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August … Foggy Morning Breakdown

When I looked outdoors this past Sunday morning from our front windows, I was extremely excited to see a thick layer of fog among the trees.

Sunday Morning August 7th
Monday August 8th, another foggy morning

For those of you who may not be aware of old weather folklore, every foggy morning in August, equates to a snowy day in the coming winter.

My grandparents always used to track the foggy mornings in August. I have found that I also like to capture foggy mornings with my camera to try to capture a moment of the quietness in nature.

This is the first year that I’m going to try to track my findings concerning the August morning fogs.

Fog hanging low into the trees

I’ve heard that folks used to put a large dried bean into a jar for each “big” morning fog. A smaller bean was used to indicate a “lesser ” fog. I don’t recall my grandparents ever doing this but Granny’s visual memory was acute. Granny would catalog these foggy mornings into her long term memory. As the snowy weather conditions were being talked about on the local news, she had those predictions from August to confirm or deny the pending weather track.

I’m not totally sure how accurate this method of predicting snowfall but I’m ready to give it a go for this coming winter.

A “light” August morning fog indicates a lighter dusting of snow.

So I’ve decided to revise my take on the bean jar plan… instead I’m using old keys as my guideline. Stay posted this month for keys in the jar update!!!

I’ll use the larger & smaller key method similar to the bean version that is traditionally used. So far, 2 keys in the jar!

Could this be a heavy snowfall winter???

December 2019… the largest snow for us to date!!! Wilkes County Hardware received over 16 inches of snowfall!!!!

Sonker Summers

I really hadn’t thought much about Sonker since my teenage years but an early morning walk few weeks ago brought the word back into my vocabulary once again.

Our walking group had converged on the North Wilkesboro Greenway trail and we had begun talking about miscellaneous things, ie… who was doing what over the next few days… Summer fruits seemed to be on the agenda for discussion and the term Sonker came up… chiefly the origin of the term. One of my friends never had heard of the term and begun to ask questions about it and how it was similar or different from a fruit Cobbler.

My input into the conversation…Sonker was a common summer dessert in my home growing up and I also remembered my Granny used the term often. Cobbler wasn’t the commonly used term to describe the fruit-filled pan of goodness at our house nor in my extended family households.

Sonker can be made with any type of fruit. We often had fresh blueberries or cherries at home during the summer months.

As we continued our walk and daily topics of discussion changed, I made a mental note to ask my mom about the Sonker recipe later and if she knew anything about the origin of the name.

A week or so elapsed in time before I recalled the Sonker conversation on the Greenway when I was talking on the phone with my mom one afternoon. She immediately answered my questions. She recalled an article that she had read in Our State Magazine about Sonker. She relayed key details from the article, and encouraged me to go read more about it. Mom discussed the differences between her version of Sonker and Granny’s. Granny usually had leftover fresh biscuit dough which she topped with fruit. Mom’s recipe, y’all will be able to find at the end of the blog post today.

Granny would take her leftover scraps of biscuit dough to top her Sonker.

FYI, Mom is fantastic with last minute supper guests…she can whip up an easy dessert effortlessly. My sister & I often challenged her to this task, with extra guests at the table. Sonker was one of those perfect, easy desserts… baking and bubbling in the oven while supper was being served. The aroma filled the kitchen with goodness waiting patiently for the final feature, dessert fruit-filled Sonker.

Blueberry Summer Sonker

For those of y’all who are still wondering what on earth is Sonker??? Sonker is a deep-dish fruit “pie”, usually served in a square/rectangular baking pan. Sonker is supposed to be “juicier” than a typical cobbler. Sonker can be a dessert large enough to feed a family or accommodate guests in your home. Sonker is NOT a “fussy” dessert. The ease of recipe is part of the charm of Sonker. On the other hand, cobblers, tend to have more of a thick biscuit texture to the breading and the texture on top appears to be “cobbled”. The dough is dropped or spooned onto the top of the fruit typically in a cobbler. The end result of a well baked Sonker, in my opinion, showcases your fruit, cobblers often showcase the beautiful breading.

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Have an abundance of fruit??? Make a Sonker and freeze the rest of your fruit for a special Sonker treat for later on in the winter months

Upon my Mom’s urging to further read & research, I also learned that Surry County hosts a Sonker Trail and a festival each October. Surry County even has a classic Sweet Potato Sonker with a creamy/milky type “dip” which is a finishing feature of the Sweet Potato Sonker.

Y’all still might be thinking …really, IS a Cobbler the same thing as Sonker??? In my opinion, these two are very “close first cousins.” Honestly, I simply prefer to use Sonker to describe my fruit-filled deep dish pies.

According to the research articles I have read, the term “Sonker”, was derived from a Scottish word meaning straw saddle. The Sonker experts tell us that they suspect that cooks used the analogy of the crust likeness of the fruit-filled pie to compare it to the Scottish word.

North Carolina settlers have connections to Scotland via the Great Wagon Road

Also, the Sonker experts believe that the term Sonker originated in Surry and Wilkes Counties. I suspect that if you aren’t a “native” to these two geographic areas NOR your parents, you may not know the term Sonker.

My husband had no clue what Sonker was all about, even though he has lived in Wilkes his entire life BUT his parents were not “natives” of Wilkes. Cobbler is the term he definitely prefers to use for the fruit-filled dessert.

My sister, on the other hand, a Wilkes County native, who now lives out of state, is teaching her young daughter to make Sonker… thereby keeping the legacy of our mom’s recipe going strong.

I would suspect the term Sonker is locale specific. My grandparents lived in both Surry & Wilkes Counties during their lifetime. So I believe they were well connected to the locale and it was reflective within their vocabulary and local food choices. Sonker was definitely a sweet part of summer during my younger years. I hope to continue my Sonker Summers by experimenting with my mom’s classic recipe and just simply enjoying the “fruits of my labor”.

Your personal preference of the term Sonker or Cobbler could be ingrained into your vocabulary mindset. But cobbler makers & lovers, I hope that you will add Sonker into your vocabulary AND into your food palate. Let’s keep our local food history alive and growing! Go experience Sonker this Summer.

Mom’s basic recipe for Sonker :

Ingredients & Utensils

-Square baking pan (this recipe is easily doubled or even cut in half in order to accommodate the number of people you wish to feed, for my 8-9 inch square baker I use 3/4 cup instead of full recipe)

-1 stick melted butter

-1 cup self rising flour

-1 cup milk – (I added a dash of vanilla to mine but it is not necessary)

-1 cup sugar

-Fruit (fresh, frozen, or canned… use what you have on hand)

Fresh blueberries, a staple of Sonker Summertime

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Melt butter in baking pan.

3. Mix together milk, sugar, flour and dash of vanilla (if desired) into bowl as butter melts.

4. Once butter is melted, pour milk /flour/sugar mixture over the butter into pan. Do not stir!

5. Add fruit on top of milk/flour/sugar mixture. The breading will disperse throughout the Sonker as it bakes. Sprinkle extra sugar on top of fruit for extra sweetness if desired.

Canned fruit typically has plenty of extra sweetness, so skip the sugar topping if desired.

6. Bake until crust is golden brown.

7. Note: You may want to let your Sonker cool down for 10 minutes before eating. No one wants to get burned eating a hot Sonker.

8. Sonker is goes well with vanilla ice cream, enjoy y’all.

I believe y’all can find a few different versions of Sonker recipes online… this one is definitely nostalgic to me and my favorite one.

The Wooden Rocker

I realized a few weeks ago that I had never really vocalized the importance of the wooden rocker in our family. It has always been a central part of our 27 years of married life. I hope y’all enjoy the Wooden Rocker a little bit more each time you visit us. Happy reading & rocking y’all!

Many people who stop by to shop with us will often say, “oh my goodness, you are sitting in Harry’s chair! “ True, HG loved that rocking chair but did y’all realize that chair has not always been a fixture at Wilkes County Hardware???

I never really had vocalized the story behind the rocker until a few weeks ago when I was speaking to Carl White as he visited with us at the hardware store. The seed was then planted for a new blog post.

The rocking chair actually appeared at Wilkes County Hardware after we purchased the store. The wooden rocker was actually one of the first furniture purchases that we made as a young married couple at Gray Brothers Furniture. I rocked my son as a tiny baby to soothe him into blissful slumber in that same wooden rocking chair.

Here’s a snapshot of the same areas… 2015 on the left ( shortly after we purchased the hardware store) and a few years later in 2019. The rocking chairs were added into our store & at first the staff was unsure where they go “fit”. We always found a place for one more chair.
Harry’s rocking chair was carried upstairs to safety after the flooding incident in 2020.
Eric Brown & Keegan Watson both worked to repair the rocker. Keegan ultimately had to take it apart safely at his workshop and secure the back. We are blessed 💕
Here’s our son, Benjamin full circle… in the old wooden rocking chair… circa 2019 visiting with Skye.

The rocking chair carried memories of our home to our new business. One of the things we wanted to bring to our new existing business was a more “homey”, welcoming, hardware store experience. Over time, the locals and staff became accustomed to the wooden rocking chair. It was now a “fixture” and a new portion of our store legacy. Harry loved that chair but he also sat down wherever there was an empty spot. He was never picky about where he was going to dwell for his daily visit.

The rocker is also featured on one of our logo t-shirts. Thanks to Cooks for creating the amazing graphic from my heart and mind and ultimately bringing it to reality.

For those of you who may not have been blessed to know Harry, he was an amazing individual. Harry loved life, each and every day. Harry was a dear husband to his sweet wife, a great family man, and cared deeply for his surrounding community.

💕

Harry spent a lot of time with us at Wilkes County Hardware. He was our resident advisor, & he greeted all of our customers with a smile. Harry would sit and talk with those who would take time to sit down with him while he rocked in the rocking chair. Harry loved people, engaging conversations, and in general terms, living a simple life.

Harry gave Richard & I love each and every day. I know in my heart in the first year of ownership of Wilkes County Hardware, he gave Richard confidence to keep going, pressing on to do what needed to be done, changing the layout of the hardware store, & adjusting to running a small business. Harry was one of our biggest supporters and we are eternally grateful for his love and friendship.

In the second and third years of ownership, he became an honorary family member. He was never far from our minds or hearts. His sudden parting left a huge hole in our hearts.

The plaque of remembrance on the wooden rocker was a great and powerful way to honor such an amazing man who brought so much love, new hardware store life memories, and blessings upon us. His lasting impact on our lives are ever changed. We have wonderful friendships formed as a result of his influence. One person truly can make a difference in the lives of many people.

Thanks to Mark Cook for making this happen 💕

As Harry would say, S’agapo

Shopping in 2022… Using QR Codes-Part 1

Have you ever used a QR Code??? Scanned a QR code from a restaurant menu , or shopped using a QR code??? Have you picked up one of your favorite magazines lately to find QR codes inside or even seen them on tv????

Wilkes County Hardware was featured in Foothills Digest. They routinely use QR Codes to keep their readership engaged and curious

I recently received a bill & an option to pay the bill was via scanning the QR code. The QR Code took me to a website to pay a bill. It was easy & convenient.

This seems to be a new way to shop in 2022. Which leads me to investigate /answer a few questions about QR Codes for you today.

What are QR Codes???

Better known as Quick Response Codes. These little scannable codes can hold a vast amount of information about new products. Users can engage with new unfamiliar products, gaining insights & instant information.

More products are coming into our store with QR Codes

When did they become important????

QR codes have been around for at least 10 plus years and are not new in the world of education… teachers have been building scavenger hunts & other types of lessons based on QR Code learning for the last several years.

Why now???

QR Code usage has grown leaps & bounds in the business world in the last few years, seeing an increase in use by 94-96 percent!!! Usage can be attributed to more shoppers having smart phones with the ability to read QR codes without using a separate app. During Covid, QR codes provided a contactless way for consumers to interact with new products, gain insights, or even watch video tutorials.

Ready Seal has great information online after using QR Code

QR Codes are easy to use. Just open the camera app, scan the code and a link pops up to take you to a website, or even watch a video !

QR Codes lead our customers to a link for useful information about an item they are researching or want to know more about

Who is using them???

Millennials & Gen Z

⁃ 22 percent of US population are Millennials ( born in years of 1981-1996)

⁃ Millennials are largest spending sector of the US population!

Millennial spending power equates to $2.5 Trillion, now let that sink in for a minute….

⁃ Millennial Generation was the first “connected” generation with the internet at their fingertips.

Online shopping is key for millennials… 42 % shop using phones, 91 % shop online

⁃ Convenience is priority for millennial customers as well as using product reviews. QR Codes hold a wealth of information right at your fingertips!

Find Wilkes County Hardware social media links all in one place!!!

⁃ Gen Z- those born after 1996, do not know a time before the internet and spend significant time online every day. Both millennials and Gen Z are willing to try new technologies in order to shop.

⁃ Gen Z- prefer brands or business should be innovative, & go “green “. They would love a business that is working on cutting edge technology & saving the planet 🌎 by wasting less resources in paper print media.

So what???

We had a minister several years ago and he included this phrase in his sermon every Sunday. The “So What” portion of his sermon was the crucial part of the sermon. The “so what” was the ultimate “take away” or words to remember from the sermon. So here it is, the “so what” of QR Codes.

1. QR Codes are everywhere and companies are encouraging people to use them. Smart phone usage as you shop or checking out is just becoming more mainstream.

Reminders of QR Codes and the ease of use is everywhere!!!

2. QR Codes hold a wealth of information at your fingertips.

3. The Millennial & Gen Z are using technology to shop online and in retail stores. Businesses need to meet consumers where they are in order to stay competitive.

4. Look 👀 for QR Codes at Wilkes County Hardware to help you learn more about new products. Scan & use these QR Codes or even ask us to help you navigate how to recognize a QR Code on your phone. We are here to help!!!

In our Lawn & Garden area you can find products with QR Codes

5. Stay posted on for another blog post just for you on QR Codes usage inside Wilkes County Hardware!!!

Dog Stories

“The best therapist has four paws and fur.” Sometimes after the long, hard days all I need is the endless love of my sweet pups.

I believe in our entire married life, Richard & I have always had at least one dog. Most of them rescues.

The first house we purchased in North Wilkesboro, literally came with a dog! That was totally an unexpected surprise when we went to closing and the previous owners asked us to care for the neighbors dog that virtually lived at our new “soon to be home”. The seller was crushed that the neighbors were unwilling to sell the dog to him, hence the request to us. We could tell that the seller was very attached to the dog, so we agreed to care for the dog and keep him updated on the dog, which we all called Sugar Bear…our very first rescue pup. Sugar Bear quickly became a cherished pup. We all loved her dearly and she was a fantastic guard dog.

Sugar Bear loved to be inside as well as outside.
A pic of our first kitchen… Sugar Bear was terrified of thunder storms. She would try to crawl inside my bottom kitchen cabinets or bathroom cabinets during a bad storm

Today is National Rescue Pup Day. Over the years, we have had the opportunity to bring a few special rescue pups home. The joy & memories of these furry friends still linger. Here’s a glimpse back into time to our “fur babies” that we loved dearly and a small portion of their rescue stories.

Elvis & Gigi were adopted at the same time. They were definitely a dynamic duo.
Elvis never missed the opportunity for a good costume change. He had a great personality and loved his people.
Elvis loved a good nap
Elvis loved to spend time with us at the hardware store sniffing out all the good things
Gigi was our little diva dog.
Gigi had a severe burn that was healing on her back when we brought her home.
Gigi loved photo time
Annabelle “Bella” came to us after losing an eye. Eventually she lost her other one too. Blind Basset Hound was a first for our family. Bella navigated our home effortlessly. She was amazing
Bella would smile when she was happy.
Naps and love… Bella was always ready for both .

Our current rescue pups…

Joy is a fireball of energy. She loves to play all day long. Joy was rescued with her brothers and sisters… nine total.
It’s all about bones & finding a good blanket
Joy is definitely a mom’s girl…
Cookie came to our house to live with us this January. She was found abandoned at a car wash in town. So hard to believe how much she has grown since this original photo
Thus sweet pup loves to be close to us, scouting the neighborhood for any movement of cats, or people, and definitely playing with Joy.
Cookie loves snacks too & mom.

Our lives are definitely rich with love with memories of our former rescue pups and they are dearly missed. Cookie and Joy keep us active and busy now.

Each rescue pup came to us with a definite need, love & healing. All of these sweet babies found love and new home. Their story should not end. Their stories should be told so more rescues can find homes.

We are truly blessed and thankful for the Humane Society of Wilkes. The volunteers, & foster pet parents work tirelessly to keep local animals safe and happy. Consider supporting your local rescue organizations if you can.