From My Carolina Home

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Dinner on the Veranda

The weather is really nice now, cool in the evenings, sometimes after an afternoon shower. I like eating outside especially when we are grilling dinner. Of course, planning for the meat and veggies to be grilled means very little cleanup in the kitchen, and more time to sit and enjoy the view. I wanted to get out the lemon plates, as I haven’t used them since last summer. That meant yellow napkins too. The little napkin rings that are yellow flower pots were perfect for this tablescape.

Dinner on the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

I set the plate stack on my thrift store score of rattan chargers.

Dinner on the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

I set the table early in the day, and wanted to keep the bugs off the plates and cutlery. Recently I found these vintage screen covers at the thrift stores – one each at two different stores – and snapped them up. I need four more now!! I placed the cutlery on the plate and covered them with the vintage screen covers.

Dinner on the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

Here is the other one, with different flowers.

Dinner on the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

For the centerpiece, I placed a little planter that was given to me by a friend inside the ceramic yellow basket. I filled it with water about half full.

Dinner on the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

And here is how I left it until later when it was time to cook outside.

Dinner on the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

When evening came, I cut some fresh hydrangeas and added them to the centerpiece. Lavendar and yellow go so well together.

Dinner on the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

So the table is ready, now for the food.

Dinner on the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

Dinner was nice rib-eye steaks with zucchini boats filled with some butter and Parmesan cheese. I put a screen over the food while the grill heated up.  We decided that we didn’t need a salad with this meal since there was more than plenty here.

Dinner on the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

Grilled to perfection by DH resident grill-master,  and served with horseradish sauce, we had a lovely meal.

Dinner on the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

Looking out over the valley, there is a lovely green view we enjoyed as we had our dinner.  The distant ridge is a bit hazy on this evening.  It is difficult for the camera to see both the close up green and the distant ridge at the same time.

Dinner on the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

Later, at dusk, I attempted to get some of the hundreds of fireflies that were flashing in the trees and in the meadow.  Taking a couple of dozen photos, this was the only one that had a yellow light.  There are so many fireflies, it looks like twinkle lights on the meadow and in the dark areas of the forest.

Dinner on the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

I did try again later with a tripod, can you see some tiny lights near the grass here?  They are just so hard to capture!  But so pretty, softly flashing tiny yellow lights.

Fireflies at From My Carolina Home

Do you have dinner outside at your place?

Dinner on the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

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Fluster Buster

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Vintage Charm

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Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm


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French Broad River Canoe Trip

The late spring weather has been mild, with cool mornings and evenings. Abundant rain this spring has pulled us out of drought, and brought the level up in the French Broad River. DH had a day off during the week, so we decided to finally take the canoe trip we’ve planned to do for years. It is only a half day of total time, including the drive time up to the facility in Asheville. So, we got tickets online, and made reservations for an early start. Arriving at the waterside, we were given a short instruction on the river hazards, what to avoid, how to go under the three bridges, and interesting things to look for on the way.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

Slathering on sunscreen and spritzing a bit of bug spray, we donned our life jackets and boarded the van towing the canoes for the ride out to the launch point. It only took twenty minutes to get there, but would take two and a half hours to come back on the river. We were the only canoe renters that morning, but three other folks went along with their own kayaks. Several canoes were removed from the trailer to make room for their kayaks. They were here on vacation, and we had a nice chat about local restaurants on the way.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

Our canoe was unloaded first, and we climbed in and sat down with our paddles at the ready.  A push off by our guide, and we set out on the river.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

About 20 minutes later, we got to the first bridge. Going ‘left of the blue dot’ we easily floated through the archway.  Those little churning areas were no problem, and actually quite pretty in the sun.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

Verdant green trees lined the river on both sides as it wound lazily around the countryside. It was so quiet too, just the gentle sound of the water as it flowed, sometimes babbling as it went around boulders or bridges, or trees sticking up on the edge of the shore.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

Off the main river, in a side inlet, we found the arched stone bridge.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

In places, the trees overhung the water, so you could stay in the shade a bit.  We came to appreciate these areas as the sun climbed higher in the sky, and the temperature rose with it.  Although it was about 68º F when we started (19º Celsius), it was about 86ºF at the end (30º Celsius).

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

Wildlife was abundant in the morning hours. We came around a bend and almost missed this giant turtle sunning himself as he blended with his surroundings quite well. I wasn’t sure the picture was going to be clear, so we turned the canoe around and paddled back to see him again. But when we made the turn, he was gone.  DH was amazed at the length of his tail!  He was huge.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

Looking up the hill on the side of the river, a horse pasture with an old barn came into view. We could hear the horses neighing to one another long before we were able to see them. Can you see them? There are at least four at the top of the hill.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

The river took us farther downstream, as we floated without paddling for a bit. Did you know that the French Broad River flows northward?  Originating near the town of Rosman which is near the southern border of North Carolina in Transylvania county, it flows northeast generally, winding around towards Asheville getting larger as it goes north, collecting in smaller rivers.  It flows north east then north west, ending in Tennessee near Knoxville where it joins the Holston River to form the Tennessee River.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

Looking up on the right, we could see the corner of the Biltmore House coming into view. We had been told that it would be visible from the river, and thought this would be it.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

But a little farther on the river, a better view presented itself.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

A couple of families of Canadian Geese were tending to their little ones. So cute, the little golden fluffballs swimming next to the parents on the right couldn’t be more than a couple of weeks old.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

A little farther along, pretty dark birds with a flash of blue were flying low over the water. We think they were after the mayflies and similar insects floating on the surface of the water.  The river stayed about the same width the entire length of our trip, but it gets much bigger after gathering in the Swannanoa River north of where we would end our trip.  The river is 218 miles long, and we only saw a tiny fraction.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

These geese were loudly complaining about the intrusion on their waterway.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

More green on the water, so peaceful and quiet. We didn’t see the kayakers until the end of our journey when they finally caught up to us. We decided to let them go by, and took a bit of a break in the shade.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

One more picture, the river with more mountains in the distance. Such clear colors are seen on this morning, but by now it was after noon and getting a bit hot in the sun in spite of the puffy clouds.  By the way, do you know why it is called the French Broad River?  I had to look it up because I was curious.  There are actually two rivers in North Carolina which were called Broad Rivers, and at the time they were named, this area was held by the French.  So this one became the French Broad River and the other was referred to as the English Broad River.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

At this point, we still had about half an hour to go before getting to the end point where the car was parked. There was one more beautiful bridge with some lovely architectural details, but the camera battery died before I could get it. I guess that means we have to go again. I think this would be stunning in the autumn, but I am also sure that the river is likely pretty crowded then.  Still, if we go at the right time, it could be wonderful.

Have you ever done a canoe trip, or something like it?

 

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Rattlebridge Farm

 


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Driving the Devil’s Whip

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day, warm and clear, the best time to take a car club drive.  This time the drive leader had us meet in Swannanoa for an event that was supposed to be two weeks ago, but was postponed.  We drove as a group from Swannanoa to Old Fort, and then formed up again to begin the winding, twisty and steep drive up into the mountains by a road locals call the Devil’s Whip. It is Hwy 80, going north from Hwy 70 out of Old Fort. This road is 12 miles with 160 curves, some switchbacks, and rising in elevation 2000 feet in those 12 miles.    There are huge signs telling trucks not to take this route, then this small one that says “steep winding road”, yeah, no kidding!!

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

But, taken carefully, it is a fun drive with a lot of gorgeous scenery, trees meeting overhead to form green arbors over the road, and flowers blooming.  Well, that’s what I thought was good about it, DH preferred the curvy road driving.  I did try to get more pictures, but you have to trust me that it was a beautiful road, but difficult to get a good picture while going around all those curves.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

At the top, we turned left to enter the Blue Ridge Parkway east of Mount Mitchell. The parkway was busy, as usual for summer weekends, especially on clear days. Several tunnels are on the way to the peak of Mount Mitchell, where we were going to have a picnic lunch.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

The higher elevations have rhododendrons blooming profusely along the road. I tried to get pictures of them, but few turned out, and even this one that is clear doesn’t show you the mass of blooms we were seeing.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

Reaching the summit at Mt Mitchell, the guys were pretty happy with the drive. Three of our members brought their British motorcycles.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

Just look at the mountain view past the cars!  The orange car on the left is a Tesla, all electric and quiet as a ghost.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

The temperature on the top is often cool to cold, even in summer, but this day was nice. It was in the low 70s, and sunny, perfect for a picnic.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

The views were clear too. Often it is so foggy up here that you cannot see these vistas.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

I love seeing all the layers of smoky blue-grey that define the Blue Ridge mountains.  This elevation is in the parking lot, and you can walk to the highest point of 6,684 feet via a paved walkway.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

Heading home, we enjoyed the parkway views.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

I kept trying to get more rhododendron shots, the purple-pink color was so pretty.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

There is nothing like a day on the Blue Ridge Parkway, it never disappoints.

What did you do for fun this weekend?


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Shelby Car Show

Last Saturday was the first car show of the year for our car club to attend as a group. Nine vintage cars, one new car, and 23 members met at Cracker Barrel at a wee hour to get to Shelby, North Carolina by 9:30 for the Broad River European Motor Club’s Annual Car Show. Arriving for registration, DH’s white Fiat was leading the group.  At the show, four more of our members came later, so our club had a nice showing.

Shelby Car Show at From My Carolina Home

All kinds of European cars were there, but the neat thing about this car show is the artist’s and crafter’s fair that is held on the courthouse lawn on the same day. This gives the participants more to do and enjoy. I usually buy another piece of pottery from one of the artists, but this year I didn’t see anything that spoke to me.  The tents on this end were behind the BMWs.

Shelby Car Show at From My Carolina Home

Two sides of the square, and a couple of side streets had wonderful vintage cars. Added to that, there is the historical backdrop of some marvelous architecture on the buildings around the square.  There were some gorgeous restorations of old cars.  These are MG TD series cars.

Shelby Car Show at From My Carolina Home

Some of the architectural detail is just spectacular.  This kind of workmanship is seldom seen in modern construction.  These are Austin Healeys.

Shelby Car Show at From My Carolina Home

There are lovely shops and restaurants on the square, so even if there isn’t a car show it is a fun place to visit.  These MGs are in front of the beautiful church with some spectacular stained glass windows.

Shelby Car Show at From My Carolina Home

I’ve been seeing these little free libraries pop up all over. Fun to have one in front of this historic church.

Shelby Car Show at From My Carolina Home

It is really a pretty square too, with trees all along the courthouse side, and many on the shops side too.  Lots of shade and a gentle breeze made for a relaxed day.  There is a gallery of 80+ photos of all the cars on the car club site Here.

Shelby Car Show at From My Carolina Home

Wouldn’t this courthouse lawn be a lovely spot for a picnic?  I love all the trees!

Shelby Car Show at From My Carolina Home

It was a very warm day, but it went very quickly with so much to do and see.  Several of our members won awards at the show, and DH came home with a first place in the Italian car division.  Kind of funny, as there were only two cars pre-registered, and the other one didn’t show up, LOL!!  But a trophy is a trophy!!

What are your weekend plans?

 

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Take Me Away!


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Mountain Living – Removing a Tree

There are some really tall trees at the edge of the meadow in front of our mountain home, and the tallest has been struck by lightening three times. At least that many that I am reasonably sure of, maybe more. The last time it really did more damage than ever, streaking the trunk with scorching marks. It is very tall, over 100 feet, and it was looking more dead than ever. Most of the green has gone from the remaining pine needles. From time to time, there is just no choice but to cut a tree down, before it falls down. In the forest around us, we leave these alone and let them fall as they may, providing hiding places for wildlife and abundant bugs for the birds to eat. But this one had the potential of causing damage to our retaining wall or our neighbor’s workshop or home, so it just was time to take it down.

Pine Tree Removal Before ~ From My Carolina Home

We’ve only had to take out one other tree like this in the back that was threatening to fall on the house, and that was some years ago. In that way we have been lucky, this doesn’t happen often. So when it does, it is interesting to watch. The company brought in a little backhoe and a lot of guys to help. They began with making cuts around the base, stabilizing the tree with the backhoe so it would fall the direction they wanted, and not on the neighbors little red workshop.

Removing the Pine Tree at From My Carolina Home

Timberrrrrr!!

Removing the Pine Tree at From My Carolina Home

Removing the Pine Tree at From My Carolina Home

There was a touch of sadness as it hit the ground, but really, this is better. It wasn’t going to recover, and every bit of it will be recycled. I don’t know why it is so fascinating to watch equipment work. But it is! They gathered up the branches in bundles as the workers cut them off the main trunk with chainsaws.

Removing the Pine Tree at From My Carolina Home

Then stuffed them into the chipper, a bundle at a time.

Removing the Pine Tree at From My Carolina Home

The huge trunk was cut into 15 foot long pieces.

Removing the Pine Tree at From My Carolina Home

While the backhoe worked on more branches.

Removing the Pine Tree at From My Carolina Home

Then the top of the tree was guided to the chipper.  This section was at least 25 feet, maybe 30.

Removing the Pine Tree at From My Carolina Home

I was amazed that it went through in less than a minute, going from a dead section into recycled mulch.  On the edge of the photo on the right, you can see the redbud is waking up.

Removing the Pine Tree at From My Carolina Home

The large trunk sections were loaded into a truck, destined for a lumber mill to turn them into usable lumber.

Removing the Pine Tree at From My Carolina Home

Removing the Pine Tree at From My Carolina Home

After the workers cleaned up everything, the meadow is quiet again. The next morning, mist had formed from the thunderstorm overnight.  There is a gaping hole here, to my eyes, where that taller pine once stood.  But I’ll get used to the lower tree height pretty quickly, and it is nice not to see the brown pine needles on that dead tree.

Meadow at From My Carolina Home

Once everything greens up, it won’t be obvious at all, and the neighbors workshop will be obscured once again.  It is lovely getting a bit warmer, but our last frost date is still almost two weeks away.  No planting yet, but a bit of clean-up was in order over the weekend.  Elsewhere in the garden, a few azaleas are coming out.

Early Azaleas at From My Carolina Home

They are just getting started, the pink and white still have a lot of buds.

Early Azaleas at From My Carolina Home

I love the white ones the most. There’s just something about white flowers.

Early Azaleas at From My Carolina Home

I have ordered my torenias for this year to pick up on the 17th, so more about the garden later.  And I’ll get back to quilting soon too.

What’s going on outside at your place?

 

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Foodie Friday and Everything Else

Take Me Away!

Saturday Sparks


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Lake Lure and Tryon Drive

It has been months since the car club was able to go for a drive, so little wonder that the one on a warm Saturday in March was such a hit.  The warmer weather of the past few weeks has made everyone antsy to get back on the road.  So, a drive was planned, and we hoped for a nice day.  We met at 10:30 on Saturday morning for the first drive of the season with more than a dozen cars.

Lake Lure Drive

Rain came down overnight, and the parking area had some puddles, but we came out hoping for a nice morning.

Lake Lure / Tryon NC Drive

We were off to a nice drive through east Henderson county. Sometimes a stray car got in line, but mostly we had the roads to ourselves. This time of year is preseason for tourists, and most of the Florida folks haven’t returned for the summer.

Lake Lure / Tryon NC Drive

Some of the sheltered valley areas are greening up. We passed by several apple orchards, and I was happy to see that they were still dormant, no blooms yet. Which means the hard freeze last week might not have done much damage.

Lake Lure / Tryon NC Drive

Arriving at the restaurant in Lake Lure called Larkins on the Lake, we mostly parked together, with a few on the other side of the restaurant.

Lake Lure / Tryon NC Drive

The food here was really good. I had a Salmon BLT, which was a lovely grilled salmon filet sandwich with applewood smoked bacon, fresh lettuce and tomato, and a spicy aoli. Yum! Looking out the window on the porch where we were having our lunch was a beautiful lake view.

Lake Lure / Tryon NC Drive

Our next stop of the day, after another nice drive on some back country roads, was Tryon. We stopped here for dessert. Tryon has a charming, small downtown area of shops and parks. There is an ice cream and coffee bar here that is fun. While some of the club stopped there, I went next door to the handmade chocolate shop for a dark chocolate truffle.

Lake Lure / Tryon NC Drive

There were little beds of daffodils in bloom all down the main street.

Lake Lure / Tryon NC Drive

The Tryon Toy Horse is a sight to see, a symbol for the town. Tryon is also the home of FENCE, the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center. They do horse riding events several times a year. We have been there in the past for a dressage competition that a friend was in.

Lake Lure / Tryon NC Drive
Lake Lure / Tryon NC Drive

Back on the road after a stroll through Tryon, we went back another route through the southwestern part of Polk and Henderson counties, more mountains to go around. The orange-rusty color you see in the trees in this picture are actually maple tree flowers.

Lake Lure / Tryon NC Drive

But higher up, the trees are still in winter mode.

Lake Lure / Tryon NC Drive

We’ll see how the flowers do in the coming weeks. Soon, everything will begin to green up and the azaleas should begin their show.

Lake Lure / Tryon NC Drive

But any day driving in the mountains is a good day!  What did you do over the weekend?

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Saturday Sparks

Take Me Away!

 


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March Mountain Living

Looking out of the kitchen window earlier in the week, there were about 22 turkeys in the meadow. I took this to be the female flock, and it had grown from the 13 or so that usually come by. I decided to try to sneak out to the veranda to get a picture of them before they all moved into the forest. Moving slowly, trying to be quiet, I eased out of the door onto the veranda with camera ready. Much to my surprise, Bert and Ernie were in the group, and their heads came up immediately. Then they began running toward me! Oh rats, I hadn’t brought any bread out!

February Turkeys 2017 at From My Carolina Home

So, here they came. Bert, the larger and more dominant one, did a full fluff and tail fan, trying to impress me. He was trying so hard, that I went back inside to get them a bite.

February Turkeys 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Magnificent, isn’t he?!! Yes, they both got several bites of whole grain bread. Out in the meadow, part of female flock left behind stood like statues watching the boys strut, while the others had already melted into the forest. None of them ventured up closer. I thought later that was probably a good thing, I really don’t need to be supplementing the diets of that many turkeys!

February Turkeys 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Bert gobbled at me loudly a couple of times, which I find hilarious. I talk to him, and he answers sometimes. Ernie is quiet, never says a word and doesn’t generally fluff up. But he is attentive, and gets his share.

February Turkeys 2017 at From My Carolina Home

One more wildlife picture I haven’t had a chance to show, the turkeys came by one day in January with their deer friends. The deer are so skittish that I rarely get a picture of them. This one was taken from inside the Carolina room in the back, so they couldn’t see me. So fun to see wildlife around here!

Turkeys with Deer at From My Carolina Home

The picture is dark, and this bird has the sun behind him so it is hard to see.  His slate grey back, spotted chest and skinny legs point to being a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Although he was beautiful, I hope he doesn’t stick around, as they prey on small song birds as well as small animals.

Hawk March 2017

Sunday morning, we were treated to a rare view of our local deer herd, six females grazing in the meadow near the neighbor’s split rail fence. The nice zoom lens on the camera got some fairly decent shots.

Deer herd visit -1

It was a quiet morning, early, and they all seem to be grazing contentedly.

Deer herd visit -4

The least little movement or sound will scare them off, so I didn’t even attempt to go onto the veranda. Still, they were gone in a few minutes, taking the trail into the woods that the foxes like.

Deer herd visit -5

Up on the feeder, the goldfinch flock was hungry. They seem to be getting a bit brighter with the warm weather, but not to their summer color yet.

Goldfinches March 2017 - 1

Goldfinches March 2017 - 3

Chickadees, nuthatches joined the group later in the morning.

Chicadee March 2017

This little guy was the recipient of a bonanza of acorns. I had picked up a basketfull last fall, and started scattering them out this week. I know that springtime is the lean time for these guys. DH thinks I am crazy to do this, but the squirrels need to eat too.

Squirrel March 2017

We had a couple of nights of really cold temperatures, so I made one of my suet cakes and DH hung it up for the little birds. The chickadees found it pretty fast.

Suet feeder March chickadee 2

Later I saw this female hairy woodpecker on it too.

Suet feeder March woodpecker

Then a real surprise on Wednesday morning. A large group of wild turkeys were in the meadow. Thinking that it was the girls with Bert and Ernie, I went out to the veranda with some bread heels. But, it wasn’t them! It was another flock, 17 birds in all with 3 males. Two of them are in full fluff and tail fan, the third is on the right with his tail feathers almost up.

Mountain Living at From My Carolina Home

I grabbed the camera while they strutted and preened for the females. At one point two of them stood absolutely still, while a couple of the girls looked them over. I love to see them do this. After all, it is March, and mating season for turkeys.

Mountain Living at From My Carolina Home

They kept strutting, and totally ignored me and my bread offering. Later, Bert and Ernie made an appearance right when DH was going to leave the house. We know from experience that they will show a bit of aggression towards the car, gobbling loudly and chasing it. So, I gave them a bread treat and we waited until they had moved on for him to do his errand.

So, what’s going on in your neck of the woods?