Friday, October 19, 2018

Upcoming festivals- Fall on the Lawn!



i'll be set up all day selling my glass pendants and jewelry.  Come on out for a fun filled day! 
October 27 , 12 -8 pm behind the Floyd Center for the Arts.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Italian Wood Cook Stoves by La Nordica (sponsored).

For over 18 years we've been heating exclusively with wood. We are blessed to have many acres of land to collect firewood from downed trees, so we essentially heat our home for free.  Although i love my little wood stove, i dream of one day getting a wood cook stove so that i can heat our home and do our cooking on it too. Once we switch to solar power (hopefully within the next few years), i will very likely be switching to a wood cook stove. 


i've been checking out lots of the different wood stoves online and have fallen in love with this one. This is the Regina model  it is made by Lincar in Italy. Lincar is an Italian leader in the sector of wood & pellet stoves. Regina is made primarily of steel with the cook top being cast iron. It's a very solid piece of equipment. . Both the firebox and the bake oven are large and both feature see-through glass doors. There is also a storage area under the baking oven.  The color of this one would match my slate perfectly, and i just love the overall design of this stove.


Wood burning cook stoves offer a perfect blend of design, quality, and efficiency for your heating and cooking needs. Made in Italy, La Nordica cook stoves feature great durability, efficiency, safety, and quality. The primary function of these stoves is indoor cooking however they also provide a very significant source of heat for home, cabin, or cottage, even in the harshest climates! 




Easy, efficient, independent cooking with a wood cook stove from the best known Italian producer. Wood burning cook stoves offer stylish and off the grid cooking and heating. Very different from their century-old predecessors, these stoves are designed and made in Italy combining clean burning technology of the 21st century with practicality and modern home design trends. Apart from everyday cooking and baking a wood cook stove will also contribute significantly to heating your home. Exquisite maiolica tiles, live flames, and cast iron parts are sure to add elegance to any room. And soon after wonderful aromas will follow: fresh bread, buns, muffins, roasts, stews, and cookies. Nothing unites a family like a warm and delicious smelling cooking stove on a cold winter evening. A family tradition, a culinary delight, a practical tool for energy independence - a wood cook stove is all of these.


The slate in this photo is very similar to what we have with our wood stove. This one is also a similar size to ours, and makes it really easy to imagine putting a wood cook stove in it's place. 
What are the advantages of wood cook stove over gas or electric stove? First and foremost – independence, being able to cook & heat off the grid. Ambience – a live fire is a pleasure to sit by and enjoy on a cold winter day. Style – our stoves carry a distinctive Italian design. Heating – a cook stove is a powerful source of heat for your house.

Discover stylish, efficient, and off the grid cooking & heating with an Italian wood cook stove. La Nordica stoves already work in hundreds of homes in the US. 
To learn more and watch videos visit woodcookstove.com

i really love having a woodstove and look forward to eventually switching over to a wood cook stove one of these days, once we are set up on solar power.



*This post was sponsored by Woodcookstoves.com. i received compensation for posting about their products.  My opinions are my own.

Summer Round Up- Garden Season and Mushroom hunting.


We've had a really weird garden season this year. Snow in April, non-stop rain in May, July temps and drought in June, then pretty much non-stop rain the rest of the summer.  The cold in April and heat in June caused a few things to get a late start and then bolt early, but other things are doing okay.  It rained almost every day during late summer, and although it wasn't good for my garden it was great for wild mushrooms! We saw a crazy amount of varieties this year we've never seen before on our land. We are still finding tons of chanterelles even though it's nearing the end of October.


 Even though i haven't been posting updates here on the blog, i've been taking lots of photos and sharing them on facebook and instagram.  i figured i'd post a few of my favorites here. 
This one is from 8-27. End of August, we were still getting lots of tomatoes, beans and got a few more blueberries from out late varieties.


9-2 We began September with lots of tomatoes and peppers. Starting to get a few eggplant, and still getting lots of eggs.


Harvest 9-10  Finally starting to get some of the fun tomato varieties i'd planted. With all the rain, they didn't do well at all, but i did get to pick a few of each. The Barry's Crazy cherry tomatoes, were really heavy producers. They just went non-stop and were very yummy.  Each week i'd go out mushroom hunting and pick enough chanterelles for a couple meals.



9-18  Peppers are really coming in now, and i'm starting to see some different colors. i planted red, yellow, green and purple.  Still finding tons of chanterelles, and occasionally something more fun like a black trumpet.


9-23  Still getting a few beans. Most of the tomatoes i'm harvesting now are coming from the greenhouse. The ones in the garden basically drowned. Kenan went out mushroom hunting and came back with our first Hen of the Woods and a few more chanterelles.



10-1  More tomatoes and peppers. Lots of wild mushrooms!



10-15  We spotted a lion's mane in the woods behind the chicken coop, and still finding chanterelles.  The tomatoes and peppers are almost all coming from the greenhouse. We have a frost coming in the next week, so this may be the last of my garden pics.  We found all kinds of mushrooms this year, but i'll put that in a different post later this week.

i canned tons of tomatoes, picked the peppers and we froze lots of chanterelles. We ended up getting a free stand up freezer, and already have it filled up with garden produce for the year. Lots of beans and corn and other things.  Although my garden season was disappointing, the mushroom season made up for it, so i really can't complain.  It seems like every year, we have new challenges and new surprises. Our bees are doing very well (with just a few hiccups) and i'll update on that again soon.

i hate to admit it, but i'm definitely ready for the cooler weather and the slowness that comes with the season.



Summer Round Up- Live music and Bubbles

Our summer went way too fast this year. i'm still struggling to figure out how it is already October. Although we didn't take any big trips or vacations this summer, we still packed a lot of fun into our quick 8 week summer vacation.





i use to love going to music festivals, but once i had kids it sort of lost the fun.  It's hard to sit back and enjoy the music when your kids are bored and complaining, or want to spend the whole time in the kids universe playing. Now that the kids are older, i've started volunteering at a few of the local music festivals. Sometimes i go by myself (which is really nice) and sometimes i bring a kid along to help out. ;) Sage and i volunteered to help out in the kids area at the Floyd Fandango festival. 


My husband surprised me with Avett Brother tickets this summer. They were playing at the Kingsport Funfest . i absolutely love the Avett Brothers and have been listening to them since 2009, but this was the first time seeing them live.


They put on an absolutely amazing show!  It really reminded me how much i love live music and that i really need to make more of an effort to get to more shows and music festivals. 



One more picture, because i just adore them so much. i'm going to be watching their tour schedule closely so i can see them play again soon.


This year i also volunteered to host giant bubble workshops at  Floyd Fest.  As a volunteer i got a couple extra passes for helpers, and we were gifted another extra pass from a friend, so the whole family got to come out and enjoy a day of the festival.


The highlight for me was seeing Old Crow Medicine Show play on Sunday night. They put on a really fun show and i got to dance my booty off. i was really reminded of how much i enjoy it.  i'm already eager to see the line ups for next year's  music festivals.  i love hiking, traveling and kayaking each summer...but really need to fit in time for live music.

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. ~Berthold Auerbach

Sunday, August 26, 2018

End of Summer fun- Pool Party Movie Nights at Home. (Sponsored)

This year for our anniversary instead of going away or getting each other a gift, we decided to get a pool as a family gift. i was content to get one of the big blow up pools, or the inexpensive ones you can find at Walmart these days, but the husband wanted a real pool. So he spent the summer excavating the land behind out house and building the pool.


It's been really nice to have a place to cool off this summer, and we are working to turn the whole area into an outside hang out/entertainment area.  We have our fire pit set up back here and eventually we plan to build a deck around the pool, and have a paved patio area with an outdoor wood oven.  We've been brainstorming on what could add to make the area fun and the kids suggested outdoor movie nights from the pool. 



So i've been on the lookout for a mini projector to use for our outdoor movie nights. i had the opportunity to review this mini projector by #pravette and jumped at the chance. It's exactly what we've been wanting for our pool parties. 

The Pravette mini projector is great for indoor or outdoor movies, Slideshows, gaming, music and more. It was easy to connect to my computer with an HDMI cord.
It also Supports up to 120 inch screen

 * 1080p HD * HDMI, A/V, VGA, USB and SD card inputs 
* Compatible with Mac, PC, iphone, Android phone, TV, DVD, Chormecast etc. 
* Ventilation cooling fans * Manual focus lens * Includes projector, remote, manual, power cable and AV connection cable
 * Built in speakers 
* Can connect external speakers 

It's very light weight and easy to set up. The dimensions are 7" x 6" x 3"  and it only weights 2.4 lbs. Includes projector, remote, manual, power cable and AV connection cable


So when i agreed to do a log post for this review i didn't realize it would be so hard getting good pictures or that it would too cold this week to get in the pool. lol. My night shots all turned out really blurry. The actual movie picture isn't blurry. It's very clear and crisp. We played around with the best place to put it and ended up used a sheet hanging from the deck as a screen. We could have just used the concrete wall behind it, but i thought the sheet worked well (it was just a little small) .  


We had to straighten out the sheet, but it made a nice screen for now.


We got it all set up before it as really dark, then hopped in the pool to enjoy the show.



A few of my ridiculously blurry photos of the evening. The movie image was very clear. i just can't take night photos apparently.  It was really a lot of fun floating in tubes and chilling in the pool while watching a movie. We also plan to be hosting a few outdoor movie nights this fall (not from the pool) but when the kids are camping in the yard and we are  having bonfires outside. 

The projector came with an instruction booklet and i'm playing around with it to get it all figured out, but it really seems like a nice affordable projector for anyone wanting to watch movies on a big screen without leaving the house. 

The Pravette mini projector is available for purchase on amazon  https://amzn.to/2LuvBpk



*i received this item for free or at a discounted price to facilitate my review. my opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. By clicking them i may earn a small commission.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Mushroom hunting and Foraging Late Summer

 As a novice mushroom hunter, my mushroom hunting has been limited mostly to the spring when the morels are popping. Although i've been learning to identify other varieties, i haven't been brave enough to eat them. Although most wild mushroom are edible, there are several varieties that are extremely poisonous and can cause death if consumed. So i've been more interested in gaining knowledge, than eating mushrooms. The more i learn though, the more i recognize safe varieties with 100% confidence.


This summer has been so wet with rain, that the wild mushrooms are popping everywhere! Each day i take a quick walk through the woods and spot something i've never seen before. When i happened upon this gorgeous patch of chanterelles, i couldn't pass them up.



Chanterelles are easily identified by their shape, color and lack of gills.


Chanterelles have what are called false gills. They are folds in the mushrooms flesh that resemble gills, but run down the stem and can not be easily picked off. Chanterelles do have a few lookalikes, including the bright orange jack o lanterns. So it's important to not only know how to identify the edible mushrooms, but also know their look a like and how to identify them as well. 


We harvested around 40 lbs of chanterelles. We preserved them using the dry cool and freeze method.


Another new variety for me this year is the cinnabar chanterelle (Cantharellus cinnabarinus). These are coming up everywhere in the woods behind my house. Their false gills are a bit more defined than the smooth chanterelle, so it's good to familiarize yourself with their look a likes.  


Even after our huge chanterelle harvest i've been going out each day and gathering enough chanterelles for our meal.  They are literally everywhere this year. The coral mushrooms are also prevalent right now. They crown tipped coral are easy to identify, by their distinctive look. Their most common look alike is a false coral jelly mushroom. The false corals grow straight out of the ground, while the true coral is always found growing on wood.


One of my most exciting finds this year is the Chicken of the Woods. (Laetiporus sulphureus). This was my first time finding one, and it was super fresh. Chicken of the woods gets it's name because of it's similarity to chicken meat, both in flavor and texture. i cut it into strips and breaded & fried it and it was absolutely delicious! 



Now that i'm starting to lose my fear of wild mushrooms and feel confident in my identifications, i'm really excited by the variety of wild mushrooms in this area. It's amazing to me the amount of wild/free food that is available to us in our own backyard.

 *disclaimer- i am NOT a mushroom expert. Do not send me pictures of mushrooms asking if i can identify them or if you can eat them. Do your own research, only eat wild mushrooms you can 100% identify. This post was meant to show the edibles i found in my backyard, it is not intended to be used to identity mushrooms you found in your backyard- do your own research! Eat at your risk. *wild mushrooms always need to be cooked and should not be consumed with alcohol.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

#SunRype Family Sweepstakes & Disney's Christopher Robin movie.


Who doesn't love Winnie the pooh?  SunRype is partnering with Disney to promote the new Christopher Robin film.  Check out the teaser trailer below. Winnie the pooh brings back so much childhood nostalgia.  i grew up reading and watching Winnie the pooh, and so did my children. The characters are so quirky and lovable and always focus on the importance of friendship, working together and being yourself.



Disney’s  new film Christopher Robin came out in theaters August 3.  We went opening night to watch it! Both my kids (16 & 12) were excited to see it.  It was fun to take a trip back to the 100 acre wood, and 


We are all about healthy snacks! i keep fresh fruit in the house at all times. With our busy schedule sometimes we want a quick healthy snack to take with us and it's impracticable to carry around fresh fruit in our pocket/purse. Sunrype Fruitsource bars are perfect for those occasions! They are 100% dried fruit! They are a little high in sugar, but all the sugar in these comes naturally from the fruit and juices. i  LOVE that they contain so much fruit and are gluten-free, peanut-free and vegan. We tried out the Mangosteen flavor and my kids devoured them!  So many schools are peanut free these days, that it's really nice to find healthy snacks that are peanut free and won't get soft and squishy if left in a backpack for days.

You can find out where to buy them near you here OR you can buy them on Amazon.  Use coupon code: SNACKS10 for a 10% Off discount on amazon! 


So now onto the Sweepstakes and movie details. SunRype is doing a sweepstakes to help promote the movie. 

Weekly Disney’s Christopher Robin prize packages, movie tickets & SunRype snacks; entrants will have a chance to win prizes like...






  • Petunia Pickle Bottom Winnie the Pooh and Friends backpack
  • 4 Fandango movie admission codes to see Disney’s Christopher Robin
  • A digital code to download the Picture’s soundtrack
  • A picnic blanket
  • A honey pot mug and a variety of SunRype snacks


So yeah, LOTS of great prizes to be won! Here are the details and you can enter here. There are new winners each week!

 NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. The sweepstakes begins on July 30th at 8:00am PT and ends on August 24, 2018, at midnight PT. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. or D.C. who are 18 years of age or older. The sweepstakes can be entered ONCE PER DAY. Find a full list of the prizes available to be won, approximate retail values, how to enter, odds of winning and weekly drawing dates along with the full rules and regulations at www.facebook.com/SunRypeUSA. Void where prohibited. Sponsor: Sun-Rype Products Ltd.






Disney's Christopher Robin is wonderful movie for the whole family. Take a trip back to the 100 acre wood and follow the adventures of a grown up Christopher Robin and everyone's favorite bear.  

Between July 30 – August 24 you can enter the #SunRypeFamilySweepstakes Celebrating the Release of Disney’s  Christopher Robin In Theaters. Enter daily for a chance to win!





i received a sample of Sunrype products  in exchange for my review. My opinions are my own. 


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Summer Break Fun- Appalachian Caverns

Last month we took a weekend trip to Tennessee to check out the Kingsport Funfest (Avett Brothers concert) and made a few stops along the way. Our first stop was at the Appalachian Caverns in Bloutville, TN.


 When we arrived all of the tour guides were on tours, so we had to wait a bit for a tour guide to become available. Typically tours run about every 30 min. The dude hanging out in the giftshop was a bit of character and kept us entertained while we waited for a guide.



He said he didn't actually work there, and was just helping the owner out and couldn't get his phone working to notify the guides that we were there waiting. He was a lot more stressed out about it than we were.  The gift shop at the caverns was filled with all kinds of pretty things to keep us entertained until a guide was available. The prices were all really reasonable as well. The do have a pressed machine, so i was happy. i love collecting pressed pennies from all of our ventures.


We really enjoyed the cavern tour.  Our tour guide, Stephanie (i believe) was very informative and a great guide. She grew up right across the street from the caverns and spent her childhood playing in them. It wasn't until the 90's that the property was purchased and opened to the public as a tourist attraction.


The caverns are huge. It's the largest show cave in East Tennessee. We did the regular tour and the path was easy to follow. The tour typically lasts 60-75 minutes and is approximately a mile in length. The pathways are a combination of concrete and gravel and there are 27 stair-steps to reach the lower regions and 26 on the way back up.  i had a hard time getting good pictures in the cavern because of the lighting, i had it set to auto and it wanted to take night shots instead of using the flash and so most of them came out blurry. 


One of the neatest things about the cavern was the underground lake and river flowing into it. We even saw a snapping turtle that lives inside the cave lake and a bat sleeping on the rocks.  

Appalachian Caverns offers several different tours including  The Explorer Tour, which takes you off the beaten path, through undeveloped areas of the caverns. Guides will lead you through an alternate entrance/exit of the cave and through more advanced crawling areas. You will be able to try the "7.5 inch" crawl, "Basketball Crawl", "Rocking Chair" crawl, and discover the "Echo Chambers". You are guaranteed to get wet and muddy. There is also a Wild Tour, where in addition to the features of the Regular Tour, you will be guided through some of the undeveloped areas of the caverns. You will be able to explore the "Hum", slide across the well, and try the "Test Crawl". 

You will get wet and muddy on these extended tours, but they sell/rent orange jumpsuits in the giftshop if you don't want to get your clothes dirty. 

We really enjoyed our tour, both kids want to go back and do one of the more extensive crawling tours. They also offer gem mining and have a campground, so i'm sure we'll be back to check that out as well.  Around Halloween time they offer Haunted Cave tours . Definitely not something i would want to do but i'm sure some of you might be interested in that, i know my daughter would love it. 

The formations in this cavern are not spectacular, but i still enjoyed it. i actually liked it better than Luray caverns, because it was just a little different and the tour guide was knowledgeable about the cave, but didn't sound rehearsed.  The pricing at Appalachian caverns was reasonable, we recommend checking it out if it if you are in the area! 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Christmas in July- Presto Photo giveaway!



Last year i  ordered a custom canvas print from Presto Photo. You can read more about my experience with them  here.  The photo canvas print turned out wonderful and we really love it!  

Presto Photo, Previously known as VioVio, Inc., is the place where you can share your life and the wonderful journeys that color your living. They are an online community designed for photographers (professional and novice), scrapbookers, teachers, moms, dads, travel enthusiasts and designers. They offer a variety of products including photo books, calendars, wall art, greeting cards and more! There are lots of sizes and styles, as well as different options for customizing your photo to make it extra special.




i recently had the opportunity to create some holiday cards (x-mas in July!) through Presto Photo. Creating custom cards is easy! You can browse through the different templates and then upload your photos. You can upload  photos from your PC,  Facebook or Instagram. Once uploaded you can place it on your card and crop if the image doesn't fit. The website is very easy to navigate, and there is an option for live help if you run into trouble.



Presto Photo offers a nice variety of holiday card templates. They also offer a nice variety of custom wall art and photobooks.  i found the process of designing the card very easy. Upload the photo, drag it to where you want it and hover your mouse over it to edit or crop the image. Click on the words and it brings up the option to customize the text. You can change the size, font and message.


Presto photo allows you to make your own customized photo products at an affordable price (especially their shipping prices!)! They make it so easy to turn your photos into precious keepsakes including photo books, cards, calendars and more!

You can check out all of their different photo products on Prestophoto.com
You can also connect with them on social media!

Follow Presto Photo on Twitter 
Like Presto Photo on Facebook
Follow Presto Photo on Instagram

Giveaway!!

The generous folks at Presto Photo were kind enough to offer a set of 20 custom holiday cards to 3 winners!!   Please enter below using the rafflecopter form, you may have to wait a minutes for it to load! This giveaway is open to US only. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway


i received a set of cards in exchange for trying out the service and sharing my honest review. My opinions are my own. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Garden Harvest - June

Despite some wacky weather this year (snow in April, non-stop rain in May, July temps and drought in June)  i'm still getting a pretty good harvest. The cold in April and heat in June caused a few things to get a late start and then bolt early, but other things are doing just fine.



End of May-beginning of June. We've been enjoying a few mushrooms from the logs we plugged last year. Oyster mushrooms, Shiitake and Dryad's saddle. Asparagus, garlic scapes and lettuce.  


First week of June we were harvesting oysters mushrooms, shiitake and garlic scapes.



June 10. Second week i started to get a few peas. Broccoli was ready to pick and berries were just getting started.


June 19. Peas and berries are really starting to produce. Garlic scapes are almost done and we are still getting a few pyster mushrooms.


June 25th. Peas and berries are producing well. Starting to get some summer squash, pulled a few root veggies just to check them.  This is the last of my garlic scapes.


We love the sugar snap and snow peas. i never grow english garden peas. These are the Purple tendril, sugar magnolia tendril pea, golden snow pea and sugar snaps.


of course berry season is in full swing! i've already made a few batches of jam and the canes are still loaded! Blueberries, raspberries and black raspberries are especially prolific this year and blackberries are just getting started. So far my tomatoes are doing great and beans are almost ready to pick. Everything is a little behind, but still doing great. Hopefully july brings a little rain.