"Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will."
George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mothers and Daughters Gone Wild Part 2

Our next trip is officially booked!! I am so excited. And even doubly excited because we're staying at Snug Hollow Farm, the same place Brian and I stayed over Labor Day weekend. (See here and here)

In my first post I pointed out a little cabin that I thought we'd be staying in for this upcoming trip. Turns out, forgetting to book the place for a couple weeks means other people snatch it up! But THANK GOODNESS the other cabin was still available. And, coincidentally, it's the only one I got good pictures of! So, family, here's a little preview of where we'll be staying.

Huge porch (it wraps around) complete with swing and rocking chairs. 

One view of the little kitchen area.

Plenty of room for our crockpot extravaganza on Saturday night!

A little reading corner

And the view from the reading corner window. :) 

Now I'm not gonna lie--I think the other cabin definitely has more space somehow. And the sleeping arrangements will be a lot more "cozy" (I will be bringing an air mattress!). But it's going to be great!!

Time to start designing our shirt for this trip. :) The last one was quite a hit:

We all look fabulous in pink!

How funny is that?! I love that Granny is zero because she started us all :)

 On another note--look how long my hair is!! It'll probably be that long on the next trip too. Funny how there will be 6 (!!) years between trips, my hair has been SHORT for 90% of the time in between them but long for both excursions. I think that little tid bit is interesting at least. It's a bummer we have to wait until next spring to go. I'm ready NOW!

It feels good to write again! I've been kicking Mary Kay into high gear and that leaves with time to do just about nothing as far as blogging and free time. I guess Mary Kay is probably owed post on here sometime soon! :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Red River Gorge (or not)

So when we went to Snug Hollow Farm last weekend (here and here), I believe I found it in the first place because I was looking for a place nearish Red River Gorge. Our wedding photographer lives there now and I was thinking that maybe we'd get some new photos taken or something. Didn't pan out that way (and financially that was all for the better!!), but neither of us has ever been to the gorge so I figured we should at least stop by and make an appearance.

Technically "there".

The problem is we waited till Sunday on our way home because Saturday was too busy with moving from rocking chair to rocking chair with a book in between naps. :)

By the time we were on the way home the weather was crummy and we were tired and also needed to get back in time for our annual Labor Day fireworks hangout with our friends Jonathan and Larry. And it turns out you really don't get to see anything "cool" at the gorge unless you're willing to HIKE to it! What a bummer.

So we drove around it for probably an hour. I'd say we gave it the old college try. But then we were pretty much over it and turned around to really head home.

Some rocks.

One of the highlights of my Red River Gorge "experience."

And then finally we did experience something cool that scared the daylights out of me: Nada Tunnel. It's cut through the side of the mountain. One way through. Pitch black and just enough room for your car on top and the sides. It was CREEPY. I made Brian close the sunroof.

The entrance to Nada Tunnel. 

Wanna know how lazy we are? This photo was actually taken out the sunroof--while I was still sitting in the car. Ahhhh vacation....

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Melted Crayon Art

Okay, I'm just going to come right out here and say it: this is by far the coolest craft I've ever done. It's just as easy as you'd think it would be. I am seriously proud of these finished products.

So if you're on Pinterest (if you're not, what the heck is wrong with you??) you have seen these crayon art pictures being repinned for quite some time now. I finally looked at one of the tutorials and decided "Yeah I could totally do that." And lucky you, I'm going to include a lot more instruction and helpful hints that I sure wish someone had told me before I started spraying colored wax all over the dining room.

Step 1: Procure Crayola crayons, canvas and a hot glue gun. How many crayons do you need? Turns out about half of what we bought haha. My good-sized canvas only needed about 75. Brian's littler one about 40ish.

Done and done.

Vivienne, overseer of craft time. "You're doing it wrong human!!"
Alternatively, "I hate those colors!!!"

Step 2: Lay out the crayons in the color order you want. I am neurotic and a little fixated on rainbow order so that's what I went for. However, I also wanted to make sure that each color was a gradient from dark to light: THIS TOOK FOREVER. And even after I thought I had it pretty well laid out, I decided to go back through each color family and color on a piece of paper to see if I truly had them in dark to light order.

Really annoying, but if you're OCD, a must.

I also suggest laying them against your canvas so you know if you have the right number.

Step 3: Hot glue the crayons to the canvas with the flat end of the crayon flush against the top of the canvas. It's up to you if you want the Crayola logo out or hidden. I think it personally gives the piece a more methodical, uniform look at the top above the craziness of melted color. If you choose this method, a strip of hot glue down the seam to the crayon wrapper will be perfect placement. Another tip: adhere the crayons from the side. So instead of looking straight on to the canvas, turn it to the side so it's like you're stacking the crayons on top up each other up the canvas. This will help you keep them straight (as long as that first one is on straight!). The first canvas I did I was looking straight on and a few are just ever-so-slightly crooked. This makes me twitch a little but besides BRIAN who so helpfully pointed out the slant, I'm sure nobody will notice.

Add crayons from this end!

Step 4: Rig up a way to keep your canvas upright so you have both hands free. Lay down some garbage bags if you're inside. Here's a tip: melted crayons splatter. My one garbage bag was NOT enough. I would basically suggest that if you have a garage or unfinished basement: use it!! Our dining room came out of this project unscathed by the skin of my teeth (and probably some magic).

Brian can be very creative when he wants to get out of doing something...

Step 5: Get an apron (did I mention that the melted wax will spray?) and a hairdryer and put it on high. At times I tried a more medium speed but it's honestly just not hot enough to really get the crayon flowing. Holding the hair dryer an inch or so from the crayons worked well.

I suggest keeping the hairdryer as perpendicular to the canvas as possible.

Hard at work. This is really not an appropriate place for this project...
Some tips: 

When you hold the hair dryer that close to the crayons, the air is pushed all over the place. Feel where the air is going so that you know what will be melting. I was surprised at first that when I would have the heat directly on the blues the greens would be melting like crazy. By feeling where the air is you can kind of direct what is melting. Pretty cool.

Another thing about the direction of the air: you can create some cool splatters across the canvas. These were unintentional (and slightly alarming!) at first, but it's a very cool effect.

As the wax starts to build up and cool (this happens very quickly), you can heat that buildup of wax back up and have it travel further down the canvas.

You are really using VERY little of the crayons so heat away for awhile! You're not going to run out.

An interesting technique I realized at the end: If you slowly move the hair dryer across ALL the crayons back and forth (over and over) you can create a really steady stream of wax that doesn't build up all that close to the crayons. Once there is a buildup you can heat that line and have it travel even further down the canvas.

Sometimes when you have the hairdryer directly on a section you can see it melting but because of the air flow it's all getting pushed upwards. Sometimes I would let the hairdryer sit on a section for a couple seconds then pull it away and all the melted wax would run down.

And finally the finished product!

Except it wasn't REALLY the finished product. 

After looking at a couple other pictures of these online today I realized that I really didn't melt the wax far enough. I thought some white space would add some artistic, interesting dimension to it, but I was wrong. So today I got it back out (cut up two more garbage bags for good measure) and reheated the built up line and more of the crayons from the top. THEN, I got a beautiful finished product that I am just so happy with!!!


I was so excited I made one for Brian too, with blacks/grays and greens for my Cavalier. :)

He wanted his vertical and REALLY melty.

I really felt like I got the hang of this with Brian's. See how there's quite a bit of distance before the build up starts? That's because I started going back and forth across slowly and steadily.

The other cool thing about these is they're pretty much ready to hang immediately. The canvas might be warm for a minute but the wax is hardened and cool in seconds. Ours are above our desks right now as a source of constant crafty, creative inspiration.

So here's some good news: Michael's is having a 40% off sale on all their canvases this week! So if you want to do this at some point in the future now is the time to go get some canvas. If you go to their website you can also download a 40% off coupon to help with the cost of crayons.

Total project for two canvas and a ton of leftover crayons: $60. (Total cost of artwork I originally wanted above my desk? At least twice that hahaha)

And, if I may, I would like to discuss crayon colors for one second. I was ASTOUNDED to learn that there are about 1,000,000 colors of crayons now. What happened to "purple" and "orange"? Now there are things like "Purple Heart" and "Macaroni and Cheese." Seriously? I was also annoyed by "Shadow" and "Manatee"--it's called GRAY people!!

P.S. I also as a matter of principle didn't use Cornflower Blue--the most awful blue ever created. You think you've picked up a nice dark blue and it ends up being that ridiculous super waxy light blue that barely leaves any color behind. It felt wonderful to finally put that crayon in its place by excluding it from my cool wall art.

Snug Hollow: It's The Little Things

In my previous post on Snug Hollow I mentioned that there were tons of little details that made the place truly special. So I wanted to dedicate an entire post to them!

I've always wanted to own a B+B. It's one of those grandiose ideas that my entrepreneurial spirit just can't put to rest. And this weekend did nothing to discourage me, that's for sure! If anything it's made me want to start a little B+B fund after we have a house so that I can realize my dream after the kids are gone.

I love to cook. I love to serve other people. I love to make people feel welcome and at home. I honestly can't wait to have a legit second bedroom because I have an awesome idea of how to design it as a guest bedroom and make people feel super welcome.

And Barbara did all this in more, the second we walked through the door.

For example, this is what you see when you walk through the front door:

Swoon! I feel like everything here has been carefully chosen
to be familiar and make you feel at home immediately.

There were fresh flowers next to our bed, as well as several other places throughout the house. Always in unexpected little places, just in case someone happened to be spending time in that space.

On the tables on the porch where we ate.

On books in the library upstairs.

There were little things that seemed so artistic to me, but were probably just little things collected over time. OR, maybe that's the pure genius of Barbara--everything seems natural but is perhaps carefully chosen? :)

Behind my "morning" rocking chair. I also had a "sunroom" rocking
chair and a back porch swing that I rotated with.

In a kitchen window.

On a ledge in the screened-in porch.

Another lovely touch of Snug Hollow is Hillary:

A little Jane Russell Terrier! She was hilarious. So tiny!!
She and Brian were best buds by the end!

And now, what is, in my opinion, the Crown Jewel of Snug Hollow: The Pearl Room.

Click to make it bigger. So much to see.

The bed is in the middle of the room (BRILLIANT idea). There is so much light and sunshine in this room. High ceilings. Little antique, whimsical pieces of furniture. And a lovely covered porch across the entire back of the room that is accessible to only you! :) Our room was so nice and cozy, but I'm excited for a special stay in this room some day.

Are you sold YET? How many more wonderful things do I need to tell you about this place? Oh yeah, almost forgot: 

No cell phone service. 
No internet. 
No TV.
No central air (but she does have window units for the bedrooms now).
No central heat (a wood-burning stove does the trick in winter).
Water supplied by a deep spring that's abundant when it rains, and worrisome when it's droughty. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Snug Hollow Farm

When do we get to go back??? This B+B was amazing beyond my wildest expectations. Well, once we got there. MAYBE an hour into our trip we're suddenly at a dead stop on 75S. FOR TWO HOURS. Poor Brian drove about 3 miles in 2 hours. And with a stick shift folks, that's not fun. An RV had pretty much exploded all over the road. They loaded it onto a flatbed truck and it was literally like a sandwich with each side of the RV stacked on top of the other. Total destruction. So anyways, we finally arrived around 8pm. The thing is, it takes a good 5-10 minutes to get to the farm after turning off the "main" road. You know to turn because you get to the barn with this quilt square on it:

Apparently it's a "thing" to have quilt squares on your barns. I never realized it till I was actually looking for one!
It sure beats confederate flags if you ask me.

You're driving and driving and wondering if you're going to get jumped by hobbits and woodland creatures when you see this sign:

And you think hallelujah we're almost there. 

And then after another 5 minutes you finally reach the cattle gate (which you have to get out and open and then shut behind you).

No hunting. Bummer.

After we got through the gate it was just another minute around the bend to the house. The first time in we saw a little 2-4 point buck! It just stood there and stared at us. We sat there and stared at it. It was very curious, but not scared until we started driving again and the diesel engine wasn't to its liking.

So we FINALLY get there and Barbara made us a delicious dinner. I sadly didn't get pics of any of the food, but I can describe the meals for you here:

Bowtie pasta with lemon cream sauce, snap peas, corn off the cob and strawberry pie
Oat pancakes and poached eggs with fresh fruit and yogurt
Scalloped potatoes, baked beans, corn succotash and cornbread with apple dumplings
Breakfast potatoes, scrambled eggs, biscuits and granola with fruit

Everything is vegetarian and homemade. We of course bought her cookbook. And I found two new products to add to my cooking repertoire: nutritional yeast for some added protein and a nutty flavor and Tamari, a gluten-free soy sauce that gives dishes a bit of a meaty flavor. 

So the first night we were exhausted and after some wine and poking around the house a bit retired early to bed in our beautiful room: 

It had a private bathroom and a little room off the back with two twin beds in it!
Yes, those are fresh flowers by the lamp. :)

The only problem was it felt like Christmas to me. I couldn't believe the place was so perfect. I couldn't believe the people were so nice. And I couldn't fall asleep to save my life.  Saturday morning I woke up about 6:30 (darn you work habits!) and I was so excited I just got up. Nobody was awake yet so I peeked out the back door (which was left open all night, like all the others, for air flow--no central air!) and it was so foggy and misty and eerie it was just awesome. So I ran back upstairs and got the camera and manual to try and play around a bit. 

The problem is the sun was rising so fast that I didn't have enough time to play and get it quite right. But here's a really crummy example of how cool the mist was: 

It was much darker than this photo would have you believe. 

So I sat on the porch for over an hour by myself and just rocked away in a chair. So peaceful. I wasn't actually watching the sun itself rise, but it was wonderful to listen to the world wake up (and get rid of the bat that had been flying around the porch with me!). 

I spent a lot of time out there in the chair and here: 

Heaven is anywhere there's a porch swing.

So Saturday we really didn't do much of anything. It was blazing hot, and Brian wanted to take his first of 75 naps of the day, so we didn't start our little hike around the property till at least 11:30 (not a great idea). I should also mention we didn't go around the ENTIRE property--it's 300 acres--but stayed within the mowed paths to catch some of the highlights quickly: 

I think there may have been horses here once.

A little hill of tall grasses.

A pond by the bigger cabin. Barbara said people used to swim in it
but now there's turtles "as big as you" in it!

Now, many of you may know that I am quite a morbid person and love a good, old cemetery. Snug Hollow just happens to have a little cemetery on it that added to the creepiness off in the distance as the sun rose that morning. So of course I wanted to go check it out and see how old the gravestones are. Turns out--not THAT old. Someone was buried there in 2001 for goodness' sakes! However, still a cemetery and still cool in my eyes. 

There is just something so creepy and wrong and awesome about this picture. I looked down
and realized both our shadows were over the grave and made Brian stay put. It just
makes me think of mortality and life and death, young and old. Amazing.

Handsome husband. He really was having a good time. The cemetery just had about
a million bugs and I thought WE were getting eaten alive, but turns out, as usual
it was just me. 

So after that adventure we headed back towards the house via the vegetable and flower gardens:

Here's a photo of the farmhouse from the path leading back:

The screened porch there is where we ate all our meals.

And one of the cabin we'll be staying in for our mom/daughter weekend: 

It looks SO SMALL but I swear on the inside there is room to sleep at least 9,
two stories, and a mini kitchen! Plus a covered porch on the back with
tons of rocking chairs.

I'm going to have to do a second post of all the awesome little touches that Barbara has throughout the house that just make you feel at home. There's always something new and interesting to discover. Here's us on Saturday, so thankful we found Snug Hollow:

Thank you Barbara for a wonderful weekend!!!

Saturday night after dinner Barbara taught us how to play Fast Scrabble (awesome game) and then we retired pretty early again. Since I had been up since 6:30 I was ready for bed!!

This is the second time we've stayed at a B+B. The first time was for our first anniversary, and it was really more like staying in the guest house. It was our own little cottage separate from the main house. Peggy brought us breakfast each morning and then we did our own thing for the rest of the day. It was very nice and relaxing and the food was delicious, but it wasn't Snug Hollow. 

I really, really enjoyed being in the main house. I was a little apprehensive and couldn't remember if we had a private bathroom or not. But I loved getting to meet new people. I know this sounds weird, but at the end of every meal I would be racking my brain to make sure I'd really never met any of the other guests before. They just seemed so familiar that I felt like maybe I actually did know them in "real life." Everyone stayed for 30 minutes to an hour after every meal just talking and sharing stories and getting to know one another. 

And I couldn't end the post without mentioning Barbara's wonderful helpers that we met: Olivia, Nikki and Connor. Everyone was just so nice and accommodating. They would introduce themselves when they arrived and then be sure to come say goodbye on their way out. Such thoughtful, hard-working people. 

Needless to say, we'll be back again and again and I think I may have found my new preferred mode of travel: B+B to B+B.

(Check out the second post about Snug Hollow here)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Labor Day Getaway!

This weekend (one of the last free till the end of band season in November) we're headed to Red River Gorge for the first time! I found an awesome B+B on a 300 acre property/organic farm. I am so excited for this relaxing trip with my lovely husband. We're taking our camera and a huge book about how to actually use it and we're going to become GOOD at something other than the auto setting. :) Here's some pics of Snug Hollow Farm:

Rocking chairs on a porch are definitely in our future.

I believe we'll be eating dinner here in the main farmhouse.

Beautiful!! 300 acres to hike and wander through.

Our wedding photographer, Steph Carson, now lives in Red River Gorge. We had originally hoped to get some updated photos of the two of us taken over the weekend. The last time we had professionals done was our wedding, when my hair was like a pixie! But she's ironically going to be shooting weddings in Cincy so it just wasn't meant to be this time.

One thing I'm really excited about is the fact that Barbara, the owner of Snug Hollow, is a wonderful cook and even has her own cookbook! She also cooks all vegetarian. I cannot wait to have some awesome, professionally prepared veggie food all weekend. Here's an excerpt from reviews/her book:

Cooking is my passion and even though I am an amateur, my time in the kitchen is a calling. Cooking is not a chore here but a daily meditation. The planning, preparation and sharing of vegetarian meals are joys for me and gifts to our guests. At Snug Hollow, the sunny kitchen is the engine room of the house. Bread is baked daily; soups simmer on the stove and the pies in the oven fill the house with a fragrant promise of what’s to come. Hearty breakfasts, lunches and elegant dinners are lovingly prepared and make their way to the table...another memorable meal! I’m not sure if I was born to cook, but I sure have a love of preparing food my way. Since becoming a vegetarian 32 years ago I have searched for creative ways to cook and prepare delicious meals. My preference is to serve up old favorites with as little alteration as possible. Stuffed green peppers, pot pies, bean soup, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese or even a good cheesy pizza are my favorites. 

Yeah I think that'll work. :) 

We don't really have many specific plans for the weekend. We are going to be near Berea, which is a great arts and crafts town. We'll obviously be near the gorge which we've never seen. And then there will be a 300 acre farm at our disposal too!! 

We're hoping this will be the next location for our upcoming Mothers and Daughters Gone Wild trip of 2012 (see here for some details on the previous trip).

I'll report back next week with hopefully some amazing photos from the weekend. Have a safe Labor Day and for heaven's sakes, do some relaxing!!  
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