Archive for the Inspiration Category

Fort Myers Beach Baskets

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , , , on December 9, 2011 by PickMeYard

We have a gazillion palm fronds in Florida.  My son and I have been thinking about a way to use our old palm fronds to make a Seminole Indian thatch cover as a shady area for our goats.  So, on a recent outing to Fort Myers Beach, a man weaving baskets out of palm fronds immediately caught our eye.  We watched him quickly weave an awesome basket out of one frond.  We thought this was so cool and had to buy some.

Dave weaving a small basket at Fort Myers Beach.

He starts the basket with the middle of the frond.

Dave makes it look easy.  I seriously doubt it’s easy.  The finished baskets are beautiful.  Dave has a website and sells his baskets from it, but he’s half the price if you buy them from him at Fort Myers Beach.  We definitely had to have one… actually two.  The baskets start out green since they’re still freshly cut and then they dry out and turn brown.  It’s not a bad thing.  The dried baskets are lovely.  I’d been searching for the perfect basket and I found it.  Writing this post makes me want to go buy more from him.  Maybe I’ll get one of his hats too… any excuse to go to the beach. 

Boys watching Dave weave the baskets.

The basket is taking shape.

These are the two baskets I bought.

Dave says that cats go bonkers over the baskets.  He said he makes some just to donate to the cats at the Humane Society.  Check out his website at Coconut Baskets.com.

Koby bought his own basket with his own money.

Come grow with us!

We Love Jesus

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , , , on November 29, 2011 by PickMeYard

This is one of those posts about a person so inspirational that I have to tell everybody.  His name is Jesus Salgueiro (it’s pronounced hay-soos) and he’s from Venezuela. He’s beat 3 major cancers 3 times,  including lung cancer and an inoperable brain cancer.  Hope Hospice was expecting him, but his partner and a friend decided against it.  How did he beat such deadly cancers 3 times?

First, he attributes his survival to leaving the first set of doctors that were treating him.  A second opinion can save your life.  His second opinion, Dr. Razier, saved his.

Secondly, he had more paintings to paint.  Jesus is an artist.  He usually paints hearts and angels, but he does whatever his heart and mind tell him to do.  He sees hearts in everything from a hole in a t-shirt to tree branches. He keeps track by taking pictures of them and has hundreds. I wonder if he follows the hearts or if they follow him because I don’t see ’em.  He has also seen an angel.  She visited him in his hospital room and told him he wasn’t going to die from his brain tumor because he still has things to do.  His tumor reduced in size immediately afterward. Was it truly an angel or an overly hopeful imagination on cancer drugs? It doesn’t matter… he survived with minimal further treatment. He doesn’t care if anybody believes him because it’s his own incredible story.  It’s not my story to publish on the world-wide web, so I left out the details, but I think of this story all the time and feel joy.  I want to hear this story again and again.  People need stories like these.  I’ll ask him to forgive me later.

Jesus and friend.

One of Jesus' art studios. He's slowly turning every room of his house into more studio. Artists do that.

More studio.

Some of his work hanging in his living room.

His partner, Chef Art Smith, lost 120 pounds. Jesus turned his old trousers into a piece of art.

 My friend and I were having dinner at Chef Art Smith’s new restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia.  I was telling her all about Jesus and bragging about his hearts.  She points and says, “you mean… like those?” I turn around and look at the wall behind me and sure enough, it’s Jesus’ hearts.

Jesus' art hanging in the new restaurant, Southern Art in Atlanta, GA.

 Jesus’ depth of color and texture is mesmerizing.  Everybody loves his work.  My favorite pieces are his manhole covers.  He’s travelled the world and sketched manholes in hundreds of cities.  He’s got some exciting stories about these adventures.  I wish he’d make a book with all these sketches because they’re absolutely gorgeous and there’s so many.  I asked him if he’s worried about somebody copying him.  Even if they did, they would never be as good as Jesus’ originals.

Jesus telling the stories behind his manhole covers. Don't even think about touching a manhole cover in China!

Jesus has a great story on how he obtained this Chinese manhole cover.

I lost track on which city this cover is from... he has over 500.

Paris.

Beverly Hills.

Stacks and stacks of the most amazing works of art.

The colors are out of this world.

Check out the online gallery of some of his work on his website at Susejart.com.  Make sure your sound is turned on.  Oh, and keep your eyes peeled because his art is starting to pop up everywhere!  A little birdie told me that Lady Gaga just purchased a piece.

We love you, Jesus.

Come grow with us!

A Child’s Perspective

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , on August 16, 2011 by PickMeYard

My 4-H kid wanted to try his hand at photography this past year so I gave him a camera and let him go.  He was 9-years-old when he took these shots and I was super curious to see what his photos would show.  I schooled him a little on how to use the camera and what to look for when he was picking his subject.  I begged him to make his photos interesting.  The rest was entirely up to him.

Grayson taking his shots for his 4-H photography contest.

Grayson didn’t use all these photos in the contest.  He did win several first place awards with a few of them though and I wanted to share some of our favorites with you.  Here goes…

Florida cattle.

A Southwest Florida cowboy and his horse.

Resting Florida cowboys.

The photos are all from a child’s perspective, but I have to add commentary to them.  I can’t help myself.

The following photo looks like an environmental nightmare.  However, the plant has a Department of Environmental Protection office right on their property.  When the smoke gets thick, they immediately take action to lessen it.  It was particularly thick when Grayson shot this photo.  There was hardly any smoke (and a boring photo) just a few minutes later.   Southern Garden Citrus has 3 million orange trees that absorb 613,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year.  They use predator insects for pest control and only use chemical methods on particular trees when necessary.  Their orange groves provide habitat for lots of wildlife such as fish, birds and deer… and too many wild hogs.  They don’t discard any part of the orange.  The pulp, skin and oil are all used for products.  Florida is the 2nd largest producer of oranges in the world, (Brazil is 1st, but it’s a fact that Florida oranges are juicier).

Southern Gardens orange juice plant. The third largest in the nation.

Organic Florida farm. The sugarcane is planted as a wind break.

Organic Florida farm truck.

I hesitated to post the following photo.  All political views and solutions aside, this is how the food gets to most tables.  We have to grow more food.  Most countries consume more than they produce. According to an agent at the University of Florida IFAS office, there is expected to be 30-50 billion people on the planet by 2050.  Food will become a scarce commodity.  Out of the 7 billion people on the planet, 1 billion of them are starving right now.  How do we keep up with the food production? It would be detrimental to the U.S. to rely on foreign food production.

Grayson’s perspective is that this guy gets to garden and get paid for it. (I think I need to have Grayson pull more weeds).   The dust in this field on the day Grayson took this photo was unbearable.

A very hard job.

Sugar cane fields behind the U.S. Sugar Corporation in South Florida.

A controlled fire in the sugarcane fields of Clewiston, Florida. Planting begins in late August.

Sugarcane can live, and is productive, for 4-5 years on good mulch soils before it is replanted.  In Florida, rice is grown in rotation with sugarcane.  51% of sugar comes from cane and 49% comes from sugar beet.  Sugarcane used to be sprayed with nasty chemicals several times a year to control a pest called the cane borer.  However, a small wasp (called Cotesia) was brought in and it kills the sugar cane borer.  So, sugarcane is not sprayed with chemicals for pests anymore.  They do spray a fungicide though.  They’re working on new varieties that will not be as susceptible to disease and will have increased production… probably genetically modified, which I am against.

Florida is the nation’s largest producer of sugarcane with over 400,000 acres.  Did you know the average American eats (or drinks) 67 pounds of sugar a year?  Florida is also the #1 producer of sweet corn, watermelon, bell peppers and snap beans.

Morning on the Caloosahatchee River.

This is our six-toed urban farm cat. He uses those paws like hands.

Grayson's honeybees coming home.

Our Labradoodle and LaMancha (paws and hoofs).... best friends.

Come grow with us!

A Garden Tea Party Fit for a Princess

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , on August 12, 2011 by PickMeYard

We don’t usually need a reason to have a little tea party, but this was a birthday tea party for my 4-year-old.  She invited her friends over for a Princess Tea Party and asked them to wear their favorite princess dress.

A gazebo was set up in the garden and decorated with sheer Ikea curtains and adorned with flowers and butterflies.

Each chair had a slip cover and a handmade garland with ribbons and flowers for each girl to take home.

The Frog Prince waited patiently on the table for his true love.

A handmade flower chandelier with big butterflies around it hung over the table.

Another view of the flower chandelier.

The table setting was definitely fit for a group of princesses.

We made traditional tea sandwiches for the moms and the girls.

We made the girls sandwiches into a variety of shapes.

Cupcakes and cookies.

A colorful fruit salad with persimmon, oranges, blueberries and pomegranate.

Princess candies.

Tea cups for the moms.

Water with lemons and rose petals from the garden... no insecticides.

Princess tea cart... each girl took her tea set home as a gift, along with a bunch of other gifts!

Each little girl was given a paper bag and a bin full of craft items to decorate their bag.  They used their bag to carry home an assortment of gifts such as a snow globe with their picture in it, a purse and a little ceramic tea set.

... and the Princesses!

They were all treated like real princesses for an afternoon.

They played on the ship playground and did several party games.

... and GiGi worked tirelessly to make the fairytale party come true. That's her lighting the birthday candles.

My mom brought the gazebo over to our house, decorated the gazebo, made the chandelier, made a table out of plywood, set the table, brought a ton of extras and stayed up until the early morning hours to finish it all for the party.  Mom, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Come grow with us!

Glorious Gardens of Prospect Plantation

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , on August 10, 2011 by PickMeYard

I’ve seen my share of beautiful places and scenic gardens around the world.  As my memory fades, I try to remember something in particular about the place to lock it into my memory so I can hold onto it as long as possible.   On a recent adventure through a gorgeous plantation in Jamaica, I realized my children would be holding onto their memories of this garden for a long time to come… especially the cow itch my 4-year-old got on her backside.  She was such a brave little trooper- it stings!  I’ll be sure to show that picture at her wedding.

We are so lucky to have a close friend that lives in a charming old cottage deep in the woods of Prospect Plantation, just outside Ocho Rios, Jamaica.  We spent a weekend with her and explored the historic area until our legs cramped up.  The respite from television, phone and internet was a deep breath of fresh air.  We made friends with snails, cicadas, mongoose, hummingbirds, camels… and probably a few duppies

The fairytale cottage we stayed in.

... sneak peek inside the cottage.

Exploring new paths .

Gardens on the plantation at Prospect, Ocho Rios.

Canna lilies. Grayson's photo.

A hummingbird nest.

... magnificent view down the hill.

Leaf imprints on concrete pavers.

A tree planted by Charlie Chaplin.

Antique grind stone.

Sweet, sweet kissing camels. Just look at those lovely lips!

This Jamaican land snail was lovingly nicknamed "Snaily". This critter had personality and was much more entertaining than T.V.

Smiling for the camera.

Cicadas everywhere! Their wings shimmer like gold in the sun.

Kids peeking around the corner at the old Prospect Chapel.

Grayson peeking around the same corner long before his sister was born. We've been here before.

Dancing in the flowers.

Making memories and enjoying every precious moment of it.

I’m ending this post with another favorite song because it’s just so appropriate…  Sweet Jamaica, by Tony Rebel. 

Come grow with us!

2011 Polo Season

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2011 by PickMeYard

I realize that polo is not a popular sport for most… but it could be.

Polo is a super exciting game to watch.  It’s played at an all-out full speed and the players get hurt constantly.   Polo players are a hard-core breed of people who usually live and breathe their sport.  They tend to be obsessed with it and think of little else.  I can see why.  The spirit, the vibe and the energy of polo is very infectious.  

Full speed ahead!

If you ever have an afternoon that you’re looking for something new and different to do outside, check out a polo match.  It’s more of an American sport than most people realize… and it does have a magical appeal.  The United States Polo Association has an excellent website to get more information about polo in the U.S.  They also have a full list of upcoming events.

Polo in action.

 

 

Polo player injury on the field.

The 2011 Polo season is in full swing at the International Polo Club in Palm Beach which is the home of the only high-goal season in the U.S. You don’t have to be a member of the club to go enjoy the game every Sunday at 3 p.m., but you do have to purchase tickets.  Reservations are highly recommended. The season ends April 17, 2011.  The game on Sunday, March 13th in Wellington will have a special appearance by Betsey Johnson.

Children playing by the polo field.

She's pretending she has a pony.

He's dreaming he has a pony.

... and she really has a pony. Check out the diaper helmet.

... he's practicing his polo skills, just in case.

This is the traditional ‘divet stomping’.

That’s a Jamaican polo player in the photo above.  She’s taken me to some riveting polo games in Jamaica.  It isn’t unheard of to hear “get up, Man! There’s nothing wrong with you!” coming from the audience after a player has fallen at a Jamaican polo match.   They’re very serious about their games.  Of course, all polo players are.  Here’s a list of the 2011 upcoming events for the Jamaica Polo Association,  just in case you want to try something off the beaten tourist path.  You could even grab a polo lesson from a world champion female polo player.  (Ask for Lesley Ann Masterton Fong-Yee).

 

Come grow with us!

Chalkboard Art, Part 2

Posted in Inspiration with tags , on March 7, 2011 by PickMeYard

We converted our garage into a playroom several years ago and I decided to create an endless amount of things to keep the kids busy in there.  I painted an entire wall with a beige chalkboard paint.  Click on the link to see the chalkboard art in my kids bedroom.

Chalkboard art in the garage.

Before I painted the chalkboard paint on the wall, I painted it with a magnetized paint.  I was hoping the result would be a magnetized chalkboard.  Unfortunately, the magnetization is very weak.  Maybe the chalkboard paint over it was too much.  It’s no big deal though.  The kids spend hours drawing on the walls.

Priceless.

Come grow with us!