The Hike to Abrams Falls: Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Abrams Falls is a popular short hike located on the western side of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. To get there, you must drive along the Cades Cove Loop, which can take a very long time, with estimates of about 2-4 hours of driving to complete the loop. The hike is described as moderate intensity and about five miles round trip, or 2.5 miles each way. The waterfall is about 20-feet tall, broad, and absolutely gorgeous in person. The pictures do not do the waterfall justice. The hike is popular not only because it is a shorter hike but also (or mostly) because the falls have created a natural swimming pool and wading area that’s shallow and refreshing after the up-and-down hike to get there.

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Vermont Maple Pickles: The August Food In Jars Mastery Challenge

When I read that August’s challenge was low temperature pasteurization or steam canning, I was equally clueless about both options. What the heck? I knew that pasteurization was something done to milk, and since I make cheese, I know how to see out milks that have been only just pasteurized so I can successfully make cheese. I didn’t think the August skill would have much to do with milk though. Similarly, I know how to steam vegetables, but I definitely didn’t know an iota about using steam to can anything.

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18 pounds of peaches, Unknown Quantities of Veggies, and 33 Mason Jars

My husband and I didn’t make our traditional grocery shopping list when we headed out to the farmers’ market at 7:00 a.m. We usually plan our meals and make the shopping list the night before so we’re armed with an attack plan and don’t get too suckered in by the piles of gorgeous vegetables, fruits, baked goods, and even wine! We head to the farmers’ market first to support local farmers and buy fresh regional produce before we head to our local grocery store to stock up on whatever else we might need that week, such as milk or yogurt. Every now and then when we’re at the farmers’ market, we buy something unexpected. Once, it was several beautiful blueberry bushes. This Saturday, we bought 18 pounds of peach seconds.

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Adjusting to Life with Fibromyalgia Over and Over Again

When our lives change, even for the better, our stress increases. When you have fibromyalgia, that usually means your pain and your fatigue change… and not for the better. As I wrote about earlier, I’m facing some a proverbial barrel of the gun in terms of changes: I’ve been promoted, and I’m starting a graduate school program. Yeah, I think I’m crazy too.

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Moving from Beetle Blasters to Beetle Jails: Small Hive Beetle Management

Small hive beetles are a pest and a terrible nuisance, but as we learned oh so painfully, they can destroy a weakened hive if they become established and do as they are wont to do:  reproduce prolifically.  I’ve never had a sadder (or more disgusting) moment in beekeeping than dealing with that lost hive. As such, we are working to become better managers of varroa and small hive beetles, the jerks.

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The House-Sat Explosion of Frozen Tomatoes

While we were on our two-week vacation, the garden was on the cusp of bursting with produce. We kept up with what was growing as we neared our vacation. Mostly. We told our friend who was house-sitting that she could take home all the cucumbers she wanted, but we asked that she chuck any ripe tomatoes into a bag in the freezer if she had the time and inclination. (I’d have offered our peppers, but she’s really allergic… so that suggestion could certainly have been misinterpreted!).

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Bicycling Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Cades Cove is an 11-mile loop in Great Smoky Mountain National park that can be driven or bicycled. I heartily recommend bicycling the loop for those who are able to do so. The trek is more enjoyable, and you don’t have to worry about parking should you want to stop to explore any of the historic cabins, larger homes, mills, churches or barns (and you absolutely should want to stop!). Many of the historic buildings are adjacent to the loop. A few are within a short hike from the loop; the farthest was about a half mile, and the trek was absolutely worth it to me!

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