Friday, August 30, 2013

Vacation in Gatlinburg Tennessee (Continued)

    On the third day of our Tennessee trip we decided to brave another hike. We didn't like how many people we ran into as we hiked to Grotto Falls on our first day of vacation so we decided this next one would be a farther drive and a longer distance. It Worked! We met with a family on our way in and another family on our way out and no one was at the waterfall while we were there. It couldn't have worked out better. 

     The waterfall's name was Henwallow Falls and it was about four and a half miles from the trail head. The area was gorgeous with lots of streams and bridges to cross. It was all uphill on the way in which made it more strenuous than the hike to Grotto Falls, but it made the trek back take half as much time, which was nice, because by that time we were all pretty tired and warm.

Oh, and did I mention that I LOVE waterfalls?
    There were dozens of these little waterfalls hidden away all along the trail. They made me want to write a story about little people of some kind that could lay out in that thick moss or bathe in these masterpieces of nature. One thing about me: Things that touch me are often channeled into a work fiction because I feel that once it's in words on paper it's mine to own and nothing can take it from me, not even time or memory loss.   

    We took this picture with the timer on my camera. We're all pretty tired in this picture, which I'm sure is pretty obvious. What isn't obvious, is that we're not really that far from the falls, maybe half a mile? But we didn't know that then ...

This sign made me so happy!

Henwallow Falls!
   Henwallow? I have no idea where this waterfall's name comes from. Did the early settlers come here to bathe their chickens long ago? If it were me, I would have named it something a little more majestic or dreamy.

Here At Last!

    We picked up a little pamphlet about the possible hikes and waterfalls to go and see and it said that Henwallow Falls is over eighty feel high. It was just beautiful to see, not just because I love waterfalls in the first place, but because we had to work so hard to see it. 

We all took turns taking pictures of each other in front of the water

    The sister just younger than me was the most daring. About a mile away from the falls she and I were walking together and we were both pretty warm. The sweat was running into our eyes and our shirts were sticking to us. When I asked if she was going to get into the waterfall once we got there she declared. "Well, since I'm already a waterfall, why not?" She ended up more wet than any of us, but that's just who she is: Enjoy the moment before it passes!

    It feels great to do something hard all together as a family. It increases trust and strengthens ties between individuals. Plus, there will be other, harder challenges down the road that our family will have to endure, but because of past experiences like this we can lean on that trust and pull through. I am proud to be a member of this family!

On The Way Home

    What a fun vacation! It was a great break from all the canning and yard work right before the school year. But it was good to get back because we missed our friends. We all came home excited to get back to work and dig into school books.
    See you around!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vacation in Gatlinburg Tennessee

   We had a marvelous vacation in Gatlinburg Tennessee this week. Dad had a presentation to do for his company (he's a usability consultant) so we all went down with him and made a vacation of it. We rented a cabin high in the Smoky Mountains and just spent some down time together. 
    It was GREAT! I finished my book Mary Barton, played some pool and air hockey, and spent some time working on a story of mine. The sights and smells of the Smoky Mountains were quite an inspiration and may work themselves into a book of mine one day ... who knows?

    The first day we packed lunch and had it at a park before hiking to Grotto Falls. There was a creek running beside our picnic table and we just couldn't resist. This is lovely country!

The fairy princess sunning herself :)

    The hike to Grotto Falls was only two and a half.miles from the trail head and the terrain wasn't all that bad. It was a warm day, but there was a breeze and we were walking in the shade most of the way. It was gorgeous, but I had to pay so much attention to my feet that I'm sure I missed most of the beauty. Also, by nature, I'm a point-A-to-point-B kind of person. Sometimes in my eagerness to get started and get finished I forget to enjoy the in-between stuff.

    Grotto Falls was lovely. We were able to walk behind the falls and get spattered with cool water. We didn't spend very long at the falls because there were a lot of people around. I guess that's what you get when you opt for a shorter hike.  
    I have a special place in my heart for waterfalls. Waterfalls and thunderstorms always conjure up a soft love in me. I think these marvels of nature help me remember how much my Heavenly Father loves me.  

A thing of beauty hidden deep in the smoky mountains
I love my family and I love my Father in Heaven and all the beauty He has created.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Planting Sugar Snap Peas


    Sugar Snap peas are one of the first things that we plan in the garden each year, and one of the first things that are harvested as well. If you plant and harvest them early enough there is is time every year to plant a second batch. 
   We harvested half of the pods from our first planting and dried them in their shells. Three days ago we popped them open, put the seeds in bags and stored them in the refrigerator in the basement. But we didn't put all of the seeds in the bags -- we saved out a handful for our second planting.

After soaking for two days they swell are ready to be planted. 

    I tilled the ground in the spring garden with a shovel while my brother road around the yard on his bike. He taught himself to ride on our driveway and he's pretty good at it.  

The only thing he loves more than his bike is his cowboy hat. He wears it almost everywhere.

    After the soil was ready, the little man and I pounded some stakes into the ground and tied a long strip of hog-wire to them. The peas need something to climb up once they're grown and we've found that hog-wire makes for a nice, re-usable, manageable solution.

    Plant the seeds just an inch or two from the surface, cover them and wait for their heads to poke up through the soil. This batch of sugar snap peas will probably all be used as seed for next year's crop, but I love sugar snap peas in the spring they're so sweet and crunchy you just pick and eat them pod and all. But now that I'm at college in the spring I miss sugar snap peas. 
     I'll just have to enjoy a few of this second batch.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Amish School Benefit Auction

    Tis the season! Again we dedicated a Saturday to our Amish district's benefit school auction. I enjoyed this year's better than any I've been to yet. I think it was because I knew so many people. 
    They sell just about everything at these auctions furniture, quilts, live stock, pets, wood, implements, etc. There are other things that you don't have to bid for, but can buy on the spot like baked goods, food, knick-knacks, produce etc. and sometimes they even have a raffle for a gorgeous piece of furniture or dazzling quilt. 
   To be honest, I love watching auctions, but bidding or even sitting beside someone who's bidding stresses me out!

Quilts! Glorious Quilts! 
    I have never seen finer quilts than the ones I've seen on the auction racks. They are masterpieces in high resolution and full color. If you want to finger through them you have to wear plastic gloves so you don't get them oily. My favorite this year was lot-number-19: a mariner's compass in brown shades. This is what a Mariner's Compass quilt looks like. It was absolutely stunning, but it went for over $500 so it was out of the question for me (I don't even have a room of my own to put it in anyway :)

   Mm-Mm! Good Amish cooked food too: waffle cakes, soft pretzels, hot dogs, sausage burgers, barbeque chicken, noodles, three flavors of ice cream and four choices of pie. I had a sausage burger with lots of ketchup (I know, not the healthiest [but it was SO good] :) and pecan pie--my favorite--with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream plopped right on top. Wow-Wee! This probably shouldn't be become an everyday thing.  

    My brother and sister posed for this funny picture. The main auction tent is very large with a stage and one main auctioneer with a microphone and two or three spotters who watch for bidders. The auctioneer speaks so fast that he sounds like a banjo
    It's fun to watch what's happening up front, but it's also fun to watch the people all around you on the benches. You can pick out the people who come from the big cities because they are bidding up a storm planning to resell everything they pick up at stores of their own. There are also the cute couples with a wife who's eager to spend and a husband who's along to keep her from spending.   

    It's a fun annual event that we look forward too. I think they'll just keep getting better and better because I'm just going to get to know more and more people and that's what makes it fun!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Gotta Love Those Green Beans

   I DO love green beans (or string beans if you prefer), they are probably one of my favorite cooked vegetables (I don't appreciate them raw :)  right up there with cooked asparagus, carrots and garden peas. As for raw vegetables I love sugar snap peas, carrots and cucumbers. Nothing beats a cucumber sandwich with the bread-crust still attached.

    We didn't plant as many string beans this year because we still have some bottles from last year that we haven't eaten. But, despite having fewer plants, we still ended up with more than we could eat and store, but that was okay because a friend of ours was glad to take them.

Bountiful Harvest! We are truly blessed ...

And, or course, whenever you work in the spring garden you're bound to have company

    It's fun to sit around the table or counter and snap the ends off the green beans. Before we had much of a garden ourselves we would buy our green beans from the Amish bulk food store just up the road and spend the end under the shade tree with bowls on our laps and the dogs at our feet as we snapped the beans.
    We've kind of graduated from big intense canning days to take-it-as-is-comes canning days. Instead of trying to freeze a year supply of corn or beans or tomatoes in a single day, we just do little whenever there's enough for a full caner load. I personally like it better this way.

    We snap the beans right into jars right when they come inside and store the jars in the fridge until we have enough to fill the caner. Then we add a tsp of salt to each one, place a sanitized lid and ring on eahc one and carrying to the green house where we do all the canning now.

    We moved canning to the greenhouse because the pressure caner is loud and it sure does heat the house up. We keep all the greenhouse windows open, but it still turns into a sauna, especially at this time of year. Canning apple juice won't be as bad becuase it will be in late autumn. 
    Another reason we moved canning out of the kitchen is because we have an induction stove that only works on pots that are real metal (a magnet can stick to them) and pressure caner is not and our stove will not acknowledge its presence. We did have a electric burner that we would plug in on the counter, but electric is nowhere as efficient as gas, so when we had a bit to spend we decided to make the process more effective by buying gas burners, which, of course have to stay outdoors (or in a greenhouse :).   

   And there you have it:  Low stress, simple and enjoyable canning brought to you by the Mormish family. Gotta love those green beans when canning them is as easy as flipping a switch!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Digging Potatos & Serving

    This is our family's last Service Wednesday for a while. I won't get to be apart of one until I get home from college in July of 2014. Today we spent part of the time cleaning the walls, closets, and floor someone's house and then digging another family's potatoes. We got about four or five crates out, but that didn't even dent the task. 
    Two family's got together and decided that one will grow enough corn for both and that the other will grow enough potatoes for both. I think the potato family is realizing now that they've planted enough for five large families. We'll have to come out another time to finish.

We also picked the rest of their watermelons
After we were through we cut into a couple and ate it on the porch

    It was a hot day and before we knew it we were all drenched with sweat. 

    It felt good to load all of the crates into the back of our car, gather the forks together and  head up to the house. A good day's work always makes me feel good and happy to be alive.