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.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

36 pack Gel Pen Review- B-day gift for my girl

My daughter's birthday is coming up this month and so i accepted a few products to  review that i thought she would enjoy.  i bought her coloring books awhile ago, but the pictures are really too detailed for crayons.  So i've been looking for something that would work nicely with them. She has colored pencils, but i really like gel pens so i was excited to get to review this set of 36!

This is a really nice set! i like the color variety and the hard case is great! They have a very fine tip and work well with the adult coloring books and scrapbooking.   i'm almost tempted to keep them for myself...or at least share them. :) i also use gel pens to make the faces on my bendy dolls, and most gel pens i have come across will bleed on the wooden beads. There are only a couple brands that i have found that work for this, and the GL-Sail Diamante tipped Gel pens worked very well and did not bleed at all.

i had fun trying them out, and seeing how the different colors look on paper. i know my girl is going to love them!  i've purchased other brands of gel pens in the past that stopped working almost immediately, these come with 100%  satisfaction guaranteed.  i can't wait to give these to my girl. i know she's going to love them. 

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

Creek Days and mermaid tails.

Last weekend Kenan was in New York for the Corning Glass Conference.  It was really hot here, so we spent most of the weekend playing in the creek. 

The Greasy creek winds through our property,  and forms sort of a pool right here. It isn't very deep at all, but is still good for cooling off in the summertime. When we first got down to the creek my girl spotted a huge snake swimming across it!! It went up the bank and out of the water, and didn't stop anyone from getting in.  The snake was either a black rat snake or a brown water snake, we don't have to worry about water moccasins here. 

The creek is pretty fast moving, so the kids like to walk along the edge up the creek a ways and then ride back down on their inter-tubes. It's a fun and relaxing way to spend the day.

While sitting with my feet in the water enjoying the sound of the creek i heard a sudden crash and then splash!  Looked up in time to see a beautiful white tailed deer jump across the creek, just down from us. Probably chased by my dogs who had come down with us, but disappeared across the creek to explore. 

There is a smaller creek that runs into Greasy, and the kids were having fun trying to dam it up. While moving rocks around they found crawdads and salamanders and some weird insect larva and nymphs. The caddis larva make tube cases out of tiny pebbles that stick under to the bottom of the rocks and the Giant Crane fly larva looked like leeches. :P 

 We also spotted a huge bullfrog, but it hopped into the creek and disappeared before i could get it's picture.

In this age of technology, it's so refreshing to come down here and play. The kids are never bored, here always exploring and finding new and interesting things to entertain them.

This is how we plan to spend our summer. 

While swimming at the creek i also spotted this adorable mermaid sunning herself on a rock. :)  This mermaid swimsuit was supposed to be a birthday present, but i got it in exchange for a review and needed to have it done this week.  i was originally planning to make her a mermaid tail. i went Joann fabrics last week to price the fabric ($20 a yard!!). Then i got an opportunity to review one from amazon instead and couldn't pass it up. It's a three piece set. 2 piece swimsuit, and the tail. It's made out of shiny stretchy swimsuit fabric. She absolutely loves it. Her only complaint is that she was hoping the tail would be longer so she could wear a swim fin and actually swim with it like a real mermaid tail. This one fits more like a costume, the bottom is open like a dress so you walk in it. It has bottoms too, so if you don't want to wear the tail it's a bikini.  i'll probably still eventually make her a swim-able tail, but for now she loves this one. 

Seems like everyone is planning major vacations and traveling all over this summer. We are really looking forward to a low key, laid back playing in the creek, swimming, hiking  and kayaking kind summer. 

i received this 3 piece Newland's swimsuit in exchange for my honest review. i was not compensated.  My opinions are my own. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Raaya Garden Hose Nozzle review.

Back when we were building the house, one of the construction working accidentally broke the nozzle on our garden hose.  He replaced it with one he had in his truck, and said he'd come back the next day with a new one but never did.  

Three years later, we were still using the old nozzle that the construction worker left behind. There really wasn't any reason i'd never bought i new one, i just hadn't. So when i was given the opportunity to review a garden nozzle, it was hard to say no. :) 

i was send a  Raaya Garden Hose Nozzle to review. It is a high quality professional garden hose sprayer. It comes with two connectors and extra rings. It was very easy to attach the connector to my hose, and then attach the nozzle. i like how easy it is to take on and off. The nozzle feels very well built, it has a solid metal base covered in pvc, so it's comfortable to grip.

 i love the blue color, it also matches my spigot perfectly. :) i tried it out in my garden and found it easy to adjust the stream from a straight jet to a spray. The spray nozzle works very well.

 My only complaint is that the spray is so forceful it was knocking my tender tomatoes over. i need to play with the adjusters a little more, but couldn't seem to get a less powerful light spray.  We haven't had rain in a while, and so i've been having to water the garden daily.  i also like to spray the plants in my greenhouse and it really has too much force to spray them directly without the light spray.

 Overall. it's a nice sprayer and would be great for washing off the deck or washing the car. It has a lot of power and i like the convenience of being able to disconnect and connect it quickly.

 i received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. i was not compensated. My opinions are my own

What to do with Garlic Scapes? Pesto recipe.

It's garlic scape season!! What's a garlic scape? Garlic scapes are the flower bud of the garlic plant. The bud is removed to encourage the bulbs to thicken up.  Scapes taste just like mild garlic. They can be used in exactly the same way as garlic in any recipe.

When scapes first appear they are curled.  i pick them at this stage, if you wait too long they uncurl and flower. They are too tough to pick at that point and are not good to eat. Every year i let a couple of my garlic plants flower and go to seed, so i have several patches of garlic i grow primarily just for the scapes.  when you grow garlic from seed or bulbils it takes several years for the garlic to be large enough to harvest. So i just harvest the scapes, the first couple years until the garlic is larger enough to harvest.

So what can you do with garlic scapes? The easiest thing is just to saute them in butter or olive oil. i also have asparagus ready to harvest, so i often saute them together into a stirfry. Sometimes i add broccoli or sugar snaps if i have any ready to pick.

Garlic scapes are also fabulous on pizza!! i saute them first, then add them with the other toppings and bake.  So delicious. 

Just like asparagus, scapes are great with eggs. i like to use them in quiche, frittatas, and omelets. i always cook them first, sauteing until tender before adding them to the dish. 

This year i have such a great scape harvest that i decided to make garlic scape pesto. It's incredibly easy to make and absolutely delicious!  i then used the pesto as sauce on pizza topped with homemade mozzarella, feta, asparagus, spinach and more garlic scapes.

i also use the pesto on cheese ravioli and fettuccine.

  1. For the pesto
    • around 10 large garlic scapes (small handful)
    • 1/3 cup pine nuts
    • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese 
    •  salt and black pepper
    • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  2. Chop the garlic scapes, then add all ingredients except salt and pepper to your food processor or blender.  Blend/process until smooth, then season with salt and pepper to taste.  
Can be refrigerated for up to a week. 

Garlic scape pesto is so good on pasta! Do you have a favorite way to eat garlic scapes?  Let me know in the comments! 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Summer Vacation, Kayaking and Treeco waterproof pouch review

Last week Kenan went canoeing with one of his friends. He parked at the destination spot, and then they drove back in his friends car to where they would start their canoe trip. He left his wallet and phone in his friends truck in case the canoe tipped, and without thinking put his keys in his wallet. So when they finished the canoe trip, he was locked out of his truck and they had to walk all the way back to his friend's truck. 

i know he was feeling a bit like an idiot, but then a few day later, his friend went canoeing again with a different friend, and the canoe did tip and his friend lost his keys in the river and again they had to walk all the way back to the first truck.

On June 3rd, my husband and i celebrated 16 years of marriage. Instead of buying each other gifts we decided to get a family gift of either a canoe or kayaks.  We owned a canoe when we lived up in Michigan and really enjoyed it.  We really want to start canoeing/kayaking each weekend this summer.

Since i knew that he was planning to get a canoe or kayak,  i got him a Treecoo water proof pouch. has a double ziplock seal, and then folds down and velcros closed. So you can pack your keys, phone, camera etc and not have to worry about it getting wet. 

He ended up getting a double kayak, with plans of getting a second one eventually.  Since both my girl and i were not feeling too good the first week of summer vacation, he just took the boy kayaking. The #treecoo waterproof pouch (fannypack!!) worked great!  He was able to put his phone, keys and wallet in it and not have to worry about them getting wet. 

The pouch is inexpensive. You can get it on amazon for under $10 for a two pack of pouches with free shipping if you have prime.  You get one in black, and one in blue. It's a really a nice idea for anyone who likes to spend time on the water. This would also come in handy at an amusement park with water rides. The double ziplocking seal seems very secure. Once the zippers are locked, it folds down twice, and then the velcro holds it in place.

My only complaint with it, is that the adjustable extra long belt didn't fit around his waist. Hes a big guy, but he's not really that big. He wears a 38 in pants, and the belt was a little too tight to snap so the boy got to wear it. 

i'm guessing that the belt would work best for anyone who's waist is around 36 inches or less, which would be Mens M-L size, but not for the big XL boys.   It cinches down so it would also fit much smaller waists (my boy is a 29 waist).

The boys had a great time kayaking on the New river, and can't wait to go back. Once we get our second kayak, i'm sure you'll be seeing lots of kayaking posts along with our usual hiking posts. i really hope to spend as much of the summer outside as possible! 

So my disclaimer:  i received the Treecoo waterproof pouch at no cost in exchange for my honest review. i do not review products i wouldn't actually use. This pouch is great for keeping your belongings dry, the adjustable strap just needs to be longer. These are my honest opinions, i was not compensated for my review.