This year's Magic City Art Connection will be April 22-24 in Linn Park, and we go almost every year. I was just going through their website to see what new or interesting artists will come, and I found Strangeworld Botanicals. None of the plants they create are real - they are "an amalgam of natural elements". So neat!
Each year, we make around 25 pies each Thanksgiving and Easter (as long as it doesn't fall during Passover) for a local church that feeds the hungry in its neighborhood. This year, I made buttermilk coconut pies, key lime pies, pumpkin pies (okay, I just like pumpkin, even when it's not Thanksgiving~!), and hot fudge pies.
Hot Fudge Pie:
1 stick butter
1 cup self-rising flour (I always use White Lily)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1-1/4 cup sugar
dash of vanilla
sweet milk as needed
1 pie crust
Preheat the oven to 350*. Melt the butter in the microwave but let it sit out so that it cools to almost room temperature. Mix the dry ingredients together. Mix the butter and the egg into the dry ingredients. Add a dash of vanilla. Add sweet milk (whole) as needed to make a mixture that is easily stirrable - meaning that it's not thin, but it doesn't easily 'glop' together. Pour into pie shell and bake for 45-50 minutes. I wouldn't advise baking it until it's incredibly firm, just cooked through until it maintains a good consistency, which you ought to get at 45-50 minutes. It is wonderful hot, and really good at room temperature.
I know it's too warm outside to be wearing scarves, but.....I really like these! Next week I'm going to learn how to make something else, like a pillow cover, but for now I am really enjoying these.
The image above is my second completed scarf, made with Karabella "Barbados" using size 13 needles.
This scarf above is made with Karabella "labyrinth" using size 9 needles. It is taking a long time since the needles are so much smaller than the 13s and 15s I've been using. I'm calling this one my "Santa Fe" scarf because of the colors.
This scarf is my fun!fun!fun! scarf. It's made with Berroco Suede, and Crystal Palace Yarns "squiggle" (which is a really good name for it!). I'm knitting these together on size 13 needles. I think I'll have enough to make two or maybe even three scarves with the amount of each that I bought.
I got all of the yarn for the projects I've made so far at Knit Nouveau in Old Town Helena.
Below is a picture of what I bought last week when I was in Montgomery for the 'Let Us Now Praise Famous Men' exhibit at a shop that I've seen called both "Wind in the Willow" and "The Knit Shop" in the Mulberry section of town.
Above in pink is Crystal Palace Yarns in "Party" and in green is Lang Yarns in "Vanessa".
Yesterday, we visited the Walker Evans and James Agee 'Let Us Now Praise Famous Men' exhibit at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. It was excellent, excellent. I was especially happy to see that the curators used a quote from the book, one that I think is especially important:
It seems to me curious, not to say obscene and thoroughly terrifying, that it
could occur to an association of human beings drawn together through need and
chance and for profit into a company, an organ of journalism, to pry intimately
into the lives of an undefended and appallingly damaged group of human beings,
an ignorant and helpless rural family, for the purpose of parading the
nakedness, disadvantage and humiliation of these lives before another group of
human beings, in the name of science, of 'honest journalism' (whatever that
paradox may mean), of humanity, of social fearlessness, for money, and for a
reputation for crusading and for unbias which, when skillfully enough qualified,
is exchangeable at any bank for money (and in politics, for votes, job
patronage, abelincolnism, etc.); and that these people could be capable of
meditating this prospect without the slightest doubt of their qualification to
do an 'honest' piece of work, and with a conscience better than clear, and in
the virtual certitude of almost unanimous public approval.
Several of the pictures used in the exhibit can also be seen at this site, and prints of even more of Walker Evans' work can be purchased through the Library of Congress Photoduplication Service.
We spent one night this week at the Hotel Talisi in Tallassee. This is one of my favorite hotels - not because of the rooms - but because of the hotel's unique charm.
This is the hotel lobby, which includes a big-screen television, an old telephone switchboard (btw, there are no phones in the guest rooms), and this Steinway piano from the late 1800's.
Our room at the hotel
This is our room - it is one of the rooms that hotel folklore says is "haunted".
this is the room we had last time
This is the room we had last time - each of the rooms is a little different, and decorated with little tchotchkes throughout. The window unit isn't very charming, I know, but if you can switch your mindset to enjoy the entire experience rather than focusing on things like wallpaper that needs to be replaced or the general worn-ness of most everything, it is really one of the most delightful hotels to stay in.
real hotel keys!
Besides, where else can you get a **real** hotel key anymore?
This is the upstairs hallway. Isn't it so great?!
My first scarf!
Last Wednesday, one of my friends taught me to knit - I have been wanting to learn *forever* - and guess what? It only took about ten minutes for me to get the hang of it, and with the help of my trusty Knitting for Dummies book, I even finished my first scarf in three evenings. Now I just have to get back to the knitting shop for more yarn and I will be a scarf machine!
Katie Brown is the greatest! In her pretty-new show "All Year Round with Katie Brown" on A&E, she showed how to make this reverse-applique blanket....this no-sew blanket! It's originally designed to be a baby blanket, but the measurements could be changed to make it into a throw for the couch, etc. - and I can think of a million things to use for the cutout.
This monument is in Jasper.
This monument is also in Jasper, in the Bankhead family section.
We were in Jasper on Sunday on business and part of our trip involved visiting the cemetery there. I know people that never go to cemeteries - ever - but I have always felt very comfortable around them, in fact we go to cemeteries in cities where we hardly know anyone just to see the monuments (I mean, some of them are just incredible).
My Nanny (of blessed memory) took me with her to cemeteries very often since I was very, very small. We would go several times a week to check on flowers, do a little walking, and do lots of talking - and I would hear the best stories. Nanny grew up in a small town where everybody knew everybody, so when we would go through, I got to hear all sorts of happy and sad, weird and wonderful family stories and history about all sorts of people. In the cemetery where my PawPaw and MawMaw Fossett (both of blessed memory) are buried, the Fossett stone is one of the first ones you see amongst all the others because it is tall and a really pretty mauve-ish granite. I'm sure Nanny had a lot to do with picking it out.
old cotton mill
Above is a pic of the old cotton mill that Av took when we were in that part of the state last weekend. An armory that was the only Confederate armory *not* destroyed during the War stood behind this building (Thanks Tom for straightening me out!). Each November, the Tallassee Armory Guards, Camp no. 1921 sponsors a reenactment of the battle.
When the safety of Richmond was feared in 1864, the carbine factory was moved to Tallassee, to one-story buildings in the rear of this mill. The goal was to produce 6000 carbines/year, but the War ended before that mark was reached.
Last weekend, we went to Montgomery, but part of the trip took us through Wetumpka, which is pretty well known for it's impact crater.
The "impact structure" - or astrobleme - or crater (I don't know which is most correct) in Wetumpka was formed when a iron asteroid or meteorite hit 80-83 million years ago back when that part of Alabama was under water. I've read that the asteroid was something like the size of Jordan-Hare stadium, hitting the earth at a speed of 10-20 miles/second, and that the displacement could have been shot all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Some of what I've just described can be found here at Auburn's website and here at the Wetumpka-area Commerce site. I couldn't really find a great picture to take of the crater, but below are some of the other pics we shot in Wetumpka:
Bank Clock in downtown
Theater, built in the 1930's
We drove through the parking lot at the Poarch Creek casino in Wetumpka, but didn't go inside. It is a little sad-looking, but I understand they have big plans for improvement, including some sort of relationship with Harrah's. The parking lot was full (this was Sunday early afternoon, and we didn't see a single out-of-state tag). The Poarch Creek Indians also have a business arm of the tribe, which oversees their ownership of a Best Western in Atmore (right off I-65), the casino above, a metal stamping company, and 'Perdido River Farms' which includes catfish ponds among other things.
Elmore County courthouse
The eight columns are made from Missouri marble.
Fried Green Tomatoes
The best fried green tomatoes in Birmingham are at Andrew's Bar-B-Q in Woodlawn. Av and I were B'ham this week, and I had wanted to go there for a long time, because I *really* like their neon sign, noting "air conditioning" and the little piggy running. The barbecue is just okay, but the fried green tomatoes are the greatest!
Minnows in Wetumpka
Last weekend we spent just a little time in Wetumpka, where Av took a picture of this minnow neon sign at a bait shop.
Shrine in Woodlawn
A few posts back, when I discovered Flickr, I talked about how one of the photographers had posted a pic of a Mary shrine in Woodlawn - I found it! It's right in front of a downtown business that is subdivided into three or four smaller offices/retail shops. This Mary shrine is on the left-hand wall if you're facing the building....
Across from the Mary shrine
...and this shrine is on the right-hand side of the building, if you're facing it. I haven't seen these before, built into outside walls of businesses.
Aren't the curtains from The Curtain Exchange just wonderful? Pink is my favorite color right now. For so long, white was my favorite color (I know, people say white is not a color) but now it is pink, pink, pink. Sweet baby-girl pink.
Growing up, Nanny's (of blessed memory) best friend had a daughter, DeeAnne, who I was also best-friends with. We used to play together, go swimming in her pool, and go to the mall or play putt-putt all the time. Her room was pink, and her in her bathroom (she had her own private bathroom - that impressed me to no end), which was of course also pink, had *pink tissue*. I just thought DeeAnne was rich, rich, rich, and she and her mother just had the greatest taste in the whole wide world.
I know another person here in town who never really struck me as being very feminine (okay, I equate pink with feminine, but that's part of what I like about it so much), but she invited me over to her home one day, and while showing me around, she opened her bedroom which was The Pink Palace. I mean, the walls were pink, the bed was eighteen shades of pink, she had pink fluffy rugs, the works. It made me think a little different of her. Here her whole house was very nice, but also decorated like most other homes. Nobody would think she would have The Pink Palace as a bedroom. It made me like her just a little bit more.
Well, I never had a pink bedroom growing up, and now that I *can*, I think I might just like to do that. Hmmmm.......
For several years now, Av and I have brought with us on just about every road trip, a copy of 'Dixie Dining' for the state(s) we will be driving around. Av has even made entries on the site, one being for the Cotton Patch in Union.
The Hill Street Press (they are an independent publisher from Georgia) is publishing 'Dixie Dining', (the book) due to be released April 30th. I don't have any idea what it will be like, but I've got it on pre-order already.
If I had to guess, I would imagine it would be something along the lines of 'Southern Belly' by John T. Edge (another book we use all the time), which is in paperback now.
We've been to at least half the places listed in Alabama (and Mississippi) that are on dixiedining.com, and I don't know that I'd argue with any of them except two: Whitt's Barbecue in Athens, which I *really* don't like although plenty of other people do, and Fat Mama's Tamales in Natchez, which I thought was just trying to be cute or authentic or who knows what just WAY too hard. The great thing about the site is that the submissions are all done by people just like us - not restauranteurs.
Another great site is Chowhound which is a great resource with entries written, and answered, by regular people. Lots and lots and lots of entries.
This year has been designated "The Year of Alabama Food", which I got a great media kit for at the office. The website also has listed 'The 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die', which is neat, but apparently it should be the 208 dishes, as that's how many are listed right now. I'll write a bit more about that a little later.
For each of the episodes of "Crafters Coast to Coast" on HGTV, along with the instructions
Flickr is a free photo-hosting service (some of their services cost money, but the basic package is at no cost) with a search engine. I typed in 'Alabama', set it to "view as slideshow", and set the speed at 1 second/each so that within just a few minutes, I was able to view every picture that was public and had that particular tag name. I was really impressed by the pictures taken by Dystopos especially. One of his pics was of a shrine in downtown Woodlawn that I'm going to try to find this weekend. Neat!
How to make: Picture Marble Magnets
You will need:
Pen or Pencil
Pictures of a suitable size for the marble you use (catalogs and magazines are perfect)
Clear flat marbles (mine are 'clear lustre jumbo gems' made by Panacea, found in the floral section at Michael's)
Glue that dries clear - I used Omni-Stick, also from Michael's but most any clear-drying glue should work just fine.
Hot Glue/Hot Glue Gun - I used the low setting for these, and it was perfect
Magnets - I used 1/2" round discs for this project, but they could have been a little bigger - all depending on the size of the marble you use or Thumbtacks - I used ones found in the quilting section at Michael's because they're a bit bigger than other thumbtacks I've found (I think...).
First, take your marble and find a picture that will center inside it nicely. Draw around the marble so you will know where to cut, and then just cut out the picture(s).
Here are all my pictures cut out, ready for gluing to the marble.
Now take a small amount of glue (use glue that will dry clear - I used Omni-Stick that I bought at Michael's) to make a small circle in the center of the picture. Place the marble on top of the picture and swish it around on top of the picture a little bit to make sure the entire bottom of the marble has glue and will adhere really well.
Here are the pictures after they have been glued to the marbles. Make sure to press out any tiny air bubbles. Wait about thirty minutes or so for the glue to dry, then do any trimming around the edges that needs to be done.
Next, take the glue gun and put it on low heat. Now that the glue on the pictures has dried to the marble, it is safe to hot-glue magnets to the back to make them into refrigerator magnets. Just put a small dab of hot glue on the magnet, and press it to the back of the picture. If you put on a little too much glue, it's okay because nobody will see the back of the magnet anyway. I used 1/2" magnets for these.
I wanted to make some of these into thumbtacks, so I just hot-glued these to the backs of my picture-marbles also. Now I have some for my bulletin board and some for my refrigerator.
Here are the thumbtacks all glued on. I used the ones that are in the quilting section of Michael's because they're a little bit bigger than regular thumbtacks (I think).
Here they are! My new picture-marble-magnets work and look great! I've got the thumbtacks downstairs and they work really well too. This project took about 60-90 minutes from start to finish - including glue-drying time. I don't have the receipt in front of me, but I would estimate the cost for the 12 that I did to be less than $15, including the tube of Omni-Stick that I only used about 1/30th of.