OMG- a recipie that will make you talk in internet slang

I have been searching Pintrest to come up with dinner recipes, especially when I have an over abundance of something. It has been super helpful since I’ve started getting food from the Clemson Area Food Exchange, an organic or chemically free, well, food exchange. You order what’s available and farmers/bakers/etc deliver 🙂 This summer I typically ordered a Farm Box, which is $30 or a whole bunch of veggies… You never know what’s in it until you get it. It’s fun! Makes me get a little more creative in the kitchen.

At one point this summer, I had way too much cottage cheese (you might have read my review on cinnamon rolls?)… Anyway, along with needing to use up the cottage cheese, I needed to use up a bunch of zucchini, too. I found this curious recipe and pinned it to my Good Lookin’ Food board.

Quinoa Burgers!! If you didn’t already know, quinoa is the cat’s meeeow! Do a quick google search if you don’t already know 😉

This recipe calls for carrots, but the author didn’t have carrots one night and substituted with zucchini. Her husband afterwards told her she can only make them with zucchini from now on… He was so right!! Give it a try! I promise if you follow this recipe to the T the first time, you won’t be let down. Holy moooooly… Mmmmmmmm……

  
 
P.S. to Long Creekers (and Mountain Resters… And surrounding area I guess if you want to pick up in Long Creek), my grandmother lives in Seneca now and I visit her every Tuesday. That fortunately lands on a C.A.F.E. (Clemson Area Food Exchange) pick up day in Seneca at the hospital, so I have been volunteering there and picking up food and bringing it back to Long Creek. If anyone is interested in buying organic/chemical free local goodies, I will bring them to Long Creek for you. Friday at 9pm ordering begins and you have three-ish days to complete your order. You can order on their website or though their app!! You can order twice for free before you need to pay a $20 annual membership fee. And I am offering FREE DELIVERY TO THE BACKWOODS by 6:30/7pm Tuesdays. Just make note on your orders that Sarajoy is picking up your order, and please prepay 🙂 easy peasy for some locally grown organic veggies, meat, dairy, baked goods, etc. Please let me know if your interested!!

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Natural dyed scarves

It’s been so much fun having my mom close by, she is full of fun knowledge we never got to go through as I was growing up. She always had a full time job, and I was  in school always with some extracurricular afterwards. Lately, we have been getting ready for The Backwoods VC&CS 5th annual Holiday Bazaar! Mom has her own experiments going on, but I have been collecting pokeweed berries all summer and storing them in the shoppe’s freezer 😉

Lots of materials you can gather for makin your dyes will freeze well so you can use them on a later date, although others don’t and you should use right after you harvest. When the Golden Rod bloomed, it was time….

Earlier in the summer we bought silk scarves to experiment with. Silk is the best material to hold natural dye.

The trick to making beautiful dyes, is to collect more material than you think you need…

The first step is to boil your material down to get the color out of it. Use a stainless steel pot- certain properties may react to other metals making the color you get not to be true. Fill pot with twice as much or more of material than water.

Make sure to stir your plant material as it cooks down. Simmer for 1 hour.

After your hour is up, all your material should have cooked down under the water. When ready, strain the material from your fresh dye! For me, this part is pretty exciting 🙂 You might need different sized strainer holes to catch different sized debris, seeds, etc, depending on what you’re making your dye from.

This is our yellow goldenrod dye after straining…

Mix in 1 1/2 tablespoons of Alum per gallon of dye…

Alum is your mordant, it locks the color in…..

See the chemical reaction starting already?!?!

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT??!! I had this sweet video to insert in here of the chemical reaction after we moved on, it still was boiling around…. it was pretty cool, but I can’t get it in here (check it out here, on our Facebook page!). Would be great to add in a little science class right here if you are homeschooling with your kids 🙂 

Now onto Pokeweed berries!! (frozen…) Cook down the same way as the Goldenrod… these have seeds in them of course, so you’ll need to strain a little better. Instead of using Alum, use Baking Soda- same ratio

BadaBing! Throw your scarves in!! Try using rubber bands and try your hand at tie-dying! throw them in one color, or half in one and half in the other! Either way, they should stay soaking for 24 hours or more. Make sure to poke at them every now and then to keep them under the dye.

After your 24 hours are up, fill your sink up a bit, add a good sprinkle of Baking Soda to your cold water for your Pokeweed side…

and Vinegar to your Goldenrod side…

Then throw your scarves in that and swish them around, they should stay in for about 15 minutes- this processes is to set the color. After swishing a bit, rinse out all the excess color, cut your bands and hang to dry!!

TADA!! As you can see, colors vary, I also decided I needed a bluish color to go with my yellow and redish (so I would have a variation of the primary colors...) To do that, we cooked down red cabbage leaves, red onion skin, and a few blueberries for fun :D When in doubt, use vinegar to set your color when you put it in the sink (the last step). Mama also made a batch of blackberry dye which is the purple color shown at the bottom of this picture.

TADA!! As you can see, colors vary, I also decided I needed a bluish color to go with my yellow and redish (so I would have a variation of the primary colors…) To do that, we cooked down red cabbage leaves, red onion skin, and a few blueberries for fun 😀 When in doubt, use vinegar to set your color when you put it in the sink (the last step). Mama also made a batch of blackberry dye which is the purple color shown at the bottom of this picture.

Look for the silk scarves’ debut at this year’s 5th annual Holiday Bazaar! Join us for a family fun packed day November 21st! {Vendors Wanted}

Baby stuff new mamas really appreciate… Tips for gift givers and registry creators :)

When you find out your pregnant, everyone gets in on the excitement. I was so blessed to have a community full of kind people who couldn’t wait to meet the new addition as much as my husband and I were. (A big THANK YOU!!! shout out to everyone again!) Throughout the pregnancy, baby showers, and even after birth, gifts were flooding in from friends and family from all over the country.

Even though I loved every single gift I received (because baby things are so exciting and cute!), this post is a list of what I found to be the most practical gifts, because they actually worked out over a longer period of time/ I used more than once. (I just want to reiterate that if your gift isn’t listed, it is not because I didn’t absolutely LOVE it, because I reassure you I did/do!)

Socks– do not give newborn socks. They are so ity bity and so dang cute, but I’m pretty sure they are made specifically for premature babies… I got a huge collection of super cute socks, but my boy I guess has big feet for a newborn and didn’t ever fit in a dang one… BUT still give socks, but the bigger the better. ** note: get the type of socks with a grip on the bottom (babies get so impressed with themselves when they stand up, it’s nice for them to not have the challenge of fighting the slipping and sliding 🙂 ) Also, try to give tall socks. They don’t slip right off as easily.

Big Foot sighting… 😉

Shoes– the seemingly most ridiculous gift to give a baby… IS NOT!! Just make sure to get a pair, again, with some sort of grippy on the bottom of them. Shoes with no grip ARE ridiculous 😉 but super cute still, so don’t be sucked into the cuteness. Oddly enough, baby stuff should be practical, too 🙂

Clothes– so many super cute options!!! But don’t give in to buying newborn clothes. My boy was born at 8lbs 20 1/2 in long (pretty average I think…) and only got to wear those cute outfits maybe once, if that 😦 Again, it was a foot problem on some.. But try buying other sizes, they will be appreciated I guarantee it. They will be able to use it longer, plus you never know how that baby will grow! Gideon is about to turn 7 months and he’s wearing clothes anywhere from 12-24 months! **Note: don’t forget about second hand stores! They have awesome selections and for a fraction of the price!! Brand new baby clothes usually cost the same as big people clothes for some reason- not cool! Your first stop should be The Backwoods Visitors’ Center & Community Shoppe because we always have a great selection at great prices 😉

Stroller– okay, maybe this one is not for everyone, but if you plan to drive that thing over grass, dirt, rocks, down stairs, through the woods, longer distances (running or through the mall)… These are the best 😉 they are so easy to maneuver, and you can push them over anything without getting stuck or whatnot.

We be strollin’… through the yard at Grandma’s house… they be hatin’…

HIking Backpack– MY ALLTIME FAVORITE! Not just for hiking. I though slings were going to be great, and I used a few different varieties for different occasions and reasons, but once that babe can hold his head up solid, into the backpack he goes. He sits up high so he can see, gives me the chance to use BOTH of my hands to work, he even falls asleep occasionally in it. The trick is to keep moving and the little one won’t complain because his mind is being occupied by different sights (triple whammy! Get that butt back in shape! 😉 AND get more work done! AND develop that baby mind more 🙂 ) plus it gets rid of the stroller aspect: go to the fair- into the backpack. Go volunteer- into the backpack. Go to work- into the backpack. Play a few rounds of badminton- into the backpack… It’s brilliant. I get more free time to use my arms than anything else I have tried out.

Besides the fact you get you’re hair pulled occasionally, backpacks like these have a solid frame and great space for baby and mama stuff- no purse of diaper bag needed when using this rig! 😉

Car Seat– expensive, yet only lasts 5 years when bought new… But neccisary If you plan on driving anywhere with your baby. Luckily I was handed down one with some years left on it, this is the best. Does baby safety in car seats really change that much in five years this day and age?? Amazing…

Baby head support for the car seat– you’ll definitely need one of these until your baby can hold his head by himself very well. I had no idea until I started messing around with the car seat (before I actually needs to use it- smart idea, figure that bad boy out before you need to rush out somewhere and can’t figure something out about it!)

Wipes– enough said I think. Unless you plan on making your own (in that case ask for a bunch of paper towels!) or using reusable cloths (in that case ask for a bunch of your wants in cloth!), an unlimited supply of baby wipes will always be appreciated!!

Diapers– if the mom-to-be has decided on cloth diapers, that is the best gift you can give. Unfortunately they can be expensive, but they will be SOOOO APPRECIATED! It’s a hard choice deciding what kind to get, but if you shop on Etsy, you can’t go wrong buying from an artist trying to make it 🙂 my opinion. Plus mom won’t really know what kind she’ll like the best until she tries them all… Seriously. So don’t worry about it. I knew I wanted snaps because I thought the velcro would give out over time. But I later learned it is good to get double leg gussets (brilliant), and also one size (can use on new born and adjust size as he grows!). If the mom-to-be isn’t going that route, then diapers in general are very appreciated. Again with the sizes: most everyone thinks to buy the newborn sizes, so instead, get the next size up, or the next…even maybe the next! Also, my own personal opinion, but try to buy natural/organic. There are some good brands out there available at the supermarkets now, like Seventh Generation etc. More paper, less plastic. I’m pretty sure the earth wept every time I threw out a “disposable” diaper… that’s just how I felt.

Blankets– warm blankets, check. But who thinks about blankets for the summer? I like carrying a blanket around for random spit ups/messes… in any season. Nice lightweight  muslin blankets are a must in the summer time, and they come in all sorts of super cute patterns on then. Plus, if they are large enough, they can double as car seat covers when you need to walk through a light rain, into a doctor’s office, or when baby is sleeping and you need to go into the supermarket. HOLY MOLY, it could have saved my life one day… Some random lady caught me at the door one time, being sweet of course and ooing and ahhing at the sleeping baby, and proceeded to (accidentally) WAKE HIM UP!!! I knew I had a limited time to make it through the store before he would wake up, but I got trapped, she stood between us and the door, and I’m too nice I guess… She runs after waking him up, and I couldn’t get him to stop crying the WHOLE time I was in there, UGH!! Worst shopping experience ever! So anyway- if they can’t see a baby, no one will feel the need to talk up your important time. WHEW! Lesson learned.

Baby Walker– you know, those things you slip your baby in where they can touch the floor with their feet, and have a few gadgets in front of them to play with. I recommend one the can wheel around in freely, not the type the go round a center consul of toys… Going forward and backwards is easier than the sideways motion.

This was fun for him from a ity bity one where he could barely get his arms out of the seat pocket. He loved to try and stand and a VERY early age. In this pic was when he was just starting to be able to touch and push the buttons. Now he is cruisin’ around the living area in strait lines, mostly. It’s pretty funny- run, run, run, run, slam (stuck) [gets help from mom] run, run, run, run, slam (stuck) [gets help from mom] etc, etc…. oh it is so silly!

Bath Seat– I personally like the one that is just a mesh seat that you stick in your own sink/ or bathtub. It folds up flat when not in use. Baby items can get overwhelming, especially when you don’t have the space to store them. We don’t have the space, not the bathtub, so once he couldn’t fit in the sink anymore, we take showers with him 😉 he’s such a water baby!! So much fun to take a shower with him.

Entertainment Seat– a seat that bounces and has thinks for baby to reach/push/pull. So great for mamas wanting to finish taking showers relaxed. If you get everything ready before you get in the shower, when you are done washing baby, you wrap him up in his towel, stick him in the seat, and you have a good 5 minutes to finish (and enjoy) your good shower. That’s a lot of time!!

This chair bounces (manually) and has battery powered vibrating chair effect and music sounds when you push or pull on an animal arm. Plus, lots of great colors!!

Cardboard/Hardboard Books– books are great. Especially sweet books, books with great pictures, books with color, black and white books, books with a good moral… Actually read the book before you give it 🙂 even if it’s going to a baby, they will still have it when they start understanding 🙂 Babies love to tear stuff apart, so hard cover books allows them to love books, not the fact that they can rip, crinkle, and destroy a beloved book.

Some sort of multi-faceted crinkle toy– gives baby options in entertainment while he’s not sleeping in the car…

This toy has a bunch of crinkle spots, plus a mirror, two different sounding rattle spots, lots of texture (help develop that baby’s mind!), some rings, and a wooden ring, too (great for teething!)!

If you don’t know what to get, MONEY is ALWAYS appreciated! Whether they start a savings account for the wee one, or use it for an emergency, or stash it for back up cash, or whatever… it is ALWAYS appreciated! I had good intentions in putting all the money I received into a savings account… But then had to use it for hospital bills for an emergency c-section 😦 SO APPRECIATIVE that I had that back up cash!

Optional gifts:

Baby motorcycles-

Baby tractors-

Teeheeheeheehee…… just kidding y’all! (sort of… 😉 all depends on the family!)

Hope this post helps the gift givers wondering what to give and the new mamas out there not knowing what they need! I thought I had an idea of what I needed, turned out I didn’t need some of the things that I thought I might need (i.e. baby bottle, pacifiers) and didn’t think of all I needed (i.e. baby bath chair). Also, some things work for some and don’t work for others, it will mainly depend on the living situation.

What worked best for you other mama’s out there? What do you think you couldn’t have lived without for the first 6 months+?? I’m sure your advice will help the new mamas and gift givers out there come up with some great idea! Write us a comment to get some creative juices flowing! Happy Pregnancy to you or to one you know ❤

To blog or not to blog… That is the question!

Hello friends! I am sorry it has been so long… I was debating with myself about why I should blog. I mean, even if you think you are a wealth of information, anybody can Google their question and find a million answers, so why should I tell it my way when the answer is basically the same? I want to be an asset, but he internet is already filled with assets! Who will care about this blog if it’s not special?

The problem was that I was thinking too broadly. Yes, anyone can find their answers through Google, but it’s about community and finding your answers from your neighbor or someone you know. I can’t think about writing to the world, I need to be thinking about writing to you, my community (wherever you live).

I also read a great article to re-enstate my purpose. The article was written by Meredith C. Bullock, her article named 10 Reasons Why You Should Blog. She didn’t mention reasons like making money (or wasting time 😛 ), but she did mention very good reasons I definitely could use some help with. Those reasons why include:

To become a better writer

To gain confidence 

To connect with others

To find your voice

To share yours and others work

To position yourself as an expert

To attract new clients

To have documentation of your life

To clarify around your thoughts and intentions

To help and inspire others

So I will begin again with this endeavor and try to be good about writing posts. One of my main issues I need to work on is finding time. Between being a full time mother of a now 7 month old boy, volunteering full time at The Backwoods Visitors’ Center & Community Shoppe, and not having internet at our home because we live in a rural area (don’t get me started, but you may see a post about our community’s outrage coming to a blog near you 😉 )…. I just can’t seem to find the time to write all I want to write in a full post! Sometimes it takes me a couple days to get it all written out. I have read before that blog posts don’t have to be  very long, but when I come up with a topic I want to write about, I want to write! So, by wasting way to much time on Pintrest searching for others ways of finding time to write blog posts, I have come to the conclusion I need to create a better schedule. I think my new schedule will be a schedule within a schedule… My home life schedule will sandwich my work schedule. My goals for my new schedule include:

Wake up earlier… And at the same time every morning (I usually judge getting up based on appropriate amount of daylight and whether or not my baby is up yet)

Squeeze in a little excersize (need to feel a little better about my body after having a baby- it’s a personal problem 😉 )

Load of laundry

Breakfast (“they” say it’s the most important meal of the day!)

Pack lunch for work

Brush teeth, maybe comb hair, etc.. (Get ready for the day)

Go to “Grandma and Rooster’s”

[inner work schedule (includes internet work, bills, mail, project of the day…)]

Prep, make, eat dinner

Shower

Family time (Hubby time)

Write blog!

…..I’m sure I’m forgetting to do something… But the next step is getting times applied to it all, then DO IT!  

WOOWEEE! I’m exausted just thinking about getting everything done that I need to in one day! Wish me luck! But I do promise you (and my one follower so far 😉 ) that I will post almost every day!!

A Scrumptious Breakfast

Do not fret when your rolls don't come out as pretty as these by "Lick the Bowl Good." They won't the first time... or at least mine didn't. Some I was proud of, some were silly looking, but ALL were delicious!

Do not fret when your rolls don’t come out as pretty as these by “Lick the Bowl Good.” They won’t the first time… or at least mine didn’t. Some I was proud of, some were silly looking, but ALL were delicious!

This morning is Wednesday and my mama and I had plans to wake up at o’dark thirty and hit the Pickens’ flea market. The weather forecast decided it was going to rain on our parade… it was going to rain alllll day, 70% chance! So we changed our plans to me experimenting with breakfast! My mission- to use up the extra cottage cheese I had.

So as I drove to Grandma and Rooster’s house this beautiful, sunny, glorious morning (stupid weather forecast)…. I was super stoked (anyway) to get started. I had been gathering some pins on Pintrest on my board “Good Lookin’ Food” that involved using cottage cheese. I found Cinnamon Rolls that not only use cottage cheese, but don’t use any yeast (and it says easy?!?!)!! PERFECT!!! I haven’t yet experimented baking with yeast, so it makes me nervous…

Anyway, there is this cute little blog called “Lick the Bowl Good” and they lay out the whole recipe for you. I followed it to the T, but didn’t have any allspice… nor pecans, but I substituted them for walnuts. YUM, YUM, YUM!! is all anyone can say!

I will warn you- be prepared to make a mess 🙂 but it’s fun, so relax!!

Visit the recipe here!> http://lickthebowlgood.blogspot.com/2009/12/christmas-breakfast-day-3.html

Day dreaming gone awry…. or has it? Looking for ideas from imaginative people!

I have always wanted a green house. Now that The Backwoods Visitors’ Center & Community Shoppe owns about an acre and a half of land that the shoppe sits on, we can implement our very own green house for community use. The only problem is that I want to do it “right.” So I started day dreaming…

Growing up, I was always surrounded by the idea of permaculture, being as  sustainable as possible, and treating our Earth (mother) with respect. So, when thinking about the empty space on the side of our lot (that desperately needs to be landscaped), I first thought I would landscape in edibles, but why not build a green house that incorporated more than just one idea…

Our little piece of property. The land between the orange lines is what we have to work with. Plus we have more of a forested patch in the back, but I would like to leave it as so.

Our little piece of property. The land between the orange lines is what we have to work with (there’s a lot of asphalt around, I know…). Plus we have more of a forested patch in the back not shown in this pic, but I would like to leave it as so.

A while ago, I ran across this great write up about the idea of a “Walipini.” A walipini uses thermal energy, as well as solar, to heat the greenhouse. In order to access thermal energy effectively, you need to dig down 6-8 feet into the Earth (the closer to our Earth’s magma core the warmer you’ll get!) See the gravel-y patch on the upper side of the picture of the shoppe? That is where Underground Storage Tanks were taken out from, so I know there is nothing down there. In my dreams, I plan on digging down 10 feet, filling two feet up with gravel for adequate drainage, and then creating two feet tall raised beds on the sides and leaving a gravel path that could be might be considered “sunken.” Here are some of my sketches that pictorially explain that idea I just laid out for you 🙂 Please keep in mind that none of these sketches are to scale, nor have the correct angles… these pictures are just my imagination on paper and will become more accurate with time 🙂

This would be the east view looking in. The bottom two quadrants would be under ground. The south facing roof angle is at a 57 degree angle, based on Long Creek's latitude + 23 degrees= roof being perpendicular to the sun at the winter solstice. The X es mark where windows will go that can open to allow cool air in the summer to enter and fall while pushing hot air up and out through the top set. Vines will cover the roof during the summertime to create the cool air entering. A bout a 14 inch over hang will also help create complete shade over the lower set during summer months only. The writing you can barely see starting on the right and working clockwise is gutter trough, footers for roof, 6ft, 2ft, 2ft gravel drainage, raised beds/sunken path, gutter, 57* tilt

This would be the east view looking in. The bottom two quadrants would be under ground. The south facing roof angle is at a 57 degree angle, based on Long Creek’s latitude + 23 degrees= roof being perpendicular to the sun at the winter solstice. We will be building a passive solar roof. The X es mark where windows will go that can open to allow cool air in the summer to enter and fall while pushing hot air up and out through the top set. Vines will cover the roof during the summertime to create the cool air entering. A bout a 14 inch over hang will also help create complete shade over the lower set during summer months only. The back wall (north wall) will be cinder block because they have the ability to store heat, but more importantly, my dad found a bunch on the property he bought= FREE material! The writing you can barely see starting on the right and working clockwise is gutter trough, footers for roof, 6ft, 2ft, 2ft gravel drainage, raised beds/sunken path, gutter, 57* tilt

South facing side. I would like to use as little wood as possible because this greenhouse could be humid year round, and pressure treated wood can get costly if using a bunch. We are a nonprofit, so even $100 worth of wood would be considered a lot. All framing around windows are bottles in cement maybe a hook cemented in each column for a hook and latch to open windows in summer. Overhang as well as vines should help provide the right cooling temperatures for the summer. Come winter, sun will beam through bottles, clear plastic roof sheets, and windows.

South facing side. I would like to use as little wood as possible because this greenhouse could be humid year round. Pressure treated wood can get costly if using a bunch. We are a nonprofit, so even $100 worth of wood would be considered a lot. All framing around windows are bottles in cement maybe a hook cemented in each column for a hook and latch to open windows in summer. Overhang as well as vines should help provide the right cooling temperatures for the summer. Come winter, sun will beam through bottles, clear plastic roof sheets, and windows.

This is the southeast view of the future greenhouse. This will be the only part you will see sticking out of the ground. The southern slanted roof will be one of our only expenses, some of that corrugated clear plastic roofing material. The north facing slope will be a living roof, the other expense I am hoping to brainstorm a recycled route for... Please comment if you have any ideas!!

This is the southeast view of the future greenhouse. This will be the only part you will see sticking out of the ground. The southern slanted roof will be one of our only expenses, some of that corrugated clear plastic roofing material. The east side will be all glass bottles with mortar between them for structural integrity. The north facing slope will be a living roof, the other expense I am hoping to brainstorm a recycled route for… Please comment if you have any ideas!!

Here is the northwest facing side. Starting on the left and working clockwise, here are the words you can barely read, and a description to follow :) willow woven living fence. Instead of having to buy chicken wire or other fencing, I am hoping someone will allow me to take a bunch of willow clippings in order to test out creating a living fence to keep the chickens in and most predators out. The willow will also have a dual purpose- its rooting hormone. I first thought about Guadua angustifolia, for it's beauty and excellent building capabilities, but because this section of land is narrow, I didn't like the idea of it running onto neighboring land (I'm a friendly neighbor, don't want to make anyone mad!) The oth wall will be made from cinder block, but it won't be seen from the outside because dirt will be pushed up to it, and a pondless waterfall will be created beside it. The waterfall will be fueled by rainwater being flushed down the gutters. and will be collected by the indoor ponds. Chicken door (maybe a little bridge will be added in case a crazy chicken wants to go outside while it's raining...) Living roof, maybe growing chicken food and other goodies. The west side is the access point into the greenhouse. Stairs might be granite if my husband has the time (he is the most amazing stone mason!), but most likely I will dig out stair shape then coat in red clay collected from site. This same clay I am thinking of covering the inner slopes with, or maybe planting something good for erosion control. What do you think? Edge around stair so no one walks off the edge of the earth will be, again, mortar and glass bottles. The least amount of cement used because it won't be holding a bunch of extra weight.

Here is the northwest facing side. Starting on the left and working clockwise, here are the words you can barely read, and a description to follow 🙂
willow woven living fence. Instead of having to buy chicken wire or other fencing, I am hoping someone will allow me to take a bunch of willow clippings in order to test out creating a living fence to keep the chickens in and most predators out. The willow will also have a dual purpose- its rooting hormone. I first thought about Guadua angustifolia, for it’s beauty and excellent building capabilities, but because this section of land is narrow, I didn’t like the idea of it running onto neighboring land (I’m a friendly neighbor, don’t want to make anyone mad!)
The oth wall will be made from cinder block, but it won’t be seen from the outside because dirt will be pushed up to it, and a pondless waterfall will be created beside it. The waterfall will be fueled by rainwater being flushed down the gutters. and will be collected by the indoor ponds.
Chicken door (maybe a little bridge will be added in case a crazy chicken wants to go outside while it’s raining…)
Living roof, maybe growing chicken food and other goodies.
The west side is the access point into the greenhouse. Stairs might be granite if my husband has the time (he is the most amazing stone mason!), but most likely I will dig out stair shape then coat in red clay collected from site. This same clay I am thinking of covering the inner slopes with, or maybe planting something good for erosion control. What do you think?
Edge around stair so no one walks off the edge of the Earth will be, again, mortar and glass bottles. The least amount of cement used because it won’t be holding a bunch of extra weight.

Bird's eye view of structure layout and an idea about the interior. One half of the greenhouse will be dedicated to growing plants. The other half will host the recirculating ponds and chicken coop. The ponds might host fish as well as water plants. The greenhouse will also house a potting table with storage underneath. Depending on the final dimensions of the project, there will be 3, maybe 4 posts/pillars to help support the living roof. These supports I am thinking will be granite rock work (trying not to use wood remember).

Bird’s eye view of structure layout and an idea about the interior. One half of the greenhouse will be dedicated to growing plants. The other half will host the recirculating ponds and chicken coop. The ponds might host fish as well as water plants. Water is known to store heat the best, and if the south facing sides are painted black and north sides are painted white, the heat should be expelled properly. Overflow will drain into chicken waterer, and that will overflow into garden beds. In the chicken coop side, roosts will be built into the walls, and nesting boxes will be built with access from the other side. Screen, maybe something else if someone has an epic idea, will separate the coop/compost from the rest of the greenhouse.The greenhouse will also house a potting table with storage underneath. Depending on the final dimensions of the project, there will be 3, maybe 4 posts/pillars to help support the living roof. These supports I am thinking will be granite rock work (trying not to use wood, remember).

Material wish list:

  • backhoe services
  • bags of mortar
  • bags of concrete
  • corrugated plastic roofing sheets
  • screen (who’s got that epic idea?)
  • food grade barrels/livestock troughs/ pond liners
  • pressure treated wood
  • gravel
  • monolithic type waterproof rubber membrane + 6mm sheet of plastic (again looking for some intelligent brain to help me with a genius idea for the living roof…)

Free stuff you can help us collect:

  • clear glass bottles, rinsed out
  • reclaimed windows
  • reclaimed door*
  • large good looking rocks for pondless waterfall/wash
  • cinder blocks
  • garden soil for living roof start

*= already have, thank you!

If you would like to donate funds to this community greenhouse project, please click here, and it will send you to a trusted and secure Paypal page. The Backwoods Visitors’ Center & Community Shoppe is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, therefor any and all donations are tax exempt! We appreciate all your help!! If you want to send or deliver building supplies, we appreciate your help and you can send them of drop them off at The Backwoods Visitors’ Center & Community Shoppe 13847 Long Creek HWY, Long Creek, SC, 29658

****WANT TO VOLUNTEER IN BUILDING THIS GRAND EXPERIMENT?? GET A HOLD OF US! PLENTY OF CAMPING TO BE HAD, AND THE MORE THE MERRIER!

A Lovely Suprise

Every August as we drive to work, Gene Anne (stay tuned for future article on her stained glass work featured at the shoppe) and I have always admired this particular field of white lilies in full bloom. They are so elegant with there long white neck that opens up at the end to face the day. A friend to the butterflies. A light sweet fragrance hangs in the air.

One day while talking to a friend, we had commented on this majestic field and how we admired it. Her response was, “I know those folks,” and a couple days later she came back with two coffee pots with a lily in each! We were so grateful and ecstatic to be passed on the magic for our own gardens 🙂 Gene Anne (GA) took her’s home and  I planted mine in the community garden out in front of the shoppe.

Come the end of summer and the stalk died and I cut it back… but come springtime it did not come back, and neither did GA’s 😦 We were so sad! We failed somehow, and the magic had not returned….

This summer while messing in the garden, I started seeing a couple shoots that sort of looked like lilies… but the could be another strain of something I don’t care for in the garden (I tend to stay away from the word “weed,” find out in a future post why). So I left them and kept my eye on them. I could always pull them later when they start to bud, that way I could figure out what they were. They grew taller, and taller… they a few cluster of buds started to form in the tops… could they be..? The buds grew longer and longer until they separated and fell in different directions… they continued to grow larger and larger…. and BOOM! The first bloom burst August 1st, like they knew exactly what they were doing.

Lilium regale, the Regal Lily, also known as the August Lily. They were introduced from China and do very well here in Long Creek, South Carolina 🙂 They have a distinctive long white trumpet- several can grow on one stalk. The community garden has some with one flower on it, and one with up to six! They usually bloom by their second year, and bloom in August through September.

Apparently these flowers are easy to raise from seed, I am going to try to collect them this year and find out! I’ll let you know how they go, or stop by our Springtime Sale (usually the second Saturday in April) to find out, and maybe go home with some of your own!

Are they runners? That first year when I planted the gift, it was in a particular spot. Two stalks sprouted in that spot, but then two more popped up across an aisle (about two feet away) and I just found one more down the row in the opposite direction about 8 feet or so away! It couldn’t be the spread of seeds because this is the first year they are blooming! Anybody have any answers? We would love to hear from you! So curious…

Lilium regale - August Lily in our community garden at The Backwoods Visitors' Center & Community Shoppe

Lilium regale – August Lily in our community garden at The Backwoods Visitors’ Center & Community Shoppe

A series of locally made ghost tales

Our collections of Joel Coke books for sale in shoppe (or on Etsy: Longcreek Backwoods)

Our collections of Joel Coke books for sale in shoppe (or on Etsy: Longcreek Backwoods)

At The Backwoods, we are lucky to have books by our local artists. Today’s post is about one in particular. He writes under the pen name Joel Coke and has published, so far, four books. Each book he writes, he chooses a local attraction and writes a ghost story that takes place at that location. These short fiction stories are great because they are written as one long poem.

The first book he came out with is called The Ghost of Woodall Shoals or the Demon’s Deliverance. This book is our best seller. It is a fantastic story that preludes with a testimony: “This past summer, I was on Lake Tugaloo. It was twilight, and a storm was coming up. I saw something bobbing in the waves close to the shore. I paddled over and found a sealed, welded metal box. Curious, I picked it up. I put it aside when I got home and got busy and didn’t think about it for several days. One Saturday afternoon, I put it in a vice and took a hacksaw to it. After about ten minutes, I had it open and was very surprised at what was inside. I found a handwritten journal and a golden locket in a dilapidated leather pouch. Engraved on the locket were the words, “God bless you, Molly darling, my straying soul you saved.” The date “June 13, 1925” was also engraved. The journal contained a poem which had been elegantly handwritten with a fountain pen. Some of the pages were waterlogged and nearly unreadable. It took me several weeks to decipher the writing. I had the locket and the box analyzed. The locket was said to be 18-carat gold and at least ninety years old. I was told that the box had probably been floating in the water for at least ten years. The box had many scrapes and dents, as if it had been battered by the rocks on a journey down the Chattooga River. Other than the names in the poem, I found nothing to indicate who wrote the poem or why it and the locket were placed in the box. The poem was reconstructed to the best of my ability. The poem follows. Joel Coke”

It really makes you want to dive right into this book! I would consider them easy reads, and are great on camp-outs for tales around the campfire 🙂

The next in the series is The Ghost of Stumphouse Tunnel, the Revelation of Tim the Shaker.

The Ghost of Table Rock, or Sacrifice at the Hunter’s Moon

The Howl from Raven Cliff, or the Legend of Oconee Belle

Read the testimonies to these books, and purchase one or the whole series currently out on our Etsy Page. Each and every book is signed by the author! Only at The Backwoods 😉

The next book to look forward to is Resurrection at Rabun Bald, or Curse of the Mountain Witch. Look out for it this fall! It will include a good guy, a bad guy and his witch-y girlfriend, a death or two, an angry mob, a resurrection or two, and a pretty good ending… not to give away too much 😉 This is the first book to have a few illustrations, and I was lucky enough to be asked to participate!

Hope you enjoy these fun books, and stay tuned for notice on the upcoming release of Resurrection at Rabun Bald, or Curse of the Mountain Witch! OOOOooooooooo

Bull Sluice

Good friend Evan Westbrook showing off his circus skills :)

Good friend Evan Westbrook showing off his circus skills 🙂

The first trail I plan on talking about is the most easily accessed part of the Chattooga river, yet an impressive feature as well. There are two trails that will get you to this mighty rapid. Bull Sluice can be considered a class IV+ rapid, although different water levels and different lines change the game. During the summertime, this is a fun swimming spot, but maybe not so much on the weekends because it can get overcrowded! You will definitely get to see some action if you stay long enough to see the rafting companies come through. There are also countless of private boaters that come through, and every now and then you get a random group of people who don’t realize where they are and are surprised by what they are about to float over.

The parking lot for this hike is on the South Carolina side of the river. You might notice a little parking lot on the downstream side of the street, but there is a much bigger parking lot slightly hidden on the other side. If you are looking, you will see a forest service sign saying Highway 76 Chattooga river access. When you pull around the parking lot, you will notice a cement area with restrooms, a little information area, trash cans, and a boulder with the words “WILD AND SCENIC CHATTOOGA RIVER MAY 10, 1974.” From there, an asphalt path leads down the backside of it. Follow the asphalt trail, when you get to a sharp turn in the trail you will see a path on your right. That dirt path will lead you to Bull Sluice. If you follow the main trail all the way down, you will end up at a nice sandy beach a little upstream of the bridge. A good family spot to hang out and play in the shallow waters.

If you are into more of a hike and adventure, try parking on the backside of the parking lot (closest to the highway) and locate the stairs heading towards the highway. You will cross the bridge and start down a dirt trail. You are now on the Chattooga River Trail. In a couple hundred yards you will come to a fork in the trail. Take the lower right fork. You are now on your way to Bull Sluice! Enjoy the adventure and look out for wildlife! It’s always exciting to see something you don’t usually 🙂 Something you rarely hear people talk about on this trail is there is a creek you will have to cross. This would be Pole Creek. Expect to get wet, but you might get lucky 😉 Before hiking this side, think about water level and temperature of water. Low water summers are the best time to cross because you can hop bank to rock to bank, or it’s warm enough out you won’t mind getting your feet wet.

My advice is do not swim above the rapid, it is just too dangerous, but swim in the pool and across currents all you would like. Swimming with a PFD is fun, not to mention not a bad idea. Make sure you see other people swimming and that the water is not too high for a safe swim. Please be wise when making the decision. Have fun!

Map of the Bull Sluice area,complements of our local map maker W.S. Lesan

Map of the Bull Sluice area,complements of our local map maker

P.S. I would like to add the proper pronunciation of Bull Sluice- [boo l] [sloos] 🙂 …credz to dictionary.com. If you pronounce sluice any other way, you will probably be talked about once you leave 😉 fair warning. but don’t worry, it happens a lot. 😉

To check the water gauge, you can find the water level here on the USGS website. Make sure you are checking the bridge gauge, it will tell you water level in cubic feet per second (CFS) as well as feet and inches. NOTE: The online gauge above reads differently than the paddler’s gauge on the US 76 Bridge. Most paddlers refer to the bridge gauge. The online gauge reads about .15 higher than the bridge gauge at 2 feet, about .25 higher below two feet and the same at about 2.8 feet.

Water gauge on South Carolina side. Check it before hiking if you like! Fun little mini hike from the little parking lot on the down stream side of the bridge.

Water gauge on South Carolina side. Check it before hiking if you like! Fun little mini hike from the little parking lot on the down stream side of the bridge.

Georgia side view from downstream when you first pop out of the woods :)

Georgia side view from downstream when you first pop out of the woods 🙂

Bull Sluice at a good swimming level :) South Carolina side view.

Bull Sluice at a good swimming level 🙂 South Carolina side view.

Bull Sluice at high water, WOOOWEE!

Bull Sluice at high water, WOOOWEE!

An experiment in getting rid of Japanese Beetles organically

Two years ago I noticed something eating the grape leaves in our community garden. I was expecting the first fruit from it so I immediately investigated. I found a couple beetles and killed them. I thought I could control the problem if I stayed on top of it, but I did not know what they were or how much havoc they were going to raise in the next seasons.

After doing to my research and finding out they were indeed Japanese Beetles, I immediately started searching to find out if there were any organic ways to eradicate them. Apparently, when a Japanese Beetle or two first find you yard or garden and consider it tasty, they mark the territory to tell other Japanese Beetles, “Hey! Over here! This is a great Bed & Breakfast location! Check it out!” It’s all over from there once word gets out. They say if you catch those first few scouters and squish them, they won’t send out the signal, but I can’t see that being very effective. The only problem is there is only about a two month window depending where you live to try and squish all the beetles you can find, then they burrow into the ground after mating and the grubs that come after will eat eat eat grass roots and more until about June when they pop out to devour you beloved plants once again.

There were simple ways I found to try to lesson the population, like squishing them or collecting them into a bucket of kerosene… but the problem had persisted too long and had gotten out of hand for those means in the community garden. They had not only left a skeleton of leaves on the grape vine (apparently the veins don’t taste very good), they completely ate all the leaves off the rose bush, and devoured all the flowers that popped out on the hibiscus. It was time for these bugs to move on or suffer the consequences.

The next options for organic options included what is called white milky spores (or just milky spores) and predatory nematodes. Milky Spores sit there and wait for a Japanese Beetle grub to come along and ingest it. After that happens, it’s all over… That grub won’t make it out of the ground. They say every year after you introduce your milky spore you will see less and less beetles and after three years they will be gone! Then you have about 10 years of no beetles!! The spore will even naturally spread to other areas over time. It is most effective if you have neighbors (or even better, your community!) who also choose to use the spores, so their beetles won’t fly over to your garden to munch. Remember, they only kill grubs (baby beetles) not the beetle itself.

Predatory nematodes on the other hand are just that- predators. The seek out their food. From my research, they seem to be the most effective on the short term level, but it seems like they are easy to kill before they get a chance to get the job done. They have to stay moist, get onto moist soil in order to burrow and stay alive. They are microscopic so you won’t know you’ve killed them until you notice that nothing changed in beetle status the following season. So releasing them during the heat of the Summer would be a bad idea. They also die when their soil is frozen. Releasing them in the Fall or Spring is the best time, although if you expect your soil to freeze, I would think that releasing in the Spring would be the best. That way they would have all spring to feast on grubs, then all fall to feast on all the new grubs!

I plan on using both 🙂 Can’t hurt, they tell me. A couple weeks ago, I bought a 10 oz bag of organic St. Gabriel’s milky spore from Yard Garden Art. I picked them because they were a cool little co-op that I felt I should support. Although you can find the same thing through the actual brand name site for $10 cheaper, their customer service is A++! I highly recommend them! So when reading about this stuff on all the different sites, it talks about how easy it is, how it doesn’t harm anything, fine to use in veggie gardens, etc, etc… when I received it, the box told a different story. It was so scary! I read all four sides of the box. Warnings, cautions, don’t get it on your skin, wash your clothes and shower immediately after using, don’t let pets or children near, use on flower beds and ornamental gardens… said nothing about edible gardens!! Garden Yard Art’s customer service reassured me with stories from coworkers.

My e-mail:

Hello again :)
I just received
my box of Milky Spores, and after ready the box, I gotta say I'm pretty
intimidated! So, to build myself up again I have a few more questions:
Is it
safe to use on a garden you eat from? On one side of the box it says in big
yellow letters for use on lawns and grassy areas, ornamental gardens and flower
beds, mulched beds and ground cover beds....
Also, the active ingredient is
only .02%. What is the other 99.98% ingredients? That might be a question for
St. Gabriel's... And what does w/w stand for?

Their response (I had also asked about a product of their called “Grub Guard” in a previous e-mail, so there’s a blurb about that in here, too):

Hi Sarajoy,

It's wonderful to hear from you again! Sorry about the
intimidating box, but thanks for reading it, because again, these are very good
questions, and I went hunting for the co-worker who I knew had used it on her
garden, which is a mix of vegetables and ornamentals, and she is a grandmother,
so people of all ages are out and about in it, as well as pets (Her endorsement
of Milky Spore: "Look, it used to be when I dug out a hole for my tomato plants
every year, I'd see 30 to 40 grubs in the hole. The first year after I applied
the spore, I saw maybe 30 grubs, and it slowly reduced over time, but since the
third year, I haven't seen a single grub, and haven't had any problem with
moles. Now if I could only get my cat to stop feeling betrayed that he doesn't
have any moles to stalk").

So, in answer to your first question: Despite the
box not mentioning vegetable gardens specifically, it is entirely safe for
vegetable gardens. The bacteria in the power is only interested in Japanese
beetles and their grubs. You can eat it by the handful, if you like, have babies
roll around in it (I know it says that milky spore can be harmful if absorbed
through the skin, but no romping grandchildren were harmed in my co-worker's
garden, so I am pretty sure that you need *very* prolonged skin contact to be in
any sort of trouble), or have your dog play fetch with it, and no harm will come
to anyone--though you won't kill many Japanese beetles this way. Anyway, this is
a natural product, and can be set down anywhere.

As for the .02% active
ingredient, that is the beneficial bacteria, which is naturally microscopic. To
make it useful for someone who is putting it down, and give that bacteria a
place to call home while it's waiting to be used, the rest of the ingredients
make up the powder you see in the packets. Because the powder is so much bigger
and more weighty than the microscopic bacteria, it takes up a greater percentage
of the product. That w/w means 'weight by weight,' which is the scientific way
to say that these percentages are comparing the weights of the ingredients.
Basically, the 98.98% is just the powder, so you can actually apply the
bacteria, and it naturally weighs a lot more than the bacteria. 

If you would like way more information on what various abbreviations for solutions mean here
is a helpful guide:
http://cool.conservation-us.org/waac/wn/wn12/wn12-3/wn12-306.html

To switch
topics to the Grub Guard that I recommended for fall application, my co-worker
(who has used it as well as the Milky Spore), reminded me that the South has had
some odd and severe winters that included unexpected freezing temperatures these
past couple of years. The autumn suggestion that I made would not be good if you
expect any kind of deep freeze in the winter. Grub Guard does not overwinter in
freezing temperatures--they live in the upper part of the ground, and so can't
survive if you get a serious frost line. It's a consideration I usually don't
take into account for anyone blessed to live near Georgia or further south, and
I'm sorry I didn't mention it when you first asked about Beetle
deterrents.

If you believe that the winter will be as cold and severe as it
has been for the last few winters, then I would hold off on purchasing Grub
Guard until the spring. Do you need any more questions answered? We're always
here for you.

Regards,

Mari
YardGardenArt.com Customer
Service
1-888-293-0014

After being reassured (because even St. Gabriel’s website description stated the complete opposite of what their own box said!), I set out to the garden. You are suppose to put a teaspoon of dust every four feet by four feet on a windless day, then water. I chose instead to wait until the calm before the storm 🙂 You can buy what they call a “Lawn and Garden Dispenser Tube,” but I just used a measuring spoon that I never ever intend to use again. I’ll let you know in a few years what I notice about my Japanese Beetle population. I plan on buying some predatory nematodes to release come Spring. That will help BIG TIME I bet 🙂 I will share how that goes as well! Stay tuned!!

P.S. Sorry for the lack of pictures, I wanted to get this up tonight but forgot my pics at the shoppe… they will be up tomorrow though! Thanks!