Hurricane Matthew

I’ve been a little quiet on the social media front but for a very good reason – I’ve been in Alaska! This trip was an absolute dream and trust me, there will be posts forthcoming about it.

My cousin watched over the house (and Jake/the chickens) while we were gone. Belle went to stay with my mom and had an awesome time playing with her puppy (and both dogs were exhausted come the end of my trip). But there is something very nerve-wracking about being so far away when bad weather hits your home, especially when that bad weather is a hurricane.


Taken by my mom

Hurricane Matthew wrecked havoc from the Caribbean up to the East Coast of the United States while we were gone. This comes on top of above average rainfall already in my area just the week before the hurricane hit us. Though it was reduced to a category 1 by the time it hit us (I believe), it still caused devastating flooding in so many areas. Most people say that they’ve never seen the water as high as it rose during the hurricane.


Taken by my cousin

The good news: We were very fortunate overall. The water never came into our house and the only real damage is that the wind blew our fence a bit crooked in areas (helped by the fact that all of the posts were in sopping wet ground).

The bad news: We lost 3 of our 5 chickens. This loss is nothing compared to what others have lost I know, but it still breaks my heart. The chickens were our 3 three egg producers. The creek flooded so quickly that it caught everyone off guard. My cousin stated that the water was up to her knees.


from l-r: Emily, Iggy, Squeeta (Whitey in the background survived)

My boyfriend and I are debating whether or not we want to go ahead and get more chickens or just wait. We are wanting to find a house with acreage soon and 2 chickens are a lot easier to move than 5. Besides, I think we will have a better selection of chickens during the Spring (and our birds don’t lay in the winter anyway). On the other than, there is something so lonely looking about watching our 2 remaining birds putt around.


Taken by my cousin

For more news coverage on Hurricane Matthew in North Carolina (including some images from a town near where I live) – check out CNN.

Fall Goals!

I love fall. I love how crisp and fresh the air becomes. I love being able to snuggle under a thick blanket to watch TV. I love being able to wear my flannel shirts and jeans (though I do stretch out wearing flip flops as long as possible). Between my upcoming trip to Alaska (!!!) and being booked for a show almost every weekend, this season is destined to fly by faster than I would like it to.

So I’ve developed a list of goals that I would like to accomplish during the fall season. Most are simple ones – no brainers – but a few tend to be a little more in depth.

  • Tan deer hide – This is my biggest goal. I’ve mentioned tanning a couple of times in the blog but haven’t done it yet. It’s almost time for Robb to kill and process a deer so if I want him to get me more hide – I need to get on the ball with what is in my freezer and start the process.
  • Make my own almond milk/discover uses for almond meal – It is amazing to me that I’ve gotten Robb to switch to almond milk. We actually both prefer the taste of it over regular milk now. The only issue is that store bought milk has so many additives added. I’ve been wanting to make my own almond milk for a while now and will be doing so this week.
  • Make homemade Skyr – Simply put, Skyr is a type of Icelandic yogurt. I had the opportunity to try some a few months ago during a cheese making course (used in a Mango Lassi) and I fell in love with the taste.
  • Keep my Etsy shop updated – If I ever want to make The Southern Belle’s Garden my living, I need to make it a habit to list items on a regular basis to my Etsy shop. I have a slew of nice items I’m developing for this holiday season and just need to carve out a chunk of time (maybe on Sundays) and make that my time to photograph and list the items. I also wouldn’t mind starting to post some of my photography for sell in my Etsy shop. I take hundreds of pictures every week and for the most part, keep them locked up on my memory card. Maybe it’s time to share them with others.
  • Get my garden planted for Winter – This is highest on my to-do list at the moment. I’ve slowly been working on it, but I wanted everything planted before I leave for Alaska. I pulled up my sweet potatoes the weekend and most of my pepper plants last week. I have planted my garlic and plan to plan onions this week (both for Spring harvest). We have broccoli planted, collards, lettuce, spinach – but I do want to have a few root vegetables tossed in as well. The okra and eggplant are still rapidly producing and the beans are almost ready to be picked.
  • Homemade flour tortillas – For some reason, I have become obsessed with the idea of making my own flour tortillas. Everything that I have read on the process leads me to believe that they are easy to make and the taste is out of this world. I thought that this might be a fun little weekend project when I finally have a free moment.

Do you have anything that you wish to accomplish this fall?

Heritage Harvest Festival (2 of 2)

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post detailing my adventures at the Heritage Harvest Festival at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. If you missed part one, please check it out.


This is probably my favorite photo out of them all.


TJ and I

For lunch, I ate at Gryffon’s Aerie (grass fed beef burger with aioli, arugula, local tomato) while my mom ate at Bada Bing (philly cheesesteak). My burger was absolutely delicious while mom’s cheesesteak had a nice heat to it. For dessert, we shared a refreshing popsicle from King of Pops (lemon basil). It was delicious (which I’ve had their popsicles a couple of times before in Atlanta).


That afternoon, after leaving mom in a nice breezy spot, I went to watch Jeanine Davis’ presentation on Unusual Edible Plants & Fungi for Home Gardens. Fun fact: Jeanine is a horticulture extension specialist with North Carolina State University (my alma mater). Listening to her presentation made me want to try growing wasabi again and is making me very curious about the status of the ginseng I planted last fall. It was a great presentation and she brought lots of goodies – grey griselle shallots and Japanese hull less popcorn seeds for us to plant and a dried ramp spice rub (which smells delicious). I haven’t had the opportunity to try ramps before and am delighted experience them.


We walked around, checking out some of the other sights – such as the farm animals. I love goats and cannot wait until I can have a goat of my own!



Before we left, I made it a point to stop back by Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and take advantage of their 3 for $5 seed packet special (and no shipping!). SESE is one of my favorite companies to order from every year, right next to Baker Creek. I went with some seeds that were on my wish list (White Sage, Tulsi Kapoor Holy Basil, German Chamomile, Resina Calendula, Carolina Gold Rice), a few that sounded interesting (Seminole Pumpkin – which Jeanine discussed in her workshop, Rouge d’Hiver Romaine, Monticello White Sesame), and one “practical” seed packet (Georgia Green Collards).



My goodies.

Thank you to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation for making this a great weekend for my mother and I! I hope to come back again next year and encourage everyone to go at least once in their lifetime.


For a review of several of the places I ate and stayed at – Virginia Diner, The Fitzroy, and the KOA Charlottesville – please check out The Edible Coast. My post on the KOA Charlottesville is currently up and the others will be added soon.

Heritage Harvest Festival! (1 of 2)

I finally made it to Monticello! I have been wanting to visit Monticello for years now and ended up going this weekend for the 10th Annual Heritage Harvest Festival. The Heritage Harvest Festival is this huge even

The first thing that you will notice when you arrive at the top of the mountain is the view. The view is gorgeous.



The garden at Monticello is amazing. It is basically my dream garden. There were so many varieties of plants (many, like fish peppers, I identified by sight) that I could probably have simply explored the garden all day. I want to go back on a non-festival day and really browse the garden.I’m also jealous at the large amount of fig trees and the size of the orchard! One day…~!



I’ve been wanting to grow these little peppers for a while now.


This was such a neat idea for growing beans that I snapped a photo to share the idea with my boyfriend.


The Tasting Tent seems to be the highlight of the event. We made our way around the tables for the Tomato, Melon, and Pepper tasting. There were so many different varieties that neither of us tasted every single product. We did have our favorites though – the main one being a tomato by the name of Nepal. I MUST have seeds for this one next growing season – it tasted like sugared tomatoes, that delicious touch of sweetness.





The first cider we tried from Castle Hill Cider was a bit to dry for our taste (Levity), but the Serendipity was perfection. We both ended up purchasing a bottle of it. Back Pocket Provisions was at the top of my list of vendors that I wanted to check out. We tried all three of their Bloody Mary mixes (Bloody Brilliant, Bloody Bangkok, Bloody Baja) and decided that Bloody Brilliant was our favorite. We purchased 3 jars of it. I’m not a big Bloody Mary fan but I loved the taste of their mixes and even more so, I love that they use local farms for their tomatoes.


American Heritage Chocolate

Barefoot Bucha was a bit hit with my mother and I as well. I love Kombucha but she has never tried it. We both tried the ginger kombucha, which we preferred over the Elderflower Sunrise. I ended up buying a 1/2 gallon of ginger. What is neat is that the container is refillable!


I had been curious about Falling Bark Farm’s Hickory Syrup since I had heard about it. It is an interesting taste and though I didn’t buy any then, I later purchased a small jar from the shop at Carter’s Mountain Orchard. I have followed Farmstead Ferments on social media for a while and was thrilled to see them there. My mom and I tried the strawberry mint water kefir. It was both of our first times trying water kefir and we enjoyed how refreshing it tasted. When we went back to buy some later that day, they were out.:-/ What was really neat is that they had kombucha scoby’s for sale as well. I purchased a small jar of hand-harvested salt from J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works. There were several other food vendors we tasted – they were all delicious. The Peppermint Dark Chocolate Sauce from Willie Byrd was delicious and the sage vodka (?) was quite an interesting experience.

Part two will be posted tomorrow! 

For a review of the places I ate and stayed at – Virginia Diner, The Fitzroy, and the KOA Charlottesville – please check out The Edible Coast. The KOA Charlottesville is up and the other two will be up soon!

Taco Tuesday

Guys. It’s Taco Tuesday. When I made the rough draft of my meal plan for the week, I did not realize that I would actually be serving tacos on Tuesday. But in an effort to use up some of the many pounds of North Carolina shrimp in my freezer, I decided to go with shrimp tacos.

It also seemed like a rather fitting dish to celebrate the ending of Summer. When I awoke this morning, the air in the bedroom was crisp and I snuggled back under the warmth of my covers for a bit. I do love Fall. It is my absolutely favorite season, right after Summer.

My boyfriend arrived back home yesterday after being out west in Idaho the past few weeks on fire duty. On my way to pick him up from the airport, I made a stop to Target. They always have the best food items there that I can’t seem to find around here – Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, pancetta, etc.

I found the Frontera Key Lime Cilantro Taco Skillet Sauce that is made for shrimp and fish. I didn’t realize it until I got home that this was a line developed by the Rick Bayless. I knew that this would be a good dish. I followed the directions pretty much spot on, only I used a can of diced green chiles instead of fresh peppers.


I feel like I cheated on my tacos using a store bought sauce. But I did make my own pico de gallo using fresh tomatoes and jalapenos from our garden, a diced onion and a splash of lime juice. Our tomatoes are fading fast and I wanted to enjoy them at least once more. We never seem to have cilantro on hand when I need it though.

I served my tacos on flour tortillas with lettuce, fresh avocado, the pico de gallo, and another squeeze of lime juice. Delicious!