Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Jam Garden

If you are going to have fresh fruit and berries next year from your garden...better get started now!

Fall is the best time to plant fruit trees, berry bushes, plants, and vines.  This time of year it rains more so they have time to take root.

Here is a start to my jam garden: 
I have blueberry bushes.  Like many other plants, it is important to have more than one to help in cross pollinating.  


Also strawberries, some are ever-bearing  (producing all spring and summer) and some are spring-bearing only.  In the picture below you'll see the full strawberry plants in a row on the right.  I took some of the runners from the big strawberry plants and planted them on the right and left sides. 


Raspberry & blackberry bushes ...

And some elaborate fences for my grape vine, purple, white, and Mountain Man's favorite, Scuppernong.


You may have noticed I have to keep the animals out with some fencing.


These plants keep me waiting and hoping for the spring.  What are you planting??

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Poke Berries & Solar Energy

I just love the Appalachians!  Every day is a new picture.  This week I have been infatuated with all the poke berry "trees".  Their deep purple color just yells fall.

Poke Berries remind me of a chandelier or a creepy monster at dusk all gangly and slothing around.  When I was in high school (many moons ago) I did a project making die with the poke berries.  I used pure wool then used the yarn to make a stuffed animal.  To make the dye, check out this site.  How to process poke berries for dye.

I was curious about any other uses for these creepy berries and I found out several things...
  • Poke berries grow in every continent except Antarctica.
  • Poke weed has been used as a folk remedy to treat many ailments such as acne, tonsillitis, & arthritis.
  • It can be prepared for topical or internal use but warning!! - All parts of poke weed are poisonous.  You must know how to prepare it to use it.
  • Poke berries yield a red dye once used as ink in the American Civil War.  (Boy, do we have it made today or what?)
Last but not least, there was a very, very interesting fact I came upon.  Wake Forest University - Center for Nanotechnology & Molecular Materials have done research that could be the key to spreading solar power across the globe.

Wake Forest holds the 1st patent for fiber-based photovoltaic or solar cells.  These fiber cells can produce as much as twice the power that flat cell technology can produce by using the dye from poke berries.  Check out for more information.

Tell me about your experience with poke weed or poke berries!  Or, you could definitely recommend this story on Facebook. *wink, wink*  :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Yummy, Yummy, Grape Dumplings!

Have you been cooking up grapes to make juice or jam?  Do you have any canned grape juice?  If not, its okay, you can make this with store bought grape juice too!

You are going to love this dessert.  Its quick and yummy  (as said before :] ) !

Here are the ingredients you'll need:
1 Quart of Juice - ( sugar to taste)
3/4 Stick of Butter
1 1/2 Cup Self Rising Flour
1 1/2 Cup of Milk

  • Pour you juice into a pot and begin heating to medium high.
  • Add your sugar and stir until it dissolves.

While waiting, go ahead and make up your dumplings...

Combine your flour, butter (thin slices), and milk.  Stir quickly until you have a thick consistency.

     Place dough on a floured cutting board.
Slice the dough into squares.
After preparing the dough...

Drop the squares of dough into the boiling grape juice mixture. 
Cook until dumplings are flaky inside.
Serve Hot!  If you have it handy, a scoop of ice cream is the perfect touch!

Tastes so good and the house will smell delicious too!

Do tell, what kind of dumpling do you like??

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Help

I'm sure that many of you have either read  "The Help" or have seen the movie.  If you haven't, it is a multidimensional story about the black women who cared for the white women's children in the mid 1900's in Jackson, Mississippi.  It is an endearing and thought provoking movie that makes you laugh one minute and cry the next.  If you haven't seen it, I would recommend it.

I would also like to introduce you to an amazing person in our lives. Adaleene Gahagen!  She was born in August 1 in 1928, the 3rd child of 4.  She has been a typical Appalachian woman.  She has worked hard, raised a family of five, and been a wonderful influence to all her Grandchildren.  She is self reliant, independent, christian, neighborly, hospitable, patriotic, and has been a light in our lives for about 20+ years. 

Adalene & Lydia at Lydia's Graduation Party
I met Adaleene whem I was working as a home health nurse and was caring for her mother, Ms. Emma.  During that time I was expecting my last child, Lydia.  One day when I walked in to their home to make my Home Health visit, Adaleene and her sister, Anna Mae, were cooking some collard greens.  I told them they smelled SO good and they insisted I eat some because "A pregnant woman should get what she wants to eat."

Some time later, I took maternity leave for a couple of months after Lydia arrived.  I had been looking for some type of sitter for her and couldn't find anyone.  On my last straw  I prayed: God, if you want me to return to work you are going to have to supply a sitter for me.  Within 2 hours later, Adaleene called.

To make a long story short, God blessed our family with Adalene for about 20 years.  She came to our house regularly to care for our 3 children, do laundry, cleaning, and cooking.  I could go on and on.
Adaleene (left) & Anna Mae (right)

She worked very hard and was so happy, dependable, and efficient.  She became a part of our hearts and our family.  She still is today!

Adalene was our "Help" and what a support, inspiration, example, blessing, and a "Help" she has been.

Do you have anyone some special in your life who has been a "Help" to you and yours?  If so, tell us about it in the comments!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Heat is on in College Football!

You're weekends are full of games...

You're wearing your team colors...
You're decorating your yards...

We want to lift up our Appalachian Mountain Teams!
At this post 4 of our APp Teams are in the top 25 Vt, WV, AL, OH and 3 more are receiving votes, TN, Penn. State, and GA.

What team is your favorite?  And if we left them out, please tell us! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Amazing Market Place!

This time of year the farmers market takes on a new atmosphere.  

We were inspired to collect some of the new items and take them home.
We chose a Giant Atlantic Pumpkin to use in the yard but decided to leave the Warty Pumpkins right where they were.          They look a little disgusting but are really interesting if you choose get a closer look! 

We also picked up a Tiger Pumpkin and a little white Boo Pumpkin.  (Perfect name!)
We moved on to the Indian Corn and couldn't pass up the Chrysanthemums.

At home we made our own little fall decoration outside.  Shortly after which, a mischievous squirrel thought that I had delivered him a gift.  Even though he was feasting off my creation, he was adorable!  I got a couple of pictures of him as you can see.  One picture is a little blurry but necessary. :)

Who can scold that face?? :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Shock"-ingly Beautiful

Did you or a neighbor raise any corn in your garden?  Well don't throw the stalks away; You can use them to make corn shocks! Corn shocks are most commonly used these days for displays at markets or roadside decorations but back in the old days their purpose was a little different.

What is a corn shock?:  A corn shock is a bunch of corn stalks bundled together, tied up, and dried.

Large corn shocks like the ones in the picture above, used to be a common site in fields.  The purpose of bundling corn stalks together was to effectively dry the stalks for harvesting before mechanical harvesting was invented. 

How to make your very own a corn shock:
Corn Knife
  1. Wait until the bottom leaves of the corn are dead before you start to harvest them.  There should still be moisture in the stalk when it is cut.
  2. To make cutting easy, use a machete or really big knife called a corn knife.  A corn knife has a curved blade which makes it easy to cut the corn.  Use this knife to cut the stalk at its base.
  3. You can bundle the stalks around an upside down tomato cage or just bundle them together, pulling the lower ends of the stalk out to make a more secure base.  If you are making a very large shock it is better to make it around a pole.
  4. Tie the stalks together about a fourth from the top with twine.  Be sure to tie them tight to withstand the elements.

My sweet Dad, Wayne Suddreth, made some corn shocks for me to use in this blog. However, he told me when he was young this process was called "pulling fodder and cutting tops".  That meant the farmers would take a few more steps and cut the lower leaves and the tossels off of the corn stalk. Those were fed to the animals at that time and the stalks were dried out so the animals could feed off of them in the winter.

"My Dad, Wayne"

Thank you Dad.  They are "shock"-ingly beautiful!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Three Words!

"Feel The Trail"
"Take A Hike"

"Life Is Good"

"Appalachian Living Rocks!"

"Bike The Parkway"

Your Three Words has become a popular segment on Good Morning America.  Today is a special on GMA about "Your Three Words: Around the World".  We wanted to capture a few "Your Three Words" here in the Appalachians!  Catch the fever!  What are "Your Three Words"??  We would love to know!

P.S. Thank you SO much for the sweet people who participated in this blog! :)