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Adelaide Shores, Avon Park, FL

My Readers

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fingers Crossed

I am hoping very much that the storm prediction for tomorrow will turn out to be nothing! The changes so far have been very promising. This morning the forecast was all doom and gloom, with descriptions of heavy snow and power outages, and numbers in the double digit range. But by this afternoon, the forecast had changed considerably, with the weatherman now saying things like weak weather system and using numbers now down in the 3 to 5 inch range. So I am still hoping that our temps will stay up enough so that the precipitation is only of the liquid variety!

Other than the newest storm watch, there is not much going on. I am so ready for vacation. Open-mouthed smile I am still in list mode, but haven’t really started the packing yet. This weekend, it will be time for that.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Enjoying this Beautiful Day

What a wonderful day it is! The sun is out, and skies are blue. I actually have the windows open for the first time in quite a while.

The cats enjoying an open window.

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I got off to an early start this morning, heading to Walmart before the crowds. I have discovered that it doesn’t take too many shoppers to back up the lines, because they don’t have too many cashiers working on the weekday mornings. So now my philosophy is “the earlier, the better” when it comes to shopping trips there in the morning. And I am glad I did, because it’s nice to be home and have my “running” done.

My tulips are coming up, but not quickly.

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I forgot to mention last night that yesterday was the service call on the pellet stove. It is now spic and span and ready for another heating season ($225 later).

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As Harry surmised, the problem was the igniter.

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This little piece heats up, and causes the pellets to catch fire. The techs tested it, and it was completely dead. They showed Harry how to put the piece back in, so he has ordered the igniter from a wood stove website in California, and it should arrive tomorrow. Unfortunately, we had to pay a little extra for 3 day shipping, as the cheaper 10 day option seemed like cutting it a little close to vacation and our departure. But at least it will arrive soon, and we will have the stove all back in working order shortly. (Of course, we do not leave the pellet stove on while we are away on vacation, so we may only use it a few times more during the remainder of the cold season. Hopefully!)

I walked all around outside the house today, and still could only see a few signs of life out there.

There is some new growth on this bush by the side of the house…

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…and the tree in the front is budding.

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That is the only budding tree I could find. All the other trees in the front and back yards are all still lost in their winter sleep. The maple syrup makers are still having their nights below freezing, so this weather makes them happy anyway. Sarcastic smile

Five more days to work before vacation (Six days in total, but only five more at work – didn’t want anyone to get confused after yesterday’s title)!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Seven Days

Seven days! That’s all that stands between me…..and vacation!! And I can’t wait!

So glad that Monday and Tuesday are over for another week. I opened and closed on both of those days this week, so they went by very quickly. Also, in an unusual turn of events, we had plans for dinner both evenings as well. So the hours have been full.

The days have been nice, well, a little cool still. But no precipitation, so that qualifies as a nice day. So looking forward to enjoying the hopefully warmer weather in our trip down south.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Last Time

Today was another beautiful day! Harry and I woke up early, as usual. But I would counter that later with a nice afternoon nap.

The cats are enjoying the return of the birds. This is one of their favorite perches in the summer.

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After a relaxing cup of coffee, Harry got busy making our breakfast.

Of course, as everyone anticipated, we had pancakes and bacon.

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Yum, yum, yum…

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After breakfast, we headed to Scotia to the condo.

As you can see, another beautiful day – I can’t wait to see green grass and leaves on the trees!

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You may recall that we had the heat pump replaced a few weeks ago. At that time, they replaced the thermostat, which was a little different shape than the old one. That was our project today. Harry wanted to fix the wall and have it all ship-shape for the new owner.

This is a view of the condo as we are driving in the parking lot, and the area next to the new digital thermostat.

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Harry put a coat of primer, and then a coat of paint. The only reason we were there for a bit is that we waited 30 minutes for the primer coat to dry. While we were waiting, I tried out the “phone tether to the computer for internet” setup that Harry worked on recently. It worked so great! I am looking forward to having internet in the car while we are traveling to Tennessee.

Well, good-bye condo! This was most likely my last trip there. Harry will take a short run over next Saturday to put another coat on the small area he repaired, but I will be working.

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And then it was back home, where I took that aforementioned nap, and then baked a batch of biscuits. We wanted to try our maple cream that we bought at the sugarhouse yesterday. Yes, this day basically revolved around food! Be right back

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Speaking of….I had no idea how many recipes there were that included maple syrup as an ingredient. I did some searching this morning and found a lot out there – Pork Chops with Maple Mustard Sauce, Maple-Glazed Chicken Breasts, Baked Maple Custards, Maple Barbeque Sauce, just to mention a few. Hmmm, think I better get back to consistent walking before I start trying any of these out!!

Have a great evening!!

9 days until vacation! Open-mouthed smile

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Trip to the Sugar House

I headed off this morning bright and early for my usual Saturday hours at work. After I got out of work and arrived home, we hit the road for our trip to Kent’s Sugar House.

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It was a picture perfect day, and a great day for a ride in the country. It seemed so good to be out of the house. I think this is the first time we have done something outside of the house all winter, except for our trip to Boston the first weekend of February.

How to get to the sugar house – go to the middle of nowhere, and then drive for about 15 more minutes!

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We were thankful for Gretel the GPS who guided us with confidence over all the country byways.

About 40 minutes later, we arrived at the sugar house.

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It was a small unassuming building tucked back into the woods.

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It was really interesting – they explained the whole process from start to finish.

This is the old way of collecting the sap – stick a spigot into a tree where the sap drips into the pail. The guy who was explaining the process confirmed what I already thought – that there has to be days over freezing and nights below freezing. If it doesn’t freeze overnight, the sap doesn’t flow that day. And once the nights stop freezing, that season of maple syrup “cooking” is over.

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This is what the sap looks like collecting in the bucket. He gave us a taste – it tastes nothing like maple syrup. Basically like water with a little bit of taste to it. It’s not sweet at all. I was surprised to learn that it takes 43 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup!

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This is the “modern” way of collecting the sap. The spigot connects directly to the tube, and the tube runs along a line of trees and it all goes into a huge collector.

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They go around and collect the sap and then pump it out of the collector and down into the sugarhouse through this pipe.

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It comes in through the big metal container up in the loft area and then down into the steamer.

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The steamer is the top piece and then the area where it boils is the lower area.

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The only way to see into the steamer was to look into a mirror they had on the ceiling. The area on the right is looking into the steamer. It heats the sap and starts to heat it and condense it somewhat before it goes down into the lower area. We were told that the steamer cuts the process time in half.

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The whole process is fueled by a woodburning stove. They said that they go through 8 – 10 cord of wood during the season. Usually this stove is full of burning wood right to the top – they were just keeping it down for the tours today. They also said that when they are cooking the sap, they have to fill the stove every six minutes.

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This is where the boiled down sap comes out of the boiling area. I couldn’t begin to tell all of the ways that they monitor the making of the maple syrup – it was definitely a lot of information to digest. 

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But once the maple syrup is just right, it collects in a bucket on the left, and then they have to physically carry it over, and pour it in this container, where it filters through the cloths, and then they dispense it into the containers for sale.

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Here is Harry enjoying his sample of maple syrup!

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This is a very time-consuming part of their lives for as long as the sap running lasts. These people all have day jobs, and they come to the sugar house after work. They go around town collecting the sap and then start the cooking process. The woman said that sometimes they are there until between 11 pm and 2 am, and then they have to head home and get some sleep before they go back to work the next day.

Of course, we couldn’t come home empty handed! Open-mouthed smile The half gallon of maple syrup we bought was still hot! Even now, 3 hours after we got home, the container is still warm to the touch.

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Thanks for coming along! I hope you enjoyed your tour of the sugar house!

Oh, and I.M., this is just for you! Harry took this picture of the last remnant of the snow on our lawn today.

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Hopefully that is the last we will see of snow until next winter!

Friday, March 25, 2011

One More Week Down

I am happy that it is Friday and I am now one week closer to vacation! Next week is my last full week of work. Smile It’s been a busy week so I have to say that the days are going by so quickly, and not dragging at all.

It’s been pretty cool this week with lows in the 20s and highs in the 30s. Not feeling very springlike, but great for the maple syrup places. I was just talking to a guy who made maple syrup a week or so ago at work, and he was saying that nights below freezing coupled with days above freezing is the combination that keeps the sap running. This weekend is actually Maple Weekend, so Harry and I are hoping to take a trek over to a sugarhouse in the area tomorrow after I get out of work. I may actually have pictures of something new for a change! Be right back

Our pellet stove is still not working. Harry believes that it’s the igniter – I guess they only last a number of years before the part goes, and the stove is about four years old. We have someone coming over to service the stove and check the igniter on Tuesday. So until then we will be relying on our electric heat. It will be interesting to see what that does to our electric bill for the month.

Even though it hasn’t been too warm out, for the past couple of days the sun has actually been shining! It seems so nice to see the blue sky again. And it appears there are no storms coming for the next week, so that will definitely be a welcome change!

Have a great Friday everyone!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Eventful Day Off

But at least there was one expected event which did not materialize – a snow storm! Not yet anyway. It was supposed to start around noon and snow the rest of the day and all night. So far, we have only gotten a few flurries. I am not disappointed.

I started off the day in a very productive fashion – getting important stuff done like picking up things at the grocery store and starting the laundry. By the middle of the day, I was heading for a hair appointment. I used to go regularly every five or six weeks when I was having my hair colored, but I haven’t been since I stopped that several months ago. I have had some trouble with hair breakage and, in talking with the hair stylist about it, found out that she believes it is related to my having had appendicitis. Well, specifically related to the anesthesia I had with my surgery. I had no idea that anesthesia was related to hair weakness and breakage. I guess some people actually have gotten bald spots after having anesthesia. And it can stay in your system for a year! I had no idea. Luckily I am halfway through that period of time with no balding areas!

And after that, the day went downhill a bit. I came home from my hair appointment to a pellet stove which wasn’t working. When he got home from work, Harry tried a few fixes, but with no positive results. So now our pellet stove is off, and our electric is on. We are grateful that we have the electric as a backup, but we will be glad when we know what is wrong with the stove. We will try tomorrow to find a repairperson who can come out and take a look at it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

First Day of Spring

Today was the typical Monday work day, and not very springlike. It started snowing around 7 am and snowed most of the morning. We ended up with snow cover over all of the lawns and trees. It was not a welcome sight. I thought about taking a picture but just didn’t feel like taking any more pictures of the white stuff this year. I have had enough!! (Sorry I.M. I know you would have loved to see one more snow picture. Winking smile) It has warmed up a bit and is raining at the moment. We still have new snow on the ground but it is the very wet snow that will hopefully go away very quickly.

Another work day down and another day closer to our trip to Tennessee!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Another Weekend Almost Over

This weekend has been a “hodge-podge” of a lot of different stuff. One of the most fun parts was planning for our trip to Tennessee, which is getting so much closer now! I only have two weeks and two days left to work before I start VACATION!! I have several lists going – food, clothes, our technological toys. Be right back

So anyway, the weekend… I had to work yesterday morning – the usual. Then Harry and I took a trip to the store to pick up some containers. We were lucky to find some on clearance at Target, so we got four for the same price that we almost spent on two.

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I am going to start working in the office to sort out papers to keep, papers to take with us, etc. etc. My goal is to get the desk and credenza in the office cleaned out so we can get rid of them at some point, either this year or next.

Today was more laid-back. We had our usual big Sunday breakfast; I worked for awhile in the office; we managed to fit in an afternoon nap. Smile

Then we had another meal cooked on the barbeque. We use the grill quite a bit in the spring and summer. It is one of our favorite ways of cooking. Harry actually did some surfing on the web today, looking for the grill we want to buy for our rig. We have decided that we will buy our portable grill this fall when they go on sale after the season. We will need it next summer since we hope to be buying our fiver around this time next year!!

Our snow is finally really disappearing. This is the view of our back yard from the side of the house. I was actually able to walk in the yard!

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Here is another view that includes our back deck. Those piles of snow are probably left from when we shoveled the snow off the deck during the winter.

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While I was outside more geese went by overhead.

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I am loving the weather, but this coming week looks to be a little “un-springlike”. Sarcastic smile

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BUT…21 days until we head for Tennessee!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Morning Walk

Now that the nicer weather is upon us, we have gotten back to walking again. After I got home from work last night, Harry and I walked a couple laps around our development. This morning, I decided to keep it up with another walk before I head to work in a bit. It’s another “warm” day – 50 degrees at the moment – I saw neighbor kids waiting for the school bus in shorts. Sarcastic smile

This is the view from the street standing in front of our house.

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The whole time I was walking, I could hear all kinds of birds all over the place. There are quite a few congregating in the top of this tree.

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Now, the other side of the development must get more sun, because they seem to have lost a bit more snow than we have.

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At the top of the circle, there seems to be a place where something is going to be built. They cleared the land during the winter. We are waiting to see what goes in here… (note the homemade “gate”)

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I was contemplating doing a third lap around, but the sky was starting to look a little like rain…and it’s not that warm!

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And finally! at the end of my walk….my first robin sighting of the season!! (Sorry, it’s a little blurry, I had to zoom in from across the street.)

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Enjoy the day everyone!! Smile