Scare the Crows Contest

The first year of the Black Mountain Home for Children Garden Project was truly a learning experience. The volunteers learned what grew well and what did not and that the crows’ appetite for corn seed was invincible. This year we are determined to “scare the crows” but we need your help.

Churches, youth groups, committees and individuals are invited to create the scariest scarecrow and enter it in the BMHC Garden Project Scare the Crows Contest. Scarecrows will be judged on originality, durability and effectiveness by Garden Project leaders. The winner(s) will be invited to the garden to harvest corn for their personal use.

Scarecrows may be delivered to the garden any Saturday between 9 and 11 am from March 24 – May 12. A Garden Project leader will take a picture of you and/or your group with your entry and will be pleased to give you a free tour of the garden.



Great Green Gifts!

I have read many, many blogs and posts about making gifts this season and keeping your purchases local.  Here are some ideas of places to scour and things to make that may save you time, money, and will keep your dollars here in our area…

Freecycle Asheville— you can post what you are looking for or what you wish to give.

Trash Inc. Asheville— same as above, but with a store front! Get creative with stocking stuffers


Other Impressive Ideas……..

  • Cookies are a welcome gift– try a different take on traditional sugar cookies with almond, cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or citrus flavorings….adding fresh spices adds lots of healthy vitamins and minerals…try to get your ingredients from local providers (eggs, butter, milk, etc.)
  • Potpurri: use stems and leaves from woody herbs, add some dried citrus slices and some essential oil….make a pouch from fabric scraps and voila!
  • Bath Salts or Scrub: I enjoy making sugar scrubs- mix up and fill a clean sterile jar (great way to reuse funny sized jars) …recipes abound on the ‘net…I use brown sugar, granulated, and raw sugar to create a soft exfoliant
  • Farm Share:Check through Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture or our Buncombe County extension office to sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture share; maybe with other family members or some friends and neighbors
  • Look for local: local jams, jellies, and honey would be a welcome gift for someone with little to no access to a farmer’s market….include a few simple ways to use each product
  • Get a Haircut: a great gift for the man or woman who has everything….a gift certificate for a simple hair or beard trim from a local small business

Stocking stuff-ing….

  • Socks. everyone needs them.  Buy some hand knit socks (or make them brave souls!), or find some made with certified organic fibers- maybe fair trade
  • Toiletries & Other Miscellaneous: if you have been wanting to switch from plastics and other chemical products, here is your chance! Give wooden toothbrushes, or tooth powder, homemade deodorant, dish cloths (hide the paper towels 😉 ), fabric sandwich bags, reusable grocery bags, decorate a plastic container and give a compost bucket 9love the reuse here)
  • Mind your beeswax: Making lip gloss is actually easy to do. There are recipes on the ‘net of course….beeswax is a great moisturizer and it supports the Bee Industry

What fun ideas do you have for stretching your dollar and keeping it local this season???


Advent Decorating Ideas—- Go Native!

Why not use the bounty of our natural Western North Carolina landscapes to bring inside the anticipation and excitement of this special season?

There are so many different plants that work well in vases, on tables, tucked into a wreath, or even above door frames or windows.  Use matte or shiny spray paint as a fixative- clear or a color- they even make sparkly ones 😀 …often I find this to be a more cost effective and time saving solution to specific craft products.

IMPORTANT! If you have small children and/or pets, please review theses items (or any others you are new to) with the Buncombe County Extension Office or the Poison Control Center.  Some berries and leaves may cause serious trouble if ingested. Here is another list for NC

Okay- ready to get creative???

  • Decorate your tree stand: A landscape bucket would work (large enough to place the tree stand inside, or rig a different plan for watering)–spray with spray paint color of choice and attach bark to cover outside….or use twigs to create a vertical emphasis.

** You can also do this to vases or other containers**

  • Deck the Halls: or wherever…. use white pine and other evergreen pieces to create a table topper, runner on a sideboard, or if you are really handy— use heavy duty glue or a glue gun to attach pieces of greenery to a rope or chain, then wind around railings or banisters.
  • Presents! Use small leftovers of greenery with berries to tuck into a bow for gift giving

Here is a list of plants I thought of that are nice to bring in this season: (Ask before cutting!)

  • Ferns
  • Magnolia branches
  • Cotoneaster berry
  • Sumac tree leaves
  • Birch bark and branches or limb pieces
  • Lichen
  • Nandina berry
  • Pinecones
  • Smooth rocks
  • any evergreen
  • Holly branches
  • English Ivy (great way to prune this guy!)

What are your ideas? What plants do you love to use?

Happy Advent everyone!



CRAFT: a “blanket” for the car trunk

ALAS! I have a sewing machine but have not learned anything about how to use it. (If anyone out there could help me, PLEASE let me know- it’s a small Singer I could bring up to the office).  INSTEAD, I will probably employ one of our best friends: Duct tape.

If you DO sew, this project will be a cinch.

I read the post from the Simple Green Frugal Co-op  and I love it.  Here is a brief breakdown, they have step-by-step pictures in the Co-op blog.

Plastic bags– you will fix these in layers, she recommends about 6-8 grocery bags per layer or 4-5 other store bags.

Scissors, Parchment Paper, Iron

Cut the handles off of the bags (I hear you can save these to create a kind of yarn for weaving….I haven’t tried) and layer them between 2 sheets of parchment….iron together on a low heat setting- she describes better in the post.

Cut edges into decent square-ish shapes and sew (OR whatever) them together.

Keep in the trunk of the car for a plant mat, sports equipment mat…or anything! Let me know how it goes 🙂

Tips & Tricks: Herb Vinegar

I have researched this project often, but have not yet dedicated clean bottles or jars to it.  This may be my time to shine…I am thinking that the flowering (bolted ;-(  ) herbs in the garden would be nice- and the flavor/odor strength from the flowering process could work with vinegar.  As for the amounts, you will find I measure by sight, taste, shape, and smell more than with tools and devices.  This is an actual recipe from a website… I have not tried it….but the process is easy and I wouldn’t be too concerned when you measure.

1 cup finely chopped mixed fresh herbs (try basil, chives, mint, parsely)

EDITOR NOTE: OR LEAVE THEM WHOLE OR CHUNKY, try chives, chive blossoms, add blueberries, lemon zest, nasturtium….you can’t go wrong if you use what you like…and try small jars if you experiment so if your product is less than what you desire, you haven’t lost much. (Since I never toss anything out, I would use it anyway)

2 cups white wine vinegar

EDITOR NOTE: try blends if you want too- white distilled alone is fine, add a touch of red wine vinegar…( I have a pomegranate red wine that would be neat with blueberry and basil I bet!)

Heat resistant jar with lid or bottle


  • Place chopped herbs in jar.
  • Heat the vinegar in a glass pot (or non-reactive pot) and then pour over the herbs.
  • Seal jar with lid and steep for three weeks.
  • While steeping, shake the jar every other day.

EDITOR NOTE: or when you remember or when you feel like it

  • After three weeks, strain out the herbs and pour the herb vinegar into a bottle.

Voila! I hope you enjoy this summer and try new ways to enjoy every season, every part of a leaf, stem, fruit and root.  Edible doesn’t just mean the choice parts- if you aren’t sure, look it up- some herbs can cause indigestion in certain seasons or amounts.

But you wouldn’t overdo– and you read my disclaimers, right?