Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Harvesting Honey

One of my favorite things are my bees.  I don't have any pets right now, so my love and care goes to my bees.  I have my bees for several reasons.  Two reasons are they make delicious honey and they help pollinate my garden.  A bonus is they give me a chance to work with my Dad.  He has had bees most of his adult life and has much knowledge to share with me.  We are working on some bee stories to share later.
This year I had a very large bee colony which is necessary for producing honey. They have flown daily to all the flowers they could reach from daylight til dark to bring back nectar. Other bees inside the hive work constantly with special enzymes to place the nectar into the honeycomb cells.  Other bees fan their wings until the water is evaporated and honey is formed.  They are so amazing!

August is usually the month for harvesting honey here in the mountains.  (Although, different types of honey is harvested in other months.)  My Dad and I harvested a "super" which means a stack of 10 bee racks.
The "Super".
It had mostly sourwood honey which is produced from beautiful sourwood trees.  Sourwood honey is usually a light color but this year it is a little darker.  During the day you could watch the bees as they flew back and forth from the sourwood trees in my yard. 

To harvest the honey you can use an extractor or squeeze the honey from the comb through cheese cloth but this day I chose to sieve the honey.

Sieving is a slower process but the easiest to do.

1. You cut the honeycomb into 2" x 4" pieces and place them in jars.  

2.  The rest of the honey can be cut into 4 "x 4" blocks.  

3.  You then cut the back caps off the cells and place the pieces in a sieve, so they honey is left to drip out. 

4.  Then it is poured into jars.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Welcome, Newcomers!  Thank you very, very much for visiting!  This is my Appalachian Living blog.  I try to post as many new and exciting or old and intriguing things that I can think up and get information on!  Now that my last youngin' has gone off to college, building a blog has filled the emptiness. I have lived in the Appalachians all my life and through this blog I hope to celebrate the many things we love about our mountains and help to keep our heritage alive.  Please take a  look at the posts that I have made over the past few months and let me know what you think.


Friday, August 26, 2011

The "Ho" Cake

A what?!

Its not what you're thinking.  A "Ho Cake" is a batch of biscuits that were never separated in to individual biscuits and shoved in the oven.  So instead of having separated biscuits we would have a "whole" cake or ho cake.  We in the Appalachians just like to use our mountain talk and shorten words up a little.  For example, we say "taters" for potatoes.  When we were young, my mom made biscuits almost every morning.  Sometimes when she was in a hurry she just turned out the batch of biscuit dough, put it into a pan and straight into the oven.  For us kids it felt like we were having a hay day since we were able to pick the amount of biscuit that we chose fitting for ourselves.  We would rip up our biscuit on our plate and pour saw mill gravy over it. Mmm mmm!  You hungry yet?  I'm becoming nostalgic over here!

Well if you're receiving this post early in the morning, make up a Ho Cake for your family!  Here is how:

2 Cups of Self Rising Flower
1/2 cup of "shortenin'" such as Crisco (solid) or butter
1/2 cup + of Milk or Cream - Cream if you like your Ho Cake more rich, milk & water  for a little lighter Ho Cake.

1.)  Cut butter or shortenin' into flour.  That could be done with a knife but I use my fingers.

2.)  Add milk or cream a little at a time until you get to a slightly thick or sticky consistency.

3.)  Turn out the dough onto a floured surface.  Knead until all sides are floured.

4.)  Lace the dough onto a greased bread pan and spread it out some

5.)  Bake at 450 for about 10 minutes until golden brown.

 Yum! Tastes great with home made jams or apple butter, molasses, or honey!

You might be a Redtech if...

If you think a blog is a clump of something... :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Touch-Me-Nots & Poison Ivy: Oh, the Irony!

Perhaps you have visited our mountain streams and spotted a small orange flower shaped like a tilted cup with with a lip.  What you probably saw was Orange Jewelweed.  Like a long list of others plants, this too is a plant often seen in the Appalachians but these are usually located in damp, wooded areas.  The stems are broad but tender and the juice within them holds a special purpose.

As you might know walking in the woods often exposes you to some plants that are bad news for many.  (If you are allergic to its touch.)  The vines are poison ivy or poison oak.  Well just as God placed allergenic plants on this earth, he also placed an antidote.  Many mountain folk have passed down their remedies over the years and this was one of them.

If you have poison ivy try breaking a stem of Orange Jewelweed and rubbing some of the juice on your rash.  The irritation will soon be gone.  Also works for mosquito bites, bee, & wasp stings!

Also, while you are checking out the plant, notice the pods that grow under some of the flowers.  When they are full grown you can touch them and they will explode!  Thus attaining the other name for the plant, Spotted Touch-Me-Not.

Find a pod or two!

2. Pinch it & it explodes!

Oh! And just in case you are dying for more info, below is a video of the excitement. :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Dipper

Dipper?  Who knows what a dipper is?  Some one skinny dipping?  A particular congregation of stars?  A bird?  Someone who dips snuff?

When I was younger, many homes had a dipper.  A tin-cup with a long handle used to retrieve a drink of refreshing water from a spring, a bucket, hand pump or spicket.  You could even find them at the local hardware stores.

Gratefully my parents continue to use a dipper.  It hangs on the cabinet beside their sink.  They get water from an indoor faucet but the water comes from their spring house in the back yard.

Now, I know that dippers are not considered sanitary by our standards today but nothing is as refreshing as a cool drink of spring water from a dipper on a hot day.

Springs are a flow of water from the ground.  Sort of like an underground branch that surfaces.  The water is a tad warmer in the winter than well water and a tad cooler in the summer.  Spring water is clear, clean and has a slight sweet taste to it. Yum!

If you have never drank spring water from a dipper, I encourage you to visit our beautiful mountains and find an approved spring house and try it.

Disclaimer:  Avoid drinking from branches and creeks without first boiling the water for 1 minute.  If you don't, you can get a type of stomach germ that gives you "Beaver Fever".  The water is no longer safe in these areas because our wildlife have access to "use" streams as their bath or toilet, depending on what day it is. Not to mention human trash.  But! If you are dealing with a true mountain spring, you shouldn't have any issues.

You might be a Redtech if...

if you think an Android is a character from Starwars.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lake Keowee & the Appalachian Tarzan

We had the wonderful opportunity to enjoy a house on Lake Keowee belonging to our sweet friends Leonard & Veronica.
Leonard & Veronica :)
It was a beautiful log cabin style house big enough for all our family and some friends to stay.  While the house was spectacular, the lake was adventurous!  Everyone seemed to have their boats out! There were pontoons, kayaks, speed boats, and fishing boats everywhere you looked.  Good thing Lake Keowee is so big!

We speeded around the lake for a while letting the kids (I call them kids, but they are fully grown) be towed behind the boat in whatever fashion they would like.

This is my son, Vince, knee boarding.  The cabin to the left is our friends and the house to the right is a well preserved historic home from the 1800's, too cool!
Lydia, my daughter, the youngest of the bunch.

We stopped at the community waterfall that flows into the lake.  The water is nice and cool and attracts quite a few people.

Here he is Ladies & Gentlemen, I give you, Appalachian Tarzan
From there we had to go to the ever so popular 3 story high rock face. People like to show off their bravery by climbing up the rock and jumping off into the lake.  It is here that we met the one, the only, Appalachian Tarzan.  This guy apparently didn't think that the rock was high enough for him so he decided to climb up on this twig (not near enough support as I would insist on having), as you can see in this picture, to get a more suitable distance between him and the water. The video below shows just how crazily high he was!

 Here are a few other random pictures of my family!
Cale, my oldest son and his son, Heath, as Heath contemplates how he is NEVER getting in this large body of water.

Me, Ricky, & Becca, my Granddaughter.

To the left is Bailey, my furry grandchild. My son, Vince, & his wife, Michelle, would be devastated if I did not share any pictures of Bailey, their only child.  Shes a cutie!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Butterfly Trails & Sugar Cookies

One of the treasures of living in the Appalachians is living along the migration path of the Monarch Butterflies.  Monarchs are not able to withstand the cold winters of most of the United States so they migrate south and west each year to Mexico and Southern California.
Some of the eastern migration travels along the spine of the Appalachians from Virginia to Georgia from the middle of September and continues on for a few weeks.  If you live around Asheville the best place to see these creatures in their travels is Wagon Road Gap which is close to the Inn @ Mt. Pisgah.  For a map of the area click here, Mt. Pisgah is located at the bottom of the map.  It is the opportune time to get the Monarch Mumbles and talk about this cool event to your kids, share with neighbors, or talk about around the water cooler at work! 
A friend of mine was able to capture photographs of Monarch's on her butterfly bush at home in Candler, NC.
I saw this idea for Butterfly Cookies at the craft store and thought it would be the perfect celebratory creation for kids.  It would be ideal for a fun and budget friendly gift.

Make a Butterfly Cookies Gift Bag!
Supplies you need:
  • Sugar Cookie Mix
  • Colored Sugar Crystals (any other lovely decorative ideas you might would like to pitch in)
  • Cookie Cutter
  • Bag
  • Simple Direction List (tells the lucky recipient what the bag and its ingredients is all about)
  • Flower & Ribbon (to decorate bag with)

As an example, this is the Butterfly Cookies Gift Bag that I put together. :)

Have fun!!

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Appalachian Inspiration

    "Every new day your glory unfolds,
    Filling my eyes with your treasures untold."

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    Appalachian Inspiration

    Rain washes away the heat of the day.

    Skinny Thighs & the Community Gardens

    Well, I woke up this morning complaining about my skinny thighs... Later that day my sweet, thoughtful, honey bear of a husband, wanted to help me and decided to resurrect our bicycles.  Honey Bear, our daughter, Lydia, and I went out for a stroll through the neighborhood.  It was great going downhill and wow, did my thighs get a workout going up hill!

     (Men don't exactly like to "re-take" pictures, "Its a good one, really!")

    While we were out we rode by the park where there is a community garden.  It is really coming along well!  I was so delighted and surprised to see a basket of vegetables available to purchase.  (All donations go to the upgrade of the park.) They even had a jar for the money and a note that said we are on the honor system. Its not often that you can trust people these days.  Its so comforting to see the amount of trust that runs through such a large neighborhood!

    Appalachian living... I LOVE it.

    You might be a Redtech if...

    if your cell phone is bigger than your home phone.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

    The PeePee Teepee

    Most people know that the Cherokee Indian Reservation is located in WNC Appalachan Mountains.  IF you have ever visited Cherokee you may have seen some real teepees.  Most of them are used for historical purposes or for tourists to have their pictures taken with an indian dressed in a feather headdress.

    Well, I have found a delightful new teepee.  Its called the "PeePee Teepee"!  IT is used to avoid a stream of peepee when you are changing baby boys diaper.  It is similar to the real Teepee in shape and its purpose (Shelter!) but as you might have guessed, not in size.

    If you want to make one for someone you know that has a baby boy or is expecting one - follow this pattern.

    1. Choose very soft material like flannel and some lightweight terry cloth.
    2. Cut the two types of fabric in a small half moon shape that are just alike.

    3. Put the fabric together back to back and sew around the circular edge. (By hand or sewing machine)

    4. Make a teepee shape and sew the seams together and wallah!

    Washable, laughable, delightful.
    It will definitely help you to avoid going on the "warpath".  

    Also, when they outgrow them they can always be used as tiny party hats! :)