Friday, December 28, 2018

Holidaze 2018

Our holidays were a bit weird this year. We spent most of December in limbo not sure if we were staying home, going to Michigan or going to Florida.   My grandmother celebrated her 90th birthday on Dec. 26th, so we were originally  planning to be there for her birthday party.  My parents usually stop by our house on their way to Florida and we celebrate xmas with them a little early.  However this year, my dad has undergone several surgeries for Parkinson's treatment and wasn't sure they'd be able to travel down to Florida. 
So we were suddenly looking at driving to Michigan to spend the holiday with my parents, then heading down to Florida to celebrate my grandmother's birthday.  The week before xmas, my dad was cleared for travel and they arrived on Dec. 23.

Stanley has been our Yule tree for the last few years. We always have a live potted tree, but the place where we'd been getting a live tree no longer offers them. So i'd purchased Stanley even though he's too small to really decorate. The kids love him though, and when i brought home an artificial tree i'd gotten from freecyle, i was not expecting the reactions i got. My daughter immediately yelled,  "we can't have a fake tree! We're betraying Stanley!"  When my son saw it, he said "this goes against our Viking heritage!!"  <- didn="" i="" p="" realize="" t="" vikings.="" we="" were="">

Once i began to decorate the tree, they eventually warmed up to the idea. i had to tell them it was just a decoration, we were not replacing Stanley.  Stanley is still our Yule tree. This is just an ornament holder.  It always quickly became out new cat tree as well. 

i had BIG plans for our holiday feast this year. i started off baking lots of treats and then planned a British themed menu with Treacle tarts,  Christmas dinner in a Yorkshire pudding,  pumpkin pasties and more. Then the day before my folks arrived i got sick. It was just a cold, but i felt miserable and didn't really want to be making food for people when i had snot dripping down my face, so my Very English Christmas never happened. Maybe next year.

We had a nice visit with the folks. My dad looked really good for the amount of surgeries he's had this past year. He'd had a DBS implant in the spring for Parkinson's, which almost immediately became infected. This led to several more surgeries removing different parts of the hardware, until he finally had to just have it all removed. Very disappointing, but glad it's over and he can move on.

Since they were able to come down and spend the holidays with us,  we didn't have to worry about that trip to MI.  It was a nice simple holiday with family.

My Grandmother's party was moved to the weekend after her birthday. So on Dec. 26th, my folks left for Florida and on the 27th we headed down that way too.   Although i wasn't thrilled be up and leaving right after xmas, i'm glad we went down and celebrated my grandmother's 90th birthday even though we turned around and drove right back a day later.  i'll post more about our super quick Florida trip on a different post.  Our ornament holder really looked lovely when we finally got it all decorated, even the kids agreed. ;) 

Monday, December 10, 2018

First Snow of the Season

The second week of December we had a major snow storm come through and dump about 20 inches of snow overnight.  This winter has been the snowiest we've seen in a while.  

Just a couple weeks earlier we were hit with an ice storm and lost power for almost 5 days.  Already this is more a winter than we usually see. 

Caring for critters in crappy weather is my least favorite part of homesteading. Although, i think i do prefer the snow to the usual ice and mud.  Our winters typically tend to be 99% mud.  There's not much worse than a muddy chicken coop.

Although our wood was covered in snow, we stayed nice and warm inside while husband kept the fire fed.  Thankfully, he'd brought plenty of wood inside before the storm started, so we had plenty of dry wood to last as long as needed.

Our bees are tucked into their hives for winter, and we are hoping they over winter well. This will be our first winter with bees, and so far it's been a pretty cold one.  We made sure they had plenty of honey/pollen frames to feed them over the winter, and we'll be checking on their food stores on the first warm days we get when temps are over 50 degrees.

 It's been very mild the past few years.  The snow helped me get into a holiday spirit a little quicker than normal.  On years where we get no snow in December, it just doesn't feel very festive. It was nice to hunker down and just enjoy the peacefulness the snow brings.  

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Maginon Trail Camera Review- Sponsored

Pretty excited to finally get a #trailcam for our property! i'm always curious to know what is lurking around our property at night!  We've had bear, bobcats, fox and coyotes come through, but have never been able to catch them on camera.  Maginon sent me their WK 30-HD Trail camera to review. 

This Trail cam comes with 8 AA Batteries, Mounting belt, Wall mount, USB cable and Instruction manual. 

It didn't come with the SD card, so you have to provide your own. Once you insert the card, you can set the camera. The camera can be set to take pics or videos or a picture + a video. You can set how many pictures it takes, and how long the video plays.  It was easy to set up, although i still need to change the time/date.

 When i first got it, i set it up in an area where the deer typically come through, but after two days the only thing on the camera was me turning it on. Since i wanted to review it soon, and didn't want to wait days (or weeks) for a critter to show up i decided to set it up in the chicken coop just to see how it captured the images. 

i had fun checking through all the videos that it captured yesterday. Since it was in the chicken coop most of the videos are of the chickens of course, but i also caught my beagle walking past, my husband closing up the chicken coop and a RAT running around in the dark. eek! i'm looking forward to seeing this up in different areas on our land to see what is hanging around. 

According to the description it takes crystal clear day shots in color, black and white shots at night. i wouldn't call the images crystal clear, but  it was raining and hazy yesterday. The images are still good for a trail cam.  i'm going to play around with it some more, and i'm sure i'll be posting lots of videos of the different critters we capture on it.   i set it out again last night on the deer trail, and it took several videos. Although there were no critters in the video,  i could hear something walking around in the leaves so i may have to change the view of my camera.  Tonight i'll be placing it further out in the woods near our creak. i've very curios to see what comes to drink there. 

This is a nice camera, it's durable and waterproof.  It comes with a 3 year warranty.

You can find more information about the #maginon Trail Camera here-  

i did receive the product at no cost and a small compensation for my review, but it did not influence my opinion of the product. My opinions are my own.
#sponsored #referral 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Winter came early- Ice Storm Nov. 2018

 Winter came early this year, with a pretty significant ice storm before Thanksgiving.   Almost the entire county lost power.  Our own power was out for over 5 days.  Kids were out of school and we all had a bit of cabin fever.

It was too cold  (and slippery) to hike the woods, but i did take a walk up the road just to snap a few pictures.  The main roads were mostly clear, except for tree branches that snapped and trees down because of the weight of the ice.  Our road wasn't too bad, but the Parkway was closed for quite a while so they could clear the roads and clean up the mess left from all the ice.

There was a heavy layer of ice on every.  Pretty, but destructive.

We were quite lucky that we didn't have any damage at our house. We have a gas powered generator so we were able to keep the refrigerator and deep freezer running and didn't lose all the food we grew, foraged and preserved in the freezer.  We were able to stay warm with the woodstove and heat water on it for tea.

November is really pretty early for a winter storm. Some years i've grown lettuce and leafy greens into December, but this year every was done by the second week in November. Even the plants in the greenhouse froze solid.

Although it's destructive, ice is always so beautiful. It seems to stop time and capture everything in a thick layer of glistening stillness.  i was not ready for winter to come so early, but definitely gave in and submitted once it arrived.  Some years i refuse to accept winter and fight it, but i've gotten much better at embracing it, slowing down and welcoming the quietness of the season.

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

Monday, November 12, 2018

Indian Valley Fall Festival 2018- CANCELED DUE TO WINTER STORM

 The Indian Valley Fall Festival is this Friday from 4:30- 8pm.  There will be bounce houses and games for the kids. The event is free to attend, but wristbands need to be purchased for the bounce house and games. 

i'll be set up to vend again this year.  Other vendors typically include 31 bags, scentsy, Lularoe and many artists and handcrafters.

i'll be set up again this year as a vendor selling my handmade jewelry, lamp work glass and more!

These are a few examples of items i'll for sale this year.  My glass pendant make great holiday gifts!  Each one is unique. They range in price from $10-$15 and come with a cord and a small organza gift bag..perfect for gifting! 

My beaded jewelry stock is down a bit from the market season, but i will have several pieces available. i'm looking forward to making more this winter! 

i'll have lots of crocheted bags, hats and even a couple amigurumi dolls. 

IVES is offering a lot more with their wristbands this year! Bouncy houses, face painting, hair paint, photo booth, games, and balloon animals. We will have an early bird special for wristbands. They will start at $10!! They will be $15 at the door. They will have lots of local vendors! A great time to get some Christmas Shopping done while the kids play! Cake walk, 50/50, and food!! A great time to for families and the whole community!! 

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.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

7th DC Trip

Back in October i chaperoned the 7th grade field trip to Washington DC.  It was a jam packed, 3 day, whirlwind adventure.  When we returned home i spent the next day in bed.  i was just ridiculously exhausted, both physically and mentally.

Many of the places we stopped at did not allow photos, so this is just a few of the places we visited. The 7th grade teacher who put together the field trip, did an amazing job to give these kids what is probably a once in a lifetime trip. 

We spent 3 days in DC and saw an unbelievable amount of stuff in that time. Our itinerary was 
Day 1. depart Indian Valley at 6:45
11:30 Udvar-Hazy Space Center & lunch on site 
3pm Spy Museum and Operation Spy 
6pm Pentagon Mall for shopping and dinner 
8:30 leave for hotel. 
Day 2- breakfast at hotel 
8 am Arlington Cemetery 
10:30 Capital tour, lunch at the capital 
12:30 Natural History Museum 
2:30 Holocaust Museum 
4pm Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
 6pm dinner & shopping at Union Station 
7:30 walking night tour of monuments and memorials return to hotel around 10:30 pm. 
Day 3- breakfast at hotel 
8:30 Driving tour of National Cathedral and Embassy Row 
10am National Archives 
11:30 American History Museum & lunch 
2pm Museum of American Indian 
3pm depart for home, and stop for dinner 
home between 9pm-10pm.

Day 1. First stop was the Udvar-Hazy Space Center. There was a lot of interesting things to see, but the kids in my group were more interested in speeding through the museum as fast as they could, making it difficult to stop and read anything. 

There were a some neat things too look at and the building itself is two huge airplane hangers. 

 We were not allowed to take photos at the Spy Museum, but it wasn't my favorite stop anyhow. We  participated in Operation Spy, which is an immersive, interactive experience at the International Spy Museum where you're the spy. The place was in need of some major repairs, we couldn't complete some of our tasks because of faulty equipment and then ended up locked in area when the control pannel that unlocks the doors broke. Our 'spy' agent had to contact help to unlock the doors. lol. The best part of that museum was the gift shop, which did have a lot of fun items.  According to their page the spy museum has moved, so hopefully it will be a better experience for the next groups that go through it. i wasn't really a fan.

After the spy museum we went to the National Mall for dinner. The mall was ginormous. My group (3 tween girls) tried to spend all of their money at the first store we walked in. i've never been in a mall so large, and hope to never have to be in one again. 

 Day 2. Arlington Cemetery. We visited JFK's memorial and watched the changing of the guard ceremony at the tomb of the unknown soldier.

We toured the Capital building which was interesting. i most enjoyed the architecture and artwork in the building. Interesting little tidbit- the beautiful chandelier lighting in the Capital building was made here in Floyd, by Crenshaw Lighting. i of course, failed to take any pictures of the lights. :) 

Next stop was the National Museum of Natural History.   They have a butterfly exhibit at the very top of the museum that i wanted walk through, but it was an additional cost and the kids in my group were more interested in spending their money on souvenirs than on the butterfly exhibit. So they raced through the museum and we spent most of our time in the gift shops.

Pictures were not allowed at the Holocaust museum. We only visited the children's exhibit which is called  Remember the Children-Daniel's Story. It was very difficult to view and i can only imagine how devastating and horrific the full museum must be.

Another Air and Space Museum.  i had a different group with this museum and they were actually interested in the museum so we got to causally explore the museum instead of just racing through.  After this we stopped for dinner at Union Station and then did the night walking tour of the monuments.   

At this point i was so tired, my brain just about shut down. i took a ton of pictures, but none of them were really very exciting. It was really cold and we walked a ton, but it was a neat experience seeing the monuments all lit up.  i believe it was close to or even after 11pm by the time we returned to the hotel.

Day 3.  We did a driving tour of the National Cathedral and Embassy Row. i actually really enjoyed seeing embassy row, just wish the bus didn't drive so fast through it all. It made it very difficult to take pictures or really know what we were looking at. 

We also visited the American History Museum and Museum of the American Indian.  Both were interesting, though we didn't have enough time to really see it all. The Museum of the American Indian was favorite and the last thing we did. So we really were rushed for time there.  

It was really neat trip for the kids to be able to see as much as they did. i would like to go back some day and do it on my own time, where i'm not responsible for other peoples kids, following such tight itinerary and i can actually take my time and see the exhibits. 

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

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 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.