Tag Archives: life in the South

Fall is… A Mosaic of Everyday Beauty

The colors of Fall is distinctively different from any other season of the year. The Fall season is truly a mosaic of colors of the rainbow… green, gold, red, orange, & brown set against the bright blue sky.

Fall is… the joy of watching the trees turn colors over time

Our natural world which we have grown accustomed to during the summer, suddenly changes into a magical world of autumnal colors, happening almost overnight it seems. I’m sharing my favorite, everyday hardware life Fall photos with y’all today to celebrate the season of Fall using the caption of Fall is…

Fall is … Gorgeous sunrise and sunsets with beautiful golden hues showering the skies
Fall is… Picturesque views
Fall is… Enjoying the view from your own front window
Fall is…Trees showering with colors… red, yellow, and orange
Fall is… Leaves crunching at your feet as you walk
Did someone say leaves??? 🍁🍁🍁🍁Time to rake! 🍁🍁🍁🍁
My nephew used to say when the leaves fell in the fall, they were just making friends on the ground 🍁🍁🍁
Fall is… Finding pumpkins of all shapes & sizes
Fall is… Making all of your favorite apple recipes
Fall is… Brushy Mountain Apple Festival! Always the first Saturday in October
Fall is.. the beginning of festival & holiday season! We are so excited to be a small part of the new family friendly festival which will be hosted on Saturday October 29 4-8 pm
Fall is… Thanksgiving! Do I need to say more?? Yum!
Fall is… Getting ready for cooler nights by the fire pit
Wilkes County Hardware has got y’all covered for Fall logo gear. Stay warm with these sweatshirts or find a new long sleeve logo t-shirt to layer with for those cooler weather days of Fall🍁🍁🍁
Fall is … S’mores time
Fall is… Making your favorite soups, stews and comfort foods
Fall is… The perfect time to make a pan of cornbread
Fall is…Bringing the smells of fall inside as the weather cools down
Wilkes County Hardware has in stock Acorn Spice, Mum, and Apple Cider hand soaps to keep your favorite Fall scents inside your home.
Fall is… A great time to add some warm wood tones into your home decor
Fall is…A busy time for animals preparing for the upcoming winter season
Deer spray, & granular repellents are available at Wilkes County Hardware. For our bird lovers, we have new suet feeders & suet nuggets!
And of course, we have excellent choices for keeping the birds coming back to your feeders for the entire Fall season! No additives or fillers.
Fall is… Spotting the busy & maybe a bit of mischievous activity of critters along the Greenway
Fall is.. Stopping to just enjoy the scenery
Fall is… seeing the same places evolve into a new seasonal phase from the lush green trees to the barren & bare trees of late autumn.
Fall is… seeing the same places evolve into a new seasonal phase from the lush green trees to the barren & bare trees of late autumn.
Fall is… seeing the same places evolve into a new seasonal phase from the lush green trees to the barren & bare trees of late autumn.
Fall is… Finding those spooky, foggy morning memories
Fall is… Preparing for the first frost
Fall is.. Predicting the first fire of the season in the old wood stove inside our hardware store
Fall is… A Mosaic to be enjoyed by us all. Fall is… simply enjoying your surroundings everyday.
🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁

Beginners Guide to Fall Lawn Care and The Art of “Mowology” 101

Living through a Southern Summer means consistently mowing the lawn is a necessity. I spent many summers on a riding mower going round and round until the yard was completely finished. Dad was usually busy completing the trimming around trees working the humming weed eater. Dad’s lawn always looked spectacular with the blades of grass all trimmed up, gleaming brightly in the warm summer sunshine.

Pool fun versus mowing the grass.. well there’s no debate on that one y’all 😂

The “art” mowing, or the phrase I’ll use today, “Mowology”, is not only your ability to keep up with mowing of the growing green grass AND the overall maintenance of the lawn. Let that sink in for a minute… that is a HUGE definition! Mowing & lawn maintenance requires a hunk of time on the homeowner part, just like that hunk of grass in your yard that has you currently stumped. You’re probably thinking to yourself… what on earth should I do next??? Weed control or pest control or should I just “kiss it up to heaven” and just let it go???

And we all know that keeping your lawn looking fabulous doesn’t come easily. It is hard work!!! Even as I write this, my dad still does ALL of his lawn maintenance. He just simply enjoys doing it. Dad would be in my book, “A Mowologist, at heart”. Why??? He is motivated to keep his lawn/yard looking great year round, he has the “heart” for an amazing lawn. Ultimately, don’t we all want that???

Cookie enjoys just sitting in the grass watching over her domain

Whether you are an active participant in your lawn care or not, it is good to know some basic details about what should be done and when, so your hard earned money is being utilized to the ultimate extent!

Put your hard earned money to use! Knowledge is powerful!

Now is an excellent time to walk your lawn to survey it to see how you wish to proceed for a beautiful lawn next spring… yes, y’all are reading that correctly.

Check the verbiage in the Almanac… it’s time to put emphasis on the lawn!

August and September are actually THE most important months for lawn care! For all of y’all who are excellent “mowologists” out there, be proactive and think ahead towards next spring. What should you be focusing on FIRST?? Continue to read below in order to find the BEST option available for your lawn this Fall.

The following information is a portion of my research based findings. Several of our customers have asked for help/questions in regards to lawn care for the Fall season. This is only a few helpful tips!

Option one:The Ultimate Mowologist”…. I’ve got this lawn under control & I’m looking ahead to Fall Y’all:

1. Apply Fertilizer. A little fertilization towards end of the brutal summer heat will give your lawn a boost going into Fall. Your lawn is tired and possibly even a little stressed. As a result, your lawn could use more nitrogen. Lawns that lack nitrogen may also be missing other two vital nutrients, such as phosphorus and potassium. Yes… y’all guessed it, these are the essential elements found in fertilizer.

This is a nitrogen rich product that would be an amazing additive to your lawn this Fall, sprinkle onto your lawn after aeration.
We also have basic fertilizer options

2. If you are just simply unsure to fertilize or not??? Stop by and pick up a soil test. Your lawn will go dormant with or without fertilizer as temperatures begin to cool down. By adding a boost of fertilizer, you can have a much more lush, vibrant yard come springtime.

Soil test can take the guess work out of your lawn care

3. Aerate – It is time to aerate lawns that are subject to heavy traffic or grown on clay soils. Yes, that is definitely us!!! Clay soil in the NC Foothills are a definite standard. Soil plugs should be broken up and scatter these plugs back into the lawn for best results.

4. Do you wish to Overseed OR do you need to Seed small bare patches that have emerged in your lawn? Overseeding can reduce weeds in your lawn by simply pushing them out with the thick layer of green, lush grass. Why should you overseed or seed bare patches now??? There are a few distinct reasons that make fall the best time to plant grass seed. The Fall months of September & Early October are ideally the best seeding times when the soil is still warm. With the combination of warm soil, warm daytime temperatures, and cool evenings encourages seed germination and establishment of newly sown cool-season grass. In general terms, you should plant cool-season grass seed at least 45 days before the “estimated date” of your first fall frost. Meaning, before soil and air temperatures drop to less favorable levels. Fall will typically brings more rain, which lessens the chance that these newly planted grass seeds may dry out, and reducing the need for extra watering on your part.

Small bags of grass seed are also available!

Option Two:The Tired Mowologist “…Summer has gotten the best of me y’all, but I’ve got this handled…

1. Weed control – As the summer wanes, weeds may have emerged in your lawn! Post-emergent herbicides are one way of removing weeds that have already sprouted if you can visibly see them in your lawn. Weed and Feed options are also available… stop by to see which one works best for you.

2. Insect control– did you notice Japanese beetles in your yard this season??? Mole issues ??? Believe it or not, these are all connected!!! Japanese beetles lay eggs in your lawn that turn into lawn grubs in late summer . The grubs eat and dig up your lawn roots in late summer, hibernate all winter long and then come back with a vengeance in spring…ready to destroy your lawn again. Moles eat grubs. Now is the time to get moving on grub control for your yard before the cooler weather sets in and the grubs move deeper into the ground, making it ineffective for any type of grub control to be impactful. Other signs of insects??? Stop by to see what would work best for your lawn and gardening needs this Fall.

If you purchased this product this summer, you might need to consider getting prepared for grub control 😳
Pet friendly grub control
Granular & concentrate available

Y’all might be wondering why did I give you two different choices ?? Here’s the answer. You should never fertilize, aerate, and seed the lawn at the same time as you are in the weed control cycle. It’s kinda like you are defeating your original purpose… Pick one area of focus and go with it! Option 2 with lawn weed control should be completed by Mid September. After three weeks of completion, you can come back to aerate & overseed/seed bare patches in your lawn if you deem it necessary this Fall.

Looking Ahead into Fall Y’all… “The Proactive Mowologists”

1. Water lawn as needed.

Need a new water hose???

2. Maintain your Mulch– a thick layer of mulch helps to prevent weeds.

3. Pull & spray weeds as needed

5. Fall is a great time to plant trees or shrubs.

6. Get ready to rake leaves!!! 🍂🍁🍁🍁

7. Check out your fall lawn & garden tools… are they in need of maintenance,cleaning, repair???? We can help with new handles, and sharpening.

8. Keep lawnmower blades sharpened. Dull blades mean uneven cutting in your lawn.

Fall is an amazing time of the year for the novice mowologist or even the pro who has been doing it well for years. The weather begins to cool down and the summer sweats subsides. What Mowologists isn’t looking forward to parking the mower in the garage for a few months of leisure as winter weather sets in and you get to trade it out for a snow shovel??? Right??? 😂

The Paper Bag Experience

I can remember going into our local community grocery stores at Martin Cheek’s or Alexander’s Grocery and shopping for a quick “go to item” and coming back to the car with item in tow tucked inside a paper bag.

Easy tuck under your arm… carrying a paper bag

My memories of helping my mom carry in the groceries from the car, and not ONE of those bags was plastic y’all.

I maybe telling my age but, paper bags were the only option at the local grocery store. Over my lifetime, things shifted and plastic bags have become the standard.

Plastic bags are everywhere!

As we approach the beginnings of year SEVEN in the hardware business, I realized the other day that paper bags are ONE thing our customers have grown accustomed to with each purchase inside our historic, hardware walls. Yes, we hand stamp our name on each individual paper bag! Bag stamping is a routine part of what we do each week.

We hand stamp our paper bags… various sizes available

Processing and writing this blog post, I began to wonder… Are businesses that offer paper bags perceived by the consumer as a more “customer service friendly” small business???? Is the overall atmosphere somehow uniquely different from a business that only offers plastic bags at checkout????

Wilkes County Hardware, established long ago in our town center… finding a home on 10th & D Street after the legacy of EE Eller’s thriving business here in this building from 1905-1941.

Humor me please… Think about this for a minute… where do you currently shop where plastic bags are the norm???? Grocery stores, big box stores??? Can you think of other locations with plastic bags???

Just a question… hardware style

Reviewing my current own shopping habits, I recall several stores in our area use plastic over paper bags. Good versus bad, paper or plastic, that is not a bone of contention that I’m undertaking today in the blog post. But, I must admit, I do love a good paper bag! And I do frequent some small shops that offer paper bags over plastic, which is part of the reason why I love these shops! But I must admit, it’s more than the paper bag, it is simply the overall shopping experience.

Y’all, don’t you feel a bit special with a cute paper bag from your purchase? It’s like the shop owner has taken a bit of extra pride, and care into their own livelihood. And marketing that small,unique business with the paper bag. Paper bags are easy for gift giving, reusing, or even recycling.

Our selection of paper bags ranges from small to larger size with handles

Further into my reflection, I would like to dive into & explore a tad more into my thoughts about the “atmosphere” in a business with paper bags at checkout versus plastic. Here’s a story I would like to share with y’all today…

I needed a couple of baby gifts, and I wanted to give each one a special gift. I stopped into, A Baby Celebration in our local downtown area. The shop was packed full of all sorts of sweet baby stuff!

A Baby Celebration, a sweet little baby shop in Downtown North Wilkesboro

As I finished up my purchases at the baby store, I’m thinking in my mind, now I need to gift wrap these and get these gifts to the new soon to be parents. It was almost like the owner read my mind. Maybe she sensed my stress of gift wrapping…having to head out to find the perfect gift wrapping paper or gift bag to place these sweet gifts into. But, that wasn’t the case! The owner then quickly pointed up to the display wall and she asked me to select a gift bag for each gift. I was tickled pink, and it was included in my visit!!! Customer service at its best y’all!

My point is, shopping small businesses can often come with perks you may not often be aware of! Shopping at small businesses, not only can you find quality merchandise, amazing service, friendly atmosphere, gift wrapping, & yes, even paper bags!

Our classic brown paper bag

Which brings me back to the thought of what could customers infer from small businesses where paper bags are standard?

In my mind, my inference about small businesses that offer that simple, classic paper bag is often a way to keep customers coming back into your store. Customers tend to associate such memorable things with your business… that cute paper bag you carefully placed items into, the excellent customer service you provided, or even the amazing products offered inside your store.

A view inside our hardware store

Regardless of whether it is the paper bag, or other reasons, as a small business owner, you want your customers to return often & regularly.

So y’all might be wondering why did we choose paper bags over plastic? Here’s our answer:

We quickly decided against plastic and opted for paper, check out our reasons why…

1. Nostalgia, when y’all enter our building you have literally stepped back into time. The age of our building dates back to the early 1900’s. We are offering our customers such an experience. I’ll call it, The Paper Bag Experience, stepping back into a time where life was a bit simpler, friendly service, shopping in an “old school”hardware store with the classic brown paper bags as standard fare for packaging.

Wilkes County Hardware is a classic old hardware store with the wood stove, working freight elevator, ladder wall and much more!

2. Classic Sophistication, let’s face it, a sweet,,little paper bag is much cooler than a slinky plastic bag😂 right???

3. Social responsibility, Paper bags have a few advantages over plastic when it comes to sustainability. Paper bags are recyclable and biodegradable.

4. Marketing to our customers, our goal is to ensure that every customer feels special! What is more unique & special than a stamped paper bag with our logo information on it???

5. One cool impact of using paper bags in our hardware store, paper bags are often used for gift giving.

In closing, the psychology behind paper v. plastic may not be resolved in this blog post today, but we are thankful that our customers keep returning and continue to support our small business at Wilkes County Hardware.

Richard & I truly appreciate your patronage as we launch into year SEVEN of the hardware business. The Paper Bag Experience has been impactful inside our historic walls. Shopping at Wilkes County Hardware is a definitely a unique experience. Whether you come for nostalgia, love of hardware stores, or locally sourced goods, we can neatly tuck them into a classic brown paper bag as you leave the checkout.

As always, thanks for reading & sharing my blog. I really appreciate my followers and your kind words. Thanks 😊

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.