Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sweet Pete's

We went for a fun field trip to Sweet Pete's, a local chocolate factory, candy store, and  restaurant, The Candy Apple Cafe.Everyone had a great time learning and being involved in the making of strawberry taffy.

  Sweet Pete's is located in the old Seminole Club building in downtown Jacksonville next to City Hall and Hemming Plaza.  Victoria and I started our day with a monorail ride to Hemming Plaza, a visit to the Main library and a delicious coffee from a coffee truck in Hemming Plaza, then off to meet up with our group. 

This is for Alena - we thought she would like it!
Shawn was an amazing tour guide, funny, educational and witty.  Here they are heating up the concoction to the left of the stage and the kids picked their flavor for the taffy.
The strawberry flavor and natural beet juice for coloring was used...
We could smell the taffy in the back of the sweet.
The marble slab is used to cool the candy.
The spatulas assist the candy maker in moving the candy around the marble slab so it does not harden.
Then, it is pulled to get air out of the taffy, as it is pulled the color will lighten and the taffy will be almost ready to finish.
The kids got to finish their project, pull their taffy, roll it into long strands, cut it and wrap it the old-fashioned way.  Chewy and delicious!
This is the second floor balcony with a One Spark  hydroponic project that is really amazing!

We also got to tour the factory which was really fun and watch them make chocolate covered pretzels and caramel covered popcorn!  Yummy!!
We finished the day with another ride on the Skyway, Jacksonville's monorail.  It was actually pretty busy everytime we rode it and it was extremely convenient to get from place to place.

Pin It

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Spring is in the Air

So this is our one and a half year old garden after our second winter.  Soon, everything will start to bloom, right now new life is starting a little everywhere we look.

The banana trees on the right are starting to grow, lettuce and mustards are going to seed in the back and we are toward the end of our broccoli, brussel sprouts and mustard greens.  Now we have peas everywhere and beans, corn and squash seeds starting.
This side of the garden is a long term work project, 2 apple trees, a keiffer pear, 2 dogwoods and a cassia.  The trellis is to for our muscadines and some grapes.  I have more roses, fennel, kale, collards, tomatillos, jalapeno peppers and peas planted in this area also.  I want to start a permanent asparagus bed somewhere also.
This little lemon tree blooms about 3 times a year so it seems we almost always have some lemon in the yard.  
The honeybell is in full bloom and there is Victoria in her playhouse.
Mustards, arugula, brussel sprouts, blueberries and more.
More orange blossoms...they smell divine
The view from our front porch in the beginning of March, can't wait to see it fill in!
Pin It

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Fun Projects and DIY

Busy, creative, enjoyable weeks and weekends abound here at the Johnstons.  Soon, we will finish our home diy projects only to work on our outdoor gardening projects!  Having fun making, learning and enjoying life!

Loofah soaps - great for dirty hands after a day of gardening!
Our bedroom looks so much better with some furniture and clutter out, new blinds  a new comforter and a rearrangement of furniture.  Now to finish it up with curtains  and pictures hung on the wall.
Victoria is having fun with chemistry - here she was mixing hydrogen peroxide, yeast and vinegar to observe the chemical reaction.
A little bubbly
Thar she blows!
WE are finishing up our study of ancient history and Egypt.  Here she is working on a history craft .
Step two of the craft was to trace the Egyptian God onto aluminum foil then color in with sharpie.  She is finishing this project today by dividing the background into sections with a ruler and creating different designs in each section.

The following project was part of an amazing work day at our church called, Just Be It.  We had the opportunity to serve all around Jacksonville and be God's hands and feet.  What a blessing for us to offer to the one, true King.
Newly planted beds outside UCOM Food Pantry - Can't wait to watch everything grow and plant some more summer veges here.  This bed has potatoes in the back, lettuce, kale, garlic, chives and lavender.

Yesterday, we started soccer and it is Girl Scout cookie time so we are a busy, busy household having fun and enjoying the warmer days and a big congratulations to Kate who is starting a new job tomorrow morning!

 May you be blessed throughout your week and give, enjoy and love God, your family and the world with the same passion in which God has loved us!
Pin It

Thursday, January 29, 2015

DIY Home Improvement Projects

We have quite a few projects going on here at the Johnston household.  

We have painted and redone Victoria's room, painted our front door a lovely blue-green, rearranged furniture, hung new drapes in the dining room and have painted over  the bright yellow downstairs with a lovely butter cream color.  

We also purchased a denim slipcover for the couch and  are very pleased with the color. 

We were just going to be painting the downstairs, doors and our bedrooms but my friend,                   Beth, has great decorating ideas and she has a lovely sense of color and space and has helped us to move furniture we already have and make it look lovely.


AFTER - Our new pop of color is very pleasing and lovely

BEFORE - Furniture has been moved and slip covered - before Painting
AFTER - New paint - butter cream with white trim.  

AFTER - New paint, a little more organized and a lovely color.  A lot less clutter
New curtains in the dining room add some depth and color
Victoria's room - a lovely blue with new curtain, pillow sham and duvet cover.  WE do need to make new curtains for the little dresser.  Blue is a very soothing color.
Pin It

Friday, January 2, 2015

Homeschooling: Shakespeare

We try to read  Shakespeare every other year and this year for sixth grade we decided to read Julius Caesar.  We enjoyed the book and it seemed as though this was the year we were meant to read this particular play.

Back in May of 2014, we went to the FPEA home school convention  and listened to stories from master storyteller, Jim Weiss.  After hearing him I could not resist buying his Julius Caesar and the Story of Rome CD.  We listened to the CD on the way back from Orlando and when I tried to turn it off I was met with a resounding, "NO!"  It was a great history lesson and he tells Julius Caesar as a fascinating story-teller would.  We loved it and Victoria was hooked.

Once school started in September we started to read No Fear Shakespeare: Julius Caesar.  This is a wonderful way to read Shakespeare as the original play is on the left  page and the modern translation is on the right page.  Victoria and I read the play and if we really did not understand what was said we would look to the translation.  We thoroughly enjoyed the story and acting out the parts!

Last, but definitely not least, we rented the original Cleopatra from the library and lo and behold, the entire middle story is ....Julius Caesar.  I'm sure many of you already knew this but I didn't and it was a wonderful tie-in to the CD, the history of Rome, the reading of Shakespeare and the story of Cleopatra.  If you are looking to add a Shakespeare in middle  or high school I would definitely suggest these extras for enhancement.

Pin It

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 Goals and DIY Crafts

Last year after publishing crafts to try in the upcoming year, they were all done in three months.  So here are some goals and DIY crafts for the upcoming year:

January/February - We are redoing and painting and giving a general upgrade to some of our rooms.  We would love to have the family room painted a lighter yellow (buttercream) and the couch slipcovered in the next two weeks.

We are also going to paint our bedroom and we are looking at some lovely white and china blue patterns for the room, soothing and relaxing and something to finish during the colder winter months.

March - This will be a season of planting and starting seed.  In the next few weeks, January, I will be creating beds around our apple trees and planting garlic bulbs, yarrow and garlic chives to help the trees.  Some swales and berms are needed to create beds and pathways around the muscadine arbor and in January (tomorrow) I have to move the muscadines to train them up the arbor.

The beds, berms and swales will go throughout this area an dwe will plant garbanzo beans to try to outcompete the dollarweed

April - I think this will also be a big planting and seed starting month.  I really want to have a lot of food in the garden throughout the year.  Each season has many vegetables and fruits and I want to be sure to be planting seed all the time.

May - Cooking - I want to improve my cooking skills in two ways:1 - Up the flavor and intensity of each dish to a higher level and 2 - learn to utilize the herbs in the yard to their best advantage and enhance the flavor of dishes.  I'm thinking recipes from Epicurious would be a good start - but I also want them healthy.
This roast was simple and delicicous!

This summer I want to learn to freeze and can more of what we grow so that we have it in winter months.  Tomatoes, pasta sauce, salsas, etc.!  I want them tasty and worth the trouble. Blueberries, jams, strawberries, the more to can or freeze the better. No waste!

June - August -  Summer break - a family vacation somewhere (possibly in the mountains).  A canoe trip down the Santa Fe river or the Suwanee river - one family trip and one couple trip would be fun! Walks, parks, crafts, and enjoying each other.

This will be a busy time in the garden to can and freeze and allow no waste!

September -November - Back to school, Victoria will be starting youth at church so my goal for the fall is to incorporate exercise into every day in some way!  I also want to improve on my couponing, meal planning, freezer cooking and family planning.

Freezer Cooking Plans from Money Saving

December - Merry Christmas - Make gifts and enjoy family!  I made some gifts this past year and will post them on facebook since I took pics on the phone.  We made beeswax candles with dried flowers, chili oil, strawberry and blueberry jam, framed photos  - for Duane - his sailboat, for Brother Bob and Brother Allen and family - framed flowers from the garden, lip balms - made with coconut oil, beeswax, honey, cinnamon and cocoa powder and some scented candles.

Pin It

Christmas 2014

We have had a really good Christmas and now we are just enjoying a very laid back Christmas break.  Pajama days, sleeping in, good food, lots of coffee for me, and some fun family adventures.  

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Storm and Pandora loved the Christmas tree this year!

Victoria is becoming a budding photgrapher with these beautiful pictures of flowers from the yard.

I love the morning dew on the leaves.

Christmas morning in the Johnston household, nice and relaxed this year.

Kate loved all of her gifts and it was so nice to have her home.

Ninjabread cookie men 

A bird in the crepe myrtle - beautiful!

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Pin It