Thursday, December 1, 2022

This year in Mushrooms

 This poor blog is so neglected, but i still like to try to post now and again to keep it active. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram then you've probably already seen all these photos, but i'm doing sort of a round up for the year. Mushroom hunting has gone from a little hobby to a full blown obsession. 

i'm not adding all my mushroom harvests from the year, but just a few of the more notable ones. This was 5-9-22. Normally i would be finding Morels in April/May but this year there were very few. The ones i did find were small and dry and the conditions just were not right for them this year. We did get several shiitake from out plugged logs.  They are several years old, so i'm always a bit surprised when they still flush.

We had another amazing year for Chicken of the Woods and chanterelles. This photo is from July.  Now that we've found a few logs that produce chicken of the woods on our property, we tend to check those spots every time we are out hiking. Same goes for cauliflower mushrooms and lion's mane. Anything that comes back year after year.  We have over a dozen logs now that we know produce chicken of the woods. We were able to pack the freezer full this year.

Another photo from July. We tend to find chanterelles and black trumpets from July until October depending on the conditions. i have a fabulous black Trumpet spot on my property under a grove of Beech trees. They are one of my favorites to find.  

This is our best Chicken of the Woods log. i stumbled upon it a few years ago and it has produced an amazing amount of chicken of the woods every year since. This year it flushed twice. Chicken of the woods is still my favorite mushroom. As long as you get it when it is prime it's absolutely delicious! 

We typically only mushroom hunt on our land, but decided to try some new areas on a hunt for Hen of the Woods (Grifola frondosa).  This is one of the few mushrooms we do not find often on our land. We found one small one several years ago, and check the spot every year but it never came back. This year i found one completely randomly while checking my Chicken of the Woods logs and it inspired us to go hunting off our property in some areas where i knew they often came up.

We ended up finding several at the beginning of September which is pretty early for them around here. We went back to the same place a few times and found at least one each time. Hens are great to cook and freeze for later. We were super thrilled to pack our freezer full. 

Every year i make sort of a mushroom bucket list.  i choose mushrooms i've never found before and try to find at least one before the end of the year.  Last year my bucket list mushroom was the Indigo Milk Caps. It was really exciting to find a whole patch of them on the land behind my house. This year i didn't even find one, but i did find Blewitts!  These are not rare or especially exciting, but i had never found one before and had it on my bucket list. The first one i found was at the same place i'd found the hens. After correctly identifying it i went looking in my own woods and found a few more.  These have to be one of the cutest mushrooms ever. They are edible, although i haven't tried them yet. 

This is a collection of some of the edible mushrooms that come up on my land. Chicken of the woods, chanterelles, cinnabars, black trumpets, honey fungus, Cauliflower mushroom, Hen of the woods, Lion's Mane, Purple gilled Laccaria, Green Russula and Shrimp of the woods.  i'm always amazed at the variety that pops up right in my backyard.  i've been wanting to get a picture for a while of all the different mushrooms, but can never find them all at the same time to get a group picture. This is the best i've gotten so far, although i'm still missing Oysters, hedgehogs, Indigos, pheasant backs, blewitts and of course morels (early spring).   i've only ever found hedgehogs here once and that was several years ago. i also found a Bear's Head Tooth here once.

i'm already looking forward to see what types of mushrooms we find next year! i've already found so many mushrooms that were on my bucket list i'm going to have to create a new one!  

Thursday, March 17, 2022

The Ranch Camp, Dugspur Virginia.

The universe works in such mysterious ways. When Kenan and i first started dating (over 25 years ago) he was really into BMX bikes. When we moved down here, he eventually gave it up because there just isn't a lot of places out here to do it without driving an hour.

Last year when he turned 44,  he bought a BMX bike, kind of on a whim in Richmond, VA when he was taking Sequoia back to Williamsburg.  Now that he is working in town, he's been riding it after work in the parking lot and around town and realized he really missed it and still really enjoying it.

So how crazy is it that we found out a BMX & skateboarding facility and camp is being built right in Dugspur, VA of all places?!?   Dugspur is a beautiful area in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but it's literally in BFE.  There is pretty much nothing in Dugspur, except the minimart with is about 3 miles from us.  We are closer to Dugspur than we are Floyd.   So although it's in the middle nowhere, so are we and it's actually not too far down the road from us! 

We were there for their media event and got to see some professional skate boarders and BMX riders our doing tricks and riding. It was really pretty cool.  The people building this facility helped to build/design/run (i can't remember the details) the Woodward skate park in Pennsylvania. 

When we were there, they were really just getting started. There were a lot of areas under construction and they were still working out details of their summer camp program. The first camp ended up canceled because of Covid, but that gave them time to add even more cool features to the facility!

They were still working on the dirt jumps and trails when we were there.  Although Kenan has been back a few times to ride, i haven't so i'm not sure what all they have going on now.  They are having an open house type of eent in April and Kenan is planning to go and ride and i'll probably go to walk the trails and mushroom hunt. :D 

The place used to be an old theater camp, so it's already got cabins and a club house etc. They were in the process of building more skateboard areas, including a 10,000 sq. ft indoor skate park, adding hiking trails, disk gulf, a pool and more!  

It's really a neat facility and almost unbelievable that it would be built so close to us right as Kenan decides he wants to get back into it.  Definitely some crazy manifesting going on there! 

You can check out The Ranch Camp here -

Follow them on Instagram- The Ranch Camp and Facebook- The Ranch-Camp

Sunday, March 13, 2022

What a year! Wrapping up 2020 (back post).

 i realized the other day that i've really been neglecting my blog. Life just seems to get busier and busier each year, and as technology has changed over the years blogs just no longer seem very relevant.  i've always kept this blog more as a journal or way to document important moments in my life and really want to continue to do that. Although i love hosting giveaways and sharing product reviews, the blog has really always been about daily family life and i would really like to get back to that.

So, here is a brief recap of 2020, since i sort of abandoned the blog while the world around us was turning upside down. 

My sweet little boy, grew up, graduated high school and is now attending William & Mary University in Williamsburg VA. To say i am proud of his achievements is an understatement. 

Moving my boy across the state during a pandemic was a pretty huge transition.  Empty nest syndrome is no joke, and even though Sage is still at home i got my first taste of empty nest and it kind of terrified me and made me really rethink my life. It may have been the beginnings of an existential crisis.

Honestly, 2020 is a complete blur. When Covid first hit i began making and giving away masks to friends and neighbors. Eventually i was making them for the schools, local stores and the veterinary office for a donation towards fabric cost. i made at least a 1000 and eventually began taking orders for custom masks and making them for sale. i admit, i had a lot of fun buying cute fabrics, something i haven't done since my patchwork days. 

With Covid spreading, we stayed pretty close to home. Although Kenan was spending most of his time in Floyd at the new shop, i was spending my time (when i wasn't sewing masks) in the garden and mushroom hunting.  i had to really dig through my photos, to find a few images from 2020, so these are the best. Just a few i found to show that we did actually grow stuff in 2020.  The garden was somewhat neglected, because my focus was on producing stuff for the shop and sewing masks.

We were still harvesting mushrooms from the logs plugged a few years before. The shiitake and oysters are the only ones that ever grew from the logs we plugged. We plan to plug a bunch more this year.  We are still (2022) getting occasional shiitakes and oysters from these same logs.

Since Covid kept me home more than usual, i was able to spend much more time in the woods hunting mushrooms. 2020 was a good year for mushroom hunting!  i'll probably put together a post soon of all the varieties of mushrooms i've been foraging. Every year i seem to find a new one.

In the fall of 2020, Blue Ridge Alchemy opened it's store front. It is now a working glass studio with a store front that is open to the public. We carry work from many local artists and it gives me an outlet to sell my own work, eggs and honey.  

i'm having to really dig through my FB posts to see just what exactly we did in 2020 so i can play catch up on my posts. i'm not really sure anyone evens reads this blog anymore, but i've always used it as an online scrap book to document life and really want to fill in the last couple years with more than just product reviews and giveaways.  Planning to spend the next few days back posting.  So if you still here reading. Thank you.  

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

NOVICA Review and Giveaway!

i'm so excited to be working with again! Novica is one of the leading fair trade artisan websites. They work with National Geographic to give talented artisans around the world a place to express their artistic talents and provide access to the world market.

Novica provides fair trade products made by artisans around the globe. They want you to know who you're buying from, to feel an attachment to the product, and to the hands that created it.  One of my favorite features on the Novica site is that there is an artist story at the bottom of every product. So, you can see the artists who are actually making the items. When you purchase an item from Novica, an artisan card is included with each item.
i always really enjoy browsing the Unique Gifts section. Novica has put together a versatile collection of hand-crafted treasures from artists around the world.  The Eco friendly selection includes items that are sustainable and natural as well as items made from recycled or reclaimed materials.  At Novica you'll fiind unique handmade products, great value, and the joy of helping to nurture and elevate the craft of global artisans.

i really love what Novica has created. It is a wonderful online marketplace that bridges the gap and brings all of these unique artisan treasures together in one place for an easy shopping experience.

 You can feel good about your purchases, and feel connected with the artists whom your purchase is helping.

My NOVICA order arrived in a timely manner and was packaged really nicely! i got a hand embroidered sling bag from Thailand, which was wrapped in the brown paper with red ribbon, and a sarong from Bali that came in a pretty cloth gift bag. 

Each item comes with a postcard with a personal hand written thank you from the artist/s that you purchased from. Also included is a little card with the description of the product and name of the artist. i love that Novica helps Artisans to build a sustainable business from their craft.

To make ends meet during COVID times, many artisans turned to handcrafting unique face masks. Innovative designs crafted in comfortable fabrics display the amazing fortitude and resilience of artisans as we support each other during these challenging times.  Novica has an amazing selection of handmade face masks you can check them all out here. 

Connect with Novica!

Giveaway time!!!

 The generous folks at NOVICA have provided a $50 GC to one luck winner!  Enter the giveaway below using the rafflecopter form. It may take a minute to load.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Novica provided me with a gift card to review their store, but these opinions are 100% mine. i really feel like this is a great store that showcases the talents of these wonderful artists and provides a place to purchase fair trade, high quality items.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Blue Ridge Alchemy Updates (back post)

Major updates to the shop and gallery space this week at Blue Ridge Alchemy!

Grateful for awesome friends that have the skills to do the job proper. Big thanks to Small Ax Forage out of Richmond Virginia for doing such a great job with all the metal fabrication. Hoods and bench tops are finished on the main work stations.

The benches and hoods were given a really cool vintage industrial look. They really fit the space nicely. 

The teaching bench hood is just about done.  Hanging the pipes tomorrow.

The shop is slowly coming together.  Caleb has really done a nice job getting it set up. We have new cases and merch added to the retail space. Adding new artist work every week and looking for new consigners.

It's been amazing seeing it all come together and a dream come true for my husband. After 20 years of working from home, first in a garden shed and later in the basement it's been really exciting see this studio space come into fruition.

If you ever visit Floyd, Virginia be sure and stop by! 
🔥Blue Ridge Alchemy🔥 is located at 115 Sweeney St SE Floyd, VA 24091 
(Directly behind Dj’s Drive-in)