Wednesday, May 29, 2019

First Artisan Market of the Season! We are on Instagram!

Floyd Artisan Market is back for the season. Our first market was Friday,  May-24 and it runs until the end of Oct.  It was really nice being back, but i also forgot how much work it is to set up and how boring it is when it's slow.  We shared the Friday with the Chantilly Farms Bluegrass festival and Floyd County High School Graduation and so the Market was really slow to say the least. 

This is a photo of my display from last year.

 When i went to set up this year, i switch the table covers without realizing it and then couldn't figure out why the table looked so busy. i like the way the table cloth covers the table better, but the necklaces that are laying directly on the table (not the jewelry displays) blend in with the patterns and are difficult to see. i really need to find a better way to display my jewelry.

It was nice to see familiar faces again and we had a few new vendors at Market this year.  Pam of Moore Designs is a past vendor that took last year off, but is back this year with beautiful sterling silver jewelry and batik clothing. Cottontail farm was set up with their fiber crafts and handspun yarns. Rich Ursomarso had his the beautiful birch bark baskets for sale and he also played us a bit of music while we waited for the band to start. 

This year i volunteered to take over the Artisan Market social media promoting. i've been posting to facebook and decided to create an Instagram page.  i'll be posting featured artists and live posting from the market every friday! 

For more information about the Artisan market you can visit the website

Check out the facebook page

Follow on Instagram

Market season had a very disappointing and slow start, but i'm hoping that it will pick up and that the social promotion with help!  If you are ever in Floyd, VA be sure and stop by the Friday night Artisan Market and say hello!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Keeping your Stainless Steel Shining with TriNova Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish. (Sponsored)

When we built our house, i was really excited about the granite counter and stainless steel appliances.  i even picked out a stainless steel compost bin, stainless steel tea pot and a stainless steel coffee pot to match!  

That excitement quickly turned to annoyance when i realized how difficult it would be to keep it clean. i tried using a few natural cleaner recipes, but it left the stainless steel looking dull.  Our water is well water with a heavy mineral content, so if you wipe anything down with a wet cloth or even splash/drip water on the stainless steel it leaves a mineral residue and water stains on everything. 

This shows the front of my dishwasher after it was wiped down with a wet cloth and allowed to dry.  It actually looks worse than it did before i wiped it down.  So as you can imagine  i'm always on the lookout for a Stainless Steel Cleaner that works!

TriNova Stainless Steel polish and cleaner won't scratch or streak on any surfaces, engineered to be easy to use without abrasive chemicals or ingredients. Just spray on, wipe off! It won't streak or smudge and leaves a high shine! 

The TriNova Stainless Steel cleaner really works great and a little goes a long way! i didn't have to keep spraying the cleaner each time i wiped. It only took a couple sprays to clean the entire dishwasher. Then i flipped over the microfiber cloth and polished it easily.

It really did a great job of cleaning and polishing my stainless steel appliances. They look almost new again!  i haven't noticed any residue or oiliness which some products leave behind, and i'm seeing less fingerprints overall. i'm also hoping it cuts back on the dust and cat hair that seems to cling to the bottom of the fridge.

The microfiber cloth that comes with the cleaner is thick and very nice. It really helps to buff out the shine.  TriNova's Stainless Steel Cleaner was expertly formulated to eliminate smudges and cut grease while going on streak-free. It also coats the surface to repel fingerprints and dust.  It's also made in the USA!

You can find it on amazon -

disclaimer. i did not receive compensation for this post, however i did receive a free product to review in exchange for my opinion. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way. This post may contain affiliate links.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Bees, bees and more bees!!

Our Apiary is growing by leaps and bounds!!  We had no idea what we were getting  ourselves into when we decided to keep a few bees.  We had a total of three swarms, and then split all the other hives/nucs before more swarms could take place.

We allowed the splits to raise their own queens and removed a few of the extra queen cells to try raising queens in a queen castles. It's always good to have a few extra queens on hand in case you lose a queen.  

It was a little nerve racking having so many nucs/hives without queens at the same time. We just had to trust they knew what they were doing.  When we peeked inside after a couple of weeks we spotted on of the virgin queens. So we attempted to mark her, but she flew away!! We had no idea the new queens would fly like that!  After freaking out slightly, we moved onto a new hive and spotted another virgin queen.  This time we didn't even mark her, as soon as she saw us she flew away!!  So we closed up all the hives and had to walk away for a few days.

We peeked in again after about a week and were relieved to see eggs!!  We have never been able to spot eggs, because they are so tiny, but Kenan bought some dark foundations to help us spots eggs and sure enough there they were!  

These tiny eggs mean that our flyaway queens returned and they are now mated!!  

Now that all the hives have queens they are busy raising brood, drawing frames and bringing in lots of nectar!! The spring honey flow (Poplar, clover and Locust) has started and we've placed queen excluders on the strongest hives and will finally be able to collect honey if all goes well.

We decided to try using wax foundations instead of plastic, so we can potentially offer honey with cut comb. :)  We've had several local folks request it.

This week, we had a really good day in the bee yard! We found and marked 2 new mated queens and found one more unmarked virgin queen. So we have successfully raised 9 new queens, and combined 3 hives with 3 nucs to strength the hives for honey making. We currently have 6 hives, 11 nucs and 3 colonies in the queen castle.  We are really hoping for a good honey harvest!!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Garden Season- First week of May

Not a bad harvest for the first week of May. We are still getting lots of Shiitakes and asparagus. Kale, spinach and lettuce are really starting to come in.   Rhubarb is exploding and i have radishes!!

Shiitake have done amazing this year, and we are starting to see some oysters from plugged logs. i found one last morel.

Cool crops have been doing well, but it's getting warm quick so i'm hoping they don't all bolt. We are getting lots of fresh spinach and lettuce. Some of my lettuce seeds were old and didn't germinate well, so i have to replant.

 My radish are actually growing bulbs this year! Most of the varieties i've grown in the past have failed. The greens grow big and lush, but the bulbs never develop. French Breakfast is where it's at!  They are the only ones that grew well, and they grew effortlessly with perfect bulbs! 

My summer garden has been started in the greenhouse, and i'm hoping to finish getting it planted with weekend.  i could have put things in earlier, but we've had such a busy spring it just hadn't gotten done. i've also found with tomato plants there is really no rush moving them out the garden this early. They prefer the heat of the greenhouse.  i usually plant beans, squash directly in the garden but i've been having and issue with bunnies nibbling my new sprouts so i've started my beans and squash in the greenhouse as well. 

My broccoli have pretty good heads on them so far, and my peas are about knee high.  Hoping the temperatures stay pretty mild the rest of the month and don't get too high or i'll lose all my cold crops.

Artisan market is starting back up next week, so i'm already anticipating a very busy summer!

How are your gardens doing?

May Morel Season- better late than never

Typically my morel season starts the second week of April. Every year, i get excited and begin hunting at the end of march, but rarely find any until the second week of April.

We have a couple spots on our property where we tend to find the morels, so i always start looking there first.

This year i only found a couple in one of the spots around the 3rd week of April, and was feeling pretty discouraged. Our original morel honey hole dried up about 10 years ago, and we've been hunting this spot ever since.  Over the last couple years there have been less and less morels leading me to think it too may be drying up.

By the beginning of May i'd given up on our regular spot, i think i found a total of 3 there.  i started exploring the rest of the woods looking for a new honey hole. Morels like hardwoods. Elms and Ash tend to be there favorites, although i've always found them around oak and poplar trees on our property.

 After spending a few hours exploring the 150 acres surrounding us, i came back through an area near our creek that was almost exclusively poplars.  It's a pretty steep bank and i'm not sure if i've never looked there before or if i just always looked too early, but the morels were everywhere!  They were larger than the ones i usually find (because i hadn't found them earlier) and so they were much easier to spot! They were just about waving at me!

So i ended April super disappointed that my morel spot had dried up, but started May with a brand new spot for next year!   We didn't find a crazy amount of morels this year, but found enough to make a meal. Hopefully next year this spot is productive and we'll have a new honey hole for at least a few more years.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Rebel Gardens Ultimate Giveaway 3 Winners!!!

Planting season is in full swing here!  Our frost free day is typically around Mother's day, so we've been buy getting our gardens ready and starting seeds. Some of the local folks don't put their gardens in until after Memorial day, but it's been so warm this spring that we are going to chance it and plant the rest of the garden this weekend. 

i already have my cold crops in, and have been harvesting kale, spinach, lettuce and radish. We are also getting lots of shiitake and oyster from our plugged logs and the rhubarb is ready to harvest too. 

i've hosted a couple of giveaways for Rebel Gardens this year, and am excited to be hosting another one!   Rebel Gardens is growing company out of Canby, OR that offers organic, Non GMO, Heirloom Seeds.  On the surface Rebel Gardens is just a seed company. But under the surface they are actually something a little different.  Their real goal isn't just selling seeds, the real goal is undermining the industrial food system. In a nutshell they believe that our modern food system is not healthy for our bodies, for our planet, for anything really and they want to be a part of the solution.

i really love that their seeds are certified organic, non-gmo, heirloom and USA grown and packed!.   i also love their mission! 

"Rebel Gardens is about invoking the spirit of WW2 Victory Gardens. But this time we grow not to support a war but to support a Rebellion. The industrial food system is slowly destroying our health and we are not going to take it anymore. Plant a seed with us and grow the rebellion! "

Rebel Gardens offers several different seed collections. Their newest collections include the Microgreens, Salad Garden and Edible flower collection!  Click here to get 20% off any of these collections. 

So are you ready to help grow the rebellion?

The Generous folks at Rebel Gardens have offered their 3 new collections and a set of Gardening tools to 3 lucky winners!! 

Can't wait for the giveaway? You can purchase them here.  

Now for the giveaway!

 3 lucky reader will win the three newest collections (Microgreens, edible flowers and salad garden) and a set of Gardening tools!

Enter below using the rafflecopter form (it might take a minute to load). One entry per person/IP address. US only. The winner will have 48 hours to respond by email or another winner may be chosen

Connect with Rebel Gardens

You can find them on Facebook at 
Also you can add Rebel Gardens on messenger chat to be kept up to date about future contests and coupons. 

disclaimer. i did not receive compensation for this post, however i did receive a free product to review in exchange for my opinion. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way. This post may contain affiliate links.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Morel Season is in Full Swing in the Blue Ridge!

 Seems that Easter weekend was a BIG weekend for morel hunting in Floyd County and i wasn't at home to hunt. 😭  We went away for the weekend, and when i checked into facebook my feed was FULL of morel pictures.
We got home  Sunday night and had just enough daylight left to check my spot.

Only found one lonely little mushroom. Went back out to look for them a few more times this week, but didn't find any. i was starting to feel a little discouraged, worried that my spot has dried up and we've never found them anywhere else on the property.  We had another good rain during the week, so i went back out hunting yesterday.

i was thrilled to find a couple more. Still not the big morel flush i've been hoping for, but it's something. i'm going to keep checking my spots and keep looking for spots. i KNOW they have to be out there.

We've had two different 'honey holes' on our property, the first we stumbled upon the first year we moved here. It produced well for almost 10 years and then stopped. The second spot i found after the first one dried up, and it's been producing ever since although the yield has definitely been going down each year.  i'll be back out hunting them again today, hoping i stumble upon a new 'honey hole'.

Springtime Baking

So all winter i've been on a pretty big baking kick.  i've really enjoyed the process of making (and eating) homemade bread.  When it was cold outside it was nice working in a warm kitchen with the oven. Now that the temperatures are getting warmer during the days i haven't been baking near as much.   The house just gets too warm, and i want to be outside, not sitting around waiting for my bread to rise.  So i still haven't gotten around to attempting sour dough.

On cooler, rainy days i've still been playing around with a few recipes. Tried something a little different and made a honey wheat seeded loaf. It's half wheat/half white flour with hemp, flax and chia seeds. It was pretty good, but a little too dense and heavy for my liking.

i recently learned to 'rest' the dough when braiding. Usually when i braid the dough pulls back making it difficult to get a long braid. This time i let it rest (maybe a little too much) and ended up with a braid that was longer than my pan so i spiraled it around.  i really love braiding bread.

This was my attempt at some decorative braiding on top of a loaf.  It was actually a bit of a failure since the heating element in my oven went out in the middle of the bake! i had to finish it off with the broiler. The bread was pretty flat, but actually still tasted really good and had a nice texture.

So now that garden season is in full swing. i've been looking into getting a bread machine. i really don't know too much about them,  but like the idea of baking bread all summer without heating up the house.  Also most bread machines have a timer function which you can set to bake bread at a certain time. So i can prepare the ingredients in the morning and let the machine do its work while i'm working on something else and not have to worry about over proofing. 

This was my last baking attempt before Easter. i wanted to try and make a pretty Italian Easter Bread.  i think i may have over proofed it, it doubled insize once in the oven and tried to push all the eggs out.  i'm been wanting to try making it again, but it's just been too warn to turn the oven on.

Since i was thinking about bread machines to cut down the heat in the kitchen, i checked out some Bread Machine reviews at The Village Bakery  They list the top 20 bread machines and include advantages and disadvantages of each one.  They also have the links to each machine so after reading their review you can check it out on amazon to see the price and what others think of the product.  It makes shopping for a bread machine (when you really don't know what you are looking for) very easy! 

 While at The Village Bakery, be sure and check out their 20 best whole wheat recipes!  i have several recipes bookmarked that i'm eager to try.  You can find other tips and resources for all your cooking needs! 

disclaimer. This is a sponsored post. It contains affiliate links and i do receive a small compensation for posting.

Drama in the hive- Our first swarm!

Kenan had checked the bees yesterday and noticed some swarm cells in a couple of the nucs. They had just been split a couple weeks ago, but their population was exploding and they were crowded.
He had just gone up there to split the nucs again when he noticed the bees in one of the nuc boxes was beginning to swarm.  

 There was a HUGE cloud of bees in the air in front of the hive and the buzzing sound was deafening.  Thankfully they didn't go far, they landed on the fence post a few feet away.

This cluster of bees is protecting their queen who is somewhere in the middle of all this. i didn't get a lot of pictures because Kenan was yelling at me to help. lol. i used a bee brush to brush them into an empty nuc box while Kenan held it under them. 

We brushed in as many bees as we could. Once i spotted the queen inside the box we put the lid on it.  The other bees will follow the scent of the queen and make their way into the nuc box which is now there new home until we can move them into a larger hive. Exciting stuff!

The bees are actually quite docile when they are in a swarm state. We could literally use our hands and scoop them into the box. 

We had just gotten the first swarm caught and in a new nuc box, so i came back to the house and took off my bee gear.  Kenan went back up to split the other nuc that needed splitting.

He immediately came running back to the house and said 'you're not going to believe this, but i think the other nuc is swarming!' So i got my bee gear back on and headed back outside. The second swarm made it into a tree on the edge of the goat field. We had to bend the branch down and cut it, and then shake/brush all the bees into the new nuc box.

 i held the branch while kenan cut it about 99% of the way through and then we switched places so he could support the branch while i finished the cut.

 We held the branch over the box and gave it a good shake, then brushed the remaining bees into the new box.  i again, spotted the queen in the box, so we put the lid on and are hoping the remaining bees make it into the box with her.  Phheeewww! That was some serious excitement!  i've never seen anything quite like it, and to be in the middle of all those bees was a bit nerve racking. We were already planning to split the hives, so they just did the work for us. We are currently at 4 hives and 10 nucs. We've ordered more hive boxes and will get them prepped and ready.

The term “nuc” is short for nucleus colony. A nucleus colony is just a very small colony of bees. It's not intended for honey production like the full size hives, it's more for bee production in case your hive fails. It's good to keep a couple nucs around so that If one of your hives goes queenless, you have another queen ready to go. If you wait for your colony to re-queen itself, the population will drop such that you won’t get any surplus honey for that year. You can also use the bees in a nuc to boost populations of a weak hive. Which we may have to do with one of our hives that is having issues. We will eventually be moving some of these nucs into Hive boxes to try and establish a few more full size hives.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Rock Painting with Triton Paint Pens -The Kindness Project (sponsored)

My girl and i had some fun with paint pens yesterday.   We are painting rocks for the Kindness Project again this year. These #Triton paint pens are great for Rock Painting - Ceramic, Wood, Metal and Glass. They come in a set of 12 vibrant colors and are easy to use. They have a .7 mm fine tips for details and are fast drying. The super fine tip is good for dotwork. They are waterbased and non-toxic.

 They have a .7 mm fine tips for details and are fast drying. The super fine tip is good for dotwork. They are waterbased and non-toxic.  We decorated quite a few rocks, but my rocks are a bit rough and it was hard to make nice lines.

So i had the idea to try applying vinyl decals, and then using the paint pens to color them in. i pained a base coat over the rock first, but i'm not sure if that's necessary.  i cut out my vinyl decal using my Silhouette cameo 3 and weeded it so it was ready to transfer.

Then i used transfer tape to lift the decal off the carrier paper and transfer it to the rock.  It stuck really well.  i rubbed it good before removing the transfer tape. 

Once the design is transferred to the rock, you can begin painting it.  

The paint pens work great with the vinyl, and if you accidentally get a little paint on the vinyl it's easy to wipe off without effecting the design.  We really loved working with these paint pens, the fine tip is really good for writing and for the details. i just need to find some smoother rocks.  Once we have these finished we'll put a layer of  Mod Podge Outdoors over them to seal them. We are looking forward to hiding a few rocks around town this summer. 

You can find more info about the paint pens we used here .

disclaimer. i did not receive compensation for this post, however i did receive a free product to review in exchange for my opinion. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way. This post may contain affiliate links

Spring Harvest- Garden to Table Meals

Garden season is here!  Although it' still too early to plant much more than seeds, we are still starting to harvest fresh food.  Our hens have been laying well, so there is no shortage to fresh eggs.  My asparagus is starting to come up, and besides the asparagus is also full of chickweed.

Although chickeweed is considered a weed by many, it's a tasty edible that can be used in place of spinach both fresh or cooked.

Our shiitakes have been producing all winter, but are really popping now. i have about lbs in the fridge at all times and we've been cooking with them almost daily. They are a thick hearty mushroom and really make a fabulous meal.  We are also starting to get oyster mushrooms again, and morels should be popping soon. Our freezer is still stocked with chanterelles from last year's mushroom season.

New asparagus just coming up. Although i have an established asparagus bed, we put in about 50 new crowns last year.  So we are expecting a fabulous harvest this year.

My first Harvest meal, from garden to table was an amazing omelette stuffed with fresh picked mushrooms, asparagus and chickweed. Everything was homegrown except the cheese and seasoning. Everything was picked fresh / collected that day.

Then for dinner i made a creaky mushroom fettucine using shiitake, chanterelle (frozen from last year) and Oyster mushrooms, chickweed, garlic and asparagus.  The butter and cream came from our cow share. The only thing store bought was the pasta noodles, Parmesan cheese and seasonings.

Garden to Table Mushroom Fettucine.

1 lbs fettucine noodles
1 lbs fresh mushrooms sliced ( i used shiitake, oyster and  thawed Chanterelle)
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup heavy cream 
1/4- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese 
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch chickweed or spinach (washed and chopped)
1/2 lbs asparagus
salt and pepper

Cook pasta according to directions and set aside.
While Pasta cooks. Melt the butter in a deep sauté pan over medium heat. 
Add garlic and cook until fragrant about 2 minutes. 
Add the mushrooms and cook for 6 to 8 minutes until they have released their liquid and become tender. 
Add chickweed/spinach and Asparagus and saute a few more minutes until asparagusis tender crisp.
Add the cream and most of the parmesan cheese and cook until mixture thickens.  Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss well until pasta is well coated. transfer to your serving dish and top with addition Parmesan cheese.
Salt and pepper to taste.