Bat Basics

Landscaping and Gardening for Bats

Karen Krebbs, author of Bat Basics, tells us about landscaping and gardening for bats. Bats serve as pollinators and play an incredibly important role as insect predators. If you want to help out bats, give them a place to live! Purchasing or building a bat house is a great way to support the bats that are already hunting and flying around your neighborhood. Bats eat a lot of insects, including mosquitoes, moths, and garden pests, so you’ll get something out of encouraging these insectivores to forage in your backyard. If you’re concerned about the possibility of a bat taking up residence in your house, putting up a bat house is a great way to prevent them from moving into your front porch or the eaves of your house.  Bats utilize trees, scrub, rocks, and buildings as roost sites. Tree-roosting bat species like red, silver-haired, or hoary bats, as well as many myotis...

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North Carolina Day Trips

The Biltmore Estate Deserves More than a Quick Stop

Don’t fall victim to a misconception about Biltmore Estate. Some people think they can fit a visit to George Vanderbilt’s castle into a day trip to Asheville, but Biltmore is a day trip in itself. You’ll wind up disappointed if you think you can pop in and out in 2–3 hours. Ideally, plan to extend the trip over two days so you can fully enjoy what the estate has to offer. Check out the website of the estate before heading out—Biltmore offers discounts on tickets purchased online seven days before a visit. There’s also a discount for next-day admission and for kids ages 10–16; plus kids age 9 and under are admitted free.  The Biltmore Estate During a stay at the original Battery Park Hotel in downtown Asheville in the late 1800s, George Washington Vanderbilt gazed out at the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina and knew he had found...

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Squash

Spaghetti Squash: A Healthy Alternative to Pasta

Julia Rutland, author of Squash: 50 Tried & True Recipes, proposes a simple spaghetti squash recipe you will love. Simple Spaghetti Squash with Bacon, Butter, and Parmesan  INGREDIENTS  1 large spaghetti squash 6 slices bacon 6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces 3⁄4 teaspoon salt 1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or other fresh herb  Makes 4 side-dish or 2 entrée servings  Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking dish with aluminum foil.  Split squash in half; scoop out and discard seeds. Place squash, cut side down, on prepared baking dish; bake 35 to 40 minutes or until squash is tender when pierced with a knife. Rest until cool enough to handle.  Meanwhile, cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels; crumble and set aside.  Scrape flesh of squash into a bowl with a fork to create long, spaghetti-like...

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A Giveaway for Bird Lovers

Beautiful birds are everywhere and wether you are a beginner enjoying your newly-found hobby, or one of the 47 million seasoned birders in the United States, we are sure that you will enjoy our GIVEAWAY for bird lovers.  We celebrate the joy that birds bring to us as they flit about our backyards. Birds are some of the most beautiful and graceful animals on the planet. It’s truly a wonder to observe their fascinating behaviors. Yet even the most seasoned bird-watcher doesn’t know everything about our feathered friends. But, wildlife photographer and naturalist Stan Tekiela does and he shares some of the most unusual, funny, strange and incredible facts about birds in his Bird Trivia book.  THREE lucky winner will receive a copy of Stan Tekiela’s book Bird Trivia: Funny, Strange, and Incredible Facts about North American Birds AND a set of beautiful bird notecards. This boxed set of 12 cards and...

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A Tale of a Nest Within a Nest

Stan Tekiela, naturalist and wildlife photographer par excellence, tells a tale of a nest within a nest. It had been nearly 2 hours and I was still waiting, perched high up in my aerial blind, nearly 25 feet above the ground. I’d been patiently waiting for an adult Osprey to return to the nest with a meal for the two young raptors waiting within. My aerial blind is like a cocoon suspended in mid-air. It is completely covered by camouflage material, which conceals my presence to the raptors yet allows me a near eye-level view to capture images of the raptor occupants in the nest. Osprey flying to nest with fish For those who don’t know, the Osprey is a large bird of prey that makes a living by fishing. They are often called Fish-hawks or Fish Eagles, but they are neither hawks nor eagles. They are in their own family or class...

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Double-Crust Lattice Blueberry Pie

Julia Rutland, author of Blueberries: 50 Tried & True Recipes, shares with us her Double-Crust Lattice Blueberry Pie recipe. We loved this pie so much we gave it a try. Though it was extra work, we chose to make our own dough, and we even made mini pies for a party.  INGREDIENTS  4 cups fresh blueberries, divided 3⁄4 cup granulated sugar1 teaspoon lemon zest2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 3 tablespoons cornstarch 2 tablespoons water1 tablespoon butter Double-Crust Pastry Dough or 1 package store-bought refrigerated piecrusts 1 egg, lightly beaten Sparkling or turbinado sugar (optional)  HOMEMADE DOUBLE-CRUST PASTRY DOUGH If you want to make your own dough, and we did, here is how to do so. Combine 3 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt in a food processor, pulsing until blended. Add 1 cup cold butter, cut into pieces; pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand. Combine 1⁄2 cup cold water and 2 teaspoons vinegar. Sprinkle...

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How to Find Shelter in the Outdoors

In today’s post, Benjamin Sobieck, author of Outdoor Survival, an adventure skills guide, tells us about creating a shelter in the outdoors. Where to Make a Shelter in the Outdoors The ideal spot to make a shelter would contain the following elements: On level terrain, so rainwater doesn’t flow downhill into your shelterNear a clearing, to increase the chance of being spotted by rescuers, but also sheltered from the wind/rain (for reference, prevailing winds typically come from the west, the same direction as the setting sun)Away from dead or dying trees, aka “widow makers,” and away from trees entirely if lightning is presentA dry areaClear out as much vegetation and debris from your shelter site as you possibly can. The Best shelter is the One You Don’t Have to Make: Sometimes Mother Nature can lend a helping hand. If something in your surroundings meets the requirements in the previous list, use it. In April...

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Labor Day Party Recipes with Blueberries

In preparation for my upcoming Labor Day party, I tried out two recipes from Blueberries: 50 Tried & True Recipes by Julia Rutland. I decided on the Blended Blueberry Margaritas to quench my guests’ thirst, and I tested the Blueberry Dipping Sauce to accompany chicken fingers. I was thrilled with the results of both! What are your favorite Labor Day party recipes? Blended Blueberry Margaritas There’s a lot of wiggle room in this recipe. If berries are tart, taste and then add a bit more Simple Syrup. And adjust the amount of tequila with less if you want a mild cocktail, more for a potent kick. For a fun and slushy blueberry limeade, omit liqueurs and add a bit of water to make it a drinkable texture. The recipe serves about six. INGREDIENTS 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries 11⁄4 cups Simple Syrup (recipe below)3⁄4  cup fresh lime juice 3⁄4  cup tequila 1⁄4 cup triple sec...

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