Saturday, December 27, 2008

Southern Charm

"Savannah is better for ya. You'd just get in trouble in Atlanta."
—Mammy in Gone with the Wind

We took a little road trip (only 5 hour drive) to the Georgia Coastal Marshlands. Since Savannah was on the way, we spent a night there and enjoyed a day of exploring before heading down the coast. We arrived late in the evening and had dinner and drinks at a great little microbrewery called Moon River Brewing Company. I can highly recommend the Savannah Fest Bier if you like a good German style beer!

One of the great things about Savannah, if you don't finish your drink and you're ready to mosey down the street to the next place, you can just take it with you! That's exactly what we did as we strolled along the riverfront by moonlight enjoying our beverage from Moon River Brewing Company. Slowly making our way back to our hotel for the night, we ran into some very friendly fellows who invited us into a nearby pub to listen to some friends of theirs who were playing live music. No cover charge and we could take our beer in...sure! Why not? As it turns out, we really enjoyed the music and stayed for a couple of sets chatting with Jason and Eric (the duo) of The Train Wrecks in between their sets. Great guys, we got on the subject of Hank Williams and I told them some of the stories of my family ties with Hank Williams, Sr. and Alabama (the state, not the group). They played songs the last set that all tied into things we had talked about. Really nice guys.

The next morning we decided to let the GPS tell us where to go. I punched in The Mercer House (of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil fame) and we ended up at Monterey Square in the historic district. Walking around the square, admiring the old oak trees dripping with spanish moss and the charm of the southern architecture, we noticed an open door in the basement of one of the houses. It was an antique shop! Needless to say, we ventured inside and had a nice chat with Alex Raskin (owner of Alex Raskin Antiques) located in the historic Noble Hardee Mansion. He told us that it was the largest house in the Savannah Historic District and we were welcome to wander around all 15,000 square feet of it. There was so much to take in, Marty and I split up, both admiring the contents as much as the house itself. We crossed paths a few times and just looked at each other in total amazement. It was technically only a two story house but with a basement and attic it seemed to go on forever. Crystal chandeliers hung high above furniture that was piled up in rooms where you could almost hear the music and feel the dancing in what were once two stately ballrooms.

If you're ever in Savannah and enjoy antiques, old homes with southern charm, and a slight chill on the back of your neck as you wonder if there really are ghosts in this world, then this is definitely a place for you to visit.

Alex Raskin Antiques located in the Noble Hardee Mansion

441 Bull Street (the corner of Bull and Gordon at Monterey Square)

Savannah, Georgia (USA) 31401

Incidentally, that is The Mercer House in background of the top photo with the garden view. I've got more photos and tales to tell of the rest of our trip but I'll stop for now. Photo overload - I'll give it a rest.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving Thanks

So much to be thankful for - loving family, good food, warm Alabama weather, two young nephews who were amazed that we could actually write with the guinea hen quills we found in the yard and mama's pickled beet juice from the beets dad grew in the garden. Simple pleasures.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Artful Blogging

My blog collage banner is in the new Winter 2009 Artful Blogging magazine. It was a nice surprise when they contacted me and asked me to submit artwork for the "Banners We Love" section. Although I've savored every issue from the beginning of publication, I never thought to submit any of my own artwork. It's fun to see my little ol' blog banner in such a cool magazine.

I cracked up when my friend introduced me to someone the other night and said "She's published!" How funny. :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I'm still playing catch up! A few weeks ago we took the "FrankenCamper" (hand stitched pop-up tent camper) to Black Rock Mountain State Park. The fall colors were just beginning to change and it was the first really cold weekend we've had this season. In spite of the cold weather and the lack of water at the state park, it was a great weekend. We hit a couple of flea markets early on Saturday and then back to the communal campfire.

Check out my goodies! I love the paintings - they are already hanging in the kitchen to distract my eyes from the apple motif wallpaper in a small area under the top cupboards. The wallpaper that is half torn off in hopes to motivate me to finally get rid of it completely. That's a whole other story for another time.

Another good find were these 2 gallon plastic bags stuffed FULL of junk jewelry. I don't know that I'll ever go through it all but it's fun to sift through and pull out a piece every now and then. Yesterday I wore a mood ring on my pinkie that I found in the stash. It turned from a dark gray into a beautiful teal blue color - so I must have been in a good mood.

I've been feeling pretty crafty these past couple of weeks. Totally inspired by Ms. Mary Ann and her way cool funky journals, I got out my old sewing machine and began stitching up a few things myself. This is the first thing I did - just a photo sewn onto a 6x9 clasped envelope that I folded in half. It was fun to learn to thread the machine, wind a bobbin and try to figure out what all the buttons actually do. That poor machine got no love for the past 10, 11, 12 years. It was moved from one house to the next, from one closet to another and now it's finally made its way to the dining room table. It's out and it's ON, baby!

Don't laugh, I'm just learning. Okay, you can laugh - I did. I cracked up, actually. I had this idea to use a bunch of personal photos and make a booklet type card for a friend... but my printer jammed after only printing 2 photos. You know how that goes - no time to mess with failed technology when the creative spirit strikes. I shifted gears and started going through my F.ART (Future Art) box. Lots of random things - it's a work in progress with many more layers to be added but it's done out of love.

More news on the crafty scene here at The Pharm...I crocheted a purse! It's a small miracle because I don't even know *how* to crochet. Well, I know 2 stitches (chain and I don't know what the 2nd is called) that someone must have taught me about 35-40 years ago. Seriously, I can not even glance over a page of crochet instructions without feeling dizzy and almost passing out. Even the drawings just confuse the heck out of me and I'm supposed to be a visual learner. So, I made it up. I just crocheted this THING, folded it over, stitched up the sides with that same stitch I know and looked at it. It could have been a sort of squarish hat, or maybe a double handed oven mitt (not safe) or possibly a triangular shaped pillow. Nope, I thought it looked more like a purse than anything so I got two handles and used that same stitch I know to attach the handles to the purse. There you have it - my first crocheted bag. I finished it last night with one of the cats on my lap right before going to bed. I was so proud of it - I took it upstairs and hung it on my dresser to look at.

The next thing planned in the crafty arena is to make place mats. That's right, I am going to actually try to sew cloth to cloth. I'll let you know how that turns out.

Aside from being silly and playing with the sewing machine and crochet hook, I've been enjoying the true fall colors of late. Like my friend said the other day, it's a panoply of colors. Isn't that a great word?! We've got a couple of Japanese Maple trees by the driveway - I always love how the reds pop against the fading yellowy green of the wisteria on the picket fence.

Our CSA friends just harvested fresh peanuts! Another reason that I love this time of year. For those of you that have never seen a peanut plant, here is what they look like after coming out of the ground, before picking off of the bush, washing and boiling. O.M.G. There's nothing that can compare to fresh boiled peanuts. We're about half way through the batch I made a few days ago. I'll be sad when they are all gone.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Playing Catch Up

We went to Ontario for Canadian Thanksgiving (Oct 13th) and spent a relaxing week with family. I couldn't find my copy of Eat, Pray, Love so I bought another one at the airport. I figured I would pass it on to a friend when I'm done reading it. Also picked up Water for Elephants which I totally devoured. Odd for me, as I'm usually reading some sort of reference book. Perhaps I enjoyed it so much because it is an historical novel. The author is a tech writer from Ontario - something I didn't know until I got to the end of the book. Very good read!

My mother-in-law's insanely delicious Canadian Butter Tarts made with pecans from my father's orchard in Alabama! Mmmmm...I'd have to say that these are better than pecan pie because of the sweet to flaky crust ratio. Speaking of that, I learned a trick from my father-in-law on how to maximize the pumpkin pie eating experience. He puts a hole in the top of the piece of pumpkin pie and then fills it with Canadian maple syrup before covering with freshly whipped cream. *Smack!*

Friday, October 3, 2008

All Tarted Up

I picked this basket of apples and pears across the road at my 90 year old friend's orchard yesterday. DELICIOUS! The tart I made today with only 3 of the apples.

Apple Bistro Tart

  • 1/2 of a 15 oz package (1 crust) folded refrigerated unbaked piecrust
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t finely shredded lemon peel
  • 2 medium tart green apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1/2 cup caramel apple dip
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 apple jelly
  • powdered sugar

Let piecrust stand according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine sugar, cinnamon, and lemon peel. Add apple slices, toss to coat.

Place unfolded piecrust on a large baking sheet. Spread caramel apple dip over crust to within 2 inches of edge. Arrange apple mixture over caramel. Sprinkle with pecans. Fold edge of crust about 2 inches up and over apple mixture, pleating edge as necessary.

Bake in 425 degrees oven about 20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and apples are tender. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan heat apple jelly over low heat until melted.

Remove tart from oven. Brush melted jelly over entire tart, including pastry. Serve warm. Sift powdered sugar over tart before serving. Makes 8 small servings or 4 decent servings.

I can't remember where I got this recipe but I seem to think it was maybe from Cooking Light about 4 or 5 years ago. I've made it so many times that I don't even use the recipe anymore.

Here are some of my variations:

If I don't have pecans (like today) then I just chop up some raw almonds and use those instead.

If I don't have apple jelly for the glaze (like today) then I just brush on some maple syrup.

I have a small jar of Caramel Ice Cream Topping in the 'fridge that I use instead of the Caramel Apple Dip.

I've also added blueberries to the mix before and I usually leave out the lemon peel but squeeze fresh lemon juice on the apples as I'm cutting them.

We got one of those Pampered Chef Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer things at a yard sale for $2 a few weeks ago. Man, does that ever make for a quick job of prepping the apples! Before that, I used one of those Apple Wedgers and just trimmed off the peel. Still a pretty quick job.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ridin' Smilin' and Clickin'

"If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space." — Anonymous

Another beautiful day in North GA. Short ride this morning up to Tate to get out and enjoy the scenery. I think I see a pattern forming here. We went to the same little crossroads diner for breakfast.

That's me on the back - ridin', smilin' and clickin' a few photos along the way.

I've been saving up (time and fun tickets) to stop in at this little place. I know there will be something I just can't live without.

Made a stop for a few groceries. I think I'm going to make some iced-tea and add a splash of this limeade in with it. Mix it up a bit - live dangerously.

Here's the beginning of my fall garden. First time to ever plant: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and collard greens.

All of the peppers are looking good. This JalapeƱo plant is loaded. My Carolina Wonder bells are just starting to turn red and the Habaneros are a pretty color of HOT HOT HOT orange.

This is the mystery squash - it's a volunteer. I have no idea what it is - maybe a gourd? Maybe a zucchini? The leaves are huge - the blossoms are yellow and smell like a squash blossom but the fruit itself does not smell like a squash to me. Anyone happen to know what it is?

Sunday, September 28, 2008


"Do something every day that scares you." — Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, September 15, 2008

Inspiration abounds!

Here's the first page to my visual journal. As always, you can click on the photo to see a larger version. I started this journal (which I just realized is very close to the word journey) last November after seeing a tutorial on Judy Wise's blog. It was so much fun to create - ripping up old paper grocery bags, dunking them in a sink full of water, crunching them up and then hanging them out on my old wooden clothes drying rack like sheets of pasta. I was up late one night ironing the pages and my husband thought I'd gone insane. I reassured him that it was for an art project - not laundry. I think he would have been genuinely concerned had I been ironing clothes.

I was so proud of actually learning the coptic stitch and completing the bookmaking part that I didn't want to mar its pure beauty with even the tiniest of marks. It sat on the kitchen counter for a few days so I could admire it as I walked by. Then it made its way to the upstairs hallway where I would occasionally notice it in all its recycled handmade glory as I went by on my way to bed. Months passed and it got shuffled in with a stack of other random papers and moved completely out of sight. I guess it was just a few weeks ago when I found it again and exclaimed "My journal! There you are!"

But who was to know that it was actually a journal? I don't even think it knew. It began the descent from the upper story of the house back into my daily life. I carried it with me a few places but forgot to show anyone - tucked between books and then once in a pile of mail it even rode with me over to a friend's house in the back seat of the car. Then finally, one fateful night - I remembered to bring it along to dinner to show my artful friend Farmer Sue.

She fondled it with amazement. Marveling at how the pages looked like old worn leather, she asked how I had done the stitching. It had been so stinking LONG since I'd made the thing, I just gave a sigh and said "I can tell you one thing, it wasn't easy." We sort of sat in silence for a moment and then she tossed it back to me across the table and said "So, what are you going to put in it?"

What am I going to put IN it?! IN IT?! How could she not think it was complete?

Oh, that's right - I was calling it a journal - duh! The time has come. Today it became my journal. Today it was a place for me to scribble, glue, paint, paste, draw, write and wander. It was a place for me to play. A place to put memories down on paper, wonderful memories of a weekend filled to the brim with inspiration.

What was intended to be an informal artist's retreat to celebrate the end of a work study group for Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way - actually turned into the beginning of new friendships. Friendships that I feel will continue to grow as we grow as artists, as women, as individuals. We laughed, we shared, we danced, we even threw off our inhibitions and swam under the bright moon in a clean North Georgia mountain lake.

Just the night before I had read Melissa Manley's inspirational Camp Creed which was ever so fitting for our retreat. We read it aloud that night and then again the next morning. It was just too perfect to not use as a quote for the first page in my very artfully inspired visual journal.

The pictures in the post below titled "And We Danced..." are a few of my photos from the weekend. Another friend Jennifer Carter who actually facilitated (did I say that correctly?) The Artist's Way group has more photos on her blog. I love seeing this magical weekend captured through another artist's eyes. Great job, Jenn!

I am truly blessed to be surrounded by so many artful friends. Inspiration abounds!

Friday, September 5, 2008

AeroPress of Love

My handsome coffee-maker (aka my husband) has been away on business this week. Last night I found a package on the front porch with a small coffee/espresso maker, extra filters and this sweet note...

He melts my heart. When we were without electricity, he used the last bit of power in the computer battery back-up (UPS) to grind fresh coffee, then he boiled water on the side burner of the propane grill and made us French press coffee on the back deck. His resourcefulness and love knows no bounds. *melt*