Monday, May 25, 2009

Creative Thoughts from CREATEaTHOUGHT

CREATEaTHOUGHT is the well-deserving featured EtsyBlogger of May. She offers a wide variety of handmade items to help you express your thoughts, as well as some cool vintage stuff.

A quote found in her profile pretty much sums up her shop:

"There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes." ~William Makepeace Thackeray

Her unique journals provide you with a place to record your own personal thoughts, and her pins and rings display words and phrases so you can share your thoughts with everyone else!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bike and Hike: Warren County Bike Trail to French Mountain

It was brought to my attention recently that there is a trail up French Mountain accessible from the Warren County Bike Trail. Sister and I jumped on the bike trail by the Cooper's Cave ice cream window in Glens Falls and rode toward Lake George. After crossing Rt 149, you go about a mile, and on the right there are some rocks painted blue and an arrow pointing right off of the bike trail. This is near the large rock with the Russian flag painted on it, and it is just beyond the Colonel Williams Monument, which is on the left. Climb up the blue painted rocks and then follow the foot trail marked with blue blazes.

Start Here

It might be a half hour up the trail to the summit, and a relatively easy climb. The trees are a little overgrown at top, but you can see the newest ride at The Great Escape, the Tee-Pee, Uncle Sam, Prospect Mountain, the southern tip of Lake George, and other regional landmarks. There is not a bike rack at the trail head, so you will need to lock up on a tree.

Along the trail are places to stop and read about the history of the area, particularly its involvement in the French and Indian War. We decided that a bike and hike was enough exercise, so we didn't go all the way into Lake George this time. To see all of my pictures, click here.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I've been trying to improve my photography, particularly when listing items in my online store, or when hiking. My husband got me a camera for Christmas. Our trip to Key West at the beginning of the year was my first time using all the cool functions on the new camera. I was having so much experimenting with it and taking pictures of random things. I posted some of my pictures on my Flickr account, and someone from discovered one that I had taken of our drinks at Fat Tuesdays on Duval Street. If you've never been to a Fat Tuesdays, it is a bar that serves frozen drinks that taste like spiked slushies out of frontloaded-washing-machine-like dispenser.

Anyway, this is a picture of mine that they chose to feature in the Theme Bar section of the Florida Keys Guide on Schmap. I guess it's not a huge deal, but I feel a little honored!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Decoupage Alphabet Tile Bracelets

My newest line of jewelry are my Alphabet Tile Bracelets. I like the whole idea of Scrabble Tile Pendants, but I personally prefer pendants a little larger than a Scrabble tile. I bought alphabet craft tiles because they looked a little bigger than an authentic Scrabble tile, but they are still a little small for my liking, so I decided to drill holes through the sides and string some together and make a bracelet.

With my Cat Eyes and Butterflies bracelet, I decorated the tiles with a colorful assortment of floral and butterfly paper. I used cat eye beads of matching colors to add some flair, and they were threaded into a double stranded bracelet with a Life is Good metal toggle clasp.

In my second piece, decorated with street signs and titled Bumpy Road, I got the idea to spell a related word on the reverse side of the tiles. With the road signs as a theme, I found that I had enough tiles left to spell the word "BUMPY," and can be worn with either side showing. This bracelet is on jelly stretch cord which can stretch over the hand without a need for a clasp. It'd make a cute gift for a new driver.

Snowy Mountain Fire Tower

After a failed attempt at the climbing the closed Schaefer trail at Gore Mountain, Sister and I found ourselves at the trail head of Snowy Mountain facing a 6.8-7.8 mile hike (depending on the source of information) at 1pm for a shot at redemption.

The first part of the hike in was really easy, and the entire trail is well marked and well maintained. There seems like hardly any elevation for maybe the first mile or two, with a couple of minor obstacles. The first challenge was getting our short legs from one stepping stone to the next when crossing the brook which was generously fed by the Spring's snow melt. The trail actually leads you across the brook several times, bouncing from one stone to the next, and at times leaving you wondering why you need to cross here if you will have to cross back over again in a few minutes.

At one point we were led to still body of water with a foot bridge across the length. Unfortunately, a good portion of the bridge is under the murky water- several inches deep. Going around to the left there was a dam of sticks and downed trees. It got a little tricky between the slippery wet wood, rolling logs, with not much but a trekking pole to hold onto for balance. It was better than wading across though!

The last mile or so is where the trail turns into an intense incline, we only had to stop and sit once. The last portion of the trail is relentlessly steep, punishing you for the first mile of cake walk. We did, in fact, encounter snow toward the summit of Snowy Mountain, as well as mudslides, and nearly completely vertical slopes up the stream.

We were rewarded with a spectacular view at an overlook facing Indian Lake, and the tower was not much farther from the overlook.

The summit is almost completely enclosed, but climbing the tower will provide you with a 360 degree view.

On the way down we encountered a few shy newts, and a gorgeous full rainbow. We completed the trip in 6 hours including our snack on the summit and picture taking.

Check out all the pictures from this hike.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Case for Art Vs Craft

Here's an interesting and possibly controversial topic for you: Is there a difference between an art and a craft? Often times the two words get paired together, such as the popular activity at day camp. Other times the two words are swapped and used interchangeably, as though they share the same definition. How does one differ from the other?

A distinction between the two words is something I had never pondered until the subject was brought up as a topic for a blog carnival for the Etsybloggers Street Team.

I don't really like to make an argument for anything without having a good understanding of what I'm talking about, so I looked up the definition of both words on

Art as a noun:
1: skill acquired by experience, study, or observation art of making friends
2 a
: a branch of learning: (1): one of the humanities (2)plural : liberal arts barchaic : learning, scholarship
3: an occupation requiring knowledge or skill art of organ building
4 a: the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects ; also : works so produced b (1): fine arts (2): one of the fine arts (3): a graphic art
5 a
archaic : a skillful plan b: the quality or state of being artful
: decorative or illustrative elements in printed matter

Craft as a noun:
1: skill in planning, making, or executing : dexterity
2 a
: an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill craft> craft of writing plays> <crafts such as pottery, carpentry, and sewing> b plural : articles made by craftspeople crafts crafts fair
: skill in deceiving to gain an end craft and guile to close the deal>
4: the members of a trade or trade association
5: plural usually craft a: a boat especially of small size b: aircraftc: spacecraft

The first five definitions of art presented basically summarize that art is the final product of activity that combines skill, creativity, observation, and learning. The sixth definition specifically defines it as decoration or illustration in printed form.

Craft was described in the first three definitions as a skill, occupation, or trade requiring dexterity or artistic talent, or as the final product of the above actions. The fourth and fifth definitions are irrelevant

Based on this information, one might make the distinction as art being the creative process and craft being the manual process. An example of art could painting a picture of a scene from a day dream while a paint by numbers could be considered more of a text book craft. But do all crafts lack art? Absolutely not! Take jewelry making for example. It is a craft, for sure! Making a beaded necklace is pretty standard: beads, maybe a pendant, wire or similar threading material, crimps, and a clasp. But colors, patterns, textures are all part of the creative process, an artistic flair. Perhaps making a copy-cat necklace following a pattern using only and all of the suggested beads lacks personal art by the jewelry maker, but the pattern developer incorporated their own artistic flair in the design.

A similar argument could be made for knitting, sewing, and any activity that allows you to follow a basic pattern but add your own artistic and creative flair such as texture and color. Painting a still life or portrait doesn't make painting less of an art than something strictly from creative imagination does it? Of course not! Art does require craftsmanship, however. Having an artistic vision is one thing, but having the unique ability to have it turn out right is another. I could imagine a beautiful scene I'd like to paint, but I completely lack the ability to paint anything well- except maybe the walls in my house!

There are elements of art in craft and elements of craft in art. In my opinion they need each other to work.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


... very gneiss

Our 16th tower in the Fire Tower Challenge was Poke-O-Moonshine. We picked an absolute gorgeous day to go. The temperature was almost perfect - the sun was shining, very few clouds were in the sky. While mud season is in full swing, it is still a little early for bug season.

The trail is a self guided nature walk, however, there were no brochures present at the trail head. The campground, which is now closed, is where the trail begins. There is a nice bulletin board of information about the tower and the trail which is probably included in the brochure.

I encountered ice on my most recent hike, so we packed our Stableicers just in case. It is difficult to judge the weather conditions for up north and at higher elevations from where we live. We were pleased to find that there was no sign of ice, infact, we encountered a few spring flowers as well! The trilliums are in bloom, and we saw some Dutchman's breeches and Claytonia virginica. A camouflaged garter snake made just enough noise to catch Sister's eye, and it posed very well for pictures.

The name Poke-0-Moonshine probably originated from the combination of two Algonquin Indian words, "pohqui" and "moosie" meaning broken and smooth, respectively. This seems to refer to the smooth rocks at the summit or the prominent slab on the southeast side or the 1000 ft cliffs on the east side. These cliffs are a popular place for rock climbers, which have identified over 180 routes up the cliff.

The cliff rocks are mostly gneiss, a metamorphic silt from over 1.1 billions years ago. Exfoliation can be noted on the cliff rocks, a geological phenomenon when water seeps into the cracks of the rock, expanding as it freezes, pulling the rock away.

On the way to the top one will pass a lonely stone chimney, basically all that remains from the observer's cabin. Also visible from the trail is a lean-to (nicely shingled) and a doorless outhouse. Head over to the lean-to and check it out. Looking back toward the cabin remains you can now see the very top of the fire tower. The climb from here to the tower looks challenging, as all you can see is a bare rock cliff between the two places, but it isn't bad at all.

Between the cabin and the summit is an overlook that one should check out with great views of Whiteface, Giant, and other high peaks. A little bit of Lake Champlain is also visible from this spot.

The first tower was built in 1912, and replaced with a steel tower in 1917. In 1988 the tower was deactivated, but in 1997 the Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine, with the help of other local agencies, restored the tower and it is climbable up to the pad-locked cab.

Lake Champlain is beautiful but is best seen from the highest landing of the tower. This was one of my favorite summits so far, despite the locked cab. There are great views of the high peaks, the wind was mild, and there is plenty of comfortable bare rock to sit on. This gorgeous mountain makes me want to take up rock climbing! The hike itself was steep in parts, but definitely manageable. It is about 2.4 miles round trip, and about 1280 feet in elevation change.

Information about the tower and trail is from John P Freeman's fire tower book "Views from on High"

Be sure to check out all of my pictures from this hike!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Outdoorsy Carnival May, 2009

Welcome to the May 1, 2009 edition of an outdoorsy carnival.

Aquatic Life

wallowater presents A Kayak for Spring Training. | posted at WalloWater, saying, "Kayaking is popular amongst fishermen, divers and adventure sports enthusiasts due to the range and adaptability of the kayak. In fact, the sport of kayaking is growing in popularity so much that the price of kayaks has risen dramatically in recent years."

goo presents We are not alone posted at

Liz Wright presents Greetings from Half Moon Bay, CA posted at Travelogged.

bricabrac presents 5 Steps To a Perfect Koi Pond posted at 5 Steps to a Perfect koi Pond, saying, "Your perfect Koi pond starts with the actual pond itself. You have to create a pond that will not only be pleasing to the eye, but will also adequately sustain Koi. Proper placement, size and pond type is essential when building your pond."

Advice Column

Gregory E. Rouse presents Winter Shelter Criteria posted at Wilderness-Survival-Skills Blog.

Mike Lawson presents Raising Turkeys for Fun and Profit: Basic Facts and Terminology posted at The Chicken Coop.

GrrlScientist presents HR 669: The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, "This is my assessment and opinion about HR 669, The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act. In short, HR 669 is an great idea -- in principle, but it is not the bill that this nation wants to enact to stem the tide of economic, environmental, habitat, species and human health damages caused by invasive exotic species."

bricabrac presents My Organic Food Garden Guide posted at My Organic Food Garden Guide, saying, "Want to eat healthy? Want to get away from the toxins and chemicals found in supermarket food? Want to experience the natural full flavor of the food you eat?"

Green Thumb

GrrlScientist presents Let's Give Three Bronx Cheers for Bumblebees! posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, "This essay, filled with pictures and valuable reference books, discusses the natural history and economic importance of Bombus species -- the Bumblebees -- and what you can do to help keep them happily living in your garden."

Mikkal Travvis presents How To Start An Organic Garden posted at Organic Health.

Clair Schwan presents Vegetable Gardening Tips for Success posted at Frugal Living Freedom, saying, "Here is a good healthy mix of vegetable gardening tips that come from my practical experience gardening outdoors and inside greenhouses. Enjoy and have a productive vegetable garden this year."

bricabrac presents History of Garden Gnomes posted at History of Garden Gnomes, saying, "The first garden gnomes were made in Gr"

ChristineMM presents How to Make a $10 Raised Garden Bed Tutorial by ChristineMM posted at The Thinking Mother, saying, "ChristineMM of The Thinking Mother shares a photo tutorial about building a raised garden bed for $10 for back yard, square foot/high density gardening."

goo presents Raised Beds, Raised Hopes posted at

Bobbie Whitehead presents Planting Garden Beets posted at Bobbie Whitehead.

Gregory E. Rouse presents How to Build a Raised Garden Bed posted at Raised-Bed-Gardening Blog.

Fiona Slattery Lohrenz presents Begin Organic Gardening With Me! From Scratch! posted at DIY Organic Garden.

In the Woods

Elizabeth Enslin presents Packing | Yips and Howls posted at Yips and Howls, saying, "Here's a humorous poem about lost backpacking gear. I'm not sure of the category. If you wish to post the link, please feel free to categorize as you see fit. Thanks."***You did fine, thanks for participating!

Sue Freeman presents We Love Our Packa Jacket/Packcovers; New York Outdoors Blog posted at New York Outdoors Blog, saying, "Backpacking gear review."

A Keeper's Jackpot presents Easter Fire Tower Hike posted at A Keeper's Jackpot.

Marjorie Morgan presents A cross country skiing 'adventure' posted at GO! Girls Outdoors Travel Blog, saying, "An account of a cross country skiing adventure in Ontario, Canada as part of a travel blog for my website, GO! Girls Outdoors (a resource for women involved in outdoor activities and working in the outdoor industry)."

bricabrac presents Good and Bad Gnomes posted at Good and Bad Gnomes, saying, "A gnome is a dwarflike fairy in Norse mythology and folklore. There are both good ones, called light gnomes and bad ones called black gnomes."

GrrlScientist presents Human Eyes Speak Volumes to Birds posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, "Those of you who plan to go picnicking this spring, keep this story in mind: Those of you who go birding will know what I am talking about when I say that birds are so capable of reading human body language that they know when we are looking at them, which frequently causes them to hide from our gaze. However, this capacity has never before been scientifically studied in birds, until now, that is. A newly published paper has found that Eurasian jackdaws, a member of the crow family, are so socially sophisticated that they are better at interpreting human eye gaze and body language than are dogs or even our closest relatives, chimpanzees."

Eric Keith presents Farm and Field Survivalist: camping and living outdoors posted at Farm and Field Survivalist, saying, "Hunting, gathering, and farming for fun, food, and profit."

Gregory E. Rouse presents Barclay Lake-Mount Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest posted at Wilderness-Trails Blog, saying, "A great hiking trail."

Open Air

Laura Yeager presents So here's the deal posted at Summer 2009 American Adventure, saying, "I will be traveling the US this summer and spending as much time as possible outdoors. Check out the site and tell me where I should go!"

bricabrac presents Choosing Plants for Your Koi Water Garden posted at Choosing Plants for Your Koi water Garden, saying, "So you finally finished your water garden construction. You have finally come to the fun part of creating your water garden: picking the flowers and plants that will make your water garden a beautiful oasis."

Ralph Sparkson presents Why I Love My Dog posted at Best Funny Dog Pictures, saying, "We got another dog about two years ago. It had been over ten years since our last dog, who died just before our daughter was born. With our new dog, we were lucky because our daughter has a small neighborhood business of caring for pets and that is how we found the dog we now love so much."

Gregory E. Rouse presents Survival Tips - The Rule of 3's posted at Wilderness-Survival-Skills Blog. presents Trip to Tawang: Part 4: Darjeeling posted at

Liz Wright presents Rainmaker: The Originial Hanging Bridges Tour in Costa Rica posted at Travelogged.

goo presents Counting Nature and Fedging the Issue posted at

DownTheTrail presents Monument Valley - The Forrest Gump Road, The Wildcat Trail, and Valley Drive | Utah posted at Down The Trail.

Our Red House presents The Beach in Autumn posted at Our Red House.

Outdoor Olympians

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