Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Gardens in Orlando

Many of the plants that grow in middle Florida also grow where we live.  The difference is that they thrive down there, and our's just grow.  While visiting Orlando I was amazed at how the canna lilies were dense with blooms, the hibiscus had trunks twice the size of any in my yard, and the bougainvillea shot out everywhere like a wild hair do.

I think this is Texas Sage.

Ribbit, Ribbit?

The Mimosas were covered in fluffy umbrella blooms.

Although I don't allow my children to pick flowers out of public gardens we were able to snag a hibiscus bloom off of a pile of clippings, that the gardeners collected.  

And she had fun with it.

And she has new glasses.

And I don't know why she is making this face.

Outside of a few years I spent in Atlanta, I have always lived near or in the tropics.  If I ever have to move I know I will miss all the flowers and trees common in this zone.  What about you?  Have you ever moved and missed the plants of your past?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

One day not so long ago...

...we took a quick vacation to the Coronado Springs Resort.  It was breezy, comfortably warm (most of the time), green and lush and the sky was crystal clear with large puffy clouds.  My spine relaxes just gazing at this picture.  Can you remain stressed at such a location?

And on this day we slipped into swimsuits, grabbed our water bottles and beach ball and headed to the pool.

And, what a pool it was!  As is typical in middle Florida, the sky clouded up for a little afternoon shower, but it went as quickly as it came and we returned to playing in this gorgeous oasis.

See how exhausted she is from this labor?

Eventually we worked up an appetite and headed off, but not before creating a few poses.

What?  You don't bring a sword to the pool? 

As we walked to the restaurant the sun set on the lake, but not our trip.  More to come...

Where have you enjoyed watching the sun set?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Red Brick Chimney - A World War I Monument?

If you've ever travelled south on Interstate 95 through south Georgia, you have probably noticed the tall deteriorating chimney that one of the on-ramps wraps around.  For many years, I wondered how this brick structure had come to reside amongst the 1950's neighborhood and within a short distance of the interstate.  Even though I wasn't familiar with it's history I had a strong pang of sadness hit my gut when its current owner painted it white and used it as a sign for their business, which was located at the base of the chimney.  

So, when one of our recent geocaching treks took us quite close to this odd structure, my curiosity finally resulted in me doing some research.  During the 19 months that the United States was involved with World War I, two picric plants were commissioned.  This brick chimney and a few small out buildings are all that remains of this 7 million dollar plant.  Just a month before the plant was completed the war ended, and after that the history of the facility becomes quite sketchy.  Ultimately many of the buildings, including the twin to this chimney, were destroyed with the exception of a few out buildings.  Those that remain and that are now used for more modern businesses, feature unusually thick brick walls and large oak beams, as picric was explosive in nature.

While I'd like to take my children all over the country to see many of the monuments created to honor our war veterans, I believe this is just as much a memorial as any that were designed, with that sole purpose in mind.  I wonder as we approach the 100th anniversary of our involvement in World War I, which is five short years away, if structures such as these will become more valuable to us.  

One thing I know for sure...

I was right to regret that it had been forever changed with this layer of white paint.

Do you have a building, factory, or wharf in your neighborhood that was built to support World War I or II?  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Review - "Named by God" by Kasey Van Norman

In "Named by God," Kasey Van Norman portrays  life when you choose to journey with God and live in the forgiveness God provides.

This book reviews how our present, past and our even our plans for the future affects our relationship with God.  If you feel as though you have spent your life dragging your childhood behind you, her advice on "The Healing Power of Letting Go," will set you on the right path to a brighter future.  In Part 2 -  "Transforming Your Present, she covers topics such as "Broken and Beautiful" and "Seizing His Plan for You."  And finally, in part 3 this book will help you "Embrace Your Future as a child of God."

Whether you are a new or mature Christian you will benefit from reading this book.  I was reminded of how God is always present in our pain and the importance of forgiving and moving on.   As you examine your past and present many of God's promises are outlined and help you to launch your vision for the future.  

I enjoyed this quick read as it reminded me of the simple aspects of Christianity that make life worth living.  If you know someone who is experiencing a plateau in their spiritual journey this would be a great gift.  Ms. Van Norman is especially affective in offering Biblical perspective on breaking free from the guilt of our past, embracing God's forgiveness for our souls, and moving on as a child of God and living a life that glorifies Him.

If the following excerpt tugs at your heart I encourage you to read this book.  You will not be disappointed.

"Are you feeling tempted to quit or remain complacent in your relationship with God right now?  Is there something God is calling you to do, but you're making excuses?  Instead of letting the uncertainties of life stop you or cause you to run int he other direction, all them to make you more faithful, more daring."

If you are the first person to tweet about this review I will send you a free copy.  Post the url to your tweet in the comment section.

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Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or ARC.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Shrimp Boats and Shrimp Bisque

If you've spent any time on Hammock Tracks you know that I love to take pictures of feminine and pretty things.  My eyes also enjoy taking in the not so pretty but definitely attractive-in-their-own-way things, too.  I've discussed how I love barns and even mushrooms.  The kids know that the car will come to a screeching halt if I spy an old barn and more than one nature trail has been slowed while I snap photos of fungus.

Shrimp boats are another thing I find to be beautiful, in their own beat up, rusted and rustic way.  Today after church we passed two and Miss Emilee became the focus of my attention.  What I cannot fully describe is the fishy and musty odor that is a part of her wood frame.

Some of her wood may need paint, the door to the captains seat was hanging by one hinge and her anchor is quite rusted, but her bow proudly pointed out to where a blue sky and waterway met.  These colors seemed to mimic the ones that were painted on her side, in a handsome dual colored stripe.

I've never worked on one of these shrimp boats but Bloodhound has.  It is hard work and I am sure that the men who make a living brining shrimp up to the surface, and eventually our dinner table, with these nets would think that I was a delirious romantic, if they read this post.  

But I cannot help it...I love them...A/C in the window, and all.

I also love to eat shrimp.  My favorite way to enjoy them is in a low country boil.  Bloodhound is convinced that he could eat his weight in shrimp, and still want more.  I think he could be right.  During a period of time that we were living in New Orleans he got in the habit of ordering a 12" shrimp po-boy every day for lunch.  You don't have to be a dietician to know that this added up to a lot of calories.  Forty pounds and two pants sizes later, he decided he should go on a diet.  He had a protein shake for lunch and ate dinner at home.  After he had lost the weight he decided that he should treat himself and drove to his favorite place for lunch, in order to feast on a shrimp po-boy.  Much to his dismay they had gone out of business.  We still joke that his diet put them under.  

Here is another favorite shrimp recipe:

Shrimp Bisque
(printer friendly version)

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
1 pound pre-cooked shrimp
1/2 cup white wine
In a large saucepan, melt butter over a low heat. Stir in flour, salt, white pepper, bouillon granules, and onion. Blend 3/4 cup half-and-half cream into the mixture. Mix in shrimp and crab meat. Turn the temperature to medium heat and continue stirring until the mixture thickens.
Blend the remaining half-and-half cream and wine into the mixture. Serve and enjoy!

You will win points with you family when you make this.  And if you want to add shrimp you can reduce the crab to 1/2 lb and use 1/2 lb of shrimp.

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Unknown Mami

Friday, April 27, 2012

"Hammock Tracks Weekend Edition" {Linky}

Starting this Saturday, April 28th, there will be a new feature on Hammock Tracks.  

Hammock Tracks Weekend Edition will grant viewers the opportunity to see what others are creating, around the web.

There will be five categories to explore.

- Recipes
- Crafts and DIY Projects
- Creative Writing and Photography
- Home Education Live 
- Giveaways

I hope you enjoy this new feature and in the process find a few new blogs to add to your Favorites list.

If you are a blogger, click here to learn how to link up.

Hammock Tracks Weekend Edition will replace all other blog hops previously offered on this site.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mama Kat Challenge - Top Ten Things I Miss About Being Alone

1.  Being able to spend $50 on groceries weekly and having food left over.  I now spend $150 and it is a balancing act.  My shopping trips are orchestrated with great calculations.

2.  Having both legs shaved at the same time.  I never have enough time to do that now...someone is always shouting, "Mom!" on the other side of the door.

3.  The ability to lie down in peace when I am suffering with a sinus infection or headache.  

4.  Being able to recognize the living room after spending said day in bed sick.  Or maybe I should say I miss being able to recognize the entire house after such.

5.  Using a small day planner that fit into my purse, to map my weekly appointments.  We currently track the family's commitments on a large calendar that is stuck to the front of the fridge.  It is covered with scratches, arrows, bright colors and extends into who will be driving what vehicle to make this week a success.

6.  Having laundry hills instead of mountains.  My four loads of laundry (and that included towels and sheets) has evolved into a dozen as the family has grown.

7.  Creating a salad with a bit of tuna and finding dinner to be quite satisfying.  To my family that is just the beginning of a great meal.

8.  Being able to get lost in a book.  Need I say more?

9.  Not having to choose between having quiet time to myself or sleep.

10.  And last but not least...being able to watch a chick flick without complaints from Bloodhound or our oldest male offspring.

By the way, MSN lists this as the top ten Chick Flicks.  Would you agree to these?  Add any of your own?

1.  Pretty Women
2.  The Women
3.  When Harry Met Sally
4.  Grey Gardens
5.  Sabrina
6.  The Valley of the Dolls
7.  Thelma and Louise
8.  Steel Magnolia
9.  The Beaches
10.  Gone With the Wind

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Mama’s Losin’ It

Strawberries Fields

This past weekend we took the younger kids to a small strawberry patch and picked our first berries of the year.

As always it was fun watching the kids find the perfect berry to add to their stash, and eat a few in the process.  Each year when I pick a berry out of the field that is warmed and ripened in the sun, I am reminded of what a delicious treat it is.

The owner of the field offered each child a small to-go container that they could fill for themselves.  They really enjoyed knowing that every berry they picked would ride home in their lap, and they took great care in choosing the perfect strawberries.

I was pleased to find that many of the berries were smaller and more similar in size to what I remember eating, as a child.

This little berry patch had been carved out of the woods and the farmer knew that the animals would enjoy this strawberry drive-thru field. Although, there was evidence that small creatures had gotten around his fence barrier, I am sure that he cut his losses from deer, and maybe even non paying humans.

As we left to drive home I was reminded of a similar trip we took sixteen years ago when we were living in Louisiana.  After picking berries with our older two kids we realized that the trunk of our car was full, and that the berries would need to rest on the seat between our daughter, who was two years old, and our son.  We were aware that she loved to eat strawberries and her lips were already ringed with red juice when we loaded her in the car.  About thirty minutes into the ride our son said, "Mom, she is eating everything she can reach."  I tried in vain to stop her, but it was fairly useless.  When we pulled into the driveway she had quit eating and actually fallen asleep.  The hand that could reach the box of strawberries was pink, as was her chin, chest and face.  I am convinced that she only quit indulging because she had eaten all that was within her grasp.  As I pulled her limp body from the car seat I realized that there were no green tops littering the car.  When I asked where she put them my son replied, "I told you!  She was eating all that she could reach."  

As we drove home this past Saturday I was not only thankful for tall fences and warm fresh strawberries, but also memories we share as a family.  To this day we all know that you had better hide any strawberries you don't want to share, from our oldest daughter.

Friday, April 20, 2012

5 Minute Friday - Together

Together they make a large impact that can be seen from a distance, and the pink contrasts beautifully against the dark green.  

If this were a lone bloom one would feel compelled to come in and examine it up close.  As such, you would be allowed to see the delicateness of the pollen and the bees that swarm continually.

If this were a lone bloom it would be nearly impossible to smell it from the front yard, but since there are many it can be enjoyed from inside the house, if the window is open.

Together they are just more powerful.

This is true of foods, too.  A well baked chicken tastes wonderful, but when combined with a nicely seasoned gravy the flavors come together and take the chicken to a new level.

Together they are just more powerful.

This is also true of a boy and his faithful companion.  If he were to roam the riverbank without his dog, he would miss much as his nose is not strong enough to find many of the small creatures, bones and bottles that he is searching for.  And without him she cannot lift a tree trunk to get to a raccoon.

There is a lot to be said for standing alone. 

And then, but it is also impossible to deny the power of togetherness.  

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Labor Laws, Oreos and Lifesavers

Recently when I told my son that the dog needed to be walked he looked a bit unhappy about being disturbed from watching the television, but because he really doesn't seem to care what people think of him he didn't bother to add any clothing to the pajama bottoms and the hat that he had slapped on his head when he woke, and he took the dog out.

This lack of modesty and the unusual get-up mandated a photo be taken.  Can you believe this?

And then when I explained that we had yard work to do on another day, the wee girl put clogs and a skort on to complete her job.

Now, on neither of these occasions were they happy to be doing this work.  They did the jobs with very little complaints but they made it obvious that they thought it was child abuse and that in other homes children didn't work like this.

As I was considering their views of child labor I stumbled across two articles in Time Magazine the detailed the 100th anniversaries of the Oreo Cookie and the Lifesaver Candy.

And this got me to thinking of my childhood and these treats.

And that lead me to wondering about the children of 1912.

Which resulted in me searching for images of children working a century ago...

These children were definitely over worked but I cannot help but believe that our kids could use a bit of perspective.  I can see where a box of Oreo Cookies would have made these children as happy as a trip to Disney World, for our kids a century later.

What about you?  When you think Oreo or Lifesaver what childhood memories pop to mind?

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Two Wonderful Gifts

Some would see this as a toy to be used while pretending you were a Star Wars or like minded character.

And although, the makers of the Dremmel offer many uses for their small drill tool, I am not sure that they ever considered how useful it would be in cutting down a toy gun.

My youngest son decided that his gun needed some adjustment.

So he got out his helmet.

Plugged in his Dremmel.

And got busy sawing it down.

Often times we buy gifts for our kids and they don't live up to their expectations, and then are ignored until I give them away.

This helmet and Dremmel have been worth every penny spent on them.

What gifts have been hits with your kids?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Baby Bunnies

Since we raise rabbits, I thought it might be fun if I shared a series of pictures showing how the babies develop.  Rabbits grow incredibly fast and I am constantly amazed when I check on a new kit, as to how much they have developed in just a few short days.  

Recently a few of our does (female rabbits) had been over fed by my helpful hands, also known as my children.  This can be a problem as the females will not get pregnant when they have extra weight, and if they do they usually have smaller kits.  Ulysses is a female mutt bunny that is my oldest daughter's pet and usually she has about a dozen babies in one kit.  This time around, due to her weight, she only had two.  Something you may not know about rabbits is that they have very rich milk.  Some say that there is not a richer milk provided by any other mammal.  They only feed their young for about five minutes each day.  Well let me just say, that these two rabbits are loving this free flow of milk, without any competition from a large set of siblings.

You can practically hear these two getting wider.  Here they are at one week.

They are born with teeth...very tiny cute little teeth "chips."

His name is marbles.

This is what my youngest son had to say when he saw this picture.

"I throw my hands in the air sometimes singin' Aiohh Just got a let go."

They aren't singing just yet...maybe next week.
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