Blackberry Mountain
Mushrooms Galore 12/28/2010
I finally got something that I have been wanting for a very long time...a 1/2 Portabella and 1/2 White Button Mushroom growing kit.  Jeremy and I both really like mushrooms and I cook with them often so I have been interested in growing them for a while. The kit consists of two dirt mixtures that are easily put together in the same cardboard box they are shipped in.  I have to spray them once a day and in about three weeks we'll be eating mushrooms. 
Joy to the world 12/21/2010
It’s almost Christmas.  There are 5 days left to be exact, though many of us have been shopping, planning, and preparing for the festivities since Thanksgiving (and even before that in some cases).  I am mixed with emotions over the holidays.  It is so busy and overwhelming with expectations that it can be hard to find Jesus among all the glitter and wrapping paper.  I’ve tried to celebrate differently this year but I still get caught up in the chaos on many occasions.  This past weekend I attended four Christmas parties where I was able to spend time with friends and family that I have not seen in months or longer, sharing joys and concerns.  I also helped direct a children’s Christmas program and took our church’s younger youth Christmas caroling.  All of the weekend was completely chaotic but I enjoyed just about every second of it (I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t panic a few times). 

While running around and accomplishing all of these tasks and events I was reminded that one of my favorite parts of the holidays is when we carol to some of our older church members.  The kids love singing and being together but the folks that we visit show us just how much it means to them.  Tears were shed, hugs were given, the youth were surprised with cookies, and sometimes the folks we visited even joined in with the singing.  The whole experience is truly a gift on both ends.  This year we decided not to call ahead so that we could surprise every person.  Every single unsuspecting member was completely full of joy when they answered their door to a porch full of smiling, singing children.  One couple joined us as we sang and told us that it was the best thing ever.  They had never ever had Christmas carolers or any other young people stop by like this.  They were 91! 

I love the holiday season because it brings together friends and family for gatherings that really don’t happen any other part of the year.  I think it is wonderful that the joyful spirits that we call holiday cheer can brighten the day of someone that lives alone or of a couple that doesn’t get too many visitors.  But I find it extremely sad that it takes the holiday for all of this to happen.  I’m just as guilty of it as the next person.  The holidays remain chaotic because we try to cram everything into a period of four weeks (otherwise known as Advent, a time that we are to prepare our hearts for the Lord’s arrival) in between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It is my wish that we could take a morsel of the holiday spirit and turn it into something bigger and something greater that can be shared year round.  Consider this over the next few months.  When you take down your stockings and your tree, don’t pack away your joyful spirit too.  Keep the spirit burning inside of you so that you might feel the urge to visit a friend, to bring cheer to someone who lives alone, to share a meal with someone.  Don’t let the meaning of Christmas get packed away with all the other things that we store for 11 months out of the year. 

Our home is the house my father-in-law was raised in, placed on the family land.  The land is beautifully decorated with trees of all types, several fields under the local power lines, and a couple creeks if you are brave enough to get back into the woods.  It is truly a place for adventure.  Many would see the land as an opportunity for farming, but it took me a long time to see from that perspective.  When Jeremy and I got married and spent our first summer living in Cherryville I would laugh about how crazy it was that our neighbors had chickens and those chickens walked across the road (like the jokes I had heard as a child) and hung out in our yard.  I would take photos of them just because I thought it was so neat and I just had to show my friends how the "real" country life was.  I never would have guessed that in less than 2 years I would have my own chickens.  Today the memory makes me laugh as I sit and think, "Why NOT own chickens?"  They give an egg nearly everyday, meat and, they make more chickens. 

How did we end up with chickens?  As we got comfortable living here, we also got comfortable with the idea of making this place home.  After that we thought it would be neat to have a few chickens for eggs.  The idea was planted in our minds and became a reality after viewing a documentary about where our food actually comes from.  The idea of chickens being mass produced in houses where they never see daylight and their life begins and ends in a record amount of time was unsettling to say the least.  That weekend we cleaned out an old shed that Jeremy's Papaw used for storage and turned half of it into a chicken coup.  We drove to the local flea market and bought 3 hens-- 1 Rhode Island Red and 2 Black Sex-Links.  Over the next few weeks our flock increased to a family of 9 and now, a year later, we have about 23 chickens and 16 chicks.  We collect white, brown, and GREEN eggs from our chickens every day and we kill one when we need chicken for a meal.   I never would have thought I would own chickens but now that I do I wouldn't have it any other way.  Some people say that chickens are dumb...and just like humans, they can be, but I think that they are fascinating and not really that dumb. 

This year we spent Thanksgiving at home eating the last of a few summer crops and one of our chickens in a tasty chicken stew.  It was different than any Thanksgiving ever before because I was away from parents and siblings and because we did not eat Turkey but it was truly a blessing to eat a meal that I fully participated in growing and raising and for that I am thankful