Can you believe Autumn is here?  It is time for crisp, richly colored leaves to fall, apples to be picked, hay rides with good friends, family gatherings, warm apple cider, pumpkin pie, apple butter, scarecrows, cozy scarves, bonfires and smores….can you tell this is my favorite season?

A dear friend of ours from down in Arkansas, came up last week.  He brought some of the most delicious grapes we have ever tasted.  They are called Muscadine grapes.  Needless to say, we have been busy making jam from them and I would encourage anyone who can get their hands on some, to try them.  I don’t know which, was more of a blessing, the grapes or visiting with the friend who brought them!

It has been rather quiet here in Olga except for all of the apple picking, apple peeling and the canning of apples.  There is something about the bounty of an apple tree that speaks to my soul regarding the blessings of God.  As a family, we enjoy filling our buckets on a warm, sunny day with a cool breeze and thoughts of warm apple pie.  I look forward to it every year.  There are so many ways to preserve apples, we enjoy them all year long with applesauce and spiced applesauce, apple butter and spiced apple butter, apple pie filling, apple cider and just plain canned apples for cobblers, cakes, breads and muffins.

One of the recipes we enjoy is called Autumn Spiced Cider and it is an extremely tasty way to use your apple cider.  Plus, this is a perfect time of year for it.  In a saucepan, combine ½ gallon apple cider, 2 cups of orange juice, 3 – 3” cinnamon sticks, 10 whole cloves, zest of one orange, ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg, ¼ tsp. ground allspice.  Bring it to a boil and boil for 15 minutes.  Strain it through a fine mesh and enjoy!

Besides all of the Autumn harvesting going on, there are some great bluegrass music events taking place around the area too.  For example, on Monday evenings you have many choices for regular bluegrass jams with old-time musicians including, but not limited to:  the old Bruner Schoolhouse now Community Center at 7 p.m.; the McClurg Store Jam in McClurg at the old general store/post office at around 7 p.m. includes a pot luck dinner; the Lebanon Art Guild Bluegrass Jam 7-9 p.m. at 227 West Commercial St. in Lebanon, the Strafford Senior Center Bluegrass Jam which is mostly electric classic country from 6-9 p.m. and includes a pot luck; and the Ava Senior Center Bluegrass Jam from 6-9 p.m. featuring bluegrass, gospel, and country.  Get out and enjoy some of our local musical heritage.  Bring the children and encourage their interest in keeping the musical art alive.


You might also enjoy hearing that recently, Arkansas held their State Fiddle Championship and one of Olga’s own, Savannah Shannon, placed second in the Junior Division.  The contest took a bit of work, but the fun part was meeting so many wonderful people down in Mountain View and sitting around the square playing, singing and just the blessed opportunity of making memories with new friends.  Our family enjoyed it so much, that we are organizing our own weekly jam for those who might be interested.  So if any of you play the banjo, mandolin, guitar, dobro, bass, or fiddle and would like to join us, please email me at hillsofolga@gmail.com for details.  We are still working out the logistics, but the more the merrier!

Have a blessed week and enjoy the weather!