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

*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 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!