It happens every year; usually right after Halloween. The colder temperatures make me want to bundle up and eat something sugary and comforting. Unfortunately, I don’t ever stop at just one treat. I spend the next two months acting like a gluttonous heathen, enjoying all of the sweets and treats that the holiday season has to offer. I won’t apologize for it, no sir. After all, it wouldn’t be Christmas time without eating rum cake, buckeye candies, cookies and coconut pie. I do love me some sweetnin. [sic] However come January 1st, I am ready to chuck it all out the door and do anything to make myself feel better. Eating all of that sugar has adverse effects on your body, and I didn’t truly realize that until last year.
While working at the Farmers Market last summer, I overheard one of the farmers talk about something called the Whole 30. She talked about it enough to other people that it intrigued me, and one day I asked her about it. In a nutshell, for 30 days you only eat, vegetables, meats, fruits, and nuts and that’s about it. No sugars (artificial or real), or any product whatsoever with added sugars like mayonnaise, dressings, etc. No flour, no dairy or beans. It is very strict, but it is only for 30 days. You can do anything for 30 days, right? The best part is, it is not a gimmick, and you don’t have to subscribe to a monthly club. All of the information is free on the Whole 30 website or in their book.
I won’t lie. It was a bit of a challenge at first, but after around day 17, something kicked in and my body responded very well to eating all of that good, clean food. I honestly felt euphoric. It was powerful, and I mean this with all my heart- it was life changing. I realized that what I had been consuming all these years was poisoning my body.
Now, I am a huge advocate of eating the Whole 30 way. Not all of the time, but definitely right now as a detox from all of the candies and sugars from the holidays, and as just a way to feel great!
I realize that this topic is a bit off my usual subjects, but I am writing this to help you realize that if you are feeling sluggish, tired, have headaches often and just don’t feel good. Maybe a change in what you eat could be all that you need for a reset. It worked wonderfully for me; I hope it will for you too!
That’s the news from the homestead, see you next week!
A brand new calendar holds so much promise;
In my hands, I hold a whole new year to plan, dream and set goals for. It is such fun to think that in two more months the daffodils will be blooming. In four months, I will plant the tiny seeds that will grow into vegetables to feed my family, and five months from now; I will once again smell the roses that bloom so lovely in my garden.
When I was a teenager, I never liked the winter months. To me, they signaled a let down after the highs of the holiday season. Three months of dreary, cold and dark weather and a bit of melancholy was all the first of the new year meant to me. Now, that I am wiser, I relish this peaceful season of reflection and (some) rest. The boisterous holidays and craft show that I take part in are over, and I have more time to sit and think.
Writing out goals for the new year is something I enjoy. I suppose it is the same as making resolutions, except to me, resolutions seem negative. ( I’m not quite sure where that idea came from.) If I make it a goal instead, it seems more obtainable. Do you do that too? I find that the physical act of writing out an idea or goal helps to cement it in my head, and I find that I can achieve it easier.
Thank you for coming out to the Tiny Boutique, week after week and for faithfully reading my column. Here’s wishing you the very best that 2017 has to offer.
That's the news from the homestead, see you next week!
Several years ago, my first cousin, Andy wanted to have a big Smoky Mountain Christmas party and have all of our family together for a grand celebration and feast. It was decided that we would buy several gifts for the children so Andy ordered some big fabric sacks for us to put the their presents in. He sent them to me and asked if I could embroider their names on each of them.
I wanted to make the sacks look old, and add an element of magic to them, so I brewed up a couple of pots of strong coffee and tea. They needed to smell good too, so I put in a bottle of vanilla extract and a few shakes of cinnamon and poured it all into a 5-gallon bucket. ( There were eight children to make sacks for, so I had to make a lot of aging liquid.) I took everything outside and dipped the sacks one by one into the liquid and then hung them on the clothes line to dry. They hung on the clothes line all night, and by the next day, they looked as if they had aged about a hundred years.
Now, my family lives in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and since we were having a Smoky Mountain Christmas, I wanted to write up a little story that included Andy's family and my Grandmother and the area that they live.
Following is the story-
The winter of 1857 was a bitterly cold one for the people of the Appalachian Mountains in Tennessee.
Folks did all they could to survive and keep warm. The cold weather was particularly hard for the John Bryan Family. They had just moved from the middle part of the state where the temperature was warmer, and they had little need for quilts and kivers to keep warm.
Mother Debra did everything she could to keep the family warm, but it seemed each night, the two little boys, Andrew and Scott would surly freeze their toes off.
One morning as little Andrew and Scott were gathering firewood, they stumbled upon an old abandoned cabin deep in the woods. They decided to explore the old place to see if there were any leftover treasures from the former inhabitants.
When they climbed the stairs to the attic of the place, they found a trunk. Inside that trunk were some old sacks. Thinking that their mother could use thd sacks to sew into warm quilts, the boys gathered them up and took them home.
That night, an ice storm came to the mountains. It was 14 below zero outside and not much warmer in their little log cabin. Debra, had no time to sew the sacks into warm quilts that night, so she lay them over her boys, her husband John and her mother, Memmy.
As the family lay under the sacks, they became warm as toast. Warmer than they had been all winter. In fact, so warm, little Scott had to throw his kivers off during the night. The Bryan family and old grandmother Memmy slept sound, and warm that night and had the most pleasant dreams.
Debra decided that making the sacks into quilts would take too much time and she had so many other household chores to do that she would just leave them in sack form and just use them as they had the first night.
Christmas Time was drawing near and John was worried that there would be no money for presents. He was able to buy each boy a peppermint stick at the store at White Oak Flats but that was all.
He went to bed on Christmas Eve, warm and snug but a little heavy-hearted that he was unable to buy anything for Debra and old grandmother Memmy.
When morning dawned, the family woke up freezing. They wondered why they were so cold, and as they looked upon the beds, they noticed that their sack blankets were gone. But they were not gone! As Andrew looked up, he spotted the sacks lying against the hearth, bulging full of something! Each sack had the names of every member of the family sewn onto them.
Andrew and Scott rushed to their sacks and what they found was nothing short of a miracle! They were filled with hand carved toy animals, new clothing, warm woolen mittens, socks, and dozens of beautiful new quilts.
The Bryan family did not know who was responsible for this, but they all felt that it was a gift from the Spirit of Christmas.
Many years have passed since that winter day when the Bryan boys stumbled upon the magic sacks in the attic of that old cabin. Their story had been passed down through several generations, but no one ever knew what became of the sacks.
Several weeks ago, a group of Archeology students from the University of Tennessee were digging around the old Bryan homestead in the Great Smoky Mountains. They came across an ancient trunk full of old sacks. All of the sacks had names sewn onto them and had a faintly sweet aroma about them.
The Archeology Professors at U.T. decided that the sacks must be given to the descendants of the Bryan Family.
So, here they are, safely in your hands.
Who knows what kind of magic may happen with these old sacks on Christmas Eve!
So imagine this; it is Christmas Eve, and we are all in a huge log cabin in the Mountains. It is getting dark, and we gather all of the children upstairs and read the story about the Magic Sacks aloud to them. After we read the story, we pulled the sacks, full of toys- out of hiding, and gave them to each of the children. You can imagine the delight on their sweet little faces upon seeing these!
It was indeed a Merry Christmas for all of us!
That’s the news from the homestead, see you next week!
The weeks leading up to Christmas were full of anticipation, magic and wonder when I was a child.
Evenings were spent making our Christmas list, practicing for a school play and making candies to give away to our friends.
It was such a uniquely special season, and I find myself wishing now that I could have bottled some of that childlike excitement, leading up to the big day.
We lived in town when I was a little girl, and I remember eagerly watching the electric company put up the red and green decorations on the light poles a few days after Thanksgiving. The lighted wreaths and bells were lovely to look at when night fell on the streets of our small town.
We also had a Christmas parade in the middle of the day, on a weekday- no less. I remember the teacher helping us bundle up so we could go out and stand by the side of the road at the front of our school and watched the parade go by.
A favorite hot drink to enjoy during this time of year is one that my Aunt Debby always had on hand for us. It is called Russian Spiced Tea and it only requires a few ingredients.
1 Cup of Instant Unsweetened Tea Granules
1 Cup Tang
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon each of Cinnamon & Cloves.
Mix dry ingredients together and store in a glass jar.
When you are ready to drink, mix 2 Tablespoons of Tea mixture with 1 cup of water and enjoy.
That’s the news from the homestead, see you next week.
Monday, December 12th was wonderful, and it was all because of YOU!
Initially, my plan was to purchase a vehicle for a Sevier County family with the money raised with the sale of the print, Mountain Heart. After looking for several days for a car in the $1,500 price range, my husband didn’t have much luck finding anything suitable to purchase, so we decided to find three people to give $500 each to, instead.
My three children, Nate, Wesley & Lainey along with Nate’s friend Isabel hopped in the car and took off for Tennessee around 10:00 yesterday morning, armed with our monetary gifts.
We arrived around 2:00 and drove through Gatlinburg. I was shocked to see the devastation and destruction, especially near Tree Tops resort where my father used to work. After driving around and saying silent prayers for the people, we headed on to Pigeon Forge to one of the shelters.
I introduced myself, and the children to the workers and told them where we were from, and our purpose for being there. They quietly informed me that the Red Cross probably would not let us give the money to the people in the shelter. Truly, that was an odd statement for me to hear, but it worked out beautifully in the end because I was given the phone number of someone who COULD help; Melissa Messick, the owner of Krispy Kreme in Pigeon Forge.
I called Melissa and told her that I had raised money for some families in need in Sevier County. I told her that I needed to give it to someone today, as I had to go back to Charlotte that evening. She said that she could help, and would call me back shortly.
We drove over to my grandmother’s house to wait and visit, but before I could even hug my grandmother, Melissa called me back and said: “can you get over to Krispy Kreme, ASAP?, I have found some recipients for you.”
Let me just say; there are some mighty fine connections and people in that town; Together with Officer Russell Parker, Melissa was able to get in touch with three people AND have them come by the store for us to present the gift cards to.
That’s not the best part, though! Krispy Kreme had also been raising money the past two weeks and was able to match my contribution. Because of a phone call, three people, whose homes burned to the ground two weeks ago, walked away with $1,000 each- as a “hand up’ as our beloved Dolly calls it.
As an aside, I found out that I went to Pigeon Forge Middle School with Melissa AND one of the recipients. Small, beautiful world. They even let the kids pick out a dozen doughnuts to take with them as a gift.
Thank you so very much for buying the print and for making donations. Without YOUR help, this would not have been possible.
Someone asked if I took pictures; the thought never occurred to me. It was a VERY emotional time and well, taking a picture just never entered my mind.
God bless you all and thank you from the bottom of my heart!