Tag Archives: woodland critters

life

long overdue

Well, I haven’t posted in an incredibly long time. I’ve had my reasons, I promise. This past summer was a whirlwind for me and with my 27th birthday arrived an explosive return of Saturn which has left me in a state of reflection and rebuilding since July. Unfortunately, this blog was very low on my list of priorities for the past few months, but never did I completely forget about it. Now, thankfully, ever since November i’ve finally started to find some clarity and balance. In the last few weeks I’ve rediscovered my passion for arts and crafts with a violent ferocity that cannot be held back. Now that i’ve had a few weeks of filling sketchbooks, making Christmas decorations, wood-burning everything wooden that I can get my hands on, editing 2 year old film projects, and some good old-fashioned painting, I’m finally yearning to get back to this blog.

 

So, for right now, I just wanted to say “hi” and “I’m still alive” and “I can’t wait to blog again” and I will leave you with a sample of my recent work. A few weeks ago, a friend and coworker of mine commissioned some art from me. She wanted something for her holiday cards that she would be delivering alongside all her beautiful, handmade knitted gifts. All she asked for was a little bear and a little fox, as “Bear” and “Fox” is what she affectionately calls her two little boys. Here is what I came up with for her. winter fox and bear

 

My sister helped me print these on some 4×6 card stock and we fell in love with the way they came out. I also got a lot of positive feedback from my friend, and others who saw the cards. With that in mind, my sister and I have projects and potential prints and stationary for sale coming up in the new year. I won’t give away too much, but i’m excited.

More projects, crafts, pictures and nonsense coming soon.

 

thanks for reading!

 

love,

Gabbie

life photography travel

Our February Road Trip Part 1: Two Nights in TN

Now that we’ve had a couple busy weeks of work, unpacking and catching up on sleep, I finally have a chance to sit down and share a few pictures and stories from part of our February road trip.

It started in mid-January when we decided, kind of suddenly, that we wanted to use some of our vacation time from work to visit Albert’s family in Wisconsin. Plane tickets were a bit higher than we would have liked to pay so, without another thought, we decided to drive instead. Some people think a 24 hour drive across the US sounds like a nightmare, but we had already made this same trip once before, about 2 years ago, and we were excited to try again. We took about 12 days off of work and decided to bring one of our dogs, Starbuck, so that she could experience life on the farm. We felt pretty prepared for the drive but decided to do things a little differently than our first road trip (when we drove straight through) and planned for a 2 night stop in Tennessee. I had originally wanted to visit Nashville but I had hard time finding a big-dog friendly hotel where it was going to be okay to leave Starbuck alone in our room if we decided to go out and explore the city. I was worried that the plans wouldn’t work out until my many hours of googling led me to research a different type of lodging: cabins near the Smoky Mountains.

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I really loved the idea of getting to stay in a larger, more comfortable place with a kitchen and a hot tub (which I found out many cabins are equipped with) and having more privacy than we would in a hotel. I also loved the thought of being closer to the country and a national park. However, I spent about two weeks searching for cabins in the popular Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg areas of Tennessee with no luck- I could not find the perfect one. Every cabin I fell in love with was either in the middle of a ravine and impossible to get to without 4 wheel drive or too expensive with ridiculously high fees for pets. A lot of places advertised as being “dog friendly” but did not even allow dogs over 20 lbs (which reminds me of a Ron Swanson quote.)

I was about to give up on Tennessee until just days before our trip when I stumbled across Cramer’s Creekside Cabins in Cosby, TN – a town about 20 miles from Gatlinburg. I was immediately able to find a perfectly sized 1 bedroom cabin that was completely dog-friendly and welcoming to Starbuck, and the priced was the best I found- I even got an awesome discount for liking their page on facebook. And yes, it had a hot tub.

I’m incredibly thankful we found this place and that it worked out because we loved it and the short time we spent in Tennessee was unforgettable- our only regret was that we didn’t stay a few nights longer. We arrived on a friday night, a bit later in the evening than we had planned and we were a little bit stressed from our delay, but as soon as we arrived and enjoyed a relaxing evening and a bottle of wine by the fireplace, we instantly forgot about everything else I knew that the hassle of finding this place had been completely worth it.

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The next morning I woke up to the sound of birds chirping and daylight breaking through the window. I’m not going to lie, I was confused for a few moments, I thought that the night before and arriving to the cabin had been a dream, but as soon as I reconnected with reality I jumped out of bed, eager to get the day started and go out exploring.

I bundled up and ran outside with Starbuck, who was just as excited and confused as I was, while Albi slept in. The temperature was about 20 and I was excited to find everything outside covered in a thin veil of sparkly frost, something you rarely see in Florida. Once Albert got up we started thinking about breakfast and having really no idea about the area we were in, he turned to the Around Me app on his iPhone for suggestions. We discovered a place not more than 5 minutes down the nearest road, an apple orchard and restaurant known as Carver’s Apple House Restaurant. Situated on a bit of a sloping hill, the charming restaurant and adjoining shop overlook an apple orchard which I imagine is incredibly picturesque when the trees are in season. There were even a few horses roaming amongst the trees while we enjoyed our breakfast.

Breakfast, by the way, was incredible. The restaurant lives up to it’s Apple House namesake and along with our hearty country breakfasts of eggs, bacon, biscuits, and grits, we also were provided with apple fritters, homemade apple butter, and delicious apple cider. After breakfast we stopped at the store where, of course, there were a multitude of fresh apple varieties to chose from along with an assortment of other produce, nuts, and locally made goods like jams, butters, relishes, and cider.
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Breakfast was so incredibly satisfying and exciting that we headed back to the comfort of our cabin for a rather long nap (I mean, this was a vacation after all.) Once we were awake again and ready for more exploring we got in the car and drove towards the Gatlinburg entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National park.

I had not done a lot of research on the area before our trip nor had I planned any activities, we were completely winging it, so I was surprised to see how busy downtown Gatlinburg was as we drove through it. The strip is filled with shops, bars, restaurants, old-timey photo studios (the kind where you can dress up like a frontiersman or woman and have corny sepia-toned portrait taken) and some big attractions like a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and a huge aquarium. It was also packed with tourists and traffic. I would have loved to stop but it was late in the day and we really wanted to make it to the park before dark.

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I have no idea how big the park is and how many places there are to visit. I mean, I know its huge, but we were short on time so we parked at the first visitor center we found and followed the signs for a nature trail. I am far from being a master-hiker but I love going on trails and frequently go for impromptu hikes here in Florida, but the scenery here was amazing and completely different from back home, and we were only at the entrance to the park. We passed a few creeks, a billion trees (guesstimating) and even a couple small waterfalls.

 

 

 

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We walked at least 2 miles into the trail and pretty far up the side of the small mountain (or hill? how do you tell the difference?) until we reached a stream of water we couldn’t easily cross and decided to turn around. The scenery the entire way was breathtaking, and I collected a handful of pretty river stones to take home as souvenirs, which I’m not sure is even allowed but, oh well. Then, on the way back down the trail, something wonderful happened – we saw a deer.

I know that in places like this, and most of the US, deer are probably incredibly common, but I still freaked out. I kind of have a thing for deer, and all woodland critters, so to see a buck like this one in the “wild” was awesome. And he was so close to us! He just suddenly crossed the path in front of us, stopped to chew on some leaves, looked at me like I was a huge nerd while I stood there frozen and frantically snapping unfocused pictures of him, then he just calmy turned around and disappeared back into the trees.

It was magical.

 

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I needed to settle down from the excitement of my encounter with Bambi, so we headed out of the park as the sun was setting and made our way back towards the downtown main street. Earlier in the day I had seen a flier for free tours and tastings at the Ole Smoky Mountain Moonshine distillery and we decided that if we had time to stop anywhere else, it had to be there.

The Ole Smoky Moonshine Holler was bustling and a live band was playing folksy mountain music to onlookers in rocking chairs. The tasting and sales room was crowded but there were numerous counters and we made our way up to one where we got to sample about 7 or 8 different varieties of moonshine and their moonshine-soaked cherries. They were all great, but my favorites were the classic 100 proof “white lightning” and the amazing apple pie moonshine. If you love apple pie and imbibing alcohol and can manage to get your hands on some of this stuff, do it!

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After leaving the holler we realized that we were also standing beneath a Mellow Mushroom – one of our favorite pizza places back home. Except, this was a two-story establishment with a downstairs gift shop and a huge, flashy “moonshine lounge” (bar) unlike our quaint and adorable location in Winter Park, Fl.

Whenever I’m on vacation I try to avoid any place I know from back home, but the amazing thing about Mellow Mushroom is that each location is unique, so we HAD to stop there. We shared a small Mediterranean chicken pizza that was topped with tzatziki sauce and I had a cocktail made with Ole Smoky Apple Pie moonshine called “The Dolly Parton.”

Now, I love Dolly Parton and, as I had just discovered, I also love apple pie moonshine, so of course I love this cocktail. Since you can probably get ahold of Ole Smoky at any large liquor store, or even online, I will share the easy recipe with you, as copied from the menu in the restaurant.

The Dolly Parton

Equal parts Ole Smoky® Apple Pie MoonshineTM
and ginger ale, splash of lime juice, garnish
with 2 Ole Smoky® Moonshine CherriesTM

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After an exciting evening we headed back to our cabin, soaked in the hot tub and enjoyed a frozen dinner and saturday night live. The next morning we packed our things and said goodbye to Tennessee, promising each other and Starbuck that we will go back – we have to go back!

Check back soon for part 2 of our road trip adventure and lots of pictures of snow. <3

For more pictures of our trip to Tennessee, check out my Flickr page!

diy gardening

Adventures in Terrarium Building

Holy Meow!

Well, I previously said I would definitely stick to updating this thing so, of course I didn’t. I had a bit of a hecticly busy last few months, with working at the mall during the holidays, family visits, as well as being in AND attempting to film my dear friend Jaclyn‘s wedding in december. Either way, I’m back now, and not giving up on this blogging nonsense just yet! So, here goes!

Lately my mother has become fascinated with terrariums (the small artsy type you might see on etsy or in an issue of Martha Stewart Living) and has been trying to talk me into making one for a while. I do find them very charming but between school, work, taking care of two neurotic dogs, attempting to edit a wedding video, freaking out about life, house chores, and a 10 mile long to-do list of other crafty projects, I wasn’t quite sure when I would get around to attempting one.

Luckily my mother sprang a surprise attack, I mean visit, on me yesterday and we spent my day off working on a small batch of terrariums and, I must say, I am feeling slightly pleased with myself and the outcome.

It must be noted that, although I know a decent amount about things like indoor gardening and bonsai trees, this is my first attempt at assembling a self-contained garden and I was uneasy about starting. That being said – thanks to the never-ending source of information and how-to guides that is the internet and some old-fashioned creativity and resourcefulness, terrarium building ended up being a fun and almost stress relieving way to spend a day- even for my first try. Here, for anyone interested, is a run down of my process which is far from perfect but I think a good place to start getting ideas (disclaimer: this is by no means a how-to, just my insights and experience.)

Hooray for Terrariums!

Start with a clean and clear plastic or glass container. This can really be any size or shape, just find something that appeals to you. It can also have a lid or not, which really depends on the kinds of plants you will be using and how truly self-contained you want your tiny eco-system to be. If just starting out, make your life easier by using a container that is deep and has a very wide opening. Remember, you have to actually be able to stick your hands in there and arrange things. My containers all came from Michael’s and ranged in price from $5 to $14, but I used a coupon from the Michael’s iPhone app and saved 50% off my most expensive choice, the apothecary jar.

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top left: painting picks. top right: some supplies. bottom left: drying picks. bottom right: plants.

Next, you will need to decide on your plants. I chose a variety of small succulents for most of my terrariums and a small dwarf japanese juniper for my last one. Now, as I found out the hard way, many of the succulents are incredibly fragile and you have to be terribly delicate when handling them and placing them in your container because they will break, fall apart, or go droopy even if you so much as look at them funny. true story. On that note: buy an extra plant, just in case you mess the first one up or need to practice handling them. My other choice was the juniper because I really wanted to make a bonsai-esque tiny forest filled with woodland creatures. I have no idea how well suited this plant is for a terrarium, but I have used them as bonsai trees before and figured I would give it a shot. I used basic bonsai principles and a set of kitchen shears (don’t judge me, horticulture snobs) and trimmed the lower growing twigs and excess bushiness off my tiny shrub to make it look more like a tiny tree. Oh yeah, and wear gloves- these suckers are prickly.

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turning a bushy juniper into a tiny tree

Now you need all the fillers. The basics will be small pebbles or river stones to be placed in the bottom layer of your container for drainage purposes. On top of that will be a layer of charcoal (purchased at a garden center or a plant nursery) which helps purify your terrarium and prevent mold and bacteria and other undesirable grossness (*I used an orchid mix which contains charcoal in addition to wood chips and other things. I have no idea if this works, but my mother bought it, so, we used it). Then comes your potting soil. Use something that is of a high quality and appropriate for your plants. For our succulents, we mixed some potting soil with sand, but it would probably be best to buy soils that are correct for whatever you’re planting.

Now the optional parts: moss and decorations. You can have a living moss terrarium, which looks adorable and will be my next attempt, but this time I used dry reindeer moss for decorative purposes. It was expensive at the craft store and next time I would rather use something I am sure is natural and free of chemicals or dyes. As for decorations, you could really use whatever you want, such as small toys or figurines. I happened to have an unused box of super sculpey which I had no immediate plans for, so I molded my own cute little shapes, poked little craft wire jewelry findings into them, baked them in the oven then painted them with martha stewart craft paint. This part alone added several hours to whole project but it was fun and worth it as I think my custom picks add a personal, goofy touch to my terrariums.

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small terrarium in a candy jar for my niece

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arranging plants in a tall thin container was a nightmare, and the plants suffered some shock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And there you have it. Assemble the layers, depending on the size of your container you probably want around an inch of pebbles, inch of charcoal, then 2 to 3 inches of soil, but these estimates will vary in each situation. Then, using your hands and small tools (i find spoons, skewers and chopsticks to be useful, but you might decide to be fancy and buy real terrarium tools) make small holes for your plants and gently arrange them in your container as you would any potted plant. Don’t place them too close to the walls, and it is helpful to visualize or sketch it before you bury them in there. Lastly top them with your moss and decor and sprinkle with water. Now you’re ready to sit back and admire them, probably for hours, if you’re a nerd like me.

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oh, hey there snail dude.

Once completed, set them near a window or under a lamp to make sure they get enough light. Closed lid terrariums should require very little watering, somewhere in the once ever 2 week range (give or take). Open terrariums will need a bit more attention and watering, but in a high walled container, should still function as a little ecosystems.

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my pièce de résistance; the woodland critters.

The most charming thing about terrariums is how pretty they look as decorations in your home with the added bonus that keeping some greenery indoors can liven things up, especially when you live in a drab apartment that is far away from any magical forests or jungles. As wonderfully low maintenance as self-contained gardens are, you can’t forget about them completely. Keep an eye on them to make sure they are getting enough light and moisture or, conversely, you may need to let them breath if they are getting swampy.

Either way, this a fun way to combine gardening and crafting, a lovely gift to make for a loved one or friend, a cute way to teach kids about ecosystems, or just something fun to do when you’re bored.

Send any thoughts, advice, and tips my way! Also, if you’ve made a terrarium of your own, share it with me! I’d love to see what other people have made ;)

<3<3<3

More info on terrariums:

How to Make a Terrarium

Sprout Home

Moss Terrarium

Martha Stewart: Succulent Terrariums