Flannel Jammies Farm

...praising God on our 1/5 acre of suburbia

Friday, July 27, 2012

Grown-up Summer Camp, Part Four

we are children of the Creator God...
we can't help but be creative 

This is the drum that I beat daily.  It is so important that we MAKE the time to add creativity, art, craft, beauty to our lives.  It's reviving, therapeutic, and it just makes us smile!  Even in the trees, we made time for art!


When we arrived, there was this large flat-topped boulder on our site.  It had piles of smaller rocks on its top, haphazardly left by a former camper, reminding me of a witness or remembrance pile...
So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar.    
Then Jacob said to his brethren, “Gather stones.” 
And they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there on the heap.   
 Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed.   
And Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me this day.” 
Therefore its name was called Galeed,  also Mizpah, because he said, 
“May the Lord watch between you and me 
when we are absent one from another.
Genesis 31:45-49
This pile spoke to me in such a way that I cannot explain, but I wanted to continue the thought, making our own witness pile.

I set to work, gathering the smaller stones from the top, creating a little pathway from the picnic table to the large boulder.

Then alternating stone colors, I spelled out a message, a remembrance, for my amazing husband, leaving it as a surprise for him to find.  When he did, it made him laugh softly, and it brought smiles to the campers who traveled by our site!  I wonder what the campers that come after us will do...

Before our arrival a quick and strong storm had passed through, causing branches and clusters of leaves to fall from the trees.  Hhmmmmm...  gathering some of these freshly fallen leaves with their long stems intact, I set to work creating a crown.  Why not?!  I laid two leaves on top of each other.  I poked two small holes in a straight line along the center vein of the two leaves.  Taking a third leaf, I wove its stem through the two holes, a kind of nature stitch.  Then I poked two small holes in a straight line in the second and third leaves along the center vein.  Taking a fourth leaf, I wove its stem through these two holes.  I continues this pattern, stitching a string of leaves without the benefit of needle or thread, until the string was long enough to wrap around my head.  The first leaf stems were woven through two small holes in the very last two leaves, completing the circle.  

I wore this for some time, feeling quite like a woodland creature!

Cross stitch filled some of my time, reading filled some of Tom's.  He's been enjoying the work of a particularly creative guy, Joel Salatin.  His latest book, "Folks, This Ain't Normal," is thought-provoking and a wild ride through our modern attitudes and food industry practices.

We saw other examples of creativity, too.  Like this lone artist, sketching the loveliness of Sherando Lake in the summer...

and this quaint home for bright red geraniums fashioned from a hollow log...

Get out there.  Be creative.  Find beauty.  Make art.  

And give thanks to our amazing Lord, the Creator, for all the gifts He so generously gives. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Grown-up Summer Camp, Part Three

Part of our daily lives is supporting local and Virginia growers, producers, and artisans... if there is an opportunity to make a purchase from a local vendor rather than a large, national chain, we choose local every time.    

Tom and I enjoy a glass of wine from time to time.  And we enjoy visiting Virginia vineyards and tasting rooms, searching for new favorites.


Virginia is becoming known for its wine.  On this camping trip, we visited two new places for tastings:  Barren Ridge Vineyards and Ox-Eye Tasting Room.

Barren Ridge is lovely!  The tasting room is large and peaceful, with small tables and an impressive fireplace.  Our guide poured taste after taste of very nice wines, giving us grape history and time to savor each taste.  

Scarlett met the resident dog, Rascal, and rested in the cool surroundings.  Most wineries allow your dogs inside, but always ask first.  

After our tasting, Tom and I went out to the patio with a full glass each to enjoy the view of the vineyards and imagine what a sunset here would be like...  

Another day we ventured into Staunton to grab lunch at Cranberry's.  YUM.  period.  As we wandered this sweet town, we saw the Ox-Eye Vineyards Tasting Room.  Well, here's one we've never heard of.  We ducked in out of the rain and found a bright and cozy space filled with local art and amazing wines!  Every wine tasted was a work of art in itself.  We finally chose one bottle to take with us, but we will be searching for these wines and recommending them to our local winesellers... they are ALL that good!  (Wish I had taken more photos, but we had such a wonderful visit with the winemaker and such a great time enjoying the tasting that I put the camera down.)

So, back at the campsite.  Corkscrew?  No, I haven't seen it.  Did we pack it?  Did you check that bag?  Hhmmmmm...

Here's a little tutorial featuring my genius husband and his solution for the missing corkscrew:

First, find yourself a drill, some vise grips, and a galvanized 3" screw.  Position the screw over the bottle's embedded cork.  (It gets crazy from here, folks.)  Gently, slowly use the drill with a screwdriver bit to twirl the screw into the cork.

Now, grasp the now embedded screw in the already embedded cork with the vise grips, locking them in place around the screw.  

Find a high position allowing you the leverage to pull the cork up and out of the bottle.  Pull with steady and gentle force until...

The cork pops free!

(I will never know why we had these tools with us on a camping trip, and I wouldn't recommend trying this yourselves.  I am, however, blessed to married to such a patient and resourceful man!)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Grown-Up Summer Camp, Part Two

I have food issues, it's trueI follow a vegan diet most of the time, allowing eggs and fish only occasionally.  Hubs and I eat whole, fresh, local, organic, low-fat, home-made food most of the time as well, choosing the best of what God has created on this green earth.  And then there are the health challenges.  *sigh*  So, how does someone like me eat on a camping trip?


First of all, bring along the right supplies.  An iron skillet over the fire works beautifully.  Remember that these heirloom pieces should be treated with love, seasoned in the oven with some oil, then only wiped out with a soft cloth and some salt to remove any bits of food.  NEVER put your iron skillet in the dishwasher or clean it with detergents!  It truly is the original non-stick pan if treated properly!

We brought along a camp stove, but really only used it for toast.  Sherando Lake's campsites have nice firepits and grates (some sites even have a rotating arm that swings over the fire!), so we cooked over the fire.

A small, sharp knife and a cutting surface are necessities.  Rather than pack up several knives, or one of our large chef's knives, I just pack one small, multi-purpose one.  I also bring along silicone or wood spatulas and spoons, and perhaps tongs.  

Food tents make everything better.  I can prep items for cooking or serving and cover them with a food tent while working on the rest of the meal.  These are particularly nice... they came as a set of two, they are sturdy yet collapsible, and they're just adorable on the table.

I can't say enough about a fabric tablecloth!  Yes, there is a very colorful vinyl one underneath the cloth for easy cleanup.  But I much prefer the cloth next to my arms as we eat and visit at the table to the vinyl (which seems to stick to my skin on a hot day!).  Don't forget to use table clips to keep the tablecloth from flapping in the breeze!  And fabric dishtowels and napkins are so nice.  We remember to remove these from the table into the Jeep overnight to avoid dampness from the sweet dew that falls and to avoid enticing sniffing bears!

Biodegradable dish soap and cloths for clean up after meals rounds out the supply list.

Now, what do we eat?  We take MOST of our food with us on our trips to the woods.  This takes a little preparation to plan meals and include all ingredients in packing.  For this trip, I cooked a crock pot full of black beans before we left and brought them along for camping meals.  These could easily be added to some sauteed onions and peppers brought from our garden with a side of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and tortillas.

Breakfast was toast, a little almond butter and home canned jam, fruit, and perhaps eggs.  Eggs from a local farmer are great... richer in color and flavor and laid by chickens free from drugs and cages.  When at home, we purchase our eggs from Full Quiver Farm, but when in Rome, er, uh, the Shenandoah Valley...  We had the opportunity to purchase eggs from Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm and we took full advantage of that!  Somehow Polyface hot dogs also made it into my cooler, but you'll have to ask the Hubs about that one!

Lunch was either soup or sandwiches, again from items we brought from home.  One day we took a picnic to the lake for lunch.  Sublime!

We cooked up some lovely little purple and golden potatoes with onions one evening with a side of the black beans.  Yummy and filling!

The cooler also held some pickles and pickled beets, mayo and dijon mustard, meats and cheeses for Tom, and beverages.  And we brought along some cookies, pretzels, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, etc. for snacks and trail food. 

We'll come down out of the trees and into the towns from time to time for something special, like lunch at Cranberry's in Staunton, but that's another story...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Grown-up Summer Camp, Part One

In our everyday lives, we tend to put our heads down and work, brows furrowing deeper, and shoulders rising higher each day until they are almost attached to our ears!  We are conditioned to work hard, be organized, get more done, multi-task, have it all!

But my God calls me to rest, to healing, to quiet... and to Him.

So we did it.  After an amazing, Trust-God week working with the best volunteer staff EVER at Vacation Bible School, the hubs and I took a vacation.  A real one.  Not an overnight to check off something from our list, but an actual 5 day trip to the woods.  A summer camp for grown-ups.  A retreat.  A coming away and a drawing close.  Over the next few posts, I'll share our adventure.


Just rest.  No schedule.  No deadlines.  Just doing whatever we felt like doing.  Being creative.  Wearing whatever felt worn and soft.  Why not have a nap?  (You can learn alot from watching a dog.)

How does one find comfy rest in the woods?  We reserved one of our favorite sites at our favorite place to camp:  Sherando Lake.  It's so clean and rich green and this site has lots of dappled shade. Perfect!

Now, set up the tent.  Yes, a tent.  And yes, it's comfy.  It's a big tent.  Two room with a detachable room divider.  And full stand up height.  And the entire front zips open into a sort of screened-in sleeping porch.  Aaahhhhhh.

We could just throw a sleeping bag on the floor and be done with it... not very comfy, though.  Instead, we like to bring along a couple of cots, set them up side by side, and top them with a queen-sized Aerobed.  Smooth some organic cotton sheets over the mattress, add a light blanket or quilt and a couple of plump pillows.  Set up a nice reading chair and a plush rug, hang a couple of lanterns and an apron for campfire cooking.  Double aaahhhhhhhhhh.

The remainder of our time away stood before us... we flung open our arms and embraced what the Lord would bring to us...