Friday, August 31, 2012

Good Eats

reading on the porch

Aside from our shared love of flea markets, my mother in law and I both like to cook.
This means we both love and appreciate fresh, local ingredients too.
The night we arrived she had piping hot eggplant parmigiana waiting made with eggplants from the garden.
I couldn't have asked for a better meal after so much travel.

Tuesday afternoon I was sitting on the front porch reading when a car came winding up the driveway. Behind the wheel was a woman who looked like Mary Kay herself except I knew it wasn't only because she wasn't driving a pink cadillac. A little chihuahua wearing a polka dot dress with a tulle skirt was jumping all around the front seat as this woman climbed out of the car. In a sing~songy Southern drawl she yelled out, "I got some Turtle Stew here for ya'all!"
That's when my stomach did a series of back flips and a chill ran down my spine.
Turtle Stew?
I never....
At dinner I politely refused a bowl but spent the meal being chastised by my husband and son who claimed it to be "delicious".
After much teasing and taunting, I cracked and tried a spoonful.
It was delicious!
Reminiscent of a beef stew or a chunky beef soup, the flavors were pleasant and the texture was exactly like a tender, shredded beef.

turtle stew

Turtle wasn't the only first for me on this trip.
I had a venison burger for lunch one afternoon and that was delicious too!
Another night, my father in law deep fried a turkey.
I've heard about how amazing deep fried turkey is, but had yet to experience it myself.
Boy, oh boy....I was not disappointed!

deep fried turkey

The following day I made everyone my Day After Thanksgiving Sandwiches.
Sourdough bread toasted with a thick layer of cranberry jelly on both ends and filled with leftover turkey and stuffing.

day after thanksgiving sandwich ~ mmmmm!

On our last night we had deep fried catfish, another first and another success.
Next time I would like to try it grilled or broiled to capture the true flavor of it.

deep fried catfish

Lunch and dinner weren't the only amazing meals.
My father in law made tons of blueberry and peach jam and I happily slathered it all over any carb I could find.
Fortunately, he sent us home with 3 jars of each flavor.
Unfortunately, I can't make up my mind so I have one of each opened right now and have a bit of each in the morning.

dad's homemade jams

My kids even pitched in the kitchen making monkey bread one afternoon.
There was no fighting or arguing, they helped each other and seemed to really enjoy themselves.

don't see this sight too often!

And I enjoyed the fruits of their labor....

Do you enjoy trying new things to eat or do you hear the name of something and shy away?
What's the most exotic thing you have ever eaten?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pickens County Flea Market

Wednesday morning we went to the Pickens County Flea Market.
What a flea market!
Nothing like the ones in New York and New Jersey where every table is laden with overpriced "antiques" whether or not the seller even has a clue to the history or details of their items.

This simple, country flea market held treasure after treasure. It was chock full of reasonably priced things that would be long gone in my local flea markets, scooped up by "collectors" or connoisseurs who desperately need these rustic prizes to decorate their weekend homes at the Shore or their getaways in the Hamptons.

Imagine my sheer surprise at seeing this painting that hung in my grandparents home leaned up against a table. The version they owned now hangs above the fireplace in my mother's kitchen. Who knew there was more than one?
I was tempted to buy it for the warm memories it gives me but ultimately resisted.
I couldn't help but wonder if it was a sign that they are always with my in spirit....

peewee herman would be envious

Besides seeing crazy things like bikes rigged with motors, I saw so many men with long hair that this place could have been mistaken for an 80's metal festival. Most of these men also had such long beards that even Santa Claus would be impressed.

There were so many Confederate flags flying about that as a pure blooded Yankee I couldn't help but feel a little uncomfortable.


Seeing Big Game jerky for sale and watching my husband buy alligator, kangaroo and some other revolting types made me queasy.

tobacco? of course....

On Friday morning I navigated my way back to the flea market alone because I was longing to find more treasures.
Shockingly, there were only 3 cars in the parking lot! My mother in law had warned me, Wednesday is the day to go, Fridays and Saturdays are a bust. Undeterred, I still gave it a try and disappointingly turned right around to head back.
On the way back to the cabin, I decided to fill up the gas tank for my husband since we were leaving Saturday morning. Truth be told, I'm really proud of my gas pumping skills and just wanted to show off. Working in New York so often has made me a semi pro at this since in New Jersey we pump it ourselves.

adventures in beef cookery: does not sound appealing!

I stopped at a run down Mobil station that sat on a busy corner up the street from the flea market.
It was hopping busy!
Busy like the 7Elevens and WaWa's here at home with commuters picking up their daily java and breakfast sandwiches.
Except at this rural corner station everyone in line was buying energy drinks and chew instead of egg and cheese sandwiches.

saw tons of these jugs with faces down there!

After discovering that this Mobil station doesn't take Speedpass I headed back to the cabin lacking treasures and driving on a half tank of gas.
I would just have to be satisfied with the things I had found on Wednesday which were indeed pretty amazing.

my haul

I collect vintage cameras and found the two pictured above as well as this movie projector from the 1920's complete with 3 16mm films!
I also bought a mini vintage kitchen scale, an antique tin pie plate from New England (since that's where my heart lies) and an antique tin fish mold for baking.

My mother in law surprised me by giving me these vintage tins that came from her mother and aunt's homes.
We spent a lazy afternoon together looking at all the dolls she had saved from her childhood and this amazing baby doll that had belonged to my husband's grandmother.
Items like these are true treasures and moments spent like this are invaluable.

Are you a flea marketer/treasure hunter?
Or do you prefer shiny and new to old and dusty?

I think a blend of both is sheer perfection.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Animals in the Woods


Kit Kat


These 3 are my mother and father in laws pets.
Chipper was being sold at the local flea market, Kit Kat was no longer wanted in the home she had,and Drifter showed up at the cabin one day covered in ticks and emaciated.
They are all completely loved and adored now which is not hard to imagine since they are all so cute!

 Baby Cow

Mama Cow

Baby belongs to my in laws while Mama belongs to their neighbor.
Mama headbutts Baby in the morning and eats all her food.
Apparently this is what cows do, but I find it heartbreaking.
Soon Baby will be weened away from her Mama and all her food will be her own.

Mr. Black Widow

 Mrs. Black Widow

Or vice versa.
I didn't get close enough to know for sure.
These two were found residing by the feed barn.
By the end of the week Mr. Black Widow was already MIA.
I suppose the name is appropriate after all....

 The gaggle of ducks at the pond

 Old Suzy

Suzy lives in a house on the pond.
She is sweet and stoic and brave enough to go tearing through the woods by herself.
The ducks live in the pond.
They make a ton of noise and don't go anywhere without each other.
Suzy's family feeds them every day but they are always looking for another meal.

The chickens at the Berry Farm

More chickens at the Berry Farm

We went grape picking one afternoon and these beauties were running all over the place and roosting under the porch of the cabin on the Berry farm.
They were cordial enough to let us pet them, but felt more at home running about.
In fact, I came home wanting to raise chickens of my own while my husband wanted to smuggle Drifter home in the car, my son wanted Chipper for himself and my daughter begged to bring Kit Kat into our family.

There is something magical in seeing animals able to be free and enjoy their environment.
But don't be fooled...the woods are a dangerous place for these animals too.
The woods are filled with bears, bobcats, coyotes, and poisonous snakes.
We opted to leave our two suburban dogs here at home for fear they could be harmed in such a wild place.
To think that Drifter wandered those woods broken down and alone makes me want to cry.
We left him behind in his comfy home where he is cared for and loved.

When we picked our own two pups up at the kennel Sunday morning, they were spoiled to death with love and affection.
No one mentioned to them that they had been pleading to bring home some new pets to love...and that was probably for the best.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Life In The Woods

In the woods, every morning begins with a walk and every day ends with a walk.
Rain or shine, it is simply breathtaking.

Even on a dreary, drizzly morning the fog coming off the mountains has a ghostly beauty that literally took my breath away.

I joined my mother in law on these morning walks almost every day. 
She walks their two dogs down to the pasture to feed their baby cow and her mama.
They know it is breakfast time when they see us approaching and head right over.

On a sunny morning, the same fog sometimes still hangs over the mountain.
And when it does it is truly magnificent!

The stillness of this place forces you to relax, take your time and just breath deeply.
I felt totally at peace here.
For one of the first times in my life, I was able to completely unwind.
I even turned my Blackberry totally off midweek and didn't turn it on again until Sunday night here at home.

The beauty of nature will always astound me.
And nothing is better than being able to bask in it purely ~ we see so much ugliness in the world that it sometimes becomes masked from us.

But to be still and soak it all in.....

is the most rejuvenating experience of all.

Moments like these make it all worth it.

Tomorrow: The Animals in the Woods

Monday, August 27, 2012

Road Trip: Off to the Log Cabin in the Woods

On the evening of August 17th my husband and I left NJ to begin the looong drive to his parents home in South Carolina.
We decided to head to Northern Virginia that night to stay with my (bestest) aunt and uncle in order to knock about 4 hours off the trip and make Saturday a bit more bearable.
It had been a crazy week here; I stayed in NY at my brother and sister in law's a few nights due to work demands. I literally came home Thursday night and took my stuff from one suitcase and put it in another.
I live out of luggage lately.
Since I was gone most of the week, I had a ton of stuff to do last minute around the house (clean the fridge out, drop the dogs to the kennel, last minute laundry..etc) besides try to pack for a week in rural SC.
I don't know about you, but packing casual attire is challenging for me. I am not a t-shirt and sneakers kind of gal so in the 11th hour I was still putting things in and pulling things out of the suitcase because I couldn't make any sound decisions and was terrified that I would be "uncomfortable" all week.
As a result, I ended up over packing both clothing, shoes and accessories.
When we finally headed out about 45 minutes after I originally intended, we got about 40 minutes into our trip and realized we had forgotten the things our daughter asked us to bring for her.
We turned around and drove all the way back home to pick them up and thus lost another hour of our journey.

at least we had a beautiful sky to look at!

We arrived late that night after driving through some inclement weather and getting stuck in traffic due to an accident. Then I, of course, stayed up until about 2am chatting away with my aunt.
Our delays, sheer exhaustion and the fact that we were snuggled up in the coziest place NOVA could ever offer meant that we didn't get back on the road until about 9am.
We headed out bound for Greensboro, NC where the kids had been staying with my mom for the past two weeks.
We take Rt. 29 through rural Virginia along the Blue Ridge Mountains because it is a gorgeous ride and 10 million times less stressful than taking 95.


We arrived in Greensboro at my mama's house mid afternoon. I knew my daughter would come tearing out to see us so I was poised with the camera ready to catch the moment.
And I did.

holy moly ~ she grew!

It was hard to do, but we made it a quick stop since we had another 4 hours to go. Within minutes we were back on the road.

Exactly 4 hours later we were driving up the long, steep driveway that winds up the mountainside ecstatic to see this welcome sight....

knowing full well that a week of pure bliss was about to begin.

Tomorrow: Life on the Mountain