Chalk Art and Panoply

Octopus Chalk Art at Panoply 2017Katie Beth has been having a blast at Panoply. The various STEAM tents and their associated activities have been a lot of fun for her. The artist venders have been beautiful to see.

But, Katie Beth’s passion has been her chalk art. She started late last night as our day at Panoply was winding down. When we arrived this morning, she wanted to go directly to the art to check on it.  After seeing it, she went back to drawing. She loved blending the colors and her clothes, face, and hands showed it.

People would stop to watch her draw for a while and ask her questions. Some would even take photos of the chalk art.

She sure loves to draw.

Easter in Blue Ridge: Day 6

Today’s activities started with a big delay as Karen couldn’t find her phone and it wasn’t responding to Apple’s “Find My Phone” or to her Apple Watch’s search capabilities.  Karen was sure the battery must have died.  We searched for hours. After tearing the cabin apart, we finally found the phone. Karen was so relieved.

We decided to head out to hike Dukes Creek Falls Trail near Blairsville, Georgia and to visit Helen, Georgia that we have heard so much about from Hope. The drive was beautiful through the mountains of Georgia.  Along the way, we stopped at various overlooks.  The picture above is from one of those overlooks.

In Blairsville, we spotted a thrift store, had to stop, and we scored a few items.

Katie Beth and me on the viewing platform of Dukes Creek FallsDukes Creek Falls is a beautiful cascade of 150 feet.  The trail itself is about 2.3 miles round trip.  Along the trail, you have beautiful views of Duke Creek.  The actual falls are on Davis Creek, which join Duke Creek at the base of the falls.  We saw trout fishermen and lots of cascades in Duke Creek.

Karen wished we had had time to hike the Raven Cliff Falls Trail, but the round trip distance of 5 to 6 miles was too much. The falls cuts through a rock at the top of a cliff.

Dukes Creek Falls Trail

Helen Georgia ArchitectureWe arrived in Helen very hungry so we drove around town looking for a place to eat and learned that parking is a big deal in Helen as there are parking lots every where with high fees.  The town is a tourist destination, but we arrived in the off-season so the place was empty. Most of the town is decorated as a little German Village. Many of the residents are of a German heritage and a great many speak with a German accent.
Katie Beth and Karen at The Troll TavernKaren wanted fish for our late lunch so we decided on The Troll Tavern & Restaurant, which is under the bridge on the Chattahoochee River.  The food was very good and Katie Beth loved playing in the river on the rocks.  We could have sat along the river for hours. The weather was wonderful with mild temperatures and a nice breeze.  Katie Beth in Chattahoochee RiverKatie Beth had children to play with on the rocks.  We even had a parent compliment Katie Beth on how nice she was with their child.

Many places were closed, which could have been do to the season or that is was a Monday. But, we did find Zu Zu’s Petals Rock Shop. Karen and Katie Beth enjoyed exploring the store.  The owner let Karen have some free single crystal Staurolite samples.  Karen is wanting to find in the wild the double crystal form of Staurolite, which is in the form of a cross.

As the day came to a close, we needed to head back toward our cabin for dinner and to be packed for tomorrow’s trip home.

You can view all the photos here.  Remember , username and password are “Friends” and “Photos”.

Easter in Blue Ridge: Day 5

Us on Easter 2017

Happy Easter!

Katie Beth and her Easter BasketKatie Beth enjoyed her Easter Basket and searching for Easter Eggs.  We believe that we left some unfound Easter Eggs in the cabin for sure.

St. Anthony Catholic Church had a very enjoyable mass this morning and hosted a St Anthony Catholic Church Easter Egg Huntwonderful Easter Egg Hunt for all the children especially given the small size of the church community.  They even provided baskets for everyone.

After mass and the Easter Egg Hunt, we joined Hope at her cabin for lunch before they headed back to their home.  The children re-hid the Easter eggs outside to play some more while the adults chatted inside.

After saying our goodbyes,  we headed back to our cabin. For dinner, we had baked rabbit.  We thought the idea of rabbit on Easter would be kind of funny.  It tasted very good, but Katie Beth didn’t enjoy us calling it the Easter Bunny.

As the evening wound down, we played in the creek and thought about what we would do tomorrow for our last day.  We began to wonder why we were heading back so we decided to stay an extra day! Katie Beth was excited.

You can see more photos from today here. Remember, the username and password are “Friends” and “Photos”.

Easter in Blue Ridge: Day 4

Dwarf Violet IrisWe all had a slow start this morning. After a late breakfast, we relaxed on the balcony.

We decided to drive over to the swinging bridge for a small hike and the view of the Toccoa river.  The drive to the bridge is beautiful.  We took the more eastern route, which provides views of the mountains, hills, and old farms.  The western route follows the Toccoa river more closely.  The trail is nice and easy, but the last 3 miles of gravel road requires a vehicle with high clearance and it will beat you up driving it.

Fallen Tree ChairThe flower is a Dwarf Violet Iris that was found along the trail.  We stopped at the fallen tree chair for a quick family photo.  On our hike, we saw a huge fallen tree giving Karen a chance to search for special rocks.  While heading back to our car and crossing the bridge, we spotted a Cottonmouth snake swimming across the Toccoa River.  The current didn’t even phase the snake as it swam across.

Toccoa River Swinging Bridge

Hannah Jones and Katie Beth Allen on Toccoa RiverAfterwards, we headed over to Hope’s cabin to visit before dinner.  Charlie and Katie Beth put on swimsuits so they could play in the Toccoa River on the rocks.  Charlie tried to get Katie Beth to jump into the water off of the rocks, but she wouldn’t have it.  Charlie JonesEventually, Katie Beth felt comfortable and waded into the water. At one point, poor Charlie slipped and hit his face on a rock.  He said it hurt pretty good and it left a good mark.

Hope mashing rutabagasIt was time to head back for Hope’s Easter dinner and an Easter Egg Hunt at Hope’s cabin.  Dinner was about ready, but needed more time.  Karen, Hope, and I headed out to hide the Easter Eggs.  The children enjoyed searching for the eggs, but Hannah may be getting too old to see the fun.

After the hunt and very enjoyable dinner, we sat around their fire pit and roasted marshmallows and popped corn.

You can see more of today’s photos here. Remember, the username and password are “Friends” and “Photos”.

Easter in Blue Ridge: Day 3

Fire Pit in Blue Ridge Georgia The morning started with the ladies sleeping late and me making coffee and enjoying it by the fire pit. After breakfast, we headed out for an easy hike to Fall Branch Falls. The weather was great for the 30 minute hike into see the falls. The trail is surrounded by rhododendron.

After the hike, we headed into town for lunch at Blue Ridge Brewery.  I had the African Chicken Soup with Apple & Ham Panini, Katie Beth has Shrimp Mac & Cheese, and Karen had the Spinach and Apple salad.  With lunch finished, we went for another hike.

Old Homestead in Aska Trail AreaKeeping it easy, we hiked the Aska Trail: Long Branch Loop.  The trail has some ups and downs, but it is just a moderate trail.  This time we discovered the remains of an old homestead.  We have hiked and bicycled this trail before and never noticed the homestead.  We even found a snake hiding in the stones of the chimney warming itself.  We took Katie Beth to the Tocca River so she could play on her favorite rocks.  As rain was starting, we drove into town.

We decided to stop at Grumpy Old Men Brewery for some sampling.  Karen had some good adult time chatting with other guest.  Katie Beth enjoyed playing with all the dogs and she and I had a good game of checkers plus other games.

Dying Easter Eggs with CousinsAfter dinner at the cabin, we went to meet Hope and her family to dye eggs to finish off our evening.

You can see more photos from today here.  Remember, the username and password are “Friends” and “Photos”.

Easter in Blue Ridge: Day 2

Katie Beth with Fishing PoleAt morning break, Katie Beth was already heading to the creek with a fishing pole and had her line in the water by 7:30AM. Apparently, the low 50’s is too cold for Katie Beth.

After fishing and playing at the creek, we headed into town for a day of visiting thrift stores.  We scored all sorts of things including a set of dishes for Hope, a cool scientific calculator for Katie Beth, some fabric for sewing crafts, a Minecraft poster for Katie Beth’s room, and more.  We finally visited the hiking consignment store, which keeps odd hours making it hard to checkout.

Blue Ridge Oil CompanyAfter Karen had her fill of thrift store shopping, we visited downtown to see the shops, pickup some gifts, and a quick lunch.  We saw the Black Bear Bier Garten had a great selection of custom made sausages, which would be perfect for dinner at the cabin.  We picked a variety of sausages that included pheasant, venison, and bison.  We had lunch at Masseria Kitchen & Bar, which was great as always.  Next up, Blue Ridge Oil Company was our destination for a few gifts.  The ladies had fun sampling all the variety of oils and vinegars.

Corn shuck dollsAfter sampling and picking up items for dinner, we headed back to the cabin for dinner and relaxation.  Katie Beth played in the creek and Karen fished some.  As dinner time neared, Katie Beth shucked our corn and made corn shuck dolls while we sat in front of the fire pit enjoying the warmth and sounds of the creek.

Hot tub relaxationAfter dinner, the ladies relaxed in the hot tub while I tended to the fire and enjoyed some of the beers we picked up.

You can see more of today’s photos here. Remember, the username and password are “Friends” and “Photos”.

Easter in Blue Ridge: Day 1

We are off to spend Easter in Blue Ridge, Georgia and visit my sister, Hope, and her family for Easter dinner.

Katie Beth was excited that we had the car completely packed for the trip when we picked her up from school.  We made quick progress to Chattanooga, but traffic on the interstate through downtown was at a standstill.  We decided to stop in Chattanooga for dinner.

Karen saw that Moccasin Bend Brewing Company would be open so we headed to Crust Pizza to pick up some dinner to take to the brewery.  We ate and got 4 samples to try while Katie Beth played shuffle board for the first time.  The brewery has a very cool look inside and the back patio is great for playing games.

After finishing our samples and pizza, the traffic was gone.  We made our way onto Blue Ridge.  Our cabin is on Fightingtown Creek, which we truly enjoyed fishing and just hearing the water cascading over the rocks.  Being late, we couldn’t fully appreciate the view or creek.

16 Legs of Lamb Roasting

Seder lamb in OvenThe legs of lamb are in the oven. My annual Seder meal cooking has started. St. Joseph Catholic Community has been celebrating the Seder meal since the early 70’s as a way remember where we came from and where we are going.

It has been a tradition for me to cook lamb for well over fifteen years, maybe twenty.  In the early years, my father helped cook the lamb and my mother put on the Seder meal for our parish. Prior to that, Lee Keon taught my father and I how to cook the lamb and drink vodka martinis at the old Knight of Colobus lodge while doing the cooking.  For the past couple of years, I have been teaching Katie Beth how to season the lamb so maybe some day she take over this tradition. 

The smell has filled the church kitchen with the lovely aromas of spices and lamb. 

It is nice to be a part of something so special. 

Growing Lady Bugs and Painted Ladies

Painted Lady CaterpillarLady Bug LarvaWe ordered a set of young larva of Lady Bugs and Painted Ladies.  This is our first year for Lady Bugs, which made for some work not having the right house for the larva to mature inside.  Karen is very resourceful and quickly came up with a Lady Bug house.  The caterpillars were less than a ¼ inch in length and quickly grew to about an 1½ in length.  The lady bugs were about the same length, but were much more active and quickly spread all about their little house.

Painted Lady ReleaseIn about 2 weeks, we had Painted Ladies and Lady Bugs ready for release.  The release was so quick that I didn’t get a photo of the Lady Bugs being let go.  Sadly, two of our Painted Ladies had a misshaped wing, but we put them on our flowers.