hobbies

Appalachian Food, Trend or Tradition?

So after appearing on the TV show State Plate where my family was featured making traditional Appalachian foods and now that CNN’s Anthony Bourdain  has traveled to West Virginia in his show Explore Parts Unknown, I am a little confused if the food of my home is now trendy or traditional? I wonder what it is that we as people are looking for when we have come back and taken the simple county food that my family eats and made it trendy.

I wonder if our nation has had so much world food exposure that we are looking for something that is truly American, something with traditions and stories that reflect our basic American history. Many Americans have never eaten self butchered meats, home-made breads,home canned fruits and veggies from the garden. So to these people my family and the mountain communities that surround me seem novel. Yet, I view myself and my way of living as traditional to Appalachia and not unique in any way. In reality it is not unique to most  Americans either, just forgotten for a few generations.

Christopher and Cody picking Pumpkins with Paige on the way to pick them up

Christopher and Cody picking pumpkins and Paige on the way with the wagon

Food is just one aspect of a life here that is lived believing you will only be able to count on your family and yourself in an uncertain future. Families still raise gardens to provide valuable nutrition, they hunt, fish and forage as a normal part of the seasons. They can and dry foods for the winter and share the bounty with those they know and love. It is simple and direct to make food from what is growing near by. It saves money and is better for you because it is less likely to have chemicals and pesticides.  It only seems odd or novel to outsiders who would never think of eating wild rabbits or making your own wine from plants that grow like weeds. It also takes skills that many have forgotten over the generations. They say time stands still in the hills, so in this way we are fortunate to have kept the skills alive.

To my surprise, I was recently invited to be part of a historical “Foodways” museum exhibit at the Beverly Heritage Center  in Beverly, West Virginia. I shared some of my families recipes and our way of preparing several items that have been in the family for generations. I even shared some of the cooking tools we use for the display, some being over 60 years old.

BHC cooking display board

As part of the display the Museum created this panel about my family’s food history. It will be on display for the summer placed on a dinner table with 5 other panels. Each one sharing a Appalachian food story and a couple of recipes. Then during opening day Jenny the curator of the project will serve several of the foods that the families have shared with her during the collection process. I hope to make the apple sauce cake for her and the visitors and share some more of my families stories. The exhibit opens June 9th in the lobby of the Beverly Heritage Center in Beverly, West Virginia. 

After my interview with Jenny, I began to reflect on the resent fascination with our rural foods. Our interview reminded me of why country families and mountain communities have such attachments to their food. Food is the link to each other and the communities that they value. As Jenny and I chatted, I found myself saying that it is often times food that brings us all together. It is church dinners and family holidays, birthdays and funerals, fairs and festivals, that whole communities will gather together to share in someones pain or celebration. Our foods are about nourishment, not only of the body but of the soul. We have family time, say Grace, and keep in touch with friends, families all with food. It is these connections with food that is different in the world today. Today’s families rarely sit down at the table to eat a meal together. Holiday meals are not home-made anymore. Never allowing everyone to get involved in the preparations.  Here in Appalachia often we know who butchered the meat, made the beer and wine that we toast with, know the woman who made the jams, jellies and the children who made the cookies sitting on the table our Thanksgiving table.

Today people have no idea what the ingredients are in their food or even how they  are grown or raised. Kids eat in the car and we get milk in plastic bottles. We have lost touch with the joy of our food.

Appalachian food is about being authentic and natural, full of stories and traditions. Sometimes it is fancy and other times it is simple and filling, but it is often more about who you share a meal with then the food on the plate that is important.

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Categories: About me, canning, cooking, country cooking, Country life, Dandelions, family traditions, Foraging, Hand Pies, history, hobbies, Holidays, Jam, State Plate TV show, West Virginia, wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Irony is Not Lost on Me, As a Dyslexic Writer

Jolynn and Christopher

people who love us don’t see our disabilities just our ability to love. JoLynn with Christopher the youngest son

 

I am always grateful and surprised when I find that one of my blog posts is liked or posted on a Face Book page. It makes me feel like I am reaching all of you and writing in a way that others can relate to.The irony of this entire blogging adventure is that I have a learning disability commonly known as Dyslexia.That problem should prevent me from even attempting to be a blogger, let alone a published writer. My dyslexia is actually in the form of dysgraphia very similar to dyslexia but my problem effects….. writing words and spelling rather than reading them….  ironic don’t you think?

My mind finds it very  difficult to memorize or recall the correct order of letter and number sequences. Things just jumbled up in the brain and come out any possible way but the correct way.Making writing a slow process. It may seem strange that I would take up writing as my favorite hobby where I battle with my limitations so much. The irony is that I get a lot of attention and positive feed back from my writing.

This week I was informed that a blog post/story I have written had been republished on a regional Web Magazine. The MiBurg website usually shares stories that are from the Eastern panhandle of the state in the area of New Martinsburg but this time the theme of my  post was about the entire state and about the AmeriCorps that work in the those areas. The post “The Secret to West Virginia No-profits: Collaboration” was a post about my work and I never thought it would go farther than my blog, my work Face Book page and maybe a local Web Magazine Elkinite. If you are looking for the story on Elkinite or MiBurg look unders the tab IDEAS, thanks!

So as I  look on my situation, where the battle of words is a blessing and I curse, I wonder if others with disabilities feel the same way as I do. I often feel that it makes no sense at all  that  I am writing and getting followers to a blog. That my blog has led me to TV and published writing sites and even my job. I live with the irony every time I put a word on a page. That the one thing I have success at doing is the one thing that I am weakest at.

Jolynn holding television camera in my kitchen

JoLynn Powers holding television camera from the Barnwood builders crew Aug 2015

 

So in the wonderful words of Alanis Morissette: because Word Press is now charging me a fee to link You Tube Videos to my Blog posts…. Booooo !!!!

Isn’t It Ironic 

An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay
It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late
Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think

It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought, it figures

Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids good-bye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
“Well, isn’t this nice.”
And isn’t it ironic, l don’t you think

It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought, it figures

Well, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face

A traffic jam when you’re already late
A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break
It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
It’s meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife
And isn’t it ironic, don’t you think
A little too ironic, and yeah I really do think

It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought, it figures

Well, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
And life has a funny way of helping you out
Helping you out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: About me, blogging, dyslexia, Elkinite, Elkins Main Street, hobbies, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

One Bee Hive at a Time

bee in pink rhododendron flower on family farm

Bee in pink rhododendron flower on family farm 2002

I have spent several years thinking about becoming a beekeeper and this year I will officially have my own hive. I have followed blogs and read books and talked with several beekeepers about the hobby.  I have been supportive in my gardens to feed all pollinators and like any normal person I love honey. So this February I enrolled with about 40 other community members in a Department of Agriculture class titled “Beginning Beekeeping” given through the Lewis County,W.V. Extension Office. The class was what I needed to feel like I can become a responsible beekeeper.

One of the wonderful things about the class was to see who also enrolled in the very inexpensive class.They are the faces of people who I see almost everyday,there were farmers, business owners, teachers, retired state employees, gas men, salespeople and few children all eager to learn how to help the bees. It was an equal mix of husbands and wives and families who all felt the drawn to honey and the plight of the bees. Maybe it was a mixture of love and fear that made all of us trudge to the 4 classes almost 2 1/2 hours long in the cold evenings of February.

Living in an agriculture heavy state bees are a serious topic of conversation.My community worries about the future of our farms and orchards with less pollinators . They want education and they want to help bees.The classes were eye-opening for all of us. According to USDA’s 2014 report open pollinated soybean and apples are our state’s 3rd and 4th largest cash crops. Those two bee loving crops produces $25,708,000 dollars of produce for our state’s economy. This is only the information on registered producers who sell for profit. The effects of low bee populations are dramatic when you add in all the other fruit and vegetables that are lower on the list and all the produce from the back yard farmers that sell or give away their produce. It is overwhelming that all of this money rests on the winged shoulders of our bee population.With bees in decline all of us at this class understood the importance of our attempt on a small-scale to help.

Spring wild blue bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

Spring wild blue bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

Honey sweetens the pot for beekeepers who want to also make a profit from caring for the bees. In our class were able to get enough information about bee keeping to think seriously about what we will do with the honey. Our family plans to eat and give away honey with the comb in jars, so we will be doing a more historic and traditional way of processing our honey then many in our class. Most members will be removing the honey with a centrifuge system that should make honey production faster and easier.

Cosmos a bee favorite flower in the backyard

Cosmos a bee favorite flower in the backyard

As spring arrives I will be writing more and sharing photos of our last class where all of us beginners will get a hands on chance to open and split a hive, take a look inside the hive and look at the condition of the queen and the comb. It will be just before then that we should have our hive and begin setting it up in the yard. Around the same time our bees should arrive and we will take the first steps in this adventure. I am looking forward to sharing my new hobby with my husband and two sons. If I am lucky maybe they will also see the value in raising these very important pollinators and will see the overall benefits to our family, community and state. If Christopher finds any interest in the bees he can even use them as a 4-H project to educate other kids about bees, honey and how important they are to our world.  It is because of all people I call my friends that I think together we can make a difference in our environment one hive at a time.

Categories: 4-H, Apples, Beekeeping, Foraging, hobbies, Honey, Preserving, rural life | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

3 Years of Blogging has Changed My Life

It seems impossible that I have written a blog post at least every week for three years. Today is my 3rd Blogging Anniversary. I look back and see huge improvement in my writing and editing. Although, some things will never change about who I am as a person and how I write. This blog has given me a place to share my life and I am still surprised every time I write something that someone out there thinks it is worth reading. The biggest surprise of all is that this blog has opened so many doors for me.

rainy afternoon at old barn along Johnstown, WV

Rainy afternoon at old barn along Johnstown, W.V.

Over the last three years I have tried writing as openly  and honestly as I can and it seems to paying off. I write about the life I live, the people and places that I encounter and tell stories about the ups and downs of a small town life. These stories have not only given me a chance help create positive images on TV with the Barnwood Builders, they have let me share our DIY projects all over the world and write a few stories for a digital magazine called Elkinite.  The magazine shares stories of the  town I am working to help revitalise. My writing this blog even had something to do with me getting at my current job with AmeriCorps. They needed someone who had skills working with WordPress, ( Seriously Strange) They wanted someone who had the skills to build a new website for their organisation.So even building this blog has helped me in my current job. Who knew writing a blog on WordPress this would lead down this road?

Sign at the top of a flooded road at Roanoke,WV

Sign at the top of a flooded road at Roanoke,W.V.

So when I look back at  my very first posts and how nervous I was when I  pushed the publish button, I am so pleased with the results. I have grown, the blog has grown and my following is growing, who can ask for more. I plan to keep writing and sharing my little country life as long as all of you will have me.

So dear friends, I hope you hang in with me as I start a brand new year writing about my adventures in Wild,Wonderful,West Virginia. Where everyone stops to talk to you even if you a total stranger and where sweet tea and biscuits and gravy are the food everyone craves in the mornings.I love my home,and can’t wait to continue sharing my story with all of you.

rocks covered in moss by the river in Ten Mile. WV

Rocks covered in moss by the river in Ten Mile, W.V.

Categories: About me, blogging, DIY projects, Elkinite, hobbies, rural life, West Virginia, writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

DIY Remodeling plans for 2016 year.

The plans for this year’s remodeling include the front entry of the house and new french doors. We knew when we bought the house that the front entry area was in poor shape not only on the inside but on the outside also. There are several problems we will be tackling over the next few months and maybe even into next year.

Front French doors with stone surround

Front French doors with stone surround.

The Problems are #1. the exterior of the front entry is “Fake” stone. They are a molded cement that is the painted with the color and look of real stone. It is then applied to a board with mortar like tile. The problem is that the stones are attached incorrectly and the stones do not have enough mortar to hold securely. Leaving the stones open for water damage and just the effects of gravity have pulled the stones away from the plywood underneath . We have several “stones” that have fallen off and are just stacked up on the porch.

missing stone tile from upper door suround

Missing stone tile from upper door surround.

Problem #2 The doors are old and not very airtight, making them drafty and not as energy-efficient as they should be.

Light and air gaps are visible in the sunshine

Light and air gaps are visible in the sunshine.

Problem # 3 The amount of light that passes through the windows on the doors is not installed with U.V.Ray protective glass and the amount of heat and sun damage from the windows is an issue.

Problem #4 the inside of the entryway looks fine but needs updated with new lights and some wood and stone to tie it with the family room remodel.

inside of all white entryway before update

Inside the all white entryway before update.

So as spring approaches I need to get started on looking at new energy-efficient french doors. I want less glass and the glass that in the new doors must be U.V. Ray reducing.  We hope to install new flooring in the kitchen some time in the future and I want to eliminate the possibility of fading to a new floor. I also want less glass because the doors are on the western side of  the house. The sun just burns through the current windows allowing too much heat into the house the afternoons.

I will be working with a contractor who will be help us with measurements and ordering the new doors and will return again for installation. French doors are a two or three-man job for installation and Tom and I will need all the help we can get to get them into place in one day.

As for the tile on the outside of the house we will replace the doors first and allow any of the old facade to become damaged or cut away before we even think about replacement. Once the doors are in place, the removal of the fake stone will begin and we will be ready to order the new tile. We are planning on using Ledger Tile with natural colors of sandstone to blend in with the brick of the house. The application will be almost the same as the “fake stone” but done with better water-resistant backer boards and lots more mortar.

The inside may not get completed this summer as Tom is going to have Carpal Tunnel surgery, but the plan is to add two wall sconce lights on each side of the doors, remove a ceiling light, and add new wood trim and more Ledger Tile. So the summer work plan is just about to begin and I am excited to get started. The doors are the most important part of the project and our goal is to have them finished before the summer heat keeps us inside. The rest will wait on Tom’s recovery.

We have been having a hard time finding samples of ledger tile here in West Virginia. I am upset that Home Depot does not have them in their stores in my state but have them in Pa.  We can see them  online so Tom and I plan a trip to some of the bigger retailers out-of-state over the summer while he is unable to actually do the work but can see the materials. Sometimes living in the country can making things a little more complicated.

So when we get a few things ordered I will share the plans and photos as we update the doors and stone work. The year looks full of more fun and learning as we learn more about installing new doors, tile and mortar and correct applications outside.

 

Categories: DIY projects, hobbies, home improvement, home remodeling, ledger tile, light fixtures, spring | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fighting All My Fears with Karate.

It may seem a little odd for ( to quote my son) ” for an earth muffin hippy wanna be” to go find my health both mentally and physically in the art of Shotokan Karate. I know that on the surface my  lifestyle seems to have no connections to my current studies of Marital Arts. Well lets just talk about all this for a minute. If you have been following along for any length of time you should know that I had foot surgery last year and quit my physically active job when my beloved mother in law came to stay with us after her surgery and radiation treatment for throat cancer.

Well after the 13 months in an air cast and 6 months at home I had lost a lot of physical strength,tone and balance.  I gained a lot of weight somewhere in the area of 40 pounds. I hear that this is totally normal for some one who has to sit down and rest as part of the recovery process. But I was not going to go back to work any time soon and my foot was now with out a bone. That little bone meant that I was not running. jumping or doing aerobics any time in the future. But the Dr did say that I could do exercise that was less stressful to my feet like walking, bike riding, swimming, yoga and most of the Marital Arts. The key here is “Most”, Shotokan is not really on the list of gentle activities. So after getting back on my treadmill and not really loving it, I was lucky to met Larry a 5th degree black belt in Shotokan. After a very long talk and a beautiful smile Larry said that I was perfect for Karate and that my age (46 is a little old to start Karate) and foot would not be a problem at all. The conversation in my head argued with him for a while with everything we always say to our selves,”I am to old, I am in terrible shape, I may get hurt, I am not good at this”. Then after a few minutes, I thought to myself with a deep breath “so who are you going to trust in this life a 68-year-old black belt who does this every week or your Fear. I put my hope and trust in Larry and started a new journey that following week.

Karate image used with permission

Karate image used with permission

I am not usually a fearful person, I am not shy and I am alright with making a fool of myself. So no need for fear as the new student in class but I was and still am on some days. I have in the past been physically assaulted, I have been a victim of  domestic violence ( not from my current husband but my first) and intimidation. I do not like men to touch me and I certainly do not like the thought of fighting them. The class is full of large male strangers and strange men mean that I get a little unsettled. To become a Karate student I would at some point have to face all of these men in an active aggressive way and fight with them. This was harder than just showing up for a work out. This was training for my mental strength and my emotional strength too.  Facing them in sparing is still unnerving and will be for a long time. I have not totally fallen apart yet but I am sure at some point I will. The best part is that it is a safe place to fall apart, I have nothing but support in my Dojo.

Most people generally understand the amount of time and energy getting physical fit takes, it is a part of a process. Some people want to lose weight to look good for the appeal from the outside world and that is fine. Some want to get fit for the health benefits (me included). But Karate is about strength, not so much about fitness. Strength of mind, body and spirit. Fitness is a huge part of the training but it not the end result that we trying to achieve. It is a place to push your limitations to the edge and find that the limitation has moved and you are stronger and have new limitations. Some things in this life I can not change, my age for example, or my sex or some physical limitations, but just about every other thing is under my control to change. If I am fat I can eat less, if I am sad I can doing something to make myself feel better, If I am weak I can work out to gain more strength. If I am frightened  I can discover what it is that is making me scared and face it. This is my journey to strengthen everything about myself… my body, my mind and my spirit.

sprititual practice image used with permission

spiritual practice image used with permission

I hope that with the help of my new training I will be better able to face what is coming in the future of our families life. That as the sun is setting on one life that I will be better prepared to face the future of my life with out my best friend and mother in law. That in the future I am tempered by fire, hardened and strong when I need it most. That my Karate student life will continue and I will be able to have another year of breaking my own barriers.

In the immortal words of band the Eagles from the song: Already Gone…

Well I know it wasn’t you who held me down,

Heaven knows it wasn’t you who set me free,

So often it happens that we live our lives in chains,

and we never even know we have the keys,

:chorus:

And I am already gone,

And I am feeling strong,

I will sing this victory song… Whooo.hoo,hoo, whoo,hoo,hoo!

Jolynn Powers with Gi top 1st Kata

Jolynn Powers with Gi top 1st Kata

Categories: Buckhannon West Virginia, foot surgery, friends, Healing, health, hobbies, Karate, wellness | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Gun Owning Woman and my Freedom of Speech.

I am a gun owner and if that is a problem then you do not need to read the rest of this.

I am a sports woman who loves to head to the range with my family, loves to hunt wild game and is a supporter of my local college riffle team. I married a man who reloads his own ammunition and has a back ground in both law enforcement and the military. Guns are a part of who we are and what we do for fun. The point is that soon I and thousands of other Bloggers, Writers, Website designers, may lose the right of ” Freedom of Speech”. If what I read today  is true,( the Washington Examiner shared this article) my blog post about my husbands reloading bench,our hunting trip, the information I could share on how being a better marksman or any conversation about guns I have with you my readers could be censured.

Cody Powers at the range having family time

Cody Powers at the range having family time

I am also worried as a sports person,that I could not write about the specifics about the gun related things we do. In the future I could be fined or sent to jail….. (send me please) for just doing what I love. The penalty for sharing gun and ammunition information over the internet is a fine up to 1 million dollars and 20 years in jail. I worry that when I have a moving post on a topic that is legal and informative, I will be unable to share it, unless the government has a look at it first. Hummm, are any of you  feeling  like we have moved to a police state here, the results for the general population will be terrible.

I am fully aware that our country is divided on the gun subject. It is a hard  subject to debate for those who do not own a weapon of any kind. At first this regulation might appear that the government is only taking the larger public’s safety into account ( I have my reservations about that). But I argue that a lack of information is more dangerous than anything a Gunsmith or Ammunition company can share on the internet. If we as a population can not share ideas, we allow a few to control our future, a future that will always be controlled by people who know weapons.

Jolynn Powers turkey hunting spring 2015

Jolynn Powers turkey hunting spring 2015

I want you and I to have the right to send out information about hunting, gunsmithing, reloading, crime and safety. I want these topics debated openly. I have the right to share what we are doing as much as you have the right to NOT READ IT. I want to share what my WVU riffle team is doing and what their Olympic competitor coach is teaching. I want to share the pages from an antique survival  manual that shows how to safely use a .22 riffle. I want to tell you about my friend, whose husband got killed, during Turkey Season shooting accident and how it avoid it. If what the above artificial states is true, then my friends you and I will not have the freedom to talk about school shootings or about how to safely clean a pistol.

The idea of protecting the innocent from information that could be used in terrorism is a failed argument. If we are only going to control the information on the internet what is the point… Books have long taught the skills to kill, hunt, reload and build weapons of many kinds. Long before the internet my nephew blew his hand off with a pipe bomb at 14. Where did he learn about the idea ….. movies. If he had been lucky enough to have better supervision  in his life he would have never attempted to build what he looked up for free in a book from the library. At 14 he could have used that weapon to kill many and never once looked on the internet for the information.

Tom Powers teaching Christopher Powers about gun safty

Tom Powers teaching Christopher Powers about gun safety

If this is  what the government thinks may stop terrorism, I am very worried about our leaders. Is the public so ignorant to believe that terrorists from middle eastern countries find all of their information on legal American fire arm company websites or blog posts from people like me or even ammunition manufacture Face Book pages. I bet not… but maybe this is the way the government plans to stop the bloggers from writing about the facts about gun ownership, repair and uses, punish the whole because of the few radical writers.

Again it is a sad state that I am even worried about this topic. I love my way of life, I love sharing it, but when my husband decides that he wants to update an antique riffle for my son to use for hunting, I want the right to tell you about it. If the government is so worried about the information that we openly share and are planing to stop the education of its citizens, we are on a very slippery slope, my friends. If I have to ask my government permission to give you information that one day may save your life or a life of your neighbors, I think we are going to wish some one had stopped the government from stepping on the “Freedom of Speech” and if we are lucky our “Freedom to Bear Arms” too.

Thomas Bennton Powers my sons Great Grand father with monster buck

Thomas Benton Powers my sons Great Grand father with monster buck

Categories: blogging, deer hunting, Freedom of speech, hobbies, reloading, rifle and shoot guns, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Baby Squires Interrupt a Day of Barn Wood Building: Home remodel #3

We have been working like mad to finish up the floors and get a good start on the barn wood walls that are part of a remodel that we are doing with the T.V. Show titled “The Barnwood Builders.” Then all of our work just slowed to a stop on Monday. As Tom and I removed some of the larger boards from the lumber pile to see if we could find one that was wider then our fuse box door, we came across a nest built-in our barn wood. The babies are Gray Squirrels that normally would nest in a hard wood tree. It seems the mother felt that our huge pile of wood was a safe place to raise her young. She made a beautiful and warm nest out of the large amounts of green grass that is growing under the lumber piles. The little guys never even opened an eye while we banged around. Tom and I had no idea that they were sleeping under where we worked. By that afternoon we named the little ones and had a conversation about moving them in the house ( my vote was”NO”to squirrels in the house ) so here are Chipper and Splinter. The fearless squirrels that slowed the entire construction of my family room for a day.

Opening up the nest in the barn wood

Opening up the nest in the barn wood

Two baby gray squirrels in the nest sleep through all of our activity

Two baby gray squirrels in the nest sleep through all of our activity

meet Chipper and Splinter the Barnwood builder Babies

Meet Chipper and Splinter the Barnwood Babies

Tom and I just did not have the heart to really move the little guys even though they are resting on the very board that we need to make a door out of. So we are working on another portion of the family room for now. I hope within the next two weeks they will be ready to head into the trees with their Mom, we see her regularly going in and out of the nest.

As of Friday I had finished grouting the tile floors and sealed them. They turned out really nice with a muted color pattern of gray, sand stone red, gold and rusty orange. The same basic colors in our barn wood. I spent about 30 hours of time putting in the grout and cleaning it back off. It was a long week of feeling like Cinderella scrubbing floors on my hands and knees but the results are wonderful. The one trick I did learn over my week of scrubbing is that it saves you large amounts of time to seal the slate before you install it or grout it. The extra couple of hours I spent washing the tile and sealing it meant that I could trust that the grout would not stick to the slate when I put them together. So I could actually sweep most of the extra grout off with a broom. Making the cleaning up of the floor go extremely fast with one good washing getting all the extra grout off with no residue to worry about.

After using a grout bag I am able to sweep up a lot of the lose grout before washing

After using a grout bag I am able to sweep up a lot of the loose grout before washing

 

Slate tile floors with grout and sealer

Slate tile floors with grout and sealer

We also got almost half the wall boards up over the holiday weekend, even with the squirrel delay. Tom and I decided that we both really wanted a room with a barn feeling, so we chose to keep the boards running in the vertical pattern as they were hung on the old barn. It gives the room the feeling of a general store or cabin from the old west that we both love.

Barn wood about finished on wall with windows

Barn wood about finished on wall with windows

This photo shows a late afternoon sun shining on the walls so the floor colors appear shadowed and darker than they really are. The wood on the other hand is really that bold and different in color. We chose not to plain the wood and only lightly sand the rough finish off the boards. We are trying to give the room a true rustic barn feel and I think we really are getting that feeling so far.

The work is going faster than I though, mainly because we are using an Air Nail Gun to attach the boards to the walls. The nails we are using are 2 1/2 inches long and we nail the board at the top of the walls frame and then at any stud that we can find and at the bottom frame of the wall. Some of the boards are very warped and need cut to straighten them for use and others are fine off the wood pile. So each piece is an individual in a larger puzzle. We have chosen to keep the imperfections and natural coloring because that is what people really do when building a barn. You don’t toss out a good board due to a knothole  or split in the grain,  you just use it and move on, so we have saved and used the knots and splits as part of our over all design plan. Not every one is comfortable with the imperfections of the barn wood like we are, but this application is simple and less time-consuming then other wood treatments.

The remaining walls should be pretty easy to cover up until Tom needs to cover the fuse box. He will need to make a door with country hinges and an old fashion lock for decoration. Then 4 inch molding will go across the base of the wall and 2 inch molding around the top. Again this will be nothing fancy just simple cut boards and nails to finish off the look.

So if you want to read more about how we got the boards for this project or have interest in reclaiming barn wood check out some of my other posts about working with The Barnwood Builder TV show and Our House Remodel #2

In the future I hope I am able to post more photos of the family room and our new little friends I just wonder if I can get more photos of them before they leave the nest forever? We will see!

Categories: Baby Animals, Barns, Barnwood Builders, hobbies, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, nostalgic, slate tile, Squirrles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Blog anniversary… Who knew this would lead to T.V.

I have written my way through 2 years so far. For a person with a frustrating learning disability like Dyslexia this is HUGE! I have taken on my weakness and confronted it, pushed through it and in some way over come it. Well maybe just worked around it, but because all of you are here it means that some thing in the last two years is working.

anniversary 2x

anniversary 2x

I took on writing a blog for a couple of reasons. The first was I  needed a creative outlet that I could do while at home with a 5-year-old and with a mother in law who was very ill. I also needed all of you, I needed to think about things other than the pile of toys on the floor and the trips to the cancer Dr’s office. My home was not a place to make crafts or paint large paintings at the time. So I wrote about who I love,what I love to do and some how you all found some thing here that spoke to you. Maybe it was the stories about cooking wild game and maybe it was that we love to garden and do canning, maybe the battle I fought to make sure my mother in law stayed well through her cancer treatments made you stay. Who really knows why you all have been here for this bumpy ride, but it is wonderful and has been one of the best hobbies that I have ever attempted.

I have recently been contacted by the DIY Network about my blog, yea shocked me too! They have a show called  “Barnwood Builders”  filmed in West Virginia and they are filming a barn in my local area. They found my little ( less than a thousand followers) blog and want Mountain Mama and the family in an episode of their show. So I am in total shock and over joyed that some where out in cyber space I have left an impression about who and what I am. At the current time it looks like we will be working together on the home we just purchased with some reclaimed barn wood. They also wanted to see my husband working with some of the horses he is responsible for as a farrier. They loved that we lived in a style that is already present in the show. We share a love for West Virginia history, working with our hands, seeing the beauty of our state and trying to live more simply.

I will write more later about the filming and when the episode should air… sometime next year for season two. But for now I have a few more topics to write about before the crew arrive here March 11th and we get to get dusty and dirty making my 60′ ranch feel more like the home of a county family. So hang in their if you love old barns, wood working, home improvement and decor because this spring should make for some great stories.

 

 

Mary Conrad Cabin Jackson's Mill, Jane Lew West Virginia 2013

Mary Conrad Cabin Jackson’s Mill, Jane Lew West Virginia 2013

Categories: blacksmith work, blogging, cancer treatment, canning, country cooking, dyslexia, Farrier work., furniture, hobbies, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, recycling, West Virginia, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Recycled Lumber into a Hunters Reloading Bench.

The one thing my husband asked for when we moved was to have enough room in the house so that he could have a reloading room. As an avid rifle and shotgun hunter he has discovered that reloading is a key ingredient to his successes in the field. It is one of the many ways that he stays active with his favorite hobby even in the off-season. So when we looked at house we loved the fact that it included  a small bedroom with knotty pine wood paneling and wood floors. The room would work perfectly for a man who needed a work bench and good lighting. The small room is now a work room with a reloading bench that any gun nut would love to have.

Downloadable plans for a reloading bench

Downloadable plans for a reloading bench

Tom was able to find the plans on-line and with a lot of scrap lumber, Tom made this bench only purchasing plywood and a sheet of Masonite. Even the paint for the bottom and legs was from the previous home owners collection of left over paint. At one time most of the parts of this bench where scraps from cement forms that Tom saved from being sent to the local dump from a construction site. The 4 x 4’s were actually found in the basement of the other house and were free. With scavenged lumber and paint I think our cost to build the bench was well under 100 dollars. The normal cost of materials could have cost around 350 dollars or more.

bottom portion of the reloading bench

bottom portion of the reloading bench

Top Portion of reloading bench almost finished

Top Portion of reloading bench almost finished

As you can see from the plans Tom did not make the sliding doors for the front of the cabinet portion yet and may not use them at all in the future. Trying to find the track for the sliding doors has been a bit of a challenge and may lead to him not using them at all. It really will depend on if he feels the need to cover up all of his supplies.

Tom getting ready to use his new reloading bench

Tom getting ready to use his new reloading bench

The next step in the process is to mount some of his reloading presses. In his case he has two shoot shell loaders and two rile reloading presses. So the front of the bench will be home to several holes so that the presses are removable at any time. In most cases once the presses get mounted they will be on the bench for long periods of time. Making a sturdy work area for the thousands of cases my husband loves to load.

It took Tom less than a month to do this project on nights and weekends and it will soon be joined by a smaller wall mounted drop table top for gun repair and cleaning. Soon he will finally have a place to really enjoy his guns and reloading work with out worries that one of the kids has gotten into some of his supplies.

Tom hopes to get things finish up and mounted as we only have 3 months until turkey season and we are both so excited to get back in the woods with our spring gobbler tags. He plans to spend at least three weekends  hunting and that means being ready with home loaded shot shells. I am guessing that this recycled wood and 100 dollars going is the best investment he has made it a long time.

Categories: furniture, hobbies, Hunting, recycling, reloading, rifle and shoot guns, Turkey season, Wild turkey | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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