Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Glass work update.

i'm still progressing on my glass work. i've taken a break from hearts and spirals to make a few goddesses pendants. i am really, really enjoying these. i've always been drawn to the image of the goddess/female form and over the years it has always been a focus in my art. So it only makes sense for me to bring it into my glass work.

These are a few of the first ones. i am not trying for any kind of consistently with these. i want them to be all shapes and sizes. Some have arms, some do not. Some have a line to separate the legs, some do not. Some have spirals on their bellies, or belly buttons and some do not. i think they are all beautiful in their uniqueness.  

i've been playing around with a few other styles. Like leaf bottoms, and spirals.

 Yesterday i started making a few with pregnant bellies, and i'm loving the way they are coming out. These have a loop in the back. the pendants that have the raised arms, do not. The arms act as the loop. i'm eager to see these progress and i continue on my lampworking journey.

i currently have these available for sale on my personal FB page, and am working to get them listed on my Enchanted Tree page and website.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Crabtree Falls, VA family hike.

Crabtree Falls is the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. It features a series of five major cascades and a number of smaller ones that fall a total distance of 1,200 feet.

i've been wanting to visit Crabtree Falls for a while, and this weekend we finally got a chance to hike it! It's was a little farther than we usually drive for a day hike (over 2 hours) but it was very worth it.

This bridge is the Crabtree falls arch bridge and is near the parking lot. i thought this was so beautiful. We couldn't walk across it though, it was closed for safety reasons. i don't know whether they plan to repair it or what. It didn't say, just said it was closed to foot traffic. 

 The falls are absolutely amazing, and much larger than they look in the photo.  The hike was very strenuous. We just kept going up and up and every time we thought we were at the last falls, we'd seen more.  It's was just breath taking.

 There are several rests along the way. Benches, and overlooks.  It was really busy when we were there. Really more crowded than i like for a hiking adventure, but the falls made it worth it.

There was just no way to get a picture of the entire falls, so i snapped a photo at each of the outlooks.  The path was muddy and slippery in places. It was not an easy hike, yet we saw people of all ages and physical shape hiking to the top.  Lots of people had dogs, and several had babies in back carriers.  So although it's a strenuous hike, it's very doable. Just take it slow and stay on the trail.

There are warning signs all over the trail.  30 people have died at Crabtree Falls since the U.S. Forest Service began keeping records in 1982.  There are many signs reminding of the dangers here.  The hike is safe as long as you stay on the trails.

At the very top is an outlook with spectacular views. You can't see the falls from the top, but it's a nice spot to rest and take it all in. There were a lot of people at the top. Several had brought hammocks and were set up enjoying the views. There is a large open rocky area to sit.  After resting we went back down the same way we came up. i believe you can continue on the trail toward Crabtree meadow, and eventually connecting up with the AT. 

We are really looking forward to this warmer weather so we can get back to hiking and kayaking every weekend!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Breaking bad habits with Buddy Trainer- Product Review

 If i had known how challenging Border Collies were, i'm not sure we would have gotten one.  Sookie, our border collie is extremely smart, but also extremely energetic. She requires a lot of attention, and if  she doesn't get it she will start being destructive and picking up some bad habits. So when i was given the opportunity to review the Buddy Trainer -training collar, i was really excited.

So i'll admit, i'm not usually a fan of shock collars, however we used to have an underground fence system with the shock collar and it worked really, really well. It only took about a day or two for Sookie to learn the boundaries of the yard and avoid getting shocked. There was a warning beep before the shock, so she was very quick to learn to stop what she was doing as soon she heard the beep. 
When our house burned down in 2013, the underground fence was destroyed and we never got around to replacing it. 

Even though it's been a few years since we've had an underground fence, she pretty much stays right in the yard and has learned the boundaries of the property. She will occasionally go for a run in the woods behind out house, but she doesn't just wander.
Right after the fire, we rented a house, but were unable to take the dogs. So they stayed on our property. We had them in a fenced kennel. but almost everyday theu found a way to dig out and escape. During the weeks following the fire, she picked up a few bad habits mostly out of boredom. The worst of the habits was killing chickens, which she did a lot of that year. 

Although it's been a couple of years since she has killed chickens, i've recently caught her stalking them again. She's really sneaky about it, so i know she knows better. Another habit i'd like to break her of is chasing cars, usually the mailman or ups guy. She doesn't do it every time, but when she does i usually catch her sitting on the edge of the road waiting for a car to come by. It's a dangerous habit and i don't want her getting hit.

So the cool thing about this training collar is that it has 4 different training methods. audible beep, light, vibrations and shocks. You can also adjust the levels ranging from 0-100 and it comes with a remote and has a 330-yard range. So the shock can be used as a last resort if she isn't responding to the other cues . Which means if i look out the door and see her at the mailbox, i can use the beep to remind her she's too close to the road.  Sookie is so smart, i really think that just the beep or vibration will enough to break her concentration when she is in that car/chicken stalking trance. 

This past week, i spent a bit of time with her in the yard trying out the collar. She really did well with it, and i have a feeling she remember the underground fence collar, because the first time i made it beep when she was too close to the road she immediately stopped and sat down. 

The main thing with this type of collar is consistency. i've working with her every day, rewarding good behavior and giving the audible beep when she gets too close to the chickens or road. i'm really pleased with how well it is working. So far, she has responded so well to the beep that i haven't had to use the vibration or other functions.  

The Buddy Training system is very easy to use. i love that it's re-chargeable!  It comes with the collar, remote,  charger, instructions and two sets of the contact points in different sizes. It also has a testing bulb, so you can make sure it's working without shocking yourself. :)

i can't say how well this would work for all dogs, but it is working really well for Sookie. She responds to the beep sound by immediately stopping what is she is doing, which is what i was hoping. Another of her bad habits is barking incessantly, when she wants to play or come inside. Most bark collars give a shock when the dog barks, however she is supposed to be barking to protect the chickens from predators, so i don't want to teach her not to bark. She needs to learn what is acceptable, and what is not. The remote allows me to give her a audible que only when she is barking inappropriately.  i'll continue to praise her when she is barking at hawks, foxes or strangers, so she should learn what is acceptable and what is not. 

i feel pretty confident that this will help to break those bad habits, and i won't even have to use the shock option. i have seen other remote collars, but most just have the shock. i really like that this one has the different training options, and adjustable levels. 

It is available on amazon here for $34.99

i received this product for free in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! ODDphabet and Wacky 1-2-3, Board book Review.

So, i'm super excited to be working with Ripley Publishing again to introduce you to their first ever children's board books! They were kind enough to send me a copy of their new board books to review for you on my blog.

Ripley Publishing is expanding its line of popular children’s books with the launch of the company’s first board books, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! ODDphabet and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Wacky 1-2-3. These new board books are suitable for ages 3 and up.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! ODDphabet and Wacky 1-2-3 make learning letters and numbers tons of fun!

From a painting elephant, two headed cow, six legged frog, singing mice, and everything in between, each quirky character is based on a true Ripley’s-verified story. 

From A to Z and 1 through 12, rhymes and colorful illustrations engage young readers to learn the basics while promoting inclusivity and individuality.

 The ODDphabet board book features colorful, original illustrations of animal characters based on real “believe it or not” stories and facts. Amusing rhymes make learning your ABC’s so much fun for everyone! Weird, wonderful, and all true… Believe It or Not!

 Both books feature highly engaging illustrations by Ripley cartoonist John Graziano, who also illustrates the daily Ripley’s Believe It or Not! cartoon.

These books makes learning numbers and letter uniquely engaging for even the youngest Ripley fans. They are available at all major book stores and on amazon!

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! ODDphabet  and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Wacky 1-2-3 are both available on Amazon for $6.99 each. Free shipping if you have prime.

You can connect with Ripley's on Facebook,  Twitter and Instagram.

i received these books at no cost in exchange for my post, i was not compensated. My opinions are 100% my own.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Snow Days in March.

Snow days in March really are not unusual.  It was the 60+ degree weather in February that was concerning.  All of the flowers and trees began waking up prematurely, so when the temperatures dropped back down to normal march temps all the plants that had woken up were affected.  

These are the peach tree flower buds covered in ice. The blueberries look very similar.  i do not yet know if we'll be getting any fruit this year.  My daffodils froze solid. We had lows of 12 degrees, maybe colder and then freezing rain on top of it.  

Although ever year i get a picture of snow on my daffodils, this year they did not recover. The flowers got too cold and froze.  My daylily plants also froze and turned into piles of soft dead foliage, so i'm not sure whether they will recover or not. i've never had a year without daylilies. 

i brought all my seed trays that were in the greenhouse inside, as i knew they would not survive if i left them out.  

This was the scene inside. We all stayed warm around the fire, and enjoyed the quiet of winter that we seemed to have missed during January and February when the temps were so mild.  Thought i've never been a winter person, i still need a week or two of hibernating and slowing down and embracing the season.  i feel like i missed that this year.

i usually spend the winter cooking and baking, but this year i spent more time in the glass shop than i did in the kitchen. The glass shop is not heated though, and with the temperatures as cold as they have been it was just too cold for me to work. So i took the time to use up an extra gallon of milk we had.  i made a batch of mozzarella, fresh butter and buttermilk, used the whey to make ricotta and had a full cup of fresh cream left over which i used to make creamy feta and roasted red pepper fettuccine.

The buttermilk was turned into pancakes, i used the ricotta and about half of the mozzarella to make stuffed shell and then used the rest to make home made pizza and quiche. i've been making a lot of quiche these days, as my hens are really starting to lay. 

i'm getting some really gorgeous egg colors too. Despite my attempts at breeding for colors (which failed) nature did an excellent job all on her own. These colors are the result of barnyard mix, and  not any intended breeding. The pink comes from a heavy 'bloom' over a brown egg.  

My new chicks are growing fast. They are 3 week old now and are getting lots of feathers. We moved them into a larger pen, and added a roost and they really seem to love it.  

So far our march has been rather uneventful. We are all eagerly awaiting spring, and hoping that the weird weather settles down and hasn't already caused irreversible damage to all the fruit blossoms that were just beginning to open.  i have seedling started in the greenhouse and am trying to get sweet potatoes to grow their starts. Trying not to get ahead of myself, and embrace the cold days the best that i can. 

I am grateful for the silence of winter mornings, for the beauty and wonder of the glint of sunlight in frost melting to dew, for the early-riser's peaceful solitude that sets a mood of thankfulness, hope, and calm for the dawning day. ~Terri Guillemets

Friday, March 3, 2017

New peeps, rescue hen and so many eggs!

My hens sure do think it's spring! i'm finally getting lots of eggs again!! Remember all those chicks that hatched out last summer?  They are all laying now. Unfortunately, of all those crazy peeps that hatched out, i only ended up with one olive egger and one medium brown layer. All the others are laying white/cream/beige eggs. i thought for certain that breeding my olive egger with the maran would create a dark olive layer...but it did not. :/ The olive egger i did get is a complete mystery since it hatched from a feral hens clutch (all brown/beige eggs)...not an olive egg. 

More daylight means more eggs! They are really starting to come in now!  i'm super thrilled with my variety of colors, but am still missing blue!!  The majority of my eggs are boring white, cream and beige. i really need blue eggs! 

So, i got some (hopefully) blue egg layers! :) With all the chicks hatched out last summer, i must have lost my mind to actually purchase more chickens!  When i saw a local farm store was selling EasterEgger/ Americanas i had to get a few. EEs lay blue eggs! They actually lay blue, green or pink eggs,,,but i'm hoping at least one will lay blue.

They are so freakin' cute. 

i also recently took in a rescue hen, We've been calling her Lola.  She is an older Easter Egger, and i was told she doesn't lay anymore. She was offered on a free site for butchering/stew pot, but i offered to give her a home and let her retire here.  The last rescue hen i took in was my Olive Egger, who became one of my best layers. So i'm secretly hoping this girl  will eventually starts laying blue eggs, but i'm fine if she doesn't.  She seems to be fitting in well with my other hens, i have several retired ladies already.  

So just when i was feeling overwhelmed by all the eggs, i found a nest under the deck with 16 eggs in it!  Several of my hens have been laying in this nest.  These dark brown eggs are from the offspring of the Olive egger hen and Maran roo.  They are not even slightly green, and just a shade lighter than my Maran eggs.  They are also the same size and shape and my maran eggs. 

So yeah, i have no idea why this hen doesn't lay green eggs and why the other one (my mystery olive egger) does.  All my theories on color breeding just went out the window. lol.