Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Natural Bridge is now a State Park!

On Sept. 24th Natural Bridge officially became a State park. To celebrate, admission was free for the day. Natural Bridge is less than 2 hours from our house, but we've never visited it before. It's always been on our bucket list, but the $18 a person admission just seemed too steep for a one mile hike to see the bridge and a rather unimpressive waterfall.Especially with so many other free/inexpensive places to hike just as close by.

This past Saturday my son had a band competition that was near Roanoke, and quite close to the Natural Bridge. So we dropped him off in Floyd to meet up with his band class and then continued on to Natural Bridge.  

In 1774, Thomas Jefferson paid 20 shillings to purchase the bridge from King George III of England, it has remained in private hands ever since. So we are very excited to see it finally become a State park. 
i really had no idea how massive the Natural Bridge is. It is a  the 215-foot high limestone arch. Picture just don't show the size of it correctly. It really is a neat thing to see and very hard to photograph.  Cars actually drive over the top of it.

 Cedar Creek, which still flows under Natural Bridge carved out of the landscape centuries ago. The main trail follows the creek about 1 mile to Lace falls. It's an easy lovely hike with historical signs about different landmarks along the way.

i found the lost river to be fascinating.  All you can see is the small opening of a cave, but you can hear the river flowing. 

They also have a Monacan village set up with information,  demonstrations and lots of things to explore. We really enjoyed our visit, and plan to return again when we have more time so we can hike some of the other trails and possibly visit the Caverns.  With Natural Bridge becoming a State park, the admission price will be lowered significantly to around $8 a person, which is much more reasonable and they have plans to add more hiking trails and who knows what else.

After visiting Natural Bridge we headed to Glenvar, to watch the Floyd County Marching band compete.  It made for a long, but enjoyable day. i felt a little bad that my son didn't get to visit the Natural Bridge with us, but i know that we'll be back now that it's a State park.  i'm really eager to see the improvements they made to the area. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

New Website!

Wohoo!!  i finally have a new website up!! It is still a work in progress. 

i'm building it on Wordpress, and trying to keep very similar to this blog. i really like my blogspot blog, but didn't know how to turn it into more of a website, rather than just a blog. So i've moved it to Wordpress where i can have it linked to my domain name, have a static website page, shopping cart, blog etc.  i'm really hoping to keep this blogspot  blog too, and just import my blog feed on Wordpress. i haven't quite figured out how to do that yet though.

i'm still trying to figure it all out, like configuring the subscribers widget and figuring out how to navigate the different posts to different tags /categories. Hopefully i will get there soon! i've made a ton of progress in just the last couple of days, so i'm feeling pretty optimistic about it. 

Feel free to stop by and say hello! www.enchantedtree.com Once i get the main part of the website configured, i'll work on the shopping cart/store. i have so much work to list, it's going to take me a while to get it all posted.  i welcome any feedback! 

Kayaking on the Little River

This weekend we finally got ourselves back out on the water for some kayaking fun.  We decided to float the Little River which is the main river that flows through Floyd County.  We found a good access area not too far from our house and spent the afternoon exploring the river.

Much of the area we kayaked is very shallow. You can look down and see the bottom, and occasionally even scraps a few rocks.  The section that we kayaked is very calm, with one little rapid. So it was a fun little expedition that lasted about 3 hours.

Although the river is quite calm, there are still dangers lurking around every corner.  You must be able to navigate around large rocks, downed trees and cows. ;) 

We saw quite a bit a wildlife while we were floating the river. We saw lots of  Blue Herons, a couple of  King Fishers, fish, turtles, a snake and even a beaver. :)  i was most amused by the cows though. 

Kenan took us to a special hidden spot the locals just call Blue Spring.  It's right off the Little River, on private land. There is a natural spring that comes up from the rocks and is a beautiful clear blue.  It is really deep, looks almost bottomless.  This is where we saw the beaver swimming.  It disappeared under the rocks.

This was a really place.  It's hard to capture the color in the photo, but it was a pretty crazy blue. 

We found an area of the river that was deep enough to swim, so we parked our kayaks and played in the water for a bit.

Near the end of our float, there was one little rapid.  It's actually bigger than it looks in the photo and my boy was the only one to flip his kayak on it. 

i really love getting outside and hiking or kayaking on the weekends.  We had a few busy weekends over the summer, and didn't get out as much as i would have liked. Now the weather is starting to cool off and we are really trying to go out and do something active every weekend before winter comes.  

The autumn always depresses me a bit, it feels like the beginning of the end. Every year i enter it kicking and screaming, holding on to summertime as long as i can. i will eventually submit and even embrace the change of season.  That's won't be any time soon though. 

“Wilderness is not a luxury but necessity of the human spirit.” –Edward Abbey

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

New York Biology Essential Oils- Blot Test & Product review

Over the past few weeks, i've had the opportunity to try out and review essential oils by New York Biology.  i'm no expert on essential oils, but i do like to use them when making herbal bath products, like soaps and bath salts etc. i'm not super picky when it comes to essential oils, but i do like to make sure they are 100% pure essential oils and not perfume oils. i also like to make sure the product isn't tested on animals and is packaged well in a dark or amber colored glass bottle.

So far, i've been very pleased with all of the New York Biology oils i've received. They smell fantastic, are packaged well and each one comes with a glass dropper. 

The latest one i have to review is Helichrysum oil. After receiving it and giving it a sniff, i realized i really don't know anything about Helichrysum. According to the NYB listing Helichrysum oil has a sweet and fruity smell with honey or nectar overtones. It is an ancient plant and commonly referred to as Everlasting or Immortal Flower. Many people find the smell to be warming, uplifting and comforting — and since the aroma has a grounding quality, it even assists in releasing emotional blocks.  
To use Helichrysum-
Apply several drops (2-4) of undiluted oil directly on the skin to the affected area or desired location Directly inhale the oil 
Diffuse it in your home 
Add it to a bath 
It’s never recommended to ingest the oil, so plan to use it topically instead.

As i was reading about the different oils, i read that you can test the purity of your essential oils by doing a blot test. So i decided to try out the NYB Helichrysum to see how the brand compares to some of my other oils.

The blot test is a very accurate way to test the purity of your oils. True essential oils will evaporate and not leave behind an oily residue. You just place a drop of oil on a white sheet of paper, and then check it after 24 hours to see if there is any residue left behind. Residue would signify that the EO is mixed with something else and is not 100% pure.
i did the blot test on 4 different brands of essential oil.  When i first put down the drops of oil, the Helichrysum did have a yellow/green tint, while the others were clear. 

After 20 minutes, i checked the blot test. The Rosemary oil in the bottom right, had completely evaporated. The Helichrysum was no longer yellow/green but still had an oil mark. The tea tree oil and Lavender both still had a faint oil marks as well.

After six hours, both the rosemary and Lavender were completely evaporated without any residue left behind. The Helichyrsum and the tea tree both still had a very, very faint mark, but after 12 hours all 4 oils were completely evaporated.  There is no tint or oil mark on the paper where the oils were.

So i do believe these oils are 100% pure.  The country of origin on the NYB oils is India, and according to the label they are not tested on animals. The prices are good and i've been very happy with these oils and will continue to use them.  i'm also going to continue to read up on the different healing properties and uses of these oils. Now that i've learned about the blot test, i plan to test all of the oils i purchase to make sure i am getting pure EOs.

i received the New York Biology Helichrysum oil for free in exchange for my honest review. i was not compensated. 

Mystery plant

 i have this plant coming up in my green house and i have no idea what it is. Absolutely no clue.

i thought it was a cucumber, because i know i planted a few cucumbers in the raised bed. One of them came up and had a few small cucumbers on it, but they never pollinated in the greenhouse.  This one came up near it, and the plant looks like a cucumber.

The leaves look like cucumber, the flowers look like cucumber, it vines and tendrils like a cucumber.

But, that's NOT a cucumber. At least i don't think so. i do tend to grow a lot of unusual/rare seeds. i've gone through all of my seed catalogs and can't find anything that looks like this. The skin is covered in fuzz, and has a velvety feel.

One guess would be that it's a mutant that cross-pollinated. Like a cucumber-watermelon hybrid. i'm like  98% certain that i did not plant any seeds i had collected from my own garden. i only planted very specific plants from certified disease free seeds which i had purchased.  i was trying to keep my greenhouse disease free. So i guess it's possible that there was a few cross-breed seeds in my seed pack, but it's unlikely.

i guess to have to wait and see if it ever becomes anything recognizable.It's tough to know when to pick it though, when i don't know what it is. Anyone have a guess?