Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Natrogix Bliss Essential Oil Set- Review

i really love using essential oils in my diffuser and homemade bath products. i have a nice collection of oils, but i'm always looking to add some new scents.

This #Natrogix Bliss essential oil set contains 9 different fabulous smelling oils. The set contains Rosemary, Sweet orange, lemon, lemongrass, frankincense, tea tree, peppermint, eucalyptus and lavender oil. Each bottle has .33 fl oz and is in an amber glass bottle. 

It also comes with a booklet with information about each scent//oil and recipes/uses for around the house.  i really love the packaging of this oil set, it would make a fabulous gift! The cardboard sleeve has the design cut out, and then it slides over the purple box that houses the oils. It's really packaged lovely. 

 The backs of each bottle contains information about the use if each oil, how it was extracted, plant part used and which oils it blends well with. Natrogix essential oils are all carefully sourced in the USA! 

i'm having fun playing around with different scent combinations in my oil diffuser.   What are some of your favorite combinations? 

The set is available $18.99 on amazon and comes with a free e-book. #natrogixessentialoil 

*i received this product in exchange for my honest review, i was not compensated. 

Brickfair 2017- Chantilly, Virginia

Last year my son wanted to go to Brickfair (lego convention) when he found out that members of his online Bionicle podcast would be there. It was a really neat experience, and so he found out they'd be back again this year he wanted to attend again. This is the last weekend, before school starts so we decided this would be a fun way to end the summer.

This year, there were a few additional members from the podcast that were not there last year and so the first thing we did was wait in line to meet them. Even though the podcast members are basically a bunch of kids themselves, my kids think of them as celebrities. It was fun to see their excitement getting autographs and pictures. 

My boy was thrilled to get the chance to chat with his favorite podcast members. He also had everyone sign the back of his TTV podcast shirt. 

Sage was recognized right away, and stole the show again. :)  She finally got to meet her favorite podcast member, Purple Dragon (girl in the back) and there was a lot of hugging and crying going on. It was super sweet. :)

Brickfair is always pretty overwhelming! It was really large and there were so many people! One of the rooms had all the lego models on display. These are not sets you can buy, but models people created on their own just using lego pieces. They were truly amazing! i'm sharing a couple of my favorites.  There was also an area for venders with Lego sets, mini figures and custom pieces for sale. They had bingo going on all day. It was free to play, and you could win lego sets if you were lucky.  In a second room there were more displays, bounces houses and lego vending machines, an area for kids to build legos and a snack bar.. 

 The Harry Potter Quidditch pitch was my favorite. The details are unbelievable. Harry and Malfoy are both on broomsticks in the field. You can see Snape, Hagrid, Dumbledore etc up in the stands. i could have stood there all day looking at all the details and finding different mini-figures we recognized.

i'm normally the one to take pictures, but my son really wanted to take the photos this time so i (reluctantly) gave him my camera. i ended up with about 400 slightly blurry pictures to sort through. :) He did get a few good ones though.

There were tardises everywhere! It was fun to see a tardis in almost every display. This one was especially clever,  if you peek inside the door you'll see it really is bigger on the inside. 

One of my favorite things is the 2-d art. Some of the pieces were so amazing, and to think they were all done with legos. Just crazy. This was my favorite.

There was a  crane machine that was really fun and one of my favorite parts of brickfair. It would actually pick up scoops of legos! It was .25 to play or 6 scoops for $1. They had ziplock baggies there so you could collect your legos.  We had to wait in a long line to try it, but it was so much fun! You really ended up with a lot of legos for your dollar!  We are already planning to go back next year, and i'm going to save my dollars for the crane machine. tee hee. So fun.

This was our last real hurrah before school starts again. We already have one back to school night done and one more to go. Then we head back to school Thursday. i'm so not ready. 

We really enjoyed the Brickfair, and plan to make it an annual back to school trip. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

August Butterflies- The Swallowtails have arrived!

Earlier this summer i noticed there were very few butterflies. Typically we'd been seeing tons of them in the spring and summer, but this year there just weren't many at all. That is until August arrived, with it came the Swallowtails. i walked out side and count 15 butterflies on just one of my butterflies bushes. 

 This is a male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

 This is the female. She can be identified as the female, by all that blue on her tail. The male only has a few dots.

This is also a female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Only the females have the dark morph.

This one is a Spicebush Swallowtail They are smaller than the Easter Tiger. 

This is a Pipevine Swallowtail, which i rarely see here.  This year i've seen several!

i think the dry summer may be what caused the butterflies to delay their visit. They seemed to all appear right after we finally got some rain. Looking forward to getting more pictures this week.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Garden update- Harvest pictures from July

i post a lot garden photos on my facebook, but don't always get around to blogging about it. This year's garden has been a bit challenging. We had no rain for about 5 weeks, even though it seemed to hit everyone else around us. The lack of rain caused a lot of my plants to be stunted or really slow to grow. i still have a pretty good spread though, so i can't really complain.

6-29  Blueberries are just starting to come in. Still getting a few peas and the beans are producing well. These are the Red Swan and Dragon Tongue beans. The peas are Sugar Magnolia tendril.

 7-8  Getting lots of beans and blueberries. Still getting lots of leafy greens and getting a few cucumbers. Pulled some of garlic as well, and made some garlic braids. Still getting Red Swan and Dragon tongue beans, also getting Rattlesnake Preacher beans and Borlotto Bush.

7-11  Blueberries did really well this year, and my freezer is packed full. We actually had a really good year for blueberries, red and black raspberries, but then the deer ate all my wine berries and the blackberries dried up from the lack of rain.  i've picked a few, but there just hasn't been much. The eggplants are all coming from my greenhouse. They seem to love the heat.

7-16 Finally starting to get some ripe tomatoes in the greenhouse.  Beans are still doing great, and i'm getting  quite a few cucumbers.  Purple pole beans are starting to come in and the dragon tongue are still doing well.

7-20  Still no rain. Greenhouse tomatoes are really ripening quickly.  Dug a few potatoes, but still have a lot to dig. The ground was just too hard to dig them. Finally getting a couple squash, but the plants seem pretty stunted. They are covered in blooms, but no new fruit.  

7-24 Yellow wax beans are just starting to come in. Purple pole are producing well, and dragon tongue and Borlotto bush are still producing. Picked a couple okra, a few more tomatoes and cucumber and a few carrots. 

7-29  The beans just keep coming and i put in a second planting so there will be more soon.  More greenhouse tomatoes ripening and a few from the garden. Getting a couple more summer squash, but really just not getting much from them. Peaches are starting to ripen.

We finally had a good rain this last weekend, which seemed to help a lot of my plants start producing again.  i have lots of green tomatoes waiting to ripen, and more beans and squash just coming up.  i can't believe i'm already starting seeds for a fall garden, but it's that time.  i really feel like summer just started.  i've been busy blanching and freezing beans, and am hoping to have enough tomatoes to can. So far though we've just been enjoying them fresh. i still can't really believe the kids are going back to school in a week. Summer always goes way too fast!!

How is your garden growing?

Red Lentil and Swiss chard Dahl- made with Veda Organic Ghee Recipe and Review (sponsored)

Ghee is a clarified butter that is commonly used in Indian cooking. It's a central component of Ayurveda, an Indian holistic healing system that dates back thousands of years. Ghee is packed with MCTs, vitamins A, D, E, and K, Omega 3 and 9 (essential fatty acids). Veda brand organic ghee is artisan made in small batches from pasture raised cows. It's slowly heated at a low temperature following the ancient method that preserves health benefits and locks in earthy freshness. Ghee is a highly-nutritious oil with a high smoke point and great taste that is ideal for frying or baking.

i wanted to use it in a recipe and decided to make a simple red lentil dahl using ingredients i already had. i used some of my homegrown veggies, dried red lentils, organic ghee and spices.

i cooked the onion and garlic in the ghee until they were slightly browned and aromatic. Then i added the tomatoes, cooked them down before adding the other ingredients.

The Dahl turned out delicious!. i spread a little of the ghee on my flat bread, then broiled it until crisp. So good and so easy!

Red Lentil Dahl with Swiss chard 

1 onion, chopped
 1-2 tbsp minced garlic 
1 tsp turmeric 
1 tsp cumin powder 
1/8 tsp cayenne 
1 cup chopped tomatoes 
1 cup dried red lentils
3- 4 cups water 
1 tsp sea salt 
1 tsp each cumin and mustard seeds (optional)
½ tsp ghee
 ¼ cup chopped parsley or cilantro
1 cup loosly packed shredded Swiss Chard (or spinach)

Heat ghee in a large pot. Sauté onions and garlic in ghee until brown. Add spices and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until soft. Wash and drain lentils. Add lentils and water to pot. Let simmer around 45 minutes,  or until most of the liquid is dissolved and the lentils are soft. i start with 3 cups and then add more water if needed. stir often. Add salt and Swiss chard.  Heat ½ tsp ghee in a small skillet and fry seeds until they pop. Add the stir fried seeds and chopped parsley on top.

Can be served with Naan or Pita bread, or over rice.

i really love the flavor of this ghee. It has a sweet buttery taste like traditional butter.  i'm looking forward to trying it out in a few other recipes this week. 
You can read more about the product here http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N53M3PU

i received the product at no cost in exchange for my review. My opinions are my own. #sponsored

Monday, July 31, 2017

Floydfest 2017

It's hard to believe Floydfest has been going on for 15 years!  We attended as venders the first few years when it was still small, but it has grown exponentially over the years. We went back a few times just as attendees, but honestly i found it too stressful with two small kids and so many people! So we rarely go.

This year i was approached by a friend in charge of the Children's Universe about volunteering. My kids are old enough now, that i'm okay leaving them at home unsupervised. Kenan is there working, but they are pretty much on their own. 

i agreed to help out at the CU on Saturday.  My job? Giant bubbles!! How fun is that?! The night before the festival, i made some new bubble wands and bought some dishsoap. 

The bubbles were a huge hit the kids (and a few of the adults). i was really impressed with how well the kids shared and took turns. i really only had a couple of kids that were not well behaved, the majority by far were very nice, polite and very well behaved. 

This little boy with the hat, was my buddy. He hung out with me almost the whole day making bubbles. When the little kids wanted to pop bubbles, he volunteered to make bubbles they could pop, so the other kids could make giant bubbles that floated away. (not everyone wanted their bubbles popped).  He was such a sweet and polite kid and a big help as well.

My official shift was from 12pm- 4pm. i got there a bit early, because i didn't know how long it would take to be shuttled in and get through the gates. It was actually very quick, they did a great job of getting folks in quickly.  So i worked (making bubbles) from 11:30 until almost 5pm. i started parking up around 4pm, but the kids kept coming back to make more bubbles, and they were so much fun i couldn't say no. So we continued until i ran out of bubble soap. 

As in Floydfest tradition it rained. It sprinkled a few times in the afternoon, but cleared up. Then a storm rolled in later in the day, and decided to stick around.  It started with just dark ominous clouds,  the rain didn't come until later.  It gave me a chance to explore the festival. 

This is the first time i've been to a big musical festival completely alone. In the past, i've always gone with a friend or my husband. i figured i'd run into local folks i knew and would have a chance to hang with someone, but i never did. It was just me alone and i loved it. i loved every minute of it. :) i felt as if i had an invisibility cloak on. 

i wandered all around the festival grounds. i checked out the food and checked out the vendors. i caught part of the Xavier Rudd set at the main stage and then put down a blanket and enjoyed the entire Rising Appalachia show.  

i spent a little time just hanging out. i can not tell you how nice it was to not have to worry about anyone but myself. i did what ever i wanted. Watched whatever show i wanted. Wandered when i wanted, sat down when i wanted. It was awesome. 

Floydfest had a butterfly theme this year, so they brought in a butterfly dome from Butterfly Dome Experience. i admit, i had some mixed feelings about this. As someone who raises monarchs small scale, i know how fragile they are. There seemed to be no rules within the dome and little children were  picking them up by their wings, pulling caterpillars off of the butterfly weed etc. Many of the butterflies were unable to fly, and i'm quite certain several of them looked infected with OE.  They were planning to release the butterflies on Monday, so that makes it especially concerning. 

i spent some time just sitting and observing the butterflies, but after watching a little girl drop and almost step on a tiny caterpillar repeatedly. i had to leave. The butterfly dome was a nice idea, but for someone who raises monarchs (small scale) it was also pretty cringe worthy. 

i had a great time watching Railroad Earth. They played a great show and i couldn't help but dance! i was right up front, dancing with everyone else. It was so much fun and a very needed release. 

After the Railroad earth set, i wandered around a big checking out the other stages. i briefly watched a sword swallower, but couldn't keep watching. Eek. i went over to the Hill Hollar stage and saw a bit of Tauk.   That's when the rain started. It wasn't a light sprinkle that felt like it would pass. It poured, and it was cold. i was really hoping to stay for the Mountain Jam that started at 10:15pm. It was about 10:08 when the rained really got going.  i figured i'd walk back to the shuttle and if the rain stopped before i got there i'd go back to the main stage for the show, if it was still raining i'd get on the shuttle and go home.

When i got to the shuttles it was still pouring, so i hoped on and headed back to my car.  My biggest stresser about going to the festival alone, was the fear that i wouldn't be able to find my car in the dark after the show. Somehow i totally lucked out and ended up parked almost right under the main light in the center of the parking lot. i had absolutely no problem finding my car, but slipped in the mud just a few feet from my car and went down hard. i had mud everywhere. After such a great evening i couldn't believe that's how i ended it!! 

i really did have a fantastic time, and i'm really hoping to come back next year as the official bubble lady.  :) Although as an introvert, i can only handle about one day. :) The energy is intense! If you've never been to Floydfest, check it out! It's truly an experience you don't want to miss. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Xquizite expandable garden hose- Flash Sale !

This week i'm working with #Xquizite  to review their expandable garden hose. i'll be posting a full review once it arrives, but i wanted to let you all know they are having a flash sale today only!  i really love using expandable hoses, they are so light weight and easier to handle than a regular hose. This one by Xquizite is 16 foot long, but expands to 50 ft!  

 If you visit the link below and subscribe to their email list you'll receive a coupon for 50% off! Sale is today only and goes from 9am until 9pm! Visit https://www.xquiziteonline.com / to get your coupon!

*This is a sponsored post. i received a product and/or payment in exchange for my blog post. However, my opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Peep Peep Peep

Here we go again with these crazy chickens. First mama appeared with 8 new peeps a few weeks ago. i didn't even realize she was missing, and was totally surprised when she reappeared with babies. She has 8.

Smokey appeared a couple days later with only two little peeps. i knew Smokey was missing, but honestly thought she's been eaten. She's a tiny little thing, bantam Sizzle and she'd been setting in the raspberries the whole time.

Then mama #2 appeared with more peeps! That's almost 20 new birds! Yikes!  So i'm  going to try to re-home them, as i really want to focus on the marans, easter eggers and olive eggers. These wild chickens seem to evade predators and disease well, but they constantly hide eggs, tear up my gardens and go broody. i'm at the point now, where i really want to thin out the flock and stick with just a few. 

Earlier this spring we lost 4 of our older hens. My speckled Sussex, Java, Black Star and my sweet little Blackie hen (barnyard mix) We'd had them all for around 7 year. They were the last of the birds i'd had before the fire (still have one and a roo) so that made it a little extra hard.  

i'm getting to the point where i want to be able to travel without constantly worrying about all the critters, so i think having way less chickens will help. These wild ones just keep breeding, so it may be time for them to find another home.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Kayaking Adventures- New River

Over the weekend we decided to kayak on the New River in Radford, VA.  Despite it's name,  the New River is one of the five oldest rivers in the world. The New River flows backwards, from south to north. Only a handful of rivers in the world have this unique feature, including the Nile.  It is thought to be older than the mountains.

The New River is a very calm and slow float. It's more relaxing than some of the other rivers we've kayaked on. There are really no rapids or rough areas on the section we kayaked. It is almost all extremely shallow here too. 

i really enjoy the wildlife we see on the New River.  There are Great Blue Herons every where. 

We cross under a few bridges. i found it interesting that this tree was growing on the side of the pillar, out of a tiny crack. The water is calm enough that we can kayak in either direction, with very little work involved. Trying to paddle upstream on some of the other rivers we've kayaked is pretty much impossible. 

The river is really wide, and we passed a lot of other folks kayaking or tubing down it. Radford is a college town, so tubing down the river is very popular in the summer. 

i took so many pictures of Blue Herons. We saw so many of them, and they were not especially skittish being used to so many people always on the river. When we float the Little River or Big Reed island, we usually see at least one Heron, but they fly off before i even get my camera out. So it was really cool to see them and get pictures.

We several of these Cormorants up in the trees. i've seen these in Florida, but didn't realize they were also in Virginia. They are common around water, but i'm not sure how far north they go. 

i was thrilled to get a picture of this Green Heron. It's really hard to take a good picture from a moving kayak, and this guy was pretty skittish. i didn't know what he was and had to look him up when i got home. We also saw Kingfishers but it didn't get a photo. 

When we got to our ending place, we parked the kayaks and the kids went swimming while Kenan went back for his truck.  There is a little island here, and the water was less than 2 feet deep all the way across.

This Heron seemed to be following us, and he flew over to the island across from where i was standing and just watched us.  i'm really not sure how many herons we saw, or if it was just the same one following us down the River. The New River isn't as secluded as some of the other Rivers we've kayaked, but it's still a really nice float. i love all the unique birds and wildlife. We also saw a turtle, a snake, lots of fish, dragonflies and damselflies.  We did about a 3 hour float, but there are different places to put in and get out. Kenan wanted to do a 5 hour float, and i'm glad we didn't we were all pretty tired by the end of this one. Already looking forward to next weeks adventures!