Monday, March 23, 2015

Aloe Vera Harvest

I've had these Aloe Vera plants for quite some time and they have grown so heavy, they just can't hold themselves up anymore.  Time to harvest them.  Typically when I harvest it, it's during summer when someone has burnt themself.  This time, I decided to harvest it ahead and freeze it.  Here is my step by step tutorial on getting all that amazing gel out of the plant to keep for future use.  Hope this helps someone!

Cut the leaf at the base to get the fattest part possible.

Carefully cut the green away from the gel.

 Cute one side and then the other.

 Have a nice clear strip of gel in your hand.

 Place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and freeze.
When frozen, simply peel off and store in baggies for future use.  Works great for cooling and healing sunburns. 

Don't forget about having a cute little helper to lend a hand.  One touch of the gel and she decided it wasn't something to mess with.  Yuck!  :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Florida 2015 Vacation with the Murphys- Week 1, Days 1&2

Our big family vacation that we've planned for a couple years now finally happened.  So much fun traveling and relaxing together.  On our way down to Florida we decided to leave on Thursday after work was done and then head out to get beyond Louisville.  That sure made the trip not so rushed and gave us time to make some pit stops that we wanted to, such as visiting a guy that Jonathon coached in basketball and stopping at The Yellow Deli in Chattanooga for lunch, which is always a treat.

 The Yellow Deli- Best restaurant ever!!!

With children that get car sick easily, it's always nice to not be rushed in the mornings and be able to take our time and let them get out when needed.  We wanted to take my parents to We're Nuts to get some nutty snacks, so that made for a nice stop in the morning to get out and stretch.  
Samples galore and yummy treats to save for later!

On to Florida!!!  We stopped at the welcome center to get a fresh squeezed cup of orange juice and enjoy the fun things they had to look at and see.  Benaiah and I decided to get our sun on and drive the car.  :)

We arrived at our home away from home right before supper time.  Was a good time to order pizza and get unpacked for the 2 week stay.  One thing that the children did as part of their school during the vacation was journal.  I bought them journals years ago that they use for vacations and special moments.  They draw a picture of the happenings or their favorite moment and then they write about it.  It's always enjoyable to read back through them and see how their drawing and writing has improved over the years.  This was an almost nightly event- journal time!

And Saphira's "School".

We knew that the rest of the family (my brother's family) would enjoy hearing about all of our adventures, so there were postcards and letters mailed out often.  We also collected postcards of shark teeth and shell identification and collected shark teeth and shells to send to them.  That should be a fun package  for them when it arrives.

We put many puzzles together.  One of the nights in the hotel room on the way down, we gave my mom and early birthday present.  Everyone picked what they wanted to give to her.  It was kind of funny what the children thought of.  Jonathon gave her dark chocolate, I gave her a puzzle (the one below), Alegra chose a sudoku book, Diella chose finger nail polish, Josiah chose almonds covered in dark cocoa, Benaiah chose a cake mix for us to make on her birthday, and Saphira chose a can of peaches.  The puzzle we gave her was an ocean scenery.  It was the first of many puzzles that we all worked on throughout the two weeks.

The house had a nice selection of local maps for us to use, so Dad and Benaiah set out to finding all that we needed to know in the area.  Wherever my dad was, Benaiah was usually close by.

Had to start the trip with freshly done nails.  Even Saphira enjoys getting her's done.  We bought Jamberry nail wraps for our big toes, so they would all match, then we each did the other toes to match in our own style.  The fingernails were each girl for herself or none at all.

The final pretty toes of each of us.  Can you guess whose foot is whose?  :)

If you couldn't find my dad at any time, he could be found in the garage, fixing up his fishing poles.  And that's where Benaiah usually was also.

Complete puzzle and the children needing to get a little energy out.  So, Jonathon put them to playing twister on the rug.  It proved to be a great activity and quite funny.

 Guess who was out first?  :)

 We had a lovely pool behind the house that was usually very warm to swim in.  Before we tested it out though, the children wanted to explore what was in the yard.  First stop was this tree that Grandpa just knew would be full of lizards.  Sure enough, there were a bunch in there, and our little photographer had to capture them all.

The first full day in Florida was a beautiful day, so we decided to head to the beach and do some shark tooth hunting.  We had all of our gear and supplies to make it a successful hunt.  Poor Jonathon's back tightened up on him from all the driving on the way to Florida, so he spent his time laying on the beach while the rest of us explored.

 This girl loved the sand, but didn't want anything to do with the water touching her.  

Murphy & Bovee 2015 Vacation- By the time I got finished, the water came right up and washed most of my letters away.  Wasn't worth doing over for the perfect picture, so it's just M & B 2015.

Day 2 we headed to Myakka River State Park.  My dad got a fishing license, so he tried his hand at fishing in this area.  No success that day.  We did stand on this bridge for quite some time watching a gator and some birds.  They weren't very close though.

My parents have been to this park before, so they were very excited to show us all the great areas, but they didn't know about some of the trails to walk on.  The one we wanted to walk on the most was the tree top trail.  The park built a boardwalk up in the canopy of the trees to a big overlook tower.  Wow, that was quite the walk and climb up, but we all did it and overcame some fears in the process.

 The view from the top of the tower was beautiful with the blue sky, the marsh lands and the green from the livelihood of the trees.  We were at the same level as the birds soaring in the sky and the wind swayed the tower ever so slightly as it blew.  I was glad to say I accomplished it, but I didn't need to stay up there very long before I was ready to descend.

 We then drove to the dam area in the park where there were other water activities you could do like canoeing (yes, right there in that canal where those gators below are. No thank you!), fishing, and then some other land tours that the park offered.  My dad took all his fishing gear to the dam area and tried catching some there.  He went ahead of the rest of us who needed to use the bathroom, so he caught some wildlife that we missed.  He said he saw an eagle flying with vultures and there was a big alligator right where he was fishing that swam under the boardwalk that he was fishing from.  That gator then swam over to some weeds right next the deck area, so we did see him up close when we got there.

 Gator by the boardwalk.  He was embarrassed and didn't want to show his face.  :)
 We took advantage of any educational things we could, so it was always nice when parks displayed signs that the children could learn from.  This one was fun for them because it was a quiz where you had to pick "true" or "false".  They did pretty good on knowing about the alligator and staying safe in their habitat.

 This park was a lot of fun for seeing wildlife and learning more about Florida vegetation and its habitats.  Alegra was most excited about all the different birds here.  On our way there was a family of Sand Hill Cranes along the road that she captured on her camera, and in the park we saw birds of various sizes and even watched Ospreys hovering over the water.

Back to the house to cool off and enjoy the pool.

There were so many blessings throughout this trip and maybe I'll remember to touch on each of them as I cover the rest of the vacation.  One of them was how much the children improved on their swimming skills.  The girls figured out how to swim under water with their nose unplugged.  Josiah got brave and jumped into the deep end and swam clear to the other end of the pool under water.  That was a big accomplishment for him.  So proud of them for overcoming some pool fears and improving on their skills.  Benaiah still needs his frog as does Saphira, but she can do some mean spins in the water while wearing it.  :)  Oh, and it was a wonder the neighbors didn't come over to tell us to be quieter.  There were some fun water fights and wars that happened almost everyday, especially when Grandpa and Papa got in.  Imagine that.  :D