Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wild Watermelons

Last summer, there was a logging outfit cutting down trees on a piece of property just down the road from us. After the loggers cut all the trees down, they left an empty field....or so we thought. But as usual, once the trees are gone, weeds and plants that lay dormant for years, come to life. This field became covered in a pretty yellow flower called Birdsfoot Trefoil. It's a perennial wildflower that grows well in poor soil conditions. I'm not sure if the logging company planted them or if they just popped up from the soil being churned up. Anyway, I would ride by there and admire the flowers that bloomed for nearly a month or more, it seems. The blooms have withered and died now and all that's left are the seed pods.  

But just the other day, as I drove by, I thought I saw something that looked like a watermelon. I hit the brakes and did a double take. Sure enough, growing right there where there used to be trees, weeds, overgrowth of all sorts, and among the withering Birdsfoot Trefoil, was this big fat watermelon. 

I was telling Cliff about it, so after church yesterday, we stopped to take a look. Lidia and Sawyer was with us and made a bee line straight for it. I handed Sawyer my phone to take some pictures. As it turns out, there was not just one watermelon, but five. We were planning to go on a hike through the woods at a historic Revolutionary War site in we went home, changed clothes and headed back to pick a watermelon to take with us on the hike. In addition to the big fat ones, there was a little baby one that Sawyer just had to have. So, we picked a fat one and the baby one to take on the hike with us. I tell ya, I'm an constantly amazed at what we find around the lake. 

Our hike was beautiful. There are still some colorful leaves on the trees.

And the pond area was very nice, also.

After walking for a couple of miles, we came to this picnic area and decided it was time for a snack.

Cliff cut open the baby watermelon and we all shared it. 

Surprisingly, wild watermelons are.....

 .......oooohhhh so good! 



Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cliff said.....

Cliff and I went to breakfast yesterday morning. He ordered his usual.......grits, eggs over easy, bacon and white toast with butter. During the meal, I asked him if this was his comfort food. He asked me what that meant and I told him that it was, basically, food that made you feel good. 

Cliff said, "That sounds like a bunch of psyche stuff, I don't do that."



Side note:  Replying to your comments on blogger is not working properly. I don't know how to fix it just yet. Therefore, replies to your comments will come via email.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Early November

Early November foliage is beautiful here in SC. Spending time outside has been glorious. We had our first rain Sunday, since Hurricane Matthew came through in early October. The air is cool and crisp. 

I went exploring this morning. There's a trail about 20 miles from our house that I've been wanting to check out. 

The main trail is a gravel can bike, hike, run or horse back ride there.

It was gorgeous! I'm definitely going back with my mountain bike. 

I came upon this horse farm that bordered the trail and just had to sit there for a minute or two to swoon over the pasture and barn in the distance.....the horse was cute, too.

Early November, back at home..... 

The sauerkraut is ready, or so I thought. The first few bites were so delicious, but then when I jarred it, I noticed that the kraut wasn't as soft as it should be. I must have eaten the part that had fermented quicker than the other. It is still delicious, but just not as soft as it should be and I may have used a little too much salt. I can remedy that part by rinsing it. After jarring the sauerkraut and putting it in the refrigerator, I decided to sit one of the pints out for a few more days to see if it will continue to ferment.  This was my first try and I've learned a lot. I will make it again and again, until I get it perfect. I ordered a sauerkraut crock with a lid and weights to hold the cabbage down. I'm so excited to try another batch soon....

I'm loving the colors of my new cushions and pillows for the chaise lounges on the upper deck. The fire pit is to the left of this picture. We were planning to have a fire there the other night, but got busy raking and burning leaves. By the time we finished and I made dinner, I was too tired to go back outside.  There will be plenty of time for a fire.  

I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving. Mama will be spending it with us again this year. Emily, Matt and the children will be with us, too. I'll be cooking up a storm. I have so many things to be thankful for this year....I hope I can always feel this sense of gratitude for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me and my family.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, also, spending it with the ones you love.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Our Sweet Girl

 Lidia as Cleopatra..............Sawyer as a Greaser

Let me just tell you that Cliff and I have been blessed beyond measure with the sweetest grandchildren. Lidia and Sawyer are the best natured children you'll ever see and they are best friends. They look out for each other and want to spend their time with each other. That's rare and it really warms my heart.  I love them!

A Lidia Selfie

But, in this season of Thanksgiving, I have to brag on Lidia just a little bit. It dawned on me this morning as I was serving them breakfast. She NEVER fails to thank me for food that I make for her, whether I've cooked a full five-course meal or just a piece of toast. And, she NEVER fails to say Grace. I love her!

We are a blessed LaLa and Papi!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Weekend Scrapbook

Lidia and Sawyer like their wet suits. They are able to play in the water, when it's a little too cold. And, they play in the water all day long. We even had lunch on the dock so that they wouldn't have to take too much time out of their play time.

 Lidia likes to make things with mud and clay. Not sure what this is....maybe a pool to contain the minnows she was catching in a net. She, also, likes to make pottery....just like her mama used to do, when she was a little girl.

Sawyer likes to climb trees.....just like his LaLa used to do, when she was a little girl.

And, Cliff likes to watch them play. 

   I like anything in nature.

 Pampas plumes...

 And, colorful Crepe Myrtle leaves.

Happy First Week of November,

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Homemade Sauerkraut

This is my first attempt at making homemade sauerkraut. You may ask (in your best Todd Crisley's southern accent), "Have you lost your mind"?

Well no, no I haven't. In all my 50 plus years, I've only had the kraut you buy in cans. And it's gross! Recently, though, I've changed my mind....not about canned kraut, but homemade sauerkraut.

While we were in Colorado this summer, there was a German vendor at the Farmers Market selling brats topped with sauerkraut. Cliff bought a brat and before he could say no, the lady topped it with sauerkraut. And, he ate it. I couldn't believe it.

Like me, he didn't like canned sauerkraut. As a matter of fact, one of the very few times we tried it, the pot ended up in the yard at the edge of the woods. Ha! I had opened a can and was heating it in a pot on the stove. Cliff came in and just about gagged at the smell. He took the whole pot outside and sat it at the edge of the woods and claimed the stuff smelled so bad the dog wouldn't even eat it.

So for him to eat the sauerkraut in Colorado, it had to be good. I've, also, heard that it's a gut healthy food with numerous benefits, as most fermented foods are. So, I was on a mission to make some for myself. I found the easiest recipe online and today, I made a batch.

First, I chopped the cabbage reserving two or three of the outer leaves. Once that was done, I layered the cabbage in a large jar sprinkling salt and dill weed throughout. 
Once the jar was full, I used a  wooden spoon to beat the cabbage down to begin releasing some liquid. It actually reduced the volume by about half.  

Next, I laid the reserved cabbage leaves on top covering it completely. Then you have to lay something heavy on top of that to hold down the cabbage leaves and keep the cabbage submerged in the salty liquid. Oh wait, since there wasn't enough liquid released to cover the chopped cabbage, I made a brine of 2 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt and poured over the cabbage. It was just enough to nearly cover it.  
Then on top of those reserved cabbage leaves I sat a quart Mason jar full of water. That should be heavy enough. Last step, I placed cheese cloth over the top and kept it in place with an elastic bracelet that I found lying around. Now, I just have to wait 2 or 3 weeks until the cabbage ferments. Gosh, I sure hope it works. My mouth is watering already.

The wait is on. If this recipe works and if the cabbages I planted this fall do well, I'll be making homemade sauerkraut all winter. I'll let you know how it turns out.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Fall Garden Experiment

Hey y'all! It's finally fall in our neck of the woods and I'm beyond excited about it. 
I've just about let it slip away without showing you what's blooming in the yard and garden.  Speaking of garden. I've been doing some experiments. You want to hear about it?

Ok, first experiment. By the summer's end, the okra had gotten tall and lanky and there was new growth showing up at the base of the plants. So, I thought I would cut them back and see what happens.

Well, lo and behold, the plants started producing more okra. 

Then I thought, if it worked for the okra, wonder what it would do for the tomatoes that had become spindly and unruly. Second experiment.

The plants still had lots of tomatoes on them, so I picked them all and cut the plants back. We'll see what happens. 

What does one do with an abundance of green tomatoes? Make fried green tomatoes, of course. Delish!

I, also, planted a few fall vegetables....cabbages, collards and lettuce. I've never done this before. It's a learning curve. I may have planted too late for the cabbages because our first frost date is in a couple of weeks. 

The collards, however, will be fine. Every respectable southerner knows that they taste sweeter after frost falls on them, anyway. 

Not sure what to expect from the lettuce. They are supposed to be iceberg lettuces, but they don't really look like they are forming heads. 

I have already picked some outer leaves and had a salad. It's so satisfying to know you've grown your own food. Homemade salads! Yes!

There is still some veggies hanging on. I cut the zucchini back and it now has two new babies. 

I had a volunteer cucumber plant pop up. It already has blooms, but I'm afraid it might not make it, if we get frost soon.

The bell pepper plants that didn't do a ding dong thing all summer decided to start producing. 

And, the basil has bolted, but my neighbor spotted honey bees and a bumble bee feeding on the nectar, so I decided to let the bees have it, for now.

Just a few more pictures of things around the house and lake......

A little fall decor..... 
I like it simple.

We've had a few foggy mornings......

And, before I leave, I just have to show you a few blooms.... Mums.....


And, Zinnias.

What's being happening in your fall?