Sweet Mountain Life

Gardening, Vegetarian Food and Life in the Mountains of Western North Carolina


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The Mountain Comes Back to Life

It’s time to catch up and share some of what’s been happening on our mountain these last few months. But, first, a few photos and a little chit-chat on what’s happening right now!

I love Springtime! The buzzing, fluttering, croaking, chirping sounds that seem to rise up from the silence every morning to accompany new life, from seemingly nowhere, are the best alarm clock ever. The orchard is bursting with fruit this year! The wild berries are unbelievably full. It’s going to be a great year for cobblers, preserving and wine.

I caught a shot of the Scarlet Tanager, a bird I’ve never seen before, and the Hummingbirds have returned.

We now have chickens, adding 13 new babies to our little homestead, and we’re loving the new and interesting experiences having a flock of birds brings. Sometimes, quite interesting.

Rosewater! I tried my hand at rosewater. I love to keep it in the fridge, especially in the Summer. Rosewater tones the skin, helps with acne and more. It’s so refreshing after a bath or before bed. I’ll write a special post on how to make this simple scented water soon.

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For now, I’m off to gather eggs and lettuce, collect a few herbs and see what the day brings. Here’s hoping you have a beautiful one!

Happy Homesteading,
Catherine and Michael


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Early Morning Walk

Morning Walk

We woke up to a beautiful dusting of snow on the ground this morning! I’m like a kid when I hear the weatherman mention possible flurries. Michael finds this quite funny.

After restocking the fire, we headed out with the three pups tagging along. Oh, the things we would see if we could keep up with them, running up the mountain and through the steep ravines. I do believe that watching the ease with which they move motivates me to enjoy our outing even more.

There’s nothing that beats an early morning walk on the mountain, especially in the Winter. It always seems more peaceful. You can hear the winds coming forever and see them wave through the trees before they ever reach you. I still get excited by all of the little magical things I find in nature. Sometimes, it’s snow on fungus growing off an oak log. Sometimes, it’s watching Bella try to step onto the ice at the edge of the pond for a drink and watching her reaction as the ice cracks and disappears. It really doesn’t matter the season, there is ALWAYS beauty to be found.

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It seems that a big part of the days is restocking wood for the fire. Michael’s “time to make the donuts” line is “time to cut and split the firewood”. Recently, he’s cut into some Hickory and found that Hickory is “really heavy”. He brought a truckload down to the house and had to carry a few loads up the stairs to be used in the living room fireplace. All that climbing and carrying can only be good for a person, right? ūüėČ

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A roaring fire in the house always makes me think of warm comfort foods. My sister, Rebecca, posted a yummy looking Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal that I thought would be wonderful to wake up to. The recipe was easy to make and delicious. It has no added sugar…the apples and dates take care of that. But, everyone is not like me, and Michael would prefer his a little sweeter. A drizzle of maple syrup did the trick, and I would make the recipe the same next time.
http://breakfastdramaqueen.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/apple-pie-baked-oatmeal/

Jessica's Piggy Cookies

On a final note, my daughter, Jessica, moved recently and wasn’t able to take the boar that had become a pet to her new home. That’s right…a wild boar. Sweetest, smartest animal ever! Knowing she couldn’t take her baby into her new neighborhood and knowing that he would be best left in his wild home, she left him behind with heavy heart. So…I made her some Piggy Cookies. I know they won’t really fill the void, but cookies from Mom never hurt! By the way, since I don’t use conventional food coloring, I boiled some cranberries and used the liquid to make the icing pink. Fun!

Enjoy Life and Live Vegan!
Catherine and Michael


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The last week or so has been great fun! Michael and our neighbor, Steve, set to work pruning the apple, plum, peach and cherry trees. The cold puts the trees into a dormant state that is perfect for trimming them back…way back. It always amazes me how much growth there is during¬†the Spring and Summer¬†and, therefore, how much must be trimmed away in the Winter. After this Friday’s snow passes, it will be time to trim the apricots and the larger cherry tree near the kitchen window.

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Neighbor Steve also built some cool birdhouses and shared a few with us. Michael sealed the roofs and set to putting them in the trees.

Too cold and wet to play outside

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The dogs have taken to staying inside, unless their “friends” venture out to play. They love to jump into the truck and ride up the mountain with Michael when he’s got wood to cut and split. Otherwise, they seem content to lay in front of the fire and wait until it’s necessary to take a trip outside. I agree…fire is my friend.

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When temperatures are chilly, I tend to stay in the kitchen and cook. Nothing warms me up like a hot pot of stew, soup or sauce on the stove and cookies in the oven. Michael has no problem eating most of the goodies, so that saves me, at least a little. ūüėČ

Tonight,¬†dinner is¬†homemade spaghetti and sauce with vegan meatballs. I also had some sugar coated peanuts that we received for Christmas. We weren’t eating them, so I chopped them up and put them into a batch of chocolate chip cookies, cutting back the sugar a bit. The result was wonderful. And, no more sugar-coated peanuts!. (Planned on posting a pic of dinner on the plate, but couldn’t wait to eat it and forgot to grab the camera ūüėČ

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Best of all, Michael made my end table!! I wanted a small end table to put beside the couch in the basement. What he did with a log from the woodpile was amazing. Be sure to take a look!

Enjoy Life and Live Vegan!
Catherine and Michael


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Almost 3 years ago, by divine intervention and subconscious willing, we moved to the mountains of Western North Carolina.¬†The quiet of the mountains¬†was quite different from the hustle and bustle we’d moved¬†from, but it was much welcomed. Our hope had been to learn to grow and preserve our own food, learn how to save seeds and, in general, become somewhat self-sustaining.

Michael and I have¬†come a long way in that time. We¬†have grown successful gardens, and had some failures. We’ve learned about saving seeds, canned a lot of stuff and even harvested and dried some of the native herbs, plants and tree leaves for food and medicinal purposes. This past year has been all about pruning and caring for grape vines and fruit trees, pests and soil amendments, and rain.

My¬†personal passion is finding new vegan dishes to prepare and veganizing old favorites. I love seeing friends and family try delicious meals and not “miss the meat”. Better yet, helping those ready to try veganism for lifestyle, health or weight issues and seeing the amazing results can’t be beat. I’ll be posting my favorite finds from my favorite vegan sites, as well as some step-by-step pics of preparation.

We’ll be following work in the garden…the preparation, planting, growing and harvesting. Canning and cooking are so much fun in the summertime, and I love taking pictures of all that color! Speaking of color, spring brings on the color and it just doesn’t stop. We’ll share nature and it’s bounty as it comes to life.

We’re so excited¬†to share all that we’ve learned and all that we’re learning with¬†you and hope that you’ll enjoy our journey as much as we do.¬†We look forward to your input and responses and even some pics of your lovely life.¬† ūüôā

 

Enjoy Life and Live Vegan!
Catherine and Michael