Saturday Outing

Today the children and I, along with one of our summer staff, went on an outing to an old strip mine site.  We were hoping to see the wild horses that live there and pick some black raspberries.  After driving up a steep gravel road, we parked the car and then meandered around on foot.


We did pick a few black raspberries and blackberries, but it looks like there will be lots of ripe blackberries in a week or two.  While we saw hoof prints and droppings, we never did spot the horses.  Still it was a nice hike and a beautiful day.

On the way out, we stopped at a small waterfall.  The coolness of the woods and water were welcome on a warm afternoon.



Here are a few sights from the week.

The milkweed are blooming.


A Luna moth on the side of the dorm.



A sunrise.



A sunset.




Scenes from the Week

Monday, first volunteer group of the summer arrives.  Fifty-five hard-working and capable young people and their leaders.

Tuesday, wading in the cold water of a mountain creek while the children splash and squeal nearby.

Preparing meals and cleaning up the kitchen for sixty-nine people.  So hot on Wednesday, I am wilted.

Thursday evening, Family night at horse camp.  Standing in the parking lot afterwards, the children strolling around the lake while the parents enjoy catching up with friends.

In the kitchen, laughing hysterically at 6:00 Friday morning with my co-workers.  In the evening, teens leading strong accapella singing with harmony in praise to our God.

Lightning bugs flash. Brilliant red sunset at 9:30 Saturday evening.


Wild azalea blooming prolifically.  A handful of black raspberries picked along the trail Sunday morning.  Sweet bursts of flavor.




Gourmet Potatoes, revised

Somewhere along the way, Gourmet Potatoes became a tradition at my mother’s side of the family’s gatherings.  With anticipation, I would look forward to Grandma’s delicious, rich dish of potatoes at Easter and Christmas get-togethers.  Eventually others in the family began to make them too, and a tradition was born.  With sour cream, cheese, and butter, the potatoes are not what I would consider everyday fare, but they make special treat occasionally.

Over the years, our children have learned to appreciate Irish potatoes prepared in almost any way; but sweet potatoes have been a struggle.  I have tried roasted, boiled, stir-fried, even in waffles; but the reaction ranges from tolerance to tears.  A while ago, my husband suggested trying Gourmet Potatoes made with sweet instead of Irish potatoes.  Recently,  I finally had all the ingredients on hand.  What a surprise!  Everyone enjoyed them.  So here is my revised version.  The original recipe calls for cheddar cheese, double the amount here.  I have also reduced the salt and sour cream.  Enjoy!

Gourmet Sweet Potatoes

6 medium potatoes

1 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese

1/4 cup butter

1 cup sour cream

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper


Cook potatoes in skins.  Potatoes should be firm, do not let them get too soft.  Cool, peel, and shred.

Blend cheese, sour cream, and seasonings. Melt or cut butter into small pieces.  Fold potatoes, butter, and cheese mixture together.

Place in greased 9×11 inch baking dish.  Sprinkle with paprika if desired.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 F

Just an aside, at supper I said to my husband, “I’m glad you suggested this idea.”  He replied that he meant the kind of potato dish where you cut them in circles.  “Oh, scalloped potatoes.”  There is another idea: scalloped sweet potatoes.  Sounds interesting!

Bits and Pieces

Since we have moved and because of the nature of our work, I have little time for writing and limited access to internet and computer; but I hope to share bits and pieces of our days.

Last Monday, when my husband and I were taking our morning walk with the dog, we spotted a bobcat on the trail.  He saw the face, but I only caught a glimpse of the tail end as it ran off.  Later in the week, a young bear ran through the woods alongside the trail.  One evening, a larger bear ambled through the trees on the hill behind our house.

The mountain laurel and wild azalea are both blooming.  The delicate blossoms are lovely.  I have never seen the wild azalea anywhere else but along the trail.





The children have been finding pleasure outside of their usual activities.  Several days, the boys played marbles.  One day, I caught our daughter lying in the grass gazing at the sky.





Last week was orientation for summer staff and location coordinators for the home repair ministry in which we are serving.  To be able to speak encouragement and council into the lives of young adults was a privilege and a blessing.  Not so many years ago, we were the young adults whose lives were being challenged and stretched.

Our vegetable garden is progressing.  We were able to have our garden plowed through Grow Appalachia.  Another organization donated tomato plants that had been given by a grocery story; and we planted beans, corn, carrots, cucumbers, and summer and winter squash.  After watching a movie about gardening with wood chips, we have been wanting to try it; so this is the year.  Half the garden is covered, and we need to get some more chips.  After several days of no rain, I felt under the wood chips and was gratified to still feel moist soil.  The wood chips also keep the weeds to a minimum and will eventually compost into the soil.



Saturday, at the Poke Sallet Festival, we manned a table for our local food pantry/ soup kitchen.  We were stationed beside the main stage, so we were able to enjoy some talented bluegrass bands.  One group, mostly made of young folks, was very lively with the fiddle, bass, and banjo.

This morning, walking up the hill behind our house, the sun’s rays filtered down through the morning mist and the trees: a beautiful sight to see.