Our life living off the land in our log cabin, breathing fresh mountain air, and getting back to basics.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Pineapple Sage & More Garden Mulching

Pineapple sage and mulching have nothing to do with each other...they just happen to be what I am writing about today!

Pineapple sage has an exotic looking bloom.  My observation developed by happenstance, being that our pineapple sage plant generated a flower pod before I used the leaves and I decided to let it flourish so I could see what it looked like.  And I am a happy planter (I was going to say camper but planter is much more fitting, ha ha), because is it a lovely flower!  By the way, pineapple sage does have a flavor that hints of pineapple...can't wait to use it when cooking (pork would be a likely suspect), but in the meantime, I'm enjoying the elegance of this enticing bloom.  

Would you like to know more about our garden mulching progress?  I bet you've been waiting with baited breath to know how we have progressed!  Let me tell you, this feels like the project that just won't end...the good news is, we have indeed made progress, and the entire perimeter of the garden is now covered with a layer of newspaper and thick mulch.
The not so good news is we ran out of wood...that sounds funny, doesn't it, considering we live in the woods?  But all the branches from the trees we felled have been turned into weed squashing mulch.  Now I have to go hunting for more branches to turn into tiny pieces of wood!  I did actually begin to put mulch between the watermelon and squash plants (you can't see the sprouts, but trust me, they're there!), but there is still work to do there, and in the walking rows between the plants (see the pic above)

All in all, another great day working in the garden.  But you know what?  I'm glad we're out of wood, because we are both quite exhausted by this project that has taken us 4 days so far.  I am absolutely positively sure we will be sleeping very well tonight (that is as long as our aching muscles don't keep us up!)

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Our New Old Patio Set

We often eat outside.  Sometimes on the porch (if it's cool or raining) either sitting on the swing or in our rocking chairs that face the mountains, with folding tables in front of us.  Lately though, we've been enjoying eating out on the deck, still using the folding tables but seated in plastic Adirondack chairs (which makes for a not so comfortable eating arrangement).  So I've been on the hunt for just the right patio set to put on the deck.  I found several possibilities, but this is the one both Johny and I agreed was a perfect fit for our new deck.

It was a hoot getting it from the antique shop to our cabin in our small CRV...I sure wish I got a picture of that, but if you can imagine the table upside down sticking out the back a little, the glass top between the down-folded back seats and the front seats, the chairs carefully placed like jig saw puzzle pieces around the table, and then the back of the car held down with ropes...it would have made a great picture...if only I had thought of it...I was living in the moment and not thinking ahead, a good thing to do sometimes!

We will be replacing the old and cracked chair cushions and giving it a fresh coat of paint, but it is mostly perfect just the way it is!   This is the detail of the chairs...the shadow on the deck is pretty cool...
...but (pun intended, you'll get it in a second) this picture makes me laugh and think of a thong, LOL (it would be a pretty one, donchathink?)!

This is the table detail...(I like the way the sun shining through the glass table top reflects on the chair cushions)...

...and the "table chair perspective" up close.

We found labels with the creator of this lovely set...
...Woodard, and after some research, I do believe we've made a smart purchase...this is a vintage Woodard patio set, and we got it for a steal!  I'm hoping my friend Patti can have her husband Bernie give any insight he might have into this wrought iron manufacturer's products, he's a Blacksmith, so he might have some familiarity with it.   

Now we are enjoying our first late afternoon relaxation moment sitting at our old new table and chair set.

Life is good!

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Wednesday, May 29, 2013



...the part of the day when the sun has set, yet its light is deflected back to us by the earth's atmosphere.  This time of year, twilight comes late in the southern Appalachian mountains...the tranquil colors of the sky and the taming sounds from the woods remind me that it's time to wind down.  And so it is, sweet dreams...

Visit ABCWednesday for more blogs highlighting the letter T.  Many thanks to the founder, Mrs. Denise Nesbitt, and to Roger for taking over from her.

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Little o' This, A Little o' That

It seems like all of a sudden the woods and mountains surrounding us are lush with leaves...it makes looking deep into the woods impossible (which is nice because it makes the cabin feel that much more secluded) and the mountains look like they are covered in a thick velvety green blanket.  Summer is just around the corner, and today is the first day it actually feels like Spring (we've had unusually cool weather, and even yesterday needed a fire to warm the cabin in the morning).

We've been busy today, a little of this and that (we'll be back to garden mulching tomorrow, but there were other things needed attention around here...can't say we are ever at a loss for things to do 'round here).

I came across this Clouded Sulphur butterfly, a beauty and especially stunning against this purple Iris.  I've never seen this up here at the cabin (doesn't mean it hasn't been around, but I've never seen it) and it sat on the flower long enough for me to get a nice picture.  The Swallowtail's have been flitting about, unable to sit still, making photographing them a real challenge.    

One of the reasons we needed to attend to other things is that all the garden mulching has produced lots of branches and logs for firewood (good thing because we've used most of what we had stored) that has blocked the walkway to the basement and we had no room for any additional wood that would come after more mulching.  I got to stack the kindling (you don't see that here, it's around the back corner of the cabin and I didn't take a picture of it).  Johny worked with the big wood.  This is what he started with...

...and this is how much was done (not finished stacking yet, he'll do that after he regains some energy...you'd be surprised how physically taxing this is)...

...slowly but surely.

While he was chopping, I was cleaning up the yard a bit.  We've had a lot of wind, so there were branches everywhere.  I did one of my favorite things, piled it all in the fire pit...
...and burned it up...
...to almost nothing.
Except I still had a pile of wood stove ashes...I did learn that ashes from the wood burning stove will not burn any further...I suppose that I should have known this somehow, but I didn't...we've been dumping the ash pan from the stove into the pit so I could burn them to nothing...ha ha, no can do.  That got me to wondering what I can do with the ashes...here are a few things I will have to try, but click on this link for more awesome ideas...
  • put the ashes where birds can get to them, dust baths control bugs
  • mix with water to form a paste and use to clean the glass on the wood stove (I've done this); it also removes rings on wood furniture
  • makes slippery walkways less slippery (though I bet a mess, even if you only use a little)
  • melts ice
  • this is my favorite...put some ash in t-shirt material (I wonder if a sock would work) and put it in stored shoes...Mountain Man has a pair that could really use this!
Fascinating...I'll let you know if any of them work!

We tried my Chicago Style Pickled Ramps today, and they were delicious.  Slightly tangy with a twinge of heat, crunchy, and unlike pickled onions in my opinion.  The greens were hard to bite into, kind of chewy, so next time I will cut the greens into pieces before pickling.  I so love that I made these things!!!

And finally, in celebration of Spring, this bright daisy...a little of that can make anyone smile!

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Monday, May 27, 2013

Gratitude for Those Who Serve Our Country

Today we honor those who have chosen to dedicate their lives to preserving our freedom.  This country is indeed the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Much gratitude to all those who lost their lives while serving our country, to those who have come home and are struggling to find peace, to those still fighting for our freedom, and to all the family members whose lives are impacted by their loved one's willingness to serve.

To learn more about this important day, click here Memorial Day

Thank you for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Coyote Visits

Nature...it's a wild and beautiful thing.  A few days ago I told you about the Ruffed Grouse chicks hatching, and that a few of them didn't make it.  That same evening, our critter cam caught a Coyote coming to the nest.  I am so happy we have a critter cam, it allows us to see things we would never have the opportunity to witness otherwise.  The photos are b&w because it was night, but the camera does take color pictures. Oh, and his eyes are glowing because of the infrared flash.  

Here is a picture of him eating one of the eggs (we believe we watched six live chicks leave the nest with mama, the four that were left didn't live)...he ate the rest of the remains in the nest as well (no surprise there)...

...the nest after his supper.

This is another shot of the Coyote, look at that beautiful tail!

We never hear the Coyote, though I wish I would, at least once.  Several years ago we heard a mountain lion in the middle of the night, it sounds like a terribly woeful cry of a woman or baby crying, it's an awful sound, but there was no doubt about it, that's what we heard.  I actually find it quite joyful that we have this kind of wildlife lives in our woods...its one of the reasons we love it here.  And though I was sad there were some chicks that didn't survive, I'm happy their lives (as short as they may have been) served a purpose...to help this Coyote survive.

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Mulching the Garden

We began our garden mulching project today...didn't get as much done as we had hoped, but we made good progress.  We weeded everything last Monday and waited until things dried out a bit before collecting all the wood (from when we felled the big trees to allow more sun into the garden).  This is the end result of today's work, you can see the mulch along the fence, and you can also see that behind the fence all the branches are gone.

This is the before shot...

We began by collecting all the branches that were no bigger than 2 inches around (what you see below is just the beginning), and put them into a pile. The larger branches were loaded into the cart hitched to bear (our ATV) to bring back to the cabin to cut into firewood.
 The pile of wood you see in all those weeds is the one we focused on today; I've been weed eating as get the wood out of the way, so eventually, there will be a nice open field next to the garden.

I laid newspaper down first (this creates a thicker barrier to keep the weeds from growing but allows air through for the veggies), then dropped the mulch by buckets onto the paper, about 3 or 4 inches thick.  We are doing this around the entire perimeter of the garden, and will also mulch (without newspaper) in between the planted rows.
This is our mulcher, super machine.  It is so powerful as it sucks the branches through the machine that you have to be cautious of unwieldy branches...I got my fingers whacked a few times and once in the head, but they were minor incidents and good reminders to be attentive.

We thought we would finish this project today, but it's taking much longer than we thought.  We'll be back at it again tomorrow!

I do have to say that all the rain we've had is causing trouble for our small sprouts, too much water and not enough sun.  We may end up having to sow more seeds, but we're OK with that (not much else we can do). But it has been sunny for 24 hours now, with sun expected through tomorrow, so perhaps things will dry out enough for everything to perk up.

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Friday, May 24, 2013

Kindred Spirits

Have you ever met someone face-to-face for the first time and felt like you've known them forever?  That was what it was like yesterday when I met my friend Patti...like we were kindred spirits (the Urban Dictionary defines it as two people that make a special connection by sharing a bond that has joined them by the means of an experience that has drawn them together on a higher level of consciousness.)  You see, we met through our blogs, and though we have communicated with each other through blog comments and email, we've never spoken or met in person.

Spending time with Patti was marvelous...it felt like I'd known her all my life...even though I know there is still so much more to learn about each other.  We laughed because we each gifted each other with a bottle of fruit wine; she gave me a bottle of blackberry wine from MO and I gave her a bottle of strawberry wine from NC (I also gave her some ramp compound butter and sure wish I remembered the violet jelly).  She also gave me this awesome bag that she made...I was so excited and so touched!

We met at the John C Campbell Folk School because she (a quilter and writer of the Osage Bluff Quilter blog) and her husband Bernie (a Blacksmith) came to the school from MO to take classes and Bernie also assisted with the Blacksmith course.  The school is only 60 miles west of our cabin and it's a beautiful drive through the mountains to get there.

Once Patti and I hugged each other hello, visited some, and I got the grand tour of her (their) awesome Casita (it is a perfect camper for 2 people), we headed to the center of the campus to visit all the classrooms.

We started at the clay studio where the students were working with polymer clay to create gorgeous plant stakes.

Then to the glass beading studio; I admire glass artistry, and really enjoyed watching the process.  At this point, I am bitten by the school bug, ready and willing to come back for a week or weekend of classes!

Then to the doll making studio...the detail of the faces and dresses of these dolls was exquisite...I particularly liked these vegetable people.

This is a Timber Frame, a structure that is assembled using traditional mortise and tenon joinery with wood pegs (Patti and Bernie's home is constructed this way, and this is how Mountain Man assembles things).

The Blacksmith shop (one of my favorite buildings on the property).  I've always been attracted to cast iron and wrought iron, and this is where they create their masterpieces.
This is the entryway...

...and some of the railing inside the building...notice each rail is different, all made by students...

...I want the hearth broom hanging there...maybe I'll come back and make one of my own!

I feel in love with this hearth oven they use in the cooking classes...what a beautiful place to create culinary delights...I'd like to have one!

The music class, learning to play lap dulcimers.

A sandal made in the shoe making class, very cool!

Wood turning...
...the small bowl on the left was make from a chunk of log like the one on the right.

Of course, between all the classes we visited, chatted away about lots of things, enjoying the beautiful grounds as we walked from place to place.  We ate a delicious lunch together with Bernie and the rest of the students and teachers at the school, family style.  Everyone I spoke with says that attending one class at the folk school gets you addicted and coming back over and over...and I can believe it!

Someone gave Bernie a 5 leaf clover!

A few of the other points of interest at the school, they have a large garden for much of the produce they serve, and this lovely labyrinth.
All the residential buildings where the students stay while taking classes for the week were charming,  fabulously steeped deep with North Carolina's historical architecture. 

After classes ended for the day, Bernie joined us at the camper and we all went into town for dinner.  It was extra special because Patti and Bernie were celebrating their 43rd anniversary...how nice to share a special day with a very special couple.  Before Bernie left to go back to work at the Blacksmith shop, we asked him to take a picture of we kindred spirits...

The school is located in Brasstown, and this is it...the famed Clay's Corner, most noted for it's New Year's Eve Possum Drop and free music on Friday nights...
...this is it, Brasstown, small, quaint and full of arts and crafts.

I can't wait to bring Johny to visit Brasstown and the school, I know we will be going there to take some classes some day!

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,