Saturday, December 24, 2016

My Favorite Christmas Song: Oh, Holy Night

Before I went to sleep last night, I listened to my favorite Christmas song, Oh, Holy Night. I decided to pull up the lyrics on my phone and take a few minutes to meditate on what Christmas is truly all sweet Savior's birth. This is a song that can ALWAYS bring me to tears. To think about what a humble beginning the King of kings had and the sacrifice He makes my heart fill up so much that the tears just come. 
Image via:

As I was reading the lyrics, I couldn't help but read the third verse over and over again. This song was written 170 years ago (if you'd like to know about the history of the song, you can go here) and it couldn't be more relevant for today. This is what our nation world needs more than anything.

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains He shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, 
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Tonight, I hope that you'll take some time to reflect on what Christmas is really about. I pray that each of you have a blessed Christmas. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Candle In The Window

The tradition of placing burning candles in the windows during Christmas has its roots in Irish culture. Many people, including myself, still practice this custom and the history behind it is very interesting.

During the British persecution, religion was suppressed throughout Ireland and the people had no churches. Priests were known to hide in forests and caves and they would secretly visit homes to say Mass during the night. 

Every Irish Catholic family hoped to have a priest come to their home so they could receive sacraments and offer hospitality. When Christmas came around, the Irish families would leave their doors unlocked and would place a lit candle in the window. This was a sort of signal to let any priests who happened to be in the area know they were welcome and to let the candles guide them to the homes during the dark night.

The priest would enter silently through the unlocked door and was welcomed by those who were grateful that their home would be used to worship and celebrate Jesus' birth. 

Over time, the British persecutors became suspicious and asked what the lit candles were all about. The faithful Irish explained that they burn the candles and keep the door unlocked so that Mary and Joseph, who searched for a place to stay, could find their way to our homes and be welcomed with open doors and open hearts. The British soldiers thought that it was a harmless superstition and didn't bother suppressing it.

I didn't know the history behind the candle until recently. I just thought that the battery operated candles looked pretty in my windows. Now, they mean much more. I want them to represent John 8:12 - "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

Do you leave a burning candle in your window during Christmas? 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Appalachian Traditions: Christmas Plays and Treat Bags

Very few things say "It's Christmas" to me like going to a church Christmas play and getting a treat bag. My church had our play this past Sunday evening and everyone was gifted a treat bag as they left. This has been a part of Christmas my entire life and there are still many churches who practice this tradition throughout Appalachia.

I believe this started as a way to ensure that the children throughout the communities would at least get one treat during the Christmas season. For a lot of children who grew up in the mountains, this may have been the only gift that they could expect. While the bags were initially intended for the children, they are now given to folks of all ages. I'm sure this still stirs up some sweet memories for all generations.

What could you find in a Christmas treat bag? There almost always was an apple, orange, candy cane, a pack of chewing gum, and a few chocolates. Some things never change and why would we want them to? 

Do you remember getting Christmas treat bags at church? Do the churches in your area still practice this tradition? What kinds of things did you find in your bags? I would love to hear from you...let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Oranges

When I was growing up, we rarely got anything in our stockings. My parents had a hard enough time being able to put a few gifts under the tree. They didn't see the point of wasting money on little things that ended up getting broke or lost within a week. On the rare occasions that we did have something in them, we would find an orange, apple, or candy cane. I can remember not being very impressed because we had access to fresh fruit all year but that wasn't always the case for people in Appalachia.

Money wasn't something that could easily be found in early Appalachia. Things like candies, toys, and fresh fruit were hard to come by. An orange would have been an enormous gift at that time. Once I started researching the history behind this tradition, I recalled a book that helped explain how rare an orange was in 1850's Appalachia:
I remember trying to return the favor by giving him one of a pair of oranges that the teamsters had left as a treat. Bear had not experienced oranges before, and he watched me eat mine before he started on his own.
It took him an hour to finish. He peeled it slowly and studied the differing sides of the peels and smelled them and smelled his fingers. Then he ate each section very slowly, sniffing each one before he put it in his mouth. He savored every moment of his consumption of that orange. When he was done he collected all the pieces of peel and dried them in the sun like deer jerky. A month later, they had lost most of their color, but they still held the ghost of the orange's aroma, and Bear kept them in a gourd sealed with a wooden stopper to hold in the scent that would have to do him until another orange made its way into the mountains. 
- Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier

There is some history behind Christmas oranges. St. Nicholas was a bishop before he became a saint. The story says that he rode through a town where a storekeeper had three beautiful daughters and couldn't afford to offer a dowry for them. This meant that the girls would become destitute once their father passed away.

Bishop Nicholas knew that the father was a proud man so he tossed three sacks of gold through an open window (or chimney depending on who is telling the story) while the family was sleeping. One of the bags landed in the toe of a stocking that was hanging by the fire to dry. When the family got up the next morning, they found the gold, including the one in the stocking which had turned into a ball overnight. 

Giving an orange today is a way to celebrate generosity without expecting anything in return. It symbolizes that gold ball and is a reminder to care for those in need.

Who knew there was so much behind a piece of fruit in a Christmas stocking? Did you get an orange in your stocking?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Superstitions & Folklore In Appalachia

Christmas is a magical time not only in Appalachia but throughout the world. There are more traditions associated with this holiday than any other. With Appalachia being rich in superstitions and folklore, I thought it would fun to find a few centered around Christmas to share with you. 

  • Eating an apple on Christmas Eve will bring you good luck during the next year.
  • Ghosts will never appear to their family on Christmas Day.
  • Listen closely to a bee hive on Christmas Eve and you will hear bees humming the Psalms. It is also believed that bees hum the hundredth Psalm from dusk until dawn on Old Christmas (January 6).
  • Children who are born on Christmas Day will not be troubled by ghosts and do not have to fear hanging or drowning.
  • Water is said to turn to wine at midnight on Christmas Eve but it is bad luck to taste it. 
  • A rooster crowing on Christmas Eve scares away evil spirits. Shooting off fireworks or guns works too.
  • Christmas Day weather forecasts the weather for the coming year: a warm Christmas foretells a cold Easter; a green Christmas, a white Easter; a windy Christmas will bring a good corn crop.
  • It is bad luck for a cat to meow on Christmas Day. If it does, you will be visited by evil spirits every day during the coming year.
  • Children born on January 6th (Old Christmas) often develop the powers for healing the sick.
  • If you sit under a pine tree on Christmas Day, you can hear angels sing but if you hear them, you'll be on your way to heaven before the next Christmas.
Have you heard any Christmas superstitions or folklore? I'd love to hear them so please let me know in the comments. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

December Appalachian Book Giveaway

I can't believe that it's already December, can you? I also can't believe that it has been almost 4 months since I started this little blog. Time just keeps flying by! As a way to say thank you to those of you who have taken time out of your busy days to allow me to share a little of what I love with you, I am going to be giving away some books! Mrs. Barbara Taylor Woodall was kind enough to give me two signed copies of her books to share with y'all. Today, I'm going to offer the first one: It's Not My Mountain Anymore.

Before I get in to all of the giveaway details, let me tell you a little bit about Mrs. Woodall. She was born and raised in the Appalachian Mountains of North Georgia and is a veteran of the Foxfire books. FOXFIRE, Y'ALL! I can't tell you how excited I was to be talking (via instant messenger) to someone that had a part in such an iconic series. I love those books! Her authentic, Appalachian voice moves throughout these stories of what it was like to grow up in the mountains. A book that can make you laugh and cry is a sure sign of a great writer. You can find this book and the one that I'll be giving away next week here.

All you need to do is click on the Rafflecopter link below and follow the directions. This giveaway will run until 12AM on 12/16/16. You can come back daily to invite one friend to like the Appalachian Mountain Roots Facebook page and will receive 1 entry for each friend that you invite. You can also subscribe to receive my blog posts by email by entering your email address right here on  the website. That isn't included in the Rafflecopter entries but will get you an extra entry! Be sure to check back for next week's giveaway as well. :)

*I will announce the winner of this giveaway on Friday, 12/16/16 at 7PM (EST) on the Appalachian Mountain Roots Facebook page. You will have until 7PM on 12/20/16 to message me your mailing information. If I do not hear from you by then, a new winner will be chosen. I really don't want to have to do that so be sure to like and follow the Facebook page to receive all winner updates.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Cornbread & Milk

Earlier this week, I made a big pot of deer chili and a cake of cornbread to go with it. The chili was good but I only had one thing on my mind when I pulled that sizzlin' Lodge skillet from the oven - I was going to get to enjoy a big glass of cornbread and milk for a snack that evening. It is so good and can be a meal all by itself. In fact, I've enjoyed it for a meal countless times. You know those days when you're just a little hungry but a sandwich just ain't going to cut it? A glass full of crumbled up, warm cornbread with sweet milk poured over it...yeah, that'll hit the spot. This is something that has been enjoyed in Appalachia for generations.

My Granny and Pa are the ones who introduced me to this delicious tradition. They usually used sweet milk (regular whole milk) but also enjoyed buttermilk. I've never been able to drink buttermilk so I always use sweet milk. 

In Ronni Lundy's incredible cookbook, Victuals: An Applachian Journey, with Recipes, she says:
"Give us this day our daily cornbread..." could be the standard grace for tables all around the mountain South." She is absolutely right. It is a regular item on the table throughout southern Appalachia. I'm so glad, aren't you?! 

Some people argue whether sugar should be included. Personally, I don't add sugar but I think it should be up to the cook...if you like it sweet, knock yourself out! I do have one rule that should never be broken when it comes to cornbread: You MUST bake it in a cast iron skillet and preferably, one made by Lodge. I prefer to use American made products and something that will last for a very long time. You get both of those things when you purchase and use Lodge brand products. 

Growing up, we ate cornbread with just about every meal. I never thought much about it until I went away to college. We had spaghetti in the cafeteria and I mentioned that I would like to have some cornbread to go with it. You would have thought that I had grown a second head! My college friends quickly informed me that my bread preference should be garlic bread not cornbread. Like I said, we ate cornbread with just about everything, including spaghetti.They didn't know how good of a thing they were missing. 

Are you a fan of cornbread and milk? 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Appalachian Mountain and Gulf Shore Connection

Did you know that when you walk on the white sand beaches of Florida's Gulf Coast you're walking on what use to be part of the Appalachian Mountains? I didn't until my friend Dayna sent me a picture of a history marker in Florida that her sister had shared with her. That got me digging around online and I found out the sand is made from pure white quartz crystal, which came from the Appalachian Mountains at the end of the last Ice Age and was deposited into the Gulf of Mexico. So the source of the coast's beauty is from none other than my beloved Appalachian Mountains! How amazing is that?!

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 
even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
~Psalm 139:9-10

I love living and even vacationing in the mountains. As a matter of fact, my whole little family does. When giving Dude (my soon to be 15 year old son) the option between Disney World and Cades Cove, TN he will pick Cades Cove every time. That makes this mountain girl's heart happy. But as much as I love the mountains, I do enjoy visiting the beach occasionally. I enjoy early morning and late evening walks on the shore. It's amazing to think that the same God who made the beautiful mountains and vast ocean looked at me and you and thought that the world needed one of us too.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

In Every Thing Give Thanks

I decided to share a special guest post from Tennessee poet and pastor, Robert Fultz, in honor of Thanksgiving. Robert shares many of his beautiful poems over on Facebook at PreacherPoems and at his blog

Every day I think about
How good God is to me
A healthy body, thankful heart
My loving family.

I wake up thankful each new day
For blessings I've received
And every night when I lie down
Thank God I'm not deceived.

I know the Bible is God's Word
No longer I'm a slave
Through faith in Jesus I have hope
That goes beyond the grave.

Thank God for those who taught me well
This truth I can't deny
That Jesus died for sinful men
For such a worm as I.

I'm saved by grace through faith alone
His blood now covers all
What Jesus did on Calvary
Redeemed me from the fall.

So yes I'm thankful to the Lord
And thankful I'll remain
Until my last breath I shall draw
You'll not hear me complain.

~Robert Fultz, 12/15/15

Thank you, Robert, for allowing me to share your beautiful poem with my friends. I hope you and your's have a very Happy Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Appalchian Bluegrass Gospel: Thank You Lord, For Your Blessings On Me

This gospel song was written by James Easter who is part of the group, The Easter Brothers. The Mount Airy, NC band was formed over 60 years ago. Other popular songs by this group are "The Darkest Hour" and "They're Holding Up The Ladder".

A friend of mine shared a couple of lines of this song on Facebook and it instantly made me smile. You see, my mom sang this song just about every morning that I can remember. We didn't have much growing up but my parents taught me to be thankful for what we did have. She passed away over 20 years ago and I hope she'd be proud that I'm trying to teach my son to be thankful for what he has too.

Thank You Lord, For Your Blessings On Me
Written by - James Easter and the Easter Brothers 1975
Copyright - LeFevre-Sing Publishing Co.

As the world looks upon me, as I struggle along
They say I have nothing, but they are so wrong
In my heart I'm rejoicing, how I wish they could see
Thank you Lord, for your blessings on me.

Chorus: There's a roof up above me
I've a good place to sleep
There's food on my table
And shoes on my feet
You gave me your love Lord 
And a fine family
Thank you Lord, for your blessings on me.

Now I know I'm not wealthy, and these clothes they're not new.
I don't have much money, but Lord I have you.
And to me that's all that matters, though the world cannot see
Thank you Lord, for your blessings on me.

Chorus: There's a roof up above me
 I've a good place to sleep
There's food on my table
And shoes on my feet
You gave me your love Lord
And a fine family
Thank you Lord, for your blessings on me.
Thank you Lord, for your blessings on me.

I hope all of you can find something to be thankful for this holiday and every day. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all! 

A Couple Of Recipes For All Those Thanksgiving Leftovers

Is there anything more wonderful than leftovers? Probably, but they're still ranked high on my list of favorite things. And if there was a ranking of favorite leftovers, Thanksgiving leftovers would be in the number one slot! As much as I love them, I do find myself wondering how I can put a twist on whatever I have to work with. Make do with what you've got! If that ain't Appalachian, I don't know what is.

With Thanksgiving being my favorite holiday and in preparation of a fridge full of leftovers, I have decided to share one tried and true recipe and one I plan on making as soon as I get my hands on some of that turkey: Turkey Corn Chowder and Turkey-Cranberry Monte Cristo Sandwiches.

Lets start with the Turkey Corn Chowder. It is AMAZING. I ran across this recipe here a few years ago and make it several times a year. What could be more perfect than having a recipe that uses leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, AND corn?! The original recipe calls for 2 cans of corn but we always have corn that we've put up from our garden. Use whatever you have! 

Turkey Corn Chowder
  • 2 slices of cooked bacon, chopped 
  • 1 onion peeled and chopped
  • 1 quart milk 
  • 4 cups cooked mashed potatoes
  • 3 cups cooked turkey, cut into chunks
  • 2 cans corn (again, I use about a 1 1/2 cups of our corn)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (optional) 
  • salt & pepper to taste

  1. Using a 4-5 qt pan, cook your bacon over medium heat until it's crunchy. Remove when done & keep your grease in your pan.
  2. Add your chopped onion and cook until it is translucent.
  3.  Stir in milk, mashed potatoes, turkey, corn, cilantro, salt & pepper. Bring to a simmer, stirring often.
  4. Cook for about 10 minutes or until heated through.
  5. Serve immediately & garnish with bacon.

Now for the recipe that I'm looking forward to trying as soon as possible. I found this recipe here a couple of months ago and have been chomping at the bit to try it. I'll give an update on how they turn out soon. **Update (11-25-16): Sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln, these things are GOOD. Possibly the best sandwich that I've ever had. You can easily half the recipe. Give them a try!

Leftover Turkey-Cranberry Monte Cristo Sandwiches
(Makes 8-10 sandwiches)
  • 1 loaf very soft French bread, sliced thick
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberry sauce
  • 12 oz thinly sliced Muenster cheese (you can sub with any cheese)
  • thinly sliced leftover turkey
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4-6 tbsps butter
  • powdered sugar

  1. Spread each slice of bread with cranberry sauce. 
  2. Layer your turkey between 2 slices of cheese or 1 slice cut in half on the cranberry sauce and top with another slice of bread, cranberry side in.
  3. In a shallow pie plate, add eggs and milk and beat with a fork until well combined. Soak each side of your sandwich in the egg want the bread saturated but not soggy.
  4. Over medium heat, melt a couple tbsps of butter in a nonstick skillet. Cook a couple of sandwiches at a time until the bottoms are golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Flip sandwiches and do the same for that side.
  5. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Please come back and leave me a comment if you decide to give one or both of these recipes a try. I always like to read the comments of more than just whoever is sharing the recipe and I'm sure that future readers would too. I hope y'all like them! :)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Phrases Of Appalachia: Eating High On The Hog

The phrase "high on the hog" originally came from the fact that the wealthy ate the the best cuts of meat from a pig - ham, chops, and loin. The not so well to do folks ate the lesser cuts - side pork, spare ribs, and just about every other part of the pig. 

This phrase has come to not just refer to pork but to eat well in a general sense. Example: Leroy cooked enough prime rib to feed an army. We sure did eat high on the hog!  

It is also used as a way of saying that someone is doing well in life or living beyond their means. Example: Jimmy sure seems to be living high on the hog since winning the lottery. What does an old country boy need a private jet for anyway?

I've heard it used both ways in my part of Appalachia. I've even heard a few people use "low on the hog" to mean that someone isn't doing so well in life. 

This picture was taken during a 1980 something Thanksgiving. I'm not sure who's idea it was to take our picture with the remains of the turkey instead of the whole thing but you can tell that all of us must have eaten high on the hog that day. You don't mess around with a thing like picture taking when it comes time to eat! 

Me & the Mater Hater. :)

Since Thanksgiving is fast approaching, I'd like to know what some of your favorite Thanksgiving foods, traditions, and memories are. Do you spend the day eating high on the hog? Let me know in the comments & I might just choose a few to share in a Thanksgiving post next week! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Have You Ever Eaten Leather Britches?

Last week, I was in need of some comfort food. Whew, what a week it was! My husband was in Costa Rica for work and since it was just my son and I to cook for, we started the week off with simple suppers of a sandwich, soup, or takeout. That lasted until about Wednesday and I was ready for some REAL food. I decided on a menu of chicken 'n dumplins, sourwood honey glazed carrots, and leather britches. 

Some of you may be wondering, "What in the world are leather britches?!" No, I didn't cut up and cook a pair of leather pants. Leather britches are what people in my part of Appalachia (western NC) call dried green beans. As you can see from the picture below, dried green beans are wrinkled and brown...much like what a pair of wet leather pants end up looking like once they've dried. These dried beans are also called shuck/shucky beans and fodder beans in different parts of Appalachia.

 Long before canning jars and freezer bags, people needed a way of preserving food for the winter and most vegetables and fruits were dried. Beans were a main staple to be "put up" because they provided a great source of protein throughout the winter months. 

According to the Encyclopedia of Appalachia, "Two drying methods were commonly used. For both, the bean was harvested when mature but while the pod was still edible. The first method involved stringing whole, unbroken pods, like stringing popcorn for Christmas garlands. Using a big darning needle, the processor carefully inserted strong thread between the two middle beans in a pod. When the string of whole beans was three to four feet long, the thread was knotted and the string of beans hung to dry, traditionally in such places as the porch, from roof rafters, or on a wall behind a wood burning kitchen stove. The beans slowly dried, turned straw colored, and shriveled. After drying, they were stored in cloth sacks or, more recently, in glass jars or freezers."

I use the first method to prepare my beans and hang them up in a warm upstairs room. Once dried, I remove them from the strings and store them in glass Mason jars.

"The second method was to snap the pods into bite-size pieces, then spread them on white cloths and place them in a sunny place to dry. Many women chose to break their beans before drying because it was nearly impossible to pull the threads out of beans dried by the stringing method." My husband's Granny Bertha used this method but would spread the broke beans out on a cookie sheet and place it in the back window of her car until they were dried. 

I always remove the strings from the beans before I thread them up into the "garland." I use kite string but any good strong thread will do. I found that it took around 4 weeks for my beans to be completely dried but the time will differ based on the temperature and humidity of where you choose to dry them. 

When I'm ready to prepare the beans, I soak them in a bowl of water over night...just as you would any dried bean. 

The next morning, you'll notice that the beans have swelled back up to normal or close to normal size. Drain the water and add the beans to a pot. Cover the beans with fresh water and add a piece of fatback or bacon. Bring the beans to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the beans are tender. 

The finished product! My husband kept rubbing in the fact that he was getting to enjoy some fresh, Costa Rican pineapple. I sent him this picture and told him that he could have his ol' pineapple because I was planning to eat "high on the hog" that night! ;)

I've had some people tell me that you can cook these beans in a slow cooker all day and I plan on trying that method out very soon. I'll let you know how they turn out!

I canned most of my green beans this year (white half runners and greasy backs). Even though canning has replaced the need for drying beans, I feel connected to my past when I string up, dry, and then cook a pot of leather britches. The intense meaty flavor and good memories they bring will probably encourage me to continue working up and cooking them for many more years. 

Isn't it amazing how a bite or smell of certain foods can transport you back to a different place and time? My great grandma Collett (Mamaw) always had leather britches for holiday meals. After my first bite, I was taken back to sitting in Mamaw's kitchen while she buzzed around making sure that everything was ready to be enjoyed by her family. Food seems to provide an express ticket to Memory Lane for me.

Have you ever had leather britches? Is there a certain food or foods that take you back to a different place and time? Please leave a comment and let me know. I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Fire In The Mountains

If you follow me over on Facebook, you've seen some of the pictures and news reports that I've shared about the wildfires in the mountains. At least 18 wildfires have doubled in acreage since the weekend. More than 10,000 acres continue to burn across western North Carolina and many more throughout Appalachia.
 **Update: As of this morning (11/10/16), the fire has spread to more than 14,000 acres in western NC.**

The sun trying to shine through the smoke in Nantahala 
yesterday (11/9/16) at noon. Photo Credit: Scott Postell

There are hundreds of firefighters, from NC and all over the US, putting their lives on the line to fight these fires.These people are running on a little sleep and a lot of adrenaline. One of them is my brother-in-law, Lonnie. I would like all of these men and women to know that I appreciate everything you're doing and I'm praying for you daily. They need our prayers! 

Firefighters work to put in dozer lines to assist in containment of the Boteler Fire.
 My brother-in-law is in one or both of these pics. (11-3-16)

People in surrounding towns are now being evacuated from their homes and many more are being told to be ready to leave at a moments notice. These people are walking away from a home that may not be there when they come back. They need our prayers! 

"Fire on the Mountain(s)" - Downtown Franklin, NC blanketed 
in smoke and forest fire in the mountains. (11-4-16)

Smoke and raging flames after midnight in mountain forest fire. 
Franklin, NC (11-5-16) 
Photo Credit: John MacLean Photography

Please pray that God would protect these people and the homes that are in the path of the fires and that God would send the rain that we so desperately need. 

You can find more of John MacLean's pictures at the links posted under his pictures or at his Facebook Page. Thanks again for allowing me to use them, John. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Phrases Of Appalachia: By Hook Or Crook...

By hook or (by) crook- by any means, legal or illegal 
Examples: I'll get that job done by hook or crook.
The car broke down, but I'll get there by hook or by crook.
I'm running for office and I'll get there by hook or crook!

This is a phrase that I've heard a lot in this part of Appalachia but I hadn't thought about it in a long time. Someone used it in an Appalachian group that I follow on Facebook & I thought, boy, if that doesn't describe this election I don't know what does! Apparently, I wasn't alone in thinking this because another member in the group named Brenda D. commented, "I think those two are front runners in the election this year - hook has 44% of the vote and crook has 45%." I horse laughed, y'all. I can't believe how much mud slinging has went on and the things that these people are accusing each other of. Lord, help us all!

This term has a disputed origin but many believe that it was first used in Ireland. A widely held theory is that it comes from the custom of allowing commoners to remove as much timber from the royal forests as the people could reach with a shepherd's crook and cut down with a billhook.

There is a southern rule that says there are certain things that shouldn't be discussed with guests at the dinner table: politics and SEC football. Ok, SEC football isn't one of them but it should can get just as heated! I can see the reasoning behind this rule. I can't tell you how many friends and family that I've heard arguing over this election. I TRY not to get involved. I think that it is our responsibility, as Americans and Christians (for those of us who are), to do our OWN research and decide who it is that will represent us best in office. Don't believe what the media is reporting. They are as crooked as a dog's hind leg...on both sides. I thought about not even voting in this election but through prayer and research, finally decided that I couldn't do that. Please do your own research and get out there and vote! 

Have you ever heard "by hook or crook" in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Phrases Of Appalachia: You're just like a fart in a hot skillet!

When it comes to funny southern sayings, my family is well versed. Out of all of them, "You're just like a fart in hot skillet" is my favorite. This was a common phrase used by my Granny and Pa Holloway. My Granny would probably skin me if she knew that I was writing about such, but she doesn't know anything about the internet or blogs so I think I'm in the clear. 

I remember asking her where she had heard it and what it meant. She told me that she had always heard her dad say it as she was growing up and it meant that a person couldn't make up their mind or they didn't know if they were coming or going. Her dad probably heard his dad say it too. I'm sure they would laugh if they knew their  great or great great granddaughter now finds herself using the phrase fairly often! 

This saying fits me well. My decision making skills resemble that of a squirrel when crossing the street. It takes me forever to make up my mind about anything! I let my mind fill up with too many "what if" scenarios. I'm working on that. I usually don't know if I'm coming or going either! I don't know if I'll ever be able to fix that one. 

Have you ever heard of this saying? What are some funny sayings that you've heard growing up? I'd love to hear them! 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween - Spooky Signs and Omens

Halloween was always a fun time for me growing up. We would either dress up in something thrown together from around the house or we'd end up with the cheap plastic costumes that seemed to be so popular in the 80s. Remember those? My big brother is Scooby and I'm the Smurf. 

We'd jump in the car and head over to our grandparent's house & the houses of other family and friends. My Dad always made sure to take us to one house in particular. A lady that worked at our school cafeteria always made and gave candied apples and popcorn balls. That was Halloween GOLD back in the day. I don't even know anyone that makes either of those treats these's generation is missing out! 

I thought I would share a few of the spookier Signs and Omens to go along with this spooky night. I hope you enjoy them and you can find past installments here on my blog.

I found these vintage Halloween items in an antique store, Black & White Antiques, in Blairsville, GA.

  • Settlers would dress a child in clothes of the opposite sex as a way to confuse the devil. Some Irish settlers would do this until the children reached 14 years of age.
  • You shouldn't turn down the bed too early in the evening because it invites evil spirits to hop in. 
  • You should always check under the bed before going to sleep to make sure that the devil isn't hiding there.
  • Ringing a church bell can frighten off evil spirits.
  • If a flying witch hears the sound of a church bell, it will cause her to fall to the ground.
  • A birch tree planted beside the front door provides protection from a witch trying to enter the house. She will be drawn to counting the leaves before she can go in.
  • Dark birds that flock around trees but never land are said to be the souls of evil persons who cannot rest.
  • Placing bread and coffee under a house will keep ghosts from entering it.
  • A girl can learn what type of husband she'll marry by pulling up a cabbage by the roots on Halloween. If the roots are sturdy and straight, her husband will be handsome and strong. If they are crooked, he will be dishonest and cruel.
  • Chestnuts must be placed on a table on Halloween as a gift for the dead. This insures that the house will not become haunted.
  • If you're walking down a road on Halloween night and you hear someone walking behind you, you must not turn around because it may be death himself. 
  • Never go hunting on Halloween because you may accidentally wound a wandering spirit.
  • If you stop at a crossroads on Halloween and listen carefully to the wind, you may be able to hear what the future holds.
  • If a girl stands in front of a mirror on Halloween, eating an apple while combing her hair at midnight, her future husband's image will be reflected over her left shoulder.
  • An old Scottish superstition says that a young girl can count the number of grains on an oak stalk on Halloween to see how many children she will have.
  • Bleeding on Halloween is an omen that the injured person will die in the near future.
  • If the flame of a candle flickers and then turns blue, there is a spirit in the room.
  • If you feel a chill go up your spine, someone has just walked over your grave.
  • Hold your breath when you walk past a cemetery or you might breathe in the soul of someone who has recently died.
  • Not sharing your Halloween candy means you're greedy. Ha, I had to throw that one in there. ;)
I'd love to hear of any old Halloween superstitions or traditions that you've heard or observe! 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tomato Biscuits

This was biscuit #2. I wasn't patient enough to get a picture of biscuit #1...priorities.

There's just something about a homegrown tomato. My parent's garden is still producing tomatoes, greens, peppers & even a little okra and thankfully, they are generous enough to share. I woke up this morning thinking about the tomatoes they sent home with me and I immediately wanted a tomato biscuit. I mean, you just can't beat a big ol' slice of tomato on a hot from the oven buttermilk biscuit. I'm thankful I had enough time before leaving for church to enjoy a couple of them. No growling belly interrupting the service this morning!

I love tomatoes and it's a good thing I do because we ate a lot of them growing up...well, everyone except my older brother. He's a mater hater! Shameful, ain't it? I guess him not liking them does mean more tomatoes for me though! I'm already dreading the day when the last of the tomatoes will be picked but until then, I will savor every single one that I can get my hands on and count the days until tomato time next year. 

Have you ever had a tomato biscuit? 

*You still have time to win a signed copy of Appalachian Lore: Haints, Hexes, Hoo-Doos and Such. If you'd like to find out how to enter the giveaway, you can go here.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Superstitions: Mirrors

Hey, y'all! I was all ready to share another week of SSOs but decided to focus on the superstitions surrounding one topic: mirrors. Since we're only a week and a half away from Halloween, I'll share some of the spookier mirror superstitions.

A superstition is an irrational belief, usually arising from ignorance or fear, that is believed by a number of people but is without foundation.
  1. If you break a mirror, you will have seven years of bad luck. This superstitions seems to stem from when early people believed that they could see the image of their soul in a mirror. If it was broken, so was the soul and it was a sure sign of a person's death. The seven years come from the ancient Roman belief that it took that many years for a soul to renew itself. An Appalachian remedy for remedying the seven year curse was to bury the broken mirror deeply in the ground.
  2.  I mentioned this one last week: If a baby sees it's image in a mirror before the age of six months, it will die before it turns one year old.
  3. It's considered bad luck to see your face in the mirror by candlelight because you might see the spirit of a loved one who has died. 
  4. If three people look into the same mirror at the same time, the youngest will soon die. 
  5. And the one that I find the most fascinating and will elaborate on more below: You must cover the mirror in the room where anyone who has passed so their soul will not be trapped. The covering can be removed after the funeral. 
I've decided to be a little vulnerable and share a secret with you...I'm afraid of old mirrors. I hate them! I'm a lover of many old things and love visiting antique shops but as soon as I spot an old mirror, I'll do anything I can to avoid it. 

I think this fear comes from the superstition that goes along with covering mirrors when someone dies. I've never personally witnessed anyone practicing this superstition but have read about it and seen it done in some movies. One of my all time favorite novels is Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. I'm going to go a little off topic for a moment so please bear with me...Fannie Flagg is one of my FAVORITE authors and I've read all of her books. She is a brilliant and hilarious storyteller. If you want a good dose of southern humor, check her out! Okay, now that that's out of the way, back to why I mentioned Fried Green most of you know the novel was made into a movie. Those of you who have watched the movie may remember the scene where Ruth dies in bed. As soon as she passes, Sipsey covers the mirror in her room. Throughout the movie, Sipsey is a very superstitious person and I can only conclude that she covered that mirror because she believed her doing so would allow Ruth's spirit to cross over into her new life. If she hadn't, Ruth's soul would have become trapped and she would have to stay and haunt all who remain in this world.

Like I said, I've never personally witnessed anyone practicing the ritual that goes along with this superstition but it must have been scary enough to stay with me. Every time I look at an old mirror I can't help but wonder if it was in a room where someone passed or possibly where a wake took place. What if they didn't cover it? I don't want any part of that! Nope, nope, nope. I'd like to think that I'm a mature gal who has a decent IQ but I can't seem to even logically convince myself that there isn't anything to be afraid of. Whether anyone thinks this one is ignorant or not, you can bet the farm on me not having an old mirror in my house!

*You still have time to win a signed copy of Appalachian Lore: Haints, Hexes, Hoo-Doos and Such. If you'd like to find out how to enter the giveaway, you can go here.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Appalachian Lore book review & giveaway!

Since starting this blog, I've had the opportunity to get to know many different Appalachian authors, chefs, and fellow bloggers and that's all because of social media. I have discovered that the Appalachian warmth, welcome, and willingness to help is even present within the social media setting. I haven't once found a person who hasn't been willing to share what they have learned and along with that, an offer to help whenever I may need it...and in a world full of busy schedules and competitive attitudes, that's pretty special.

One of these amazing people that I've met happens to be an Appalachian author by the name of Philip Kent Church. Philip is an Appalachian author, poet, and songwriter from Virginia. He recently sent me a signed copy of Appalachian Lore: Haints, Hexes, Hoo-Doos and Such to review and giveaway...right in time for Halloween!

I've always loved a good goosebump inducing story and this book is full of them! Out of all of the stories mentioned, there are two that I enjoyed the most: "The Black Sisters" and "The Legend of Tom Dooley."

The tale of "The Black Sisters" is a story about three spinster sisters from Christiansburg, Virginia who haunt a school building built on the grounds of a former all girls school where the sisters lived and served as administrators and teachers. The sister's deaths were followed with unexplained sounds, apparitions, lights being turned off, and even a rumored ritualistic murder. What makes the story even spookier is the first hand accounts of Philip himself! 

The other story I enjoyed was "The Legend of Tom Dooley." My dad used to play the famous song on his banjo when I was little and I found out that the song was based on a true story that happened in Wilkes County, NC. I honestly knew a good bit about this folklore because of previously doing my own research but found Philip's account of the story to be a good one. This story has everything a good one needs: love, betrayal, jealousy, and an unsolved murder! 

Tom Dooley (actually Dula but regional pronunciation has led people to commonly spell it as it was said) was a small town North Carolina boy who returned from war and met and started a relationship with a local girl, Laura Foster. This could have been a happy story had Tom not been having a relationship with Laura's married cousin, Anne Melton, also. Folklore has it that Laura became pregnant, and she and Tom decided to elope. The morning that Laura was to meet Tom (May 25, 1866), she quietly left her home and rode off on her father's horse never to be seen alive again. No one really knows what happened that day, but many believe that Anne learned of the couple's meeting and met Laura as she was on her way, murdered her, and then hid her body. Tom is said to have believed that Anne murdered Laura but loved Anne enough to take the blame which resulted in his execution. 

Now that I've told you a little about Philip's book, I would like to give you all a chance to win one of your own! There are several ways to enter:
  1. Like the Appalachian Mountain Roots Facebook page. = 1 entry
  2. Like Philip Kent Church's Facebook page. = 1 entry
  3. Like and share the **GIVEAWAY** post over on the Appalachian Mountain Roots Facebook page. = 2 entries
  4. Subscribe to this blog by email on the blog page. = 1 entry
  5. Share this blog post on your Facebook page. = 1 entry

This giveaway will start today (10/17/16) and run until 7 pm on 10/24/16. I will be using an online random name selector to choose the winner and the winner will be announced over on the Appalachian Mountain Roots Facebook page on 10/25/16. If your name is chosen, you will have 2 days to submit your mailing information. If it isn't received by the deadline, a new winner will be notified. Best of luck to all of y'all!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Signs, Superstitions, and Omens - Week 3

*This post was originally published here at Appalachian Mountain Roots on 10/13/2016*

Hey y'all! It has been a few weeks since my last installment of signs, superstitions, and omens (SSOs). I ended up having to spend a few more days in the big house (how I fondly refer to the hospital) and it took a little longer for me to "get back on my feet." Anyway, enough about my moans and groans...if you happened to miss the past installments, you can find them here: Week 1 & Week 2. 
I hope you enjoy these and please share any that you've heard in your neck of the woods!

A sign is believed to predict the future but unlike the omen, signs do not foretell negative happenings.
  • According to Native American superstition, biting your tongue is a sign that you will soon receive either good news or a present.
  • A dropped towel is a sign that you will have the arrival of an unwanted visitor. According to Scottish pioneers, you can nullify the sign by stepping backwards over the towel.
  • If you dream that your teeth fall out, its a sign that your enemy will soon die. I always heard that it meant you would have sickness approaching.

A superstition is an irrational belief, usually arising from ignorance or fear, that is believed by a number of people but is without foundation.
  • Is there a thief in your community? Have a group of suspects dance around an upturned axe & when if falls over, the shaft will be pointing to the thief.
  • If a baby sees it's image in a mirror before the age of six months, it will die before it turns one year old. 
  • I remember when my Dude was around 5 months old, I left him sleeping on the couch while I went to make up my bed. I heard a thump and a cry not even 2 minutes after leaving the room. I raced back to the living room and scooped him up and cried right along with him. My Papaw Glenn happened to call about that time and calmed me down. He told me that he had always heard that if a baby didn't roll off of the bed before it was a year old, it would die. I'm not sure if that was really a superstition he had actually heard or if he was just trying to make me feel helped a little.

Omen- a phenomenon that is believed to tell the future, which also signifies change...usually negative.
  • Bad luck will come to a household if someone dreams of an axe.
  • Dreaming of a lizard is an omen that you have a secret enemy.
  • If a bat comes close to flying into a person, it is an omen that the person will be betrayed by a friend. 
  • A cat in a coal mine is an omen and the cat must be killed to avoid a death in the mines.

I hope that y'all have enjoyed this week's SSOs. Next week, I'll be sharing some more along with my review of a book by Appalachian author, Philip Kent Church. The name of the book is: Appalachian Lore: Haints, Hexes, Hoo-Doos and Such. 
I will also be having a giveaway over on my Facebook page of a signed copy of the book! Be sure to keep an eye out for it!!