Painting… makes old look new! (ish)

See!? Why toss this cool handmade bench? Paint it!

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A busy week! And happy belated Father’s day to you all!

We found a beautiful barn red color at the local hardware store to paint some of our cinder block outbuildings. The paint was oil based and when we researched the “best paint” for the job we received some conflicting information, so we decided to go ahead with the project. First, we used wire brushes to scrape off excess dirt, then we painted in the cracks with a brush. Finally we rolled over the blocks with a roller. Remember: cinder blocks suck up paint! We used almost a whole can just on the facade of the spring house!

Image         DSCN7412Later, we will paint the trim white. I’ll show ya’ll when it’s finished! 🙂  Image

One problem I ran into was that I couldn’t reach the tippy top! The ground was too unstable for a ladder…

DSCN7414          However… Necessity is the mother of invention!   … meet …

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Sticksponge!!!!

AND DSCN7419                                                                                                                              Stickbrush!!!!!! (because sticksponge broke)

 

 

 

“The only way to get here was to be born here,”

I recently learned that this county along with two neighboring counties (Alleghany and Watauga) were nicknamed the “Lost Provinces” because in the early 20th century they were virtually inaccessible due to the abrupt slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Although they were a part of North Carolina, their trade and transportation were linked with neighboring Tennessee and Virginia, which were more easily accessed.

The Cherokees, Shawnees, and Creeks had hunted this territory for centuries, but the first recorded visit by white men occurred in 1752 when a band of six explorers, led by Augustus Spangenberg, arrived after a harrowing ascent of the Blue Ridge.  Spangenberg, a Moravian bishop from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, had been charged by church elders to find favorable land for a new settlement, and thus his expedition to Carolina.  Spangenberg’s diary described the natural beauty and resources of the land that would later be Ashe, noting especially the fertile soil, wild game, and abundant pasture.  The Moravians moved on, but other settlers began flowing into the region by the end of the 18th century.  Some found their way through the treacherous mountain passes of the Blue Ridge, others came over the Stone Mountains from Tennessee but most traveled along the ‘Great Wagon Road’ through the Shenandoah Valley southward into North Carolina.  These immigrants were mostly English, Scotch-Irish and Germans, who brought with them the culture and music of their homelands, traditions that gradually found fresh expression in the rugged Ashe territory.  Life in the Lost Provinces was strenuous, and early homesteaders were by necessity tough, hard-working and self sufficient.  Winters were harsh and transportation was severely limited; there was no industry, and even rudimentary agricultural implements were rare in the early days.  Doctors were few and mail service was practically nonexistent, but such hardships were mitigated by the lure of adventure and the promise of independence

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Back Home

Well folks it’s been a couple weeks since my last post, and that is because of the simple fact that I’ve been slacking! 🙂  BUT, I’m back with a vengeance, and have much to share. First, in chronological order, was GottaGetGon in Ballston Spa, NY. It was a 7 1/2 hour drive from Virginia, and each of us took a turn driving halfway. BOY, it was great to get off the road!

 

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What a great group of folks who are passionate about musical tradition. The days were full of guest artist concerts and workshops, and everyone would be playing and singing long into the night. One of the highlights of the visit was when one of the families hosted a tasty dinner for mom and myself. It’s not easy making a big meal in an RV! Big thanks to the Kelsey family! And, if you’re reading this, I bought a pack of that delicious Skull Splitter ale for my dad for father’s day! 😉 

After dinner there was a…

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It was a blast. These kinds of dances are great because anyone can do them, and it’s a great way to socialize and get a little exercise! The caller basically tells you what to do, so you don’t need any skill whatsoever.I highly recommend these for kids and adults! 

Thank you GGG for a memorable experience 🙂 

We decided to stay in a hotel on the return trip to split the drive and so we could take it easy a bit! Since we camped out at GGG, we were looking for more comfortable lodgings. We didn’t expect to get this view from our room!

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This is the Woodlands Inn in Wilkes-Barre PA. We were so pleased with the accommodations, we thought about making a special trip back just to stay again. It looked almost like a Japanese garden on the grounds. Image

 

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So all in all, we had a nice trip. The drive was too long, and the weather in New York seems to change at the drop of a dime, but we enjoyed ourselves. 🙂

 

 

Today: Virginia, Tomorrow: New York!

Well I’m back in Virginia, stopping off at the “old homeplace” for the night. Tomorrow we’re headed to Ballston Spa, NY for the “Gotta Get Gon” festival!

“The GottaGetGon is an intimate family folk festival, put on by a small handful of volunteers, and designed for folks who believe that music is part of life. It is a place where grownups, teens, and children can be part of the experience of sharing music, time, and friendship. It’s a special gather’n’ where PSG invites a few select performers to join us for a weekend of fine music.There are workshops and concerts from about 10:00 a. m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday evening there is the biggest family dance you ever saw, and there are a capella sings and informal campground music Friday and Sunday evenings.”

My Momma is one of the performers there, and I am serving as her roadie! It sounds like some good old-fashioned fun, right? 🙂

For more information about GGG, click here. I’ll give a full report when we get back next week.

Have a great memorial weekend!

Whitetop Ramp Festival!

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A wild ramp is an early spring vegetable, a perennial wild onion with a strong garlic-like odor and a pronounced onion flavor. The ramp has strong associations with the folklore of the central Appalachian Mountains. Fascination and humor have fixated on the plant’s extreme pungency. The mountain folk of Appalachia have long celebrated spring with the arrival of the ramp, believing it to have great power as a tonic to ward off many ailments of winter. Indeed, ramp’s vitamin and mineral content did bolster the health of people who went without many green vegetables during the winter. 

Well, I’d never even heard of a ramp until I moved here, so I was anxious to see what all the fuss was about! The festivities included vendors, live bluegrass music, a ramp eating contest, and chicken dinner with taters n’ ramps!

Image                                           Roan Mountain Hilltoppers


 

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These onion-esque veggies are ramps. They tasted like a cross between garlic and onion, and were DELICIOUS!                                 (good thing I love both garlic and onions!)                                                                                                                                               They were nice and crisp, and added a lot of flavor when eaten with the green beans and potatoes.

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We liked ’em so much we even bought some fresh out of the ground. 🙂 Image

These are going to taste great with beans!!

Mamma’s “slim” tea

Well, today I’ve posted twice about food and/or drink, so I figured I’d wrap up the day with another post about my mom’s awesome slimming tea blend she makes when we both feel fat and/or bloated.   🙂

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The rough recipe is:

  • nearly 1 gallon water with 2 to 4 dandelion tea bags 
  • 1 tablespoon cranberry concentrate
  • juice of one lemon
  • dash of stevia to taste 

 

Benefits:

Dandelion root detoxifies the liver, improves digestion and aids weight loss, and it contains calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, vitamins B and C. Cranberry is packed with vitamin C and antioxidants and it’s organic acids aid in weight loss. Lemon juice is a also a digestive aid and liver cleanser. Some folks swear by drinking a glass of warm lemon water every morning before breakfast. I’ve tried to do this but I always forget! 

This drink is very tart, but I grew to enjoy it. Hope you do too!

Tomorrow: THE RAMPS FESTIVAL! 

Greens and beans and cornbread, oh my!

Dinner this evening was so delightful and delicious I had to share:

Local kale, chard and asparagus with raw spring onions on the side.          

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Add some homemade cornbread and pintos, with a little local feta to top the greens, and… you got yourself a feast!

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I’m getting hungry again just looking at it…

 

                                                                                          …*runs to the kitchen*

“Good morning” smoothie

As much as I love a full spread in the morning. these tasty smoothies are a perfect “light” breakfast, and actually quite healthful and easy to make.

Image                                                                                 I’ve fallen in love with coconut manna, which is pretty much just whole mature coconut meat that is dehydrated and then pureed into a “butter”. You get the healthy oil, fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals – everything that you would when you eat coconut. It’s creamy and a little sweet, and can be spread on toast if it’s warmed up a bit. The natural coconut oils make it harden up when it’s colder, but it’s still melt-in-your-mouth yummy! It looks to be about 6 or 7 bucks, the same as almond butter would cost. I recommend you pick up a jar and try it. You can discover many uses for it, or just eat straight from the jar. Anyway, here’s my little recipe:

 

  • 3 tablespoons coconut manna
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 cup nonfat yogurt (plain, vanilla, or strawberry all work depending to your tastes)
  • 2 to 3 overripe bananas

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mix in a food processor or blender until creamy. Serves 2. Enjoy a healthy, energized  morning!

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The good, the bad, and the UGLY

Yes folks, it’s been a mixed bag lately. The good news is I have my garden beds all dug up, cultivated, and ready to go! It seems like folks are just starting to plant now, which is about a month later than I would have suspected, but we are in a different climate zone here, and the winter was particularly harsh this year. I had a weird idea that just might work: just for this season only, I’m going to be using the farm house’s old flower beds as vegetable beds. The house faces south, so the veggies should be getting full sun. We had issues getting a tiller, so I started digging in the garden in the backyard BY HAND, and it was slow going…                                                                                                                       Image                                                                                                                                                                     (this is gonna take awhile…)

 

The pre-established raised flower beds in the front of the house proved to be much easier to manage although they hadn’t been used in years. The soil was nice and loose, and the grass and roots were pretty easy to remove. That got me thinking… why not plant in these beds this year!? When you are winging it, your plans may change at any moment!

ImageImage                                                                                       (pre-clearing)                                                                   (post-clearing)

We also have POWAAH! in the farm house so we can use the shop vac and other tools. We had to have the electric upgraded, and it took a few weeks working with an electrician and the power company to get everything installed just so. Even now, we only have one outlet. The rest of the house has to be brought up to code.                              Image                                                                                                                                                                                            (it’s A-LIVE!)

The bad news, is that we’ve been fighting a battle with 2 foes: carpenter ants and poison ivy. Luckily, carpenter ants are not like termites: they don’t eat wood, they just live in it. We found about a 2ft. area of support beam we need to replace where they have established a nest.

And in ugly news, I’m covered in festering oozing poison ivy blisters! About 50% of each leg and 20% of each arm. Folks, don’t make my mistake, Poison ivy is not to be taken lightly. If you think you got it, wash it right away, and if see a little blister starting to form, wash it and start treating it immediately! DO NOT SCRATCH! I scratched, and now I have disgusting sores I have to wrap up every night because they would leak fluid through my sheets! I’m not even going to post photos of them. You get the idea. Just remember:

Do not f@#$ with this:                                                                                                                                             Image

 

Advice from an old friend

Just reading over some wise advice from an old friend at ibuiltthatbackyardbuilder.com : 

“I want to share a couple things with you guys as you head in to this journey, just a couple things I’ve discovered about building stuff:

1.) Dogged persistence and an irrational sense of self confidence are the most valuable tools you’ll ever own. Creativity, ingenuity and an adventurous spirit are next in line, after that comes a good chainsaw. Don’t skimp on your chainsaw.
2.) There’s always someone showing you how to do it on Youtube.
3.) There are always naysayers saying you can’t do this or that, screw ’em.
4.) Really, don’t skimp on a chainsaw.
5.) Always assume the electricity is going to zap your buns off, the gas is going to blow up in your face and the heavy stuff is going to fall and crush your tootsies.
6.) You can do anything.”

Thanks, friend 🙂