Home Made Turkey Noodle and Greens Soup

One of the things I love about fall is cooking warm soups and stews. Chicken and Turkey noodle soups are one of my favorites and I usually make enough for at least one meal for 4 people and freeze some for a cold no school/no work day in the dark of winter.


Turkey noodle soup with greens  


I make this soup from wild turkey and from store-bought turkey either way it tastes great.In this batch of soup I used the roster chicken stock that I made over the summer and froze.So the flavor is rich and the left overs from several meals come together to make a very nutritious hearty soup.


leftover roasted turkey breast

I start by thawing out 5 cups of chicken stock adding two cups of water and one bullion cube. I bring the broth to a low boil adding spices carrots, onions adding chunked turkey after a about 10 minutes.I then add one half box of frozen thawed spinach about 2/3 of a cup wilted fresh spinach making sure the soup returns to a low boil before adding 1 1/2 cups wide egg noodles. Simmer everything together until the noodles are tender about 13 minutes. It is a fast 25 mintues that tastes better than anything I have ever tasted from a can and is so good for you.


getting ready to add egg noodles to soup


fresh garden garlic adds a deeper rich flavor








Recipe for Turkey Noodle Soup with Greens

5 Cups of Chicken Stock

2 Cups of water

1 Bullion cube

1 Bay leaf

1 tsp. pepper

2 Crushed garlic cloves

1/2 tsp celery seed

1 Cup cut carrots

1 Med onion

2 Cups chunked roasted turkey

2/3 Cup wilted spinach fresh or frozen can change to other tender greens

1 1/2 Cups wide egg noodles.

Bring broth to a simmer add spices carrots and onion cook ten minutes. Add cooked chunked turkey breast and spinach raise temp to boiling add egg noodles and let boil for 13 minutes or until tender. remove from heat and let cool slightly before serving. Makes about 6 to 7 servings and freezes well.

Categories: chicken, Chicken stock, soup, turkey breast, Uncategorized, Wild turkey | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Brighter Side of Appalachian Culture

We are beginning to taking back what is ours in Appalachian Culture. We are becoming trendy these days, with television shows,music programming and with the new food fads. Appalachian is on the rise, our culture and our people are influencing the rest of the nation in our small way. Our culture seems authentic to outsiders and our music, art and food are a new fascination to the world.

Ramps and Potatoes

Wild Ramps and Potatoes ready for the soup pot

Unlike the rest of the modern U.S.,we here in the mountains often live in isolation usually by choice but also by situation,making Appalachia one of a very few remaining places in the country to have a historic culture. Our proud people, who often times have endured ridicule for their “folk ways”, are now finding themselves as authorities in traditional living and organic growing, as master craftsmen.


Finished apple sauce 2013

It is not uncommon for families here to continue to pass on traditions from generation to generation without much change. Time moves more slowly here and family traditions are still highly valued within our communities.Hunting,fishing, foraging and gardening are shared by most everyone know matter the age or sex.These things are family activities that every person takes part in together.Maybe only the men hunt but the woman butcher,can and freeze what is brought home. Maybe only granny forages but the men help make wine, dry or sell the roots and berries that are gathered. Children often help in the garden and in the cleaning and canning process. Everyone is expected to help when the time comes to put up or preserve what the family eats and sells.

Cody Powers with his 8 point buck Nov 2013

Cody Powers with his 8 point buck Lewis County,WV

What is it that the outside world finds so fascinating? I think that they are seeing that our small towns have character unlike the cookie cutter mall style of the big metro cities. I think that people like to see pretty and clean places, but often bore of sterile cement filled cities. People today are not just looking for the glossy fake fun of Las Vegas but are wanting to travel to see art, hear music and eat food that is real and authentic to a people. Our culture is hidden between hills and hallows, it takes time to find, it is not served up fast or easy and you maybe distracted by the lack of cell phone service. Here you have to take the time to get know our people and fall in love with the old buildings.

front porch of the Hutte Swiss Restaurant, Helvetia, WV

Front Porch of the Hutte Swiss Restaurant , Helvetia, WV

One of several ways that people are learning about Appalachia is through our sharing our cultural heritage with outsiders through tourism. Celebrating our past has become one of the most important ways we have developed economic growth. Sharing skills or knowledge about how to make beautiful things like quilts, and music that is not often heard outside the hills is of a draw for many. Even taking a steam engin train ride in the woods is how Appalachia to linking the present to the past.

Christopher playing along with a lap dulcimer

Lap Dulcimer being played at Fort New Salem.

Our communities are not perfect, they don’t fallow any larger drawn out plan. At times they are dingy and rusted and show wear from years of use.Our towns appear simple, quaint or plain but have survived the changes created from the loss of industry and the harsh terrian.  Appalachians are hard-working folk that share a belief in a higher power, in our speech, our homes and in our music. We create images of what we love most often times on quilts, in a paintings and photography.The subjects of our art are often the forest,the wild life and beautiful water ways that surround us.Appalachians are a people of the land and live according to what happens with that land.


Heritage Quilt Block Trail mural ready to be installed. Created by JoLynn Powers, AmeriCorps members and community volunteers in Elkins WV.



Presbyterian  Church on the Davis and Elkins College Campus, Elkins West Virginia with Christopher

As people rediscover their connection to land and environment they rediscover Appalachia and her heritage and history.It is a good day for my culture when people  begin to see the value of clean food locally grown, wild plants and animals that are free from steroids and antibiotics.

Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV, Bank, Courthouse, Store and home

Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV, Bank, Courthouse, Store and House

West Virginia and all of Appalachia is seeing an appreciation from the outside world that has not happened since settlers first moved west from the cities of the north in 1700 and 1800’s. Let our slow growth, folk ways and home-grown food continue to be a reason for people to find the magic that is Appalachia. She has something to offer all of us and I hope to be part of it.



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The Iron rails of Cass Scenic Railway

As a lover of smoke, steel and railroads it is hard to resist spending time at Cass, West Virginia.A state park devoted to our state’s logging history. An artist and photographer’s dream location and  my three-day stay was not nearly enough time to explore the logging camp town and her Shay Engines and the beauty of the West Virginia mountains.

As a birthday present to my son Christopher, we chose to spend a long weekend at a preserved logging camp house at Cass State Park and ride the steam train to Bald Knob. The trip is about a 4 hour train ride through the wilderness,a stop for lunch,and final stop for sightseeing on one of the highest points in the state. Christopher has loved trains for all of his 8-year-old life so what better way to let him experience what life was like in the train age then to stay in a logging camp and ride the trains at Cass.

This post could be about all the history we enjoyed while staying in a preserved logging town or descriptions of all the different engines, equipment and cars. I could try to encourage you to take a ride up the mountain and see 3 three different states from the observation tower at Bald Knob. I could say that we all had a wonderful time and plan to go back and spend 5 days next time,or I could just let the photos of this place vividly explain why Cass, West Virginia is so wonderful. So, here are some of my favorite photos of a couple of sunny days in a logging town.


Rows of Sate Park logging houses on the main road into Cass State Park.

Driving into Cass along the main road are the logging Camp houses that the state has converted into rental houses for tourists and residential housing for local workers.


The House we rented while we stayed at Cass State Park.

Each house has a small yard and two porches, one in front and one in back. The house where we stayed had three upstairs bedrooms and living, dining and kitchen fully stocked with everything but food.


The general store is now a gift shop.

The community of Cass had a general store and a restaurant for residents. The store is now a gift shop and ice cream parlor but the restaurant remains.


Sign on the restaurant at Cass State Park

The community still has a church, a working Police Station, Jail and a working Barber Shop.A community building still holds events in the fall and winter months. Then below the general store is the train station, where all the trains board and depart for the winding mountains.


Shay Engine #2 getting ready to depart for the first trip of the day to Whitaker station.

We learned a lot about Shay Engines on the ride to Bald Knob and could not believe that we had used 4 tons of West Virginia Coal to get up the steep mountain grade to Bald Knob.  It takes two engines to push visitors up the mountain and only one to lower us back down.This day the Number# 2 and the Number# 4 engines were pushing (not pulling) the seven passenger cars.


Loading Coal in the early morning at the Cass Steam Works.


This is the kind of smoke we all hope to see when riding steam engines up a mountain.


Smoke from two Shey Engines pushing our train up the hill to Whitaker Station.

While at Whitaker station everyone is able to leave the train and explore the first of two logging landings. This one has several pieces of logging equipment on display and some of the shanty buildings that people used to stay overnight in the mountains. There’s a snack bar,pick-nick tables for lunch and nice bathrooms here at the first stop up the mountain.

After another short ride you reach the top and see the most wonderful sight of the whole trip the view from Bald Knob and the viewing deck.


View of the observation deck and West Virginia Skyline at Bald Knob landing, destination of Cass Scenic Railroad


View from the observation deck at Bald Knob. Three states are seen from the deck,West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky.


Rental caboose at Bald Knob where you can stay for a week or weekend.

When the train rides are over you can explore the remaining portions of Cass State Park. We spent our evening roasting marshmallows near the remains of the burned out saw mill that produced the lumber that kept the town alive. burned-out-sawmill-at-sunset Sunset over old lumber mill.


Sawmill belt drives left on their mounts to rust away at Cass State Park

The following morning we spent a couple of hours getting to see the inside of several buildings and the machine Shop where the old engines are repaired and kept running. Over the course of several years the State of West Virginia has added to their collection of Shay engines and now has five that they either use for display or work on the rails at the park.


Christopher in front of a Climax engine in the shop for repairs


Open boiler of an engine in the Cass work shop

This part of the tour was possibly Christopher’s favorite part of the weekend. He was able to get up close to the engines and touch and learn about how they are made and repaired. We learned why Shay engines are so unique and why there are so few left in the world today. They were an engine made just for climbing the short steep hills and deep valleys of our mountains and were never meant to go fast, so they make perfect train engines for sight-seeing.


Retired diesel engine in the weeds along the river at Cass WV


Back end of a wheel milling machine left out in the weeds in Cass WV

Our time at Cass and the logging camp house was just too short. We could have spent a couple of more days exploring and photographing the town and the rusted hulks of metal that the railroad has abandoned over the years. We should have spent more time walking the Greenbrier Trail that runs through Cass along the Greenbrier River.Christopher wanted to eat more marshmallows at the community camp fire and I just wanted to sleep in the antique bed just one more night before going home.


Father and son lesson on how to skip stones on the Greenbrier River at Cass WV

So as we packed to head home both Christopher and I asked Tom, if we really had to go home… it felt like the fun had just begun and we had to leave. So Tom’s advice was to plan to stay longer next time… .and I am betting we will.







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The Return of “Doc” Holiday

Please forgive me for not writing more the last month. It seems as if I have taken on a little more than I should have and the main reason is “Doc”.


Our new Redbone Coonhound Puppy “Doc” Holiday 8 weeks old

Doc is a 8 week old Redbone Coonhound who has stolen my house and my heart. We have been waiting over two years for his breeder to have another litter of pups. So I was overjoyed to be contacted by our friend that they had puppies again and I could finally get my very own hound.

Ok, so it is true that very best coonhounds are bred in Appalachia and the top two in the nation are from West Virginia or Kentucky. It might be the terrain or the population of raccoons that keeps this breed’s history so closely linked to the mountains. But this breed of dog is such a good reflection of who we are that you often judge the character of the man based on how he treats his dogs. In my part of the world often times a grown man will cry like a baby when a hunting dog dies or is killed. Often the dogs are raised as family and are more trusted than most humans and only surpassed by the trust a man will have in a rifle or shotgun. The love of the Hill Billy is deep, their loyalty is unwavering and their ability to work hard and fight to win is just like their dogs.

Hounds have been scent hunting these hills and hollows for generations and it is not uncommon to hear the bay of hounds ringing out for miles in the night. It is truly not a bark at all, but a cry from way down deep and is instinctual, nothing taught. It is the sound a hunter waits for, the dog is saying to his master “Come running we have something for you.”

Here in West Virginia there are three typical coonhounds, the Redbone, the Treeing Walker, and the Blue Tick. All three have the same typical look of a hound but coloring is different. Each have a voice that is unique and hunters know their dog miles away by the sound of the bay they make. If trained properly the dogs once on a treed coon, will remain at the bottom a tree for hours guarding the coon until help arrives.

The reason I love them is not about hunting really,but about their personality. Hounds like the stereotypes portray, are big, silly, loving, dogs that are tolerant of children who play too rough and of cats who often times get rolled into balls on the floor as the hound forces games of chase.Their love of family and protectiveness make them wonderful alarm systems without the deeper fear of being known as bitters. They have huge hearts and are willing to do most anything asked of them. If you can keep them from being distracted by the powerful noise that God gave them.


Sleepy Puppy ready for a nap

The Redbone Coonhound breed is the grandfather breed to the more well known Bloodhound and was first developed by Irish immigrants in the 1700’s. The long floppy ears play a major role in how well the dog can track and the longer the ears the better, fanning scent to the noise with every lunging step. Some would refer to the hound breed as having a one track mind because everything comes second to their sense of smell and many dogs get lost do to the fact that hunters and families forget that they go wherever their noise leads them, sometimes that is right to the local dog pound.

They are social dogs and love to spend time with their owners. They are active and enjoy being outdoors doing physical activities like running and swimming. My Doc’s sire is a grand champion water dog and could out swim almost every person I know. He loves to track through streams and ponds and has webbed toes on all four feet. So does Doc and we will soon learn if he likes to swim.

So as you can see I have been busy…and will be for a few more months as we get through house training and teething, but I will keep you posted on our adventures together. I hope you enjoy the photos and I am sure to take tons more of the silly guy as we train him.

There is nothing in the world better for a boy then the love of a good dog.




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A National Quiet Zone and a National Radio Telescope.

I maybe the last remaining member of my family to not have a smartphone. But when traveling to Green Bank, W.V.  and the National Radio Telescope Science Center, I am not alone. This 13,000 acres of land inside the Monongahela National  forest is designated as A National Quiet Zone. Residents in the area are not allowed to use cell phones, WIFI is strictly prohibited,and families are not even allowed to use microwave ovens. I am thinking, I should move to Green Bank and go back in time to a place where things were different and people actually talked to each other. A time when life was slower and communication took hours not seconds.


Green Bank,West Virginia and the world’s largest steerable radio telescope.

Many people who live in the Green Bank area either love the reason for the Quiet Zone or they hate it. Green Bank, West Virginia is home to the largest  steerable radio telescope in the world. The technology is so sensitive that they could pick up a cell phone signal on Mars and when researchers received that information back on earth, they would think that your phone was the loudest radio signal in outer space.It is hard to wrap my brain around that but, that means cell phones are the “Devil” to these researchers and their work. So I feel like I may have found my “People”. These families, researchers, farmers and public employees all live in a world that is more reminiscent to the 1940’s and 1950’s then 2016. Maintenance workers at the research center are not even allowed to have gas powered engines on the astronomy property. The researchers all drive diesel vehicles so they do not have spark plugs firing near the telescope. The spark sends out  a signal to the telescopes sensitive receivers.


Green Bank Science Center National Radio Astronomy Observatory

So this holiday weekend my family decided to explore the Green Bank Science Center and finally see the huge radio telescope for ourselves. I have just enough of a nerd in me to find the study of astronomy very fascinating and  always jump to the chance to learn more. This research center is only about two hours from our house and is hidden in a rural mountain community so the trip was not only to see the telescope but spend the rest of the weekend in a small community called Cass.Cass State Park is home to  a scenic Railroad with several passenger trains that run year around. We spent the following day riding the trains up into the beautiful forests of Pocahontas  County for a restful day of sight seeing.How could we beat two great locations to visit about 15 minutes apart.

When you arrive at the Green Bank Science Center you are able to spend several hours exploring the building and grounds before actually taking a bus ride out to see the telescope up close. They have a nice interactive exhibit hall with activities for people of every age to explore. Tom, Christopher and I played with all kinds of fun devices that explained different things that they study at the science center. We took inferred photos of each other, played with mirrors and light reflections, put together huge puzzle pieces and got to see a scale model of the telescope that was beautiful.We walked around the grounds looking at some of the historic telescopes  and checked out a scale solar system display.


JoLynn Powers at the Green Bank,West Virginia Science Center Exhibit Hall


Green Bank,West Virginia Tom and Christopher are my favorite Aliens!


After our lunch and time in the exhibit hall we were allowed to photograph the telescope outside on a wooden landing area just out back of the main building. This would be the last location that digital photos would be allowed.Even the smallest click from a digital camera can disturb the radio waves near the telescope, so we packed away our cameras as we boarded a small tour bus to see the megalith up close. In a matter of minutes we were within a couple hundred yards of the huge structure. Watching the huge dish move into position for recording the data that a scientist needed that day was hypnotic. It is hard to explain how quite the telescope is when it moves. We stood only 50 yards from the large base of the telescope yet you could not hear a sound of any movement. How lonely it feels to be in the dishes huge shadow and how little I feel when I think about the fact that this telescope is looking not just at our solar system but ones hundreds of millions of miles away.


photo from last safe point before entering the restricted camera area

After we returned to the bus and traveled back to the main building it was time to spend a few dollars on a nerdy telescope t-shirt and cool toys for Christopher at the gift shop. I also got the schedule of coming events. The science center hosts many child friendly events throughout the year and we hope to try to come back for some of them so ….. Christopher ( not his mom ) can learn more about space, the planets and the world we live in.  This very inexpensive trip  has to be the coolest thing I have done all summer.


Roof and view from visitors center of the Green Bank Science Center.

Just as a side note, I love metal structures of all kinds, bridges, towers, old piles of rusted junk, cranes, old ships, radar dishes and now radio telescopes.This man made aluminum dish is the most fascinating object I think I have ever seen. Its sheer size,the dish is larger than a football field across and around 2 acres is surface space, the height is taller than the statue of liberty and makes me want to take hundreds of photos. I love its maze of bright white structural supports with so much open spaces to look through. I could have spent most of my day just watching it slowly move on its 6 legs with 12 feet tall steel wheels that support the 8,500 tons or 170,000,000 pounds. I will one day return to spend more time with a film camera so that I can take photos really close up and enjoy sitting it the shadow of a giant.

For more information about the Green Bank Radio Telescope please check out their Website at NRAO and plan to visit one of West Virginia’s most undiscovered treasures.





Categories: Green Bank NRAO, historic locations, Monongahela National Forest, Pocahontas County, rural life, Science Center, State Park activities, trains, Travel, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Exploring the National Parks System on it’s 100th Birthday, Aug 25th 2016.

It is in the woods that I find peace and my spirit is rejuvenated. It is in the forest of my beloved West Virginia that I rejoice that we live in a country that values and protects the most unusual of our natural resources. It is in our countries wisdom that they have saved millions of acres of land and miles of waterways for future generations.

West Virginia is one of the states that does not have a fully designated National Park. So for this August 25th celebration I want to share a vision of one of my  states protected National Forests, Monongahela National Forest. This unique forest ecosystem is preserved at the national level within the National Park System along with West Virginia’s  National Rivers, The New River,and Blue Stone, Two National Recreation Areas,The Gauley River National Recreation Area and Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area, a National Historic Park at Harper’s Ferry and of course a National Scenic Trail the Appalachian Trail. All of these locations are protected for future generations buy the National Parks System of the United States of America.


cotopaxi_national_parks_x2_v04 (1)

The Monongahela National forest represents a wide verity of rare and unique ecosystems, natural wonders, beautiful vegetation, and abundant wild life. It is here within the forest that my family and I have spent hundreds of hours exploring, searching for that rare moment when the outside world disappears and  nothing remains but the sights, sounds and smells of nature.

This National Forest comprises roughly a million acres of forest land in West Virginia. An approximate 1.3 million visitors come to the Monongahela National Forest each year.The forest spreads across the Southern portion of the state from the city of  White Sulfur Springs to the Northern border of West Virginia to Maryland state line. With the main body of the forest residing on the Eastern side of the state, along US Highway 219.

Within West Virginia’s largest National Forest there is a long list of natural wonders. Some I have photographed over the years and others are still a mystery to me. Some are easy to access and others are miles from civilization. So with the help of my family I have had the pleasure of seeing much of the forest and can share just a few of the wonderful sights that I have explored over the years.

Stuarts Park campground, picnic area. DSC00023

Stuarts Park has several CCC built covered pavilions with in the Monongahela National Forest. Also located within a mile of the campground/ park pavilions is Bickel Knob Observation Tower where it is possible to see about 1/3 of the National Forest and the surrounding towns.

Bickle Knob observation Tower in the the morning sun randolph county West Virginia 2016

The trip up this tower early in the morning lets us see over six different ridge tops and two small towns.

Christopher and JoLynn on top of Bickles Knob observation tower last days of summer 2016


The Bowden Fish Hatchery is where the local brook trout, brown trout and the West Virginia Golden Trout are brooded for release all over the state.

Tom Christopher at the Bowden Fish hatchery 2016

We fish in the many streams and rivers in the forest. My son learns to cast at Shavers Fork of the Cheat River.DSC00172

Exploring Smoke Hole Caverns on a hot summer afternoon is a treat.To spend a couple of hours under ground exploring the caves is one of my families favorite summer time trips.


Smoke Hole Caverns entrance


The slow drip of the Smoke Hole Caverns ceiling

All of these amazing locations are within the National Forest but what I am most fond of is the simple quiet beauty that we see as we forage and hike through the woods.

mushrooms on stump Monongahela National Forest

Mushrooms growing on a tree stump near Bear Haven Campground


Young horse at home on public grazing land at Monongahela National Forest

queenann lace with blue flowers summer 2016

Summer wildflowers along a forest service road in the Monongahela National Forest

wildflowers Monongahela National Forest Elkins WV

Wet wildflowers at Stuarts Park, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia



Cheat Mountain Salamander takes visitors on rides through hundreds of miles of the Monongahela National Forest. This is my favorite way to see the sights.

This train ride is headed for Green Bank and the National Radio Observatory where in the middle of the Monongahela Forest is the darkest place in West Virginia. It is the perfect location for star-gazing with professional astronomers. This is where my family and I finally got to see the Milky Way with our bare eyes.

As you can see I love my state, love my Forest and am excited to be included in this centennial  celebration. Thanks to Cotopaxi Company  for inviting me to take part in the festivities in my small way. I am proud to share with all of you the great work that Cotopaxi is doing all around our world and how one company with a mission can change the world one backpack at a time. I am so glad that their company supports and loves the outdoors as much a I do. Thanks for reminding us all about how important our Nation Park System is and what would be lost without our ability to explore and enjoy to great outdoors. Again Thank you Cotopaxi for letting me join in the fun!

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Camping, Cheat Mountain Salamander, family fun, Hardwood forest, hiking, Monongahela National Forest, mushroom hunting, natural resources, Potomac river, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Always Shop with a Tape Measure

So I have become one of the THOSE WIVES. Not the kind of wife who shops and spends behind my husbands back or a wife who hovers over her children…. but the one who buys furniture that is toooo big for the room where it will reside. You would think that after being a furniture sales woman I would have remembered that nothing in a furniture store looks that big until you get it home. Yea, well it really did not look that big in the store!

So this post actually started almost 6 months ago and is just now coming to an end. Early this spring my older brother contacted me to let me know that he was coming out to visit us in October. He planed to bringing some things of our mothers to me when he visited. The only draw back to this plan was I had no bed for him to sleep in and would need to get one before he arrived.

So around March I began the second search in 4 years for a NEW headboard (the last  bed  crashed to the ground) and again didn’t finding anything I liked. I returned to the idea of finding something used and fixing it up. I did find something I liked at a used furniture store and everything went down hill from there.

What I found was a lovely 4 post cherry bed and a nightstand for about a 3/4 less than the retail price and it was in great shape. I jumped at the bed/night stand combo not even consulting my husband more than “This is what I am buying” and “when can you come pick it up”? I never even ask him the questions of “do you like it?”or “will it fit?” I just found the owner and said”this one is sold!”

So I was happy… I got a wonderful new/used bed that was nicer then anything we had bought in the past. My brother would have a quest bed with the headboard Tom had made me.Little did I know I would not be this happy in a matter of a few days.

We got the two pieces home and began to realize the error of my judgement when Tom took measurements to see how everything would fit in the room. His face told the whole story…. You could see it as he entered the kitchen shaking his head “it will not fit.” My heart sank… “You have to be kidding me?”

master bedroom with bed

moving the new furniture into the freshly painted room

So as you can see we did the only thing you can do when you do not shop with a tape measure.You steal the master bed room back from your seven-year old son.Then begin the long process of  repainting and redoing the two rooms again( just painted when we moved in about a year ago).This time with the promise that I would not buy any more furniture for the next few years.

Master bedroom

finished Master Bedroom with new bed and paint

The rooms are turning out very nice.The bed looks great and I am lucky to have a room big enough for it. Christopher is happy because we are doing a lot of kid friendly work to the room. We pulled up the old carpet and sanded,stained and sealed the floors so he can play more with this train collection. We are adding stars and a glow in the dark moon to the ceiling and a few puffing clouds to the walls.

tearing out old carpet

removing the old carpet and padding showing green walls

tom sanding christophers floors

Tom sanding the hardwood floor in the freshly painted room for Christopher

We should have Christopher moved back into his room in about a week and I can finally get a chance to set up my quest room. Lets just hope that it is all finished soon or my brother may not have a place to sleep.

The moral to the story is do not let a wife shop for furniture with out a tape measure. It may save you lots of time and money in the long run. 

Hope all of you are having a great end of summer and I will be writing more as soon as this project is over as every extra time I have has been spent either sanding or painting the mistake I made away.










Categories: DIY projects, funny stories, furniture, Home Decor, home remodeling | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

The Better Mouse Trap

Today after 4 days of use I have to share my feelings about the Tomcat Live Mouse Trap.I rarely write a product review but for this product I am making an exception.After years living on a farm, in the country and now on the edge of town we have had our fair share of mice. Having field mice sneak into your house, barn, or garage is nothing to be ashamed of and is in some cases expected, animal feeds draw the darn things.

So over the years we have tried to control them with every trap or poison on the market, with mixed results. Most of the time the poison worked for the summer and was gone by fall and a new crop of mice moved into the feed shed for the winter.Making us constantly buy more product that is dangerous to use around dogs, cats and kids. We tried several snap type of traps with some luck but they miss many times and make a mess with the mouse that does get caught.Often times you are just refilling the trap night after night with the mouse stealing the bait… That makes me mad!

Then we tried glue traps in the house…. DO NOT DO IT!!! it is the most heart wrenching experience to have a mouse caught and start screaming for dear life at two in the morning. The glue is a very sticky surface and once caught the mouse is stuck and not able to move. You can’t even pull the darn little guys free from the glue to get them to stop shrieking. Then what do you do with the trap? A live animal that you trapped is stuck in glue and still trying to free itself? You can’t save it now covered in glue, you don’t want it in the house, so you end up tossing a live mouse into the trash or out the back door so you can stop thinking about the worst mistake you have made that day.

You can get large live traps but most of them are too large for a field mouse. I have also seen the price on live traps for mice at 20 bucks at the feed store. So when a mommy mouse found my dishwasher insulation the perfect place to have here babies, the trap problem was on again. I had no idea how many mice we had in the house but we were pretty sure their were more than one. So while out looking for traps I came across the Tomcat live trap at a CVS drug store. For 6 dollars I bought my first live mouse trap.

I really did not expect much from the very simple design based on a lever and fulcrum principle. I set the trap…(no snapped  fingers with this design) added the peanut butter to the bait cover and placed on the floor of the kitchen that evening.The trap door is placed in the open position with the little legs standing on the floor to keep the door open and you walk away.


Close up of trap door on Tomcat live mouse Trap


Side view of Tomcat live trap this shows bate tray that is placed in the back of trap with peanut butter


The following morning the door was closed and the weight of the trap indicated I had a mouse in the trap. No SCREAMING, NO GLUE MESS…. just a heavy trap that  I took out in the back yard and opened and shook. Out popped a very hot, sweaty, tiny field mouse who hopped off into the tall grass in the field behind the house. Inside the trap was a few mouse droppings that I washed with the sink sprayer and let dry for few minutes before resetting the trap.


Back of Tomcat live mouse trap with bait tray

I followed this routine 4 nights in a row… and got a mouse every single night. All with the same trap and peanut butter. The only problem was remembering to check the trap to see if it needed dumping. I washed the trap today and will set it again tonight with hopes that this is the last of the mice. But even if it does not catch a mommy mouse I have found a fast,clean, noise free way to get rid of the mice. I do not have to worry about the kids getting into a snap trap or into poison that could really hurt them and for 6 dollars I have found a trap that I can use over and over. So now you know why I am pleased to share this product with all of you.

If I was going to rate this product I would call it excellent. I like the design, the easy set up with no snapping parts. I love that it is easy to remove the mouse and supper easy to clean up after each use. Set up is fast and it is easy to tell if the trap is full I found it to worth every penny of the 5.99 plus tax.I have caught 5 mice so far!!











Categories: Country life, family health, Farming, mice, rural life, traps | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

DIY, Roaster Chicken Stock, Bone Broth

Thanks to a meeting at work and the 35 people who attended I was able to make roster chicken stock. I normally only make stock from beef or deer bones because I rarely have more than a few bones at a time when we eat chicken. But with the remains of 5 roaster chickens it was time for a winter’s worth of chicken broth.

Everyone who cooks knows that we should all make our own Bone Broth or Chicken Stock and the benefits that come from taking the time to do it. Not only does simple homemade chicken stock make cooking easier, having only to thaw it to make a delicious sauce or  base for soups it  also gives the body a nutrient rich base to draw from.

I personally make my stock not only with bones but left over meat and vegetables.I kind of clean out the refrigerator when doing this kind of cooking… knowing that everything I put into the stock will add flavor and nutrition. In this case I had 6 small carrots, 1 large onion, 6 stalks celery, and about a half of a head of cabbage and 5 carcases of roster chickens. I added enough water to the chicken bones to cover and topped then with 3 more inches of water. I put the vegetables in and added 3 tablespoons salt, 4 bay leaves and 3 teaspoons Rosemary  and simmered the mixture for 3 hours.Bone Broth is usually cooked for up to 12 hours to the point where the bones are brittle.


Chicken stock.. with celery, onion, carrots and cabbage.

After letting the stock cool for over an hour I began the long process of straining the stock. I first pulled out the vegetables. I have a ladle style strainer for this kind of work. Then poured the remaining broth through a strainer into several bowls. This help removes the rosemary and bay leaves and the smaller bones and random meat chucks. I covered the stock and placed three bowls of stock in my refrigerator to finish cooling and letting the chick fat that raised to the top. Around 24 hours later I took the stock out and removed the chicken fat that had raised to the top and hardened. Leaving the gelatin that forms from boiling the bones in the stock… this is the natural collagen that is so good for our health and healing.  Then warmed the stock and mixed the jelly back into the broth and when just warm poured into freezer containers.


30 cups of homemade chicken stock from 5 roster chicken carcasses.

I ended up with 6 containers of stock with each container holding 5 cups of broth. The broth will remain fresh for up to 6 months. The first time the weather cools I am sure Christopher and I will be making chicken soup or chicken gravy made with this homemade broth.Knowing that we are eating food that not only tastes good but is good for you.



Categories: chicken, health, soup, soup, wellness | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

Elkins Main Street Creates a Heritage Quilt Block Trail

Following in the same tradition as Barn Quilt Trails of other rural counties, Elkins Main Street begins the process of creating their own Heritage Quilt Block Trail. Located within the downtown historic district of Elkins, West Virginia, community groups come together to support public art and beautification.

With guidance from the Pocahontas County Arts Counsel, The Pen2Paper.org web site “How to Make a Barn Quilt” and many local artist and supporters, we have gathered the best information possible on how to build our own quilt block murals. The four large 8X8 foot painted panels represent 4 traditional quilt patterns used in Appalachian quilts of the area. The large panels will be mounted on the outside of downtown buildings, have an interpretive  map made up of other quilt blocks locations and tell the story of the historical significance of each pattern when all four are completed.

The patterns painted on the blocks represent things that are commonly found in West Virginia and bring to mind the beauty and tradition of quilt making in our local history. The first pattern that is now finished is the “Maple Leaf” pattern.  This brightly colored quilt block will be the first to be installed in the downtown. It will be proudly displayed on the brickwork of the Elkins YMCA. Working on these panels we have members of the local Generation Randolph business development group, service members from AmeriCorps,  Mountain Arts District members and a team from Youthbuild who all work together to prepare and paint the 8 foot X 8 foot panels.AmeriCrops working on Hertiage Quilt Block Panels

Service Members of AmeriCorps: Dominic Piacentini, Molly Greenhouse, Kate Sammons and JoLynn Powers

The second pattern is the traditional pattern of the “Log Cabin”, with the center being bright red to symbolize the heart of every home. It is the most common pattern of all the ones we are making for the trail.

The Third pattern is the Pine Tree that students at Youth Build, a local technical school, are taking on a large portion of the painting as part of their training.

The fourth and final pattern is the “West Virginia Star” with bold Blue and Gold Coloring.


Mountain Arts District members Anne Beardslee, Josie Cuda, Frank Cuda and Dominic Piacentini

The Heritage Quilt Block Trail of Elkins will add a warm, friendly feel to downtown that will encourage people to spend more time in the area.The trail is also a way for the public to get involved in making the town more beautiful, remind the public of our unique history and enjoy art in a public setting.

As the project finishes up and the murals are mounted on buildings around downtown, I hope to document their final placement.I hope to do a presentation with photos and Powerpoint about what we have learned, what we did right and wrong, and how it affects the people of Elkins. Maybe making a small statement about the power of art and how it can bring a community together.

Categories: AmeriCorps, Art, community service, DIY projects, Elkins Main Street, Elkins West Virginia, public art, quilts | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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