Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Rituals for the Holidays- The Ritual of Sakura (sponsored)

Everyone love getting a gift in the mail. i recently was gifted this beautiful Rituals of Sakura set to try out.   #TheRitualofSakura medium gift set is another great product by Rituals Cosmetics. Rituals is a unique luxury lifestyle brand focused on ancient traditions for body and home. As the leading bath and body brand in Europe, they encourage ‘slow down’ moments for the mind, body, & soul. Rituals aims to turn everyday routines into cherishable moments, helping their customers to “find happiness in the smallest of things” with the use of their products. Inspired by ancient Eastern traditions, each product uses specific fragrance combinations to help stimulate the senses and encourages you to immerse yourself in some “me time”.

i'm a complete sucker for packaging and the keepsake box that the set comes in is really sturdy and beautiful. The inside packaging tray is even compostable. The outside of the box is decorated with a ribbon and metal charm than can be reused, and the paper sleeve can be recycled. 

This is a really nice set, and would make a wonderful gift. i love the light scent of rose blossoms and rice milk. The scent is perfectly balanced . The lotion is very moisturizing, with a light scent and doesn't leave a greasy residue. The hand soap is a nice addition. Overall it was a gorgeous, luxurious and indulgent box that left me feeling very pampered. Anyone would feel very special receiving this as a gift. 

The Ritual of Sakura Medium Gift Set contains a shower foam, body scrub, body cream and hand soap. Celebrate each day as a new beginning with these care products based on the fabulous aromas of Cherry Blossom and Rice Milk.  The entire set is lovely and aesthetically pleasing. 

The body scrub is so moisturizing and nice, i just wish there was more of it. i always use it up first! i really like the foaming shower gel. It lathers wonderfully and is silky smooth, like shaving cream but better. The scent is light, but lingers and is not overpowering at all. i really enjoyed these! They have many different collections available and i'm excited to explore some of the other scent combinations. 

Rituals is never tested on animals. You can purchase this gift set here- https://amzn.to/2Nj2tFx 
 You can learn more about the Sakura collections here- https://www.rituals.com/en-us/home 
Connect with Rituals on social media Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/RitualsUSA/ 
Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/ritualsusa/ 

*i received these Rituals products for free from Tryazon in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Updating our Dining Room Lighting with Parrot Uncle Rustic Wood Chandelier.- Sponsored

Finally getting around to doing a few upgrades to the house. We built it 6 years ago, and still haven't painted the walls or really changed a thing (except the basement which still isn't finished).  i came across this pendant lamp and thought it would look amazing in our house.

This Lodge inspired Castello 4-Light Rustic Wood Chandelier is by Parrot Uncle.com, a subsidiary company of Eileen Grays Network Technology Co., Ltd., it is a specialty retailer striving to satisfy your home lighting requirements.

We have the perfect spot for it, and i happy to replace this boring light that i've never really cared for. 

i absolutely love the look of this metal and wood Pendant style #chandelier!  The weathered wood finish has a slight olive color that matches perfectly with my dining room rug and the slate on the wall and the black finished wrought iron framing matches the black cast iron on my wood stove.

So, the one thing i didn't really consider was the installation. Replacing a lamp that is almost 18' up is not an easy task when your ladder is only 8 ' tall. ha ha!   We had to balance the ladder on the kitchen table and the husband had to climb all the way to the top which was all a little sketchy just to reach it. 

Once we got that figured out, the actual installation was very straight forward and easy. 

i really love it! It has a farmhouse feel, but also great for industrial or modern rustic decor. Such a unique design that can lend itself to many surroundings. The candles remind me of the floatin candles in Harry Potter, and my son thinks it has a very gothic feel. It is quite large, with a width of 20 inches, height 22 1/2 Inches the adjustable chain cord length 39”.  

i love the way it fits with our dining room. It gives off a beautiful light to the room. It really creates a mood, much more than the other light that was here. 

i'm planning to get the LED candelabra bulbs with the bent tips to really give off a candle vibe, but you get the idea.   This is really well made, sturdy piece! #ParrotUncle is dedicated to offering you the best quality and the largest selection of home lighting fixtures. From modern designer ceiling lighting to cottage chic wood handmade lamps, you can enjoy the warmest light and the most decorative style for your house

You can find more information about it here on Amazon- http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07BK4QYWX 

*i received this products for free in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own. This post contains referral links. i may earn a small commission when you click a link and make a purchase. 

Friday, October 18, 2019

Summer Honey Harvest!!

Earlier this Spring did our first honey pull. We pulled over a hundred pounds and sold out almost immediately to friends and family.  Since then we have done two more pulls. Our total for the year has been close to 350 lbs of beautiful raw wildflower honey!

We did solid wax foundations on a few of the hives and ended up with some cut comb the second half of the summer.  It's been a really popular seller. We are sold of out it, but will have some comb honey in clear plastic boxes soon.  They make wonderful gifts and have a very nice presentation.

Besides selling locally to friends and neighbors. i take honey to the Artisan Market every week. i also have it listed for sale on our website farm store. 

i'm super excited to be offering locally made honey dippers. These are make by David and Patricia Spangler in Floyd. They make all kinds of wonderful wooden cooking utensils. At really reasonable prices! My kitchen is stocked with their wooden utensils, and now i have one of their honey dippers too! i'm really excited to be able to offer these with our honey.

Very soon we will have cutcomb available. We ordered clear boxes like this (not my picture) but they were back ordered so we are still waiting for them to ship. i'm really hoping to put together a few gift box sets for the holidays that include other locally made items as well as our honey.

Right now our honey can be purchased at the Floyd Artisan Market (friday nights), on our website Shady Grove Homestead & Arts and from us directly. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Introductions! Our homestead is growing!

Meet Finn.

  Back in June my daughter asked for a bunny for her birthday. We checked marketplace ads and inquired about a few and then ended up stopping by a Rural King one afternoon and coming home with this little guy. His name is Finn and he's as sweet as can be.

We have him as an indoor bunny, but he loves to explore outside.  i'd like to eventually make him a bunny run, so he can spend time outside during the day unsupervised.  i hate seeing bunnies in tiny little hutches. i want a nice grass enclosure for him.

During the day i let him out to get a bit of exercise. We have him litter box trained, so he can run about exploring the livingroom and it's other inhabitants. 

The other kitties watch him from upstairs, but piggy (Banjo)  doesn't seem to mind him at all. 

Just a few weeks ago we were talking about how our dogs are getting older. Both are almost 10 years old, and haven't been doing their job lately.  The deer walk right through the yard to eat peaches and have even gotten into my garden this year.  The dogs spend all day sleeping on the deck and don't even wake up when the deer is 20 feet in front of them.  When mentioning it to the kids, both kids said they wanted a German Shepard. Kenan and i both wanted a working dog like a border collie or Australian Shepard.

Literally the day after our discussion, i saw a post come through my facebook feed, someone local was giving away free puppies. The father is Pure bred German Shepard and the mother is purebred Australian Shepard.  Pretty much exactly what we were looking for.  i sent the link to Kenan with the message 'here's your puppy. lol. '  i was really kind of joking. i didn't expect him to contact the folks, but it really was exactly what we wanted.  So Kenan sent them a message, and it turns out the folks giving away the puppies are practically neighbors. The girl was on her way to Willis to give them away to some other folks that were interested, but offered to stop by here and give us first pick. 

So just like that, a day after mentioning we would need to get a new dog...we had a brand new puppy. My daughter picked out the only boy from the litter. After several days of not agreeing on a name, we (kenan and i) decided to call him Jasper. 

He's growing super fast. He was born on the 4th of July, so he's a little over 3 months old and is almost the same size as my other two dogs.  He's going to be a big boy. He's really smart and already knows how to sit on command.  He has a great Phoenix marking on his chest and makes a great hiking buddy. We are excited to have him join our homestead. 

Our apiary is also growing! When we started last year we began with 4 hives, and ended the year with 8.  We were able to over winter them all successfully and started this year with all 8. We are now up to 17 and will be going into the winter with 17 colonies!   They have done way better than we expected and are excited to see what next year brings! 

Monday, October 14, 2019

September Garden Updates.

Playing catch up on my blog this morning. i didn't really post many garden harvest photos this year, but here are a few from September.

Tomatoes really started to come in and i spent much of the month canning them. It rained sometime the last week of July, but not at all in August or September. So it's amazing we were finding any wild mushrooms at all.  It was ( and still is) so dry out.

We have been soaking our plugged logs, so for the first part of September we were still getting a lot of mushrooms.  We were no longer finding any chanterelles or trumpets, but we did find several Chicken of the Woods.

We had plugged our oysters on oak, and they really didn't do very well. We learned that they really prefer poplar, so we're going to us poplar next time we plug oysters. Our shiitakes have done really well on the oak logs.

Although we were getting eggs all summer, my pretty egg layers all stopped for a couple months and i was only getting brown and cream. Sometime around the middle of September the blue and green layers started laying again and i had pretty eggs once again!

The Blue Beauty Tomatoes are a favorite because of their color.  i've been getting a lot of the red tomatoes since June, but some of the more fun colors always take a bit longer. 

September ended just as dry as it started, still no rain since the end of July. Still getting a few tomatoes, but most of my plants were just about done.  The small red ones are from the greenhouse, which is still producing now.  My butternut squash was infected with black rot (something new every year) so i only harvested two, and they couldn't be stored. i did get quite a few acorn squash this year, but no pumpkins.   Normally i would be putting in cold crops, but it's too dang hot and dry. It's been almost 90 degrees many days and we are in a state of drought.  So i've pretty much just given up on it for this year.  i may try to get a little lettuce planted under some row covers, if we ever get rain.

i did get a lot of tomatoes put up this year, and we still have potatoes and sweet potatoes to dig.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Glass Gem Corn- Heirloom seed spotlight

A few years ago i had seen an article on facebook about Glass Gem corn. i immediately searched online and bought some seeds. i then immediately forgot about them for two year.  Last year, i finally remembered my seeds and planted them, but they didn't do well at all. i got them in too late and it got too cold before they ever formed ears. 

i was happy to see the seeds were still viable after two years, and decided to give it a try again this year not really sure what to expect. i put in one row when we planted to sweet corn and then proceeded to neglect it all season.  When Kenan harvested the sweet corn he let me know that there were ears on the glass gem corn.  So i went out to check it. 

i admit, i kind of thought all those photos i'd seen online had been altered. It couldn't possibly look like that could it?? Yeah, it really does. Everyone i opened was a completely different. 

Some prettier than others, but all really unique and amazing!  The translucent kernels really do look like glass. Each ear looks like it has been decorated in glass beads.

This pink/lavender one is a favorite.  i only had one in these colors.

An unbelievably stunning corn bred by part-Cherokee farmer, Carl Barnes, from ancestral, Native American corn. Ears are a kaleidoscope of gem-like, rainbow kernels. 'Glass Gem  ' goes beyond pretty ornamental corn, it can also be used to make cornmeal, flour, popcorn, or traditional parched corn.  It is available on the Botanical Interests website.

i'm planning to use some of it for decoration and some for popcorn and the saving the seeds on the rest. i grew it near our sweet corn, so i'm not sure if it will have cross pollinated, but i will probably grow a row of the original seeds and a row of the new seeds just to see.  i will say i was very impressed how well the corn germinated after sitting for 3 years and how well it grew despite drought conditions here. This is definitely a variety you are going to want to grow at least once!

*This post contains affiliate links. i may earn a small commission if you click any links on my blog.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Season is Changing, Time to get Baking!

September has been a mix of crazy hot days and chilly nights. We've had a few overcast dreary days and i've taken that opportunity to do a little baking again. My kids mentioned that they missed the homemade bread. i don't do a lot of baking during the summer because it's just too hot. So having a couple cool mornings gave me the itch to start baking. 

i also have a lot of produce to use up and i'm running out of freezer space. So these are just a few of the things i've been baking up this month.  Skillet Peach crisp, Blueberry Zucchini Bread and Lemon Blueberry muffins.

Working through the last of my white peaches. i still have a few yellow peaches on the tree, but they are not quite ripe yet. Red raspberries are in season again and i'm still picking late season blueberries.

Peach crisp is super easy and very yummy!

Blueberry lemon zucchini bread is definitely more like cake than bread, but it made a nice treat and the family loved it.  As these days get cooler, i'll be practicing my baking skills again.    Fall is undoubtedly the ultimate season for baking. When the mornings are chilly and you don't want to build a fire in the woodstove, there’s no better way to warm your home than by baking some delicious fall breads, cakes and pies.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Halloween is Coming Up and it's Officially Sock Season!

Although our days seem extra warm in Septemeber, it's getting cooler at night.  Stores are starting to put out heir Halloween decorations and that means it's sock season! Autumn has never been my favorite, but i am learning to embrace it. After a busy summer of growing and canning food, it's nice to finally slow down, drink hot teas and snuggle up with my favorite book and a warm pair of cute socks.

i may have a bit of sock obsession. :) i love fun patterns, earthy colors and anything themed.  i mean who could resist these adorable Candy Corn Halloween Socks?   They are so perfect for Halloween!

Chrissy's knee high socks offers super cute socks in all kinds of colors and designs!   These are a few of my favorites in the Halloween Socks section. They Ouija board ones so fun!!  Perfect to spice up any costume idea you may have!

Heading to Hogwarts this fall and need socks for your Uniform or costume? Chrissy's knee high socks has got you covered!

Looking for costume ideas? Check out these 100+ Halloween Costume Ideas with Knee Socks!

If you've been hunting for the perfect accessory to match your Halloween costume or team uniform, the wait is over. Take a peek at all of the super cute socks right now!  Looking for something really special? You can even customize socks for your special occasion or event. 

Connect with Chrissy's Socks on social media!!

i love that Chrissy's Knee High Socks are made in the USA!  Look for the Made in USA symbol when shopping to identify products manufactured in the USA, thanks to their partnerships with other mom-and-pop businesses across the nation and to their local Michigan facilities.  They also offer free shipping on orders $50 or more and promote cruelty-free fashion. They are proud to be affiliated with Born Free USA, The Humane Society of the U.S. and Animals Australia. 

This is a sponsored post by Chrissy's Knee High Socks. More information about Chrissy's Socks can be found here. All reviews and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view.

Cooking with Chicken of the Woods- Laetiporus sulphureus

Laetiporus sulphureus, are commonly known as sulphur shelf, chicken of the woods, the chicken mushroom, or the chicken fungus because many think they taste like chicken.  As a vegetarian, i can't say i really remember what chicken taste like, but it has a texture that is similar to chicken making it really versatile and easy to use as a replacement in any chicken recipe.

This year we've really been enjoying it. We have found 4 large chicken of the woods harvests so far, and are still watching a couple logs that usually fruit. We picked way more than we could eat at one time, so we froze a ton of it.  The easiest way to preserve chicken of the woods is to freeze it.  Some folks cook it first and others just clean it and put it right in the freezer.  i wasn't sure of which way would work the best, (having never froze it before) so i froze some raw and froze some cooked (cut up strips and sauteed in butter).  Once we have a chance to use it, i'll have a better idea of which method i prefer.

While we had fresh Chicken of the Woods on hand, we feasted on it every day!  Below are a few of my favorite ways to eat it.

'Chicken' fried Steak with mushroom gravy.  This is really just chicken of the woods breaded and fried and covered in gravy.  My kids prefers to dip it in ketchup like nuggets, but the husband and i enjoy it like this.  i served it with homegrown beans, potatoes and fresh picked berries.

Basic recipe-  Clean the chicken of the woods by brushing it off and lightly wash it if needed and cut off any bad/tough spots.  Dip in seasoned flour, then dip in egg wash (egg beaten with a little water) then dip in seasoned breadcrumbs.  Fry both sides until golden brown. Transfer to plates and top with mushroom gravy. 

Mushroom gravy-  
2 1/2 TBSP butter, 
1 cup fresh mushrooms  (i used a combination of oysters, black trumpets, chanterelles and shiitake)
 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp Tamari 

Melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add mushrooms and cook until soft. Add flour and mix about 30 seconds; then add broth slowly while whisking. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add tamari and pepper to taste. Cook until gravy achieves desired thickness

We enjoyed a lot of the Chicken of the woods breaded and fried, and then i had the idea to stuff it.
OMGoodness it is so good. i don't have an actual recipe for this, but it's easy enough to do. 

 i cooked some spinach, drained it well and mixed with mozzarella and feta.  Took two pieces of super fresh chicken of the woods that had been trimmed to similar sizes. put a scoop of the mix on one piece, add sliced tomato and then topped with the other piece.

Once i had a few of these sandwiched Chickens together, i breaded and fried them like above.  Dip each 'sandwich' in seasoned flour, then dip in egg wash (egg beaten with a little water) then dip in seasoned breadcrumbs.  Fry both sides until golden brown and transfer into a baking/casserole dish. Once the dish was filled up, i covered it with tin foil and baked it about 20 min. at 385f.  i did this to make sure the chicken of the woods cooked all the way through and the cheese was melty.  This is probably one of my favorite ways to eat it, but it is a bit time consuming to make.

For lunch, i made 'Chicken' salad sandwiches. i diced up the Chicken of the woods mushroom and simmered it in vegetable broth until it was super tender and had absorbed much of the broth.  From there you can use it  just like chicken in your favorite chicken salad recipe. Having never really made chicken salad before, i just added diced onion, diced swiss chard stems (i don't like celery), mayo a little mustard and salt and pepper. Served it on a bun with homegrown lettuce and tomato.  Fresh cucumber, carrots and peaches from the garden.

Another favorite  (and quick) way to prepare it is as BBQ sandwiches. If your Chicken of the woods is really fresh, it will shred just like chicken. If it's dry and crumbling you may want to cut it into slices and simmer it in some broth until it softens up.  i take my freshly shredded Chicken of the woods and add to a pan with a little olive oil, cook over medium heat until it starts browning a bit and then add your favorite BBQ sauce.  Serve on a toasted bun with caramelized onions and cheese. 

There are a ton of recipes out there for Chicken of the woods,it really is super versatile. It's a very firm mushroom and doesn't really get slimy like many other mushrooms do.  Besides the recipes above, i've used it to make 'chicken' pot pie, 'chicken' quesadillas, Fried 'chicken'  more! 

Do you have a favorite Chicken of the Woods recipe? i'd love to hear it!