Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A little bit of Holiday Spirit

Another back post here, but i wanted to get a couple of Dec posts up. i had a hard time getting into the spirit this year. We traveled up to Michigan for Thanksgiving, but spend Yule at home alone. Which is typically my favorite way to spend it, but for some reason this year it felt a little lonely.

i had a craft show that was scheduled for Dec. 10th, but was cancelled at the last minute and then rescheduled for the 17th. It really screwed up my month, which i had already mentally planned out. i was planning to do all my holiday stuff just as soon as the show was done.  So, i didn't do nearly as much decorating, planning or baking as i usually do because i was still trying to make work to sell at the show up until the 18th.

We had our first and so far only snow the first week of Dec.  It only last a few days and then melted, but the kids got a couple days off of school which is always a bonus.

This was pretty much the extent of my holiday display. Tomtes,  gnomes, toadstools and a winter scene with pretty lights.  The lighted clothes pins are perfect for displaying holiday cards.

Our Yule tree is a really small potted tree that i bought last year. We named him Stanley ( yes, the tree) and decorated him with pinecones and bows. He wasn't big enough to hold up Kenan's icicle ornaments so i hung them in the window instead.

i didn't make any of the cookies i usually make. No gingerbread or sugar cookies. i did however, make lots of these shortbread trees which are a new favorite. They are so easy. 3 ingredient shortbread with cream cheese icing.  Seriously, they are the best thing ever.

Another easy cookie i made were these shortbread thumbprint cookies. Again, i used the 3 ingredient shortbread recipe, but added a little almond flavoring to both the dough and the glaze.  So amazingly simple, yet delicious. This is a great way to use up all that raspberry and blackberry jam i make every year. :) 

i made pecan tassies for the first time, just as something different. 

One of my favorite things that i started this year was a treat station. i'd seen something similar on pinterest and wanted to recreate it. If i'd had all the correct props ( a kitchen cart/trolley) i totally would have made it Harry Potter themed. :)  i kept this corner stocked with hot cocoa packets, candies and cookies.

 This was really the extent of my holiday preparations.   December was busy as always, both kids had winter concerts, i had a craft show and spent much more time in the glass shop and less time baking and decorating.  The holidays were simple and sweet.  December always goes by way too fast for me and i'm looking forward to sinking into a slower routine at the first of the year.

*this post contains affiliate links. i may earn a small commision on any purchases made from following my links.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Foraging Mushrooms and Growing them at home.

 Earlier this spring i posted about plugging mushroom logs. We love mushrooms, enjoy foraging but wanted to try our hand at growing our own. Plugging the logs is really quite easy, and then all you have to do is water occasionally and wait.

 We really were not expecting to see any mushrooms until this coming spring, and were totally surprised when i spotted this log that had been plugged with blue oyster loaded with mushrooms!

The log was covered with beautiful clusters! These are the 'warm blue' Oysters. Which must have been confused by our weird weather. 

We also had a few of the 'cold blue' oyster mushrooms come up randomly. 

The first log that kenan plugged when he took a  mushroom workshop  over a year ago has produced a mushroom here and there. Not a big flush, but still nice to get a few. We plugged several more shiitake logs this spring, so i'm looking forward to getting a real harvest. We really enjoy the flavor of the shiitake.

Even though we are working to farm our own mushrooms, i still love to forage. This fall there was a beautiful crop of Shaggy manes that came up on the edge of our land.  These are a delicate mushroom and don't keep well. So you don't want to pick them unless you plan to eat them immediately. They are very delicious though and are a new favorite.

i can't wait to see how the mushroom logs do this spring and fall, when we should really start seeing some mushrooms! i can't remember all the varieties we plugged, but it was a bunch!   i'm already looking forward to morel season as well, i really enjoy my time in the woods mushroom hunting. It's so much fun to find them.  i'll update more with our mushroom plugging progress as soon as we start seeing more mushrooms coming up. All of the plugs we bought came from Mushroom Mountain and we are super happy with all of them. If your interested in growing mushrooms, check out their site for supplies and information to get you started!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Presto Photo Review and giveaway!

i recently had the opportunity to order a custom canvas print from Presto Photo.   Presto Photo is the place where you can share your life and the wonderful journeys that color your living. They are an online community designed for photographers (professional and novice), scrapbookers, teachers, moms, dads, travel enthusiasts and designers. They offer a variety of products including photo books, calendars, wall art, greeting cards and more! There are lots of sizes and styles, as well as different options for customizing your photo to make it extra special.

Creating a custom print is very easy. You can upload your photo from your PC,  Facebook or Instagram. Pick the size, and type of print you would like. The website is very easy to navigate, and there is an option for live help if you run into trouble. i decided to surprise my husband, by making a canvas print of a photo of one of his glass art orbs.

Presto Photo offers a nice variety of wall art. They have canvas, acrylic and metal printing. i chose the canvas, and was given more options with different prices. You can choose different weights of canvas, or go with the less expensive faux canvas.

The ordering process was very quick and easy! i used coupon PRESTOWALLART during checkout to save 20% on my order. After submitting my order, i received an email letting me know my order had been received and then another when it shipped out. Shipping was quick and i'm super pleased with it. 

The print looks perfect, the colors are vivid and bright. The canvas is stapled to a wooden frame, with hardware for hanging. It's absolutely gorgeous! 

If you’d like to create your own photo book, calendar or cards check out Prestophoto.com
You can also connect with them on social media!

Follow Presto Photo on Twitter 
Like Presto Photo on Facebook
Follow Presto Photo on Instagram


The generous folks at Presto Photo were kind enough to offer a $50 GC to one of my lucky readers!  Please enter below using the rafflecopter form, you may have to wait a minutes for it to load! This giveaway is open to US only. 

i received a GC to Presto photo in exchange for trying out the service and sharing my honest review. i was not compensated, my opinions are my own. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Surprise waterfall- Every day is an adventure!

This past weekend when we made plans to go hiking at the The Channels, Kenan told me 'we won't see any waterfalls' since we usually we plan our hikes around waterfalls.  i love big waterfalls, but The Channels look really neat, so i was fine going somewhere without water for once.

After exploring the The Channels and having a great time, we started headed home.  We were driving along, following the holston River, when all of a sudden Kenan said, 'Woah..did you see that?' Then he turned the car around and went back looking for a place to park.

We found a place to pull over, crossed the road, and climbed down the embankment to the river below.

The river was beautiful, but hidden almost out of sight when just driving by was a HUGE cascading waterfall!

Pictures never really do justice to show the size of waterfalls, but they were really gorgeous!  This is the lower part of the falls with the upper part in the background.

Kenan and the kids are up at the top right standing at the top of the upper falls. It was such an awesome surprise, especially since i didn't think we'd be seein any waterfalls while we were out and these were amazing falls!  

After coming home and googling, i found out they are the Logan Creek Falls near Hayter's Gap.  Definitely worth checking out if you are in the area. i would have loved to explore the river more, but the kids were tired and we were all hungry so we headed home. It was a fun adventurous weekend, a nice change from band competitions. We have one more competition, and then our weekends will be free again. Hoping it stays warm enough for a few more hikes before winter arrives.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Paper Poppets Story and Activity Book- Review (Sponsored) #PaperPoppets #PlayWithPaper #PPSociety

Anyone else remember playing with paper dolls as a child?  Paper dolls and activity books were always one of my favorite things. Before all this technology took over,  we played outside, road our bikes, played with simple toys and used our imaginations. We were not distracted by phones, social media and video games.

When my kids were little, i really tried to keep the toys simple. i loved natural toys, playing outside and anything that encouraged imagination and creative play.  As they've got older, they've been sucked into the technology culture just like everyone else. Although neither of my kids have their own phones, they do have tablets and i find myself having to limit their screen time on a regular basis.

When i first saw the Paper Poppets, i was was filled with nostalgia and memories of my childhood.  Paper Poppets are paper dolls re-imagined with fun, retro and modern illustrations that inspire imaginative play, personal storytelling and stylishness. The mission behind Paper Poppets is to help girls of all ages build their imagination and self-expression so they can showcase creativity and empower their inner-storyteller. In this day and age it's so nice to find these #timelesstoys that don't require batteries or an internet connection. 

My girl and i spent an afternoon 'unplugged'. We had fun reading the story, punching out the paper pieces, coloring the pictures and dressing up the dolls and pets! 

The set comes with 3 pages of easy to pop out fashions. There are more pages of outfits in the book, that can be cut out or copied and cut out if you don't want to ruin the book. The outfits are fun and modern. There are even accessories for the pets! 

My daughter needed a little help popping out the fashions, she was afraid of ripping the tabs, but for the most part was able to do it herself.  She absolutely loved the paper doll set and story. We explored the website and she enjoyed learning about the different characters and their pets. At the end of the day the dolls can be tucked 'into bed' in the pocket at the back of the book. You can store all the pieces in it, to keep them from getting lost or ruined.

Perfect for girls of all ages, the Paper Poppets Story & Activity Set is going to be your new favorite toy. Unleash your inner fashion designer and cut, color and fold these amazing hand-drawn outfits on Maddy and Ava. Don’t forget about dressing up your pets, Otto and Buddy, as well!

  • 2 Dolls (7 3/4″ Tall)
  • 2 Pets
  • 50 pieces of Pre-Cut Fashions
  • 32 Page Illustrated Story/Coloring Book with DIY Activities
  • Storage pocket in back of book
  • Box dimensions 10″ x 10″ x 1″

We really loved the Paper Poppets paper doll set. My daughter's only complaint is that the dolls can't share clothes. Each outfit goes to a specific doll, and so you can't mix and match Maddy's clothes with Ava's.  She also thought it would be really neat if they made a downloadable blank template for the dolls, so she could design her own clothing for them. We are going to trace the girls shapes onto some blank paper, and try coming up with our own. 

Overall, this is a really a neat set and would make a fantastic gift for any young girl. We enjoyed our time unplugged, as we dressed up each doll for the costume ball.  My daughter is getting to that age where she doesn't want to hang with her mom, so it was fun to play with these together and be reminded of a simpler time where kids could just be kids.

The Paper Poppets are available here. The story and activity set is $19.99 . 

i received the product at no cost, in exchange for my review. My opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Hiking the Great Channels of Virginia

This weekend we took a trip to Abingdon, VA to check out a  the Great Channels. 

The Great Channels are a virtually unknown slot canyon on the southern slop of Clinch mountain. They are impressive formations of 400-million-year-old sandstone, that create a maze of stone. 

While slot canyons are somewhat common in the southwest USA, they’re pretty rare on the east coast. There is nothing else like the Channels anywhere in Virginia. The labyrinth of crevices, passageways, and twists and turns means it’s potentially easy to get lost so pay attention to where you came in. 

We had a great time exploring the labyrinth of sandstone. 

Geologists believe that the Channels were  formed while the high-elevation sandstone cap was under the influence of permafrost and ice wedging during the last ice age. These forces shattered and enlarged the joints in the sandstone caprock creating the tunnels and maze we see today.

Looking up from the inside the channels. A lot of my pictures didn't come out, because there isn't a lot of light inside the maze.  The sunlight sort of peeks through in spots like this.

 There are lot of tight spaces to squeeze through. A few areas that were a bit claustrophobic, and we made our way through the maze.

After spending some time wandering around the slot canyon, we followed a trail that took us to the top of the Channels. Here we were able to peer down into the them.  This made me a little nervous as we had to jump over some pretty steep spaces to move around this area. 

 It was a nice place to rest and enjoy the views, which were truly breath taking.

This is the view from Middle knob.  The elevations on the Channels State Forest range from 1,800 feet to more than 4,208 feet. The sandstone maze at the heart of Channels State Forest sits hidden at the top of Middle Knob – elevation 4208’.

The actual trail to the Channels is about 3 miles, from the parking lot. It's well marked and reasonably mild although there is a gradual 1000 ft incline.  

We really enjoyed the hike (it had been way too long since our last one). The weather was gorgeous for October, and we found it well worth the 2 hour drive to get there. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Garden update 10/13- Transitioning to Fall.

A couple weeks ago we had our first frost. It was only a light frost, but i pretty much gave up on the garden and really didn't expect to be posting anymore harvest pictures. My focus has been on moving my craft area downstairs, setting up a studio and playing in the glass shop again. So my garden is a neglected mess of weeds and morning glories right now. 

Went out this morning to clean it up a bit and was surprised to see that it's still producing. 

i planted a bunch of lettuce and kale under row covers back in July. The majority of it never germinated, or was munched (especially the kale) before it had a chance to grow.  The few that made it, did really well. SO we are starting the fall with fresh lettuce....but just a little.  i do have more planted in a different area, that does seem to be germinating better. 

i have fall peas blooming and producing. i planted green, yellow and purple again. So far only the yellow have started to produce. They really seem to be enjoying the cool mornings.

My rattlesnake preacher beans are fantastic.  These area  pole bean and they produce like crazy. i also have bush beans planted, they are producing but not as abundantly.  We could get a frost any day now that will wipe them all out. i'm feeling pretty grateful to still be getting so much summer goodness in mid october.

Morning glories are beautiful, but also extremely invasive. i spend all summer ripping them out of the garden, but they just keep coming. By the fall, when the garden is nearly done and i let the morning glories take it over. These are my bean poles. The morning glories have completely covered them, and the tomatoes. They pulled down what was left of my bamboo fence, and knocked over several of the tomato supports. 

It's a beautiful sort of destruction that eases us into the winter. Just as everything begins to really die back, it's all covered in flowers. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Witchy Halloween- Finding the Perfect Witch Hat! (sponsored)

Halloween is quickly approaching! i hadn't even begun to think about a costume, when i received an invite to the Practical Magic Halloween from a friend on facebook.  Here is the description of the event.

"Ladies, this Halloween, let's show our little town our true spirit! It isn't hard to do and it won't take a lot of money. Think about this, a black dress or black top and skirt, witch's hat, and striped socks....there you go! Show up to Dogtown and not only do we win the prize but how amazing will it be to have a whole room of Witches! i happen to know that there is another group that thinks they might win the group prize...but who can compete with this!"

" Ladies who will be taking little ones out for trick or treating, wouldn't it be a sight if we all dressed up to do this too? At least we can throw our hats on and nod to each other as we pass in the street!"

So just like that, i knew exactly what i'd be dressing up as this year. A witch!  Every year my kids come up with costume ideas and i spend so much time working on them, that i don't always have the time to finish mine. 

This is the first time ever i have my costume done before the kids! Wohoo! Okay, it's not really done. i'm going to hit the goodwill this weekend to find a better witch dress and some accessories, but i'm feeling mighty witchy. ;)  i've been wanting a nice witch hat for ages (i mean, who doesn't?!) Everytime we go to a Harry Potter party, HP festival etc i wish i had a Professor Mcgonagall costume, but couldn't find a good witch hat.  Most of the witch hats i've seen in the stores are pretty lame.  

So you have no idea how excited i was to find this one by Sdsaena. This hat is amazing! It's very stiff and sturdy. It's huge! The outer fabric has a lacy look, i believe there is a layer of felt in the center to stabilize it and then it's lined in a satin type fabric. The spider on the side is made from pipe cleaner, but looks neat on the hat. The flower on the front of the bow has just a hint of sparkly green going through it. It doesn't have the full round brim like a traditional witch hat, but it's such a cool design! 

"We have a witch in the family. Isn't it wonderful?"- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
My girl loves the hat so much she tried to claim it, even though she wasn't even planning to be a witch this year.  It even has a decorative spider climbing up the side.

What could be better than one amazing witch hat? Three amazing witch hats!! This hat is sold as a set of three. So my girl will be getting her hat.  This set is perfect for group costumes, witch gatherings or Harry Potter parties!  i'm super excited to be able to share one with a friend that wanted to attend the Practical Magic event but didn't have a hat. You can check it out here  http://www.sdsaena.com/Sdsaena-Women-s-Luxury-17-5-High-Halloween-Witch-Hat-Adult-Set-of-3-p333505.html  It's available in black, purple and orange.  It's also available in Amazon, and i have several 10% off coupons to share, so drop me an email if interested!

Now that my costume is (mostly) done, i can start working on the kids costumes as soon as they decide what they are going to be! 

i received this product in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own.
#sdsaena #sponsored #cosplay #halloween #witch #witchhat #witchclub

Back in the glass shop!

Now that garden season is wrapping up, i've started playing in the glass shop again. Last year i made a ton of hearts, and goddess pendants and then took the summer off to focus on the garden.  i wasn't that excited about getting back into the glass shop, because i get bored really easy and didn't really know what to make. i played around with a few ideas, but wasn't feeling that inspired.  Several friends kept posting a video on my fb wall showing glass sea turtles, so i decided to give them a try. 

These are the first 3 i made!  i think you can see the progress just in these three! The first one is on the left. The second one in has the dichro shell which was difficult to work with, but i figured out how to make the head less stretched. By the third one, i really felt like i had my design down.

The first couple i made were pretty big for pendants, so i focused on trying to make them a bit smaller. i decided this was a really good size.

Kenan gave me some dichro patterned chips to use and i love the way they look. i ended up keeping this one for myself. :) 

i'm really excited about how these are turning out and i'm looking forward to play with some different colors and shell patterns. i signed up to have a table at the Fall festival at our local school again this year, and need to stockpile pendants for that. i'll eventually be posting them for sale on my fb page.