From My Carolina Home

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


Preparing for the Eclipse

The date is getting closer to see the Solar Eclipse, the first eclipse that will be visible across the entire US in 99 years.  For most of us, this one will be a once in a lifetime experience.  It is logical that millions of people will take advantage of the opportunity, but planning will be essential.  The area of total 100% eclipse goes across the country, and everyone in the US will be able to see at least a partial eclipse.  We are planning to travel just an hour to get into the total zone.  Last weekend we did a trial run to scope out the area, locate bathrooms and figure out parking options anticipating that there will be a lot of people with the same idea.

©Michael Zeiler,, used with permission

Discussing the day, we have made lists of things to do and take for this spectacular day.  I started a bag of things to take, adding to it as I think of things.  Research on other sites gave me some ideas as well, such as taking a white towel to cover the camera so it won’t get as hot being in the sun for hours.  At this point, I think I have everything we might need for a day, and here is our list of essentials.

Sunscreen  – Bug Spray – Special Eclipse Viewing Glasses – hat
Paper Towels – A roll of Toilet Paper (anticipating that will be the first thing to run out)
Cooler with food, water, ice and snacks to last the whole day
Folding Chairs – umbrella – canvas drop cloth and a quilt to lay on
Camera – Solar Filter – tripod – white towel to cover the camera to keep it cooler – extra memory card, extra battery
Books to read, and tunes to pass the time.


We got our glasses and camera filter at, which also has a tremendous amount of information on the eclipse.  Please do not try to observe any of the partial eclipse with your naked eye, even a 99% eclipse still has enough brightness to damage your eyes or camera lenses.  Regular sunglasses are not enough.  When you put on the solar glasses, they are so dark that you cannot see anything through them under normal light, but look directly at the sun through the glasses, and you can see the sun.  The camera filter does the same thing.

Solar Pictures at From My Carolina Home

It is recommended that you take pictures of the sun ahead of the big day so you are confident of the camera settings using the very dark filter.  So, we have been doing just that. DH took this one as our first attempt.

Solar Pictures at From My Carolina Home

This is a picture of the sun through the trees. The camera wants to focus on the trees so it comes out blurred, but the outline of the sun is visible.

Solar Pictures at From My Carolina Home

Forcing the focus to the brighter area, it decreases the light but the edge is now obscured by the trees.

Solar Pictures at From My Carolina Home

I did find that focusing on the edge of the sun gave a sharper line and amazingly a nice gradient color to the sun.

Solar Pictures at From My Carolina Home

If you are interested in the history of eclipses, the NASA website has a lot of interesting information, including interactive maps and major events in history occurring with total eclipses in the past.  Click on NASA Total Solar Eclipse.  The main NASA webpage, Eclipse 2017, has activities, resources, printable pinhole viewers, and information on experiencing the eclipse this year.  A day ahead, be sure to charge your camera battery (both of them), assemble your essentials, and get your snacks prepared.  Here’s hoping the crowds aren’t too bad and are well behaved.

What are your plans for the eclipse?


Late July in the Garden

It is hard to believe, but I haven’t done a post about my garden in a month.  There has been a lot going on between the Christmas In July hop and the Safelight Project, but I know some of you like to know what is growing and flowering on our mountain.  Today, I’ll show you how my garden grows. I have taken photos of this group several times over the past month, and it just keeps getting prettier. The vibrant red geranium is set off nicely next to the white petunias. That pink variegated coleus is getting really tall now too.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Lettuce and garlic are coming up well in the pot on the right. Calibrachoa in three colors planted in two pots bloom only sporadically. The daisies in the back are done.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

White begonias are overflowing several pots on the veranda.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

After having my Summer Luncheon and giving away a bunch of day lilies, one of my guests dug up the white iris in her own garden she didn’t want anymore and dropped them off  on my veranda with a gerbera daisy. Those went into the ground the same day.  I love getting new plants!

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The phlox is getting a bit taller, and the color of the flowers got a bit lighter.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Fresh parsley is wonderful for cooking, and this one is doing well with the yellow Calibrachoa.  Some of the parsley went into the shrimp risotto we had for dinner this week, adding a wonderful fresh flavor.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Multiple basil plants are giving me lots of fresh leaves for caprese salads with heirloom tomatoes from the farmer’s market.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

These are Cherokee Purple tomatoes, cannot wait for them to ripen!

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The tomatoes in this pot are coming along too.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

These are cherry tomatoes in the front bed, hoping for a good harvest here too.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Early in the month, the mornings were crisp and cool, perfect for sitting outside in the early dawn hour, listening to the birds. I found it was a great time to get some pictures of the choir in their natural setting.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Apparently there was a meeting scheduled, but I didn’t get the memo to attend.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

There were still plenty of birds visiting the feeder too. This young female cardinal stopped by.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Goldfinches stay here year round.  A male and female were in the tree, looking around and taking their turn at the feeder.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Now that I know what the wood thrush looks like, I have seen him quite often.  Oops, brain glitch, this is a purple finch, thanks, Jan!!

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Other mornings dawned foggy, lasting a couple of weeks, giving us humid, and (for us) hot days near 90°F (32°C).

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

There are a bunch of apricot gladiolas on the mountainside out back, I think some were planted by the previous homeowner and some may be volunteers. Either way, they are difficult to get to. But DH got out the limb lopper and managed to get some blooms for me to enjoy in vases in the house.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

I put them in vases with some of the pinkish hydrangeas and a few tall purple hosta blooms. They look really good with my Stacked Bricks table quilt.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

After those were done, it was time for the yellow gladiolas to bloom, pretty aren’t they!

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Our resident skink made an appearance.  Usually he runs away with any movement, but this time I caught him from the veranda while he was hiding below near the hydrangea.  He ran inside the drain pipe, then slowly peeked out to see if the coast was clear.  I think there is a good size family that lives here, and I like that they eat a lot of bugs.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The snapdragons are still going, and I put the white iris in with them.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

White petunias bloom nicely in the front flowerbed next to more snapdragons.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

A woodpecker watches as I water the garden.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The hydrangeas are still blooming too.  After I took more pictures of the gorgeous blooms I deadheaded the bush.  This lavendar color is so clear and pure.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

I did add some lime to the top in the hopes that I’ll get some more pure pink blooms like this one.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

This one is blue to lavendar on the same flower, such gorgeous colors!

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Looks like the African violets are going to bloom again too, unlike me they love the heat and humidity.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The northern flickers are back too.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

A friend gave me this adorable birdhouse for the garden, and it looks perfect in the big pot next to the front door. I have been a bit disappointed in the lobelias, usually they give profuse vibrant blue flowers all summer long, but this year they aren’t doing as well.  The chocolate variegated coleus is getting bigger, and the begonia is blooming a bit too.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

So, that is the garden in July.  The torenias stopped blooming for a bit, I think they got stressed when we were gone to Lexington for a few days.  They are beginning to bloom again, but will take a couple of weeks to fully come back.  I did see the hummingbird one morning while watering the flowers, she came up and hovered right in front of my face.  It was a magic moment, and I watched her in wonder.

What’s going on in your garden?



Gardens Galore


Reflections on an Early Morning

Sometimes I am up really early in the morning, and have the wonderful opportunity to witness the sunrise over the mountain to the east. There is just something about the light in the early morning that is different from evening. I’ve never been able to describe the difference, but I can see it. It somehow seems softer, more pure.

Early Morning 3

The torenia baskets seem to turn their faces to the morning light.

Early Morning 2

A view down the veranda. Quiet. Peaceful.  Only bird song breaks the silence.

Early Morning 7

Noticing the shadows of the railing on the flooring boards, a gentle breeze moves the leaf shadows ever so slightly.

Early Morning 1

Hot coffee and a cool morning, perfect to reflect on our many blessings, and enjoy the beauty of our little corner of the world.  It is also a great time to just think, and I have been doing some designing in these quiet hours too.  I will have a new quilt pattern for you soon.

Early Morning 4

The valley has a different look to the layers of hills and distant mountain ridge with the light from the east.  We face south so the east is to the left in this picture.

Early Morning 5

The bird feeder was seeing a lot of visitors on this day.

Early Morning 9

Here and there, dew drops had formed on flowers.

Early Morning 13

Interplay of light and shadow make interesting shapes.

Early Morning 14

I really liked the shadow on this lobelia trailing tendril, this may be a photo entry in the fair later this year.  The shapes are interesting, and the clear light made a sharp edged shadow.

Early Morning 17

Looking up, the clouds looked like flying visitors.

Early Morning 18

Light and shadow on the driveway down the mountain, in the golden morning.  Reminiscent of a time gone by, of a slower day, time to be still and breathe.

Early Morning 20

The blue jay calls, and the chickadees answer.  A titmouse, a wren and a nuthatch join the choir.  This is a morning for gratitude, for our lives, our freedom, our beautiful home and property, our family and friends, our many blessings.  Count your blessings today, and remember those who have protected our freedom.  Have a wonderful Memorial Day.



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December Mountain Living

We had a real cold snap last weekend, and as much as I’d love a white Christmas, it isn’t in the forecast for this year.  Somehow, the cold makes the skies crisp at night, lots of stars out to see.   Occasionally, I have a bout of insomnia, and this particular morning I was glad, as the sunrise over the mountains to the east of ours was spectacular.  Rain was on the way, and dawn brought brilliant color to the sky, seen through the architecture of the bare trees.

December Dawn 1

The wider view was difficult to get the brilliance of the dawn, but you can see the color was most of the horizon over the mountains.

December Dawn 3

Out in the valley, the color there was beautiful as well.  My camera just doesn’t do this justice, I’d need a wide angle lens to show you the true grandeur of this moment.

December Dawn 4

Our avian visitors have been eating us out of birdseed, emptying the feeder in just a few days rather than over a week.  I am thinking some of the other neighbors have stopped filling their feeders for the winter, so these guys are hungry.  We have such a wide variety right now too, titmice and nuthatches, cardinals and chickadees share the feeder, sometimes with 8 or 9 on the feeder at once. I managed to get one shot of seven at once – two chickadees, two nuthatches, and three goldfinches.

December Bird visitors 4

The goldfinches are regular visitors, wearing their duller brown coats for winter.

December Bird visitors 7

A blue jay comes around from time to time.

December Bird visitors 1

But the biggest surprise was seeing a pileated woodpecker gobbling up the suet.  He made short work of a lot of the seed in the feeder too.

December Pileated Woodpecker 1

I could not believe he could land on such a small spot!

December Pileated Woodpecker 2

The crows finished off the pumpkin and DH threw away the shells.  This week I put out the insides of a spaghetti squash and they brought their buddies to polish off the treat.  I think the squirrels got some of it as well.

December Crows 2

December Crows 4

Then these guys showed up.  Robins!!  In winter!

December Robins 4

There were more than a dozen of them, and I got pics of some of the individuals.  They were scattered over the lawn and the meadow, in the trees and down the driveway.

December Robins 3

I couldn’t get a clear picture of the group, and they were gone in an hour.  DH thinks they are migrating south, but I thought they would have done that by now, unless we are near the end of the journey.  It has been too warm through fall so maybe they stayed longer than usual.

December Robins 2

We had doves and towhees stop by in the last few days too, but no pictures, they flew off when they sensed movement.  DH saw a purple finch on the feeder last weekend. The cardinal finally showed up again, I have missed him and his lady.

December Bird visitors 6

The turkeys haven’t been by in more than two weeks, so I think they have moved on for the winter.  I was saving some bread for them, but I think I’ll spread my mixture of bacon fat and peanut butter on the slices and press birdseed into them for the suet feeder.

Are you feeding birds now?  Who is visiting at your place?



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November Visitors on the Mountain

The last few days have seen some really amazing sights.  Having a camera with a really good zoom lens has helped to capture some spectacular pictures of our regular visitors.  Often I am unable to grab the camera fast enough to get good photos of the visitors, but this week was a banner week. First, early one morning the turkeys came by, this time the two males had joined the female flock, and they were showing off. I love it when they fluff up and strut, and this particular morning was one of those very rare instances where they gave a magnificent display.

November Turkeys at From My Carolina Home

The two males seemed to be in competition parading around the females.

November Turkeys at From My Carolina Home

They both puffed up their feathers, spread their tail fans and strutted their stuff for quite a while.

November Turkeys at From My Carolina Home

The funny thing is that the females seemed unimpressed, they kept pecking at the acorns, and didn’t pay a lot of attention to the poor guys.

November Turkeys at From My Carolina Home

Marvelous, aren’t they?  They would fluff up and stand for a moment, then slowly turn in a circle in order to show off from all sides.  Then they would take a few steps in one direction and turn again.

November Turkeys at From My Carolina Home

It was like they were in a pageant!

November Turkeys at From My Carolina Home

Poor boys, doing all they could to get the attention of the girls and not being very successful.  Look at me!  Look at me!

November Turkeys at From My Carolina Home

After a while, the whole flock moved off to the woods, with the boys still strutting their stuff as they went.

November Turkeys at From My Carolina Home

Then, one of the four foxes living nearby made an appearance. I first spotted it walking on the driveway circle, and it strolled over to the meadow. I was in such a hurry to take photos, this one was between the railing on the porch from inside the house. I was afraid to go outside as I thought the noise would make the fox run away.

Fox visit November at From My Carolina Home

Magnificent, isn’t it?

Fox visit November at From My Carolina Home

It sat on the edge of the meadow for a minute….

Fox visit November at From My Carolina Home

scratched under its neck…

Fox visit November at From My Carolina Home

looked around a bit, then wandered off to the forest.

Fox visit November at From My Carolina Home

It is wonderful to live with all this wildlife. Mountain living at its best!  I saw on the news that the black bears are going to be later in hibernating this year because it is still so warm, and there have been more sightings in residential communities north of us.  I haven’t seen any here lately, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t around.

What’s happening in your neighborhood?

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Val’s Tuesday Archives – Turkeys



Autumn on the Veranda

Color is finally showing in some of the trees, and I wanted a pretty veranda for our recent company to enjoy. I thought it would be nice to add a quilt to the tableau, fall inspired and cozy feeling. The little pie pumpkin will become pumpkin bread in a couple of weeks.  I found dark red chrysanthemums at the local store, and got two.  I couldn’t resist putting a small quilt out too.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

A larger pumpkin is sitting near the front door, with the other deep red chrysanthemum.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

The begonias and impatiens are still blooming, and I cannot bear to throw them out while they are.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

I did bite the bullet on the torenia hanging baskets, and took them down. They really were ragged. There was a lot of green still in the forest when I rearranged the pots to form this grouping in the corner of the veranda. Those pink flowers just don’t go with my fall theme, but I am still watering them.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

My thrift store find Halloween metal hanger is hanging on the outside wall, just down the way a bit from the harvest wreath near the door.  It is fun, even though we have never had trick-or-treaters.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

At the last minute before company came, I found two orange daisy plants, so I put them in a basket and placed them with the pumpkin. It made a festive fall grouping near the door.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

Along the driveway, the trees began to show a bit of autumn in the past week.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

There was a bit more coming along farther down the driveway.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

Early one morning last week, I pulled up the shade in the kitchen window to this lovely scene. It is so pretty when an early morning fog settles into the valleys. The layers of hills and mountain are brought into sharper relief with the fog.  The rising sun over the mountain to the east lit the neighbor’s tree beautifully.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

Zooming the lens a bit closer, lovely isn’t it?

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

It still is too warm, and I am looking for it to cool off more.  I am working on Scrap Dance 3 for you, dear readers. More on that a bit later.


Today is the last day to enter all the drawings, so if you missed one, you have time today to get in a comment.  I’ll be drawing winners tomorrow and notifying you by email.  We will wrap up Autumn Jubilee Friday.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

Is there some color at your part of the world?



Saturday Sparks at Pieced Pastimes



Waterfalls in the Autumn Mountains

I can smell autumn dancing in the breeze.
The sweet chill of pumpkin
and crisp sunburnt leaves.
~Ann Drake, 2013

I found this quote recently, and had to share it with you.  It was the perfect opening to a picture heavy post from our hiking over the weekend with friends here from out of state.  They wanted to see some waterfalls, so we took them to a few lesser known areas of Transylvania county, knowing that the Blue Ridge Parkway would be overcrowded this weekend.  It wasn’t their first visit to local waterfalls, so we could go a bit farther off the main roads. We were all hoping to see more brilliant color, but this year it just isn’t to be.  It has been too warm and too dry.  The drought has made it hard for the leaves to stay on the trees long enough to have pretty color before falling off.  The warmth has delayed the change in color, which needs a good cold snap to make that change. You can see that in dramatic detail with these 100-ft trees next to our home, some that are bare too early and more that have yet to change color.

Leaves 2016 3

On the road, the color is sporadic like this spot, but it won’t be the brilliant color of past years.  A brisk wind over the past few days brought down a lot of leaves just turning brown.

Leaves 2016 5

Still, nothing beats a walk in the woods no matter what the season. This is the path to the first waterfall view of the day. It was chilly, we had to wear jeans and sweaters, but it was worth it. It was one mile to the waterfall.

Log Hollow Falls 2

The first waterfall we hiked to was Log Hollow Falls.  It is way off the beaten path of the Blue Ridge Parkway or DuPont Forest. Small (only 25 feet high) and tucked away, we had the place to ourselves to listen to the gentle running stream, hear a rustle of leaves, and marvel at the quiet beauty.

Log Hollow Falls 7

Back to the car, we drove over to Whitewater Falls near the SC border. This park is more of a draw, with a nice parking lot, a paved walk to the observation point, then 154 wooden steps down to the bottom. Going down is easy, coming back up is a bit hard on the knees. This picture is from the observation point, some color in the trees but still a lot of green. Whitewater Falls is the tallest in the eastern US, falling a total of 811 feet. This is the upper section, 411 feet.

Whitewater Falls 3

Whitewater Falls bottom section falls another 400 feet.

Whitewater Falls 5

From the bottom, you can get a view of both sections.

Whitewater Falls 11

Another view of the upper falls.

Whitewater Falls 10

While we were in that area, I was able to take a picture of Lake Toxaway.  This area is still mostly green, and probably won’t reach peak color until mid-November.

Lake Toxaway

I did find this tree with beautiful color, lovely red leaves against an azure blue sky.

Leaves 2016 7

Another short drive south of Rosman, there is a privately held property with a waterfall. They allow visitors to respectfully visit on their property. The falls drop 60 feet down a rock face, lovely and a bit unusual in the rock formations.

Eastatoe Falls 1

The rock at the top has a curve to the right, which makes an interesting pattern to the falling water.

Eastatoe Falls 13

Lovely, isn’t it? The leaves are scattered around the moss covered rocks.

Eastatoe Falls 16

Downstream a bit, there is a little bridge that leads to a small raised platform with a couple of chairs to sit and enjoy nature in all her glory.

Eastatoe Falls 28

Moss covered rocks channel the water between creating a calming environment, a perfect way to relax.

Eastatoe Falls 29

Here and there, brilliant color can be found. This scarlet red and orange with some gold was all on the same tree.

Fall 2016 trees

If you love that first quote as much as I did, there is a free printable on Ann Drake’s website with a lovely image – HERE.

I’ll leave you with this lovely thought.

When autumn dulls the summer skies,
And paler sunshine softly lies
Upon the brown and fallow lands:—
As fairy artists come in bands
To paint with brushes dipped with frost:—
They pay with gold, for verdure lost…
~V.O. Wallingford (b.1876), “The Cottonwood Trees”

How are the views at your place?


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