Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year! : Party For The Kids On Beech Mountain, NC

The Buckeye Recreation Center in Beech Mountain is throwing a Bash just for the Kids with a special New Year’s Eve Party from 6:30 - 8:30 pm on Thursday, Dec. 31st, 2009. The event will feature dinner and a bounce house.

And if you haven't visited the town of Beech Mountain's new Buckeye Recreation Center before, prepare yourself to be impressed. In addition to state-of-the-art sports facilities and a myriad of other useful resources (computers, meeting rooms, etc.) the staff there works hard year-round coordinating great programs and events for families & the kids up on Beech Mountain.

For more info, call 828-387-3003, or visit Buckeye Recreation Center.

I found about this particular event through the High Country Mom Squad.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Beech Mountain Resort? There's an App For That!

For avid skiers and winter sports enthusiasts who are looking for a convenient way to keep an eye on skiing conditions up on Beech Mountain, North Carolina, Beech Mountain Resort (a.k.a. Ski Beech) has made available an application for the iPhone and iPod touch which allows users to check on current slope conditions with a live weather feed, interactive trail map, and live web camera. Up to date information on current events and specials at the resort also is provided.

You can find more information at

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ray's Weather Center : Keeping an Eye on Beech Mountain Weather

Gosh, it sure has been Snowing up on Beech! And according to Dr. Ray Russell's team of forecasters, it's not done yet. So we've started out our ski season this year with a whole lot of that white stuff.

If you are headed up to the top of the mountain (or in the midst of planning a trip later this winter), you will want to keep yourself apprised of accurate information about what to expect weather-wise.

When we first started concerning ourselves with conditions up on Beech Mountain, NC, we had a tough time finding a weather report which didn't just lump in Beech Mountain with all the other area cities which are quite a bit closer to sea level than our Mile-high town. Yes, as you drive up Beech, if you've got one of those digital thermometers in the dash, it is interesting to see how the temperature goes *down* the further *up* you travel. It makes at least a ten degree F. difference in the temperature when you're on top of the mountain (which is why the Summertime temperatures are so wonderfully mild up there) - and counting in wind chill, often a lot more.

Ray's Weather Center site is chock full of interesting weather information specific to Beech Mountain (and also includes separate reports for a number of other highland towns too), all presented in an easy-going, humorously folksy tone. Plus, Ray's "Fearless Forecast" ahead of the coming Winter is a great read. (So far this winter, it looks like he was right about El Nino's effects on the High Country's weather this year.) Plus, if you would like a little additional information while figuring out what might be the best time on Beech for your desired weather conditions, the weather site's Almanac provides a wealth of weather measurements from the past few years.

So, want to learn more about the incredible snow events happening up on Beech Mountain? Check out Ray's Weather Center, and you'll get the best quality information out there:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Nog Bread : Enjoy Freshly Baked Bread On A Snowy Mountain Morning

Imagine a warm fire, the smell of coffee, and the blue-grey light of a snowy morning waking you just enough to join the rest of the family, all in P.J.s and robes, at the business of breakfast. And what's that other heavenly smell? Freshly baked bread!!

Guess what?! We keep a bread maker up at Beech Mountain Bliss condo. Her name is Sue. She's a little noisy, but she doesn't take up much space (just a shelf under the toaster stand).

Come again, you say? Let me explain:

"Sue" is an Oster Deluxe 2-Pound Bread Maker who can be programmed well ahead of time (13 hours) to make piping hot, crusty and delicious loaf of bread for you. (Just another small example of those little extra amenities we have added to make a vacation on Beech Mountain that little bit more pleasurable.)

Although, there are printed directions (don't worry; it's very easy to use) and a myriad of recipes left there for you to consult (and you can get to them online as well), thought I'd share a special family one with you. So, in the spirit of the season, here are the ingredients for Nog Bread!

4 Cups White Flour
1/2 Cup Oil
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Egg Nog
1/2 Cup Warm Water
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Tsp Nutmeg (optional)
2 Tsp Cinnamon (optional)
1 Tsp Dried Yeast

For our particular bread machine (this is a summary of the instructions from the manual that is there for you), you should mix all the wet ingredients together, put them in the bread machine pan and dump the dry ingredients on top - and don't forget to add the yeast last! Program when you want the bread ready (like the next morning), and voila!

What a luxurious way to get your carbs in prior to an energetic day of skiing!

Friday, December 11, 2009

21st Century Punched Tin: Carrying On the Mountain Tradition of Making Do

The art of punched tin is a very familiar Mountain or Country craft - and was widely produced in the mountains of North Carolina, Virginia, etc., back in the day. I've heard this particular art was brought to our region by Pennsylvania German tinsmiths. Probably most familiar to us nowadays is the antique pie safe with its panels of punched tin to provide ventilation for the baked goods stored inside, while protecting them from flies, etc. Of course, now that we have other more advanced forms of food storage, punched tin is more valued for its decorative virtues than for its practicality. And you can find lots of examples of antique furniture with punched tin panels while shopping the many antique shops and craft markets all over the mountains (there's a whole string of neat places down highway 105 back towards Boone. But I digress . . .).

Here's an inexpensive way to bring some of that traditional mountain craft to your Christmas tree - again, keeping the admirable Mountain tradition of making do, and using your time and ingenuity to transform scraps and discards into something lovely.

Consider the lowly condensed orange juice can lid (or, if you have one of those dandy can openers that take off a can lid without producing sharp edges, it can be any can lid). It has a lovely finish, is a nice circular piece of tin, and all you need is a nail and a small hammer to start making a Christmas pattern of little holes in it (Don't forget to work on a piece of scrap wood that you don't mind getting holey.).

One additional, larger hole near the top, through which to string a pretty ribbon, and there you have it: A lovely little ornament which hearkens back to the virtues of simpler, harder times.

Incidentally, if you spend any time at our vacation condo, Beech Mountain Bliss, there are several examples of punched tin to be found there. Even in these modern times of plenty, punched tin continues to be an attractive and affordable way to brighten up a room. Hope this inspires you to find other clever ways to make do.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Beech Mountain Resort (formerly Ski Beech) Is Open!

Well, a welcome bit of snow and some cold temperatures had the kids sledding last Thanksgiving week. And the weather must have encouraged the staff at Beech Mountain Resort to start making some more of that precious white stuff too. The Resort officially opened for the season yesterday. There have been a lot of improvements made to the resort this year. With the addition of snowboarding and an excellent new lift last year - plus the recent sprucing up of Ski Village surrounding the ice skating rink that we noticed being finished up last week - we're expecting a pretty busy season up on Beech this year.

From what I can see on the webcams, it's looking pretty white up there; so here's to a great ski season this year!

Making Do: Tradition of Mountain Ingenuity in the 21st Century

If you spend any time reading or listening to what life was like in places like Beech Mountain, NC, back in the old days before paved roads, 4-wheel drive (heck, cars!) and electricity/phone transformed things for mountain communities, you might find yourself impressed a time or two with a clever way some individual fashioned something useful out of . . . well, trash. All those rustic hand-crafted things we prize, punched tin pie safes, stick furniture, hand-carved toys, were traditions begun by folks who didn't have a lot (no Walmarts a short drive down the mountain, or Internet connections for online shopping) and used their time and ingenuity to turn old flour sacks, flattened tin cans, yard waste, into things to make life easier. (In my linen closet, I still keep a bed sheet made from flour sacks made by an ancestor or mine.)

Nowadays, other motivations (environmental or financial concerns, or the fact that it's just plain fun) inspire folks to take the time to make something out of junk rather than go out and buy it. I'd like to think it's also a nod to our grandparents and great-grandparents who carved out of a life up on the Appalachian mountains with strong backs and clever fingers.

Anyway, having just gotten back from spending Thanksgiving up on Beech, I'd like to think a bit of the spirit of Mountain Ingenuity influenced me to do the following:

We got the tree up yesterday, but found a looong string of lights from last year had burned out. I didn't want to just throw them out. Seemed a waste. Got online and saw another person made jewelry out of old mini-lights, and it inspired me to make Christmas ornaments out of 'em.

So I made this . . well, ball of burnt out mini lights (looks prettier than it sounds) . . . for the tree.

If you'd like to do the same, here's how:

First, I pulled all the little mini-bulbs off the wire (protect your fingers and make this easier by using one of those rubbery, grippy jar-opening gadgets . . . or a damp towel). Then, I pulled off the little green plastic bases from each mini-light. If you look closely, each bulb has two wires threaded out through the bottom of that plastic cap which you can bend straight so the cap will easily pull right off.

The next thing to do is make the center of your ornament (You might want to heat up your glue gun at this point.) and a stand to hold it while you work. I balled up a piece of tin foil onto the end of a chop stick, then punched two holes into an empty cardboard box to act as a stable base. Then, bent the wires sticking out of the end of each bulb around to act as "feet," put a blob of hot glue onto the bottom of the mini-bulb's wire "feet," and stuck it onto the surface of the foil ball. Good idea to blow lightly on the glue as you hold the bulb in place for a few seconds before letting go. (Also, it's a good idea to get a source of fresh air into the room, as hot glue gun fumes probably aren't awful good for you.)

Just keep gluing on bulbs till you run out of room. Let it dry on your chopstick stand for about an hour, just to make sure your bulbs don't shift. Then pull the whole thing off the chopstick, flip it over, take a last bulb and an piece of ribbon (about 8" long), use the bulb's wires to twist around the middle of the ribbon to secure it to the base of the bulb, then use a blob of glue to secure your ribbon-based bulb over the gap formerly filled by your chopstick stand. Tie a bow, and there you have it!

Now, does anyone have any ideas for the leftovers?

P.S. I should give credit to the person who posted about using old mini-lights to make a brooch, which inspired my Christmas ornament idea:
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