Maxine and Robert Falls Blueberry Farm is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday 6:30am to 8:30pm at 111 Harmon Road, Maryville, TN (865) 982-3457. Directions: Proceed two miles past Blount Memorial Hospital on Hwy 321 going towards Townsend, turn right onto Harmon Road just before the second BP Station you come to after the hospital. Once on Harmon they are the first driveway on the left. Park on the grass. You can just see the bushes behind the BP Station from the highway.
All right, here is the blueberry story. About seven years ago a dear friend, Deanna Wietholter, asked me if I wanted to go blueberry picking with her and her husband Bob the next morning at 6:30am. I said no. No hesitation there. “For crying out loud Deanna, I have a life. I work. As a matter of fact I will be knee deep rolling out scones and preparing breakfast for guests tomorrow at that time!” The next afternoon she showed up with a gallon of little blue dots. I felt pretty bad. Said thank you very much. Mom and I made a few recipes with them and froze a few berries.
Fast-forward one year. Deanna calls. Do you want to go blueberry picking? Well I didn’t want to go anymore than I did the year before, but what could I say? I went, and two other times that year. Froze about 8 gallons and started collecting blueberry recipes. The next year Deanna calls and I said sure. Went once with her and the rest of the time by myself. Picked and froze 55.5 pounds that year. The next year I didn’t wait for the phone call, and I froze 62-1/8 pounds. The next year the crop was wiped out by a freeze and I sent Maxine and Robert Falls at the blueberry farm a condolence card. I wanted to cry. The next year there was a drought and I prayed over each bush I picked from that year.
Blueberry picking is the best therapy I have ever experienced. I usually go late afternoon or early evening, by myself, and zone out. Pick, pick, pick. Took my nephew a couple of times. Sing a few hymns. Pick, pick, pick. Listen to parents converse with their kids who are eating as many as they put in the jug. Pick, pick, pick. I’ve found in the last couple of years I have slowed down a little in the quantity I can pick in the same amount of time (pick, p i c k, p i c k) but I froze 80 pounds last year. Some I picked and some I paid Maxine’s helper to pick. I wanted enough to really be able to start experimenting with recipes.
Two summers ago I won an honorable mention in a pancake contest with Bed and Breakfast.com. The recipe was Lemon, Goat Cheese, Blueberry pancakes. This summer I’d like to enter a contest with a recipe I have been working on for a year changing it here and there. I went blueberry picking for the first time this year, today. I want to see how the final product changes when I use fresh blueberries instead of frozen ones. I’ll share the recipe after the contest. For tips on how to freeze blueberries click on the recipe link above.
Bob and Deanna moved back to Indiana two summers ago to be closer to their kids because Bob was in ill health. Last summer Deanna passed away unexpectedly. Mom and I missed the funeral, held on a day when I was full with guests. We drove up to see Bob a few weeks later and took about 10 pounds of blueberries with us. I would give anything for the phone to ring and have Deanna ask if I wanted to go picking. Thanks for the blue memories sweetie. Mizkathleen @GracehillRead More
The Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center Guild presented the 6th annual Heritage Happening: Landmarks of our Heritage, on Saturday May 30th, 2009, at the Heritage Center in Townsend, Tennessee. This annual event is the biggest fund raiser the museum has each year. 1,770 invitations were sent out with a near capacity crowd of 325 people. There is both a silent auction with 9 different categories, and a live auction which is, yes, always lively! The event grossed around $90,000 with the auction bringing in $54,040 of that. The live auction items that brought the most attention this year all had to do with food, no surprise: an evening boat ride for 12 complete with a gourmet dinner, a progressive dinner in Laural Valley, and the like. Besides paid help, it takes roughly 30 volunteers to pull this off each year. Of course you have the one night a year volunteers like me, and then there are the “a hundred++ hours a year” volunteers like some of my friends. It’s a lot of fun, particularly when it is over. Thanks to Cam King, Doris Gorman, and Betty Jones for letting me pick their brains, and the photo’s taken and provided by Louise Presley. mizkathleen @GracehillRead More
Tony Barbarette, the owner/operator, of Smoky Mountain Kayaking and I met today. He is a retired Army Intelligence Officer. He recently took a hobby he was passionate about, and turned it into what is becoming a full-time business. There are a handful of white water kayaking/tubing businesses within a two-hour drive of Gracehill Bed and Breakfast; Tony’s, is for the most part, the only lake kayaking and tours on flat water. He is based out of Maryville, Tennessee. Tony does tours on Douglas, Tellico, Chilhowee, Norris, and Calderwood Lakes, in the Fontana Dam and Abrams Creek area, and the Tennessee and Little Tennessee Rivers. One of the trips, if the water level is correct, you can kayak through an old train tunnel, or take a history tour of Fort Loudon State Historical Area. See the Sequoyah Birth Place Museum where Sequoyah invented the Cherokee Alphabet, and the Chota Memorial and Oconostota Burial Site.
His comments from a kayaking trip a couple of days ago– ”What a beautiful Smoky Mountain day on Abrams Creek it was! Clear blue skies, cool breezes, and not another boater in sight! Ann and Roland Long from Texas were my companions. The mountain laurels were in full bloom along the water’s edge, and we all took advantage of the great photo backgrounds. I’m gearing up for the Memorial Day weekend with paddle tours scheduled for Fort Loudon Historical Area on Tellico Lake, tours to Chilhowee Lake, and Abrams Creek. Folks need to book early to get their first choice of the trip and time they would like.” The photo’s about sum it up! mizkathleen @Gracehill.
Mom and I drove to Buckhorn Inn today located in the Arts and Crafts Community of Gatlinburg for our monthly B&B association meeting. Lee provided a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach! Main topic of conversation was: link policies to the Smoky Mountain Bed and Breakfast website, what we are all paying for credit cards fees, and the definition of a bed and breakfast/inn (not easy). Sterling and Rick from Wahoo Zip Lines were our guests. They claim you can be as young as 5 and they have had folks do this who are in their 80′s and 90′s. Surely as creaky as I am at 55, I can give it a shot with my 6-year-old nephew.
The mountain laurel is blooming all along our driveway. The photo was taken coming up the drive of a Kousa Dogwood with some flowering plums as the reddish foliage in the background. Kousa Dogwoods are not native like the dogwood photo in my May 4th blog of Cornus florida, but they have a later and longer bloom period with virtually no disease or pest problems. It’s common for me to still have this tree still blooming at the Fourth of July and one year they lasted almost all summer. Amazing. mizkathleen @GracehillRead More
Drove to Gatlinburg’s Arts and Craft Community today to pick up some of the mugs I have made for Gracehill at Buie Pottery. This started a few years ago when my cousin came to visit with his significant other, now wife. They bought me some of Buie’s pottery wine glasses. One thing led to another and I use her stemware and accessory’s with a lot of the different place settings I switch out each morning. She wanted me to try selling Gracehill mugs. I wasn’t interested. She insisted. She was correct in insisting. Be that as it may…….
I hopped on Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail while in the area. It is about the prettiest drive in the park. A six to eight mile (depending on who’s verision you read) one way loop road covered in wildflowers this time of year. The last 3 miles you are following streams, crossing bridges, passing waterfalls etc. Driving that road is about as good as getting a massage! mizkathleen @GracehillRead More
I drove from Gracehill about two hours north for our monthly B&B meeting today in Newport at Christopher Place. There are about 20 inns in the Smoky Mountain Bed and Breakfast Association and the 10 to 12 faithful that attend regularly have all become pretty close friends.
Since assuming the presidency in January, the one change I have implemented was a 30-minute discussion on a topic picked the month before by the group. It means we have to click right along to get through the regular monthly reports, but so far it has gone well. In February, it was Shirley from Foxtrot leading the group on nightly turn-down service. In March, it was Lee from Buckhorn talking about the sales tax audit they went through. Today I led on the five ways someone can find you on the Internet, with an emphasis on search engine optimization with some help from Tifton at Creekwalk Inn. It was a basic “Do as I say not as I am doing!” A number of the things I presented I’ve just learned myself and need to get on my own website to make changes for the better.
After the meeting Mom and I drove into Knoxville to one of the wholesale nurseries to buy five Obtusa Gracilis, Hinoki Cypress. The boxwood I had in the five containers in the parking area of the Inn received a good case of windburn over the winter. We relocated them to a protected area and will try the Gracilis for a few years before it out-grows the containers. Mizkathleen @GracehillRead More
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