Wednesday, November 26, 2008

November update

i apologize for neglecting our blog. It has been so cold here for most of the month that we have not been spending much time outside. The lighting in my house sucks, so i rarely take pictures they come out blurry or dark, or the flash makes everyone look weird.

Sequoia has been busy with school, building bionicles and attending birthday parties almost every weekend.

Kenan has been working really long hours, stocking up inventory for two different glass exhibitions in Japan. He won't be attending these, just sending his work to be on display for several months. It's a good opportunity, and good exposure, but also a huge commitment that he is not guaranteed to get paid for unless his work sells.

Sage and i have been hanging out next to the woodstove. She has recently taken an interest in building, so she spends a lot of time constructing towers and knocking them down. i've gotten a pretty good head start on my holiday gifts. Crocheting lots of dish clothes, hats, wrist warmers and the occasional fruit, vegetable or dessert.

Sage will be getting mainly handmade gifts again this year. Every time i look on i see some thing i just have to make her. :) So she will be getting flower fairies, gnomes and these cute little pixie bugs that i came across on another website. i inteded to make her one, then two...then somehow i ended up with 6. i'm sure they will make a fun gift surprise for someone. :)

i have finally got my sewing machine (and fabric) back out, and will probably stitch up a few gifts before the year ends. i have several ideas, just need to get started on it.

It's been a good month, although we have all felt the slowing down that comes this time of year. Now that the world outside is sleeping, and i'm no longer consumed with the garden, we sink into a new rhythm and routine. Lots more sitting, reading, and snuggling. Lots of coloring and crafting and dreaming. i just can't imagine doing anything else right now.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cookie time!

In preparation for our Thanksgiving feast, we decided we needed some harvest cookies. .

Sage loves to help bake, and refused all help. She rolled them out and cut them all by herself. i made this apron for her a while ago, and now everyime i start cooking anything..she grabs her apron and yells, " me help! Sagie help too!"

We make cookies in the shapes of fall leaves, and pumkins. Sequoia insisted on a couple bats too. We also cut out basic rounds for the turkey cookies.

Sequoia was bored after about two cookies, but Sage stayed and helped until we were done. We frosted the leaves in Autumn colors of yellow and orange.
Then we worked on decorating our turkeys. Sequoia helped quite a bit with these, assembling the tails while Sage napped. Once she woke, we finished putting them all together.

Sugar cookie Turkeys
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
*Chocolate decorators icing
1 bag candy corn
candy confetti sprinkles.

Beat sugar, butter, shortening, vanilla and eggs in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough 1/8" thick on well floured surface. Cut circles with 2" biscuit cutter for turkey bodies. Use smaller circle to cut turkey heads. i used the back side of a metal icing tip (dip in flour after each use).

Bake 6-8 min. or until very light brown. Remove from pan and cool completely.

*Chocolate decorators icing
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
2 TBSP milk.

mix till smooth.

When assembling turkeys. We decorated the tails and heads first, and let them dry completely. Then we frosted the bodies and added the tails and heads.

To create the tails, cut one 2" cookie in half, frost each half and add 5 candy corns to look like turkey feathers. The candy corns at the bottom, should be level with the edge, as these will help the tails stand up. Let dry completely.

For the Heads, frost and add sprinkles for eyes and the tip of a candy corn for the beak. (We found enough broken ones in the bag, that we didn't have to cut any.) Let dry completely.

To assemble, frost the circle body, place one half circle tail on the cookie, and one head.
That's it! Let them dry and enjoy!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Keeping Warm.

We were hit with the cold weather so early this year, that we realized we didn't have nearly enough wood. We have never had to start burning so early in the year. We really did not want to have to buy wood, but Kenan had already cut and taken almost all of the fallen trees out of the woods and we really prefer not to cut living trees.

Earlier this week, the weather was mild. So we took a hike in the woods, to try and combat the cabin fever we have all been feeling. We decided to go a different way, so Kenan could scope out any usable downed trees on our property. We had just crossed over the little creek behind our house, when we spotted this amazing oak tree that had recently fallen. It's absolutely huge, must have been 80 to 100 feet tall. Just over from this tree was another large fallen oak, that was already very seasoned.

It's difficult to see, but they are standing on the dried and rotted roots of this great oak. These trees will provide our heat for at least the next two winters. It is always a bit bitter sweet to see a tree this size fallen. However, it couldn't have come at a better time. What a blessing.

Before heading back to the house, we hiked down to the creek. There was just a thin layer of ice beginning to form over it. The kids (Kenan included) picked up every rock and stick with an attempt to smash the ice.

i always like trying to capture the reflections, and sense of peace that exists here.

So now the hard work begins. Bringing it up from the woods, the cutting, hauling and stacking. It is a lot of work, but like tending a garden or cooking a meal from scratch, it is well worth it. It is extremely rewarding and satisfying.

During these cold days of winter, there is no place i would rather be than snug in front of the woodstove with a child or two on my lap.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winter on the way...

Winter is definitely on the way. It is has been in the 20's almost all week. A few days ago we went out to gather eggs, and Sage was immediately drawn to the big piles of leaves that had gathered under the oak tree.

What could be more fun then jumping in them, rolling on them, crunching them under the feet and throwing them in the air?

Sage hates having her picture taken, and will almost always turn her head or avoid looking at me if i'm holding the camera. The only way i could get her to pose for a picture was to let her hold a chicken.

Just as we were heading inside it started to snow. Sage though that was pretty exciting. We've seen quite a bit of snow this month, although none of it has stuck. We are preparing for a long cold winter.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Horses at Foster Falls.

My folks visited for the weekend, and so we decided to go back to Foster Falls for the afternoon. Unfortunately, the temps dropped that day and it was really cold. You see that big ugly cloud coming in? That's a cold front blowing in.....Brrrrrrr.

The first place we checked out was the Livery. The kids really liked the horses, and we stopped by to see the horses and find out if they were giving pony rides.

Some of the horses in their stalls.

The kids were both excited to ride a pony. Sequoia really could have ridden a horse instead, but since it was his first time we though he should start off on the pony.

Sage loves ponies, and wasn't scared at all.

After checking out all the horses, we decided to talk a walk down the New River trail, in the opposite direction of last time. We only walked about 1/8 of a mile, before we came to a really nice playground next to the river. So we hung out there and let the kids play, while we all froze. It would have been much more enjoyable, if it hadn't been so freakin cold. :)

Monday, November 3, 2008

We won!

i got such a positive response from Sequoia's gnome costume that i decided to enter it in a 'Green' costume contest that i found online at the site.
We won by a landslide! My wood nymph costume also made runner's up in the adult competition. :)

Wohoo! i'm very excited!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Foster Falls on the New River Trail

After checking out the Shot tower, we headed down the New River trail. We had no idea where we were going, we just planned to hike a few miles along the river, and then hike back.

It was a beautiful hike, but we were a little bummed we couldn't get closer to the new river. The trail was up above the river, and there was no real access to it. The views were gorgeous and we enjoyed seeing all the fall colors.

After hiking for awhile, we finally came to place where we could walk down to the water. It was a really cool area called Foster falls village. This is the Headquarters for the New River Trail State Park. was a kayak rental, a campground, picnic area and even a farm with horses. They have horse back riding rentals, and guided tours.

Sage and Kenan throwing rocks and sticks in the river.

We spent a lot of time here, just playing in the river. There were huge rocks that we could jump across and sit on. The views were unbelievable.

Sequoia looking for critters. We saw a pretty big fish, just hanging out.

This is why we don't have many family pictures. :)

Sage almost took a nap in this tree.

i took way too many pictures of the scenery. It was so hard to chose which to post. We eventually wandered up to see the farm, and let the kids pet the horses. We wandered through the historic village which includes the remains of a depot, hotel, sawmill/gristmill, and iron furnace.There was also a pretty cool amphitheater here, and i'm curious as to what they use it for.

This is the iron furnace built in 1880-81. At its peak, the furnace employed 70 to 80 and produced 12 tons of pig iron each day. The raw iron was brought to the furnace from Wytheville aboard narrow-gauge railroads called "dinky" trains and the finished product went to markets in Baltimore, St. Louis and Cincinnati.

The hike back to the car was fun for everyone, except maybe Kenan. :)
We have really had a lot of fun exploring these areas along the New River Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway. Foster Falls was really an amazing find, and we can't wait to come back again.

The Shot Tower.

The Shot Tower at Jackson Ferry is located along the New River Trail. It is one of those things we pass every time we take a trip to Michigan, and yet have never stopped. It is just off the highway, and really not very far from us. This weekend, we were looking for somewhere new to explore and decided to finally explore the shot tower.

Unfortunately, when we got there we found that it was closed for the season. :( However, we were still able to walk up and take a peek at it.

Sage's favorite part was jumping in all the leaves along the trail leading up to the tower.

It does have some pretty cool history, and you can click the picture to better read the sign.

The kids were not that impressed, but they still stood for a picture. :)