Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Well Stocked Pantry

One of the greatest gifts I can give to my family is that of a a well stocked pantry. Now down here in "Hurricane Country", the summers get a little "pantry bare." I allow our freezer to start dwindling in case of a long term power outage, and start stocking the pantry with more items that won't spoil and can be easily cooked on a grill or camp stove.

Once the majority of hurricane season has passed, it's time for canning and restocking the freezer season!!

Here is my home canned section of my pantry after I finished our massive canning blitz from the summer through September. Not everything is shown here because we are constantly using our pantry and many jars were opened and used long before I finished!

This year we put away:
25qts of Applesauce
17 half-pints of Blueberry Lemon Preserves
4pts Strawberry Balsamic Jam
4 halfpints of Blueberry Syrup
12 pts of Peach Honey
2 1/2 qts of Pickled Watermelon Rind
13pts Peach Slices
20 half pints of apple butter
4 1/2 pints of peach freezer jam
2 pts of Strawberry freezer jam

We are hoping to get back to the mountains to get some late season apples for more applesauce. My boys LOVE homemade applesauce and go through a quart at a time. My husband and I bought 4 1/2 bushels of apples during Labor Day weekend. We had hoped to make 42 quarts (enough to last us until almost canning time next year), but our van was literally holding all it could that weekend!! They also eat their weight in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I make a loaf of bread each day to keep up with the amount of sandwiches my guys put away. They love my homemade jams and preserves with the homemade bread. And I know what every single ingredient is! They were all made with love, so in a way they are being nourished by my hard work and.....love.

Next year, I hope you will join me in stocking up your pantry of love!



Friday, September 09, 2011

York County Museum

On our way to Charlotte, we planned our trip to include the York County Museum. I had been to this museum way back when I was in the 3rd grade, I believe. On Sundays, they have a planetarium show at 2pm and 3pm. We made sure that we arrived before the 3pm show.

We arrived around 2:45 so we had a few minutes to explore before the planetarium show. First up was the Vernon Grant exhibit hall. He is most noted for creating the Rice Krispie characters, Snap!, Crackle! and Pop!

The boys loved exploring the world of Vernon Grant.

I LOVE this wall idea. the museum actually has several of these. It is a wall of CARPET, then each of these house pieces is more carpet with velcro on the back. similar to a super duper felt board. I am trying to think of a way to do one of these in our home.

Daddy & John-Michael enjoyed a tea party.

I LOVED this teddy bear. When Vernon Grant left Nebraska in the early 1900's on a family move to California, it was discovered his beloved Teddy Bear was gone. His teddy bear is often shown in a lot of his artwork. Thirty years later (1940's), Vernon visited his childhood home in Nebraska. While exploring a ravine near his home where he played as a child, he found his beloved bear. What an awesome reunion!

Next, we went to the planetarium show. The boys enjoyed the show, but the talk was a bit boring. Mostly because it was just a voice in the dark talking with a red lighter pen. I have seen better presentations, but not too bad.

Next up was the Stans African Halls, where the boys got to see lots of animals and artifacts from Africa.

The nature Gallery was one of our favorite rooms. It was one of the largest rooms and had so much to show. A definite plus for homeschoolers and public schoolers alike!

Displays and cases were set up all over the room. They had everything from insects, to rocks, to fossils, to skeletons of small animals.

Joe showing the boys a crystal formation.

Lots and lots to learn!!! Under each display is a box with trays to pull out and explore the various artifacts within.

The Catawba River Gallery was probably the boys favorite. Mostly due to the water table of the Catawba River.

The boys got to play with covered wagons and guys on horses to get them across the river. There were different areas to ford as well as a ferry to use. It was pretty neat, my only complaint is there was no real access for little kids. The boys had a very hard time reaching up and over b/c the table was so tall. I hope they install some step stools or something around the perimeter.

Even big boys like to play at the water table. Joe is experimenting with the dam. There were block to show hoe the river looks during a drought, during flooding and normal flow.

Flushed away, these were all items that the local sewage treatment center has filtered out of the sewage water. VERY interesting to see some of those items! I didn't point this exhibit out to our boys, they don't need any ideas in their head. ;)

Here is one of the other carpet walls. How cool is this???

Conservation Quest was a great exhibit and we saw it on it's last day.

The boys explored what the electrical usage was for various household objects.

They also learned of various ways to power electricity - wind, solar, gas powered, etc... Joshua is demonstrating wind powered. He had to turn a crank which powered a fan which blew air on a small windmill which produced electricity to power the green light.

After a busy day, they zonked out. :)

if you are ever in the Rock Hill, SC area, take a trip to see the York County Museum, it will be a great learning experience.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Wintergreen Falls

One of my favorite places in western North Carolina is Dupont State Forest. I have been going here for at least 10 years, in my pre-Joe life. Our first date was hiking and waterfall shooting way back when. :) We usually to my three favorite waterfalls but this year, we decided to go to a new one.

We headed from Sky Top Orchard down Pinnacle Mountain Road to Dupont Forest the the Guion Farms Access area. Along the road we saw two big flocks of wild turkey. They were on the road and they walked off the road into the field (right) or into the woods (left of the car) when we came upon them. Too bad it's not turkey season!!

Once you get to the parking lot of the Guion Farms Access area, the water fall directions are pretty bad after that. Here are some simple ones.

Travel South through the field. (Far right of this photo)

Travel down this path.

Forget everything the directions say about going South (you will come to 3 forks, go Southwest by staying on the big trail), over a creek (covered up by a culvert), etc.. Just Stay on the large trail/road. If it looks like a 4 wheeler could go on it, you are headed in the right direction. You will come to this sign, go left. You have traveled at least a mile if not more by this point.

Now the directions say, head alongside the stream and scamble over the boulders. Do not climb the steep path up the hillside. Well, Joe is scrambling over the boulders at the end of the path. Nope, it's not the way to go. The waterfall is upstream.

head up the small path up the incline. It looks like it dead ends at some huge boulders, but look around and to the left and you will see the small path continuing up the hillside. Scramble over these boulders and you will be at the falls.

Becareful as these rocks are slippery. You might end up wet.

Enjoy the peacefulness and serenity of the falls.

Lay down and enjoy the sounds.


And if at all possible, hitch a ride back to your car and take a snooze while you are at it. ;)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

How Tall This Fall 2011??

After a great trip to Charlotte, NC, the family headed west across the state towards Hendersonville. We arrived at our destination, Sky Top Orchard
, just in time for a late summer rain shower.

The rain didn't dampen our spirits, we headed towards their covered picnic area and settled down for lunch. God smiled down on us, because we were able to go pick apples shortly after finishing our meal.

We had wanted to pick our favorite apples, Honeycrisp. The orchard had just started picking them on August 15th, but unfortunately none were left. Well, they were left alright, on the ground. I didn't feel like digging around on the ground to try and salvage some apples. So we picked Galas again.

John-Michael enjoying his lunch

The boys are growing like weeds!

Heading into the orchard

Sneaking apples

Joe helping John-Michael pick apples

These are Stark Brothers Royal Gala apples. I love how these trees fruit from the inside all the way to the outer limbs instead of just the outer limbs. Each tree bears more fruit that way.

Beautiful, ripe apples....

We picked a peck of apples. Due to the prices at the orchard, we typically will pick a peck at the orchard and then buy the half bushels at McAbee's Fruit Stand in Hendersonville. We always buy our apples on teh way out of town so they aren't sitting in our car during the festival. This year it seems that everyone else had the same idea.

McAbee's was completely sold out of apples. So we got in the car and headed down the interstate to Saluda, NC (home of Boys Scout camp Bob Hardin) and to the Atkin's Orchard roadside stand. I now have a new favorite place to go! we brought home 4 bushels of apples and 1 bushel of peaches! We were able to buy seconds where we can't normally find them. And since I am making and canning a ton of applesauce, there is no need to buy highest grade apples. Mr. and Mrs Atkins were lovely people and i can't wait to give them more of my business. I need to find out what cultivars of apples they sell.

Mmmmm... Can not wait to bite into these!!

Until Next year!!!

I've given up on dishcloths

Well, store bought ones at least. We have been a cloth family for years. We use reusable towels, napkins, washcloths, menstrual items, etc...

Two years ago I taught myself how to knit. I have some great friends who helped me learn through my mistakes and I love knitting. One easy thing I like to knit are dishcloths. I can usually whip out one in about hours, or the same time it takes to do a newborn size hat. Once you have your pattern down, some of them are kind of mindless and you can easily do them while watching tv or while riding in the car.

I know have 7 handmade washcloths. I have several that are waffle weave, 2 that are the bright colored ones with a garter stitch, 1 that is a heart, and my favorite is the white and blues which is an Elvish Leaves pattern.

If you are a knitter or crocheter, I highly recommend joining Ravelry, an online community of knitters and crocheters. They have thousands of patterns online, many of them for free or low charge.

My dishcloths are all 100% cotton. They are easy to take care of and wonderful to use. You can see all of the ridges that you just can't get with store bought dishcloths. They scrub like a dream, especially on greasy stoves or dirty windows.

If you don't know how to knit or crochet, they are both fairly easy to learn and you local library has tons of books. You can also check your local newspapers for groups in your area.

If you aren't interested in knitting or crocheting your own, you can find some on sites like Etsy and Hyenacart. So safe yourself and your sanity from the cheap, Made in China dishcloths and stock your drawers with beautiful, handmade dishcloths that will put a smile on your face when you use them. :)

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