Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cheerios Prize Pack Winner Announced!

...and the winner is:



FairyLover said... 1

I don't remember having a favorite book as a child. I don't even remember my parents ever reading to me. However, I think it is vital that we read to our children. My son loves his cuddle time reading with daddy at night before bed.

Kathi

Wow, lucky number #1!! Congratulations! i will send you an email later today. You will have 48 hours to respond to my email or a new winner will be chosen! Thank you all who entered!!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Seeds of Change- Sowing Millions Project.


A few weeks ago, Seeds of Change gave away 100 million organic seeds in the Sowing Millions Project. Individuals would receive 25 packets of seeds and pay only $4.99 shipping.
Community and nonprofit organizations could get 100 packets of seeds and pay only $14.99 shipping/handling . For every seed request made by an individual or organization, Seeds of Change will make a matching donation of seeds to the American Horticultural Society.

When i saw this i immediately put in my order for seeds! i didn't get to choose what i would receive, i just knew i would be getting 25 packs of organic vegetable, flower and/or herb seeds. It was an amazing deal that i couldn't pass up!

The sowing seeds project was a huge success, and they gave away all 100 million seeds in record time (about 2 hours, i think!). i'm so glad i didn't hesitate to sign up. i have been waiting patiently (okay, not so patiently) for a few weeks now for my seeds to arrive and today they did!


i received:
Gold ball turnip heirloom (2),
Sunrise cosmos
Florence Fennel heirloom
Lakota squash (rare)
silvery fir tomato heirloom,
Champion Radish (2 packs),
Jack-o-lite pumpkin (2 packs),
Witerbi Mangold Chard (2 packs),
Round Black Spanish radish heirloom,
white Lisbon bunching onions (3 packs),
Moon and Stars watermelon heirloom(2 packs),
yellow intermediate mangel beet heirloom,
continuity red crisphead lettuce heirloom,
Cascadia bush snap pea,
Mammoth spineless okra (2 packs)
Euphorbia Kilamanjaro,
Anasazi Flour corn (rare).

This is really a great variety and i am super excited to start planting!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Native Flower garden

For the last few years i have been trying to establish a native wildflower garden on the edge of our property. There has always been a half circle trail /path that looped into the woods and came back into the yard. Even though we are surrounded by woods and nature, i have always loved the idea of making a nature path here. So over the years i have worked to clean out the weeds/thistle/grasses and transplant native woodland flowers/plants into the area. It has been a slow process, bringing up a new plant here and there. i've never done any real excavation of the area, and truth is once summer hits the area will be knee high with weeds and will have absolutely no resemblance to a woodland garden anymore. i have a vision though and so it's never stopped me from getting excited each spring, digging out weeds and planting more native flowers in hopes that one day i will actually have that woodland garden.
The area has changed quite a bit in the last year. In the center of the loop is where the kids play fort is. It was built around a large apple tree. The woods to one side of the trail are now gone. This is where we cleared the area for goat pasture and an orchard. So it is no longer surrounded by woods, or quite as shaded as it was before. Our focus has shifted to turning the area into a natural play yard for the kids, and a bit less of a focus on the nature trail. Then a surprising thing happened. i began to notice the wildflowers. Plants that i have been transplanting for years, but never seemed to 'take' were popping up all over the area. Not only had the ones i'd transplanted come up, but they had spread on their own.


i counted over 16 trillium. i have a crimson and a white in bloom, and i believe i also have a yellow planted. i found about a dozen lily of the valley, several may-apples, spotted wintergreen, bell wort, Blood root, bluets, wood violets in purple, yellow and white, rue anemone, Solomon's seal, columbine, and jack in the pulpit.

jack-in-the-pulpit

i was extremely pleased to also find signs of dwarf crested iris, although it is not yet flowering...so i'm just guessing as to what it actually is.

While down at the creek releasing frogs, i stumbled upon a patch of showy orchids. i have never seen these on our property before, and was beyond thrilled. i dug up just one little orchid to transplant in my woodland garden. It had a nice bulb attached so i think it will transplant nicely.


It is always interesting how different plants appear according to weather and other factors. i started keeping track of all the wildflowers i came across several years ago, and each year it is different. There is always one or two flowers that will appear one year, then not return again..or something totally new will pop up in a place where i've never seen them before.
i have been told that yellow lady slippers used to grow on my side of the creek, but i have never seen them. i came across trout lily once, but have not seen it again.



Trillium


Bloodroot. Several of these popped up and flowered, and now they are going to seed. So i think they will spread more next year.

May apple just coming up.

and another surprise! i found this beautiful morel coming up right smack in the middle of the wildflower garden. :) This garden is connected to the kids play area. We bordered it in dead apple tree logs, in hopes that when they decompose it will create a good environment for more morels to grow. i will post pictures of it once i finish getting it weeded out and looking a bit better. The kids area is actually coming along really well....that will be another blog post though. We have been spending a ton of time outside, so i apologize for not posting as often. i have another doll in the works which i'm quite excited about and i'm starting another this week. One day i'll actually finish them. :)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

No-bake Birdnest cookies.

Last week i came across a recipe for unbaked cookie nests on The Picky Apple. They were so cute i knew we'd be making them this week! We followed the recipe, but ended up only making a half batch because i was low on oatmeal.
They turned out all right, but seemed a bit greasy. The recipe suggests greasing your muffin pans before placing the cookies in. i also found that the chocolate cookies were good but a bit too rich. i've always preferred chocolate/ peanut butter no-bakes, they are not quite as rich when you add the peanut butter.

So after a trip to the store, we decided to make another batch.


Rather than using the muffin tins, i just scooped the cookie mix onto tin foil and used the back of the spool to create a well in the center. Then we decorated with the coconut and candy. It worked just fine and then cookies didn't end up greasy from the greased tins.



Sage had a great time decorating them. Although i think she ate more jelly beans than she put down. :)
Here is the recipe we used for the chocolate/peanut butter no bakes. If you prefer the chocolate only or can't have peanut butter you can find the recipe above by clicking The Picky Apple link.

No Bake Bird Nest cookies
2 Cups Sugar
1 stick butter
1/2tsp vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup milk
3 cups oats

coconut
green food coloring(optional)
jelly beans or chocolate egg candies.

Place about 1 cup of coconut in a bowl and add a drop or 2 or green food coloring. Use a fork to stir it until all the coconut is green.

Mix sugar, cocoa, butter and milk. Bring to boil for 3 min. Remove from heat. Add vanilla, peanut butter and oats. Coat well, and drop by rounded tablespoon on tin foil/waxed paper. Press spoon into center of cookie to give it a nest shape. Let cool. Then place a big pinch of the coconut in the center of each cookie. Then decorate with jelly beans/candy.

Enjoy! Hope you are having a wonderful Spring celebration!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Miranda R Mueller Giveaway- Winner Announced!

Drum roll please....



Yoga Mommy said... 60

I really like the
1elephant and I would love a one year old princess pool party motif for the cards if I win.


Congratulations!!! i'll send an email later today. You will have 48 hours to claim your prize or a new winner will be chosen!

Sweet Violet Syrup

Sweet violets have a been a long time favorite flower/herb of mine. i was first introduced to the healing properties of the violet after stumbling across a copy of Susan Weed's Healing Wise book about 15 years ago (am i really that old??).

We have sweet violets that grow wild all over our yard. Several years go, i transplanted a bunch of them to border my lettuce bed, it also gave me easy access for harvesting the beautiful purple blooms.


Violets are edible (both leaves and flowers) and can used in salads, candied, made into jellies and syrups. One of our favorite things to make in the spring is Violet Syrup. It contains just a bit of the flower essence, has a sweet mild flavor and according to my kids...tastes like Spring.
Violet syrup is very easy to make, and can be used on pancakes and waffles, added as a sweetener to lemonades or drizzled over ice cream.

First thing you need to do is gather your violets. Make sure you are picking fresh violets that have not been sprayed (organic) or grown close to the road (they can absorb toxins from car exhaust).

To make Violet Syrup you need approx.

2 cups fresh violets
1 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
juice from one lemon.

Wash and remove stems, but it's okay to leave the sepals attached. Place your blossoms in a deep bowl and cover with bowling water. Cover the dish and let set at room temperature for several hours up to 24 hours.

Your water will turn a gorgeous deep blue. Line a colander with layers of cheesecloth and use to strain the violets, reserving the violet water. Squeeze any excess moisture out of the violets, then discard the used blooms. Set aside.
Place the 2 cups of sugar and one cup of water (not the violet water) in a saucepan and boil until the mixture becomes a very thick. Add the fresh lemon juice to the violet water and watch it turn from blue to purple! Then add the violet water to the pan, and bring it to a rolling boil. Boil 10 minutes or until desired thickness.


Pour into a sterile jar, allow it to cool and then store it in the refrigerator for up to a month. Ours never lasts that long, we eat it up quickly on homemade pancakes. :)

“A blossom of returning light, An April flower of sun and dew; The earth and sky, the day and night Are melted in her depth of blue!” - Dora Read Goodale

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Planting Trees for Earth Day

Earth Day is this Friday, April 22nd. We tend to live by the Philosophy that everyday is Earth Day. So we don't really do anything to out of the norm for Earth day. We spend most of Earth Day outside playing in the dirt and planting things (just like everyday)...whether it be trees or flowers or vegetables. We also usually pick this day to go on a recycle/garbage pick up. We usually do that about once a month or so, so we try to make sure in April to do it on Earth Day.

A popular way of celebrating Earth Day is to plant a tree. This year we have planted many, although we are a bit ahead. These were all put in last week. We are working on planting our small orchard, and have been blessed with several tree starts from a few of our neighbors.

We had several small peach trees coming up under our main tree. We bartered a 6' peach tree baby for two small (2') plum trees. We bartered another peach tree for an old timey Kieffer pear tree. This one was a 6 year old tree and already quite large, so i am hoping that it will begin producing next year. Kieffer pears are what we had over the summer and they canned absolutely wonderfully. We also have a MoonGlow and a Bartlet Pear tree that are around 4 years old, but have never produced. Pears typically begin producing around 4-6 years, so we should start seeing pears in the next couple years.

The same friend that brought us the Kieffer pear tree came back with two old timey Black Heart Cherry Trees. Kenan has been working hard to keep the tree protected from deer, watered and mulched. They are leafing out, growing well and appear to be very healthy trees. This weekend we'll be purchasing and planting 3 new Blueberry bushes to add to our Blueberry patch.

Plant a Tree for Earth day!
Did you know that Lowes is giving away 1 million free trees on Earth Day. You might want to call ahead and make sure your store is participating.

Also
Arbor Day foundation will give you 10 free trees with membership ($10). You can choose between Flowing trees, Wild Bird Garden, Autumn Classics and more! Enter your zip code and it will show you several tree packages that will grow in your area. My Nanking Cherry is one that came from Arbor Day. :) If you don't have space to plant trees you can also choose to have 10 trees planted at a National Forest in your honor. Pretty cool eh?

So what are you waiting for?? Go plant a tree!

Have a Wonderful Earth Day!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A bit magic when you least expect it.

Morels are funny things. i often tell people the best way to find morels is to stop looking. In all our years of morel hunting we almost always find the first one as soon as we 'give up'. It's almost like a game to them.
As soon as you spot that first one, the others just seem to appear all around as if they were little wood sprites hiding the whole time. So, after spending the weekend morel hunting and coming up empty, today i went out to get the mail and found....

Not just one...

....but two little morels about a foot and a half from my mailbox. How crazy is that? Seems like a rather odd place for them to be growing. They are under a Yellow Poplar tree though, which is one of the trees sometimes associated with morels...but still.


i had a bit more (much needed) magic today when i wandered outside and saw a monarch butterfly glide past. It seems way too early for them, and i can't help but wonder if it was one that we raised and released last fall dropping by to say hello. i didn't get a picture of it, but did get a picture of this black swallowtail enjoying the apple blossoms. i also spotted a yellow Eastern Tiger Swallow tail, a comma, a Spring Azure and a Cloudless Sulfur.

My life seems to be blessed with these little moments of magic. They seem to come when we least expect them, or when we need them most.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekend Hiking and wildflowers

This weekend we had some crazy weather. My parent left early on Saturday morning, just missing all the craziness that blew through. We had two 70-80 foot pine trees behind our house snap completely in half. One just missed taking out the goat fence. Had they fallen forward, instead of backwards they would have both hit the house. Two more tree went down across the road, and Kenan had to go out with his chainsaw and cut them up and move them out of the road. We were feeling very fortunate that nothing worse had happened, especially after seeing reports about all the tornadoes there were.

As soon as the system blew past, the weather turned gorgeous. We went for a walk through our woods to see if the creek was flooded, and too look for other downed trees. Sunday was equally as beautiful and we spent the rest of the weekend just playing outside and 'recovering' from two weeks of company. We went morel hunting, and took a Sunday drive over to Panther Creek to see the wild phlox blooming on the rock faces.

i couldn't get good pictures to really show how incredible this is. The rock faces are huge 40+ feet and completely covered in the wild phlox.

After the rain everything was in bloom and glowing green.


i also spotted Wild Bleeding hearts.

and lots of columbine.


The water was raging after all the weekend storms.

Sunday afternoon we headed out in our woods to look for Morels. i love morel hunting, it always such a challenge. We have found some every year they we have lived here except the last two. This is partially because it's just really difficult to do any real hunting with Sage at this age, and our favorite hunting spot seems to have dried up.

We didn't find any morels, and may be looking a bit early. Our trillium have budded, but are not yet blooming. The may apples are just pushing up from the ground. Typically morels begin to fruit when you have a week of nighttime temperatures in the 50's. It is still getting pretty cold at night here in the mountains, so i guessing we have another week at least.

If your interest in morel hunting here are a couple good sites with info to get you started. http://www.morels.com/ and http://thegreatmorel.com/

Happy hunting!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Creating the perfect dolls...

It has been a while since i have posted any updates on my dolls, so i thought i'd post another. i still don't have any for sale, but i will very soon.

If you remember my last doll post this girl had started off looking very plain. It wasn't until i pulled her hair up and changed her clothing that she suddenly seemed to 'come alive' with personality.


i took these photos while playing around with different yarns and colors. This is all the same doll, i just placed different skeens of yarn on to top of her head trying to figure what would work best for her. i'm amazed at how the hair color/style can completely change the look of a doll. Through this process, i figured out she was definitely meant to be a red head.


i ended up using a combination of wool, mohair and cotton to give her a this fun and spunky hair. So the next part of the process is the clothing. i could just pick out a fabric, make a plain dress and post her for sale. i already have a handful of dresses made, and i could easily just pick one and be done. That's not what i want to do though.





Here is a few more photos of the same doll, modeling different outfits. i made 4 outfits for her, and still haven't decided which to use. i'm leaning towards the earthy color set that matches her hair so perfectly. i've already made a sweater and shoes to match.


Here's another girl that is almost finished. i knew exactly how i wanted her to look, and was super pleased with the way she turned out.

i went fabric shopping looking for something to match her lovely hair, and was thrilled when i found the rainbow heart print. The pants in the photo are a bit small, so they will have to be remade. She will probably have a sweater and shoes as well.


This is lastest doll i've been working on. She is a smaller size, only 12". i need to play with pattern a bit, as she came out a bit more narrow than i had intended. i originally wanted her to be thick and bit chubby like the cabbage patch babies. She is much more petite and pixy like. Her lovely hair was hand spun by my mother in law.

If you can believe it, before i had hair on her i was really disappointed with how she looked. Her head seemed too small, her body was too thin, her waist is a bit long. i was actually thinking my daughter would be getting a new doll...as she gets all of the 'practice dolls'. It wasn't until the hair was finished that i was able to picture exactly how i wanted her to be. i was thrilled to find the purple skirt fabric in my scrap bin. It is purple with teal flowers, and green leaves. Almost perfectly matching her her hair and eyes. The purple petal apron ties over the dress. She also has fairy wings that tie on. i may add a simple applique to the dress, or a bit more color to the wings...i haven't decided yet. She will be getting a wand.

It's really a neat process watching these dolls come together. A lot tougher than i thought, and i don't mean in the actual construction of the doll. They are definitely taking a lot longer than i thought they would, but i am not in a hurry to finish them. i'm not making them just to make money. i have no desire to crank them out quickly. i am making them because i want to make them. i think that love i am putting into them shows.

Cheerios: New Author contest and giveaway CLOSED




Books are very important in our home. i really believe that reading is a key building block for learning and life. i have always read to my kids and they are growing up with a love for books and reading. My son always liked technical and informational books when he was younger then jumped right into reading large chapter books in the last couple years. My daughter who is 4, prefers picture books and animal stories. For my boy, his love of reading has turned into a love of writing. He has recently started writing many of his own stories.

Do you like to write? Have you ever thought about writing your own children's book?

General Mills Cheerios is searching for the next new children's author in their Cheerios Spoonful of Stories 2011 New Author Contest! The annual Cheerios New Author Contest encourages authors to write an original children's story. The one Grand Prize winner will receive $5,000 cash and the possibility of a publishing deal with Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing and your book featured inside a box of General Mills Cheerios cereal boxes nationwide.

If you are interested in finding out further details on entering the Cheerios Spoonful of Stories 2011 New Author Contest check out the contest rules and entry form at www.spoonfulsofstoriescontest.com.

You have until July 15th, 2011 to write and submit your children's story for the contest!




Now for the GIVEAWAY!! CLOSED

My Blogsparks and Cheerios are offering one of my readers a prize pack that includes a box of Cheerios with Laurie Isop´s book inside, as well as a "create-your-own" book kit for kids that contains two hard cover books and all the necessary materials to creatively fill the pages inside, including story starter ideas, stickers and colored pencils.


MANDATORY ENTRY

What was your favorite book as a child and do you read to your children?
Please post your answer in a comment and include your e-mail address in the format of Yourname(at)email dot com or make sure it is visible in your blogger profile so i have a way to contact you if you win. Otherwise a new winner will be chosen!

EXTRA ENTRIES (make sure you did the mandatory first!!)
please leave a new comment for each extra entry. You can do as many or as little extra entries as you like! If you qualify for 5 entries, leave 5 separate comments.


1. What is your child's favorite book/books?
2.Follow my The Enchanted Tree blog via google friend connect. 1 entry

3. Be a fan of The Enchanted Tree on Facebook. 1 entry
4.
Share this giveaway with your facebook friends! 1 entry
5. Tweet about the contest and include the hashtag #myblogspark and a link back to this post. Leave a link to your tweet. Can be done daily.
6. Blog about the giveaway. Include a link
to this post, leave a comment letting me know where to find it. 4 entries
7. Get one extra entry for entering any of my other current giveaways.


**Rules**
  • Giveaway ends April 29st. st 11:59pm EST
  • Winner will be chosen via Random.Org. i will then contact them by email, and post the winners name on my blog.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to the email or another winner will be chosen
  • This giveaway is open to US only.

***
Cheerios and Myblogsparks provided me with the same prize pack listed above, information and giveaway for my readers. i received no money for this post, all opinions are my own. i am sharing it, because i think it is a great opportunity for new authors!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hickory Ant boats

We have had some beautiful days this week, making it really hard to be inside. I've been working in my garden, and flower bed and trying to get the yard cleaned up. The kids seem to seek out water where ever they are playing and get as muddy and dirty as possible.

Yesterday my daughter created a huge mud puddle by filling a large hole (thanks to the dogs) with water from the water barrel. She wanted boats to play with so we collected some hickory shells to float on the puddle pond. When my son was little my mom called these ant boats, and the name stuck.


When my son came home from school he wanted to have a boat race, and so we spiced up the little hickory shell ant boats to create mini sail boats. These sweet little sail boats are super easy to make. We collected some Hickory husks from the under the Hickory tree in our yard. We grabbed our hot glue gun, and collected a few natural items to use as sails and masts.

We cut the dried plant stem into pieces about 1 1/2" long. Put a drop of hot glue in the center of the 'boat'. Hold it straight for just a few seconds for the glue to dry and them put a drop of glue along the stem and add your leaf sail. Some of them we cut to look like sails, other we left in their natural shape.


The kids had a blast sailing the boats. The wind caused them to spin around and they kept connecting together. They raced them, and sank them.



We had so much fun with them, we got a bit creative and made a few with flower sails. A lovely little fairy fleet to sail our imaginary flower fairies across the giant mud puddle sea. These boats and puddle kept my daughter entertained for over an hour. i could hear her creating stories about them as she sailed the boats or lined them up along the bank.



With just a few natural materials, a hot glue gun and a bit of imagination, the possibilities are endless. These little boats can be made with almost any materials. The Hickory shells work perfect, but other nut shells could work as well. Pieces of bark, leaves, flower tops..anything that floats. This little dandelion/violet boat spun around and around like it was dancing in the water. It made for a perfect afternoon, sitting in the sun and just watching them dance.


It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see. ~Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Busy as bees.

Now that Spring is in full swing life has suddenly started to become increasingly busy. i've been a bit slow with planting this year, kind of expecting another snow or deep freeze before it's really safe to plant much. i did get in a few rows of sugar snap peas, broccoli, spinach, lettuce and onion sets.
Last weekend my parents stopped by on their way home from Florida. We lost power for part of the weekend and spent Saturday evening playing cards with the light from candles and an oil lamp. The power came back on about 10 minutes after we all went to bed. :)
On Monday, my father continued on to Michigan, but my mom is staying for a couple weeks. i'm hoping this will give me a chance to catch up on some things and get some work done on my dolls.

We've been having some wonderful Spring storms all week. We lost power again on Monday, and on then on Friday morning lightening took out our surge protector and modem. We spent the entire weekend playing outside without the distraction of the computer. It's amazing how much of a distraction it really is. i really need to learn to step away from it more often, and really limit my computer time to an hour in the mornings or evenings.

We've spent much of the week outside, enjoying the changes that come with spring. The Spring rains turned all the fields near us a lush green. Wildflowers are popping up everywhere and trees are beginning to bloom. Our peach trees are full of flowers, and the apple trees are not far behind.

i've been seeing these comma butterflies for couple weeks now, and just finally got a picture. This is the first butterfly of the spring (not counting the one we released).

i love these little butterflies. The wings are a bright rust red-orange, and the bodies are a shimmery green. They have been fluttering all about the yard, lighting down in front of my, but flying away every time i tried to get a picture. i chased this one all around the yard before i finally got it's picture.


My boy found his first 4 leaf clover of the year!


Sunday was so nice, we took a walk down to the creek. The kids just wanted to play in the water, but i like to scope out all the wildflowers coming up. These little bluettes are all over the banks of the creek. i also spotted wood violets, sweet violets and anemones.

Bloodroot is blooming all over, and trilliums and mayapples should be next. It's a good time to start hunting for morels. We used to find them every year, but didn't find any last year or the year before.


While playing in the creek, my boy found this tiny salamander. It's is just slightly bigger the Salamander tadpole we are raising in the house. We'll be able to bring them here to release when they are ready.

Although we are still getting some cool nights, they are getting increasingly warmer. We had a bonfire/cookout earlier this week and roasted veggie dogs over the fire. Stayed up late watching stars and just enjoying the moment.

i've been working on custom bendy dolls this past week, and have started a couple more Waldorf dolls. i've had to take a bit of break on them while i worked on getting more materials and yarns. i was orginially planning to just put them for sale as i finished them, but i'm thinking now that i would rather have a nice selection made up in different styles, sizes and price ranges. Then i can do sort of a re-Grand Opening of my website and etsy shop which have been so horribly neglected over the years. i will post a doll update very soon, with some new pictures of my progress.