Monthly Archives: July 2015

Mason Jar Chandelier a DIY project: With Our Barn Wood Update

To add a real personal touch to the family room remodel Tom and I added two Mason Jar chandeliers. We removed an older ceiling fan/light fixture that did not properly light the large room and replaced them with 2 light boxes, with 6 bulbs of soft colored pendant lights. We got the idea from a looking at web pages that had barn wood and county rooms that had used Mason Jars as shades for light fixtures. Tom and I worked out what we wanted and the did some experimenting before settling on two lights instead of just one large one. This is what we ended up making out of the scrap wood left over from the walls. This is just one of the two light boxes we made.

Mason Jar chandalier made from old barn wood

Mason Jar chandelier made from old barn wood

Each box houses three lights (like the one above) and each light has a 40 watt clear appliance bulb inside a pint mason jar. Using the ring and seal as our bracket to support the jar. Each jar is removable can change in color or size, up to a quart jar with many decorative colors… This is my first combination Green, Clear and Blue. At some time in the future I will stain a few clear jars a warm yellow if Ball does not produce them soon!

The room looks like this with both light fixtures, you can see in the photo where the ceiling fan/light used to mount. These lights are about 8 feet apart and mount to ceiling rafters with brackets in our attic. The brackets attached to wooden blocks on the drywall part of the ceiling that slide into the wood boxes and attach with double-sided blots that have wood screws on one side and machine screws on the other, topped with acorn nuts and washers.

two  mason jar light fixtures installed and working ... yea!

two mason jar light fixtures installed and working … yea!


The lights are pretty easy to make and there are a lot of ideas on the internet, some have “how to” videos and others are just photos. So to explain what we did here I have added some photos and descriptions that may help if you to make these  yourself.

First, Tom and I had to decide three things, how much light we wanted, how many fixtures we wanted and finally how big should the shades be. So with a little test light that Tom wired up we started with clear quart jars and the idea of having 8 lights on one fixture using 90 watt clear bulbs. Wow that was just toooo bright.Unless we wanted to buy Edison light bulbs ( they appear sepia in color) at 9 dollars a bulb we had to come up with something less bright.

So we started to scale down what we wanted to make. The one big box idea changed to a two box light set up so that the light would fill the entire room and not blind people watching  the T.V.  Then we needed to rethink the amount of light we needed. I could have used the Edison bulbs at 60 watts they are still a less bright light than clear bulbs but the cost of the bulbs was just silly about ($100.00 ). The bulbs would cost more than the whole fixture.I still wanted clear bulbs so we went smaller and lower wattage. The standard 40 watt clear bulbs cost me 4 dollars for 4 bulbs, so the price was good and we could use a smaller shade and I had many jars to use.I have some clear jars and some colored already. I like the colored ones to use for drinking glasses,vases and candle holders. So I had no money in the colored pint jars and had lids and rings in my collection of canning supplies.

We then decided that 4 lights was really more than we needed wattage wise and the look of three pendants looks better than 4. So the two light boxes with three small jar covers with 40 watt bulbs became the plan. Tom made the boxes out of scrap wood we had left over from the Barnwood Builders remodel and drilled three holes for the light cord wiring. The wire was the most expensive portion of the fixture and we bought a 25 foot roll and had about 4 feet left over. Tom wanted the wire to match the socket and fill it completely so we kind over did what we needed to produce a 40 watt light but it looks great so the extra money was worth it in the long run.

light box with three holes the box face is 36 inches with a 1 inch frame on all sides

light box with three holes the box face is 36 inches with a 1 inch frame on all sides

Tom wiring in light cords into shallow wiring box

Tom wiring in light cords into shallow wiring

wiring for Manson Jar chandelier

wiring for Manson Jar chandelier

From here you can see how we could wire up more than one light to a single fixture. We mounted two Grounding Bars ( found in the fuse box section) to the side of a shallow blue wiring box. Each bar has room for several connections we would only use three on each bar. One bar is the ground and one bar is the hot,then the wiring box  mounted to the center of the light box with wood screws. The cords were then cut to length on the other side and a zip ties  applied to the cord so there was a stop on the cord. This prevents the weight of the shade and bulb from pulling on the cord and possibly pulling the cord out of the grounding bar. Then sockets attach to the cords. We used two-part sockets so that we could add the lid to the socket as the bracket to hold on the jar.

Adding sockets to cords of three Mason Jar light fixture

Adding sockets to cords of three Mason Jar light fixture

Chandelier light test

Chandelier light test

After adding the sockets to the cords it was time to make sure the wiring worked and add bulbs to see how bright the lights were. Tom just stripped an old extension cord down and wired it into the power bars on the inside of the box, plugged the other end into the wall outlet to see if what he had made worked properly; this is what I saw. Now we just needed to get the lids cut for the shades and add them to see if they were going to look good.

Cutting the lids was pretty easy if you leave the lids on the jars and tighten up the rings. Otherwise it is almost impossible to hold the lids in place with either your fingers or small clamps. Tom used a 32 mm hole cutter to cut the holes … the cutters hole is just shy of what we needed and the fit was rough from the cutter.

Standard 32 mm hole cutter to cut holes in canning jar lids

Standard 32 mm hole cutter to cut holes in canning jar lids

cutting hole in lid of Mason Jar for light fixture

cutting hole in lid of Mason Jar for light fixture

ruff hole cut in canning jar lid

rough hole cut in canning jar lid

To make the edges smooth and increase the size of the hole Tom used a small grinding stone bit in his drill. He ground off the edge until the socket fit into each hole and the edges are not super sharp. Then he fits each socket into the lid and drills ventilation  holes 4 each in the lid.

Tom grinding down the lid and enlarging hole for socket

Tom grinding down the lid and enlarging hole for socket

drilling 4 vent hole into lid of Mason Jar light shade

drilling 4 vent hole into lid of Mason Jar light shade

When complete the lids and rings were added to the sockets, then we screwed on the jars and tested again.

Mason Jar light shades... blue green and clear ready to add to light fixtuer

Mason Jar light shades… blue, green and clear ready to add to light fixture

Testing Mason Jar Lights these are ready to install

Testing Mason Jar Lights these are ready to install

The installation was a two person job as the boxes are heavy. The barn wood box with wiring is held in place while the wires connect at the ceiling for a long time. I would suggest using two ladders it makes installation much easier. Be prepared to use a strong set of arms as you push the fixture on to the screws hanging down from the blocks attached to the ceiling. Once in place we were so excited to see that they both worked and the light filled the entire room instead of only in the middle that we just stopped working for a couple of days to enjoy what it looked like.

View from back of room to front with both Mason Jar Chandeliers

View from back of room to front with both Mason Jar Chandeliers


We have also added a small sconce light to the back wall over my computer desk so that we can see at the desk without turning on all the lights. Again it needed rewired because I did not want to open up the wall to install it. Tom added a switch cord and we stuffed the cord between the boars on the wall. It works great and in the future I will get a brown cord and tack the cord in place.

New light sconce light fixture and some of the base board and ceiling molding

New light sconce light fixture and some of the base board and ceiling molding

So I am slowly getting the furniture back in place, photos hung and rugs put down. It will be next week before we have every thing back in place and I can take after photos but this gives you an idea of how far we have come. It has been more work then I imagined and took about a month longer then I hoped. But we did this ourselves no contractor was really needed.We did call on lots of friends and family to help out over the last 4 months and it was all worth it in the end. Can’t wait to share the after photos.

Categories: Barnwood, Barnwood Builders, DIY, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, light fixtures, Mason Jars | Tags: , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

The Versatile Blogger: Sharing the blogs I love

I have some of the best blogger friends, they never stop sharing their support for my little piece of cyber-space. Doug over at Carnivore Confidential  a professional Butcher with a witty blog has been so kind to share the Versatile Blogger award with me. We share a passion for all things wild from hunting wild game to spending free time cooking and foraging  in the mountains and streams of our prospective Countries of Canada and the U.S. So I have found a few minutes to try to pass along the love and send this award to those I really enjoy reading and  sharing time with, hope you like them too!


The rules for the Award are pretty simple….

1st .Thank the person or blog that nominated you…….. Thanks to Carnivore Confidential for thinking of me and my blog about living life slowly and fully every day.

2nd. List 7 things that you may not know about me. This is always hard for me, I forget what it is that I have shared here and what I haven’t. So forgive me if I am repeating things.

1. I raised in a restaurant family… my mother owned a small cafe on the Campus of the University of Colorado (Boulder, Co. USA) where I got to hang out in the summer. This is where I found my love for food and cooking.

2. I lost my father at the young age of 5 to heart problems.

3. I read almost everyday and never go anywhere without a novel tucked into my purse.

quietly reading a book

quietly reading a book

4. I have tattoos.. from years ago when I was young and wild and will add to them when I am old and wild.

5. My favorite ice cream is Butter Pecan. Really who does not love some kind of ice cream.

6. I started writing this blog while staying home taking care of a 77-year-old cancer Patient and a and this blog were my saving grace.

7. One of my first jobs over the summers while still in high school was working in a Butcher shop… yea I was a wrapper and set up girl for a three cutter shop that made its own sausage and brats. Now you see the connection to Doug and his meat tips blog.

3rd. share blogs that you think deserve this award. In my case I shared 10 and just want to say I have more that I love to read but these are ones that I think others should check out.

I read a lot of blogs and I love all of them and I even know some of the larger blogs do not accept awards. So I will not asks any bloggers to pass along the award but want to give a high 5 to a few that I have been really touched by. I want them to know I think a lot of what they do and what they write about. My blog reading covers a wide array subjects and life styles so hopefully you can find some thing that interests you. If any of these bloggers have time it would be great if you can share this award with others so we can read new blogs and make new friends. Just fallow the rules and send it on!

1. Dolly’s blog at Strange Remains is a forensic blog about strange and unusual crimes, tall tales, folk-lore and terrifying true events from our history and our world.

2. Jennelle’s  blog’s is a wonderful foodie project from another West Virginia blogger.. eat well and explore more of West Virginia my friends at Delicious Portager.

3. Holly’s blog is a photographers view of the world down under… Holly travels Australia taking photos of the magic she see in her world. Take a trip with Red Terrain.

4. Dan’s blog is the same style as mine and you just never know what the topic you will read about from post to post. He shares photos, memories, life tips, and other funny and insightful stories. Check it at out at No Facilities.

5. Shawn and his wonderful wife are writing about being new to homesteading in Appalachia at Hillbilly’s in Training. So much fun for me to see them battle some of the same battles I fight everyday.

6. Willow Creek Farm’s blog is my way of staying in touch with my roots an alpine farm in the mountains of Colorado.

7. Eddie Two Hawks does not accept awards… but I just cant help but say that if he posted every single day I would try to read his wise, insightful, spiritual, beautiful, posts. They are the quite in an other wise noisy storm.

8. Matilda at Simply Grateful House Wife is my kindred spirit in the blogging world. We raise gardens, kids and husbands, with a kind heart and a grateful spirit.

9. Want to learn more about gardening and DIY projects then take some advice from Pobet at Town and Country Gardening.

10.Debbie and her family of 5 little ones and a hard-working Dad just makes my day every time I read her witty insightful blog… remember Put Your Booger in My Pocket I laugh through every post!

So there are some of my weekly blogs that I will continue to fallow for as long as they will have me!  Thanks Doug it has been a while since I was able to take part in an award and help support some of the other bloggers.

Categories: awards, blogging, writing | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

True Love is always found over Pie: My recipe for True Love Apple Pie

close up a green apples

close up a green apples

Every time I make apple pie I remember how just one slice changed everything between Tom and I. It was  Thanksgiving day in Baumholder West Germany ( at the time they were still East and West) my first holiday away from home and on an Army Base. A couple of us girls with off Post housing thought we would make dinner for our friends who were either single or home alone while their husbands were out in the field or doing other assignments.The food and company had to be better than dinner at the Mess Hall so the plans were set. We were a loose bunch of friends from the 363rd mechanized unit. Some were Gunners, Recovery Specialist, Mechanics, Tankers, Mortar Men, Radio Controllers, but  most of all, we were part of the United States Army family.We were brought together from all over the country. We had friends from small towns and big cities, from the green east to the sunny west from the cold north to the deep south. Our dinner party had a random mixture of accents, stories and colors of skin. We were all from the U.S.  and we all wanted to have a traditional American Thanksgiving even if we were thousands of miles away from home..

My friend Angie was the hostess that Thanksgiving, making most of the main course of the  dinner, the rest of us girls just helped out. I have always liked to bake and worked in a bakery for several years so I volunteered to make the traditional pies for the dinner two pumpkin and one apple. I made the same recipe that I still fallow today. Around 1 p.m. in the afternoon I walked the fresh home-made pies to Angie’s midsize two bedroom apartment. We lived only about 4 blocks away from each other in white stucco apartments. The crowd arrived and I think we had about 15 for dinner and the house was full. We ate sitting on the floor, on dinning chairs and on sofa arms . The food was great, the music was the 80’s metal bands and smoke-filled the room as dinner was over and deserts got cut. I help to serve pie, ice cream and cake. But what caught my attention that day was Tom. After a few bites of pie he returned to where I stood and asked me where I learned to make the apple pie. I said from my mothers old cookbook and we continued to talk. The talking never really ended.

granny smith apples sliced

granny smith apples sliced

That afternoon we spent hours talking about our families and that we both loved home cooked food and Christmas fudge that our families would send over to us from home. He talked about his dog and I talked about my cat. We eat another piece of pie and spent the rest of the evening sitting together in the living room playing Gun and Roses, Ozzy, White Snake, AC/DC  on the stereo turn table with Tom as D.J. Our friends moved in and out of groups of conversations and beer bottles hissed and dancing happened. We never moved from that old soft recliner where I sat on the floor watching him change albums. Hours passed, dishes needed cleared and beer bottles clanked in the trash bag as ashes got dumped in from a hundred cigarettes. We were still talking and cleaning and neither of us wanted it to end. Finally around 11 p.m. I had to walk home and Tom offered to walk with me. In the glow of street lamps, on the cobble stones we walked the 4 blocks from Angie’s apartment to mine where we said good night.

apple pie filling is ready to bake

apple pie filling is ready to bake

He never kissed or  hugged me at that old wooden door. He only said  he was happy that I was safe at home and that he loved my pie. He turned and started to walk up the steep cobble stone hill in front of my apartment building. I watched as he reached the crest and he turned and waved good-bye to me on his 2 mile walk back to the barracks. I spent to rest of the night wondering what in the world was so good about that pie and how he would have to get up in just a few hours and go to work. I was happy to see him the following evening after he got off work so we could talk more over a beer or two.

I never did understand why that pie was so good. I never did forget that walk home in the misty night. I am just thankful that I can still make it for him. Today I am preparing for a fruit pie contest at the 4-H fair. I have made other things for the fair but this will be the first time I have made a pie. So I am making a couple of TEST apple pies today and want to share the recipe with you just because this pie is why my husband and I are still in love.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I do making them.

Apple pie ready for the oven

Apple pie ready for the oven

My True Love Apple Pie ( deep dish)

1  Double Pie crust… store-bought or home-made.

5 to 6 large Granny Smith Apples ( 2 pounds),peeled, cored and sliced very thin.

1/2 half cup packed dark brown sugar

1   tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup salted real butter

add lots of love.

Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes until filling is bubbly. Always put pie on cook sheet to prevent juice from running over into oven.Cover edge of pie crust for about the first 20 minutes with tin foil.

True Love Apple Pie

True Love Apple Pie

Categories: Apples, cakes and family deserts, family memories, friends, Memories, nostalgic, Pie, Thanksgiving | 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,


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

The Beginning and the End

As the truth of the news sets in I fill with a choking pain. I do not know what to say and I have no idea what is going to happen in our families future. They don’t give instructions on how to deal with the cancer process. The results from Grandma chemo are the worst you can get. The Dr.’s see no improvement from the 6 Chemo treatments that she has received. There is nothing left that they can do.

As we hear this my husband and I look at each other with eyes that are wide open. The future was never a proven fact, only a glimmering hope on the horizon and try as we (the whole family) might the fact is that we had one good year and maybe a few more months before the cancer starts to change our lives again. I got word from the Dr that we would see the cancer return in about a year and we would be lucky to have Grandma here with us at the three-year mark. That seems all seem like a dream now as the tumors have doubled in a matter of 6 weeks. The first year is already gone and we are now looking at maybe having months with her not years.

Wild Blue Bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

Wild Blue Bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

She has gone and made her funeral plans and picked out the casket and song that need played. Her plot has been saved and the final paper work is almost in order. The fact is that she is going about this transition in the most honorable way possible. She is thanking everyone and saying the words that need said to make everything “Right” before it is too late.  It is an important time for my family and I hope all of you understand that in the coming months I may or may not write my weekly post. I will try to share things I love when I can and when the mood strikes but not unless it feels right.

We are about finished with the remodel just in time for all of this to happen. The Barn Wood Builders are coming back to finish up the filming of the house the 28th of Aug so we have time to get all the details done by then. At some point around that time I will be getting Grandmas room ready and she will move back in with us at some point in the future. I am ready and willing to make her last days as comfortable as possible with Gods help.

So as Grandma always tells us this is really not an Ending but only the Beginning. That death is not the worst part,it  is being trapped in a broken body that is terrible, that the spirit is free at death and can finally return to the unending love of our creator. She is so wise in all of her 78 years that I must believe that what she says is true. That death will only be a better beginning for all of us. That her freedom from pain and suffering will also release the rest of us from our suffering also. That somewhere in the future I will be able to breathe freely again but this time it will be for her.

Window at the Hutte Haus in Helvetia West Virigina  The old and the new

Window at the Hutte Haus in Helvetia West Virgina The old and the new

Categories: Cancer, cancer treatment, Death, family health, grandma, Healing | Tags: , , , , , , | 23 Comments

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