Week in Review: A Week of Natural Gifts

22 02 2009

It’s been a lovely week here, with temperatures dipping into the low 40°s and reaching the 70°s.

The Oasis is progressing nicely. I will take a week ending photo once the light goes down a bit. Yes, the sun is blazing out there and I have the door and windows open (as I have had most of the week).

PAPAYAS

Earlier in the week I was pleased to see that the papaya seeds I planted, before the last cold snap, had sprouted up with a vengeance.

Papaya Seedlings

I replanted a good number of these seedlings, tasted one (sweet and peppery at the same time), and gave the rest to other people in the park.

Papaya Seedlings Replanted

After giving them away (which I don’t regret) I learned that the sprouts are recommended as a salad topping, and that the dried seeds can be ground and used like pepper. Since I had another papaya on hand (gifted from my business partner), I saved those seeds and am drying them now.

Papaya Seeds Drying

COCONUTS

My business partner and his family went wildnerness camping on an island last weekend. His yard is full of papaya and coconut trees. He brought along some coconuts and experimented by roasting them on the fire. I was the beneficiary of two of these beauties.

Campfire

On Monday I cracked one open and proceeded to scarf down more than half. I couldn’t stop because it had a great smoky, roasted aroma and flavor. The next morning I wished that I had stopped before I ate so much. The old saying “Too much of a good thing” certainly applies to coconuts; and that’s all I am going to say about that!

VOLUNTEER TOMATOES

The papayas  and coconuts were just the beginning of the natural abundance I enjoyed this week. I took a look at my poorly managed (see “neglected”) compost heap and noticed some strange looking sprouts poking out. Surely this is sign that no composting is taking place? It’s OK, because I got a bunch of volunteer tomatoes for no effort (other than burying some kitchen scraps and ignoring them).

Volunteer Tomatoes

The little rascals have since been relocated to The Oasis where they are getting plenty of water. As soon as I planted the newbies my first tomato plant (purchased from the flea market) has stepped up to the plate and started to flower (I think it may be showing off).  I have no idea which variety  any of these tomatoes are, but I hope to get a good mix.

CITRUS JUICE

Another gift from my business partner was a big bag of locally grown Indian River grapefruit and oranges. Since we have orchards to the west of us, the fruit flies are plentiful. The bag of citrus has been attracting fruit flies all week and I finally got annoyed enough to do something about it.

Yesterday I washed the fruit (although it doesn’t look like it) and proceeded to make juice.
Oranges & Grapefruit for Juicing

This handy little juicer strains the seeds and pulp and collects juice in the cup with a pour spout.
Juice Production

The lid holds the fruit in place while you twist to squeeze.

Squeezing


Pouring Juice

Here is the aftermath. I added a little raw sugar to take away the bite and ended up with 3 1/2 quarts of excellent juice.

Juice Aftermath

OKEECHOBEE BASS

To top off a week of goodness we got a knock on our door yesterday. It was our neighbor, Fred, bearing a nice bag of filleted Okeechobee Bass. We sell wild caught Florida shrimp and have a bartering agreement with Fred.  We get our fill of shrimp and he gets his fill of bass so every now and again he comes by for a trade. He even brought some homemade batter! Since last night was our fifth wedding anniversary (we don’t make a big deal out of spending money to celebrate) we had a little fish fry and enjoyed the tastiest, freshest, most delicate bass you can imagine. Sorry, no pictures. We ate it too fast.

OUR ANNIVERSARY  PRESENT TO EACH OTHER

A couple of weeks ago AJ’s mother asked us to sell our Volvo to her so that his sister can have it. This care is safe, runs well and is in great shape. It has a few cosmetic issues such as a bad headliner, cracked dash and peeling paint. It is also two colors, since I smashed it up a little and AJ had to replace a fender and some other body parts. Still, it’s a great car and perfect for a young, “carefree”  person, such as his sister. Our perk for letting go of this car for super cheap was that his mom would finance our purchase of a “new” car. Neither of us believes in paying the outrageous price of a new car only to have it depreciate immediately; so new to us means “old but in great shape”. The hunt for this car and the surprising result will have to wait until we pick it up. AJ will immediately get to work sprucing it up (although it is already stunning), and when he is finished I will post the story of the search and some nice photos of the gift we got each other on our fifth year married.





February in Central Florida

8 02 2009

It looks like a year has vanished since I started this.

For some reason, a few people on reddit.com have expressed an interest in reading my blog.  I’ve given a good deal of thought to what I should write to keep it interesting. I know blogs are supposed to have a set theme; but the only theme I can stick to would be “Whatever happens to pop into my head or my world on any given day”. So, I’ll give it a go and see what happens.

One year later we are still in the same spot in the same park. A lot of moves have been in the works, including the time we were accepted for a mortgage on a house we couldn’t afford. A couple of days before closing the loan was rejected, not because it was unwieldy for us, but because of a zoning issue. We could have changed financing vehicles and continued on, but common sense set in and we decided to take that as a message.

Good move that was, on our part. The housing market and economy took a huge dump immediately thereafter. The house is still for sale and has been marked down about $30,000.00.

We also got a wild hair about having a lagoon view and got ready to move to a park right on the water under a beautiful canopy of oak trees. It was $90.00 more per month than here, but the view was great. We made some observations and decided that we couldn’t handle the horrendous noise from the constant swarm of Bikers who frequent the bar just up the road. I guess enough people enjoy having their eardrums ruptured by idots gunning their pipes to show off how inefficiently their cooling systems work that the noise ordinances are overlooked.

So, here we are still in the same place. Acceptance has kicked in and I got to work on a garden. This park is built on a leveled sand dune and there is nothing resembling fertile soil anywhere around. All the soil I have brought in quickly leeches away with the heavy rain we get in the spring and summer.

My garden began when we first got here, with some concrete rings we salvaged from one of our construction sites. Filled with good soil they were perfect for my herb collection. Gradually we became more and more interested in the idea of growing some vegetables and my current layout evolved.

Over a month or two I collected 5 gallon buckets from delis and restaurants and placed them in a large oval. My husband (AJ) picked up two truckloads of topsoil which I used to fill in the buckets and center section, as well as my recycled concrete rings. Next, AJ went out and collected a great stack of bamboo, which he cut into workable lengths. I pounded these bamboo stakes into the ground around the buckets (which I had painted black), to create an attractive fascia. We ran out of bamboo and he recently picked up some more to finish the job.

In the meantime I planted some things. I’ll post a list later on. Next, we got a record cold spell (two actually). The garden survived, due to being covered, but not much has begun to grow. Today I will finish inserting the fascia stakes and then post some photos. The next project is to pick up some truckloads of gravel for the yard and driveway. I will finish the garden with white gravel and washed shell gravel (which is a nice fossiliferous material containing shells and coral). You will eventually find out that I am a fossil hound, so the idea of decorating my garden with them is a thrilling one for me.

I’m off to finish the garden and will make a new post with the photos. For now, take a look at the painted bunting that has been visiting our feeder. I joined a site called “Painted Bunting Observer Team” which tracks painted buntings at feeders throughout their breeding sites and migratory routes.

So far, I’ve logged two sightings, but I am out of food and have been too lazy to go get more. This week I’ll get more and try for some better photos. This one was shot through tinted glass on an overcast day, so the light didn’t allow for sharpness.