Thursday, July 19, 2018

Exploring Florida: Silver Glen Springs

I have a personal goal to visit all the springs in Florida and I'm well on my way. One I had really been wanting to cross off my bucket list was Silver Glen Springs located in the Ocala National Forest. Last time I was over that way checking out springs I didn't get to that one and after seeing online pictures I was really disappointed I skipped it. I had also recently just gotten a faux pro (A generic sport camera that's waterproof) and I was really eager to try it out. I'll do another post reviewing it because it's pretty sweet! All of the images in this post were taken with that camera.

What I really liked about Silver Glen was that it wasn't super deep. Sometimes that seventy two degree year round water can take your breath away, so I like to be able to touch while my body is getting used to it! The clarity of the water was brilliantly clear and you almost felt like you were in a pool. I was able to do some snorkeling and to get some underwater video and pictures. Lots of people had rafts which is a great way to check out the springs. It was very nice that they had an air compressor there to blow up your rafts, very thoughtful!

As with most Florida springs that get a lot of visitors you'll want to arrive early to assure parking and a spot in the shade. The parking area does close once they reach capacity. There was plenty of grassy area to set up canopy's, blankets or umbrellas. You can rent a canoe and check out the spring run that flows into Lake George or you can bring your own canoe or kayak as well. While you can snorkel in the spring you can't SCUBA like you can in some of the other Florida Springs. If you feel like staying the night they have a campground there as well. You could explore the other local springs in the area. Juniper, Alexander and Salt Springs, which you can read about here. They only have portable toilets so keep that in mind if you aren't a fan of the port a potty. The cost to get in for adults is $5.50 as of July 2018 but prices are always subject to change. You can find Silver Glen at 5271 FL-19, Salt Springs, FL 32134.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Don't Toss Out That Bacon Grease!

If you enjoy eating bacon like I do then you end up with bacon grease. What are you doing with that grease that's left after your bacon is done cooking? Some people might throw it away but I'm telling you don't toss that bacon grease out! Bacon grease has a lot of flavor and can be used in a number of ways in the kitchen. One of my favorite ways to use it is to grease the pan for cooking eggs instead of using butter. Another use is adding the grease to vegetables that you are sauteing. My personal favorite veggie to do this with is squash for squash casserole. Green beans cooked with a little grease also has a nice flavor without having to add bacon itself. Lastly give a grilled cheese sandwich a shot buy using grease instead of butter. Just heat up your skillet, add the grease and then your bread and cheese.

You can store the bacon grease in various ways. I typically just pour it off into a small bowl and then use till gone. I keep mine in the refrigerator to keep it fresh and also to keep those pesky Summertime flies out that are always sneaking in when you open the door! It's such a waste to throw away the grease and you surely don't want to pour it down the drain. Keeping it for use in the kitchen is a great way to dispose of it and add flavor to your foods!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Making Your Own Homemade Butter

Have you ever been curious about making your own butter? Well if you have you know it's pretty easy and if you haven't your in the right place! I've broken it down into easy picture directions. The best thing about making your own butter is you can add flavors like cinnamon and honey or garlic and herbs. Follow these easy steps and you'll have your own fresh butter!

Start with and empty glass jar and a container of heavy whipping cream, as you can see I used my local store brand. I let my heavy cream sit for tweleve hours at room temperature before starting. I suggest letting it sit out over night and making it in the morning. The glass jar I used was an empty applesauce jar cleaned well and dried.

The next step is to pour your room temperature cream into your empty glass jar and make sure the lid it tight! You don't want heavy whipping cream splashing all over your kitchen!

Start shaking and soon the jar is coated with the cream. Shake about one shake per second for two to three minutes. If you have kids this would be a good time to let them help shake it up!

After the shaking is done you are left with a jar of butter and buttermilk which will look like this.

Pour off the buttermilk from the butter. Don't throw this away though! You can use it in making biscuits or pancakes!

Now it's time to rinse your butter with cold water. Pour the water into your jar covering the butter and shake for a half a minute or so. Drain off the extra water like you did with the buttermilk and throw away. I rinsed mine twice.

This is what you end up with at the end of the process. After you get the butter into your bowl you can add your salt or any other kind of herbs or mix in's to make this taste how you like. You can also get a bit more water out of it while you're moving the butter from the jar to the bowl.

I stored my butter in a small plastic container with a lid I had laying around. Your butter is now ready to eat on your favorite bread. This butter tastes so good you'll want to make it again and again!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Gifthulk Doesn't Pay It's Members Anymore!

Lots of sites online give you the oppourtinity to make a few bucks while doing surveys, signing up for offers and watching videos. I've been a member of some of these sites for quite awhile and have seen plenty come and go. Gifthulk appears to be the next site that needs to be shut down since they no longer pay members. I last redeemed for my five dollars in PayPal on June 5. Being a "Diamond" member I'm supposed to get my payments very quickly. However that no longer applies and it's obvious it doesn't matter what level you are, you still aren't getting paid!

Gifthulk has a "support" link on their page where you can attempt to contact them in hopes of getting paid. However they won't respond to these requests and if you try to click on the link to get a status of a previous help request it fails and you can't see anything. This has happened for the last twenty one days of me trying to see about my order. What really annoys me is Gifthulk is still active on Facebook trying to get new members and traffic to their site. Basically they are receiving money for member's completing offers, then they don't payout, getting to pocket the revenue dollars! That my friends is a scam!

The last time I cashed out with Gifthulk last September it took weeks and me filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau before I got paid! I decided to give a go one more time and have found myself in the same situation with them not paying. You can see by their Twitter page that no paying is common with Gifthulk!

The good news is there a few sites out there that do pay and pay pretty quickly! Swagbucks is one of my favorites and has been out a long time with a solid record of paying member's. You can sign up for Swagbucks here. Another site that is really easy is Super Pay Me. What is nice about them is you can cash out with as little as one dollar and get paid the same day, sometimes instantly! If you would like to check out Super Pay Me you can find them here. So keep in mind not all sites on the internet will pay you even if they say they will. Do plenty of research including checking their social media pages, you can get a lot of insight from real peoples posts and comments. Have you been a victim of Gifthulk not paying? I'd love to hear your thoughts and favorite sites!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Exploring Florida--Sweetwater Wetlands Park

Located in Gainesville, FL, Sweetwater Wetlands park is a unique ecosystem where the alligators, horses and buffalo's roam. The boardwalks and trails get you up close and personal with some of Florida's amazing wildlife. Some of the animals you might encounter include turtles, alligators, plenty of birds and if you are lucky enough you'll get to see some of the wild horses or buffalo.

On our visit to the park we were blessed to see a group of five horses grazing alongside the trail. They didn't pay us any attention as we made our way past them. I was able to take plenty of pictures of them as we strolled down the trail. We didn't get to see any of the buffalo's on our visit but maybe next time!

Sweetwater Wetlands park's trails are handicap accessible and well marked. They do ask you to remain on the trails and boardwalks at all times for your safety! Bring plenty of sunscreen with you and water as the park is large and there isn't much shade. They do have a few pavilions where you can stop and rest though. Bathrooms are located next to the parking lot so make sure you go before walking the trails!

The cost to get in the park is $5 per car and you should bring exact change since you pay by honor box. Some things to keep in mind are pets are not allowed at the park for their safety. Also bicycles, drones and fishing are also prohibited. The address to the park is 325 SW Williston Road, Gainesville, Fl 32601. Sweetwater Wetlands Park is open seven days a week, including holidays. Hours are 7 a.m. to Sunset. Remember to take only pictures and leave only footprints!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Fishing And Finding Trash!

This weekend I was doing a little fishing from shore in the Gulf of Mexico here in Florida. I was standing on big rock trying to keep my line out of the oysters that were around. I just happened to look down and I saw a part of a fishing reel in the water. Well when you see reel you think line and I didn't want all that line to get in the water and hurt our wildlife. I reached on down and pulled it out of the drink and discovered it was a Penn reel that was broken but full of line. I tossed it on shore to throw away later.

I took a little break from fishing and decided to walk around the shoreline looking for any other trash I could find. It didn't take long before I collected a old bent jig head and bunch of fishing line. It really only took me a few minutes of my time and I was surprised by how much line I found. I was in a public fishing place and the state does have garbage cans there. I went ahead and took the bundle of line and the old reel and tossed them in the garbage.

After picking up the trash I decided I would do a little more fishing. I didn't take long though before I found some more fishing trash! Right in the water on the edge was a fake shrimp jig with treble hooks that looked very realistic. This kind of thing would be horrible for a bird to eat thinking it was a real snack. I also found some metal fishing leader. These items also made it into the trash can!

I didn't set out that day with the intention of picking up trash from our fishing spot. It just kinda happened organically because there was stuff around and I knew it shouldn't be there. I was raised with the saying "Take only pictures, leave only footprints". That's a motto that I follow and teach my daughter. After all this our only planet. These are our beautiful waters and wonderful creatures. It's our trash and we need to keep our world clean.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fix A Slow Running Coffee Maker

Lately my fairly new coffee maker has been running really slowly. I turn it on as soon as the alarm goes off and it seems like fifteen minutes later it still isn't done brewing enough for one cup. It's creating a problem in the morning because my husband only has so much time to get ready and as hard as he works getting up earlier to have time for coffee isn't an option. Generally coffee makers start to run slow when they get a build up of minerals in them. The good news is that it's really easy to clean your coffee maker and you don't have to rush out and buy a new one. I purchased my coffee maker when we moved back in October so I'd say a good rule of thumb is clean your coffee pot about every six months. I use a drip coffee maker and not a single use but I'm sure you can clean those the same way!

All you need to clean your coffee pot and get it brewing like new is some plain white vinegar. I just buy the store brand, you don't need anything fancy. Vinegar is a natural cleaner so you don't have to worry about any chemical residue being leftover after the cleaning process. I poured about two cups of vinegar into my coffee maker and let that brew just like you would coffee, of course you don't want any coffee grounds in there while doing this! After the two cups has gone through add another two cups of water and let that run. Things should be starting to work a little bit better already! Now dump that pot of vinegar water out and let cool. Once it's cooled down refill the coffee pot with water and let it run through the brewing cycle. Repeat this step at least twice letting the machine cool between brews. This will rinse the coffee pot out and get all that vinegar smell gone. I timed my last brew cycle and the whole twelve cup pot was done in only six minutes. That's a big improvement from it taking fifteen or twenty minutes for two cups to brew! If your pot is running slow and messing up your mornings then give this vinegar cleaning a shot!