Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Carroll County Farm Fresh Store

Visiting Carroll County Farm Fresh.
I recently found a local fresh food treasure that is worth writing about. In my search for Pawpaws, I received information about a store that carried them. I immediately entered the address into my phone's map app and high-tailed it to Carroll County Farm Fresh. Not only did I find Pawpaws, I found a treasure trove of organic vegetables, fruits, meats, eggs, and milk. I also found the best customer service I've experienced in a very long time. It is refreshing to find someone who is working with passion about their product.

Carroll County Farm Fresh, Baltimore County, Maryland


I cannot confirm if the store is located in Eldersburg or Sykesville, Maryland. My map app, road signs, and subsequently the internet seemed to use the town names almost interchangeably. And I'm not familiar enough with the area to know where one town ends and the other begins. Despite not being very familiar with the area, the store was incredibly easy to find.

I do know that the address is clearly: 2808 Liberty Road. The store was easy to access at the corner of Oakland Mills Road and Liberty Road. A turn at the light from Liberty onto Oakland Mills and an immediate turn into the roomy parking lot. 



Andrew greeted me with happy helpfulness and without hovering or high-pressure sales techniques. He did offer a complimentary fresh-squeezed orange juice. The orange juice was delicious.

I was thrilled to find that they did indeed have pawpaws. HUGE Shenandoah pawpaws from Deep Run Orchard. Woohoo! That made my day. After all, I've become a huge pawpaw fan since my first pawpaw taste test.


Pawpaws and fresh-baked Pawpaw Bread

Other customers came and went as I decided I had to take some photos to share with my readers. 

Andrew explained that this is their family business. And many of their items come from small local farms and businesses. For more information you can find Carroll County Farm Fresh on their website and on their facebook page.

I wish I had taken notes on the variety of products and farm names. Just a few of the other farm names and items I noted were:

  • Baugher's (apple cider)
  • [be] essential (goatsmilk and vegan soaps)
  • Cherry Glen (goat cheese)
  • Deep Run Farms (pawpaws and tomatoes)
  • Serene Lavender Farms (jams and teas)
  • Thelma's Homestead (goatsmilk soaps)
  • Whispering Breeze Farm (cow cheese)



Once Upon A Crumb


There are also baked goods available. If you know me, you can imagine how ecstatic I was to find loaves of fresh-baked Pawpaw bread. Of course I bought one. It was divine! It was a fresh, rich, cinnamon bread (reminded me of a coffee cake) full of pawpaw flavor. 

The breads were baked by Once Upon A Crumb. If you liked fresh baked goods, you MUST try one of their items. 

If you want fresh organic fruits and vegetables, meats raised on small local farms, fresh milk and eggs without the increased preservatives the stores are boasting about ("fresher longer" ads), and variety of other products and customer service, you would be glad to visit Carroll County Farm Fresh.  The store was clean, fresh, and I really wanted to purchase one of each item. 

Words are not adequate so I will just end with a few of the photos I snapped. 












Saturday, September 23, 2017

Reviewing the Anker Portable Solar Power Charger

The ease of portability with the Anker PowerPort.
I have found a treasure that is not so very expensive but is worth it's weight in gold if you need to charge your cell phone and have no way of doing so. The Anker 21 watt PowerPort is portable, small, and powerful.  If you go camping, hiking, or if you want to be prepared for power outages at home, you may like this solar charger as much as I do.


The Anker 21 watt PowerPort Solar Charger


This little charger can be kept in the seat pocket of your car, in a hiking backpack, your bug out bag, or many other small storage spaces. The four sections of the gadget fold up like a pamphlet. The velcro holds it closed.  When folded it measures only 11" x 6".  When fully opened it measures only 26" x 11".

When opened, you access the pocket with the USB port. The PowerPort has two ports so you can charge two items at a time. The PowerPort comes with one charging cord. I could charge my Kindle and my cell phone at the same time.

As soon as you open the Anker PowerPort Charger, you can immediately see if the item is collecting sun via the indicator light. 


Anker PowerPort with 2 USB ports, indicator light, and cord included

As soon as I received my Anker, I took it out to the balcony to give it a try.  It was an extremely sunny day. Even so, the charger charged my phone far more quickly than I expected. I've never timed it, but I believe it takes longer to charge when it's charging in the Jeep up at the Shack! I know it seems like forever when I am waiting to bed but I want a full charge on the phone for overnight.


4:54 pm - Charging at 62%


6:02 pm  - Charging at 81%

The Many Uses of the Anker PowerPort Solar Charger


I bought this on the recommendation by a friend who has owned his for a year or more.  He uses his for camping, hunting, and traveling. He charges his items while in the woods or while in the truck without putting strain on the truck battery. He has not had a single complaint with his Anker. 

I bought mine for hiking and camping purposes as well as power outages that occur in the neighborhood where my metro apartment is located. I will also take mine with me when I travel to the Shack. Even though I have a large solar panel and inverter there, I need to replace the donated batteries (which are expensive). So in the meantime, I can use the Anker to charge my phone (rather than take my phone out to the Jeep in the dark and the wilderness and charge it there). 

I did see some questions on Amazon and I want to make it clear... this is not an inverter. You cannot charge items with "plugs" with this. You can only charge things that can charge with a USB cord. That includes phones, kindles, and tablets. Maybe some cameras. If you item plugs in with the cord that fits into the hole shown in the photo above, you can use this mini-solar panel to charge your items. 




I occasionally lose power in my apartment for most of day due to things such as traffic accidents hitting power poles and those big power boxes. We have also lost power here due to ice storms and blizzards. Finally, with the recent news of the damage caused by hurricanes, I made sure I am more prepared with the Anker PowerPort Solar charger. 

*This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you. I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you. 

Related Link:


I also depend on headlamps for lighting at the Shack, while camping, hiking, and during emergencies. You can read my review of headlamps here. If you've ever suddenly been in the dark and needed lighting you are aware of the importance of light. Read about my choice for hands-free lighting.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Chesapeake Cozy Cat Trees and Condos

Chesapeake Cozy Cat - Baltimore Co., Maryland
If you are a cat lover and would like to supply your cat with a quality cat tree or cat condo and you are in the Baltimore County area, I have some good information for you.  Both Mittens and I are thrilled about the treasure I acquired yesterday from Chesapeake Cozy Cat.


Buying Local - in Baltimore County, Maryland


I prefer to buy things that are made and sold locally, but it is not always easy to find what you are looking for. It often becomes much easier to mail order items. It is also often less expensive to buy from the big box stores.

One item that I have put off purchasing is a large cat condo. I didn't care for the quality and the prices at the local stores. And I didn't feel like spending that much money on Mittens the Maleficent. Frankly, she is constantly in the top of closets, on top of my kayak (that I store across the top of closet doors - next to the ceiling), and in every other nook and cranny she can find. While I really wanted a large cat tree for her, it wasn't a priority.

However, her knocking things from this shelves and spaces to make room for her napping has grown old. I definitely wanted to have a "high" space dedicated to Mittens.

Years ago I had seen a variety of cat trees and condos being sold yard sale style at the park-and-ride across from Martin State airport. But I hadn't seen this set-up for quite awhile and had given up on being able to shop those items - UNTIL YESTERDAY!


Chesapeake Cozy Cat


The Chesapeake Cozy Cat tent was in front of the park-and-ride in front of Martin State Airport yesterday. I pulled a U-turn and stopped to shop.  I grabbed a card so I could remember to provide the contact information to you.



The gentleman (I forgot to ask him name in my excitement) said that he doesn't do mail order business yet. He attends local shows and continues to sometimes set up at the location I found him. He builds all of the items himself.

I found that his prices were less expensive than the items at a local pet store I had been window-shopping. And in my opinion, the item I purchased is a higher quality.


Mittens and Her New Tree


Some of my readers occasionally ask about Mittens. She is the cat that I adopted from a local shelter in 2015 and we had adventures before I ever brought her home. In fact, I was a bit worried about whether or not Mittens the Maleficent Kitten would be allowed to come live with me. 

Mittens continues to do well with me. Rather, I continue to do well with her. She is clearly in charge of both myself and the dogs, and the apartment is her apartment. 

As soon as I brought this 42" tall tree into the door, she claimed it. She wasn't quite sure what it was, but she claimed it by laying on the base. 

Later she hopped up into the 1/2 tube beds. When I was making my purchase, I initially thought I should buy the enclosed cat houses, but I am glad I bought the tree with the two 1/2 tube beds. She loves them. Some day, I'd love to buy her one of those HUGE cat trees (on the far left in the intro photograph) but for now, this tree is perfect for Her Highness and a good size for my apartment. 



Maybe you do not live locally. In that case Amazon may be a really good option for you to find a cat tower or condo in the shape and size that you want. Simply click the banner below and shop the pet section for cat towers.




But if you are lucky enough to live local to Baltimore County, and are looking for a quality cat tree, you definitely should contact Chesapeake Cozy Cat. Mittens certainly has given her stamp of approval.



*This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you. I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Bent River Woodworks in Capon Bridge, West Virginia

I found a treasure during my travels just the other day. During this most recent camping trip I finally visited a wonderful little store that I've been eyeing in Capon Bridge, West Virginia. I have driven past this store every time I make the drive up to my land but I have never stopped because I am on the road well before or after normal business hours. This most recent trip was cut short. I was sad to leave early, but that meant I was finally driving past during normal shop hours. Let me introduce you to Bent River Woodworks in Capon Bridge, West Virginia.


Bent River Woodworks - Capon Bridge, West Virginia


Capon Bridge is a small town in West Virginia on highway 50.  As I am driving to my West Virginia land (from Baltimore) I find myself on this beautiful two-lane highway. At one point, after climbing in elevation, I begin the curving descent before suddenly entering a small town called Capon Bridge. There is a bridge and it crosses a river and lush valley just before the road begins it's ascent out of town. 

There on the right, I have always admired a large brick building with handmade rustic wooden furniture in the front. Even though my new home will be small (well under 800 square feet) I have always wanted to stop and take a better look at this beautiful furniture made of logs and branches. Although, I did not expect to find anything that I'd be able to incorporate into my small home after it is built.


Bent River Woodworks Furniture


This log furniture is rustic and elegant at the same time. I'm not at all sure how they do it, but they do. Perhaps it is how they finish the furniture. There is a ginormous "throne" outside, large enough to seat two people comfortably (sorry, I did not remember to take a photo of it). When I went inside, I found gorgeous tables, chairs, and benches. 



This light-colored bench was one of my favorite pieces of furniture. The size is perfect for a smaller home or deck. I am not a woodworking expert so I'll likely use the wrong terminology, but I love the "chunkiness" and how solid the piece is. The color of the wood and the shine of the finish is gorgeous.


This table was AMAZING. I love the tree trunk legs and the varying colors of the table. If the photo enlarges sufficiently, maybe you will be able to see the carve dips of the table edge and chair backs.  I loved that little addition. A smaller version of this is exactly what I've been imagining for my tiny dining area.


a cropped photo of a chair back for detail

Bent River Woodworks Chainsaw Carvings


Each trip past the store, I have noticed more chainsaw carved critters. I have always been drawn to things such as totems (they have one inside) and chainsaw carvings. So I was thrilled to stop and take a closer look at what they create.  

Ken, one of the chainsaw artists, was there and was very helpful and pleasant. He explained that this bear cub is part of different sections of an item. I adore this baby cub and as I mentioned, I want one lounging on my deck at some point. 

The details and finish are visually pleasing. Ken said that they do quite a bit of custom work.  Rather than ramble on, trying to explain how wonderful these carvings are, I'll just add some photographs.










Even though I did not think this store would have suitable furniture for my new place, I find that I was wrong. Not only could they (and would they) custom make something sized to fit my needs, they also make the exact type of chainsaw carvings that I've admired and added to my wish list years ago. Yes, at the risk of being redundant, I really want one of those baby bear statues lounging on my deck. And am happy to find ones that are carved in the more realistic style that I prefer. 





Related Bent River Woodworks and Capon Bridge Links:


For more photos and information, be sure to check out their Bent River Woodworks facebook page

They also have a website and on that website you'll find a photo of the store (pre-awning days) and that beautiful, ginormous, wooden throne.  Check it out here

*This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you. I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Thank You to My Readers and Supporters

I'd like to take a moment to say thank you to my readers. I have a circle of folks who are providing emotional support for me while I'm balancing adulting with daydreaming. While I am living on the edge of a large city and taking care of responsibilities and making a glacially slow transition to a homestead in the country is a happy thing - but isn't always easy.  Today I am feeling thankful for each of you who are supporting me in this endeavor. 


Real Life vs. Dreaming


I have a toe in each world - the world of daily life and the world of future dreams. 

Real life includes apartment living, employment, and paycheck-to-paycheck budgeting. I don't care for my neighbors, my neighborhood, or the daily commute on the beltway. However, I keep at it. I am well aware that it could be worse. It could be much, much worse. I am thankful that in reality, it's not so bad. 


making the most of apartment living

Dreaming includes my land on a ridge in West Virginia and the dreams of retiring there someday. Living there sooner than later, I hope. I go camping there as often as possible, try to keep up with caring for the land and my Shack, and plan for the future. I have home plans chosen, trees planted, and big ideas. 


I dream of living here... this view every day


Blogging About It


I blog because I love to write. I love to read. I love peeking in on others who share their lives through their writing and videos. I want to share certain bits of my life. 

I have been blessed to have been mentored by some really kind ladies who have graciously shared their knowledge about SEO, affiliates, Google, and assorted things related to the world of writing on the internet. If I'm being too obtuse, let me say it more clearly - I am very thankful for the ladies who have all taken me under their wings and shared what they know with me.

I also blog for many other reasons:

I mentioned that I love to read and write. Blogging is an extension of that happiness I feel when I've written something coherent or moving.

I am practicing blogging. I have a long way to go in learning how to be a successful blogger. And I believe that practice makes close to perfect. I am practicing as often as time and energy allow.

I am practicing blogging so that I am better at it when I have even more important things to say. I hope to someday be able to share how I went from barely scraping by to retiring debt-free and living as self-sufficiently as possible. 

I blog because I try to spend as many days as possible in 'zero-spend' mode. Or as close to it as possible. Zero-spend days are the days that I am not spending any money. Now, clearly, having the internet isn't free. So technically there is a daily cost to having a roof over my head, connection to the internet, and electricity. But... sitting home using the internet is far less expensive than traveling, shopping, eating out, or a myriad of other things I could be spending money on.

I blog because it helps me to keep track. I can look back and see the memories, the timeline, the details of things I did or wanted to remember.

I blog because I can share my little bits of experience or opinions with the people who want my opinion. Sometimes I have useful information I'd like to share.

I blog because sometimes I make a few bucks. I can spend those few bucks on the things I need or want. If I figured my "hourly pay" through blogging over the years, I'd be quite depressed. And frankly, I'm not sure I'm mathematically talented enough to find that fraction of a penny. However, there have been spurts of internet income that have helped me make purchases I would not have otherwise enjoyed. 


Thank You to Each of You


After having had several days vacation and some quiet time to reflect, I have had time to really think about how grateful I am to those of you who support me during this time. Some of you know me personally and provide support by listening to my daydreams and don't think me silly. Or if you do, you don't let it show! Others of you know me via the internet and provide your support through teaching, tweets, and shares. A number of you make purchases through my affiliate links and provide financial support. And finally, a great number of you are complete strangers who share links to what I have written just for the sake of sharing. 

As I am counting my blessings and cursing the continued barriers to living my dreams, each of you are very important during this journey. Each of are greatly appreciated.


Thank you.



*This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you.  I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you

Thursday, June 29, 2017

My Plant Journal: Figs

Olympian Fig plants on Amazon
Last week, at The Shack, I planted several trees and shrubs. One of those plants was a Fig. I am not familiar with Figs (other than the famous dancing Fig in the cookie commercials) and I am not an organized gardener. Due to those two things, I am recording the beginning of my Fig adventure here.


Why Figs?


I decided to plant a Fig for the simple reason that a friend loves the fruit and swears that I'll enjoy having the fresh figs. Recently, every time I follow recommendations about fruit (i.e. PawPaws) I have been thrilled with what has been recommended. Also, I want to plant a large variety of fruit on my land.  During this camping trip to The Shack, I was already planning on planting PawPaws, a Persimmon, and a Japanese Maple. I had plenty of room to plant other plants, so I grabbed up a little Fig plant at a local big box, home and garden store.

After all, there is no harm in giving Figs a try. My planting technique up there is a little bit like throwing one of each and seeing what sticks.


Olympian Fig Information


I had no idea there were so many varieties of Fig. Fortunately, what I blindly chose was an Olympian Fig. Now that I've studied a bit more about Fig varieties, I am pleased that I have the Olympian variety. If that goes well, I'd like to add a few other varieties just for fun. But for now, the Olympian Fig seems to be a good variety for my place in West Virginia for these reasons:

  • grows in a small, dwarf, habit
  • grows 4-8 feet
  • hardy to zone 6
  • self-pollinator (I don't need a second plant for pollination)
  • like PawPaws, Fig plants are reportedly deer resistant


My Olympian Fig


Since the Fig variety I chose is a dwarf variety, I planted it in what is to be my "flower bed".  Flower bed is stretching it - a very kind and gentle way to describe this area of my yard.

My land is steep and rocky land on a ridge in West Virginia. So far my "gardening" requires the use of a pickaxe. I apologize that the quality of lighting in this photo isn't the best. I had taken this photo while I was working at my plantings and headed back home to my apartment before taking a better photo.



I planted the Fig in this area - between the lilac bush and the rose bush. And I placed the little garden flag very close to the Fig. While some plants are listed as "deer resistant", we all know that deer really seem to find any leaf a delicious appetizer. I am hoping the fluttering of the flag will help keep the deer away.

What will I do with the figs - if I am successful at growing them? I will find ways to prepare them and I will share them with people who love them. As I do my research, I am finding that there are many people who enjoy eating them.



*This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you. I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Char-Griller Duo 5050

In today's terminology, I've "done a thing" and "this happened". And I couldn't be more excited. I finally decided on a barbecue grill and I made the purchase. In one more week I'll be on vacation at The Shack and will be cooking on my new grill.  I purchased the Char-Griller Duo 5050 dual fuel and I couldn't be more thrilled.


Cooking Off-Grid at The Shack


I've purchased land with a small hunting cabin that will someday be my retirement homestead. In the meantime, I go camping up there at every opportunity.  The previous owners left behind an amazing woodstove inside and a old, dilapidated propane barbecue grill outside.  I've been grateful for both.

In the colder months (yes, I camp up there in the winter) I use the woodstove for my meals. Learning to cook on/in a woodstove has been trial and error but between using hobo packs and finding a perfectly sized enameled cast iron dutch oven, I've been able to prepare some really delicious meals.

In the warmer months, I cook outside on the grill. The grill was so old and rusty that I had to replace the grill immediately, but that was a cheap and easy fix. However, the connections and knobs for the propane no longer function. I still used it as a charcoal grill/smoker and using apple tree branches for cooking gave my meals the most wonderful taste!

Imagine, apple wood smoked Delmonico steaks with a glass of wine. Mouth-watering!


Early spring camping - Delmonico steak, hobo packet potatoes, and a glass of wine


But the limping along with the little rusted out grill has lost it's appeal and I wanted a "real" grill. And the rusted out grill is so tiny. If and when I have camping guests, that size of that grill is not adequate.

But which model should I get?

After my adventures with the woodstove, the propane BBQ grill, and the grill as a charcoal/wood smoker, I knew what my criteria were.

I needed:

  • a side burner (for the times I just want soup, stew, etc)
  • a gas grill
  • and a smoker
  • an easy-to-read gauge (because I want to try baking while camping)


The Char-Griller Duo 5050


I've been window-shopping grills for nearly two years.  I will soon be camping for week. I needed to make a decision. Fortunately, when I finally decided to take the plunge, the grill I had decided on was on sale! Perfect timing.

I chose the Char-Griller Duo 5050 for several reasons.  It has the side burner I need. That side burner will be perfect for my little Moka pot of coffee. I will be able to barbecue using the propane side if I choose or I can use the charcoal side and add my lovely apple wood for smoking. There is a Char-Griller smoker attachment, but after using my old dilapidated grill for smoking, I'm pretty good at it without that added accessory and expense. 

Char Griller Duo 5050 


The Char-Griller Duo is not as heavy duty as some other brands. But at this point, the cost point is a priority for me. Also, I'm not sure I could move the heavy-duty grills around the deck by myself.

In the future, after I rebuild The Shack and have a real outdoor kitchen (off-grid summer kitchen) I will likely either purchase a higher end grill/smoker or I will have a custom stone BBQ/oven built. But in the meantime, I think this Char-Griller dual fuel grill is the perfect solution.

Of course I will write updates on whether or not I've made a good decision and the delicious test meals I'll be cooking.



*This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you.  I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you