Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Unintended Nature Drive...

On the way to my parent's house last week, we took a side trip down a road I had never been down before!  You know my saying about half the journey is getting there...? The kids and I were in no rush and so I thought it would be fun to drive out to Suwanee.  I checked out the roads on the Tom-Tom and it showed they connected back up with State Road 19 just a bit futher up in the correct direction we were going.  Soooo...
When we got to Suwanee(looooong drive), it was as I thought it would be- small fishing village, nothing really there.  You go there to fish and then relax if you are visiting! We turned around and drove to where the Tom-Tom showed the turn off for the road heading to Horseshoe Beach. UH... Nothing there but a dirt road and a sign that says Dixie Mainland Road and and arrow pointing down the road pictured above!  So I scrolled up and over on the Tom-Tom and it showed a connecting road a short distance away, so I figured that the road would be paved after that point. We started down the road and all the while I'm praying "Ok, God. We are going on an adventure here, I have no cell phone service, and no-one knows we are out here, PLEASE TAKE CARE OF US!!!!!"   It really was beautiful out there!  We saw crabs crossing the road, Sweetie pie saw an owl up in a tree, and herons.  The cicadas were singing but otherwise it was quiet!  Not another soul out there the whole way(read- Whew! I could hear the banjos playing in the back of my head...) Here's some photos I took along the way:
My Clyde Butcher wanna-be photo.  It would be really good except for that weed in the foreground...

Most of the road was like this.  It was absolutely marvelous!

Sweetie Pie and The Rocket got a bit restless towards the end and kept asking "When are we going to be there???" Zman missed out on the drive 'cause he was in Tennessee.  When we finally got to a paved road, the paving didn't go in the correct direction, it went to another town on the coast, Shred Island.  So back to the dirt road...  It eventually led to the road that takes you out to Horseshoe Beach(yes, here's the paved road!).  I don't know if these dirt(limestone) roads are well travelled or not, but they were in fantastic shape, very smooth and at one point I got up to 50 MPH! 
Now, on to Horseshoe Beach...  I read an article in a magazine once about this little town and in the article it mentioned an ice cream shop.  Knowing this, I had promised the kids ice cream when we got there if they kept a good attitude on our unintended nature drive.  We found the shop- it was closed-and looked like it had been for a while.  BUMMER!  So we drove on down the road and came upon this:

A houseboat! (hehehehehe)  And it's for sale.... hummmmm!
We hopped out of the car and took a closer look...

I took this through the window, but from what you can see it really is a houseboat- or is it a boathouse?
The view from the porch... ahhhhhh!
A closer look at the bowsprite.  Ain't she purty?

Just down the road there was another house with a bit of interestingness mounted on the elevated front porch:
HA HA, Love the character!

"I had promised icecream!" the two beings in the backseat kept reminding me, so we wandered into a little restaurant to find out if they offered it or was there another place in town that did. 
They did offer icecream(Saved!)!  This is a nice little cafe, with ravings in the guestbook about how good the suppers are!  I guess the sign out front says it all:
Now, don't let the name of the town fool you, there is NO public beach at Horseshoe Beach!  There may be small private beaches behind houses, but no public beach.  Again, as with mostly all the small coastal towns up here in the "armpit" of Florida(and I say that because of the location in relation to the shape of Florida), you come here to fish and scallop-that's it.  There is very limited shopping, if any!   In fact, I'll show you what could pass for the mall in Horseshoe Beach:
You got your real estate office, your knick knack shop, and a marine/convience store for your shopping pleasure.

It was a neat trip, and now I can say " I have been down that road!"  Another curiosity satisfied...

Florida Peaches

We have a peach orchard in Ocala!  Little did I know.....  Up off of County Road 316 is a little field of peach trees.  The farmer who tends these beauties is from Miami and he is very proud of this fruit he is growing!  He has people from Georgia that come here for his peaches!
These are the BEST peaches EVER! Florida peaches are the sweetest and juiciest peaches I have come across in my years of eating. 
The picture quality is poor but you can still tell how juicy these beauties are! When you eat them fresh like this you have to be careful you don't drip juice down the front of your shirt!

I have never picked peaches before and I thought it would be a fun thing to do.  The first weekend Zman and I went on a whim just to check it out. After eating a bunch of them and freezing what was left over, I decided that the next weekend we would go again and pick at least 2 buckets of them.  Wouldn't you know it, I couldn't get a single one of my clan to go with me!  So I went for some mommy time alone. : ) 
I plugged in my book I am currently "reading"(The Last Camel Died at Noon) and proceeded to pick the 2 buckets I had hoped to get!  This was the last weekend for picking the peaches.  Sadly, there was alot of fruit that was wasted in the orchard and the smell of fermenting peaches was strong! 
It didn't take me long to fill up 2 buckets and when I got home it took me about 2 hours to pit and slice them up for freezing.  I gave some fresh ones to my neighbors and parents, and some I kept out for us to eat fresh and some I used in a cobbler- YUM!  So now I have enough peaches in the freezer for about 6 months worth of smoothies and pies/cobblers.  : )
Speaking of which, here is a really easy recipe for peach(or any fruit) cobbler:

in a meduim-sized baking dish, melt 1 stick of butter in a 375 oven
Meanwhile, combine in a bowl:
1cup self rising flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
(This batter will be lumpy-you just don't want the lumps real big)
 When the butter has melted, pour the batter into the baking dish - DO NOT STIR!
Throw in your fruit.  You can use a large can of peaches, in which case you should use a bit of the juice too. Or if you use peach pie filling it's even better!  If you use fresh fruit, use more than you think you should.  If you think there's enough in it, go ahead and throw more in! 
Bake this concoction for about 30 to 40ish minutes.  You want the edges to be a dark brown and the middle to be a goldenish brown.  Serve with vanilla ice cream and try not to eat the whole dish in one sitting(but I bet you come back again and again to "even-up" the edges)!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Random Friday Notes...

Look at all these little grasshoppers all lined up and ready to eat my green bean plants!  They were so cute, and I guess they can eat what they want, it's summer now and I don't have the patience to play farmer when I am gone alot!

My little Sweetie Pie Nature Girl, she's getting so big...

Some onesies I did up for my new niece.  She looks so cute in them!

This year's teacher gifts: Waterbottle holders.  Ideal for long walks at amusement parks and hikes.

What is it with cats?

Hope you all enjoy your weekend!  XO

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Pioneer Art Settlement

Field trip to the Poineer Art Settlement in Barberville.  Very cool place, lots of history there with items and buildings being moved from other places and restored there in their historical context.  It's a place that I would like to visit again on my own time as we missed alot with the field trip time schedule we were on. 
Here are some of the photos I snapped:

Learning about weaving.  You can weave with just about anything!
Chickens and Turkeys...  (you know I can't resist a pic of these!)

making butter...  The lady who taught us about this and in the following picture teaching us about dying cloth was the art tent lady from the Pow Wow.  Her name is Rainbow.  She remembered us and was really glad to see us again, she is so sweet!
This is the kitchen inside of the cabin where a family of 13 lived!  This is the small cabin where we learned about making butter...13 people?  I can't even imagine...
woodworking shop...
church, and The Rocket saying the blessing before lunch.

This building once served as an area school in Volusia county.

This building was so quaint and the setting so pretty under the oaks.  It actually serves as the gift shop for the settlement. 

Who can resist a still?  It was right next to the country store and I did inquire if they sold the stuff the still was supposed to make- they didn't.

We used up every minute allotted for our field trip and even some extra ones as we were late getting back to school!  The Rocket's teacher rode with me and we had a wonderful visit on the way and back again.  The kids were all really good and I think they learned a thing or two.  I even learned something!  Did you know that peacocks can fly short distances- even male ones?  I am amazed, how in the world do they do that with those long glorious tails? Hands on learning is always the best way to learn and cement what you have learned in your mind, I certainly hope this happened this day. Our wild, historic, beautiful Florida is fast fading away, and I am happy that places like this exist so we can imagine what it used to be like...