Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rose of Sharon

Join the fun at Green Thumb Thursday!

Two years ago, when we moved to Magnolia Holler, there was this massive tree/bush thing. We thought it dead, but turned out it was only dormant.
It leaf out and when it bloomed - it was beautiful! My mother-in-law identified it as a Rose of Sharon. Yet this one was in need of serious prunning! It covered the window above the kitchen sink, we couldn't see out!
Researching how to properly prune a Rose of Sharon, it was suggested to prune one third of the stems for three years time. Last year we pruned it back, you can tell where if you look close. And once again it has grown so tall in one season we need to cut it back again.
This time we took it down even further than last year.
I can't wait for it to bloom again! Do you have a Rose of Sharon, or ever seen one so big? Usually the ones I see are much smaller!
-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Friday, February 22, 2013

Amish Friendship Bread

Join the fun at Old Time Party!
Have you ever made or tried Amish Friendship Bread? I have once, about 15 years ago, and I still remember it! These past few weeks have been cold and overcast, with little to no sun. It's made me want to bake, so I thought about baking bread. Then I thought about baking Amish Friendship Bread. But how? It's one of those things you're past, you have to know someone...

Well, thanks to the world of Google, I was able to find the Amish Friendship Bread recipe WITH the bread starter recipe. I was ecstatic!

I followed the directions for the Starter bread, and waited. Day 1 complete.

Now fast forward 10 days...I am ready to make bread!

I pour the starter in a bowl, follow the directions to "feed" it. Then divide out 1-cup portions in other bags to keep or pass on. The instructions said there will typically be four cups. Well...

I ended up with seven total! (I guess my starter was happy.) Six to give away (or freeze as I did) and one to make bread with.
The bread turned out a sweet yummy treat! Our family devoured one and we gave one to our neighbor to enjoy!

Don't forget to head over to Townsend House and link up your food creation for the week!

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Heirloom Seeds

I'm not sure if it's my love of antiquities or my fascination with history, but I am intrigued by heirloom seeds. I love reading about the origin and story behind each seed variety. And the fact that you can harvest your seeds to save and use again is an added bonus! 

My go-to seed catalogue for heirlooms is Baker Creek...
I can spend hours flipping through their seed catalogue, reading the descriptions, the story behind each seed, and the pictures are beautiful!

I hope to begin a tradition with my son, saving seeds from our harvest and gifting or replanting the next year; or even starting a seed swap between friends and in our community.

My fascination with heirlooms also shines through in the orchard we're planting. Most of the apple trees we're planting are heirlooms, or heritage as some call it. Several years from now when our orchard is healthy and in full production, hopefully we'll help to preserve some of our rich history!
What are your favorite Heirlooms to grow? So far, I love the Brandywine Tomato!
-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Friendly Hello!

Join the fun at the Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest!

Last  month I talked about our family of barn cats. It's taken over a year, but they are now socialized (at least with me). They all still run from my hubby and a few are friendly with my son. Anywho, with this cold weather they've become very intrigued with "inside". They wait for me on the door step every morning. Two of them have slipped under my foot when the door is open, only to stand in the room looking around and turn to run back outside. The others will peer inside from the door step, but wont venture in.

Their favorite spot to do this is the front windows. This drives our dog, Genny, crazy! This is Patches. She was born last spring.
So I let Genny outside to calm her down. It appears Patches was asking if Genny could come out and play! Look at them giving each other kisses!
Later in the day, I guess it was Whittie's turn, he is Patches brother. His favorite spot in the afternoon is sitting in my flower pot!
Whittie is the most social of the bunch. He wasn't always, but when he was about 3 months old I saved his life. Let me explain, they all usually greet me in the morning for breakfast, and when one was missing I would make a mental note and keep an eye out for him/her throughout the day, and they would always reappear. Well, this particular morning Whittie wasn't at morning feeding, mental note. A few hours later I took Genny out and left our screen door open, it was July. Our indoor cats LOVE to go outside and will sit by the door and cry. (They are very vocal.) Now, at this point I'd never once her any of the barn cats vocalize anything other than a hiss. No meow or purr.

To my surprise I heard the tiniest meow, in response to my indoor kitty, Ezzy. I followed the cry and found him inside our wood chipper! How he got in there (and why) I haven't a clue. But I helped him out. The first time he'd let me get that close and the first time (and first one) to let me touch him.

He immediately ran to his mommy and then to the food. But from that time on he's been my little shadow whenever I'm outside. To end this story, he's such a little rag doll! Him and my son are BFFs!

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Unruly Blackberry Canes

When we moved to Magnolia Holler there were three massive areas of overgrown blackberries. We were so overwhelmed with everything else on the "To Do" list; we haven't had time to properly care for the blackberries. Now, don't get me wrong, we've been enjoying them; I've been picking blackberries galore the past two summers.
But this year, things have relaxed a bit and I’ve been reading up how to properly prune and care for them. Now I understand their growth habits, only fruiting on two-year old canes, trimming the spend canes at the end of the summer, and pruning the remaining canes to about 24" tall in late winter/early spring.
Seeing how we’re experiencing nice weather, I decided to head out and tackle this project. My fingers, writs, and arms are NOT thanking me! I need steel plated armor for this job! Ouch! I spent two hours and haven’t made a dent.

This is what I’m dealing with. We have three clumps that look just like this.

Standing back and looking at them, what I should do (and can’t bear to think about) is give up a growing season, and mow them all down – to give a fresh start.

Any suggestions? Have you ever had to untangle and manage an unruly mass of blackberry canes? What was your trick?

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Friday, February 15, 2013

Little bit of color

Thank you everyone who participated in Lisa and Nancy's Valentine's Day BMB party! I hope everyone had as much fun as I did. I discovered some wonderful new blogs to follow!

To cheer up a cold and cloudy Friday -- here is a story with a pop of color!
We don't have much color during winter here at a Magnolia Holler. Don't get me wrong, we have a lot of evergreens, but not much bright color. We don't spent much time directly behind the house because the pond is so close and our son is only three (we don't want any accidents, I have looked into swimming lessons for this Spring). Though, in the summer, under close supervision, we do sit out on the bank and go fishing - blue gill and large mouth bass.

Well, I walked around the house observing what needed attention in the way of pruning, and when I turned the corner to the back a smile flushed my face! Sitting in the middle of the back is a bush FULL of bright red berries!

I've been trying to identify the bush, between the berries and leaves...

I'm not certain, but I think it may be Heavenly Bamboo.
What do y'all think? Happy Friday!

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

I have a huge sweet tooth, and that's an understatement. I love baking, but I've never tried to make candy. I saw this pan at the store and bought it, yes it was an impulse buy!

So I thought I'd try to make a little sweet treat surprise, the recipe on the back seemed easy enough. First, I gathered the ingredient.

Then, I heated the creamer, slowly, stirring constantly.

I measured the bittersweet chocolates.

Removed the creamer from the stove and added the bittersweet and vanilla. Stirring to melt evenly.

When it's all melted, I put it in the fridge to chill.

Next, I get to work on the candy shell. (Above was for the filling.) Now to make quick work of this, I melt the chocolate in the microwave. Then I used a baby spoon to coat the pan.

Now this goes in the fridge to chill. When hard, about 10 minutes, I take both from the fridge. I use a melon ball scooper and fill each candy cup with the filling.

I grab that baby spoon again, melt more chocolate, and seal the bottoms. Then in the fridge again for a good set.

About 15 minutes later, pop them out and we have some yummy and pretty candies!

Happy Valentine's Day! Xoxo
What are your plans to celebrate Valentine's Day?

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Our Apple Orchard

In three years time, our goal is to have 100 apple trees planted, give or take a few. Last year we planted 20. We have 36 apple and 4 pear on order for delivery this month for spring planting. We've been focusing on Old "Heritage" varieties, though we've also included a few Modern varieties. Our go-to nursery is Century Farm Orchards.
Our current (and on-order) inventory includes...
  • Kinnaird's Choice
  • Newtown (Albemarle) Pippin
  • Old Fashioned Limbertwig (aka Red Limbertwig)
  • Ralls Janet
  • VA Beauty
  • Virginia Winesap
  • William's Favorite
  • Lowry
  • American Golden Russet
  • Arkansas Black
  • Aunt Rachel
  • Bevan's Favorite
  • Blacktwig (Mammoth)
  • Enterprise
  • Father Abraham
  • Florina
  • Gala
  • Grimes Golden
  • Johnson Keeper
  • Joseph's Apple
  • King David
  • Liberty
  • Mary Reid
  • Pink Lady (aka Cripps Pink)
  • Roxbury Russet
  • Stayman Winesap
  • Swiss Limbertwig
  • Terry Winter
  • Yates
I can hardly wait four more years for our first crop! O' jams, jellies, butters, sauces, pies and fresh pressed cider galore! My mouth is watering...
-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Sunday, February 10, 2013


A beautiful weekend and everyone is out enjoying it!
Whittie, one of the barn cats, enjoying the rays of sun. He was frolicking about all morning! (Can you see him perched between the tree, behind the magnolia?)

Pumpkin, one of his sisters, tried her balancing act on the log.

Whittie took flight! He had a spark of energy and practiced his climbing skills.

The view from our property line. (Don't get too excited, that pasture is our neighbors.) But, isn't the view breathtaking!

The daffodils agree with Punxsutawney Phil, an early spring!

I love daffodils peaking through the snow. This is all that remains of the snow from Friday morning.

My son and I enjoyed it too. We explored the woods all morning, then once it warmed up we pruned some apple trees and assisted my hubby in removing some diseased apple trees and more cedar trees. Our next tree shipment arrives in two weeks. So much work to do, but we're almost ready for them.
Even though it only reached 44 degrees, we spread out a blanket and had a picnic outside. My son loved it!

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Friday, February 8, 2013

Santa Came!

Last night before my son Q, who is 3, went to bed, out of the blue he asked if Santa was coming tomorrow. I told him no, reminded him Santa comes once a year, on Christmas, which was in December. I told him he had another birthday before Christmas again. (His birthday is in September.) Then we proceeded to go through all the birth months of our extended family. And he finally went to sleep.

Well, much to our surprise it snowed 3" while we slept! When Q woke up, this is what he saw...

...and the precious little boy that he is, his eyes got wide and he said "Santa came!"

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Best Gift Ever - Udderly Smooth

For Christmas my husband gave me hand lotion...

I'm a little picky, because I don't like the greasy stuff and certain scents. I'd never heard of it, so I asked him "Why this stuff?" He answered honestly, because he thought the name was funny.
Well, much to our surprise (and my enjoyment) this stuff is AWESOME! I'm hooked. Everyone on my shopping list is getting this for Christmas next year!

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Feathered Friends

One of my favorite spot in the house is our picture window, it's upfront and has a gorgeous view of the magnolia, many of the fruit trees, and my mint garden. I've put up a few bird feeders right outside this window and we always enjoy the show!

I was sitting here for a few minutes marveling at the many different feathered friends we have, when I realized I should take pictures to share!

The Black-capped Chickadee started the show.

The Tufted Titmouse flew in for a turn.

The Chickadee decided they could share.

A White-breasted Nuthatch swooped in...I think he was posing!

I couldn't resist, his coloring is beautiful!

Then for the grand finale, the beautiful Red-bellied Woodpecker!

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler