Monthly Archives: December 2015

West Virginia Mountain Mama keeps growing ;WordPress stats 2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 62,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Categories: Uncategorized | 7 Comments

New Year Photo Review 2015

New Years is the time when everyone one gets a second chance . It is a time to rejoice in the new beginnings of life and to mourn the loss of the lives we have lost. It is my time to look back at some of the wonderful things we have done and places we have visited. So here is my New Year Photo Review, hoping that you enjoy seeing what I have been up to, Happy New Year from Mountain Mama.

Old Cabin Rock Cave West Virginia

Old Cabin Rock Cave, West Virginia Feb. 2015

Red Barn in snow Buckhannon West Virginia 2015

Red barn in snow Buckhannon, West Virginia Feb. 2015

Tom walking to barn on Kenchelo

Tom walking to old barn on Kenchelo March 2015

Jinn our new kitty April 2015

Jinn our new kitty April 2015

Jolynn Powers turkey hunting spring 2015

JoLynn Powers  new to turkey hunting  May 2015

Tom and Christopher at Seneca Rocks Easter Morning 2015

Tom and Christopher early Easter morning Seneca Rocks 2015

meet Chipper and Splinter the Barnwood builder Babies

Chipper and Splinter the new  Barnwood Builder Babies June 2015

Front Porch of the Hutte Swiss Restaurant , Helvetia, WV

Front porch of the old  Hutte Swiss Restaurant  Helvetia, West Virginia June 2015

Red eyed box turtle in back yard July 2015

New friend in the back yard Red Eyed Box Turtle  July 2015

Christopher and I after sanding the tape on the ceiling.

Christopher and I after sanding the tape on the new ceiling summer 2015

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

Jolynn Powers’ new experience  holding television camera from the Barnwood Builders crew Aug. 2015

Finished Family room from kitchen door way with desk in new place

New Barnwood paneling in the family room Aug. 2015

Otter Sculpture at the Wheeling West Virginia Zoo 2015

River Otter Sculpture at the old Ogelbay  Zoo and Park, Wheeling ,West Virginia July 2015

New Competitor at 4-H rabbit show Aug 2015

New Competitor at Lewis County 4-H rabbit show ( with dad Cody Powers) Aug 2015

Rainy Day in the Mountains of West Virginia 2015

A new day  in the Mountains of West Virginia 2015

front view of Henry Lee cabin at Lost River State Park

The old Henry Lee cabin at Lost River State Park, Mathis, West Virginia, Aug. 2015

Christopher Powers turning 7 Sept 24 2015

A fresh new  7-year-old, Christopher Powers Sept. 24 2015

Christopher Powers Playing with Polar Bear at the Pittsburgh Zoo 2015

New friends Christopher Powers and Polar Bear at the Pittsburgh Zoo Oct 2015

St Bernard Church Weston West Virginia

Very old St. Bernard Church, Weston ,West Virginia Oct 2015

Paige and Jolynn Powers playing in fall leaves Oct 2015

New back yard fun, Paige and JoLynn Powers playing in fall leaves Oct. 2015

Henry Gassaway Davis mounted on his horse in Elkins, West Virginia

The memorial for the very old Henry Gassaway Davis in Elkins, West Virginia, Nov. 2015

Tom Powers playing Santa Claus with Christopher on his knee 2015

The new  Santa ( Tom Powers) with Christopher on his knee Dec. 2015

Christopher In the Stocks at Fort new Salem, Salem West Virginia 2015

A new poacher in the Stocks at Fort New Salem, Salem, West Virginia Dec. 2015

Country Christmas Barn 2015

An old barn in Harrison  Co, West Virginia Dec. 2015

Cold Full Moon Christmas Eve 2015

The old Cold Full Moon Christmas Eve 2015

Just as a reminder all of these photos are copyrighted and belong to the creator and the blog site Jolynnsmountainmama.wordpress.com and can only be reproduced with consent from JoLynn Powers. Contact can be made through this site or at Jolynnpowers@yahoo.com.

Categories: New Years Eve, Photos, rural life, Travel, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hard Candy Christmas, Making Old Fashioned Hard Candy

 

One of our family Christmas traditions since my husband was a small boy was making home-made hard candy to share with the friends and family. So this year I wanted to share the tradition with my Daughter-in-Law so that she could make the candy with my granddaughter when she gets just a little older. I also though we could use silicone molds that I bought several years ago to make the candy into fun holiday shapes.Then YouTube took the whole candy making for kids (and some adults) to a whole new cool level. I watched the attached video and had to add these wonderful Lego molds to my collection and start making Christopher’s favorite flavor of candy.

Close up of hard candy Lego men with powdered sugar

Close up of hard candy Lego men with powdered sugar

Lego silicone molds with hard candy cooling

Lego silicone molds with hard candy cooling

Candy flavoring comes in small bottles of oils that can be used for making almost anything that you eat with out the use of alcohols that are in most extracts. The flavor and color are concentrated in each bottle. So for every batch of candy you need one bottle of your favorite flavoring. I made a total of 5 different flavors this year, root beer, apple, orange, cinnamon, and butter scotch. Each batch is about 1/2 of a pound of finished candy and that is every mold you see above filled to at least half. I did reduce the amount of syrup in the heart molds to half full because they were very hard to remove and to big to pop in your mouth.

Candy and Baking flavoring bottles two pack

Candy and Baking flavoring bottles two pack

Then after pulling the candy from the molds it is wise to dust them with powered sugar so that they will not stick together and this is really important if you want to mix the flavors into gift bags. They will not store for long in high humidity without it.

Hard Candy ready to be sent out as gifts

Hard Candy ready  …This Bag is mine !

So here are the very easy to fallow directions on how to make hard candy and the way to test your sugar syrup with out a candy thermometer…Each box of flavoring comes with a recipe booklet for several things you may want to use this flavoring for. The hard candy recipe is also on the back of the box.

Hard Candy regular Batch

2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup light corn syrup

3/4 cup water

1 dram or teaspoon flavoring

food coloring or gel… gel does not seem to burn at these high temperatures.

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 2 quart saucepan. I use my cast iron dutch oven. Stir over med heat until sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to a boil without stirring. When syrup reaches 260 degrees F. add coloring. Do not stir ;boiling action will blend color for you. Remove from heat at 300 deg F. When drops of syrup form a hard brittle threads in cold water ( Hard Ball stage). When boiling action stops, stir in flavoring. Pour syrup into lightly oiled candy molds or on a greased cookie sheet. When cool break into pieces and dust with powered sugar to prevent sticking. Store in an air tight container or Ziplock bag.

This is what the process looks like

sugar, corn syrup and water beginning to boild

sugar, corn syrup and water beginning to boil. It takes about 6 or 8 minutes for the first stage of the sugar to boil

After the sugar reaches a rolling boil I added my gel food coloring of red in this batch… I think I used about three little drops to get a nice light red color.

Soon to be cinnamon hard candy with red food color

Soon cinnamon hard candy with red food color

Now the wait is on. I raise my burner heat at this point to med high or about 8 this decreases the amount of time it takes the sugar to reach the crack stage. The syrup will go from what looks like water boiling to a foamy tinny bubble stage as it heats then finally when you reach about 300 degrees the syrup will have large clear thick bubbles all the way to the edge of the kettle. This process takes about 10 minutes if you do not stir the syrup, longer if you can not resist the urge to stir.

When you think you are close to the correct temperature, or any time you are nosy, you can check the stages of the sugar with a cold water test. Fill a clear glass over half way full of cold water. With a non plastic spoon, preferable a wooden one, drip a small amount of syrup into the cold water…. DO NOT GET THE SYRUP ON YOUR SKIN IT IS VERY HOT AND STICKY! Burns will happen and skin will be lost when the sugar sets up. If the syrup looks like this it is not ready yet.

Cold water test for hard candy soft ball stage not ready yet

Cold water test for hard candy soft ball stage not ready yet.

wait a while longer and test again. When the syrup is ready is will almost instantly get hard… threads of what looks like glass will appear on the glass, in the water, on the counter… just about every where.

Remove kettle from stove and let the sugar cool until the boiling stops add flavorings and stir. It may pop and hiss a little when you add the flavorings but should not burn. Then pour carefully into molds or a cookie sheet for breaking up later. I did not spray any of my molds and the released fine… if working on a cookie sheet of metal I would spray with a cooking spray.

silicon baking molds used to make hard candy

silicon baking molds used to make hard candy.

You can see the sugar threads here between each tray. Let the trays cool for several minutes I left these for about 30 minutes. Then remove and dust with powered sugar.

Tray of Hard Candy after dunking them in powdered sugar

Tray of Hard Candy after dunking them in powdered sugar

We rub off the excess sugar and put in a Zip Lock bag. Then after every flavor has cooled I take handfuls of the different candy shapes and flavors and fill small treat bags. Each bag had at least one huge decorative candy in the bag and about 15 smaller pieces. The Snow Men and Large Lego man were my favorite to add to each bag. I understand that they are too big to fit in you mouth but they look great when arranged in the window of the gift bag. They can still be eaten but would need broken into smaller pieces.

So after about 2 hours my Daughter-in-law and I finished up started to clean up my sugar covered table and finally  tasted our hard work. It all tasted great and my favorite is always cinnamon. The joy of making this candy is it is great for parties at Halloween you could make grape purple bats, or orange pumpkins, at Valentines day make red cinnamon hearts, At Easter make pink or yellow eggs and share them. Use the large pieces as edible cupcake topper or cake decorations. The ideas are limitless and if you want you can also make the Gummies that are in the video  below… so Silicon Molds are some of my favorite kitchen gadgets and always spark my creativity.

Categories: candy, childhood memories, Christmas, Holidays | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

The Lost Creek, West Virginia Depot Restoration is Complete 2015

Owned by the local branch of the “Lions Club” the Lost Creek rail road depot got a grant and a face lift in 2015. The Depot has always had a place in my heart, maybe because both my boy love trains or maybe because of the fact that I love old buildings, but when I began to see the work being done here I was so happy.

Lost Creek, WV, Depot Christmas 2015 restoration is complete

Lost Creek, WV, Depot from 1892,restoration is complete 2015

Lost Creek Depot Historical sign

Lost Creek Depot Historical sign

Sometimes a place that you see everyday just becomes a blur and you forget about how wonderful it is and forget the fact it is an important place in it the community. This little depot in a tiny West Virginia town called Lost Creek, is one of those kind of places. In the twenty some years that I have been traveling to Lost Creek I have seen this building only repainted once. Below is the before photo I found on the internet. This is how passing motorist have seen the depot for at least 10 years and you can see why it needed restored. The weather and water damage took its toll on the little building. At one time the Lions Club used the building to sell crafts and Christmas tree as fund-raisers but over the last few years the depot had fallen into such bad disrepair that the doors closed year round.

Lost Creek Depot before restoration had begone this fall 2015

Lost Creek Depot before restoration had begone this fall 2015

Now after Govern Earl Ray Tomblin added the structure to his list of grant recipients and awarded $40,000 through the Transportation Alternatives,Recreational Trails Program we can see what a beautiful place a depot can be.

I was able to watch the progress of the construction over the last part of this year and each time I made a trip to Lost Creek I notices more of the work being completed. It is a joyful thing to see another building on the states register of Historic places getting the restoration it badly needed. It has made a huge improvement to the small towns downtown and has added another interesting stop on the Harrison County rails to trails program. I hope in the near future to see the depot open again for fund-raisers and community festivals like it was 20 years ago,when I bought a cup of hot apple cider from the Lions Club during a Christmas street fair.

Lost Creek, West Virginia restored depot window with Christmas decor

Lost Creek, West Virginia restored depot window with Christmas decor

street view of the Lost Creek Depot and snowman 2015

street view of the Lost Creek Depot and snowman 2015

It is hard to believe that this depot was once a busy place and that millions of dollars passed through its door and docks during the late 1800’s. That at one time Lost Creek was on the main train line of the B&O railroad and a busy trolley stop for the larger cities north of here. Because today the town’s population is around 500 and there are only a few grand homes and business left from the time period makes it even more important to save some of the  local history of one of Americas most beautiful small towns.

 

Categories: Country life, Depot, Harrison County, historic locations, Lost Creek West Virginia, nostalgic, Photos, trains | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

A 1800’s Living History Christmas at Fort New Salem

A visit to Fort New Salem  is a trip back in time. The Living History Museum and Cultural Center in North Central West Virginia is a collection of over 18 historic cabins and buildings that are arranged as a pioneer settlement. The New Fort Salem Foundation of Salem West Virginia has public events all year to encourage the public to come and learn about what life was like in the 1800’s. It celebrates and educates about the traditions and folk-ways of the settlers of this area. The nationally recognized event ” The Spirit of Christmas in the Mountains” is the year-end gathering and a great place to spend the day with the kids for fun and learning.

The Village at Fort New Salem with woman in period clothing

The Village at Fort New Salem with woman in period clothing

I was lucky to have my whole family along on this afternoon trip to see  the Christmas in the mountain program. It rained most of the day we visited, making it feel a little cool and damp out side but the fires in each  tiny cabin warmed us. We started our visit with the two cabins that had candle making and a small kitchen that served hot chocolate, ginger bread men, pumpkin muffins and Wassel. The kids hand dipped candles for about 10 or fifteen minutes going from wax dipper to water and back again, over and over… The candle maker said to get a modern stick candle you would have to dip 50 coats of wax on a cotton wick to get one that size. Christopher dropped out fast only dipping about 15 times and Paige made it to about 25 dips before the repetition made her ready to find something more to do. The candle maker explained that most woman would make about 8 candles at a time instead of one at a time and a family would need about three candles a day to light their cabins at night. Making candles a very important necessity for settlers.

Paige dipping her candle in a bucket of cold water before adding another coat of wax at Fort New Salem, Salem West Virginia

Paige dipping her candle in a bucket of cold water before adding another coat of wax at Fort New Salem, Salem West Virginia

Christopher dipping candles at Fort New Salem, Salem West Virginia

Christopher dipping candles at Fort New Salem, Salem West Virginia

We then took the little ones to make their own ginger bread men and I got to have a cup of Wassail. (Wassail/Wassel  is an apple cider punch served warm and the above link has a traditional recipe that my family used).  I have not had the spicy cider in years, it tasted wonderful heated in a kettle in the fire-place. We all enjoyed the cookies and music playing while we ate. Christopher could not make up his mind if he wanted to keep the cookie or take it home, in the end it tasted really good and cooked perfectly to eat.

getting some decorating help at the kitchen at Fort New Salem

getting some decorating help at the kitchen at Fort New Salem

music played while we ate

music played while we ate

We then took the kids around to the blacksmith shop and tin shop where we all enjoyed watching things being made. The blacksmiths were making ornament holders and a fireplace set for the cabins. The Tin Smith at another cabin spent a lot of time with us explaining how tin things were made and used. The kids got to make tin ornaments for the tree as a gift from the foundation.

Blacksmith making a fireplace poker at Fort New Salem

Blacksmith making a fireplace poker at Fort New Salem

Tom helping Christopher and Paige make tin orniments

Tom helping Christopher and Paige make tin ornaments

We also went to the apothecary and honey houses. I bought some home-made Vick’s Vapor rub made with bee’s wax and lanolin and the kids got honey sticks to suck on. The day was almost over when we took a few minutes to  play with some traditional mountain musical instruments. We played with two different kinds of dulcimers and a cigar box banjo. The first instrument was a lap dulcimer that Christopher and Paige played along with using a home-made dance toys that made a rapping sound when it hit the wood plank. The other was my favorite instrument the hammer dulcimer. If a person is really good with the hammers they can play with 4 hammers at one time. This man was using two at a time, one in each hand.

Christopher playing in rhythm to a lap dulcimer

Christopher playing in rhythm to a lap dulcimer

Man playing a hammer Dulcimer at Fort New Salem

Man playing a hammer Dulcimer at Fort New Salem

In the same room with the dulcimers were a couple of banjos this one made from a cigar box  had  only 4 strings. Paige could not resist trying it out.

Paige playing the cigar box banjo

Paige playing the cigar box banjo

Even Tom was curious enough to see what the banjo sounded like and if he could play a few notes.

Tom playing a cigar box banjo at Fort New Salem

Tom playing a cigar box banjo at Fort New Salem

Then I took some time to talk with some of the volunteers who made the afternoon so exciting.The one I enjoyed talking to the most was Sarah who at the age of 70 came to play her bagpipes at the settlement. She had a remarkable story to tell me about her learning to play the pipes at 53 and that she had just recovered from a brain tumor  surgery 6 weeks earlier to come and play at this event. She love to play her pipes to remind everyone that many of the settlers of north central West Virginia were of Scotch-Irish decent and many of them were able to bring with them a form of the pipes called a chanter.

Music was  a large part of how the people of this area spend their time in the settlements and still is today.It makes the day so festive to hear so much music in the air. We even let the little ones buy whistles to make music with, which I later regretted on the hour car ride home!

Bagpiper at the Christmas Fair of Fort New Salem

Bagpiper at the Christmas Fair of Fort New Salem

The final event of the day is the annual tree lighting at the Fort. The Luminaries are lit and the candles on the tree begin their nightly glow and the sound of Christmas carols are heard ringing off the roof tops. The costumed volunteers walk and sing around the village shaking jingle bells and holding burning candles . It is a beautiful way to end a great afternoon of learning and shopping for crafts at the village store.

Christmas tree at Fort New Salem, Salem West Virginia

Christmas tree at Fort New Salem, Salem West Virginia

Tree lighting at Fort New Salem, Salem West Virginai... photo by Murphey

Tree lighting at Fort New Salem, Salem West Virginia … photo by Jaime Murphy Fort New Salem FB page

This is what we brought home with us on this trip to the Fort. These things remind me of all the work that the settlers put into everyday living and how lucky we are today. It was a hard, cold, life and it really is amazing the so many of them survived and went on to make better lives for all us Mountaineers. A visit to the Fort is well worth the 5$ for each adult visitor and they encourage you to bring your children under 12 by not charging any admission for them. My family learned and enjoyed a lot this day and I am sure we will be back during the next year. Now if I can just get time to make a kettle Wassail for myself before the holidays are over!

a collection of crafts and gifts from Fort New Salem

a collection of crafts and gifts from Fort New Salem

 

 

Categories: cabins, Christmas, Country life, education, Fairs and Festivals, Fort New Salem, history, Homestead, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

If Martha Stewart had an ADHDD sister.

If Martha Stewart had a ADHDD sister I would be her.I love the holidays it gives me a reason to cook, bake and decorate. I at one time was a professional interior decorator. I worked for J.C. Penny’s custom decorating and I worked with a furniture store doing whole homes of furniture and accessories. So I get into the holidays deep, really deep, baking, candy making, making decorations and trimming trees (this year only three). Yet, as a house wife I don’t have the staff of professionals that people like Martha Stewart does to help me. So what most people do in a weekend I spend all month working on and in the process I make a huge mess. I dream of  someone to clean up every thing for me, maybe a hansom older man to do dishes, a young one to climb the ladder for the roof lights, and a nice granny kinda woman to clean while I decorate the tree. I just wish that I was not so caught up in my disorder ADHDD ( Attention Deficit Holiday Decorating Disorder) that I could say stop all on my own. But  my family all know that the only thing that ends my ADHDD binge is the date Dec 31st. New Years Eve sends shivers down my spine because it is the next day that I start to clean it all back up.

Blue and Silver Christmas tree 2015

Blue and Silver Christmas tree 2015

I feel like the bad sister that Martha would never talks about.  You know the one who suffers from over decorating and over baking. That family member who has a couple of rooms in the house totally covered in exploding  holiday decorations. The one that has two sinks over flowing with pots and pans because on a whim I needed to make candy for the entire 1 st grade class. The one who is making a mad dash to Wal-Mart at 10  pm to get spray paint because you forgot the it 4 times this week. The one who puts more lights on the pre-lighted tree because it is just toooo plain with out blue lights too. The one who has to color coordinate the tree to the curtains and the dinner dishes, you get the picture, right? I have  ADHDD so bad that I can never really finish one project before the next one needs attention. I am usually doing several things at once.

mess of unpacked decorations

mess of unpacked decorations

So this being our first Christmas in the new to us house, I have begun to get things out of the boxes and totes.I  am trying desperately to get a grip on this ADHDD thing and not go over board. I have so much I want to decorate now that we live in town. I never really did much outside before because we lived on a farm.The only people who would really enjoy it were my own kids and making them happy was easy. Now we have neighbors, and  they have begun to decorate outside, leaving me feeling behind in the decorating game. I can’t blame them, the weather was perfect last weekend and I wish I had spent some time trying to make things look festive but in the end we spent time with family instead. It was great too and I hope to write about it soon.

So as I write this I am just finishing up a batch of old fashion hard tack candy and bagging it up. Then putting up stockings and putting out my sons train under a tree. Holiday music is blasting and I cry every darn time I hear someone sing “Mary did You Know?” … something about Mary kissing  little Jesus’s face….. gets me every time.

Sugar covered table and Old Fashioned Hard Tack Candy

Sugar covered table and Old Fashioned Hard Tack Candy

I have three strings of out-door lights that need hung and an inflatable snoopy that needs placed in the yard. I have holiday cards to send out and three holiday parties to attend. I have groceries still to by and two wreaths to make. The silly thing is that in all of this mass of confusion, I am happy, more happy than I have been in years.The ADHDD has kicked in and I will be holiday buzzing for the next month.Maybe it is all the cookies and candy or the extra caffeine but I am feeling grand.

Christophers tree that needs help to finish and a table of trains

Christopher’s tree that needs help to finish and a table of trains

Then as if I did not know it was coming, it will be over, the holidays will end and I have to put it all back. New Years day will come with its lingering effects of staying up to late will make me tired and grumpy. Tom and I will sleep in and  little Christopher will crawl into our bed to snuggle as we say “Happy New Year” to each other. I will be sad, lingering under the covers to long, knowing that a the New Year has begone. I will worry about where to put everything that has arrived at our door over Christmas. I will drink a strong cup of tea in my P.J’s and start the long, slow process of undoing all my hard work in a matter of a day or two. I will miss the blue and white lights, the smell of cinnamon, and the taste of home-made cookies. I will carefully pack away each ornament and place the tree carefully back in its box. I will dust and vacuum up the silver glitter off the floor. The plates of cookies and candy will get tossed out. I will known in my sad heart that my disorder is restrained again for another year. Secretly, I think about my “New Year Resolution”. It will not have anything to do with weight or being more loving, but about taking it easy on the decorating next year. Praying that next holiday season my house will look perfect from beginning to end and Martha Stewart will stop by and be pleased with what I have done. That maybe she will share in my story of ADHDD and secretly nod to me her understanding.. because once many years ago she was a  decorating nut-bucket just like me.

Categories: About me, candy, Christmas, Home Decor, New Years Eve | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

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