From My Carolina Home

Quilting, cooking, reading books, gardening, crafting, sewing, photography and more


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December In the Garden – Snow!

December mornings have been cold and grey these past few days. Fog in the valley shows the layers of hills between our mountain and the next ridge.  This might have to become my header photo for winter.

December in the Garden ~ From My Carolina Home

Friday morning dawned colder still. As I looked out the window, I noticed that the snow had begun to fall. It was just a dusting at first, then a little later I noticed that the driveway was starting to get covered.

December in the Garden ~ From My Carolina Home

I watched the bird feeder for quite a while, as they came and chowed down.

December Snow ~ From My Carolina Home

December Snow ~ From My Carolina Home

A bit later, the patch of clear pavement on the driveway was gone.  The pile of snow on the post is a bit taller too.

December Snow ~ From My Carolina Home

Winter wonderland isn’t it!

December Snow ~ From My Carolina Home

The birds kept working on the seed, and the suet cake.

December Snow ~ From My Carolina Home

By mid-afternoon, we had somewhere between 4 and 6 inches, depending on where you looked.

December Snow ~ From My Carolina Home

Beautiful serene and quiet, here is the snow on the rhododendrons in the back.

December Snow ~ From My Carolina Home

The road going down the mountain has not been spoiled by any cars, too dangerous to try.

December Snow ~ From My Carolina Home

We are snug and warm, with a fire going in the fireplace, turkey and dumplings for lunch, and Christmas movies on TV.  Plus, being ‘snowed in’ means I can sew to my heart’s content.  The snow on the branches is captivating, I cannot stop taking pictures of it!

December Snow ~ From My Carolina Home

But, elsewhere in the garden in December, my white amaryllis bloomed. Beautifully! Four spectacular Apple Blossom blooms in white with a blush of pink.

December in the Garden ~ From My Carolina Home

And the most exciting thing, the red amaryllis that has bloomed for four years, is starting to put up a leaf shoot. This will be the fifth year if it blooms again!

December in the Garden ~ From My Carolina Home

Did you see the Super Moon this week?

December in the Garden ~ From My Carolina Home

Before the snow, the deer came by again. There were three in the front of the house.

December in the Garden ~ From My Carolina Home

December in the Garden ~ From My Carolina Home

And these two were in the back at the same time.

December in the Garden ~ From My Carolina Home

Another picture a few days ago, the dawn light was gorgeous with the orange in the sky. I wish I could have gotten a really good photo of it.

December in the Garden ~ From My Carolina Home

More bird watching.

December in the Garden ~ From My Carolina Home

A few days ago, the leaves were finally gone from the trees, and the mountains next to ours could be seen.

December in the Garden ~ From My Carolina Home

Now, today, everything is covered in white, and the low clouds almost obscure the mountain view.

December Snow ~ From My Carolina Home

One last look at the rhododendrons.

December Snow ~ From My Carolina Home

Did you get snow this weekend?

P.S. If you have time, go see The Man Who Invented Christmas, and take the kids.  We enjoyed it!

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Happy Thanksgiving and Some Autumn Views

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers and friends!!  This morning, I will be enjoying parades and hot coffee in my flannel jammies with DH.  Breakfast is baking and filling the house with the aroma of sausage, eggs and cheese.  Later will be football games, and phone calls to family out of state.  Turkey will be baking, dressing to be made with sourdough bread and pie for dessert.  It is my favorite day of the year, and we enjoy it to the fullest.  I did a post on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade last year, if you’d like to read some history of the parade with some of the permanent floats.

Brining Turkey - 17

On this most Autumn of holidays, I thought it would be a perfect time to share some color from our mountain region. Recently, we went hiking on Fryingpan Mountain to see some autumn color and climb the tower for the views.  Driving up to the trailhead, we didn’t take any time to take pictures as we wanted to get there and start our hike.  On the way home, we had more time to stop at overlooks and really take in the colors of the trees. This part of the parkway is at a lower elevation than Fryingpan Mountain and its next neighbor Mount Pisgah, so the colors were at their peak.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Elevation here is closer to 4000 feet above sea level, and the colors are more vibrant.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

It was mostly gold in this part, just a hint of burgundy here and there.  The gold is more prominent as there are more varieties of trees turn that color in autumn.  American chestnut, hickory, black birch, elms, locust, walnut, hazel and poplar trees are all shades of gold in fall.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Through the trees on the left you can see the mountain behind.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

All along the parkway, there are areas that tuck between mountains, and some that go through.  This was the first of several tunnels on the parkway, all have the same look – stone entrances with curved openings.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Coming out the other side, the bright sunlight made the colors just sparkle.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

More color.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

It just kept going, so wonderful to see.  Cruising along the road, it is so relaxing to see nature in its Autumn glory.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

The next tunnel is one of the longest on the parkway.  It is also curved inside, so it is pitch black in the middle.  Having your lights on is essential.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

There are rock faces on many parts of the mountains as you drive past.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

There are a fair amount of evergreens as well.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Here is one of the smaller overlooks.  It was starting to rain so we made our stop quick.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

The next tunnel had more gold around the entrance.  Raindrops are on our windshield.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Light rain was still coming down as we approached the next tunnel.  More reds and oranges in the trees are seen here.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

I like the reds and oranges, so I search out the trees with those colors.  The purple-red in this photo may be a sumac.  The vibrant orange is maple.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Maples, sourwood and dogwoods provide the most red colors.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Another overlook had the long views obscured by the low clouds, but the near mountains can be seen.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Looking in another direction, the colors are muted in the shade and mist of the clouds.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Leaving that overlook, going around another mountain.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

I wish the sun had been shining on this view, but the color is still evident.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Getting closer to the entrance, you can see the lovely stone work.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Stopping at a last overlook, some sunlight was peeking through.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

More reds were visible here.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Then it was time to head home.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Of course, Thanksgiving memories wouldn’t be complete without the funny stuff and the foibles that are the stuff of legends.  For some great stories, see my 2014 post, Thanksgiving 101, and be sure to read the stories in the comments.  Comments are still open, so feel free to add your own, I love reading them.

Craftsy LogoOne more time I wanted to let you in on a few good deals as Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are starting early.  I appreciate it when you use my links for your shopping and browsing!  If you have ever thought of taking a class at Craftsy, now is the time with their Black Friday through Cyber Monday sale!  Click the icon for new sales.  Craftsy is having a Sale on Classes and on Quilting Supplies !

The Etsy site is featuring shops having sales this weekend.  My shop is newly stocked with more fabric and notions, more handmade and vintage items, and it is all on sale at 15% off through Monday.  Click on Craftnuts Studio on Etsy.

Check out today’s Flash Sale at Fat Quarter Shop, it changes everyday at 10 am.

Fat Quarter Shop Daily Flash Sale

Get started on your holiday shopping for family and friends, or better yet, treat yourself with these links. If you want to get some of gorgeous fabrics for your holiday sewing, check out the Fat Quarter Shop’s Moda Line.  Get spools and cones of the fantastic Aurifil Threads at Fat Quarter Shop Aurifil Threads.  You’ll love the extra light with the Sewing Machine LED Lighting Kit.  If you would like to have a pair of wonderful serrated edge scissors, click on Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Scissors to get your pair from Fat Quarter Shop.  Get your Olfa Splash Cutter at FQS too – Olfa Splash.

If you use a lot of Best Press, the price per ounce is the cheapest by the gallon, plus it will qualify for free shipping.  Click on my Amazon affiliate link – Best Press Unscented Gallon size.  Get the  Karen Kay Buckley 4-Inch Perfect Scissors while you are there.   Thank you for using my links!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!


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Autumn Hike on Fryingpan Mountain

This weekend the colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway are finally reaching their peak, and are past peak in the highest elevations.  Friday was going to be clear and comfortable for hiking, so we thought it would be the perfect day to see the lookout tower on Fryingpan Mountain.  Driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway was a joy, a vacation in an afternoon with the gorgeous colors along the road.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

There is a small parking area at the entrance to the trail, maybe a half dozen cars can park there. The entrance is at mile 409.6 if you are in the area and want to see this amazing view.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

The trail is actually a gravel road, so much easier to hike than the ones over tree roots. But the challenge is the elevation, it goes fairly steep in some areas.  The good news is that the hike is only a mile and a half round trip.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Fryingpan Mountain got its name from nearby Fryingpan Gap. The story goes that the gap was named for a frying pan that was always hanging in a tree. Another story says the nearby stream was shaped like a fryingpan at the entrance to the gap.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Along the way, there are interesting forms in nature with moss covered rocks.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

The mountainside still had some pretty color even though a lot of the leaves have been blown away by recent storms and wind.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

We kept going up, enjoying the fresh air and the beautiful day.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Artistic forms abound in nature like this fallen tree.  The moss growth on it shows it has been here a while.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Clouds were rolling in, with the threat of a shower, as we came over a rise and could see the tower in the distance, with one more hill to climb. The tower was built in 1941 as a lookout tower to watch for forest fires, one of the first ones made of steel.  The parkway was under construction and there were a lot of towers built on peaks to monitor the new national forest preserve, but early ones were mostly made of wood and were torn down later.  About a third of the towers are still standing and open to the public, but the rest have either been torn down or had their stairs removed.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Arriving at the summit, we are at 5340 feet above sea level. There is a weather station here run by North Carolina State University. They have a website where you can check the weather anytime and it updates every hour. Click HERE to see what the weather is doing now.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

The United States Forest Service was formed in the early 1900s to help protect the public lands across the United States.  They built towers to scan the horizon for smoke, dispatching crews to anywhere there was smoke.  This tower is 70 feet high, but the observation deck at the top is locked. You can climb up to the landings for stunning views.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

The colors were more vibrant as the sun broke through the clouds.  Rangers staffed the station from the 1940s – 1990s to look for smoke from fires, both with naked eye and binoculars.  This had to be monitored constantly.  The development of cell phones and satellite surveillance with the ability to detect smoke have made the towers obsolete.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

This is the tallest tower in western NC so the views are stunning.  It hasn’t been in use since the 1990s, but is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Going up another level, this is Looking Glass Rock in the distance.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

I used the zoom lens to get a closer look at Looking Glass.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

There was a bit of haze in the distance, but if you look carefully, there are layers upon layers of mountains in the distance past the valley.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

As the sun broke though the clouds here and there, the colors started to shine.  It is so difficult to show in a picture the glory of what our eyes could see.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Every direction had color, 360-degree views.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

That is the Blue Ridge Parkway below, going around Mount Pisgah.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Another view of yet more mountains and color.  The high peak in the middle is Cold Mountain just 5 miles away as the hawk flies.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Looking down through the tower, the views continued to be beautiful.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

I wasn’t nervous about the height, that usually doesn’t bother me, until I began looking down.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

It is gorgeous, but those stairs are a bit unnerving going down.  All of a sudden the realization that these steps are steep, narrow, metal and see-though, is a little disconcerting.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Going back to the car was a lot easier, it was downhill the whole way.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Near the end, we heard a small stream and stopped once again to appreciate the beauty of nature.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Moss covered rocks, a small babbling stream, quiet beauty.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Driving back home, one more view from an overlook.  The beauty of the parkway was stunning, and I’ll have more on that next week.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Is there autumn color where you are now?  or spring flowers for my southern hemisphere readers?


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Autumn Hike at Graveyard Fields

Autumn in the North Carolina mountains is usually a glorious time of blazing color.  Some Autumn color would fit right in with the Autumn Jubilee event this year, reminding us that with the quilt along, sew along, stitch along, new recipes and projects, there should be a day to just enjoy the season.  So today, we take a breath.  This year the colors are a bit late and somewhat muted because of the warmth we’ve had over the month of September and October.  It has only now been cold enough at night to stop chlorophyll production in the leaves and let the natural sugar colors begin to show.  At our house, there is still green everywhere.   This past weekend, we wanted to show some autumn color to our out-of-town guests, so we needed to go to a higher elevation.  They enjoy hiking, so we decided to get a very early start and go to Graveyard Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Hiking Graveyard Fields NC at From My Carolina Home

Graveyard Fields got its name from the mounds of rotting tree stumps that formed there hundreds of years ago from some kind of wind event.  The mounds looked like tombstones.  Later, in 1925, a fire destroyed the area trees and the mounds along with them, so there isn’t any hint of this today.  Part of the area did get affected by the wildfires from last winter that took 3-4 months to fully extinguish.  Another factor this year is the wind blowing the leaves off the trees too soon, from the hurricanes Irma and Nate that made their way across the area. Many trees have been stripped of their leaves before they could turn color.

Hiking Graveyard Fields NC at From My Carolina Home

But, no matter, there is still some color and the hiking is good. The trailhead at Graveyard Fields has two starting points off the parking area. Last time we went, we took the Lower Falls route, so this time we decided to go to the Upper Falls. The hike was 3 miles round trip.

Hiking Graveyard Fields NC at From My Carolina Home

Along the way we did see some pretty colors here and there. This should have been the peak weekend for color at this elevation.

Hiking Graveyard Fields NC at From My Carolina Home

Some parts of the trail have arbors of rhododendrons.  These will be covered in flowers in springtime.

Hiking Graveyard Fields NC at From My Carolina Home

Reaching Upper Falls, we stopped to rest and enjoy the view.

Hiking Graveyard Fields NC at From My Carolina Home

There is something so relaxing about the sound of the water and the beauty of the area.

Hiking Graveyard Fields NC at From My Carolina Home

Breathtaking and unspoiled.

Hiking Graveyard Fields NC at From My Carolina Home

Hiking Graveyard Fields NC at From My Carolina Home

Rock formations like these are quite prevalent all over western North Carolina along the waterways.

Hiking Graveyard Fields NC at From My Carolina Home

So serene.  There is time to stop, observe, and breathe.

Hiking Graveyard Fields NC at From My Carolina Home

A solitary orange leaf sits on the rock above while the water gently flows below.

Hiking Graveyard Fields NC at From My Carolina Home

Hiking back out we took another trail out, and some of the marshier areas in the lower part of the hike had walkways. These were nice, as a lot of the trail was muddy.

Hiking Graveyard Fields NC at From My Carolina Home

Coming back to the parking area, one last look at the view covering the trail.

Hiking Graveyard Fields NC at From My Carolina Home

A turning maple with the Blue Ridge mountains in the distance.

Hiking Graveyard Fields NC at From My Carolina Home

Next time we will get back to Autumn Jubilee with continuation of the quilt along, more giveaways, and more fun.  I have more projects coming up, and another Autumn tablescape.  I am currently working on two more quilts, a couple of DIY projects, and more recipes.  I am making another tomato pie later this week, as I still don’t have that one set to my satisfaction.

Is there color where you are?

PS – Tomorrow is the last day to enter the Aurifil Threads Giveaway drawing, and some really great prizes are coming up in the next posts for even more goodies!!

Fat Quarter Shop Daily Flash Sale

Happy Cloud Quilt Batting by Fat Quarter Shop


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Museum of Natural Science North Carolina

There was so much to see at the Museum of Natural Science in Raleigh, that I had to go to two posts.  Today will concentrate on the North Carolina specific exhibits.  Like the history section moving from earliest prehistory to more recent history, the North Carolina ecosystem exhibits moved across the state from the mountains to the sea.

Museum of Natural Science Raleigh at From My Carolina Home

The Western area is called the Mountain Cove Forest.  The Highlands area has the distinction of having the most rainfall of any area in the east, with an average of 80 inches a year.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Full size dioramas depict the key features of the region. Mountains, forests, natural flora and fauna were represented. The forests of western North Carolina are thought to be among the oldest in the US, and North Carolina has the most peaks east of the Mississippi at 43 taller than 6000 ft, and many more under 6000 like ours.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Waterfalls and birds seen from the balcony above the Mountain Cove diorama.

Museum of Natural Science Raleigh at From My Carolina Home

Our region also has Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in the east, and Whitewater Falls, the tallest waterfall in the east.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

The Piedmont area of forests and plains was represented with additional dioramas.

Museum of Natural Science Raleigh at From My Carolina Home

Between the Piedmont and the Mountain cove forests, there are more species of fungi in NC than any other state.  Animals found in the areas are part of the scenes, like the fox seen here.

Museum of Natural Science Raleigh at From My Carolina Home

The Coastal region of NC contains the New River, in a quirky twist of naming, as it is thought to be the oldest river in eastern North America. The coastal region also has the oldest trees known in eastern North America, a stand of Bald Cypress dated at 1700 years old!

Museum of Natural Science Raleigh at From My Carolina Home

This is a Megatooth shark’s jaw bones with teeth, the ancestor of the modern Great White.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Real aquariums contain native fish and corals.  The blue whale bones from yesterday’s post were above this area.

Museum of Natural Science Raleigh at From My Carolina Home

Underground North Carolina was a neat exhibit, with a rocky entrance dimly lit with display cases to give visitors the feeling of being inside a cave.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

North Carolina is the only state where all four major gemstones have been found – emeralds, diamonds, rubies and sapphires.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

The largest emerald found in North America was found in North Carolina. Emeralds are beryl stones colored by chromium.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

More gems found underground in North Carolina.  Lots of amethysts are found here.

Museum of Natural Science Raleigh at From My Carolina Home

Interactive exhibits invite the visitor to turn the displays for more information on North Carolina ecology.

Museum of Natural Science Raleigh at From My Carolina Home

On the floor was a map of North Carolina created in marble and granite, showing the prevalence of each across the state.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Then in the Natural Treasures exhibit, glass cases depict the rich diversity of flora and fauna in our state.  Here is the state bird, the cardinal, on our state flower, the dogwood.

Museum of Natural Science Raleigh at From My Carolina Home

We spent the entire day there, and still didn’t see all there was to see.  The museum is free to the public, and well worth the visit if you are in the area.

Did you enjoy the virtual trip to NC Museum of Natural Science?

 

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Take Me Away!


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Museum of Natural Science in Raleigh

On a recent trip to Raleigh over a weekend, DH and I spent an entire Sunday at the Museum of Natural Science downtown.  Sunday was a great day to go, parking was easy, traffic was low, and the cafe was open before the Museum so we could have lunch before the visit. Two multi-story buildings connected by a sky bridge contain more than you can see in a day.  The world globe was three stories tall!

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Starting off on the first floor coming out from the Daily Planet Cafe, the first thing you see is the giant Right whale skeleton. There was so much to learn about whale migration, the study of their life habits, and how this study contributes to the efforts to make our impact on them less dire. This whale was one that researchers had been following, and she died from massive trauma to her head, indicating she was struck by a ship. The researchers had documented her dozens of times and the loss felt personal to them.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Especially sad was that she was pregnant at the time of her death, the fetal skeleton seen in the exhibit in the position it would be in her body.  It takes almost a year for gestation and females only bear one calf every three years.  There are only a few hundred Right whales left in the world, so figuring out how not to kill them is important.  Their migration courses and our shipping lanes follow the same ocean routes. By analyzing data on whale migration routes, shipping lanes and ship speed, it was found that ship speed makes a difference. Slowing the ships down successfully dropped the collision death rate with Right whales to zero the next year!

Museum of Natural Science at From My Carolina Home

It was interesting to see a T Rex skeleton, although this one is a replica.  This would have been a juvenile in size. In studying the bones, scientists have changed their view of how it walked. Where they used to believe that the dinosaur dragged its tail, they now believe that it held the tail high like a bird, balancing the front in a more forward leaning posture.  Did you know that scientists now think that most dinosaurs had feathers, or quill like coverings rather than scales?  A find in 2016 of a dinosaur tail covered in feathers and preserved in amber confirmed the theory.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

It is generally believed that our modern birds evolved from dinosaurs, interesting!!

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

There is a working laboratory for fossil study right there on the premises, and you can watch them working during the week.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Also in that area, an exhibit of skulls with cards telling the observer the type and relative age, both human and ape.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

This strange exhibit caught my attention as it depicts the relative size differences between several bacteria and viruses. It was one of many interactive exhibits dealing with physical biology of humans.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Overhead was a huge depiction of DNA, with many exhibits to read and see. One thing that made it so interesting was the level of writing, not too simple, not too complex, just drew you in with interesting facts presented in a compelling way.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Then, the exhibits moved into space, with fascinating exhibits of galactic study, so much to learn!!  Fascinating exhibits on radio waves in space, water on distant moons, the character of light coming across our galaxy, billions of stars with orbiting planets, it just boggles the mind.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

This is also a working laboratory, studying the moon, asteroids and meteors.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Walking across the sky bridge, we crossed over to the second building. We hadn’t seen everything in the first one, yet, but I wanted to be sure to see the T Rex skull they had so we went to look for it. The sky bridge was on the third floor, and we could see the upper part of the globe there.  Walking across the bridge, you went forward in time from the earliest prehistoric time to more recent recorded history.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

If you enjoy non-fiction, here’s a book on the legal fight over the T Rex skeleton found in 1990 in South Dakota called Sue.  Found by a paleontologist, fought over between factions of the Native American Sioux Tribe, universities, corporate interests, museums, scientists and the federal government, Sue was the subject of a legal battle then an international auction. One of the placards talked about this, and I have seen a television show on it.  The book looks really interesting, reading a bit on the preview at Amazon, (Affiliate link) it might make a fun gift for the budding scientist, legal thriller fan or the history buff.

Tyrannosaurus Sue: The Extraordinary Saga of Largest, Most Fought Over T. Rex Ever Found

Another huge exhibit in this building was on the seas, and the Blue Whale. This is the view of the smaller skeleton from above on the third floor.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

And the same skeleton from the second floor.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Trying to give you the sense of the huge scale of these bones, here’s the view of the larger one from the first floor, with the smaller one seen behind it. It was interesting to read that the darker color on the skull portion is due to it still having the oil in the bone. Once considered valuable, the Blue whale was almost hunted to extinction for its oil.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

An atrium contained a battle scene of dinosaurs, with a huge brontosaurus.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

and a large Acrocanthosaurus skeleton.  The placard next to it says, “don’t call it a TRex”.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

This skeleton is very rare, the only one of its kind this complete on display in the world.  Due to the continued deterioration of the bones from to exposure to air, most of it has been replaced with casts on the display, with the bones taken to controlled storage.  The mounted skull is a cast, with the real one under glass below.  Its skull looks a lot like the T Rex, but it lived 45 million years before T Rex.  Originally the skull was found flattened, but painstaking restoration included taking the bones apart and reassembling them in the proper place and took a year to complete.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Overhead, flying pterosaurs circle on a rotating arm.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

When we found the next exhibit on fossils, I thought we were close.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

Here’s the T Rex skull, I think it is a cast replica.  I never did figure out how the paleontologists tell the difference between T Rex and Acro.

Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh, NC at From My Carolina Home

As is usual, I took more pictures than is reasonable to show. Tomorrow I’ll show you more of the museum, dedicated to North Carolina’s ecosystem and history. It was fascinating too!

Do you have a wonderful science museum near you?

 

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Take Me Away!

 


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Blueberry Competition at the Mountain State Fair

The last competition I entered at the Mountain Regional State Fair was a Blueberry recipe competition sponsored by the NC Blueberry Council.  The rules for this competition were a bit different, as the focus was on the health benefits of blueberries, not their use in sweets.  In fact, for scoring purposes, healthy was 50% of the total, with ease of preparation 25% and taste 25%.  In addition, at least one cup of the blueberries had to be used unprocessed, and not part of a mix ingredient.  To me that meant using the whole berries, just washed and added to the dish.  So, I went with a Spinach Salad. The recipe was tested on my friends at a Summer Luncheon with a basic Blueberry Vinaigrette.

Blueberry Competiton at From My Carolina Home

I knew the blueberries had to be the main taste, and I still wanted to use a Blueberry Vinaigrette, but for the competition, an ordinary one would not do.  It needed to have some special punch, so what could I use?  Something that would pair well with blueberries but be a surprise. If only I had something fresh….

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

something flavorful, from the garden perhaps…

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Fresh basil and parsley!

Blueberry Competition at From My Carolina Home

The salad was simply constructed with fresh spinach, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped green onion, fresh blueberries, grated Parmesan cheese and for a bit of crunch, crispy bacon crumbles.  Everything tastes better with bacon.

Blueberry Competiton at From My Carolina Home

Stepping out to the veranda, I cut several basil leaves, and also grabbed some of the fresh parsley.  I chopped the basil and parsley, and added them to the oil and balsamic vinegar, along with the spices.  The blueberry flavor was added by using blueberry pancake syrup.  The syrup acted like an emulsifier, keeping the dressing from immediately separating and blending the flavors.  It also added a bit of sweetness to the dressing.  Blueberry Basil Vinaigrette was created.

Blueberry Competiton at From My Carolina Home

I constructed the competition salads individually so I could compose each serving, ensuring that each one had the right balance of elements.  I wish I had remembered to take a picture of the presentation as I thought it was quite pretty.  I froze water in the bottom of a circular tray, put fresh parsley around the ring, then placed the five servings of salad on top.

Blueberry Competiton at From My Carolina Home

The salads were very lightly dressed, and additional dressing was put in the middle of the tray for judges to have more if they wanted.  And they did, as it came back with a lot less in the mason jar.

Blueberry Competiton at From My Carolina Home

Each one was covered with plastic wrap, and a fork was placed on the top.

Blueberry Competiton at From My Carolina Home

Turned in to the judging, mine is on the left of the picture in the front. There were 23 entries in this contest, so very stiff competition.

Blueberry Competiton at From My Carolina Home

And I couldn’t get any more pictures, as I was absolutely blown away as my name was called first as the Third Place winner!! I got this one when I got home of the ribbon.  There were photographers there, and I have no idea where they were from.  Perhaps local newspapers, but so far I haven’t been able find a report anywhere.  The fair doesn’t put winners on its website, so I know that wasn’t it.  It was a swirl of people wanting pictures of me and the other winners, asking about the recipes, and congratulations from the other contestants.  For several minutes I could only stand in one place with a big grin on my face.  It was thrilling.

Blueberry Competiton at From My Carolina Home

No, the Blueberry Council didn’t have any aprons, LOL, but I had been hoping.  Here’s my recipe.

Blueberry Bacon Spinach Salad with Blueberry Basil Vinaigrette

1 package (8 oz) fresh spinach, trimmed
4 slices of thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (or cherry tomatoes)
4 oz fresh grated Parmesan cheese
8 green onions chopped
1 pint fresh North Carolina blueberries
Blueberry Basil Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Blueberry Basil Vinaigrette
3/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons blueberry syrup
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Combine all ingredients for dressing in a small jar, cover and shake very well.
Combine salad ingredients in a bowl, and dress lightly with Blueberry Basil Vinaigrette. Toss. Serves 4.

Download the pdf – Blueberry Salad Vinaigrette

Enjoy!

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