Thursday, April 29, 2010

24 hour get-away- parto dos

Like my use of Spanish?  LOL

 Ok, I left off with Jodi checkin out the pool...   When she came up to the room, she cracked open a bottle of champagne and we toasted to being away, even if it was for a short time!  We are glad to get what time we can and will take it whenever it comes!  Jodi, Mary Ann and I proceeded to sit around and talk(while snacking on the goodies we brought and consuming modest amounts of beer and champagne) for quite some time before we decided we were actually hungry enough to go get some real food.  We decided on a Greek cafe they had seen on the way in to town.  We loaded up in the car and went downtown, which is the college area.  The sidewalks were loaded with college kids getting together for friday night happenings(They all looked about 12!  How is that?  I'm NOT THAT OLD!).  After our wonderful greek food we skipped a couple doors down to an ice cream shop to get dessert since we were so good at dinner!  We like to reward ourselves when we are good, and what a reward it was!!!  The place was called Karma Cream.  It's an organic/fair trade ice cream coffee joint that was right up our alley!  I was the only one who got ice cream though.  Lemon sugar cookie in a homemade waffle cone- can you say heaven????   They also had flavors like chocolate lavender, and honey orange cream, and cinnamon among others.  They are made with organic cream and they also had vegan ice creams too!  It's a place I made a mental note of and will visit again- soon!  
"Tired and full" set in then, so we headed back to the hotel.  We then proceeded to wash our faces, get in to our pj's and bed, and read/watch a movie, then we all fell asleep(It was only 10:30!  Maybe we are THAT OLD?). 
Next morning we awoke with NO HANGOVERS(Maybe it's not so bad being THAT OLD)!  So in celebration of no hangovers we popped the cork on the second bottle of champagne and had that for breakfast!  Whaaaat?  We mixed it with juice....
'Ya know, I think champagne for breakfast is fabulous! I was in such a good mood!
We tarried in the room taking our time getting ready and gathering our things, just 'cause we could!
When we finally got downstairs and loaded up(in our cars, hehe), we drove to a local-type grocery store called Ward's.  It was a really neat place, and they had great stuff.  Unfortunatly, I got carried away inside and forgot to take pics.  Sorry, you'll have to take my word for it.  They had all kinds of sauces, health foods, local produce, meats, wines, fresh baked artisan breads, and plants.  Like I said, really neat local-type grocery store. 
Since it was so late in the morning when we left there, we decided to head straight to the festival because it only lasted till 3pm and we still had a drive ahead of us.  We were heading straight to the festival via country roads so we could have a scenic drive on the way there...  I was leading.  I was not the one with a map.  So we didn't exactly go straight to the festival, but we didn't exactly get lost either.  We just went a more 'round about way than we planned....  It was really pretty.  We finally made it to the festival, with plenty of time to spare. 
Crone's Cradle Conserve is in Citra, out in the boondocks basically.  They have a farm stand and chickens, a pig named lipstick, guniea hens that run around, raised organic beds of produce, a pond, herb garden, and small accomondations for retreats.  It is a neat place that is very peaceful and natural.   
Inside the farm stand are jams and jellies, breads, preserved veggies, soaps, books for children, and books for adults on self-sufficent living, composting and gardening, natural living and healing, things like that.  On the porch outside, on tables in ice water and baskets, are the various kinds of produce in season that they are growing.  The porch there is quiet and cool, very inviting.

Jodi and the herb garden, with the raised beds in the background.

Allright, allright, if there's chickens, I'm going to take pictures of them.  I can't resist.  Lipstick the pig was napping and I couldn't get a good shot of her.

The covered "potting shed" where they start their plants to sell.  I usually get my tomato plants from them.  they have a variety called Sungold that is out of this world!  Little grape tomatos that are sweet bites of sunshine- YUM!  Alas, this year I am not growing tomatos as the root-knot nematode population is overabundant in my soil right now.  I have to wait a couple years before I can put them in the ground again. Bummer.

Now we get to the eatin'.  They had several tents set up with different vendors cooking a variety of things.  From alligator to lemonade iced tea.  Above, that's Mary Ann enjoying a grass-fed beef mini-burger.  I had one too and it was great!  I also had an alligator puppy(think hush puppies), bbq pulled chicken, sour orange dressed salad, and blueberry poundcake.  All of it was fantastic!  The guys fixin' the alligator were generous enough to tell me how to fix it and tenderize it as I have a large block of it in my freezer and I had no idea how to deal with it!  Problem solved! 
We wondered around for a little while after we ate.  I talked to the chickens.  By now it was later in the afternoon and it was time to go.  The girls had to get back to their homes as did I.  One last parting shot:

Hot, stuffed and tired.

My ride home was fun, I stopped at another place I had always wanted to stop at.  A little metal shop on Old Jacksonville road called The Iron Works.  There are various iron sculptures out in front, and it looks like an interesting place.  I stopped in and spoke a little bit with the proprietor who is a welder by trade.  He learned it from his father and does the sculptures only 'cause it's fun and makes him happy.  True artwork in my book!  Here's what I got:

That was the end of my trip.  It was short but packed with lots of fun!  Can't wait for the next one!

P.S.  It's wild flower season here and the fields are full of them!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

24 hour get-away- parto uno

Last Friday started an overnight get-away with the girls.  The purpose was to attend a natural foods festival at Crone's Cradle, a nature preserve/organic farm/feminist retreat, on Saturday.  We all met in Gainsville, and stayed overnight there.  But half of the trip is getting there, and my "getting there" experience was very gratifying! I left earlier than the girls did, took my time, and visited places I had been wanting to visit for some time!  Here's what I did, with a few pictures:

First stop was the ice machine just down the street to ice down the beers in the cooler for later(however the iced beers are still in ice that's now melted 'cause they never got drank...).  Then off to the races!  Traveling up 301/441, it splits just north of Ocala.  My first stop was a local organic farm that has a little market.  I bought some ground pork that was on sale and some sheep's milk cheese that turned out to be very stinky.  I didn't much like it on crackers, but on a tuna salad sandwich, it was pretty good.  The ground pork I seasoned and it was VERY good. 

Second stop was the Windmill Gallery on top of the hill at Orange Lake just south of McIntosh on 441.  It's a little stand-alone gallery operated by the photographer Sean Dowie.  He takes amazing photos with a large format camera, I'm guessing like Clyde Butcher does. He also has other artist's works in his gallery.  I had a wonderful conversation with him, touching on topics from freezing blueberries, to where we used to live and why we moved. He was getting ready to leave for an art show in Cedar Key so many of his works were already loaded up to go.  I hope to visit with him again soon and see more of his work. 

Third stop:  Icehouse Gallery in McIntosh on 441.  A local artisan's gallery filled with the most interesting art!  The owners were very friendly, inquisitive and informative.  Pieces ranged from a quilt to sculptures to paintings and things in between.  Some, quite beautiful and some that make you laugh out loud!  Glad I stopped in and will be going back to view the changing inventory.

The fourth stop was a place that I had planned on visiting and it was cemented in my plans when the two galleries mentioned it. The Plein Air Paint Out in Evinston.  The main site for the Paint Out was Wood and Swink old country store. 
It was built in 1882, and has the oldest working Post Office in Florida and one of the last working general store/post offices in the nation!  16 of the original brass mailboxes are still in use today.
Very cool place!  One that you could spend some time in and forget the other things you had to do.  The postmaster, Wilma Sue Brown Wood, has been postmaster there since January of 1979.  She will be retiring soon and the USPS says they will renew their rental space in the store if renovations are made(mainly heat and air conditioning)  Mrs. Wood has been working there all this time without those ammenities though!  The Conservation Trust for Florida is working to preserve the store as an operational general store and post office.  I certainly hope they succeed with minimal changes! 
The paintings of the artist's were outside the store under canopies.  They were beautiful but unfortunately I didn't have enough money to buy the ones I really liked, oh well. 

Now traveling all these country roads makes a person very hungry!  Just past McIntosh on 441 is Micanopy, site of the Doc Hollywood movie(actually Micanopy is a couple blocks down a little road off of 441).  It is also the site of another country store that is worth a trip for lunch!  Pearl Country Store, gas station, bank, convenience store, BBQ joint, and source of local gossip among other things.
The BBQ is what interested me.  As you enter the store the smell overwhelms you and makes you hungry even if you weren't previously!  I was, and it only served to make me bypass the other areas and head srtaight for the counter.  I ordered the BBQ pork sandwich with fries.  The man gives you a ticket with what you ordered and then you get your drink and pay at the front.  After you pay, the lady stamps your ticket and gives it back to you, and you take a seat. The man calls you when your order is ready and you give him back the ticket.  I had already eaten half of my sandwich when I thought to take a picture of it... it was so hard to stop eating...
It is hard to beat good BBQ!

Continuing on 441 towards Gainsville, now with a full and happy belly, I came to another place I have always wanted to stop.  The Paynes Prarie Overlook.  Every time I cross over Paynes Prarie, I want to take a walk out on the boardwalk, but of course never have the time or lack the inclination at the moment. 
 Today was the day for it!  There was a red-winged blackbird chasing around a mockingbird(I think) and every where that poor mockingbird went the black bird followed and was chirping at him.  I guess they were playing tag...   I think it would be worth the stop at night in the summer with a flash light to see how many gators there are!

I then proceeded to the Florida Museum of Natural History.  This is a fav of mine and the kids.  It is an excellent museum with lots to see and do! 
Large vistas are painted in various rooms with flora and fauna represented in different forms.  My favorite room is the Calusa Indian hut.  The smell when you enter is of the palm fronds the hut is made out of.  It is dark and quiet except for the sounds of a thunder storm and chirping frogs and crickets.  This is the scene lit up by my flash(which kind-of spoils it)
I love to go in there and just sit.  It is so peaceful and lovely there and it smells so good.  Of course, since I didn't have kids with me, I made a bee-line right to my favorite room to sit for a while before the museum closed.  Sigh....and smile.

Now relaxed and recharged, it was time to go to the hotel and meet up with the girls.  After some driving around town(because I went to the wrong place), I finally arrived at my destination for the evening.  The girls had already checked in and were relaxing.  Here is the one that will nine times out of ten be found at the pool promptly after check-in:
My cousin Jodi.  Always checking out the hotel pool...  : )

my girls

The rest of the trip will be posted tomorrow, my fingers are tired...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chambers Farm Pow Wow

This week was spring break for us and after a week of nothing (even though I had grand plans...) we finally took a short road trip.  Ft. Mcoy is a little tiny town out in the Ocala National Forest area, it is the host site of the Chambers Farm Pow Wow, held two times a year.  It used to be held down in Belleview but they were able to purchase their own land a year or so ago and now they hold it on their own property.  I have heard about it and seen it advertised in the paper before and kind-of wondered about it.  This year I decided we would go, since after all it's free!  I dragged the kids kicking and screaming, "NO, I DON'T WANT TO GO!", "IT WILL BE B-O-R-I-N-G!"
So, after a short trip to the Farmer's Market, to get strawberries and Florida sweet onions and a bonus pound of shrimp, we headed off to the Pow Wow.  A very nice drive later(I just love country drives, don't you?) past the place we pick organic blueberries, we arrived at the Pow Wow.  We were directed where to park and as we walked in to the circle, we could hear the drums and singing.  The kids got very excited.
First order of business, after surveying the lay of the land and being sucked into a couple vendor's tents because of money burning holes in the kiddos pockets, was to get food.  We were HUNGRY!  Not too many food tents, but we were able to find something for everyone.  Hamburgers for the kids and a "different" kind of "taco" for me.  It was called an Indian Taco.  All that was different was the base, which was some frybread instead of a tortilla.  Mine was very reasonably priced at $5, it came loaded and was too much for me to eat.  The kids hamburgers were $4 each and were small and nondescript.  From what I understand though, the food tents were a part of the Pow Wow and after paying for the groceries the Pow Wow got the rest of the proceeds.  I feel a little less taken since admission and parking were free. 
When we got in line for food, the dancers started.  The Rocket was kind enough to take some photos of the Indian dancers in full regalia for me while Sweetie pie and I stood in line for food.   There were only a few dancers since it was the first day and it was early in the day. The Pow Wow takes place under a stand of large oak trees, with a grassy green dance circle in the middle.  There is a drummer's pavilion in the middle of the circle as well as the west side of the circle, with the entrance being on the east side.  The weather was perfect for this, warm and sunny, but not too hot!  It was a pure pleasure being there in nature!

It was neat watching them dance.  Some were very subdued and others really got into it.  There were kids as well, and they all danced too.  They also invited others to dance as well.
We watched the dancers while we ate, and Sweetie pie developed a stomache ache and wanted to go home.  Fletcher had $ in his pocket that he wanted to spend, so I promised Sweetie pie that we would only go half-way around the circle(to the break where we could head back to our car) so that The
Rocket could spend some of his dough.  She Ok'd that strategy and off we went.  We visited an awesome booth, where both the kids purchased something, and we learned some things too!  The Rocket is very into Indians since I borrowed a book from the library about Florida's Indians.  In said book, it describes different natural substances that the Indians used to make tools and weapons.  He was inspired to make a bow and arrow set.  He has started on his first arrow(finding a mostly straight stick and whiddling it clean and pointy with a knife) and has been looking for feathers to put on it as well as a way to authentically attach them.  The vendor was kind enough to explain different arrow tips used and ways to attach feathers as well as arrow tips.  The Rocket purchased a kind-of decorative arrow with an arrow tip(VERY SHARP!) attached and then the vendor gave us some extra sinew so that he could attach feathers, and if desired, an arrow tip to his homemade arrow, as well as having something to use for string in the bow when he gets around to making that part!

(this pic is after the fact, as you can tell)
We then moseyed on around and visited a couple more vendors before we got to the teepee.  A real teepee!  Sweetie pie's stomachache was miraculously healed when she found this! Must have something to do with Indian spirits....
Of course the kids disappeared inside immediately!  Made themselves right at home, if you don't mind...

That rope you see in the middle of the teepee is for when it rains.  The rope is wrapped around the poles at the top and then is anchored in the middle of the teepee.  When it rains, the water travels down the rope.  You can either dig a hole, or use a bucket to catch the water.  The opening at the top, when the flaps are closed, is only about a foot and is mainly taken up by the poles. It was rather large inside and quite comfortable temperature-wise.  It was neat talking to the owners of the teepee and hearing stories of different adventures they have had in it.
Next to the teepee, was the kid's art booth.  A very sweet lady was here, and she had several different projects the kids could do, with no limit as to how many they could do, AND it was FREE!!!!! 
Guess where we spent the rest of our time? 

They each made a stuffed turtle that they sewed themselves and a headband with pictographs, and a beautiful butterfly puppet. 
Next to the art booth was a miscellaneous-type, example area that had all sorts of Indian items. I was more interested in this area than the kids were,and because of this, I got some info on a future road trip to drag the kids on(BWAH HA HA HA!).  Another place we have been by many times on trips and as we are passing by, I see the sign- "Hmmmm, I wonder about that place, what's it like? What is it?"  You know what they say... Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back! 
(That's the dance circle in the background)
We decided to leave after this. On the way out we came across some farm life...and we visited, so as not to leave them out.
Momma is showing her chicks what's good to eat. They are attentive learners too!

When we got back to the car, I asked the kids if they were glad they came and if they enjoyed themselves.  They overwhelmingly said YES!  They always do...

Just an afterthought...beware the natives in my house!
His aim is true...