Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bread Bowls

This is an old post from several years ago. i decided make bread bowls today and since my pictures in the RV didn't come out that well i thought i'd just copy the old blog post.

 i've played with a couple different bread bowl recipes, and this is my favorite.   They are very easy, yummy and hold soup well.  They are not your traditional bread bowls that have to be hollowed out, they are literally a bowl made of bread. 

Bread Bowls

1 cup warm water (from tap)
1 package active dry yeast
1 TBSP sugar
a pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil (i use olive oil)
2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups flour (i do half whole wheat/half white flour)
4-6 small pyrex bowls. You can use 6oz custard cups or the 8oz size

preheat oven to 385

Measure water into large bowl; sprinkle in yeast and stir until dissolved. Add sugar and let sit a few minutes, until frothy. Add oil, salt and 1 cup white flour; beat until smooth. Add 1 cup whole wheat flour. Mix well, begin to knead and add enough additional flour to make stiff dough. i usually add 1/4-1/2 cup white flour. Knead well for a couple min, and then slowly add more WW flour until dough is soft, but no longer sticky and is smooth and elasticy, 5-10 min. Set aside and let rest.

Grease outside of 6 pyrex bowls (pan spray works well). i like the little custard size bowls. i think they are 6 oz. You can use the bigger 8 oz bowls, you'll make 4 large bowls instead.

Punch dough down; divide into 4-6 pieces. Spread each piece into a circle about 6 inches in diameter. Place over outside of bowl, working dough with hands until it fits. Set bowls, dough side up, on greased baking sheet. Let them set for a couple min. they'll rise just slightly.

Then bake them about 8min. Use an oven mitt to flip bread bowls right side up ( They're HOT!) and remove the pyrex dish.

Now bake them right side up an addition 8 min. until they are golden brown. In the pictures, i use 3 of the small glass bowls, and two of the larger size. Fill with a thick soup and enjoy!!

Broccoli cheese,veggie chili and corn chowder are our favorite soups to eat in a bread bowl.  

End of the Summer Garden.

It has always been hard for me to let go of the summer.  Lately, i've been feeling the usual melancholy that comes this time of year, mourning the end of summer and trying to embrace the beginning of Autumn. In recent years i have felt like i enter the season kicking and screaming and not quite ready to 'let go' of the summer. It does not seem that long ago that we were in the midst of that never ending winter.  However, i'm not fighting it this year. i don't know if i am embracing the season, or just accepting it. After all of the changes we have been through this year, i do not feel as if i have any fight left in me. i am ready to let go and move on. 

i stopped tending most of my gardens back in September.  i let my main summer garden become overgrown, and the weeds (and flowers) took over. i typically clean up and replant my front garden with fall lettuce, peas and kale. This year i just let the weeds claim it.  My pea fence is still covered in dead cucumber vines and pole beans.  My redbor kale is about 4 foot tall, and covered in cabbage worms. i put a few rows of fall lettuce in my main summer garden, but didn't bother planting peas. Despite the lack of attention, my main garden continued to produce well up until the frost hit.

First frost was on Oct 19. It was a light frost, just on the grass and enough to burn my zucchini plants. So i went out and picked the rest of the beans, most of the peppers and tomatoes.  i found a large zucchini that had been hidden beneath the leaves, harvested a nice broccoli head that wasn't wormy, some leafy greens and a bouquet.  i left quite a few peppers on the plant in case it doesn't actually get as cold as they are predicting. In the past i have picked everything because of a frost/freeze warning, only to have it not get as low as predicted. Then we go into an Indian Summer and have another 3 weeks of perfect garden weather. i was kind of hoping that was the case.

However the next morning there was a heavier frost. This time it killed my only tomato plant, and burned the tops of the peppers plants. It also killed my sweet potato vines and so i went out and dug them.  Earlier this year i went out to check on my main sweet potato bed and found that voles had found them and eaten almost all of the sweet potatoes. i admit i was a bit devastated. i've been growing sweet potatoes for years and have never had any kind of pest problems. i typically harvest between 70-100+ pounds of sweet potatoes, which last us through the winter. i had to dig that bed early, because of the voles and was really disappointed with the harvest. In the picture above they are the potatoes in the basket.  Having been dug early they are quite small.  i don't have a scale to weigh, them but would guess it's only 20 lbs or so.

i had planted a few other plants in the main garden, and began checking them regularly for signs of the vole.  Although there was tunneling all around the area, somehow he never found my sweet potatoes. There were only 4 plants in this garden, but they did great.  The sweet potatoes i dug look fantastic!

Last night the predicted temperatures were going to dip down below freezing, so i finished picking the rest of the peppers and the last of the green tomatoes. My garden had turned into a bit of a jungle with nasturtium and morning glories covering everything, so  i was actually surprised how many peppers were still on the plants. Although i haven't been able to can at all this year, i've been freezing as much as possible.

i do have a few things planted for fall, but have already let it go. i am giving in to the season of change,  pulling out the wool socks and sweaters, curling up with my crochet hook, and turning inward. This is my time to slow down and reflect.

“The greatest step towards a life of simplicity is to learn to let go.” 
― Steve Maraboli

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

Autumn bendy dolls

Now the the weather has turned cooler, i am spending less time outside in the garden and more time inside curled up with a blanket!! This camper does't hold heat well, and if i keep the heat on i will run out of propane. So i stay bundled up and have begun putting a bit of time back into my crafts.

The changing of the seasons always inspires new dolls.  

i've been having fun with the Autumn theme.  Many of the dolls pictured in this post are already sold, but i still have many available on my FB page and i'm posting new ones every few days!

The Autumn fairies are always a favorite. i love using the acorn caps as hats. 

i like using the artificial leaves as wings for the Autumn fairies. Sometimes i give them acorn caps, sometimes gnome hats. i think the Autumn fairies are some of my favorites.

i came across this black spotted felt and immediately knew i had to make lady bug girls. :) 

i had a request for a Turkey girl this year. i was feeling a little bored with the dolls i was making, and didn't want to finish the nativity sets i've been working on so i accepted the challenge.  i thought she turned out really cute!!

Here is another turkey girl. :)  i'll be working on a few more this next week, and then will eventually move on to snowflake fairies. 

Most of my sales are done through my fb page these days, so if you are interested in some bendy dolls head over to to see what is available!

i also recreated my dragon pattern, and finished up a new dragon for my kids. There are a few things that need to be tweaked, but now that i have remade the pattern i'll be able to offer some for sale again in the future.  Still working on some of my other patterns, but i'll get them recreated eventually.

Grayson Highlands Fall Festival

Several years ago we came out and hiked at the Grayson Highlands.  It is a beautiful place to hike and connects up with Appalachian Trail. Besides being a fabulous place to hike it is known for its wild ponies, which graze all over the highlands.

This was our first year attending the Fall festival.  It was small, but nice. We purchased several handmade items from the local vendors. The kids both got these awesome natural hiking sticks.  They had been cut and sanded at each end, and had a cord though the top. 

We also purchased some eat hand carved mushrooms and a vase from a couple of the vendors. The festival was small but it had a handful of vendors, live music and food booths. We wandered around a bit and then headed up the trails to hike.

The trails are at a higher elevation and there is a noticeable temperature drop as soon as you begin hiking up to the highlands. So even though it was a warm day, we all brought sweat shirts.  We started of on the Grayson highlands main trail and then switched over to the Appalachian trail which crossed through the Grayson Highlands. We followed it for a bit, and then connected back to our original trail. 

The landscapes and scenery at this altitude is breath taking!  It is a beautiful hike. We passed many folks hiking, riding horseback and others who had set up their camps. There were bear warnings posted, and we hiked for several miles without seeing any of the ponies we were hoping to see.

We were quite surprised to see a few cows grazing along the trail.  

More views of the blue ridge.  It really is a fabulous hike. It's only a couple hours drive, we really should be hiking here more often.  After hiking pretty far up the trail we were feeling a bit disappointed that we hadn't seen any ponies.  We began to head back, and although we thought we were retracing our original path, we somehow ended up on a different trail.

We came around a corner and found the ponies!!  The ponies are considered wild, but they are very use to all the hikers.  Folks tend to feed them and so the ponies are actually very tame.

As soon as they saw us they began to come over too see if we'd brought them any treats.

This pony has the most magnificent hairstyle i've ever seen. :)   He was absolutely gorgeous and very sweet!  The ponies even followed us for a while until some other folks stopped and pulled out carrots.

We really had a wonderful time hiking and seeing the beautiful ponies. i actually wish that we'd come earlier and had more time to hike. There are many other trails that are worth hiking, but we didn't have enough time to explore them.  We look forward to coming back again and may make the Fall festival and annual activity.

You can find out more about the Grayson Highlands here.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

House Construction- week ?

i've lost track of what week we are on with the construction. The crew has been here but working on the inside, so there has been very little to document with photos. They've been getting the electrical and plumbing set up, and building the floor to the loft upstairs.

Two weeks ago, the stone mason arrived and began putting the stone on the chimney.  The reason they began at the top, instead of at the bottom is because they didn't have enough of the stone. i'm not sure why, but they've had to order more.  They knew the roofers were coming this last week to work on the roof and the stonework needed to be on the chimney, before they could do the roofing. 

 So the mason got about half of the stonework done, and are waiting for more stone. Looks pretty good so far, although the stone doesn't have as much color variation as we were expecting. i'm kind of hoping it's all just really dusty and after a good rain, we'll see just a little more color.

Before the construction could begin the roofing, they had to extend the roof over the front door area.  We'll have a deck that begins here, and wraps around to the back.  It will only be covered on the front.

Then this past week, they came and began the roofing. We have the same green metal roof that we had on our old house. The window frames are the same green metal. i wanted a green front door as well, but it was a bit too pricing. i'll probably end up painting it green, or replacing it sometime down the road. 

i thought i had a picture of the roof complete, but noticed in this one that the dormer is not done. They did get it almost complete at the end of last week. It still has to have the gutters, trim and snow guards put on.  The snow guards will help prevent a dangerous avalanche of snow sliding of the roof in the winter time. :) 

So we are getting closer,but there is still a lot that needs to be done. It's been raining this week, preventing the crew from finishing the stonework and roof. i believe next week they'll start the deck and siding.  The inside of the house is still unfinished.  The flooring all still needs to be installed and they are working on building the bathroom upstairs. So yeah, we are getting there.

Living in the RV has been an interesting and fun experience. i really don't mind it much at all. i really thought i'd be blogging more about our small space living, but there just doesn't seem to be too much to say about it. You deal with it, you adjust, and it becomes home.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Weekend Hike- Chestnut Falls

This past weekend we decided to enjoy the nice weather by hiking on part of the New River Trail.  The closest trail access, it's about an hour away in Galax.  The Trail begins in Galax, and follows the New River all the way up to Pulaski.  We have hiked different areas along the trail, but have never walked the whole thing. We typically drive up to the Shot Tower park and walk to Foster Falls, which is a really nice hike.  We wanted to hike somewhere different though, and decided to start at Cliff view Campground/Dannelly Park and walk up to Chestnut Falls.

Before our hike we had a picnic at Donnelly park. The kids ran around the fitness trail, and then we headed across the bridge to the New River Trail.

This part of the trail doesn't follow the New River. This is Chestnut Creek, farther up the trail it will connect with the New River. It was a beautiful trail to follow. There were lots of folks on bicycles and on horseback along the trail. 

The falls at Chestnut Creek are small, but beautiful. Unfortunately, this seems to be a hangout area, as there was just a ton of trash and litter here. So sad to see in such a beautiful area.  We were able to walk around the edge of the creek, right up to the falls. 

It was the perfect day for hiking and the leaves are just beginning to change. We are trying to get out and explore as much as we can before the long days of winter set in.

We are still living in the RV.  There has been a lot of progress on the house, but it will still be a few weeks before we are in. i'm really trying to embrace the season.  Getting out and walking the new river trail is a good way to appreciate it's beauty.


Earlier this year i was feeling a bit disappointed by the lack of monarch butterflies. Every year we walk along our road and rescue the monarch caterpillars before the county mowers come by and cut down all the milkweed. We have been doing this for years and really enjoy it.  With all the change we have experienced this year i've been kind of clinging to our past routines, and raising monarchs in the fall is one that we were always look forward to.

We found it odd that we were not seeing any monarchs this summer. We walked up and down the road, and checked all of the milkweed but we didn't find any caterpillars or eggs. Then the last time we walked up the road all of the milkweed had been cut down, so we knew we would not be seeing any monarch caterpillars this year.  Milkweed is their only food source.

Despite the lack of monarch caterpillars, we've been finding lots of other neat caterpillars! Many that we have never seen before here. This is a Black and orange oak worm.  My daughter is fearless, she holds all of them..even the ones i'm to squeamish to touch.

This one is a Blinded Sphinx moth caterpillar. He's a strange looking fella in the photo, but he was really a pretty caterpillar. Bright green with some reddish pink speckles. 

We found 6 Black Swallowtail caterpillars munching on our carrots.

This is an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar.  We found him near the mailbox. Yellow Poplar is a food source for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtails and there is a large tree near the mailbox, so we think he fell out.  i wanted to keep him so we could watch him pupate, but it didn't seem to want to eat any of the fresh  leaves i'd given him. So we decided to just put him back in a poplar tree.

When i went to put the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail back on a poplar tree, i found this guy sitting quietly on a  Sassafrass tree. It's a Spicebush swallowtail caterpillar.  

This guy is the prettiest caterpillar i've seen in a while. Those giant eye spots are not really eyes at all. They are spots on his back that give him the appearance of a snake if a predator gets too close. He will tuck his head under, and puff up his back to show off those big 'eyes'.

The Spicebush caterpillar changes color right before he's going to pupate. So we collected the branch he was on, and are keeping it in our makeshift caterpillar habitat with the black swallowtail caterpillars. Hopefully we'll get to observe some pupating caterpillars soon. These caterpillars will stay in their chrysalis all winter, and they will not emerge as until spring.

i have always loved caterpillars and the process of metamorphosis, but never have i felt as connected as i do this year.  i am eagerly awaiting my time to pupate, and emerge next spring new and whole again.

 "We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty."- Maya Angelou

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Autumn Leaf Art

This weekend it seemed as if the leaves changed all at once. So we went out and collected a few in all  different colors and shapes and then used them to create patterns and pictures. 

We sorted by shape and color, then made a leaf rainbow. We took apart the rainbow and turned it into a flower burst mandala.

We made butterflies and dragonflies, and a cute little owl. Once you get started it is easy to create with leaves.

We used a blue balloon flower to add a bit of blue to our flower rainbow.

By layering the different leaves you can create colorful wings.  We used leaf stems as the butterfly's antenna. 

The dragonflies eyes came from my hawthorn tree. 

The owl was fun but we had a hard time finding a good leaf for his feet. i thought an upside down sassafrass would be perfect, but i couldn't find any small enough.  There are some really neat leaf animals over on pinterest. Check out these for inspiration!

We used natural materials for everything. These are not glued together, they are intended to be impermanent.  One big gust of wind and they will be gone.  These are the best kinds of crafts for us these days, as we have no where to store things. They are fun in the moment, and we can snap picture to remember them, and tomorrow we'll go back out and rearrange the leaves into something completely new. For those wising to keep their leaf art, you can sandwich the leaves between clear contact paper. Then you can then turn them into placemats, and sun catchers.