Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Natural Bridge is now a State Park!

On Sept. 24th Natural Bridge officially became a State park. To celebrate, admission was free for the day. Natural Bridge is less than 2 hours from our house, but we've never visited it before. It's always been on our bucket list, but the $18 a person admission just seemed too steep for a one mile hike to see the bridge and a rather unimpressive waterfall.Especially with so many other free/inexpensive places to hike just as close by.

This past Saturday my son had a band competition that was near Roanoke, and quite close to the Natural Bridge. So we dropped him off in Floyd to meet up with his band class and then continued on to Natural Bridge.  

In 1774, Thomas Jefferson paid 20 shillings to purchase the bridge from King George III of England, it has remained in private hands ever since. So we are very excited to see it finally become a State park. 
i really had no idea how massive the Natural Bridge is. It is a  the 215-foot high limestone arch. Picture just don't show the size of it correctly. It really is a neat thing to see and very hard to photograph.  Cars actually drive over the top of it.

 Cedar Creek, which still flows under Natural Bridge carved out of the landscape centuries ago. The main trail follows the creek about 1 mile to Lace falls. It's an easy lovely hike with historical signs about different landmarks along the way.

i found the lost river to be fascinating.  All you can see is the small opening of a cave, but you can hear the river flowing. 

They also have a Monacan village set up with information,  demonstrations and lots of things to explore. We really enjoyed our visit, and plan to return again when we have more time so we can hike some of the other trails and possibly visit the Caverns.  With Natural Bridge becoming a State park, the admission price will be lowered significantly to around $8 a person, which is much more reasonable and they have plans to add more hiking trails and who knows what else.

After visiting Natural Bridge we headed to Glenvar, to watch the Floyd County Marching band compete.  It made for a long, but enjoyable day. i felt a little bad that my son didn't get to visit the Natural Bridge with us, but i know that we'll be back now that it's a State park.  i'm really eager to see the improvements they made to the area. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

New Website!

Wohoo!!  i finally have a new website up!! It is still a work in progress. 

i'm building it on Wordpress, and trying to keep very similar to this blog. i really like my blogspot blog, but didn't know how to turn it into more of a website, rather than just a blog. So i've moved it to Wordpress where i can have it linked to my domain name, have a static website page, shopping cart, blog etc.  i'm really hoping to keep this blogspot  blog too, and just import my blog feed on Wordpress. i haven't quite figured out how to do that yet though.

i'm still trying to figure it all out, like configuring the subscribers widget and figuring out how to navigate the different posts to different tags /categories. Hopefully i will get there soon! i've made a ton of progress in just the last couple of days, so i'm feeling pretty optimistic about it. 

Feel free to stop by and say hello! www.enchantedtree.com Once i get the main part of the website configured, i'll work on the shopping cart/store. i have so much work to list, it's going to take me a while to get it all posted.  i welcome any feedback! 

Kayaking on the Little River

This weekend we finally got ourselves back out on the water for some kayaking fun.  We decided to float the Little River which is the main river that flows through Floyd County.  We found a good access area not too far from our house and spent the afternoon exploring the river.

Much of the area we kayaked is very shallow. You can look down and see the bottom, and occasionally even scraps a few rocks.  The section that we kayaked is very calm, with one little rapid. So it was a fun little expedition that lasted about 3 hours.

Although the river is quite calm, there are still dangers lurking around every corner.  You must be able to navigate around large rocks, downed trees and cows. ;) 

We saw quite a bit a wildlife while we were floating the river. We saw lots of  Blue Herons, a couple of  King Fishers, fish, turtles, a snake and even a beaver. :)  i was most amused by the cows though. 

Kenan took us to a special hidden spot the locals just call Blue Spring.  It's right off the Little River, on private land. There is a natural spring that comes up from the rocks and is a beautiful clear blue.  It is really deep, looks almost bottomless.  This is where we saw the beaver swimming.  It disappeared under the rocks.

This was a really place.  It's hard to capture the color in the photo, but it was a pretty crazy blue. 

We found an area of the river that was deep enough to swim, so we parked our kayaks and played in the water for a bit.

Near the end of our float, there was one little rapid.  It's actually bigger than it looks in the photo and my boy was the only one to flip his kayak on it. 

i really love getting outside and hiking or kayaking on the weekends.  We had a few busy weekends over the summer, and didn't get out as much as i would have liked. Now the weather is starting to cool off and we are really trying to go out and do something active every weekend before winter comes.  

The autumn always depresses me a bit, it feels like the beginning of the end. Every year i enter it kicking and screaming, holding on to summertime as long as i can. i will eventually submit and even embrace the change of season.  That's won't be any time soon though. 

“Wilderness is not a luxury but necessity of the human spirit.” –Edward Abbey

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

New York Biology Essential Oils- Blot Test & Product review

Over the past few weeks, i've had the opportunity to try out and review essential oils by New York Biology.  i'm no expert on essential oils, but i do like to use them when making herbal bath products, like soaps and bath salts etc. i'm not super picky when it comes to essential oils, but i do like to make sure they are 100% pure essential oils and not perfume oils. i also like to make sure the product isn't tested on animals and is packaged well in a dark or amber colored glass bottle.

So far, i've been very pleased with all of the New York Biology oils i've received. They smell fantastic, are packaged well and each one comes with a glass dropper. 

The latest one i have to review is Helichrysum oil. After receiving it and giving it a sniff, i realized i really don't know anything about Helichrysum. According to the NYB listing Helichrysum oil has a sweet and fruity smell with honey or nectar overtones. It is an ancient plant and commonly referred to as Everlasting or Immortal Flower. Many people find the smell to be warming, uplifting and comforting — and since the aroma has a grounding quality, it even assists in releasing emotional blocks.  
To use Helichrysum-
Apply several drops (2-4) of undiluted oil directly on the skin to the affected area or desired location Directly inhale the oil 
Diffuse it in your home 
Add it to a bath 
It’s never recommended to ingest the oil, so plan to use it topically instead.

As i was reading about the different oils, i read that you can test the purity of your essential oils by doing a blot test. So i decided to try out the NYB Helichrysum to see how the brand compares to some of my other oils.

The blot test is a very accurate way to test the purity of your oils. True essential oils will evaporate and not leave behind an oily residue. You just place a drop of oil on a white sheet of paper, and then check it after 24 hours to see if there is any residue left behind. Residue would signify that the EO is mixed with something else and is not 100% pure.
i did the blot test on 4 different brands of essential oil.  When i first put down the drops of oil, the Helichrysum did have a yellow/green tint, while the others were clear. 

After 20 minutes, i checked the blot test. The Rosemary oil in the bottom right, had completely evaporated. The Helichrysum was no longer yellow/green but still had an oil mark. The tea tree oil and Lavender both still had a faint oil marks as well.

After six hours, both the rosemary and Lavender were completely evaporated without any residue left behind. The Helichyrsum and the tea tree both still had a very, very faint mark, but after 12 hours all 4 oils were completely evaporated.  There is no tint or oil mark on the paper where the oils were.

So i do believe these oils are 100% pure.  The country of origin on the NYB oils is India, and according to the label they are not tested on animals. The prices are good and i've been very happy with these oils and will continue to use them.  i'm also going to continue to read up on the different healing properties and uses of these oils. Now that i've learned about the blot test, i plan to test all of the oils i purchase to make sure i am getting pure EOs.

i received the New York Biology Helichrysum oil for free in exchange for my honest review. i was not compensated. 

Mystery plant

 i have this plant coming up in my green house and i have no idea what it is. Absolutely no clue.

i thought it was a cucumber, because i know i planted a few cucumbers in the raised bed. One of them came up and had a few small cucumbers on it, but they never pollinated in the greenhouse.  This one came up near it, and the plant looks like a cucumber.

The leaves look like cucumber, the flowers look like cucumber, it vines and tendrils like a cucumber.

But, that's NOT a cucumber. At least i don't think so. i do tend to grow a lot of unusual/rare seeds. i've gone through all of my seed catalogs and can't find anything that looks like this. The skin is covered in fuzz, and has a velvety feel.

One guess would be that it's a mutant that cross-pollinated. Like a cucumber-watermelon hybrid. i'm like  98% certain that i did not plant any seeds i had collected from my own garden. i only planted very specific plants from certified disease free seeds which i had purchased.  i was trying to keep my greenhouse disease free. So i guess it's possible that there was a few cross-breed seeds in my seed pack, but it's unlikely.

i guess to have to wait and see if it ever becomes anything recognizable.It's tough to know when to pick it though, when i don't know what it is. Anyone have a guess?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Chocolate Zucchini cake

Zucchini season is here, so we have an abundance of zucchini and are always looking for creative ways to use it up. This chocolate cake is so easy to make, and it's moist and delicious.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together, then add the oil and vanilla. Mix well and fold in the zucchini, chocolate chips and pecans. It will look a little crumbly, but let it set a few minutes for the liquid from the zucchini to moisten the mixture. Add 1 tbsp water, and mix well.  

The batter should be very thick, but not dry. You can add a little more water if your batter seems too dry. i've only ever had to add 1 tbsp, but i suppose it depends on how much liquid is in your zucchini.
Pour into prepared pans and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean.  Let the cake cool and then frost and decorate as desired. 

We devoured this cake and i failed to get a picture of it completed, but thought i'd at least get a picture of the last piece! i will be making this again soon.


for the cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini is)
  • 1 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)


  • 1 cup unsalted Butter, softened 
  • 4 cups Powdered Sugar 
  • ¾ cup of Cocoa Powder
  •  2-3 teaspoons of vanilla
  •  1-2 tablespoons of milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 round 9"  baking pans with foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, sugar and salt. 
  3. Stir in the oil and vanilla until moistened. Fold in the zucchini. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes so the batter can absorb the moisture from the zucchini. Then, if your mixture is still dry you can add a little more water.  The batter should be very thick but shouldn't be powdery. Add nuts and chocolate chips, if desired.  Spread in prepared pans.
  4. Bake 25-30 minutes until the cake springs back when gently touched.  Cool completely.
  5. To make the frosting: Combine powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Add butter and vanilla. mix until smooth.  Add milk slowly to get desired consistency.

    So easy and delicious! Enjoy!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

More Chalk Marker fun with #vellostarchalkmarkers

We has some fun with chalk markers again today. i bought some chalkboard spray paint, and we've turning everything into chalkboards. :)  When you use the chalkboard markers on something that has been sprayed with the chalkboard it doesn't wipe away as easily as it does on a real chalkboard. Which is what we wanted!  They'll fade over time if you don't seal it, but they will awesome for a good while.

We have a ton of gourds that we dried last year, so i sprayed this one with the chalkboard paint and then we decorated it with the chalkboard markers. the are so bright and vibrant. i plan to put a birdhouse hole in the back of this one and seal it so the chalkboard marker doesn't wash away.

We also revamped all of our chicken signs. A few months ago, my girl made some signs for all of the chicken coops using chalk marker and my husband hung them up.  They lasted a good while, but eventually start to fade. So we redecorated them all.

Because the chalk markers are being used on a rough raw wood, they do not wipe away like they wood on a smooth chalk board. So they work great for the signs.  They are semi permanent. We'll probably be able to change them up again next spring.

We also redid the sign at the kids play fort.  My boy worked on the menu while Sookie waited to take orders. :) 

My girl has been drawing all over the fridge chalkboard. It's a large piece of chalkboard contact paper. i use it as memo board, but the chalk markers are too fun to resist. So she's adds to the drawing every time she gets near it.  The chalkboard markers do wipe of of this chalkboard easily. Just a damp cloth and they clean right up. Occasionally chalk markers will leave a little residue behind, but magic  eraser works wonders to clean it up. 

All of these projects were done using #vellostarchalkmarkers.  These were a little more watery than some of the other chalk markers we've used. If your not paying attention, they drip a little and end up on your finders. They clean up very easily though.  You can find these for sale on amazon. It's a nice price for 10 big chalk markers!

i received this product for free to test out and provide my honest review. i was not compensated.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Crafty Rolls Washi Tape Crafts

i've never used Washi tape before this, but i have a friend that loves it. She uses it to decorate the cigar boxes that she paints. They always come out looking fabulous, Since we love all kinds of crafts,  i wanted to try it out.

i received some #craftyrolls washi tape to review. So i looked up some different craft projects to do with it. Pinterest is full of ideas!!   My kids and i did a few simple ones, just to try it out.  i need to make a run to the craft store to get the supplies i need for some of the other washi tape projects i want to try.

The first project we did was to decorate my girl's switchplate cover. 

The tapes we picked are pink and green. They look like xmas colors in the picture, but it really is pink not red.   The washi rolls come in lots of fun colors and prints. It adheres really well to our projects, but isn't so sticky that it sticks to itself (like ducktape). It easy to lift up, straighten and reapply to get your lines perfect.

My girl loves the way her light switch cover came out. We attached the clothes pins to a ribbon and have them hanging in front of her mirror so she can hang pictures from them.

She also used the Crafty rolls  washi tape to frame in a few pictures in her scrap book. There are tons of different crafts on pinterest to make with it. We're going to have to try and find a few more projects to try out this weekend. 

i received the washi tape in exchange for my review. i was not compensated.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Heirloom Tomatoes!!

My heirloom tomato obsession continues. 

Not only do i love growing and eating them. i love to photograph them. i love the different colors and shapes. i love them in a basket, or laid out on the table.  

i have my favorites, but each year i plant a few new varieties as well. i love the Brandywines and Cherokee purple. Violet Jasper is a tasty golfball sized tomato. perfect for salads or munching fresh. A new one for me this year is the Cream Sausage. They are a pale yellow, but very flavorful. They are naturally low in acid and so they are great to each fresh if you have issues with tomato acid. 

i actually took this picture last year for a blog post about heirlooms that i don't think i ever wrote. lol. This would look better if my tomatoes were a bit prettier all that rain in July caused cat-facing, cracking and various rot spots. Still thought it was a neat picture. i believe (according to my garden charts) these are Money Makers, Ferris wheel, Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, Black Krim, Violet Jasper, Early girl, Hillbilly, Blue Beauty, Tigerella, mountain gold and cherry tomatoes...but not necessarily in that order.  Most of these i can identify just by looking at them, but this a couple i'm not sure about.

This is my current variety, although i still have several plants that haven't begun to riped yet. So before the summer is over i may try making a new tomato chart.  Pictured here are Brandywines, Cherokee purple, roma, San Marzano, Hillbilly, Early Girl, Box car Willie, Cream Sausage, Blue Beauty, Tigerella, Violet Jasper, Black Cherry, Yoder's German yellow and Golden Jubilee.  There may be some Black Krim and Black from Tula in there as well, but i'm not really sure.  i'm still waiting on several varieties. Almost all of these can be purchased from Baker Creek Seeds. 

They have a really great variety of heirloom seeds, and they are a good honest company.  A few of the  radish and carrot varieties i purchased ended up not producing true to seed, and i received a gift certificate in the mail to replace them. i hadn't even realized there was a problem with the seeds, just thought it was something i had done. So it was a pretty fun surprise to get a gc half way through the season to buy more seeds. :)  You can sign up for a free catalog (which is absolutely beautiful) on their site. i can not recommend them enough. Great company with a huge selection of non-gmo heirloom seeds.  

Heirloom tomaotes can be very challenging to grow. Unlike hybrids they are very prone to diseases and pests. They take extra care to keep them alive, but i feel like it's worth it. 

100 colors!!!

We recently had the opportunity to review a set of 100 markers by #usartsupply.  They are an art supply company that specializes in affordable high quality  art supplies.  We've reviewed several products from them and are always very pleased with the quailty/price of their products.

We recently had the opportunity to review this set of 100 colors of Twin Tip markers. They contain a full color spectrum with no duplicate colors. They are acid-free, non-toxic, and water-based. They come in a nice display box so it's easy to pick your color and see the choices.  When i was a kid i would have thought i'd died and gone to heaven if i had a set of markers this big! :) 

The twin tip is awesome! One side has a 3.0 mm tip and the other side has a .7mm fine detailing  tip. 

These are great for coloring, drawing, and writing. i think it would be a great set of markers for anyone who loves to color and be creative. My daughter loves the array of colors and has been drawing with them every day. She's working on a picture to enter for the Norah the Piano cat Art contest. :) 

i received this product for free or discounted in exchange for an honest review. i was not compensated. My opinions are my own.  We love this set and think it is a fair price for the amount of twin-tip markers you get.