Friday, August 26, 2011

White Roses and Southern Hospitality

Last week my dear grandmother passed away at the age of 93.  I was so blessed to have had her in my life for so long.  Thankfully she wasn't sick for an extended time   She had a lovely funeral service and plenty of friends and family visiting with us during visitation.  After her funeral service we attended a reception at her church and were treated to first class southern hospitality in the form of funeral food.  So many of her friends, family and church family put together a first class southern style meal.  My grandmother would have certainly approved of the fried chicken, fresh green beans, wide selection of casseroles and desserts and naturally a plate of sliced fresh tomatoes.   I was feeling pretty guilty since one of my dear friends lost her father a few hours before my grandmother passed and since I was traveling 2 hours each way back and forth to my grandmothers, I was unable to be there for her.  But, I was most guilty over the fact that a good southern girl knows to always have a casserole on standby for just such a situation and I had failed to do so.  Lesson learned.  I found great comfort in knowing so many people cared and even though I hadn't thought of eating it was welcome and appreciated.

My grandmother lost her mother when she was only 3 yrs old.  Since that time when she could she placed white roses on her mother's grave. When an arrangement of beautiful white roses arrived at the funeral home they were more than perfect.  I brought them home and placed them on my mantel.   It wasn't until a couple of days later that I realized these roses had been delivered on Thursday to the funeral home, moved to the church on Saturday, transported 2 hours to my home and had been here for two days and they were not just pretty they were perfect.  So much so that I wondered if I was crazy thinking I had smelled their scent when they were silk?  So I checked to be sure...sure enough they were fresh and flawless.  Not a blemish or dark edge to be seen even days later.  They just now have begun to duck their heads yet remain perfectly white.  I would like to think they were a message from my grandmother nodding her approval and her peace.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

2 for 1 Makeover - Creating My Very Own Thinking Place

About 10 yrs ago I inherited a beautiful iron park bench from my father.  At the time it was in great shape but I did nothing to maintain it time passed and it ended up in very bad shape.  The picture below shows a bit of the bench a little over a year ago.

The ironwork was rusted and the wood was so bad I wouldn't allow Mini to even sit on it for prom pictures!  It has been on my to do list for about 3 yrs now and finally this summer Wonder Hubby finally made the time to repair it.  We wanted to make it a little more special than  it originally was so we dug out some pretty special wood.  The wood in the picture below was cedar logged and rough sawn by my Grandfather several years back and was left over after Wonder Hubby built me a beautiful deck table.  What a great way to use the leftovers!

First we disassembled the bench and using a wire brush removed the rust.  I then spray painted the ironwork black.  Then using the old pieces of wood as a templete we cut and planed the cedar into new boards.  What a mess!  Cedar is great to work with because the aroma is wonderful but the dust is so fine it gets everywhere.  Even wearing a mask we were blowing red for a day!  I then stained with natural stain and followed that with 3 coats of Polycrylic.  Now it is beautiful....and as an added bonus every time I look at it I think of my Grandad :)  

When I was ready to place it back in the yard I realized how lonely it looked.  So I added this driftwood piece my father gave me.  After seeing it with the bench I realized it was just too bleached out.  I drug it into the garage and went to work staining.  When I first applied the stain I panicked.  I used a red mahogany thinking it would better match the cedar than a brown...but when it hit the driftwood it was almost black...opps...


So like the pig at the bar-b-que I was now committed and had to finish.  It took a whole quart of stain to get an even coat.  I then followed up with 3 coats of Poly.  Once the Polycrylic was on I began to like it much more.

So I asked Wonder Hubby to try it in a dozen different places take it back out and place it by the bench.  It still needed something.  Ahhh...ha....remember my pot makeover?

 Now I have a perfect trio of makeover successes!  I just love how they look together and it is a perfect shady, breezy thinking spot.

Monday, August 15, 2011

One chick's junk is.....

So I was cleaning up staring blankly at my paint table considering my options for reorganization and I found a stack of these clay saucers.

  I was just lamenting about my lack of pots but I have no shortage of these saucers and I'm not even sure why.  Anywho...since I struggle experience physical pain when I throw away anything and since they were strewn among paints and brushes and I had a brain storm.

I remembered I had something I had purchased from Garden Ridge that would work with these perfectly.   I used to have the luxury of shopping at GR every couple of weeks and scoring the best goodies on clearance.  I was disappointed near breakdown the day I wheeled in to discover they were out of business at their Nashville location.  That was 4 or 5 yrs ago and I have pined for them ever since.  Last summer Wonder Hubby announced that he had spotted one in Memphis.  I was sure it was just the building with signage since I thought the whole chain had closed.  To my elation while traveling to our sons football game in Missouri I spotted a GR with a lot filled with cars.  Score....except this game was a 22 hour travel whirlwind and there was no time to stop.  So, with promises from Wonder Hubby that the next week when we traveled to Memphis for a game we would make time to shop, I calmed down.   After that, whether I was heading to Memphis to visit our son or to shop, GR began to be a relevant question :)  Having said all that, on one of those wonderful shopping excursions I picked up a couple of hurricane globes that had literally never been taken out of the packaging since I purchased them.  So...with the paint and brushes conveniently located and not a lot of effort required on my part I went to work.

First I washed and air dried each saucer.  Then I painted and sealed them, added pillar candles and the hurricanes and ta-da....

Sorry about the sideways shot....I can't seem to save it rotated

All lit up for dinner in the hut.

I chose colors that would work with our Fiesta.   The only problem I have now is....I have many more saucers and many more colors of Fiesta.....I feel like there will be more saucer/candleholder painting in my future.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Pot Makeover

This summer I have made a major discovery (for me), plants can be free!   One day while pondering in the hut and enjoying the sweet potato vine growing in my deck containers, it hit me. My grandmother used to grow these things all over the kitchen from a little planter on her wall that held a sweet potato.  Hmmm....can I do that?   I figured it was worth a try so I took cuttings of both coleus and sweet potato vine.  Half the cuttings I dipped in rooting hormone and planted in potting soil.  The other half I simple dropped into Mason jars filled with water.  Both methods proved very successful, so much so that I was running out of places to put the new plants.  I added sweet potato vine to the petunias in my tilted pot tree but I still needed more pots.  Which leads me to today's post.
First Cuttings

Tilted Pot Tree with Sweet Potato Vine and Petunias
 What good are free plants if you have to buy new pots?  So, given my budget  ($0)  I went shopping here at home and I scored a couple of coconut lined hanging baskets (filled immediately with a coleus and sweet potato vine combo) and this beauty..

 I have had this clay pot for years.  It literally has been a half dozen colors including white with Donna Dewberry inspired florals and navy and white checkerboard.  For whatever reason for the last couple of years it hasn't been in use and has vacationed under the deck.  It had aged beautifully in some areas and had even developed some moss but alas not enough to cover old designs or to be considered aged chic.  I gathered my supplies, elbow grease and a wire brush and went to work.  2 Hours later (I can't believe I spent that much time, but it became personal) I had scrubbed away the bulk of the old paint.  Then I dug out some moss green acrylic paint and faux paint glaze.  I mixed the paint and glaze 50/50 found on old sock from the rag bag and wiped it over the entire pot.  Some areas I wiped away the excess and some areas I let it sit for a bit to deepen the color.

I'm pretty happy with the results  I achieved...hopefully it looks aged chic!  It is perfect in the shady area in my backyard beside my park bench .  Fast, easy and best of is filled with free plants!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lemon Mint Tea Punch

It has been a beautiful day here in Tennessee today.  Thankfully we are have had a break in the blistering near or above 100 degree temperatures of the past 3 weeks.  You know Southern women don't sweat we glisten...yeah right!  It has been so hot that even die hard outdoor loving girls like yours truly have surrendered and sought refuge inside.  So with today's lower temperatures and a my herb garden producing Peppermint at an alarming rate I decided to whip up a batch of liquid cool.  This has become a favorite recipe for Mini and I to enjoy in the hut.  

Start with Fresh Mint

Steep 1 1/2 cups water, 2 tea bags and fresh mint

Mix steeped tea, 1 can frozen lemonade and 2/3 cup of sugar with water to make 2 quarts

Garnish with lemon slice and fresh mint....Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tomato Love

Anyone that knows me knows that I am a fool for a homegrown tomato.  I literally dream of those glorious weeks here in the South that the tomatoes come in.  Last year we were fortunate to be able to spend 2 weeks in Hawaii with my buddy Sherry and I spent about half of a wonderful trip mourning the fact that I was missing peak tomato time.  I told you I was a fool for a tomato!   I was fortunate to grow up with grandparents that had huge gardens and were willing to share but as they have aged or passed on the free tomato train I was riding ground to a stop.  This year while Wonder Hubby and I started the process of revamping our tired landscaping I mentioned whined several times about wishing we had a suitable garden spot.  Being the sweetheart that he is, Wonder Hubby suggested that I plant a couple of tomatoes in the back area of one new bed.  Well you don't have to tell this girl twice....I was outta here and at one of my favorite spots, The Plant Ranch, purchasing some beautiful Celebrity tomato plants.

Almost as tall as the Crepe Myrtle
I have love, enjoyed, struggled with keeping these babies going this summer.  Things were going well at first with me bragging to everyone about my beautiful they say pride goeth before the fall...and then the first of the plagues struck. Wonder Hubby pointed out something was up with my plants as the tops were now just bare sprigs...drats!!   First I battled worms (eww..they were nasty) with my trusty Sevin Dust  that seemed to do the trick. Just as I let down my guard and soon began to find  chewed on areas on the tomatoes on the vines and green tomatoes in randomly in the yard.  It wasn't until I was relaxing on the deck one evening that I watch a sweet demented squirrel carry something up a tree, turn upside down, and watch me while it ate.  Shortly thereafter the aforementioned, something dropped to the ground.  Upon inspection I discovered my chewed green tomato.   Since then I have also waged war with chipmunks, rabbits and deer.  I have worn out Google looking for the best weapons in this war and decided that the best method would be to use them all (you know if a little helps a lot will be better).   First I wrapped the base of each with aluminum foil which is supposed to keep the worms from being able to climb the plant.  Next I added human hair (thankfully Wonder Hubby was due for a trim and brought home the clippings), then dish detergent with red pepper in rings around each plant.  Next up was vinegar soaked rags and moth balls and finally acting on a tip from a local farmer I added a small bucket of water near the plants.  Thankfully my vigilance near insane patrolling of the vegetable patch has paid off and I'm now enjoying the fruits of my labors.  My plants are as tall as my new Crepe Myrtle (I'm guessing Wonder Hubby didn't figure on my impressive green thumb) and they are still growing!
Aren't they beautiful?

  We have enjoyed tomato sandwiches, stuffed tomatoes and fresh pasta sauces as well as fresh sliced tomatoes with almost every meal and hopefully will be able to for several weeks to come.

First Post!

Well, it is finally very first post!  I have been drawn to blogs for several years, toying with the idea of my own for about a year and taking those very weird random photos (i.e. a sliced tomato!) for several months.  I  can't seem to get through a day without seeing something or doing something that I think "that would be a great blog post", yet here I am and I am stumped on how to start!  Be warned that this blog will be a direct reflection of my mood of the day (err...moment) and could go any direction.  Having said all that and mentioning the sliced tomato pic I guess I will start with TOMATOES!