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

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Birthday Girl!

It's been a great day celebrating my 52nd birthday...the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest was breathtakingly peaceful and we visited a few western NC winery's afterwards...I'll share more about it in tomorrows post.  But I did want to let you know I have indeed made it (click here to read a little more about what I mean).

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

Friday, August 30, 2013

This, That & I've Made It!

This morning I came across this inchworm making it's way along our porch rail...it was fascinating to watch and reminded me of when my girls were young, the Inchworm song and their inchworm toys.  This little guy just kept moving along...
...seemingly without intent...
...going back and forth...
...but getting no where at the same time...
...I thought of the words of the song...
"Measuring the marigolds
Seems to me you'd stop and see
How beautiful they are"

The inchworm's progress stuck in the back of my mind all day long...

...while we installed a little shelf above our kitchen window so I could put all the jams and jelly's I've made...
...while I dried some banana...
 ...green beans and squash...a slow slow process but in the end worth the time it takes...I hope so anyway, I haven't made them before.

But mostly I thought about it because today is the last day I'll be 51.  For those of you who have known me for a long time, you'll know that turning 51 was a big deal for me because my mom died unexpectedly when she was 51 and I was illogically apprehensive of the year ahead of me...you can read last year's birthday post here...afraid I'd follow in her footsteps.  I'm surprised by how emotional I am as I write this...it is relief?...sadness for my mom?...I'm sure some of both.  Despite my tears, here I stand, alive, strong, healthy, trying to live every day stopping to see all that is beautiful and writing it all in this blog.  My mom was part of my inspiration for living this log cabin life...I know she knows my life is good...and I am proud to say I believe I've progressed better than that inchworm!   

With that said, Johny and I are going to the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest tomorrow to hike and picnic for the day...beginning my 52nd year under the canopy of an untouched forest where the trees are over 100 feet tall and measure 15 to 20 feet in circumference...celebrating that I'VE MADE IT (will confirm that tomorrow, LOL!).  

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

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Surrounded By Wildflowers

The walk to the garden is always lovely this time of year...the road is lined with a variety of wildflowers that splash the roadside with brightness.  I've shared photos of Jewelweed before, here are a couple more blooms I really enjoy, especially up close.

This is Tall Ironweed...it grows to be 5 to 9 feet tall and they grow here and there, but not in large bunches...
...and has an abundance of these little pink blooms on the top of the tall stem.
...Pipevine Swallowtails love them!
 My favorite part of the bloom is the little curlycue at the end of some of the flower petals...

This is Great Lobelia...it grows about 2 to 3 feet high and in small bunches of stalks...
 ...they remind me a little of orchids...

The thistles are beginning to bloom but they haven't "pinked up" yet.  We also have Joe Pie Weed, but it's growing in the middle of all kinds of brush and I'm not interested in walking through all that to get a picture...poison ivy and snakes are sure to be present!

What are your favorite wildflowers?

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


You may have received this published post before I was ready, sometimes that happens...please read this updated version...

There is nothing more important than being thankful for what life brings to you...appreciation for all that is good results in more good...gratitude multiplies!
Today, as every day, I have many things to be grateful for.  I had errands to run, and happened upon a couple things that got me to thinking...

...the flowers above were growing along the roadside...they were a bright and beautiful display of summer and everything that comes with it...

...I also spotted this Badger in the parking lot of one of my stops...he was scrounging for nibbles I suppose...
...it made me grateful that I don't have to scrounge for anything.  The more I thought about things, the more I realized how fortunate I truly am...

~I'm grateful for Johny, my husband and Mountain Man, who provides for us...

~I'm grateful for my siblings...we all still mourn our brother Marc, but we are closer as a result of his passing...

~I'm grateful for my daughters...whom have grown into incredible women who make me proud and filled with joy, they are beautiful young women...

~I'm grateful for my grandson...he makes me laugh and love without reserve and he is a light in my life...

~I'm grateful for my good friends...I can confide the most intimate and/or ridiculous things and they love me just the same...

~I'm grateful for my life here at the cabin...surrounded by woods, the creek, the mountains, the change of seasons...I can't imagine anything else...

~I'm grateful for our place on the river...can there be anything better than to enjoy such a diversity of living environments?...

~I'm grateful for you, my friends through blogging, for your comments, your support, your enthusiasm, and your own posts...you bring joy to my days...

~I'm grateful for my dad...he's been mother and father for over 26 years, and has been superb at it! He's a special person and has a special partner in Donald, whom I'm grateful for as well.  Today is dad's birthday...Happy Birthday Dad!  I love you more than words can say!

Visit ABCWednesday for more posts on the letter G.  Many thanks to the founder, Mrs. Denise Nesbitt, and to Roger for taking the helm.

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

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Going With The Flow

A few weeks ago I shared that we are opening up the creek to improve our view of it from the deck.  Johny's worked on it while I was away and made great progress...this is now (zoomed in a bit from the next picture)...
...without zoom, the tree on the right of the picture above is the tree closest to the center of the photo below...
...and this is the before shot...you can see how much brush has been removed.
You can be sure that we are not stripping the bank of all vegetation...we are leaving all the roots in the ground as well as some of the foliage that isn't blocking the view to be sure we don't create an erosion problem.  Eventually, there will be a lush carpet of rhododendron that we keep trimmed back, with the highlight of that view being the creek...we always enjoy listening to the creek, but also being able to watch it flow is perfection!

Speaking of going with the flow...yesterday I shared my Crab Apple Jelly recipe with you...what I didn't share is that as I was writing the recipe post, I realized I had mistakenly added twice the amount of sugar that I had intended (I must have been thinking about the amount of water when I measured the sugar).  I was quite bothered about it but I realized that what else could I do but go with the flow...everything was already canned (what's the worst thing that could happen...it's jelly after all)!  This morning we tasted it, and you know what?  It was good...sweet, but good.
Now I'm considering collecting another batch of crab apples so I can try again...though there was a hint of cinnamony tart apple, it was quite sweet...I bet with half the sugar the tartness would really stand out...and I want to get it right.  The good news is the posted recipe is correct...let me know if you try it and what you think!

On another note, I spent part of this afternoon visiting with my friend Ron while Bertie went out running errands (he recently had a medical procedure so she doesn't like to leave him alone for too long).  We laughed a lot...I learned some things I never knew about Ron and revisited some stories he's shared with me before...it was a real pleasure to chat with.  I sure am going to miss them when they move!

I hope you've been able to follow my flow of random thoughts today...nothing like going with the flow!

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

Monday, August 26, 2013

Lise's Crab Apple Jelly

This Crab Apple Jelly is the perfect way to enjoy the tart nature of crab apples right from the tree.  I've modified the recipe based on a few I've found and my previous jelly/jam creations...we'll see if my method and ingredients result in crab apple jelly goodness!

Lise's Crab Apple Jelly


8 lbs fresh crab apples (equals about 28 cups of quartered crab apples...sounds like a lot but you want the flavor)
12 cups water
6 cups sugar
1 long cinnamon stick
1 tbsp butter
I forgot to take a picture of all the ingredients, but here are the apples...and yes, there is no pectin in this recipe...crab apples are naturally high in pectin


Remove stems and blossom ends from the crab apples then wash them. I put them in the sink, it filled it up!

Quarter the apples and place them into a large non reactive pot holding the 12 cups of water...quartering these tiny apples took a very long time, be prepared!  I was pleasantly surprised when cutting them open...crab apples are beautiful inside...bright red and juicy...
 ...and with a pretty star if you cut it horizontally...
...they even look pretty chopped up in the pot!

Bring the crab apple mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer the mixture for 60 minutes...the apples will become very soft and the water will become a little red.

While the mixture is cooking, set a fine colander lined with two or three layers of damp cheesecloth into a large bowl.  Pour the crab apple mixture so it strains through the cheesecloth and colander; do not squeeze the cheesecloth.
I kept moving the juice into a separate container to make room in my bowl...once I emptied the pot, I rinsed it out and put the colander with cheesecloth on top of the pot to continue draining.

Let the juice continue to drain until you don't hear it dripping any more.  You will get 8 cups of juice from the drippings to make the jelly...if you don't get 8 cups immediately, let the fruit mixture drip until you do.  The juice is very tart and beautifully red/pink...

Bring the 8 cups of crab apple juice to a simmer over medium high heat and cook for 10 minutes.
 Skim off any foam that rises to the top.

Add the sugar and stir to dissolve.

Add the butter and cinnamon stick...the cinnamon adds a nice flavor and the butter, in addition to a little flavor, helps keep the jelly smooth and helps keep the foaming down while cooking.

Cook the until the temperature reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer...this jelly will not sheet off a spoon like others because of the natural pectin.  The jelly will boil up and foam...
 ...and then settle down if you decrease the temperature...I did this to facilitate putting the thermometer into the jelly, my pot was too tall to let the thermometer hang on the side...

When the jelly reaches 220 degrees, it's time to pour it into the cleaned and prepared jars.

I was so involved in the process I forgot to take pictures of this step, but let me tell you that this little funnel gadget has made a world of difference in my canning of jams/jellies!

Once the jars are filled to 1/4 inch from the top, wipe the rim of the jar, place the lid on top and twist on the ring.  Process them in a hot water bath to seal as your local area requires (our altitude requires 10 extra minutes).  Once you remove them, place the jars on a rack and let them cool.  You will hear the delightful pop of the tops sealing...if you don't, those jars should go in the fridge and be eaten within the next couple weeks.  

This jelly is tart but sweet, with a nice twist of cinnamon.  I'm still waiting to see if everything sets properly, but all is looking good so far!

Visit Flour Me With Love for more awesome recipes!

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

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Linens On The Line

I love crawling into bed when the sheets have been freshly washed and hung on the line to dry...they feel so crisp and smell so clean...and today was the perfect day for it! 

We woke to no fog...the first morning in many...if folklore about fog in August is correct, which says the number of fogs in August will determine the number of heavy snows in the winter, we are in for a tough winter, but I digress...
 ...so I cheerily...yes cheerily, that's how much I love fresh linens off the line...stripped our bed and hung the sheets and pillow cases out as early as I could, taking full advantage of what was sure to be a gorgeous day.

And gorgeous it has been!  Breeze blowing, low humidity, temp in the sun not getting over 75...perfect!  Feels like fall...looks a little like it too...
...some leaves are already turning and falling, and it's only August!  Maybe the fog folklore will prove to be true...though we may be in the minority when it comes to this...we hope we get lots of snow!  We love winter and snow and the accompanying fires it requires.  Last night, we had a nice fire in our fire pit, a great way to end the day and welcome this little cool front we got.

Are you looking forward to fall?  What about winter?

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

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Exquisite Jewelweed Bloom

I wrote about the lovely and useful Jewelweed flower last year when Johny has a close encounter with poison ivy, you can click here to read more.  Jewelweed is said to help decrease the effects of poison ivy, but to be honest, Johny's experience was that the only thing that really helps is time. 

I find the blossom to be absolutely elegant with its interesting petals.  Fortunately for me, it seems that this years rains have resulted in the expansion of Jewelweed fields around our cabin.  They come in two colors, red and yellow, but it seems the red have taken over our woods. 
Whenever I walk along the road, especially to the garden, I see these fields surrounding me...little speckles of red and yellow with a thick green background of leaves.

But when you look up close, you can see the delicate detail of it's petals and the curve of it's tail...
  ...even the buds are dainty looking.

The bees love them and have to fly deep inside to get to the nectar causing their backs to brush against the pollen to carry to their next stop!

I find them to be absolutely exquisite...but it also has medicinal uses including being an anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties, though I have not used them in that manner at this point (except our attempt at healing Johny's poison ivy which was not very effective)I'm sure finding the correct method for preparation is key in its effectiveness, so I haven't given up on it, but I sure do enjoy just looking at them!

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