Daily Coop News . . .

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gracious Guest

When making a donation of "dinner for eight" to benefit Rick's Shindig, I was not sure what to expect, however, what we received was a wonderful surprise, a gracious group of friends and co-workers, a complete pleasure to serve . . .

All enjoyed a seasonal menu including many local items, dinner included:

Sparkling Pear and Ginger Cocktails
Baked Brie with Walnuts & Honey
Warm figs with Chevre
Low Country Boil
Crusty French Bread with Roasted Garlic
Cinnamon Egg Nog
Pound Cake with a Key Lime drizzle
Avocado Timbales

Ho. Ho. Ho. & Yum. Yum. Yum.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tis the season to celebrate His birth . . .

Colors of Fall

I love this time of year and the colors of a Florida fall, after all they are some of my favorites.  The sights and smells fill my head and have inspired both the interior and exterior of our little bungalow.  Roasted Root Salad with warm garlic dressing, rich carmel onions, roasted pumpkin seeds, butternut squash, chocolates in creamy variations of mocha and coffee play their part.  The colors of the bungalow we first purchased have given way to the colors of fall, cool blue and yellow are slowly yielding to slate and mossy oak, cypress and cinnamon now coat the walls of the library and the living room.  Roasted butternut warms the walls of the bathroom and highlights the fireplace.
I am sure all of life's perplexing questions can be solved with a brush and the colors of fall . . .

Roasted Root Veggie Salad

Sweet Potato, sweet onion, butternut squash, delicata squash, carrots, parsnips, acorn squash all make great choices for this salad, slice all veggies in uniform thickness, rub with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and place in a single layer on cookie sheet, cut the tops off of 4 heads of garlic, rub cut edge with olive oil and place on cookier sheet.  Roast for 30 minutes @ 350* then flip veggies and roast another 25 minutes.  In the meantime whisk two tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 c Rice vinegar, salt and pepper to taste in a heavy saucepan and bring to a quick simmer, then remove from heat, squeeze all 4 heads of roasted garlic into dressing and whisk.  To serve add roasted veggies to a bed of baby organic spinach, and pour warm garlic dressing over veggies, serve immediately.

All is right with the World

3:19 a.m.
The roosters have begun to crow this morning, the hens are brooding and beginning to lay eggs.  So much to be thankful for, all seems right with the world . . .
As this Thanksgiving rolled in, despite the retailers best efforts to shorten this holiday, I need much more time to recognize all that I am thankful for this year.
Most recent being, Ella Lily now 7 days old  arrived healthy and happy at 20 inches and 7 pounds, with the blue eyes of her father, her mothers angelic face, and the love of her big brother so excited she has finally arrived (the spider man back pack certainly helped).
As with the seasons and holidays, the ebb and flow of life continue on and I am grateful for not only the good times, but the rough ones too, for without them I could not recognize how good life is this Thanksgiving morning.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Baby Cakes & Barbecue

In August when the ideas started to flow for a Baby Cakes & Barbecue to celebrate the impending arrival of Sweet Baby Ella, so did the house projects we would need to finish before having to introduce not only Baby Ella but this little gem of a bungalow to a Punta Gorda that had long since forgotten she was here . . .

The property was in all it's glory, the summer rains, although heavy at times, had created a lush tropical border filled with Bromeliad bloom, with hundreds of torch like flames, spreading like wild fire through this paradise.  The new mulch driveway framed the greens in perfect combination, the palms swayed in the gentle breeze that flows from the Peace, and the zinnias and ferns stretched toward the sun.

We had painted the front porch, stripped most of the bathroom wallpaper, and picked up a crazy mix of architectural salvage and antiques from my mothers in South Carolina, including the old doors that would become the tables and the vintage bird cages filled with candles that would light the setting for this magical night. 

The studio's new lighting was installed, all twenty feet of the old work bench had been skirted in off-white canvas, and the clutter of our projects were neatly tucked away. The 1887 Chickering piano, which now performs as our work station was converted to the buffet, it's Rococo legs long ago painted the perfect vintage pink, begging to set center stage for the Hootenanny to come.  The candelabra above made from piano parts and garage sale finds, highlighted not only the Brazilian Rosewood below, but the art of the rafters above. 

The table cloths of burlap with pink brocade runners had been sewn, the white linen napkins tie-dyed pink by our friends were complete, the mason jar filled with cut fern would adorn the tables. 

The very southern Pear and Ginger cocktail was inspired by Garden & Gun, the Bourbon Maker's Mark, the pears plucked from my mother's yard on our latest trip.  The menu was selected to surround Papa Z's lip smakin Grilled Chicken,  Fig infused barbecue sauce, Roasted garlic cheese grits, Baked beans with pig parts, Spinach salad and Sarah's Cornbread Pudding embraced like old childhood friends.  I know, mouth watering goodness, only to be topped off  by Carmel and Sea Salt cupcakes, Ginger snaps with Sweet Potatoe Butter (Low Country Produce), and Peanut Butter Pie cups.  One of our guest confessed he ate ten or so? 

The night finally arrived, the little bungalow lit with enthusiasm and anticipation, the high class bluegrass of the Steep Canyon Rangers and the soulful blues of the local Still Friends flowed from it's crevasse's in beautiful harmony.  The memories of our guest this night will forever be of a sweet baby girl still to come and a little bungalow with a great history.  

Mango Madness

Our first crop of Mango was ready, and with Cooper here to harvest, I could not wait any longer. Absolutley nothing taste better than fruit rippened in the yard, my first mango was going into our morning shake, yum.

In blender combine:
1 fresh mango
2 cups organic spinach
2 cups Chobani yogurt
1 frozen banana
1-2 cups orange juice

Blend until smooth. Makes 2 servings to be enjoyed walking the yard (pull a weed or two).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In Memory of a "Gator" Homecoming

Roy LaMance Turknett
March 14th 1933 - September 17, 2011

The Peace

Laishley Park, early morning, September 1st, 2011.

Children already at play in the fountain and the smell of a Florida Fall already in the air. The Peace River flowing towards the harbor with an absolute resolve. The palm trees continue to sway in the warm breeze, stretching towards the misty morning sky. A pair of Ibis hunt for breakfast near a small pond.

A peaceful solitude in the midst of a morning routine.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"put something cute on and walk around the block"

Happy Birthday Crawdad


Cilantro Mojitos

The heat of southwest Florida has fried the remainder of mint left in the garden, however the cilantro looked fabulous, and so it grows. . .

Into the blender place two bunches (2 cups) of fresh cilantro
1/4 cup of brown sugar or 2 teaspoon of Agave nectar
Juice of 8 large limes and a little lime zest
8 shots of your favorite sippin rum (I use Appleton's)

Blend well and divide amoung 4-6 pint mason jars and cover with lid. Chill until ready to serve. Fill jar with crushed ice, shake and top off with ginger ale.

Sip by coop and play in the rain.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Captain Jack Sparrow

Still Friends

The Sounds of Still Friends is HOT this balmy August eve in Punta Gorda . . .

The original music of Steve Blackwell's tribe fills the air in the Punta Gorda Woman's Center with an old soul Florida feel, smooth and rhythmic.

The children dance in the isle as they mouth the words of "Sugarcane" and "Plumes", toes tap and fans whirl as lessons of life unfold in each of the lyrical tales spun through instrument and voice straight from the heart.

As the Rockin Sausages set up for a second set, their faces bright with the new tales that will be told for generations to come, their fingers nimble, and the height of these talented musicians still yet to come, you can not help but smile and know for this moment . . . all is right with the world.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

"The Skinnin Barn"

Affection for the past . . .

B elieve it or not
L ife's
O bstactles
G et in the way

That is what I keep telling myself, every time I realize I have not updated this blog.

This morning I was reading an article in Garden & Gun, there was a beautiful old creole country house, the writer wrote "learning to operate modern technology is not the problem, it's what you would have to sacrifice on the path of ease and convenience", and went on to say "forgoing certain creature comforts simply nourishes his roots" which is very interesting and I love the thought.

I have always had a hard time explaining my reason for not wanting a dishwasher. I however, never realized the complex reasoning behind getting one removed, the story of which I will save for another time. The quote which has struck me this morning is from the owner of the home, "History," he says, "is both a burden and a glory for Southerners. Our affection for the past and our complex relationship to it survive in our living habits." As I pick the dirt out of my nails (pulling sand spur this morning), I also realize the great appreciation I have for roots that grow deep in this Florida dirt. It's the reason I love to wash dishes by hand, hang out the laundry, and feed the chickens. It is the history of an old house around me, that encourage my roots to take hold and stretch deep into the past, it is the memory of an old skinnin barn in Yemassee, or a day spent in the old kitchen at Bell. The roots of my history fill each object I hold dear, Granny's artwork or Everett's woodwork, Irving's reading rod and Nanny's garlic press.

The deep southern history in my roots survive not only in the object and memories, but entrenched in life's everyday habits. I think for now the glory, outweighs the burdens in this Southern girl's life.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The chief stands guard . . .

After so much anticipation, 20 hours of hard labor and possibly a new shoulder, the great room paint finish is finally complete.

Spring Gobbler Season

Spring gobbler season and hanging out the laundry on the line both rights of passage for Spring and this Spring will be no exception, the weather in Southwest Florida has been flawless, and no matter your passion, this Spring is beautiful.

We are on Day 33 in the Cleveland Avenue Bungalow , the brilliant chartreuse feathered branches of the cypress, fresh oak leaves and hot pink azalea catch the attention of all who pass. The bird baths are daily retreats for the robins, cardinals and morning doves and we are working on designs for the chicken coop, front arbor, and a final resting place for Bubba, the barbecue grill. The roses, schefflera, and large clumps of bromeliads have been moved, farther into the gardens, as we attempt to eliminate the large expanse of grass, with hopes our rabbit friends do not mind the changes.

We are continuing to look for local food and have enjoyed the harvest from Worden Farms at the Wednesday Market in Fisherman's Village, our yard looks promising with the Suriname Cherry, tomato and the Mango are all covered in fruit, and we have some leads on u-pick blueberries, eggs and grass-fed beef. The Strawberries have been hit very hard by multiple freeze this winter, we were able to find a beautiful flat out at Ft. Ogden and put over half in the freezer for later.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

"Always Kiss Me Goodnight . . ."

Two Weeks Notice

After almost 6 months on the road, all of our worldly possession's, other than the massive pile I collected while traveling, were delivered onto the front porch of our newly acquired bungalow, by three fairly comical moving men, somewhere around the middle of February 2011.

Where do you start when there are hundreds of boxes piled in every direction, you still have multiple items requiring a trailer hitch to move, and a bathroom that would feel right at home somewhere between Yeehaw Junction and Holopaw, it does come to mind you just might have too much of the good stuff?

Life was supposed to get much simpler.

We are making progress, the box pile has disappeared from the front porch, the bathroom has been gutted down to a working loo only, the appliances have arrived from Sears, the kitchen's been painted in Behr Teatime, and we are still loving this old house.

There is Internet access, cell service, cable TV, and music in the house and studio, and I am still thrilled I am married to a geek, and not a plumber, although the later would come in handy on some days. We have started the process with Amerigas to bring in propane for cooking as well as on-demand hot water, we will need an electrician and a plumber, and almost another month, before things are operational in that department.

The Sebastian exposed pipe shower system in oil rubbed bronze arrived this week from Signature Hardware, as well as the fabric in Charlotte/walnut from Joann's Fabric for the bathroom shower curtain, that will hang from our newly constructed ceiling mounted copper rods. The plumber from Wm. F. McDonough Plumbing in Port Charlotte will be here this week for the pedestal sink install and a consult on the shower plumbing as well as the plumbing connections for the Noritz Tankless unit.

We acquired two garage sale light fixture's this weekend, one for the Studio, and the other will be installed in the kitchen later in the week. A 4x8 foot chalk board, a find at the Burnt Store Presbyterian Youth fund raiser, hangs above the Studio's work bench and a design for the covered blacksmith's forge are coming to fruition.

A site for the new chicken coop has been spotted under the Live Oak, and our new Silkies have been ordered from Murray McMurray Hatchery for a delivery the beginning of May. The potted herbs, I planted several months ago are producing purple Thai basil, oregano, cilantro and mint. Today we planted pineapple and Cavannah's Dwarf Banana along the driveway. We are still looking for a site for the Brown Turkey Fig, we bought from the Farmers Market in downtown Punta Gorda. . .

Who knows what the next two weeks will bring.

The Affair

We have purchased The Cleveland Avenue Bungalow, a 1927 Arts & Crafts gem in Punta Gorda, Florida. As my time in this wonderful old house grows closer, my anticipation is almost too much to contain, just ask anyone whom has asked me about the house.

When we left The Old Starkey House, I wondered if I would ever fall in love with another old structure, with it creaks, little quirks and the rich history that well within it's walls. I wondered could I love other old majestic live oaks draped in Spanish moss, great mass of ferns, and the abundant calamundruns? Could I train the jasmine covered arch, re-create the chicken coop or the Virginia creeper that covered the fences?

Over the last couple of months, we have immersed ourselves in all that is Punta Gorda, the long history of abundant fishing and wildlife, the cattle lands, and it's prize winning pineries. Eagles, osprey, otter, manatee and gators all roam the waters. The night Heron, among my favorite, fish from the water's edge. The flora, tropical and diverse, still early in the year the Florida Flame vine burns from every trellis, pole and fence post.

The natives are laid back and friendly, a resiliency, I believed enhanced by the likes of Charlie, and other great storms of the past. If you speak of recent times, it is post Charlie. The old timers rarely speak of Charlie, only how things have changed through the years.

We drive past the house almost daily, in any other community, we would be stalking, but most laugh and welcome us to the community.

I do believe this is the beginning of a long and wonderful love affair . . .