean islands. Plant them in your ground or plant them in pots or plant them to grow on your porch or patio, these tomatoes perform amazingly well with minimal care.

The Japanese eggplants, good producers during the hot Florida summer, continue to produce. They are smaller than American eggplants, and the skins are thinner. They can be grilled, steamed, simmered, fried, pickled, and so on. I like to prepare them sauteed with ginger and lots of garlic in a soy and sesame oil sauce and serve with brown rice.....healthy and yummy.

My red Salvia one of the slow to recover plants from the brutal cold of last winter is finally flowering. The butterflies and dragonflies love this plant.

My very interesting Giant Kalanchoe Gastonis Boanieri, or Donkey Ears, sometimes also known as the Life Plant is filling in and growing daily. This is one of a few babies that I was able to salvage from the "mother plant". I had photographed and followed the incredible journey of going to flower last season on another post, before the cold weather destroyed it. Note some babies forming on the tips of the leaves.

A water garden can add a striking new dimension to your home's landscape...mine is little, but my water plants are thriving. My Cyperus Papyrus, or paper plant, stands proudly surrounded by floating lettuce plants.

On either side of the bird bath in clay pots partly sunken in the ground are Variegatus or Red Bird Cacto Cardenal. With the weather cooling the leaves are beginning to turn red in color and they will become a beautiful fall display.

Look how big the Gossypium Barbadense, or cotton plant has gotten that I started from seeds not too long ago. It is over 5 1/2 ft. tall now and
just taller then the Shepard's hook that the bird house hangs from.

The following plant I started from a cutting that I got from a home participating in the Garden Walk that the Seminole County Master Gardeners put together. It produces a large spike like purple flower on a plant that can grow several feet tall. The homeowner stated that it is in the family of the Clerodendrun, or Shooting Star, but did not have a name. If anyone reading this recognizes the plant and can give me the name, I would appreciate it.

Another orphan plant with no name. I started this from a plant growing in the yard of a home that I sold several years ago to one of my Buyers. The home belonged to a lady named Leota, so I affectionately refer to it as Leota's bush. I know someone out there can help me do better then that...so if you recognize it please fill me in.

For me, everyday in my garden brings a new gift. Are you looking for peace and serenity, look in nature......

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I knew I would find a use for these.....

The seed starter everyone has in their home.... I always knew that there had to be something that could be done with the empty Toilet Tissue tubes...... I finally saw something in a book I was looking at and tested it....loved how it worked. It worked perfectly as a seed starter and satisfied my personal need to use them for something of value. I just took my personal mixed potting soil and filled the tubes. I stood them up-right in a container that I collected at the salad bars. Plant several seeds in each tube....mist daily and cover with the clear top, creating a "miniature hot house". Once the seed germinates, remove cover and continue to mist. Take the entire tube and plant in the ground. The following will show you how I am growing some Egyptian Cotton or Gossypium Barbadense seeds that I gathered from a mature tree at the Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens.
I just loved the look of the leaf, heart shaped and shiny.
I put my little cotton tree in the ground after it had about 3-4 leaves. This plant can be grown as a bush or tree. I preferred to shape it into a tree, so therefore I removed all the lower leaves.
Look how big it has gotten as of today. Proudly standing about 5 feet tall. The interesting part about this little story, is after I succeeded with propagating some seeds, and I contacted the museum to get the official name of my little plant, I was told that the original tree, much to their grief is no longer at the gardens. No one exactly knows why it was removed. And I was questioned about time involved to grow mine.

A Little History Lesson on this plant....who would have guessed? I just thought it was a pretty and different looking plant.

Peruvian Pima Cotton – Gossypium Barbadense
Native South American Luxury Textiles of Peru & Inca Civilization

Peruvian Pima Cotton – Cotton of the Incas - Public Domain
Peruvian Pima cotton, gossypium barbadense, is a luxury cotton native to South America. Here is an overview and history of Peruvian Pima cotton from the Incas to today.
Gossypium barbadense, commonly known as Pima cotton, is today cultivated in many of the major cotton growing regions of the world. This luxury cotton, highly valued on the global market, is still harvested in Northern Peru where its origins can be found.
A History of Peruvian Pima Cotton
Gossypium barbadense was given the name “Pima” cotton after the Pima Indians who first harvested the cotton in the United States. An experimental farm for the cultivation of this species of cotton was developed in the early 1900s by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Sacaton, Arizona.
While the common name of the plant originated in North America, its historical origins are distinctly South American. Cotton fragments have been found in Peru dating as far back as 3100 B.C. Archeologists discovered cotton samples of this era in the Huaca Prieta excavation, a site located in today’s cotton growing region of Peru.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Life Does Have It's Moments......

I wonder what I will be when I grow up? I wonder does time really fly?
I cannot believe that it has been since August 4th since my last post. I have not forgotten you, my online Journal. These last several weeks have just been packed full of “Life Happenings”, attempts at solving some of life’s problems and some intense Soul Searching. If you are wondering what has distracted me......

I have kept up with my usual volunteer work in the Nursing home and as a Master Gardener, my work-out "therapy at the gym" and also signed up for Boot Camp….. Like I need to work out more then I already do. I am still “playing” out in my garden as often as time allows and still producing edibles which I love to creatively cook.
I wonder why I agreed to participate in a Garage Sale?

The decision to participate in a community garage sale was an eye-opener and time monopilizer. Two of my girl friends came over and brought some of their stuff to sell also….so we made it a party. I admit, I am the World’s biggest or at least in the top 10% of biggest “keepers”. I don’t get rid of anything! I have clothes in my closet older then most of my friend’s ages! O.K,. I guess that gives away my age somewhat!
A Garage sale…is an experience that everyone should experience at least once in their life. For me, it gave me a much needed goal to gather & purge some stuff that should have been purged decades ago. It is an interesting picture of the human race….and that is an interesting story. If something is priced well below its value…."they” still want it for less! I wonder if things were priced for free…what would happen.
See anything you like or need in these photos, let me know.
This is what is left that did not sell…….now what do I do with these treasures? Clothes were already picked up by Am vets, so they will go to folks who can use them, which makes me feel better.

I have posted some of the bigger & better items, in my opinion, on Craig’s list and EBay for sale. Now I just have to develop a little patience and wait, not one of my better qualities.
In the interim I have dealt with the emotions of the upcoming 3rd anniversary, October 3rd, of the Home Invasion that I encountered, where I was bound and held hostage for 3+ hours, while my home was ransacked by a bunch of creeps, looking for gold & money, etc. You want to talk about a life altering event? Three years ago and it still feels to me like it was only a month ago, an experience that will never go away. I still believe that during that encounter I was watched over by my Guardian Angel to help get me thru this horrific event. I know that all things happen for a reason, and there is a reason that I am yet to understand here. Perhaps there is still something or someone that will come into my life that I can help or am meant to be part of.
During this time, much thought has been given to the most “battered market in real estate”, in the industry’s history, which is what I do. No I am not going to be another Realtor Casualty! I have been enjoying my career for 14+ years and I will stick with it. But this does mean that I must depend on my past customers and friends, you know who you are, to tell everyone they know what a great job I did for them and send me some referrals. This is a great time to purchase after all.

Sadly I had to say goodbye to a friend taken by that ugly Villain, Cancer, another unpleasant life lesson.
If you are still with me reading, I do not mean to let this posting sound like anything other then me just explaining my absence in “posting”, while continuing to take on life. I have made some life altering decisions which will be disclosed in the imminent future. In doing so, I have realized again, the importance of friends and family in my life; I have taken lots of photos, attended several wine tastings, read some books and just participated in life.

Now, I am just trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

It is time to come out of the closet....

I cannot tell you exactly how long I have owned these shoes, nor can I tell you what I was thinking when I originally purchased them. I can say however, with much certainty, that they relocated with me from New York to Atlanta in 1978 and again from Atlanta to Orlando in 1988. So yes, I am ageing myself here! The math puts these shoes in excess of 32 years old.

I have not worn these shoes in all these years except once, to a Jimmy Buffet "Margaritaville" party several years back. They were the talk of the party. Together we were even voted 1st place for the outfit of the night.

Recently it has come to my attention that "funky" shoes are making a comeback. Sneakers are pissed at flats. They've taken over as our casual shoe pick of the day. And they're not going down without a fight! This season, sneakers have been made over with new color, patterns, and textures. Funky sneakers are a fun, sporty alternative to wearing flats.

Even several of my Zumba instructors have adopted these new bold look sneakers. So my old friend, funky shoes, are you ready to get out on the Zumba floor with me and take on a little Salsa and Meringue? I believe it may be time to take you out of the closet and give you another go-round.

How about you, my friends reading this....I dare you to be bold, not beige!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A day in the life of a 12 year old....

When it is his birthday...... I don't care what your age is, young or old, we all like when our birthday is remembered and have some special plans to make it a special day. My grandson Scott and I spent the day together Monday, for his birthday, while his mom was taking a medical board test at a testing center here locally @ the UCF Campus near Orlando. This was a bit unusual, since Scott lives in Pt. Saint Lucie about 140 miles south of Longwood, which is my home. Usually when we see each other it is with the entire family, including his 2 brothers.

SO SCOTT, IT IS JUST US, WHAT CAN WE DO FOR FUN?? Here we go....we are on our way.

Just messing around with my camera, while I drive.

Our first stop......

Audubon Center for Birds of Prey
1101 Audubon Way
Maitland, Fl. 32751 - 407-644-1090
Scott is an animal lover..... I wonder where he gets that??? I thought that he would enjoy seeing Birds of Prey. The problem was they are closed to the public on Monday....the only day we had. So I made a few phone calls and the wonderful folks at Birds of Prey, made it possible for us to visit on Monday and we were able to browse around the facility as VIP guests.

One of the most enchanting animal encounters to be found in the Orlando area is The Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland, Florida. Each year this facility takes in about 700 wounded and orphaned raptors from all over Florida, tends to their wounds, and nurses them back to health with the ultimate goal of releasing them back into the wild. About 40% make it.

On display here is a giant birds nest.

Birds of Prey is located on the beautiful shores of Lake Sybellia.
Sam, has been a staff Vet Tech. for 5 years. Here she is holding Bogie, one of the center's Educational Ambassador Birds. Bogie is a Great- Horned Owl and came to Birds of Prey as a baby in 1992 after he had fallen out of his nest, (hence the name). He has a fractured wing and is unable to fly so cannot be released into the wild.

Here is Scott with Bogie. Although the birds are trained and able to be handled by the staff, while wearing a heavy padded suede-like glove to protect them, they will not go to others.

Spike is a Red-tailed hawk, also one of the Education Ambassador birds. Spike was admitted in 2000 with an eye injury to her left eye. The injury became chronic and her eye was later removed.

Here Scott is getting a closer look at Spike. Birds of Prey is open to the public, except Monday as I learned. They accept donations to maintain the facility. They are always trying to raise money to support their programs. An easy way for folks to get involved is to join the Adopt-a-Bird program, a fun and interesting way to participate in the conservation of Florida's magnificent raptors housed and treated at the center.

Hours: Tues-Sunday 10-4PM
Admission: Adults $5, Children $4, under 3 are free
http://www.audubonofflorida.org/. If you are looking for something interesting to do check out The Center for birds of Prey.

In this close up photo of Spike, you can see the missing eye. When I asked Scott what he would like to do next, as we still had several hours to "mess around", and hearing his response, you could have knocked me over with a feather! Never- never would I have guessed his response. He asked to go to a Judaica Shop, a venue for finding that special and unique 'Jewish gift'. He and his brother are currently studying for their Bar Mitzvah which will be next year and he was interested in looking at Tallit Sets. Now, I had no idea of where to find such a shop.....at the time. I made a few phone calls and came up with exactly, if not better then he ever expected, right here in Orlando.

The Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah are "rites of passage," crossovers from childhood to adulthood; milestones in a Jewish life. In the eyes of Jewish law, the child becomes responsible for his/her own deeds, spiritually, ethically, and morally.... It is a true connection to Judaism.

Scott happily tried on several Tallit Sets, and to watch him do so, so excited, I thought of the phrase "he had a smile on his face from ear to ear".

Sisterhood Judaica Shop
Congregation Chev Shalom
5015 Goddard Ave.Orlando, Florida 32804
Happy Birthday Scott! We had fun didn't we? What will you request for your next birthday? Perhaps a trip to Israel.....