Monday, June 19, 2017

DIY Bath Bombs using Websun Stainless Steel Molds- product review and recipe.



Yesterday my girl and i made bath bombs! First recipe we used was a total fail, but we tried again and i used way less food coloring, essential oil and water....and they turned out perfect!  These are so easy to make and use ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard! The only thing we were missing were molds, but we received some to review from #Websun  and they worked great!


We used  these stainless steel molds by Websun. These come in 3 sizes. They are 100% food grade 304 stainless steel & are dishwasher safe.  They work so well! The bath bombs popped right out and were shaped perfect.




 So much fun! We made some a while ago, and they were total fail. They started off looking great, but then they started slowly expanding and swelling.  i think the key is as little liquid as possible, just until they hold together. i also read that in areas of high humidity, you can bake them at 200 degrees until they are completely dried out. i'll probably do that with our next batch just to make sure they are completely dry and don't suck the moisture out of the air.


Homemade Bath Bombs
Dry ingredients
1/2 cup baking soda
1/4 cup Epsom salt
1/4 cup citric acid
1/4 cup corn starch.

 Wet ingredients
3 tsp Olive oil or Castor oil 
1 tsp essential oil
a few drops of food color. 

water

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisking to combine. 
Then in a small bowl mix wet ingredients (except water) together then slowly add to dry mixture, while constantly whisking. 
Now add water very slowly 1 tsp at a time, just until mix packs together. i think we used about 2 tsp, but the recipe called for 3. i would not use any more than that.  You want to add it slowly, while whisking quickly to avoid it setting off the chemical reaction. Using a spray bottle for the water would probably work well. Again you just need a tiny amount. 

Pack the mixture into both sides of your mold, press the two sides together and let dry about 5 hours. Be sure and store them in an air tight container!

These Bath bomb  molds really do work great! They come in a pretty handmade paper box. You can find them on amazon, free shipping with Prime. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071DJ41ZL 


*i received the product at no cost in exchange for my honest opinion. i was not compensated, my opinions are my own.





New River Trail- Fries Junction

 This weekend we celebrated father's day with a family bike ride on the New river trail. We had originally planned to start at the Byllesby Dam, but just as we were parking a full downpour hit us. We sat in the truck a minute to see if it would pass, but it just got heavier and heavier. So we left feeling pretty disappoint that we'd driven so far just to get rained out, however, when we got back to Fries (pronouced freeze)  the skies were clear and blue and it was totally dry. 



So we parked and got on the trail in Fries, and headed in the direction of the Byllesy Dam. The New River trail is great for biking. It's quite flat and well maintained.  Great for a family bike ride.


We spotted this turtle in the middle of the trail and my girl had to stop and move it. i'm pretty sure the turtle was attempting to lay her eggs right in the middle of the trail. She had dug herself a hole. It was a terrible spot as cyclist come through very fast, and their was sign that horses had been on the trail recently too. Hopefully she can find a slightly safer place to lay her eggs. 


i highlighted the areas of the New River Trail we've done either walking or on bike. We still have a quite a bit to complete. The Cliffview, Shot Tower and Foster Falls sections we've done several times. 



At Fries junction we rode over the Trestle Bridge, then came back and continued down the New River Trail. i was expecting some spectacular views from the bridge, but it actually has big wall up on both sides and you can't see anything.


 The view from the bridge is not spectacular.


Once we came off of the bridge we had a much nicer view. There was mist rising from the mountains in the distance from that rain that was coming down that way.  We should have paid attention to that and turned back here, but we didn't. We rode straight into a downpour, that followed us all the way back to the car. 




 Riding back in the rain, really sucked. The rain was cold, and the trail turned to mud making it harder to peddle. We hadn't realized it, but the trail was on a gradual decline on our trip out to the trestle bridge, so when we turned around and road back it was a gradual incline. We were all hurting by the time we got back to the car.


Biking was fun, but i didn't get to enjoy the trail in the same way that i do when we hike.  We passed so many little waterfall i would have liked to have gotten pictures of. We whizzed past wildflowers, and views of the New River.  


We did stop to read a bit about the Grayson Sulphur Springs. It was a popular hotel and mineral water resort. Once located on the west bank of the New River near the mouth of Brush Creek, its site is now covered by the backed-up waters of Byllesby dam.

This was a really nice section to bike. i'd love to come back and walk it, so i can get some better pictures and enjoy the views a bit more. i do love that the New River trial is so good for biking, as we don't have any flat ground at home. As much as i love hiking, riding bikes is a nice change and the kids enjoy it much more than walking so we'll probably be doing a lot more of it this summer.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Kayaking Adventures- Little River

Now that the summer is here, we've been trying to get out and either hike or kayak every weekend. It's been a little tough with my daughter playing softball this year, we've had double header games almost every Saturday and when we don't have games, we've had rain.

So we finally got a chance to get out on the water and decided to explore a different section of the little river. This time we drove out passed Floyd and put in at the Little River Baptist Church.  We had about a 3 hour float, and got out at the Bridge on Moore rd. i think this is one of the most popular floats in Floyd. We didn't come across a ton of people, but we did see a few.


It was an bsolutely gorgeous day to be out on the River. 


Typical of Floyd,we came across cows in the river. The same thing happened the last time we floated the Little River, even though we were in a totally different part last time. Floyd county has no shortage of cows. Many are grass fed, pasture raised with open access to the river.  So it's not at all uncommon to come across cows cooling off in the water.




Besides the cows we saw a great Blue Heron and a King Fisher fishing. We saw lots of dragonflies, and damselflies.


We also saw this huge snappping turtle, just hanging out on the bank. At first i thought it was just a shell that had washed up, but when i got closer i saw it's tail.  It's crazy how much they look like little dinosaurs. i was in my kayak, and tried to bank it so i could get better pictures, but there wasn't enough shore and i didn't really want to get out of my boat.


About half way down the river we decided to stop and swim. There are a few really good swimming holes on the Little River. It's deep enough to swim, but not over our heads deep.  It was a nice break and fun way to cool off.


It was such a gorgeous day to be out on the river. i'm really looking forward to more kayaking adventures each weekend this summer.  Summer always seems to go by too fast, this is a nice way to slow it down a bit a really enjoy the weekend together as a family.


In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time. -Leonardo da Vinci

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Glass progress- goddess pendants available


i'm not sure the last time i posted glass progress. With garden season here i'm spending less time in the glass shop. i'm still trying to stick with it though. Recently my focus has been on goddess pendants, and mother/baby figures.  i have these posted for sale on my facebook page. 






#131 and #37 are no longer available. i've just started doing the mamas and babies and they are still a bit wonky. Trying to get the arms right is my biggest issue, but i'm going to just keep practicing. 

i may eventually start doing some craft shows or list these on etsy, but so far just selling them on Facebook has worked out well.  i have individual pictures of each piece listed there as well.

i'm pretty proud of my progress and look forward to learning more and improving my skills.



Monday, June 5, 2017

Garden updates- wrapping up May, first week of June.

 Here in the Blue Ridge my frost free day is around the second week of May. Typically, mother's day weekend. Though many of the locals don't plant until Memorial day weekend.  i usually push the limits and plant early, this year i could have gotten away with it since we really didn't have a winter, and the last freeze was in April, i believe.

i didn't get around to putting stuff early, and then we had like 3 weeks of constant rain so i ended up a little behind.  Almost all my seeds had been started already in the greenhouse so i wasn't really that concerned. 


Once the rain stopped i was finally able to set up my bean trellis and start sectioning off my garden. i don't like planting in rows, so instead i create squares and do sort of  square foot gardening within my garden. i feel like this works best for me, allowing me to focus on the needs of each square and water/fertilize/supplement as necessary without having to do it to the entire garden.  i did out paths between the squares giving it a faux raised bed look. This helps with drainage in my heavy clay soil.



Although my summer garden wasn't planted on time, i did have my crops in early. So i've been harvesting lots of leafy greens since April.  i started harvesting asparagus and broccoli in the first week of May and am still picking. My broccoli are all a bit small this year, i think possibly stunted from the warm temperatures in March/April.  This was my  5-20 harvest. Leafy greens, kale, asparagus, broccoli, a few carrots and rhubarb.


i turned some of the veggies into a delicious stirfry.  This is entirely homegrown veggies, with just a little olive oil.



By the end of May things were really starting to take off. i'm still getting the leafy greens, broccoli and asparagus, but now i'm starting to see some snow peas and garlic scapes as well. Garlic scapes are wonderful. They can be used in stir fries, on pizza, and turned into pesto. This is my harvest from 5-27.  The rain knocked down a bunch of my Iris, so i brought them inside with my veggies.


i made a pizza from scratch, using my home canned sauce. Topped it with homegrown spinach, asparagus and garlic scapes and then added some homemade mozzarella. 



6-4 harvest. i'm getting to the end of my broccoli heads, but they still producing lots of shoots. The garlic scapes and sugar snaps are really come in now. Still getting asparagus, but it's slowed don so i'm only getting a couple shoots a day. i still lots of lettuce and leafy greens under row/shade covers but i expect it will be bolting soon as the temperatures rise.



This time of year, i make a lot of stir fries and use them as side dish to most meals. i used some of the broccoli, garlic scapes, carrots and snow peas in this tofu dish. The veggies were lightly sauteed in olive oil and served over a bed of Udon noodles and topped with orange sesame tofu.

i had about 75% of my garden in my June first, but have been waiting on rain again to finish planting it. The plants are all doing so well in the greenhouse i haven't been in a hurry to put them outside.


In the greenhouse my tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are blooming. i have several tomatoes, eggplant and peppers that will stay in the greenhouse all summer, but also have many in pots that still need to be planted outside. 


i have one little pepper plant that already has a pepper on it!  i have several varieties of beans planted in the main garden, potatoes, corn and squash in a different garden. My sweet potato slips are rooting well, and i plan to get them planted this week.  We are finally getting a little rain today, so i should be able to get the rest of my plants in the ground. 

Looking forward to a good harvest, so we can feast on home grown veggies all summer and i can refill my pantry with canned goods this fall.  

How is your garden growing?



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Teacher Appreciation Week- Harry Potter Style

So, i'm a bit behind on this post. Teacher Appreciation week was Monday, May 8 and ended on Friday, May 12.  The school usually sends home a paper about it, but we didn't get one this year, so i  totally missed it.
 Always a day late and a dollar short,  i had the brilliant idea of doing a Harry Potter themed gifts. i figured i could use my time turner to get them there on time, but i couldn't get it working ;)  So we just had to send them in late.



Our school usually follows this format for teacher's appreciation gifts, but it's just a suggestion and you can really do whatever.


For the office supplies, i really wanted to make quills like this one.  i couldn't find feathers locally though, and didn't have time to buy them online. So we ended up making wands instead. i figure they can be used as a pointer.  If we do this again though, i'd love make sure and have quills too.




For the wands we used chop sticks and hot glue. They are super easy, and look amazing.  You basically just coat the chop stick in hot glue...make whatever design you want. After it's dry you can paint it. i used Craftamo in black, brown, blue, white and green. After painting the entire wand in your base color, we then dry brushed a gold acrylic paint over it. It really gives it a neat look!
 You can check out this video by Pins and Things for some inspiration. 


My girl and i had a good time putting these together. We made wands and candies. Chocolate frogs, peppermint toads, cockroach clusters, Bertie botts and a golden snitch. :D  The golden snitch is a Ferrero Rocher candy with wings added. You can find the full directions here. 
Yes, i really am that much of a dork. The owls are holding thank you notes. All the labels and the owl printable i found online.



For the flower, we were hoping to pot mandrakes and magical herbs. These are some of the herb pots i did a few years ago. i figured we could do the same thing using Harry Potter stickers, or painting the pots in house colors. We could easily give the herbs magical names and make these very Harry Potter themed.



This is a super cute idea for the fruit gift. Magic wand fruit skewers. i found the idea here.  This photo is from weelicious.com.  Unfortunately we never got around to making them, but i'm saving the idea for next time.

We were lucky enough to have a teacher this year that LOVES Harry Potter, so these teacher gifts were absolutely perfect for her. My daughter who is 10, almost 11 has shown absolutely zero interest in reading until this year. Her teacher was so into Harry Potter, that my girl decided to read it. Not only did she read it, but she has zipped through the series and is now on book 5!! This is a kid that wouldn't even read Magic tree house (because they were too long) lol! 

So Harry Potter themed teacher's gifts just seemed perfect! They were a lot of fun to make, and i know her teacher loved them! i just wish i'd had my crap together so we could have done them all on the correct days during teacher appreciation week. :) 



Monday, May 29, 2017

Homemade Maple Almond Granola- recipe

i had no idea that making  granola was so easy and that it is so good!!  While reviewing the Big Tree Maple syrup earlier this week, i played around with a few different recipes. This granola turned out so good, i wanted to share it too.  



All the measurement in this are approximate. The only thing i actually measured was the oats. After that i just sort of threw stuff in, you can add more or less to taste. 


Homemade Maple Almond Granola

Ingredients

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup  unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut
1 cup almonds
1/8- 1/4 cup hemp hearts
3 tbsp flax seeds and/or chia seeds
2 tablespoons  olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup Big Tree Maple maple syrup
1  cups dried fruit.  Dice it first if it's in big pieces.  i used raisins, cranberries and figs.

1 large egg white (optional) This will help stick it together to make big clumps of granola.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl except the dried fruit and egg white.  Stir until everything is mixed well.  If using the egg white,  beat until frothy and fold that in so everything is coated.

Place the granola on a greased jelly roll pan or a pan lined with parchment paper. Spread it out into an even layer and bake at 300 for around 45 min. Checking once about half way through to flip the granola using a spatula. When granola is evenly browned and dried out. Remove from oven and let cool before adding in the dried fruit. It keeps up to 2 weeks if kept in an airtight container at room temperature. i keep mine in mason jars.

Don't forget to enter to win a 15oz bottle of Big Tree Maple syrup here! 

* i receieved a complimentary sample of Big Tree Maple in exchange for my review.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Big Tree Maple Syrup- Recipes, Review and Giveaway


Big Tree Maple sugar house is located in Chautauqua Co., in southwestern New York. This father and son business began in 1993 by boiling sap from 40 taps, currently they process maple sap from over 4000 taps. Some of these taps are owned by other producers who deliver the sap to Big Tree Maple to be processed into syrup with our modern production equipment. Despite the modern equipment, making maple syrup is a labor intensive process that requires evaporating at least 40 gallons of water in order to produce 1 gallon of maple syrup!


Maple syrup is the world's best all natural sweetener. It is produced simply by concentrating the sap of the maple tree and its only produced in a small part of the world - northeastern North America. New York State produces some of the highest quality maple products made anywhere. Big tree Maple takes great pride in being part of that tradition. Their maple syrup is 100% natural and unrefined, goodness straight from the maple tree. It contains no additives, coloring or preservatives!


When many people think of maple syrup, they usually think of a topping for pancakes or waffles. We love using real maple syrup as a syrup, but it can also be used in recipes to replace granulated sugar. 

Maple Conversion Guidelines 
1 cup white granulated sugar = 1 cup maple granulated sugar or 1 cup maple syrup (reduce other liquids by 1/2 cup).

 1 cup packed brown sugar = 1 cup +1 TBSP maple granulated sugar or 1 cup + 1 TBSP maple syrup (reduce other liquids by 1/2 cup).

i decide to try it out replacing the sugar in one of my favorite breakfast casseroles.



Blueberry Maple French Toast Breakfast Bake

Ingredients
1 loaf of stale bread, torn into bite-sized pieces
 8 oz cream cheese or mascarpone, cut into small cubes
1 pint fresh blueberries,
8 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup maple syrup plus more for serving
1/2 cups almonds, pecans or walnuts (optional)

Method
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Grease an 8 or 9-inch square baking dish.
Place half of the bread cubes in the dish.
Sprinkle cream cheese cubes and half of the blueberries over the bread.
Top with remaining bread cubes, blueberries and nuts.

 Next combine eggs, milk, maple syrup and butter in a large bowl and pour over bread mixture.

Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.
Cover with aluminum foil if you notice the edges browning too much during baking.
Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Cut into squares to serve.

 Serve with additional maple syrup drizzled on top.
This recipe can be prepared the night before, and then baked the next morning.

The maple syrup really adds a wonderful maple flavor to the recipe!

Connect with Big Tree Maple!

Visit their website http://www.bigtreemaple.com
Follow Big Tree Maple on Facebook
Follow with Big Tree Maple on G+ 
Follow  Big Tree Maple on Instagram


BUY IT! You can purchase Big Tree Maple Syrup here
Use coupon 2syrup2017  to receive 10% off your order.






WIN IT!

The generous folks at Big Tree Maple were kind enough to offer a 15oz bottle of pure Maple Syrup to one lucky reader!

 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. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


i received this product in exchange for my review. My opinions are my own. The sponsor is responsible for shipping the prize.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Coconut Macaroons with Sweet Home and Kitchen measuring set- Review



i'm still moving forward on my goal to eliminate most of the plastic in my kitchen.  The measuring cups i've been using are a mismatched set of plastic measuring cups. Three different plastic sets combined to make a complete set.  So i was really excited to have the opportunity to review the #SweetHomeKitchen Measuring Cups and Spoons Set. 

This 10 piece set is stainless steel, so it doesn't rust or corrode.  They have colorful Anti-Slip Heat-Resistant Handles with silicone grips. They are engraved with both metric and Imperial measuring units and they have an easy to remove ring to keep them together while storing. The set is FDA approved and dishwasher safe. i'm excited to finally get rid of my plastic measuring cups and replace them with these lovely stainless steel ones.  



i put them to the test today making Coconut Macaroons.  The measurements are accurate and they are easy to clean. No oil residue left over, like you sometimes get with plastic. Coconut macaroons are easy to make, you can find the recipe below. 


Coconut Macaroons

Ingredients
3 cups sweetened, shredded coconut.
 4 large egg whites
 1/2 cup sugar
 1 teaspoon vanilla
 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 and grease cookie sheets or use parchment paper.

Using an electric mixer beat egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form.
Gradually add sugar.
Fold in the coconut and vanilla by hand until just mixed.

Drop by tablespoon onto prepared pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Optional- once cool dip the bottoms in melted chocolate if desired.

My daughter and i both love to bake, so having a good set of measuring cups & spoons is essential.  Four years after the house fire and we are still slowly replacing items that had been donated.  As excited as i am to replace the old plastic measuring cups, it's a little bittersweet as well knowing that each of those cups were gifted to us in our time of need.  Although the set is mismatched and the measurements have rubbed off some of them, i'll pass them on to someone else who needs them, as they still have plenty of life left in them.. It has been a long process of replacing lost things, but we are getting there and trying to simplify as we go. This set is a lovely addition to the other stainless steel kitchen accessories and tools that i've recently acquired.

You can find it for sale on Amazon- http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N0SL4NH They are currently $18.99 free shipping with prime. Use code Z9Z6OU8O during checkout to get 10% off.



*i received this set of measuring cups and spoons at no cost in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sweese Porcelain Kitchenware- Review and Giveaway






This week, i had the opportunity to review this lovely porcelain butter keeper made by Sweese. i love their simple, yet elegant designs.

Sweese is dedicated to creating the most useful products that’ll be a staple of your kitchen! They want to create products that not only enhance your daily cooking chores, but become an integral part of your everyday life. Efficiency and durability are two of their biggest values, and it’s one of the guiding principles when it comes to making their plates, bowls, and cooking tools.

i really like that they use natural materials in their products. Most are made with natural porcelain, cork, bamboo or slate.

The Sweese butter keeper is made from  pro-grade porcelain. It is dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe.  The butter holder part is FDA- approved and made of durable porcelain, a type of premium lead-free and non-toxic ceramic, chip-resistant and more sturdy than glass or stoneware. 


The Sweese Butter keeper is large enough to hold two standard sticks of butter. The lid is made of natural cord, and has a silicone seal to make it air tight. If butter gets on the inside of the lid it can easily be cleaned off with soap and water. The engraved saying "Alles In Butter" in the cork is German language, that means "All is Well" or "Everything is fine".




It also works great to store my homemade butter. Butter easily absorbs the odors of other foods and air is the source of turning butter rancid,  Sweese is proud of its airtight design, which helps keep your butter fresh and tasting great!

BUY IT! You  can purchase the Sweese Butter Keeper  http://amzn.to/2qbCV26 

Use this code  TREE0125 to get 25% off your purchase.

WIN IT!

The generous folks at Sweese were kind enough to offer one of their porcelian butter dishes to a lucky reader.

 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.  Must be 18 to enter. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway


i received this butter dish in exchange for my review. My opinions are my own.