Thursday, August 30, 2007

Beach Trip -- posted by John

Last week I went on a trip to Jacksonville with my brother James and my sister Sarah and my father.

Dad took James and me to the beach to boogie board. One goliath wave shot me like a speeding bullet up on the shore. I felt faster than Superman! It was like I got stuffed in the barrel of an armored tank and I got blown on to the beach. No kidding, it was like I was starring in an action movie-- a mix between Jack Bauer, Jason Bourne, and James Bond.

I was sitting on the sand with no waves coming and when I could finally see, I looked around to find Dad and James. I finally saw them way out over their heads just floating on their boards. It sickened me because I felt like they left me by myself. The ocean is a lonely place without your family.

We had supper tonight at 4:30 because Sarah's class at The Culinary Arts Institute started tonight at 6:oo. Dad and Will took her but normally Will and Spencer take her. They'll go study at the library while Sarah Grace is in class. Sarah Grace knows how to drive but she doesn't drive alone. That's how we roll.

Tonight I helped Mom cook supper since Sarah was at guitar lessons. We made grilled chicken and pineapples and a huge salad. I peeled the cucumber and collected all the ingredients. Sarah got in just in time to make her delicious salad dressing. That meal is simple but great.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Gator Country! -- posted by James

James Hamilton Allen here, reporting for blog duty, sir.

Last week Sarah Grace, John, and I went with Dad on a business trip to Jacksonville. Here's a picture of the sunset on the way.

We arrived in Jacksonville late Wednesday night. The next morning we had breakfast at The Courtyard where we stayed. Dad went to work and we studied while he was gone. When he returned, we went to Cracker Barrel across the street for dinner. We went back to the room and studied a little before we went swimming. Dad worked in the room while we were in the pool and we came back in just before he left for another meeting. While he was gone, we studied some more.

Once Dad got back from his meeting, he took John, me, and our boogie boards to the beach. I caught a 9ft wave that dragged me up on the shore. It felt like I was skidding on sandpaper! Dad and I went out way over our heads and it took me a while to get back to shore. We rode waves and collected shells and rocks before we had to get back to the hotel to clean up for supper at Beach Road Chicken Dinners.

Beach Road Chicken Dinners is a restaurant on the way to the beach that Dad used to go to with his grandparents when he was a little boy. We hear about it every time he goes to Jacksonville because he tries to fit it in his trip. It is a very homey place for Dad and we were glad to finally go. He was very proud to take us there.

As far as food goes, the chicken was better than most. A lot of "southern fried" chicken restaurants are way too greasy and not like the South we know. For example, Kentucky Fried Chicken is much too greasy and we never eat there. The best fried chicken is Cain's in Florence or Shealy's in Batesburg-Leesville if it is not homemade.

The coleslaw at Beach Road was slightly sweet, not too much mayonaisse and you could taste the cabbage- just how I like it. All in all, it was pretty good food. We took some home on ice. I think the best part of Beach Road Chicken Dinners is Dad's memories.

After supper, Dad gave us a tour of Jacksonville at night. We saw a building where an artist painted the windows to look like a huge jaguar was filling the inside. We saw the stadium and we went over a bridge that was lined in violet lights. Beautiful.

The next morning we ate breakfast again at The Courtyard, went back to the room, and studied and napped. I won't say who studied and who napped. Then we went to the pool and swam until Dad got back from his meeting. Then we packed, checked out, and headed to Fernandina Beach, Dad's hometown. We grabbed burgers on the way except for Sarah who got a lousy salad. It was so lousy, we got her a sandwich too.

Sarah makes salads with spinach or green leaf lettuce, black olives, cucumber, tomatoes, colorful peppers, pineapple or mandarin oranges, and sometimes carrots, avocado, and Vidalia onions. And she makes homemade salad dressings that are delicious! Sarah's salads pawn Wendy's! Sarah beat Wendy! Go Sarah!

Anyway, Dad was excited to show us Fernandina Beach and we were excited to see it since we've heard so much about his best friend Timmy Crumpler and Egan's Creek.

First, we went to Centre Street which is downtown. Then we saw Dad's 2nd house and Timmy's 2nd house.

Timmy's -

Dad's -

That is also where we saw Egan's Creek, which is where Dad and Timmy used to play.

Next, we went by Dad's 1st house and Timmy's 1st house.

Timmy's -

Dad's -

We saw the recreation center where Dad split his head open doing a back flip off the diving board. We saw Dad's Lutheran church when he was a Lutheran and he showed us where he used to swim at the beach. We also went by The Palace Saloon which is the oldest saloon in Florida.

Before we left for home we got ice cream (mine was chocolate fudge) and we walked around the marina.

We all had a really fun trip and it was great being in Gator country!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tim Tebow in USA TODAY -- posted by Mom

A column in the school newspaper last week was headlined, "Tim Tebow makes life for UF men frustrating" and detailed, with great lament, Tebow's good looks, position as star quarterback, good grades, deep faith and modesty. "So where does this leave us 'normal' guys?" the sophomore writer asked. "Screwed, that's where." USA TODAY

As homeschooling Gator fans, we're just cuckoo for Tim Tebow. With our family knowing there are 6 days, 22 hours, 45 minutes, and 30 seconds to the next game (but who's counting?), we didn't really need any more anticipation, but we were certainly refreshed by this article in light of all the recent headlines with the chain gang at USC.

There is also a very interesting left sidebar article on Pam Tebow's pregnancy with Tim -

SEC preview: Florida's odd couple give Gators bite

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Traveling with Dad-- posted by Sarah Grace

My dad came up with a wonderful idea. Since he has to travel frequently, as much as once a week, he decided to invite the older kids to travel with him. We take turns, and so far it's been a blast!

This week, Spencer and I joined him in Winston-Salem NC for two days. The first day Dad had a business meeting in Mt. Airy, which is the birthplace of Andy Griffith, and the inspiration for Mayberry from The Andy Griffith Show. The town is so much like Mayberry, we felt like we were on the set.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

We ate lunch at Barney's Cafe and we each ordered a delicious Barney burger; in fact, Dad said it was one of the best he's ever had. Before we left, we stopped by Opie's candy shop and bought a bag full of different candies for the boys. We also saw a collection of Andy Griffith memorabilia, including the original outfit for lovable ol' Otis!

After resting at the hotel we headed out to Old Salem, which is much like Williamsburg. We had supper at The Tavern, where I enjoyed one of the best meals ever! Dad and I had Moravian ginger encrusted pork tenderloin with sweet potato bread pudding and collards. Spencer had venison with cabbage and spaetzle. For dessert we all had Moravian gingerbread topped with lemon ice cream. Scrumptious!

The next day Spencer and I went swimming while Dad went to his meetings. Before we left town we stopped by Acropolis Market, which is a Mediterranean specialty shop. As one of my great interests is traditional whole food cooking, my Aunt Mary knew I would enjoy this shop, and I certainly did! I just wish I had brought a cooler to take home some of the different cheeses and delectables!

Aunt Mary is friends with the owners who are from the Middle East. Mrs. Bendass, the wife, was interested in introducing us to something unusual, and we were able to bring home delicious date cookies from Saudi Arabia. The cookie part is similar to shortbread and the center has a date filling. It is perfectly not too sweet. We also enjoyed mango nectar from Egypt, and we picked up a bag of walnuts as well. Mrs. Bendass was very gracious, and I'm looking forward to my next visit.

Raw Honey-- posted by Will

- I'll let you know as products are available.

Goat Milk Soap-- posted by Sarah Grace

- I'll let y'all know as products are available.

I welcome you to make requests for your favorite natural additives.

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Back row: Sarah Grace, James,(Uncle Bob), Will, Spencer
Front row: George, Richard, John, Webb (in wheelbarrow)

Uncle Bob

The Colonel's Broodin' Biddies-- posted by Spencer

They call me The Colonel. Why? Because they are kaniggits.

No, actually, they think it’s funny. You know, the kid in charge of chickens named after another chicken mogul. How original. Anyway, it’s better than Colonel Gus, which was my initial nickname. (My first name is August.) I lovingly yet firmly put a stop to that. “The Colonel” suits me well.

I’ve written this page to share information about my flock. Because we know that happy, cared-for chickens produce healthy eggs, we purchased our first chicks five years ago for our family. I was put in charge.

I’ve learned a lot over the years in regard to chicken health and management. My chickens and roosters are free-range, which allows them to supplement their diets with natural foraging. I never use hormones of any kind. I pay close attention to not only their varied diet, but also managing a peaceful environment to limit stress which, as with most livestock, can negatively affect the product. Consequently, our eggs have bright yellow yolks and full flavor – just like they are supposed to! They make eggcellent pound cake, which is noticeably richer than store-bought. Due to their oyster shell supplement, the eggshells are harder than mass-produced eggs. That is because of higher calcium levels.

Here are the breeds we currently stock:

Penedesenca Maran and Cuckoo Maran lay medium to large very dark chocolate brown to red brown eggs. Evidently Marans are James Bond’s favorites!

The Black Australorp lays medium-sized brown eggs.

Ameraucanas lay medium eggs that are various shades of blue and blue-green to turquoise.

The New Hampshire Red lays large light to medium dark brown eggs.

The ornamental Polish chickens lay small white eggs but they do it with style. Check out that funky witchdoctor headdress!

Red and Black Sex Links are named for the fact that their sexes are the most easily distinguished. They lay large brown eggs.

Finally, I’m happy to recognize my staff of George (6) and John (8). They gladly and tirelessly lug fresh water and feed daily. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. My Stetson’s off to you, cowboys.

A. Spencer Allen