Tuesday, June 21, 2016

New River Kayaking adventures

Father's day weekend we grabbed our kayaks and headed out to the New River in Radford.  There are many places to access the river at Bisset park.  WE only took one vehicle, but my husband took his bike. So we scouted out a good ending location a few miles down the river, and he chained his bike up there. So that when we finished kayaking, he could ride back and get the truck. 

The New River is part of the Ohio River watershed, is about 360 miles long. The river flows through the U.S. states of North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia before joining with the Gauley River to form the Kanawha River at the town of Gauley Bridge, WV.  Despite its name, the New River is one of the five oldest rivers in the world geologically.  Often thought to be the second oldest in the world, with the Nile being the oldest. Unlike most other major rivers the New River flows north.

We recently purchased 3 kayaks. 2 singles and a double. My boy and i paddled in the singles and my husband and daughter used the double. Much of the New river that we floated down was extremely shallow. So shallow that we could reach right over and pick up the shells and rocks on the river bottom.

There are parts that are quite deep, so we all had our life vests on. The rivers flows slowly, so it was a nice relaxing float. i believe we went about 3 miles, and it took us close to 2.5 hours. 

Hard to see in the photo, but this tree was filled with huge water birds. Possibly, Cormorants. We also saw a turtle, little fish and either muskrats or river otters swimming. They were brown and furry and ducked under the water when we went passed, so i have no idea what they were just some sort of river critters. 

When we got to our end spot on the river, we stayed in the kayaks while kenan went back to get the truck.  i took over the double, because it's a little harder to steer and let my girl try out the single.  It was really shallow in this area, maybe 6"-8" deep.  There was an island in the center of the river here, with nesting killdeer.  We enjoyed watching them run along the edge of the island and yell at us for being so close. 

We usually hike on the weekends, so kayaking is a new adventure.  We have so many places around us to kayak.  Besides the New River, there is the Little River in Floyd and Big Reed Island, which is not too far down the road. We are excited to explore these areas this summer and spend as much time outside as possible. You can expect to see more kayaking posts in the future! #getoutside

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Summertime fun.

Yesterday i spent almost all day in the garden. We finally had a couple days of rain, so i was really trying to finish up my transplanting and get a handle on the weeds.  Early in the afternoon Kenan asked if i wanted to go kayaking on the New River right then (instead of on Sunday) like we were planning.  i told him i really needed to work in the garden while the soil was still damp, but maybe in the evening we could just head down to our creek and practice kayaking before going out on the new river tomorrow. i had never kayaked before and though it would be fun on our creek where the water is only knee deep.

We only took one kayak to share and also took an inter-tube to float on and Kenan took his hammock so he could relax.  We each took turns paddling around the creek. It's a little tricky because we have to go upstream to avoid the rocks.  i had no idea i would get so wet. i took my waterproof fanny pack with me, so i could take the camera and i'm glad i did. Not only did i get completely soaked just from the paddling, but while trying to get out of the kayak i slipped on the rocks and completely fell in!!  My fannypack and camera completely submerged. Thank goodness i had closed it up, my camera was completely dry inside. Pheeew!! 

We took turns paddling around. It did take a little practice to keep from running into the trees and rocks. The creek isn't always so murky looking, but we'd had two days of rain so it was up a little more than usual and very muddy.  We are really looking forward to kayaking on the weekends. It's so important to unplug,  get all of us outside and to work on being more active, after of a winter of sitting around like slugs. 

Kenan seemed to enjoy his time relaxing in the hammock. Sage found this heart shaped rock and asked me to snap a picture. i thought it was the perfect image for Father day weekend, with Kenan relaxing in the background.

After a day of working outside, we spend a couple hours playing in the water, floating, kayaking and chilling in the hammock. It was a much needed break and time together as a family. As the kids get older, they are wanting more and more independence and are no longer as eager to hang out with mom and dad. So finding an activity were we can all enjoy our time together is very special.

Today we are planning to kayak on the New River in Radford. This will be a new experience for my girl and i, but we are very excited!  Already the summer seems to be going to fast, June is almost over and the kids go back to school early August. We are hoping to really enjoy every moment we can!

Friday, June 17, 2016

June Harvest and Apex Garden tools.

Mid June garden update!  Getting lots of garlic scapes and asparagus.  i've harvested all the heads from my Packman broccoli, and have started harvesting side shoots now. i have purple and fractal broccoli planted, but they were planted a bit late. 

Peas are just starting to come in. This year i planted sugar snaps with a pretty blush on them. Very unusual looking, but very sweet like sugar snaps.  My Swiss chard and kale is still small, but i'm able to pick a few of the larger leaves. i pulled one carrot to check them, but they are still pretty small. This photo was taken at the beginning of the week.

As an avid gardener, i love new gardening tools!!  i tend to go through  a lot of trowels. Sometimes i misplace them, but often times i end up bending them or breaking them. My garden is mostly clay  and rock and unless it just rained the soil is always really hard and dry. i've been using these for almost a week and they are holding up great!! 

The  Apex Life Premium 4-Piece Long-Handled Gardening Tool Set  (hand trowel, transplanter, cultivator & pruning shears) are made from lightweight cast aluminum blades and tips are shiny, rust-proof, extremely sturdy and easy to clean. They have ergonomic handles that provide a comfortable grip.  

The price is a good deal for a 4 piece set. It exceeded my expectations.  Typically the inexpensive tools bend the first time i try to dig in my hard ground.  i really like the depth measurements on the transplanter tool. i usually just guess on the planting depth, but this tool made it easy to do it right every time. i used the used the pruning shears  to clip back some of the dead blackberry canes. i like the spring loaded grips and the sharp blades. i'm very happy with this set.

This was yesterday's harvest. i'm finally getting cauliflower! The other heads are still a little small, but this one was a perfect size.  More broccoli shoots, garlic scapes, asparagus and peas.  Also harvested some of the lettuce. i've been getting lettuce for a while, and it's still hasn't bittered even with the recent warm temps.

i had Kenan put some nails in my greenhouse bench to hang my new tool up. i should have taken a picture of it (it's looks awesome) but forgot to get one.  This Apex 4-piece garden tool set  really is durable top-quality and would make a perfect gift for gardening lover.

i received this product for free or discount for my honest and unbiased review.  i only review products that i actually use and recommend, i was not compensated for this review.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Homemade bath bombs with Avenir Oils.

My daughter and i decided to make bath bombs last weekend. They are really fun and easy to make! They use basic ingredients that we already had.

Ingredients and Supplies:
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup citric acid
  • 1/2 cup Epsom salts
  • 1 tsp. water
  • 2 tsp. essential oil (we used Avenir lavender oil)
  • 3 tsp. oil (olive oil)
  • food coloring (any color you want)
  • bowl
  • whisk
  • jar or small bowl
  • assortment molds

In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients with a whisk, make sure you remove any lumps.

Then add all the liquids into a separate small bowl and mix well.  Slowly add this mixture to the dry ingredients. One spoonful at a time.  Use the whisk to mix it together really well. 

Once the mixture is evenly mixed, you can pack it into your molds.  We had one round bath bomb mold, and also used a tin heart tray mold. You could silicone molds, or even plastic easter eggs. Press the mixture in the molds well, then pop them out and let them air dry.

You want to store them in an airtight container. They smell so good!!  Add one or two bath bombs to your bath and watch them fizz! So fun!

The Avenir Lavender oil that we used i received in exchange for an honest review.  It smells absolutely amazing, and i'm really happy with it.  Avenir essential oils are 100% pure, natural, and therapeutic grade. All of their essential oils are grown in organic environments, free from harmful pesticides. When possible, they even try to obtain wildcrafted essential oils.  You can read more about them here and find information about the oils and their different uses.

If are you looking to add to your essential oils collection, be sure to check out the Avenir Oils website. 

i received this product for free or discount for my honest and unbiased review.

Greenhouse Update

i am absolutely loving my greenhouse! It's all still a bit of an experiment for me. i keep the tops vents open and door opened with my screen during the day to try and keep the temperatures from getting too hot. i may eventually have to put a fan in it though, i had a couple days last week where the temperatures reached 109.  

Kenan build a large raised bed along one of the walls. i planted a rainbow of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, carrots and lettuce so far. i also have some Malabar spinach planted and a couple cucumbers. Some of the veggies will have to be hand pollinated, but the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants i believe are self pollinating. i'm hoping that by spraying them with the hose, it shakes them around enough to pollinate.  The tomatoes have tomatoes on them, and i also have one eggplant so it does seem to be working so far.

So, i wasn't going to over plant tomatoes again...but somehow i did. :) Besides the tomatoes already planted in the garden, i also have over 100 seedlings and potted tomatoes in the greenhouse. i'm still finding places to put them all. i've been able to start so many things in the greenhouse, that i just didn't have room for before.  

Tomatoes and eggplants.  i'll be transferring them into larger pots soon. i plan to keep the eggplants in the greenhouse, they have never done well in the garden. The flea beetles just destroy them. So far they are doing great in the greenhouse! Flowering and producing eggplants! 

Wohoo! baby eggplant!!

So far my tomatoes are doing great in the greenhouse.  They are a little lanky, but overall they look good!

i have lots of seed trays started. i started all my lettuces, beans, flowers everything in the greenhouse, so i haven't been in a huge hurry to put them in the garden. We finally got some rain last night though, so i will be moving a tons of plants outside today.

i'm really hoping that the greenhouse will help expand my season and allow me to increase my production, by actually having a few disease free plants.  i was a bit worried the heat would cause my lettuce to bitter, but that hasn't been the case so far.

So despite my rather laid back approach to the garden this year, i really feel like it's doing fine.  i just need to get out there today while the soil is still damp and finish getting plants in the ground.