Thursday, July 20, 2017

Peep Peep Peep

Here we go again with these crazy chickens. First mama appeared with 8 new peeps a few weeks ago. i didn't even realize she was missing, and was totally surprised when she reappeared with babies. She has 8.

Smokey appeared a couple days later with only two little peeps. i knew Smokey was missing, but honestly thought she's been eaten. She's a tiny little thing, bantam Sizzle and she'd been setting in the raspberries the whole time.

Then mama #2 appeared with more peeps! That's almost 20 new birds! Yikes!  So i'm  going to try to re-home them, as i really want to focus on the marans, easter eggers and olive eggers. These wild chickens seem to evade predators and disease well, but they constantly hide eggs, tear up my gardens and go broody. i'm at the point now, where i really want to thin out the flock and stick with just a few. 

Earlier this spring we lost 4 of our older hens. My speckled Sussex, Java, Black Star and my sweet little Blackie hen (barnyard mix) We'd had them all for around 7 year. They were the last of the birds i'd had before the fire (still have one and a roo) so that made it a little extra hard.  

i'm getting to the point where i want to be able to travel without constantly worrying about all the critters, so i think having way less chickens will help. These wild ones just keep breeding, so it may be time for them to find another home.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Kayaking Adventures- New River

Over the weekend we decided to kayak on the New River in Radford, VA.  Despite it's name,  the New River is one of the five oldest rivers in the world. The New River flows backwards, from south to north. Only a handful of rivers in the world have this unique feature, including the Nile.  It is thought to be older than the mountains.

The New River is a very calm and slow float. It's more relaxing than some of the other rivers we've kayaked on. There are really no rapids or rough areas on the section we kayaked. It is almost all extremely shallow here too. 

i really enjoy the wildlife we see on the New River.  There are Great Blue Herons every where. 

We cross under a few bridges. i found it interesting that this tree was growing on the side of the pillar, out of a tiny crack. The water is calm enough that we can kayak in either direction, with very little work involved. Trying to paddle upstream on some of the other rivers we've kayaked is pretty much impossible. 

The river is really wide, and we passed a lot of other folks kayaking or tubing down it. Radford is a college town, so tubing down the river is very popular in the summer. 

i took so many pictures of Blue Herons. We saw so many of them, and they were not especially skittish being used to so many people always on the river. When we float the Little River or Big Reed island, we usually see at least one Heron, but they fly off before i even get my camera out. So it was really cool to see them and get pictures.

We several of these Cormorants up in the trees. i've seen these in Florida, but didn't realize they were also in Virginia. They are common around water, but i'm not sure how far north they go. 

i was thrilled to get a picture of this Green Heron. It's really hard to take a good picture from a moving kayak, and this guy was pretty skittish. i didn't know what he was and had to look him up when i got home. We also saw Kingfishers but it didn't get a photo. 

When we got to our ending place, we parked the kayaks and the kids went swimming while Kenan went back for his truck.  There is a little island here, and the water was less than 2 feet deep all the way across.

This Heron seemed to be following us, and he flew over to the island across from where i was standing and just watched us.  i'm really not sure how many herons we saw, or if it was just the same one following us down the River. The New River isn't as secluded as some of the other Rivers we've kayaked, but it's still a really nice float. i love all the unique birds and wildlife. We also saw a turtle, a snake, lots of fish, dragonflies and damselflies.  We did about a 3 hour float, but there are different places to put in and get out. Kenan wanted to do a 5 hour float, and i'm glad we didn't we were all pretty tired by the end of this one. Already looking forward to next weeks adventures!

Monday, June 19, 2017

DIY Bath Bombs using Websun Stainless Steel Molds- product review and recipe.

Yesterday my girl and i made bath bombs! First recipe we used was a total fail, but we tried again and i used way less food coloring, essential oil and water....and they turned out perfect!  These are so easy to make and use ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard! The only thing we were missing were molds, but we received some to review from #Websun  and they worked great!

We used  these stainless steel molds by Websun. These come in 3 sizes. They are 100% food grade 304 stainless steel & are dishwasher safe.  They work so well! The bath bombs popped right out and were shaped perfect.

 So much fun! We made some a while ago, and they were total fail. They started off looking great, but then they started slowly expanding and swelling.  i think the key is as little liquid as possible, just until they hold together. i also read that in areas of high humidity, you can bake them at 200 degrees until they are completely dried out. i'll probably do that with our next batch just to make sure they are completely dry and don't suck the moisture out of the air.

Homemade Bath Bombs
Dry ingredients
1/2 cup baking soda
1/4 cup Epsom salt
1/4 cup citric acid
1/4 cup corn starch.

 Wet ingredients
3 tsp Olive oil or Castor oil 
1 tsp essential oil
a few drops of food color. 


Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisking to combine. 
Then in a small bowl mix wet ingredients (except water) together then slowly add to dry mixture, while constantly whisking. 
Now add water very slowly 1 tsp at a time, just until mix packs together. i think we used about 2 tsp, but the recipe called for 3. i would not use any more than that.  You want to add it slowly, while whisking quickly to avoid it setting off the chemical reaction. Using a spray bottle for the water would probably work well. Again you just need a tiny amount. 

Pack the mixture into both sides of your mold, press the two sides together and let dry about 5 hours. Be sure and store them in an air tight container!

These Bath bomb  molds really do work great! They come in a pretty handmade paper box. You can find them on amazon, free shipping with Prime. 

*i received the product at no cost in exchange for my honest opinion. i was not compensated, my opinions are my own.

New River Trail- Fries Junction

 This weekend we celebrated father's day with a family bike ride on the New river trail. We had originally planned to start at the Byllesby Dam, but just as we were parking a full downpour hit us. We sat in the truck a minute to see if it would pass, but it just got heavier and heavier. So we left feeling pretty disappoint that we'd driven so far just to get rained out, however, when we got back to Fries (pronouced freeze)  the skies were clear and blue and it was totally dry. 

So we parked and got on the trail in Fries, and headed in the direction of the Byllesy Dam. The New River trail is great for biking. It's quite flat and well maintained.  Great for a family bike ride.

We spotted this turtle in the middle of the trail and my girl had to stop and move it. i'm pretty sure the turtle was attempting to lay her eggs right in the middle of the trail. She had dug herself a hole. It was a terrible spot as cyclist come through very fast, and their was sign that horses had been on the trail recently too. Hopefully she can find a slightly safer place to lay her eggs. 

i highlighted the areas of the New River Trail we've done either walking or on bike. We still have a quite a bit to complete. The Cliffview, Shot Tower and Foster Falls sections we've done several times. 

At Fries junction we rode over the Trestle Bridge, then came back and continued down the New River Trail. i was expecting some spectacular views from the bridge, but it actually has big wall up on both sides and you can't see anything.

 The view from the bridge is not spectacular.

Once we came off of the bridge we had a much nicer view. There was mist rising from the mountains in the distance from that rain that was coming down that way.  We should have paid attention to that and turned back here, but we didn't. We rode straight into a downpour, that followed us all the way back to the car. 

 Riding back in the rain, really sucked. The rain was cold, and the trail turned to mud making it harder to peddle. We hadn't realized it, but the trail was on a gradual decline on our trip out to the trestle bridge, so when we turned around and road back it was a gradual incline. We were all hurting by the time we got back to the car.

Biking was fun, but i didn't get to enjoy the trail in the same way that i do when we hike.  We passed so many little waterfall i would have liked to have gotten pictures of. We whizzed past wildflowers, and views of the New River.  

We did stop to read a bit about the Grayson Sulphur Springs. It was a popular hotel and mineral water resort. Once located on the west bank of the New River near the mouth of Brush Creek, its site is now covered by the backed-up waters of Byllesby dam.

This was a really nice section to bike. i'd love to come back and walk it, so i can get some better pictures and enjoy the views a bit more. i do love that the New River trial is so good for biking, as we don't have any flat ground at home. As much as i love hiking, riding bikes is a nice change and the kids enjoy it much more than walking so we'll probably be doing a lot more of it this summer.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Kayaking Adventures- Little River

Now that the summer is here, we've been trying to get out and either hike or kayak every weekend. It's been a little tough with my daughter playing softball this year, we've had double header games almost every Saturday and when we don't have games, we've had rain.

So we finally got a chance to get out on the water and decided to explore a different section of the little river. This time we drove out passed Floyd and put in at the Little River Baptist Church.  We had about a 3 hour float, and got out at the Bridge on Moore rd. i think this is one of the most popular floats in Floyd. We didn't come across a ton of people, but we did see a few.

It was an bsolutely gorgeous day to be out on the River. 

Typical of Floyd,we came across cows in the river. The same thing happened the last time we floated the Little River, even though we were in a totally different part last time. Floyd county has no shortage of cows. Many are grass fed, pasture raised with open access to the river.  So it's not at all uncommon to come across cows cooling off in the water.

Besides the cows we saw a great Blue Heron and a King Fisher fishing. We saw lots of dragonflies, and damselflies.

We also saw this huge snappping turtle, just hanging out on the bank. At first i thought it was just a shell that had washed up, but when i got closer i saw it's tail.  It's crazy how much they look like little dinosaurs. i was in my kayak, and tried to bank it so i could get better pictures, but there wasn't enough shore and i didn't really want to get out of my boat.

About half way down the river we decided to stop and swim. There are a few really good swimming holes on the Little River. It's deep enough to swim, but not over our heads deep.  It was a nice break and fun way to cool off.

It was such a gorgeous day to be out on the river. i'm really looking forward to more kayaking adventures each weekend this summer.  Summer always seems to go by too fast, this is a nice way to slow it down a bit a really enjoy the weekend together as a family.

In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time. -Leonardo da Vinci

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Glass progress- goddess pendants available

i'm not sure the last time i posted glass progress. With garden season here i'm spending less time in the glass shop. i'm still trying to stick with it though. Recently my focus has been on goddess pendants, and mother/baby figures.  i have these posted for sale on my facebook page. 

#131 and #37 are no longer available. i've just started doing the mamas and babies and they are still a bit wonky. Trying to get the arms right is my biggest issue, but i'm going to just keep practicing. 

i may eventually start doing some craft shows or list these on etsy, but so far just selling them on Facebook has worked out well.  i have individual pictures of each piece listed there as well.

i'm pretty proud of my progress and look forward to learning more and improving my skills.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Garden updates- wrapping up May, first week of June.

 Here in the Blue Ridge my frost free day is around the second week of May. Typically, mother's day weekend. Though many of the locals don't plant until Memorial day weekend.  i usually push the limits and plant early, this year i could have gotten away with it since we really didn't have a winter, and the last freeze was in April, i believe.

i didn't get around to putting stuff early, and then we had like 3 weeks of constant rain so i ended up a little behind.  Almost all my seeds had been started already in the greenhouse so i wasn't really that concerned. 

Once the rain stopped i was finally able to set up my bean trellis and start sectioning off my garden. i don't like planting in rows, so instead i create squares and do sort of  square foot gardening within my garden. i feel like this works best for me, allowing me to focus on the needs of each square and water/fertilize/supplement as necessary without having to do it to the entire garden.  i did out paths between the squares giving it a faux raised bed look. This helps with drainage in my heavy clay soil.

Although my summer garden wasn't planted on time, i did have my crops in early. So i've been harvesting lots of leafy greens since April.  i started harvesting asparagus and broccoli in the first week of May and am still picking. My broccoli are all a bit small this year, i think possibly stunted from the warm temperatures in March/April.  This was my  5-20 harvest. Leafy greens, kale, asparagus, broccoli, a few carrots and rhubarb.

i turned some of the veggies into a delicious stirfry.  This is entirely homegrown veggies, with just a little olive oil.

By the end of May things were really starting to take off. i'm still getting the leafy greens, broccoli and asparagus, but now i'm starting to see some snow peas and garlic scapes as well. Garlic scapes are wonderful. They can be used in stir fries, on pizza, and turned into pesto. This is my harvest from 5-27.  The rain knocked down a bunch of my Iris, so i brought them inside with my veggies.

i made a pizza from scratch, using my home canned sauce. Topped it with homegrown spinach, asparagus and garlic scapes and then added some homemade mozzarella. 

6-4 harvest. i'm getting to the end of my broccoli heads, but they still producing lots of shoots. The garlic scapes and sugar snaps are really come in now. Still getting asparagus, but it's slowed don so i'm only getting a couple shoots a day. i still lots of lettuce and leafy greens under row/shade covers but i expect it will be bolting soon as the temperatures rise.

This time of year, i make a lot of stir fries and use them as side dish to most meals. i used some of the broccoli, garlic scapes, carrots and snow peas in this tofu dish. The veggies were lightly sauteed in olive oil and served over a bed of Udon noodles and topped with orange sesame tofu.

i had about 75% of my garden in my June first, but have been waiting on rain again to finish planting it. The plants are all doing so well in the greenhouse i haven't been in a hurry to put them outside.

In the greenhouse my tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are blooming. i have several tomatoes, eggplant and peppers that will stay in the greenhouse all summer, but also have many in pots that still need to be planted outside. 

i have one little pepper plant that already has a pepper on it!  i have several varieties of beans planted in the main garden, potatoes, corn and squash in a different garden. My sweet potato slips are rooting well, and i plan to get them planted this week.  We are finally getting a little rain today, so i should be able to get the rest of my plants in the ground. 

Looking forward to a good harvest, so we can feast on home grown veggies all summer and i can refill my pantry with canned goods this fall.  

How is your garden growing?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Teacher Appreciation Week- Harry Potter Style

So, i'm a bit behind on this post. Teacher Appreciation week was Monday, May 8 and ended on Friday, May 12.  The school usually sends home a paper about it, but we didn't get one this year, so i  totally missed it.
 Always a day late and a dollar short,  i had the brilliant idea of doing a Harry Potter themed gifts. i figured i could use my time turner to get them there on time, but i couldn't get it working ;)  So we just had to send them in late.

Our school usually follows this format for teacher's appreciation gifts, but it's just a suggestion and you can really do whatever.

For the office supplies, i really wanted to make quills like this one.  i couldn't find feathers locally though, and didn't have time to buy them online. So we ended up making wands instead. i figure they can be used as a pointer.  If we do this again though, i'd love make sure and have quills too.

For the wands we used chop sticks and hot glue. They are super easy, and look amazing.  You basically just coat the chop stick in hot glue...make whatever design you want. After it's dry you can paint it. i used Craftamo in black, brown, blue, white and green. After painting the entire wand in your base color, we then dry brushed a gold acrylic paint over it. It really gives it a neat look!
 You can check out this video by Pins and Things for some inspiration. 

My girl and i had a good time putting these together. We made wands and candies. Chocolate frogs, peppermint toads, cockroach clusters, Bertie botts and a golden snitch. :D  The golden snitch is a Ferrero Rocher candy with wings added. You can find the full directions here. 
Yes, i really am that much of a dork. The owls are holding thank you notes. All the labels and the owl printable i found online.

For the flower, we were hoping to pot mandrakes and magical herbs. These are some of the herb pots i did a few years ago. i figured we could do the same thing using Harry Potter stickers, or painting the pots in house colors. We could easily give the herbs magical names and make these very Harry Potter themed.

This is a super cute idea for the fruit gift. Magic wand fruit skewers. i found the idea here.  This photo is from  Unfortunately we never got around to making them, but i'm saving the idea for next time.

We were lucky enough to have a teacher this year that LOVES Harry Potter, so these teacher gifts were absolutely perfect for her. My daughter who is 10, almost 11 has shown absolutely zero interest in reading until this year. Her teacher was so into Harry Potter, that my girl decided to read it. Not only did she read it, but she has zipped through the series and is now on book 5!! This is a kid that wouldn't even read Magic tree house (because they were too long) lol! 

So Harry Potter themed teacher's gifts just seemed perfect! They were a lot of fun to make, and i know her teacher loved them! i just wish i'd had my crap together so we could have done them all on the correct days during teacher appreciation week. :)