quick coconut cake with Amaretto buttercream icing
It is not often that I have a chance to make something in the kitchen just for the my youngest son. He recently asked me “What does coconut taste like?” I could think of only one thing…. Cake. So I put together what I had in the kitchen and made up a simple white cake made with coconut milk and sweetened condensed milk as the flavoring. Then topped off the cup cakes with my favorite flavoring, Amaretto, in a butter cream icing. I could have made the cake in a traditional two layer style but I really wanted to share the cake so I ended up with 36 white and toasty cupcakes instead. They were a big hit with my husband, my co-workers and my son… he likes the sweet soft coconut not the crunchy topping. I guess you win some and you lose some. Next time we will make it with the regular shredded coconut as topping instead, even if I love the toasty crunch.
So the cake is really simple I used a store-bought white cake mix and to that I added 1 8oz. can unsweetened coconut milk and 1 6oz. can sweetened condensed milk and 3 eggs omitting the oil in the directions.
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This recipe is one that I will use again when we get closer to Easter and the bake sales for the church and 4-H Clubs start again in the spring
1 box of white cake mix.
1 can unsweetened coconut milk 8oz.
1 can sweetened condensed milk 6oz.
pour one 1/4 cup of batter into muffin tins lined with paper wrappers
The cooking time is slightly longer then what is listed on the box. I think I needed to add about 8 minutes making the cooking time 30 mins. at 350 degrees.
While the cupcakes cooled I toasted one 12 oz. bag of sweetened shredded coconut. placing the coconut on a cooking sheet in a thin lares under the broiler on low heat. Watching constantly, stir every time the flakes on the edge of the sheet begin to brown. This took stirring 5 or 6 time over the 5 minutes.
toasting sweetened Coconut
1 cup real butter at room temperature. This is two sticks.
1 2 pound bag of powered sugar, mixed into the soft butter slowly.
2 teaspoons almond extract, or Amaretto liquor.
1 tablespoon milk
After cupcakes have cooled frost and roll in toasted coconut. Adding half of a Maraschino cherry on top if desired.
the recipe makes 36 to 38 cup cakes.
Coconut cupcakes with almond buttercream icing and toasted coconut toping.
So what would you make if you were asked ” What does Coconut taste like?” I have not cooked with it much other than making cakes or cookies. If you have any other ideas send them my way I would love to try other things too!
Please forgive me for not writing more the last month. It seems as if I have taken on a little more than I should have and the main reason is “Doc”.
Our new Redbone Coonhound Puppy “Doc” Holiday 8 weeks old
Doc is a 8 week old Redbone Coonhound who has stolen my house and my heart. We have been waiting over two years for his breeder to have another litter of pups. So I was overjoyed to be contacted by our friend that they had puppies again and I could finally get my very own hound.
Ok, so it is true that very best coonhounds are bred in Appalachia and the top two in the nation are from West Virginia or Kentucky. It might be the terrain or the population of raccoons that keeps this breed’s history so closely linked to the mountains. But this breed of dog is such a good reflection of who we are that you often judge the character of the man based on how he treats his dogs. In my part of the world often times a grown man will cry like a baby when a hunting dog dies or is killed. Often the dogs are raised as family and are more trusted than most humans and only surpassed by the trust a man will have in a rifle or shotgun. The love of the Hill Billy is deep, their loyalty is unwavering and their ability to work hard and fight to win is just like their dogs.
Hounds have been scent hunting these hills and hollows for generations and it is not uncommon to hear the bay of hounds ringing out for miles in the night. It is truly not a bark at all, but a cry from way down deep and is instinctual, nothing taught. It is the sound a hunter waits for, the dog is saying to his master “Come running we have something for you.”
Here in West Virginia there are three typical coonhounds, the Redbone, the Treeing Walker, and the Blue Tick. All three have the same typical look of a hound but coloring is different. Each have a voice that is unique and hunters know their dog miles away by the sound of the bay they make. If trained properly the dogs once on a treed coon, will remain at the bottom a tree for hours guarding the coon until help arrives.
The reason I love them is not about hunting really,but about their personality. Hounds like the stereotypes portray, are big, silly, loving, dogs that are tolerant of children who play too rough and of cats who often times get rolled into balls on the floor as the hound forces games of chase.Their love of family and protectiveness make them wonderful alarm systems without the deeper fear of being known as bitters. They have huge hearts and are willing to do most anything asked of them. If you can keep them from being distracted by the powerful noise that God gave them.
Sleepy Puppy ready for a nap
The Redbone Coonhound breed is the grandfather breed to the more well known Bloodhound and was first developed by Irish immigrants in the 1700’s. The long floppy ears play a major role in how well the dog can track and the longer the ears the better, fanning scent to the noise with every lunging step. Some would refer to the hound breed as having a one track mind because everything comes second to their sense of smell and many dogs get lost do to the fact that hunters and families forget that they go wherever their noise leads them, sometimes that is right to the local dog pound.
They are social dogs and love to spend time with their owners. They are active and enjoy being outdoors doing physical activities like running and swimming. My Doc’s sire is a grand champion water dog and could out swim almost every person I know. He loves to track through streams and ponds and has webbed toes on all four feet. So does Doc and we will soon learn if he likes to swim.
So as you can see I have been busy…and will be for a few more months as we get through house training and teething, but I will keep you posted on our adventures together. I hope you enjoy the photos and I am sure to take tons more of the silly guy as we train him.
There is nothing in the world better for a boy then the love of a good dog.
West Virginia is bound by the Ohio River along its western border. Rising from the deep green water of the river is a 500 tree covered acre island. Blennerhassett Island is now a historical West Virginia State Park that is accessible only by ferry or personal boat. The island is home to a 200-year-old mansion, 17 horses,several old buildings,a refreshment stand and a gift shop. It is one of the most beautiful of West Virginia’s State Parks and we took a weekend trip to see its homes and woods.
We started our day trip in Buckhannon and drove north and arrived at the city of Parkersburg, West Virginia early in the morning near the Blennerhassett museum and the river side park. A wonderful four story building with displays from early stone tools and arrowheads found in the area to Victorian home furnishings and early cars. Tickets for the ferry ride to the island are purchased on the bottom floor of the re-purposed building.
Blennerhassett Museum from Wikimedia
My favorite portion of the museum was the collection of nautical items on the 4th floor. The miniature hand-made river boats and this ship steering wheel made me smile when Christopher had to stand on tippy toes just to see over its frame.
Tom and Christopher with antique ship steering wheel Blennerhassett Island Museum. Parkersburg, West Virginia.
After about an hour in the museum it was time to head to the dock to board our paddle driven ferry. This day the boat was full but under normal trips there are open seats either in the cabin below and on the deck above. We rode over to the island on the top deck, enjoying the view, sun, and spray off the paddle wheel.
Island Bell ferry to Blennerhassett Island
Once on the island visitors are welcome to take the tour of the Blennerhassett mansion, rent bicycles to ride around the island, take a horse-drawn wagon ride and do some shopping at a gift shop.
Blennerhassett Island Mansion Father’s Day 2016
My family really enjoyed the covered wagon ride. Christopher liked the horses and the wind in his hair when the driver let the horses pick up speed along the 2 mile path around the black walnut grove. The island is known for its trees and they cover over 2/3 of the island’s land that is actually owned by the DuPont Company. The only open spaces visible are the yards at the mansion and two pastures that are kept cleared for the horses that live on the island all summer. The hundreds of trees shade keeps visitors cool even on a hot 86 degree day like ours.
Horse Drawn wagon ride Blennerhassett Island
The tour of the Blennerhassett house is a delight and costumed members of the staff show off the lavish life the family lived. The family lived only 6 years in the finished house. Construction of the house began in the late 1790 and was complete in 1800 with the family fleeing the island 1806 leaving almost everything they owned behind. Harmon and Margaret’s family history is filled with scandal and strange political dealings that made their lives turbulent. Harmon and his young wife ran away from their native Ireland due to his Irish political dealings and his scandalous marriage, to his niece who was decades younger than him. Harmon Blennerhassett later again becomes involved in secret political dealings here in the United States. Being connected with Aaron Burr (Vise President under Thomas Jefferson) and his military plans eventually caused Harmon to be charged with treason by the President. As troops invade the island,the family flees trying to keep Harmon from being captured. Harmon is later found and arrested spends time in prison before the government drops their charges and he is released. The family suffers more tragedy with the death of children, loss of their inherited wealth and the return to Ireland. Yet, their love survives all of this and house remained abandoned on the island until 1811 when it burned to the ground in an accidental fire.
During the tour you are only allowed to take photos without a flash so I chose to take very few of the inside of the main house and study which was very dark. But the kitchen wing of the house(which is the wing on the left in the photo) is bright and filled with windows without coverings I took a few of the large fireplace that was said to never grow cold. The island had a large amount of workers, slaves, family and guests to feed. Margaret is said to have fed everyone on the island from this single hearth.The fire was kept up around the clock to serve the 3 meals a day to the workers and sometimes seven coarse dinners to the family and guests.
Fireplace hearth of the Blennerhassett mansion
Tour guide Blennerhassett Island State Park
The rest of our afternoon was spent eating at the island snack bar that serves hamburgers, hot dog and a variety of other easy to prepare foods. But one of the highlights of our day was getting a slice of birthday cake and a scoop of ice cream to celebrate the 153rd birthday of the creation of the state of West Virginia. It was a wonderful way to remind us of the power of the people of this state.They choose to become a state that was different and separate from the state of Virginia during some of the most turbulent times in our countries history.
West Virginia birthday cake 2016
The return trip back to the shore in Parkersburg was a great time to reflect on some of the famous people who also loved and visited this very unique island. I find it interesting that the list includes, people like Davy Crockett, Walt Whitman, Johnny Appleseed, Vise President Aaron Burr and even King Charles the X of France.The beauty of the Blennerhassett home and island was known throughout the large cities of the east coast.
As our ferry paddled its way back to the dock and I watched the barges move freight up and down The Ohio River, I finally understood Margret’s love for the island. It only took a few hours of our time to forget everything the did not happen on the island. We were lost in the beauty of her home and forest for hours. All three of us enjoyed a day along the Ohio River and would have enjoyed a much longer stay.
Tug boat with barge on the Ohio River at Parkersburg WV 2016
So here in Buckhannon, West Virginia, every May we have a week-long festival dedicated to the Strawberry. At one time Strawberries in West Virginia were a large cash crop and it was great way to celebrate the spring. Now 75 years later…. there are less homegrown strawberries but the festival is larger than ever. This year Christopher was even part of three days of the week-long festival events.
The spirit of the Strawberry Festival really found my family this year. Our excitement grew when Christopher became part of the Royal Court. He rode on the Strawberry Queen’s float with other 1st graders picked for this role from all the elementary schools in the county. He was also the King’s crown bearer for the coronation of the Queen. It was so much fun to see him in a tux being part of all the pageantry.
Christopher waiting backstage for the Coronation 75th Strawberry Queen 2016
The week starts with the Coronation ceremony practice, with lots of photos and trips to the stage trying to get everything timed right before the afternoon Coronation event. Then there are 6 days of parades, live music events, strawberry food sales and outdoor activities like a 5k run and a canoe race down a local river.
The Strawberry Court waiting on the Queen to arrive. Christopher is holding king’s crown 4th little boy to the left.
Strawberry Queen 2016
The following days are a blur, 4 parades, carnival rides, craft sales and lots of silly contest.
WVU’s Mountaineer Mascot takes time to walk in the parade
ROTC drill team passing Friendly Way during the Strawberry Festival
Christopher and friends riding the first of two floats for the Strawberry festival 2016
Mules pulling a mini pony express stagecoach
Sea of people at the Strawberry Festival Carnival 2016
Chocolate drizzle funnel cake at the Strawberry Festival 2016
We ate lots of fair food, ice cream and strawberries over the course of the week and had a great time until my surgery interrupted the schedule of events. I was lucky to get to spend both nights watching Christopher pass by on his float ( Thursday and Saturday). I could only watch about an hour of the Grand Feature Parade,on Saturday before getting too tired from the surgery the day before.
As we headed home Thursday night ( the first of the parade nights). Tom and I both noticed that a 10 pm the carnival was still going strong and families walked the streets with stuffed toys and corn dogs on sticks. Friends stood in groups all along main street talking.Old men stood next to their classic cars in front of mains street restaurants talking while and wives eat ice cream in the front seat with the top down. Something seemed different to me that night, it was like our childhood was happening all over again. It was the best feeling I have had in years. My young son had somehow reminded me of what it was like to feel young again. We eat fair food and heard live music and walked back to the car long after dark under the street lamps. It was good to be part of the Strawberry Festival again!
Spring time in West Virginia is the best time to explore the outdoor events. One of the most child and family friendly free events is Elkins’ Mountain Beckon Bicycle Parade & Rodeo. Over the past 5 years families in Randolph County have loaded up little bicycles and headed to downtown Elkins for a morning of riding bikes and winning ribbons.
The event being held the third Saturday in May helps the community celebrate Bicycle Safety Month. With the help of Joey Riddle and his Downtown cycling shop, Elkins Main Street, volunteers, and sponsors, children have the opportunity to learn about the joy of cycling. The event offers a rodeo where young riders can show of their skills riding through a traffic cone course. Enter contests for the best decorated bike and rider in several categories like Flower Power, Wild Camo, Super Hero, Sparkle&Shine, Color Crazy. Even the Mayor of Elkins, Van Broughton, joins in the fun by giving out the Mayors’ Choice Awards and ridding in the Davis Ave Parade.
Elkins West Virginia Mayor Van Broughton with Mayors Choice Award winner
Early Saturday morning children arrive for registration at 9 am at The City Building parking lot.With the city blocking off streets, Police and Fire Department giving escort for safety, the young riders fallow a short parade course through downtown.The children eagerly ride their decorated bikes along the parade route on Davis Ave from Fifth to Third Street, ending in Front of Joey’s Bike Shop. Bike safety classes begin with instruction on correct hand signals and how to properly fit a ridding helmet. Then families watch as their children test their ridding skills at the bike rodeo, winners are announced and photos are taken. The morning wraps up with lots of happy kids and lots of smiling parents who see the value of encouraging youngsters to take part in healthy outdoor activities.
Mountain Beckons Parade starts on 5th street in Elkins West Virginia
This years event is Saturday May 21st from 9 am-12 noon. Registration is at the City Building rear parking lot. The Parade progresses from fifth street to 3rd street and ends at Joey’s Bike Shop where the safety classes and rodeo begin. Awards will be given and photos with the Mayor will be taken and lots of fun will be had. Hope to see all of you there!
My older son Cody has always made my life more fun with his unexpected ideas. So you never know what the boy has planned when you see him. Some times its,”Mom you got to see this” or “Mom how do you make this” or “you need to try this”… it is always so much fun when he is around. So the weekend before Halloween ( at little late I know). He arrives at our house for the usual Sunday Dinner with bags of stuff in his hands and the granddaughter so excited trailing behind him. My daughter in law Jamie explains the Cody wants to make Play-Dough at my house that Sunday afternoon ( he never warms me we are going to make a mess). After looking over the ingredients I quickly realized that what he had brought was not Play-Dough ingredients but Salt Dough ingredients.
Salt dough decorations
Salt dough is a wonderful inexpensive way for kids of all ages ( 4-48 this day) to mold and bake decorations, figures, or models. This dough can be colored and baked to make the craft hard and dry so it will last for years. The hard dough decorations can be painted and sealed with any clear coat. The dough is non-toxic and eating it will not hurt the youngest of artist… but be warned it is very salty.
So with all of us in the kitchen together we mixed up a large batch of dough. Cody then took the dough and broke it into smaller pieces and added food coloring. All I had on hand was Easter neon colors so we had very bright colors to work with. We gave Christopher and Paige each 4 small bowels of colored dough and turned them loose with my cookie cutters, rolling-pin, tooth picks and watched the fun. With in minuets we were all making things too…
Jamie Powers and Paige Powers making Salt Dough decorations
Salt Dough family time
I even joined in the fun and made some decorations too. The decorations had both a Christmas feel and a Halloween feel so we covered both holidays with some of our creations. When all the dough was gone I put two full cookie sheets in the oven to bake. I did notice that we made very thin decorations and they do not take as long as the directions say to dry. Worried that at some point they would burn, I reduced the length of cooking time 15 minutes.
Sponge Bob and Patrick salt dough decorations
Salt dough ninja
So have fun this holiday season, break out the cookie cutters that have not been used for a year and make some lasting decorations with the kids. The kids and grand kid played for about 3 hours making things and baking them before dinner. Now both little ones have home-made decorations for this years trees.
Salt Dough: hardening dough
4 cups flour
1 cup fine crystal salt not sea salt
1 1/2 to 2 cups water
mix until can be worked with fingers like heavy bread dough
bake finished work in oven at 300 degrees for up to an hour.
( I bake ours for about 45 minutes because they were so thin)
As part of every episode of Barnwood builders Mark Bowe always likes to show off other skilled craftsman or tradesman who do things the old-fashioned way. So when producers from the show discovered that Tom was a farrier,they were thrilled to add his skills to their show. To film his farrier skills we needed a willing client and a farm to work at. We were able to contact Sue Ann Spiker, also from Jane Lew, and include her and her farm in the last portion of the filming of this episode.
Barnwood Builders promotional photo. right to left is Tim, Sherman, Bryan, Mark,Johnny, Graham
If you have been following along with my last couple of posts about our house remodel these are the guys who invited us to join in the fun of their T.V. show and help us get barn wood for our family room. I have already shared the barn at Home remodel #1 and showed off the set and my house in Home remodel #2. But the last part of our day of filming really was about my husband Tom and his client Sue Ann Spiker and her farm.
Tom has worked for Sue Ann for years and when Tom was in middle school she was his Art teacher. When setting up this portion of the show Tom and I needed to find a horse and farm family willing to have a film crew on the farm. Tom thought of Sue Ann’s horse and farm right away. Sue Ann and her husband John, have historical buildings on their farm. This also excited the show producers and we ended up not only shooting Tom with Sue Ann holding her horse but getting a guided tour of their Guest House, Barn and 1700’s cabin. A real treat for everyone that was on set that day.
Actor Mark Bowe talking with the Director of Barnwood builders
Sue Ann has spent about 5 years or more restoring and decorating the buildings on her farm. The Guest House is a lovely two-story house built-in 1862. The family rents out house, cabin and barn for family gatherings and weddings. More information is on the families website at Sunny Pointe Guest House. com. The main excitement for the show is the little one room cabin or as The Spiker family informed us is the “Loom House” where linens were woven for the farm family 1700’s. The cabin is now set up as a bedroom with a lovely fire-place to keep couples warm at night.
Sunny Pointe Guest House side yard view old cabin in shadows
Cellar steps into the basement to Sunny Pointe Guest House
back of 1700’s at Spiker Farm
Sue Ann Spiker at the front of her 1700’s cabin
bed inside cabin at Spiker Farm
Christopher walking in front of fire-place in cabin at Spiker farm
Front door of cabin with photo of Gen. Thomas “Stone Wall” Jackson
One of the secrets of the cabin revels it’s self around this door… the builder and his family will be forever remembered.
door jamb of old cabin with fathers initials and 8 of the twelve children that lived and used the cabin
Cabin door jamb with more initials carved into the frame
After the tour it was time to get Tom working on Sue Ann’s horse and here he is getting his microphone.
Tom getting ready to shoe. sound engineer hooks up his microphone
Sue Ann also getting ready to talk about the farm and her horse.
Sue Ann Spiker with sound engineer getting her microphone
I can only tell you that the portion where Tom puts a shoe on the front of Sue Ann’s horse went fine. I was with them, holding on to the horse’s tail so that the camera man would not get kicked in the face. He was so low and close to the horse that we all just were a little worried about his safety. So, sadly I was not able to get photos of that portion of the filming. In the end, I was glad I was at the rear of the horse. She was a little wiggly and it took a while for her to get comfortable with all the attention. So the photos I have are of Katie the producer getting some time with “Miss Lee” the Tennessee Walking Horse before everyone got busy working with her feet.
Katie Rolnick the producer with Miss Lee the Walking horse, Bruno the donkey is in the back ground
The shooting ended with Tom letting Mark Bowe try his hand at nailing on a shoe and talking to everyone at the end of a very long day. The sun was setting, Tom, Christopher and I climbed into the truck to head home. The day was perfect and we learned more than we ever expected to from this experience and we still had one more day of filming to go. The view of the rolling hills and green grass of the Spiker farm were hard to leave behind but after 9 hours of filming and a couple of hours of driving and unloading lumber. I was ready for my home and bed.
Rolling pasture of Spiker Farm
The following day was time to film my house and to take the film crew around our local area to find beautiful scenic and rural images for cut-ins during the show. This ended up being my favorite part of the filming. I was not on camera but got to spend the day with this wonderful people and get my only photo taken. I got this photo of me in a e-mail a few days after the team left never even knowing Katie had taken it of me while in my kitchen.
Jolynn Powers holding television camera from the Barnwood builders crew
The remaining portion of the story is more about demolishing my house and the actual rebuilding process and that will take a while to do and write about. In the future I will share more photos and stories about the mess we make. In the mean time,I though you might like to see the lumber from the barn. It is beautiful and we have plenty to do our walls and some other projects.
If you are just dropping in, I am working on a home remodel with a company from Lewisburg WV. They happen to have a television show titled the Barnwood Builders. They invited me and the blog to take part in not only a large amount of barn lumber but also in the filming of the episode at a barn in Jane Lew, W.V. The process began with Tom and I scouting out the barn and getting to know the producers. You can see more of that post at Home Remodel #1 .
Lets just say the I was thankful when Katie one of the producers, canceled Tom, Christopher and I from coming out to the site on Saturday. The rain was bad and the temperatures cold. Generally a typical dreary spring day in West Virginia. This also meant that the filming of my portion of the show was already a day late. Sunday morning Tom, Christopher and I packed into the truck and headed out for a long day at two different locations. When we arrived the shed and outside wall of the feeding area of the barn are gone and they are working on getting some of the interior wood ready for Tom and I to take home.
Barn with crew, shed and outside wall removed
We greet the producers and some of the staff as we walked up to the old house that is on the property. The sitting room is full computers and cases, it is now “Head Quarters” for the crew. With in minutes I received a microphone and transmitter. On a morning that started out about 38 degrees this was the worst of the entire experience. The cord, microphone and box were freezing cold. It took my breath away to have an ice-cold cord dropped down the front of my sweater and run around my waist to my back where the sound engineer clipped it in place. BURRRRR!!!
I then headed over to met the director and star of the show. I walked across the yard to the fence in this photo and waited. Tom and Christopher waited on the porch and watched in the distance. I had no idea of any of the plans for story or lines. I was flying blind, alone and cold. I had not really realized how cold it was and had only worn a sweater and a wind breaker… no hat, no gloves, just rubber muck boots that would later fail me.
Eventually from the field that you see in the photo two men walked up to me at the fence and introduced themselves. Mark Bowe is the star and owner of Barnwood builders and Steve is our Director. They proceed to explain what we were going to do and what was going to happen first. Mark Bowe would pretend to see me standing at this very fence and walk across the field to see what I wanted and the story would run from there. The story for this episode is that a local woman writer is curious about the strangers taking down a loved local barn and wants to learn more. Pretty close to the truth and totally possible where I live. They begin filming with in minutes of our conversation. I stumbled through a few opening sequences, but get my stride and we film at the barn for the next 3 hours straight. All the while the rest of the crew continues to work at removing boards that I will eventually take home.
Johnny Jett and Tim loading wood on to fork lift . the wood will is for my house
As you can see in the photos the ground is wet rutted mud. Making it a tricky place to walk,talk, think and “Act” in. It was all I could do not to fall. Then as Mark and I walk away from the barn, I do it, I find a rut with the tip of my rubber boot and trip. Still filming, I reach out and just grab his arm and we laugh. I say “It’s OK you work out” as he laughs and has some charming reply(that I have no memory of now) and keeps me from falling face first into the mud. We walk another 20 feet almost to the fence and the unthinkable happens. My boot gets sucked into the wet mud and I totally lose it. I just holler ” Shit!”…. “My boot is stuck in the mud!” as I pitch forward about falling on my face again. Twice in less than ten minutes, I have made it in to the blooper reel. Mark and I finally make it up into the yard laughing when the director and camera man reach us at the gate. Steve the director at this point complements me on my abilities ( of what I am not sure) and says I am actually good at this ( I am a basket case) and wants to give me a hug. “Wow, third hug in just three hours must be doing something right” I think to myself. I am free to return to seeing my family and friends at the house as the crew finishes moving piles of lumber.
The time off camera is good, we all eat lunch from my friends Josh and Andrea Evans’ restaurant. They own The Second and Center Cafe’ in Weston, West Virginia. Sitting around the yard and porch of the house,I finally get to take some random photos and spend time with Christopher and Tom. We are all getting excited to load lumber into our truck and watch the barn go down.
Grahm from the Barnwood Builders gives Christopher his personal hat
Josh Evans owner of Second and Center Cafe with Bryan from the Barnwood Builders
Lunch break Mark Bowe and Andrea Evans
Loading up only one truck load of lumber for the shoot is great, it gives everyone the opportunity to get filmed even my little Christopher. Mark Bowe, Johnny Jett, Tim and Sherman, help Tom and Christopher load up the truck. Christopher is loving all the attention and steals the show when he dances with Mark in the muddy road.
Christopher with Star of Barnwood builders Mark Bowe loading lumber into our truck
With the lumber loaded we drive away from the location only to return on foot. Tom parks the truck out of sight and we all walk back to see the final moments of the barn going down. It is a happy and sad feeling watching part of my community being torn down. I have included a short clip of the last few seconds of the barn going down with sound. The cheering and talking is a little loud so please excuse it. I have no skills at editing video.
We finished our trip home to unload this pile of lumber and head back to Jane Lew where we met the film crew at another location.The production company also wants to film at my friend Sue Ann Spikers’ farm. She owns a beautiful property with several old buildings, a house and an old cabin. The Barnwood builders want to see the cabin and talk about its history and visit Sunny Pointe Guest House. Sue Ann is always ready for guests at her restored 1860’s Guest House and 1700’s cabin.
Sue Ann Spiker and her 1700’s cabin
This is where I will leave this Blog post. I will continue the story of Tom shoeing a horse for Sue Ann’s and share photos of the farm, guest house,and my pile of lumber. I want to explain more about what we are going to do with all this wood and the treasures we found inside the old barn.
I still can not believe that I was part of this experience and that the Barnwood builders will be back at my house this summer again to shoot footage of the after part of my living room.Hope you are enjoying a behind the camera look at a TV show and who would believe that this all happened because I write a blog.
My sweet little grand-daughter turned 4 this month.If any of you have small children in your family you understand the problem with giving them gifts. It seems that small children attract people who love to buy gifts. As they grow older the pile of gifts slowly shrinks until at 19 or 20 you are lucky if your own parents remember your birthday. So as this young lady is so loved I had to really think over what we wanted to give her. I didn’t want to add to the pile of toys that she already had and some how I wanted to give her something that would last past her fickle little girl loves of Minnie Mouse and the movie Frozen. So after talking with her mother and my husband we came up with the idea of making her a toy box.
We wanted to make one that hopefully would stay with her until she at least reached her preteen years. So while I was out-of-town Tom was able to get the supplies and assemble the box portion of the gift. Then when I returned home I painted the box with several coats of white enamel paint.
white toy box freshly painted
I talked with my son and his wife about what they wanted on the toy box. I could get stencils and put images of Disney Characters or even just put a decal on the box but I quickly realized that they thought that a painting of a horse would be something she would grown into and that it would be so nice for her room. Well that opened up a whole new idea for me.
I do like to paint and have a back ground in art, but the one thing I have never painted or even tried to paint was horses. It is hard to believe but they are my greatest fear in all the subjects I could attempt. I spent years raising, grooming, feeding and caring for loads of horses. I have spent hours photographing them but never ever drawing or painting them. I have no idea why.. I just never thought I could do them justice. They are so amazing and powerful just thinking about it I get over whelmed. So how do you over come a fear that has lasted over 20 years? You have a 4-year-old tell you ” I want ponies MaMa” and you just jump in and hope to not drowned.
So after a few days I found what I thought would look good. No ” My Little Pony” stuff on this box.I got approval from mom and dad and started the hours of covering the front of this toy box into a horse-box.
blocked in colors of horse toy box
The process took about 10 hours from sketching to final clear coat. Several times I thought I had a total mess on my hands as I progressed through the layers of paint. I would paint a while and let it dry and walk away for a few days and try another coat and another fix. Each time as I sat at my kitchen table with the huge box on top of it I would think. Horses? Why Horses? I have no experience at this and I am sure it will look like I have no idea what am doing.
final coat of paint close up or horse toy box
So the finale painting will pass as for a 4 years old toy box. I can still see my mistakes but, I am so glad that some how a 4-year-old was able to make me stretch my skills. She was able to make me face a fear I have had for years. I am so glad that we made this gift for her and that maybe she will keep it and some day share it with her little girl. It is truly a gift from my heart and made me so happy to see her love it !
Paige A Powers 4th birthday
Happy Birthday Paige you Ma Ma thinks the world of you!
Powers family on the bumper cars at the LC fair 2014, Cody and Paige in the back car, Me in the middle and Tom and Christopher in the front
Hot, humid, summer evenings in West Virginia are often spent at fairs and festivals. It seems that country families really enjoy standing around visiting with old friends and passing around a new round of gossip at the county fairs. Our small county actually has two large fair events every summer. The first is the Lewis County fair where you take the little ones for their first experience on carnival rides, like the bumper cars and the carousel horses. The other, that I will be writing about more in a following post, is the animal and project centered fair called the 4-H Jamboree. It is on these hot evenings that families get their kids together to share in traditional country fun and young lovers find time to hold hands and kiss while sharing a night of carnival games and prizes.
This was the first year that Christopher my son and my Granddaughter Paige were really old enough to enjoy the rides and have fun trying to win a prized gold-fish. Then something happened when the old folks also got in those aged cars, we transformed into youngsters too. For just one moment we were young again and smiles flowed freely and laughter was heard. The world faded away and the noise and lights took the place of work and bills. All we could think about was getting our wife or husbands to buy rounds a funnel cakes and fresh squeezed Lemonade. So at 45 and 50 years of age, Tom and I spent the evening enjoying making memories with our kids and grand kids. Feeding them red and blue snow cones that turned their lips and tongues vivid colors and watching them laugh and scream for MORE !
Christopher and Paige on the boat ride.
This year our family chose to see the annual Demolishen Derby. It was a great time watching family friends stuff sweaty heads into helmets to crash old cars unfit for the road. They have several classes for everyone who wants to compete. There is a youth class for kids 12 to 18, a 4 cylinder and a 6 to 8 cylinder class for the older and heavy framed cars.
Demolishen Derby car smoking from radiator
The noise alone is a draw for me. From a distance you hear engines whining and throttles growling as the racers try to disable all the other cars in the race by smashing them until they will not run or get stuck.
smoke pouring out of a Demolishen Derby car
We all cheered as the last cars fought it out and the smoke rolled from the losing cars. The winners receive huge trophies and a gas card as prizes. Then the bulldozer moves in a pulls the wreckage out of the ring and the next round begins.
As the derby ends we return to the rides and games. The kids know that with the darkening sky we are about to head home and they cry for one last ride on their favorite rides. Christopher heads to the giant slide and hollers on his way down.
giant slide ride at the LC fair
Paige on the other hand heads for the water ball ride. This is the new ride for our family and it is something I wish I could take home with me. A large inflated tube floating on a pool of water. Much like a bouncy castle but better!
Paige Powers in Water ball ride at the fair 2014
Water tube ride with Christopher and Paige.
The night slips in on us and the kids have arm loads of toys, bags full of gold-fish and blue stained lips. The parents are hot and sticky from the humid air at the fair. We hold sleepy hands as we all walk back to the cars and trucks. Everyone is happy, we spent an evening together laughing and eating and being kids again. This is the magic of a fair, that no matter what the events are, no matter the amount of friends you see, no matter the amount of money spent, for a few hours you have fun. The same fun that your parents had at a fairs years ago. It is as if time stands still if only for a few hours and you have fun!
I'm a mother, wife, artist, writer, community developer in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. Originally from the mountains of Boulder, Colorado. I have spent the last 27 years with my family in a small town of less then 4000 were we spend time outdoors living close to the land. I garden, fish, hunt, forage and cook in traditional ways and share Appalachian history and culture with my two sons. I love old buildings, bridges and farms. I love a good ghost story and have been known to dress up for Halloween. I hope you enjoy my stories about our life where you might not have cell service, many of the roads are just numbers and people still want to know your name.
For anyone who has ever thought of attempting the #vanlife, A Life of VANity is an unfiltered, realistic look at the unglamorous day-to-day happenings of life in a Chevy G20 Conversion van. Unlike other #vanlife blogs, A Life of VANity is here to show you that it isn’t all roadtrips and ocean-side views, and that there’s nothing wrong with living in a backyard or two.