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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama - Praying for You

Praying for friends, family and all Alabamians who have been impacted by devastating tornadoes today and especially sad that 25 people lost their lives today.  Praying for their families.  Praying for the students at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.  I posted many pictures from Twitter (some posted by students at UA) of the destruction in Tuscaloosa.  Birmingham, Piedmont also hit hard.  Just seeing pictures of Cullman County, Alabama's downtown area.  It looks like a war zone.

  God Bless My Home State and God Bless Everyone Impacted by this.....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Day Larkinsville Almost Blew

Years ago the butane lot graced the middle of downtown Larkinsville.  (Don't laugh, of course there was no downtown).  Seriously, the butane lot was filled with huge tanks as well as small tanks.  This lot was our playground.  All of the kids in Larkinsville gathered there to play baseball during the summer.  And, we often jumped onto the smaller tanks that were lined up around the lot and jumped from tank to tank.  Some of the older boys climbed the ladder to the top of the bigger tanks and reportedly struck matches and dropped them down the pipe thing that went straight down into the tank.  Either this was not true or the match went out by the time it hit the fuel.  I think those boys were probably crazy enough that I tend to believe that the match just went out from lack of air. 
One lazy, hot summer Saturday, a commotion began in Larkinsville, people were yelling and screaming.  We heard the noise and ran out on the porch.  Neighbors were piling out into the main road, some were loading things into their cars.  "What is going on?" my Mother yelled to people next door. 
"The butane lot is about to blow," the neighbor shouted. I immediately started up the road to my Memma's house and my Mother went inside to get my sister.  Everyone was piling out of their houses and into cars and leaving.  When I got to  Memma's, she, Granddaddy and my Uncle were ready to go.  "Everyone's going down the road," she said.  "Get in the car."
Well, sure as the world, everyone --all 99 people from the community of Larkinsville headed down the road and stopped somewhere between Larkinsville and Limrock.  People were piling out of vehicles and worriedly looking back to see Larkinsville "blow".  Everybody but two people.   My Mother couldn't find my daddy and she stayed behind looking for him.  She finally found him and they were the last two to show up.
Well, we waited and waited.  About two hours later, the "butane man" (as we called the man who always brought his big truck onto the butane lot and did whatever butane men do on a butane lot) showed up and told us that we could go home.
Larkinsville didn't blow and you know, I just wonder if our little spot between Larkinsville and Limrock was safe.  If those tanks had blown, we would have all been blown to smithereens, I am sure.
So, everyone piled back into their cars and went home. 

Maria - A poem about a Polish Lady who lived in Larkinsville

Maria

Maria’s eyes were black as coal;
And, her face looked like a road map.
Although, back then, she was not very old;
she had a warm and loving lap.

Maria came over from Poland

during World War II.
She came to live with a family in our town –
to care for an elderly lady
who had a bout with the flu.

Maria’s English was broken.
We tried to understand as she talked with her hands.
 Polish, of course, was not spoken
in this little Alabama farm land.

I was just a child
but remember so well
how Maria would sometimes babble and moan
almost like an animal gone wild.
She had a story, you see, a story to tell.

Maria would hug me and point
 to a pot-bellied stove.
Dropping to her knees,
she wailed her tales of woe.

As it seems, Maria had a daughter about my age
and a husband that she had loved dearly.
She had so much emotion and rage
as she tried to explain to us what happened to her family.

Maria was in a strange land.
She no longer had a place to call her own.
The language was hard to understand –
but there was no mistaking the pain and suffering.
It was in her tone and chilled to the bone.
I think the Nazis took her husband and child;
her life as she knew it was over
and it would be a very long while
for poor Maria to ever recover.

We loved Maria, all of us in our sleepy little town;
and, Maria loved us back, but mostly me.
For, without being so profound
I reminded Maria of someone, you see.

She brought me candy and hugged me close.
She picked cotton in the fields right next to me.
She held my face in her worn hands
and for a moment, the pain within was hard to see.

I will never forget you, sweet Maria.
I can still see your smiling face.
Today, you are re-united with your family;
and, together, at last, you find peace, in a special place.

Memma - A Poem Written for Memma

Memma


My Memma is special to me
Memma was the first word I said, you see;
She is the best cook in the world
and she can tell stories that will make your hair curl.

She goes to church on Sunday
picking a few flowers along the way.
Dinner is ready before she leaves
because, you know, she has the whole family to feed.

She does things not because she must
Lord knows she is always making a fuss;
but because of her, I have a suspicion
that is why Sunday dinner is a family tradition.

She works in the garden in the early morning sun;
she’s out there with her bonnet undone.
She’s growing vegetables and flowers and pulling up weeds;
she’s got that big old family to feed.

My dear, my precious, my lovely Memma,
I love you who stands so great and tall.
I know that the years are taking their toll.
I don’t want  you to grow old for you are forever a part of my soul.

If I had one wish it would be
that time would cease to be
and we would stay together
in this old world throughout eternity!

Memma was still alive and well when this poem was written.  As you can tell by my blogs, she was near and dear to my heart.

If Trees Could Talk - Poem

I wrote this poem when the Atlanta Journal Constitution was doing an article on trees.  Parts of the poem was published in the Sunday edition (several years ago).

If Trees Could Talk

Listen to the trees bending to the wind;
 swaying back and fro again.

If trees could talk,
I wonder what they would say?
Oh, how I long to take a walk
on a midsummer day
and listen to the stories trees could relay.

Oh, the tales they must know;
the history, the mystery;
they could set my heart aglow
with their words flowing blissfully.

Some trees could whisper about Paul Revere
filling in all of the gaps of yesteryear.
Oh, the stories trees could lay in our laps
Hear them singing in the breeze?
Oh, they do like to tease.

Oh, if trees could talk!
I would love to hear a live oak.
I would take a long, slow walk
Listen to the wind as it softly spoke.

Oh, if trees could talk!

Think of a live oak bending in the wind

With a limb extending to your ear

To whisper a naughty tale or two!

Share with me, you big ole tree
all that you have lived to see.
I admire your stature and your class;
the knowledge that lives within your past.
Your roots stand out like a piece of gold
you age so gracefully, you will never grow old!

Gus - Oil on Canvas - Chocolate Lab

This picture is much better.

Lighthouse

Light house

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina - Ibis Pond - Oil on Canvas

Hemingway's Cat - Oil on Canvas

This painting is actually of Hemingway's garden and the cat lives in his garden.  The tiled urinal that he is standing on was brought from the bar (Joe's) in Key West by Hemingway when the bar was being torn down or remodeled.  Hemingway's wife thought it was disgusting; however, Hemingway refused to part with it.  She placed the tiles around the thing and the cats stand on it to drink from the barrel of water.  I thought the story was interesting so snapped a photo and used the photo as a reference.  Enjoy!

Panda Bears - Oil on Canvas

London Bridge is Falling Down - Oil on Canvas

Abby, the Cat Oil on Canvas

This is one of my all time favorite paintings of Abby.  I loved working on this painting.  It was so much fun.

Chocolate Lab - An Oil on Canvas Painting of Gus

Hope that you enjoy the painting that I did of Gus, a Chocolate Lab. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Queen Elizabeth Cake - in Honor of the Royal Wedding

From Memma's Recipes----------

Queen Elizabeth Cake
1 pkg dates
1 tsp soda
1 cup of boiling water
1 cup of sugar
1 stick of margarine
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of salt
1 tsp of vanilla
1/2 cup pecans

Cut up one pkg dates, add one tsp of soda and 1 cup boiling water.  Set aside.  Cream stick of margarine and 1 cup of sugar. Add the egg, sift together 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 tsp of baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt.  Add dry ingredients to margarine and sugar.  Add the vanilla and 1/2 cup of pecans.  Pour in the date mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  You can bake this in a 9 x 13 oblong pan.

Icing

10 heaping tablespoons brown sugar
10 tablespoons of milk
1/2 stick of margarine
1 can of coconut
1/2 cup of pecans

Mix together the brown sugar, milk and margarine.  Boil for 3 minutes.  Add one can of coconut and pecans.  Boil for two additional minutes.  Spread on cake while it is hot.  After cake has cooled, cut into squares and eat until your heart is content.

Enjoy!

Retin A, Am Lactin and St. Ives Collagen Lotion

Am seeing some results in reducing fine lines by first applying Retin A, then mixing a combination of Am Lactin lotion and St. Ives Collagen.  Seems to be helping.

Also, for a summer glow, I have been applying Jergens firming cream but first, I mix it with Coconut oil.  Coconut oil tones it down a bit and keeps it from looking to "fake".

Decoration Day - A Family Tradition

As far back as I can remember and as long as my Memma was able, we went to Decoration Day in Boxes Cove.  I think most cemeteries have a day in the Spring that is declared Decoration Day.  We would go the week before and clean off the graves.  Memma often made her own flowers to go on the graves.  I recall one time we were there with hoes and rakes, cleaning off our family graves/plots and so were some other families.  A lady noticed a hole in the ground and one could tell that the hole was deep.  She stuck her hoe handle down into the hole and said, "Shake hands with me, dead man", and chuckled.   Low and behold, a big, black snake crawled out of that hole.  All of the dead flowers were carted off and on the day of decoration, all of the new flowers were placed on the graves.  We also had dinner on the ground on that day.  Memma started cooking on Saturday for the big day.  She made the most awesome pimento cheese sandwiches and of course, cakes, cobblers and vegetables.  Oh, and let's not forget the fried chicken.  Memma boxed up the food, flowers and off we would go.  The entire family would go.  After the graves were decorated, the women spread table cloths on the ground and set up the food.  Later, someone donated money and they now have cement tables to put the food on.  Memma always cautioned me to just eat food from the families that we knew.  I remember my Aunt having fried apple and peach pies that were to die for.  I wanted one so badly and she offered me one, but I shook my head no.  Memma laughed and told me that I could have some of her pies.  People from all around came and some people came regardless of whether or not they had family buried there because they knew the food would be good.  I think someone even brought their fork in their back pocket.  Long winded preachers didn't miss a beat either at those events.  We always got to see family and friends that you had not seen in along time.  Decoration Day - a family tradition!   

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Larkinsville Friends - Southern Traditions

When I was growing up, my town was so rich in history and tradition.  Larkinsville once thrived.  The passenger train stopped twice a day and the postmaster would go meet the train in the morning and afternoon to get the mail.  I was good friends with the postmaster and during the Summer months, I often "hung" out at the post office (when I wasn't getting fired from chopping cotton) to go meet the train and get the mailbag.  We also had a mail truck that came up from Huntsville and delivered mail.  Of course, the train soon dwindled to once a day, to no more. And, the post office closed.  The only trains that run those tracks today are the fast trains.  I can remember when a rolling store came on Wednesdays.  My Grandaddy would take me to meet the rolling store and  buy me a penney piece of candy. 
When someone died, of course you heard about it.  Back then, if you had a telephone in  your home, the line was shared with three of four others.  I think they called it "party lines".  So, if you picked up your phone, you often times heard your neighbors talking.  By listening in on their conversations, you could learn a lot.  And, often times, that is how one found out that someone died.  We always went  around to all of the houses in the community to collect money for a wreath of flowers for the dearly departed and on the day of their funeral, a wreath was proudly displayed and a ribbon with the words, "Friends of the Community" or "Larkinsville Friends" streamed across the flowers.  People gave what they could on the flowers, $.50 to $1.00 but we always got enough money.   Of course, Memma and everyone else in the community started cooking and baking.  Memma and I would take food over to the family.  Food covered the table.
I remember one time a man's wife passed and her body was brought back to the house for "viewing" until the funeral.  Memma and I went over there for visitation  taking food.  The casket was in the parlour and it was open.  The man was standing over the casket and he looked around at all of us and said, "she is still breathing, did you all see that?"    Well, scared the daylights out of me.  He called the coroner to come to the house.  Of course, she had been embalmed.  She was not breathing.  Bless his heart.
Southern tradition - deep roots  - good people - Larkinsville Friends

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter - Recipes from Memma's Down Home Southern Cooking

Happy Easter Everyone!  I hope that you have a great Easter Weekend with lots of good food.  When I was growing up, Easter was spent (as was every holiday) at my Memma's house.  Today, I am sharing a couple of recipes that either my Memma made or one of my Aunts.  There is one thing about it, we never had a shortage of good old fashion down home cooking.  These recipes are easy.

Pink Cherry Delight

1 large carton cool whip
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup pecan pieces
1 can cherry pie filling
Mix together and chill

Blueberry Dessert Layered

First Layer - 1 cup flour, cut into the flour 1 cup of margarine chopped - mix until crumbly.  Add 1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans).  Put this mixture into a 9 X 13 inch pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.  Cool.  (Tip:  I always melt a little butter and sprinkle over this to make it bake a little better - of course, the butter already in it will melt as well).
Cream Cheese Layer - Whip 1 8 ounce pkg cream cheese (that has been at room temp.) with 1 cup powdered sugar.  Fold in 1 8 ounce container cool whip topping.  Place on top of first layer (after first layer has cooled).  Spread carefully to level it out.  Chill well.
Berry Layer - Blend 1 cup sugar with 4 tbs cornstarch in sauce pan.  Add 1 cup of water or use berry juice to make a cup).  Boil over medium heat until thick and clear, stirring constantly.  Add 3 tbs dry raspberry Jell-O and stir until completely dissolved.  Add 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, remove from heat (partially chill berry mixure to prevent from melting cream cheese layer.) Spread over cream cheese layer. Chill well.  Spread cool whip over  (8oz).  Eat and enjoy.  Tip:  skip the berry layer and just use a can of blueberry pie filling mix over the cream cheese layer and then spread the cool whip on top of that.  It is a lot easier this way.

Mama's Peach Cobbler
1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine
1 cup self rising flour
3/4 cup milk
1 cup sugar (I would use splenda)
1 can peach halves (use a 1 lb can)
Melt butter or margarine in a casserole dish and spread evenly over the dish
Mix flour, sugar and milk together - Pour over melted butter - Drop peach halves onto batter and pour juice from peaches on top. Sprinkle with sugar.  Also, sprinkle a little nutmeg over the pie.  Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.

Eat and enjoy!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's Story Time - Hoeing (Chopping) Cotton

A bunch of us girls from Larkinsville spent our summers hoeing cotton.  My friend and I didn't mind especially after we became teenagers because we would wear shorts to the field and by the time school started in the fall, we had ourselves a great tan.  Our schoolmates would ask where we got our tan and we would reply, "Panama City".  Kind of funny because the only time back then that I had ever been out of the State of Alabama was when my Mama and Daddy moved to Chicago. 
After Memma and Granddaddy moved from the farm, I asked my Granddaddy if he thought Uncle Wilson would let me and my friends hoe cotton that summer.  We wanted to make some money.  All of us had hoed and worked in the fields since  we were knee high to a bean post, so we knew very well how to hoe cotton.  Granddaddy talked to Uncle Wilson and he told him to tell us that we could start on Monday.
Come Monday morning, I got up at the crack of daylight and met the rest of the girls at Latham's Grocery.  We walked down the road to Uncle Wilson's our hoes slung over our shoulder.  (yes we had our own hoes).  So, that evening as we walked back, we passed by this lady's house.  She came out and a girl about the age of the rest of us followed us out.  She was dressed in a white blouse and nice shorts.  Of course, we were all dirty from being in the field all day. Some of us even had dirt in our hair.
This lady introduced us to her niece who was visiting from Chattanooga.  She asked if this girl could hang out with us while she was visiting.   "We got us a job hoeing cotton, "I proudly stated.
"Well, I am sure she would like to earn some money too."
"Do you know anything about hoeing cotton?" I asked the girl.
She nodded.  "Well, I am sure Uncle Wilson could use all of the help he can get. You can go with us in the morning and we will see what he says."
Well, that morning, the girl went with us and honey, she hoed just about all of that cotton down.  She didn't know a stand cotton from a weed.  Thank goodness it took over forever to hoe one row.
 And, by evening, we were all told that we were not needed anymore.  Southern for fired!
We were a site for sore eyes walking home that evening our hoes dragging the pavement.  One of my friends said, "Well, I don't know why he fired me, I always thought I was a good hoer."  We all burst out laughing.
And, bless poor old Uncle Wilson's heart, he later told my Granddaddy that he hated to fire me, but felt bad about keeping me and some of the others on to hoe and telling the city slicker from Chattanooga that he didn't need her anymore.
My friend, Carol and I, well, we didn't have our "hoeing cotton tan" but a little baby oil and iodine did the trick that summer.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sunday Go to Meeting

Let me tell you all a story about one hot, Sunday night many moons ago.  Revival was just beginning and Memma decided to go to the first night of revival.  She put my Sunday go to meeting dress on (the same dress that I had worn to church that day) and we walked across the railroad tracks to the Larkinsville Methodist Church.  We walked into the church and sat down and immediately picked up one of the hand fans and started fanning ourselves.  I looked up at the podium or pulpit or whatever you call that thing where the preacher stands to give the sermon and saw a big pitcher of ice water.  "Can I have a drink of water?" I asked.

 Memma shook her head and said, "No, that water is for sprinkling."
 I had no clue what she was talking about.  The visiting preacher was introduced and I am hear to tell you.  He cut loose to preacher like a wild man.  Beads of sweat gathered across his forehead.  His bald head glistened with sweat.  I thought he would douse himself with the ice water, but he eyed the pitcher a couple of times but kept right on panting and huffing.  He talked about the devil and screamed and shook his fist in the air.  I was getting sleepy and was already laying over on Memma.  Finally, the preacher led the congregation in "Just as I am" and if they sang the last stanza one time, they sang it a dozen times.  Everyone was fanning and turning to look into the back of the church.  Sure enough, sitting back there a few rows behind us, a man sat back there grasping the bench in front of him until his knuckles turned white.  He clutched the bench so tightly.  The preacher kept singing and then he started on the line of that song.  As a child, I had very little clue as to what was going on, but thinking back about it now, I think I have it figured out.  There was no way in heck that man was going up to the alter to be saved and ultimately sprinkled (although that water would have felt pretty good, I am sure) and there was no way the preacher was going to give up on him.

Suddenly, that preacher shouted, ran around the pew and leaped over the first bench and the those long legs flew across the rest of them until out the door he went.  People were shouting and waving their hands in the air and most of all, getting out of his way.  He ran around the church, yelling and shouting.  He sure woke me up and I thought the devil was after mefor sure.  I  think I peed my pants and poor Memma had to carry me home.  She lifted me up in her arms and we left.  The man that was sitting in the back beat us out of there.  And, the pitcher of water sat there, unused.   Now that was an old fashioned revival meeting.

Updated Pure Vitamin C Powder, Argan oil and Retin A (Renova)

I have been mixing pure Vitamin C powder with water, making a paste, and applying to my face.  If you try this, you need to be careful because it does tend to sting.  I know that Philosophy also has Vitamin C powder but I find that the powder that I bought at Amazon is alot bettr.  Sometimes, I use this as a scrub or leave on over night.  You can mix with almond oil, grapeseed oil, olive oil or even vitamin E oil.  I find that Vitamin C powder tends to boost my collagen and make my face look less aged, if you will.  This website which is a forum on skin care called http://www.skincaretalk.com/ has recipes for making Vitamin C serums.  I find it easier just to mix the powder with water or oil.

Someone told me about Argan Oil and I have been using Josie Moran's argan oil that I bought through QVC.  In fact, I got a kit from QVC that includes the oil, a tinted moisturizer, lip gloss and mascara.  Her products are fabulous.  The oil lasts forever as you only need a little. Oh, yes, it included cheek stain that is really neat and all of the products have argan oil in them.  I like it because it really seems to add moisture to your skin.

Retin A - my dermatologist said that she could tell the women who came through her door who used Retin A.  Obviously, I had not.  She gave me a prescription and wow, what a sticker shock!  It is very expensive.  Thank goodness she gave me a discount coupon to give the pharmacist.  I think that maybe it keeps wrinkles at bay at the very least.  However, a friend of mine has used it for years and she doesn't have any wrinkles.  Through the forum mentioned above, I read that a lot of the frequenters of that forum buy their Retin A through All Day Chemists, a pharmacy in India.  You do not need a prescription.  I ordered several tubes (about $4 per tube) and have been just as satisfied with this as what my Derm prescribed.  You would have to decide this for yourself.  I ordered a stronger strength than what my Derm gave me.

Next, I will talk about my experience with DIY chemical peels.

Roll Tide and Bambi's Twin - Original Oil Paintings


Hi, here are two additional paintings.  They have a glare.  One day I am going to figure out how to take better pictures of my paintings.  I was taking classes with Phil Carpenter in Atlanta when I told him about my idea to do the elephant stepping on peanuts.  We went back and forth about what kind of elephant represented Alabama.  He knew, I had no idea.  I thought an elephant was an elephant.  But, he was correct.  Anyway, enjoy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sunday Dinner at Memma's House

You know, I don't know how Memma did it.  She got up on Sunday, got dinner started, went to church, came home, put a skillet or two of cornbread in the oven, finished dinner, and fed people all day long.  I can remember back in the day, Memma chasing a chicken around the yard, wringing its neck, plunking that chicken into a pot of boiling water, plucking the feathers and then cutting it up with a sharp butcher knife, batter it and fry it up and serve it on a big old platter.  Lord, it wears me out just to think about doing all of that.  And, just know that everything was cooked in a wrought iron skillet. She made two pans of cornbread and her cornbread was the best because she melted the grease in the skillet first, then sprinkled cornmeal in it, put it back in the oven to sizzle a minute before pouring the batter into the pan.  When the bread was done, the crust would have that sizzled cornmeal stuck to it. 
After church, Memma would get everything ready, set the table and guess who got to eat first?  I can see her now, with wiping her hands on her apron as she walked from the kitchen to the living and said, "you men folk come on, the table is ready.  Yawl come on in here and eat."  She probably had two or three "settings" of people to the table to eat.  On Sunday, everyone went to Memma's for Sunday dinner.  Memma's kids, their kids, cousins, aunts and uncles, and Lord only knows who else.  When I was a teenager I always took friends in to eat.  Those pots were never empty.  I don't know how she did it but there was always enough food. Depending on the time of the year, the vegtables were either fresh from the garden or canned from her garden.  Gosh, what I would give for some speckled butter beans, coleslaw, fried corn, fried okra, fresh tomatos, fried squash and banana pudding.  After dinner, the men retired to the cane back chairs on the front porch, while the women ,,,,oh yes, we washed dishes for an hour.  But, it was well worth it.  Memma was the best cook in the world and I have lots of her recipes and canning recipes that I will share.  You are in for a treat.

 And, though Memma is gone, the tradition lives on because my Aunts cook like Memma did.  And, during the summer, they are busy as ever canning.

Sunday's at Memma's ---those were the days...those were the days and I thought they would never end.

Ms. F and her Banny Hens

Ms. Fern was the most flamboyant lady in our community.   Everyday she prissed down the road to the only grocery store in town, Latham’s Grocery, with an umbrella hel d high above her head to keep the sun off her face,  Her hair sparkled in the sunlight.  If you have seen Edward in “Twilight” you know what I am talking about.  Her hair, though, was a bit coppery and in tight little curls all over her head.  When it was freshly dyed she looked as if she had brand new copper pennies bouncing all over her head.  Of course, when it wasn’t freshly dyed, you could see half and half curls…half copper and half silver.  She always wore rouge on her cheeks and rosy red lipstick.  During the summer, Ms. F gave me piano lessons (that is when I had $.50 to per her for a lesson).  She loved mumbling to herself and taking care of her kittens and those banny hens.   She did not just walk down the road, she bounced down the road.  And, her girls (yes you know…boobies) all powdered up, bounced right along with her.
Ms. F played the piano at our church.  Of course, my very best friend and I loved to watch her play and we always thought that the girls might bounce right on out of the top of her dress, but they never did.  She sang like an opera singer.  My friend and I would sit in the back and giggle.  We imitated her voice.  My Aunt would look back and give us the finger (no not the middle finger but the shut your mouth finger).  We would settle down for a bit and then we were right back giggling and watching Ms. F’s girls.
One hot summer day, Ms. F ran out of her house, screaming at the man next door.  “Your rooster is fighting my hen, get him off of her.  He is going to kill my hen.”  Well, of course, the man next door got a chuckle out of that.  Ms. F was very protective of her banny hens.  Of course, after the rooster incident, there were a lot of little bannies running around her yard.
And, as sure as Tuesday came, a long, shiny black car would pull up in front of Ms. F’s house and out popped Cousin S.  Yes, Cousin S came on Tuesdays.  Ms. F would go flitting out of the house babbling like a chicken with its head wrung off, and off they would go.  That was her day to go to town.  Cousin S was so good about taking Ms.  F to town. (For those of you who don’t know, going to town was going to the big city of Scottsboro.)
Some days, Ms. F just played the piano for me.  She would play “Down Yonder” and I would dance for her.  I think that has a lot to do with the fact that I cannot play the piano today.  Her house was always a mystery to me.  I was only allowed in the piano room.  There were rooms off from this hall where the piano was, but the doors were all closed.  She never opened them.  One room in particular I asked to see what was in the room.  She said I could never go in there.  I speculated that maybe she kept her dead father in there or something.   Maybe she never buried him??  I think it was more like she had a hundred cats in there, but I couldn’t hear them.  But then, I am not sure, but there could have been a smell.
Later years, my Mom and I were talking Ms. F and the fact that she had gone on and was playing “Down Yonder” in heaven and I mentioned Cousin S and how good he was to her.  Mamma started laughing.  “What is so funny,” I asked. 
It seems, he wasn’t her cousin after all.  Hmmm.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Brown Sugar Body Scrub

During the winter months, when your skin is dry and looks like that road map I have talked about...or a cotton field that has been scorched from too much heat, you can make your own mosturizing body scrub.  It is really easy and makes your skin feel like a million bucks.  I use about two cups of brown sugar (you can also use raw sugar, white sugar or a mixture of brown and white), and simply add in oils.  I usually add a about 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of sweet almond oil, 1/4 cup of apricot kernel oil.  You can also use grapeseed oil and jojoba oil.  Mix it up and if it the consistency is too watery, add more sugar.  Wheat germ oil is also a good oil to use. It has a lot of vitamin E.  Then, I add a tsp. of honey and a little lemon juice.  To make it smell better, you can add 1 tbsp. of vanilla or any flavoring.  I love frankincense essential oil.  Love that smell.  Try it and see how great it makes your skin feel.

 http://www.amazon.com/Viobin-Corporation-Wheat-Germ-liquid/dp/B000Z95JY8

Picking Blackberries

The most fat, luscious blackberries used to be right along the railroad tracks in Larkinsville.  During the summer, with lard bucket in hand, off I would go to pick blackberries.  My mother was usually at work; however, if she happened to be at home, I would give a shout, "I'm off to pick blackberries". She would yell back, "watch out for the trains."  I mean, it's not like anyone worried about one of those freight trains that came through two or three times a day, hitting me.  The blackberry bushes were off the tracks.  I would walk along, picking the juicy, ripe berries until I filled my lard bucket.  Of course, I do not know whether my mouth or my shirt had more berry stains.  And, I know what you are thinking,  how did you eat those berries without washing them?  Well, I will tell you how.  You hold the berry up in front of your mouth, shake it a little, pucker up and gently blow.  Everything would fall right off and then you just pop it in your mouth. Yum, yum.   The other thing, of course, that I had to watch for was..yes.  Rattle snakes.  Mamma always warned me to watch out for those snakes.  Trains and snakes.  Sometimes as I put my hand into the thick briary patch of blackberries, I would think about an old rattler biting my hand.  My back would shiver a little as I grabbed the juicy berries and shook the thought to the snake off.  After I filled the bucket, I walked up the road to Memma's and she would smile and I can still taste the blackberry cobblers that she made from those blackberries.  Not to mention the jams and jellies.  I tell you, butter never tasted as good as it did on a hot blackberry cobbler. 


 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Picking Cotton

I know I go from one subject to something entirely different and when I was reading up on blogs, they said, don't do this...but I would be bored stiff and so would any potential readers (in my opinion) if I stuck to one topic. So,here we go.

I grew up on a farm in the Northeast Corner of Alabama in a little town near Scottsboro.  The early years of my life were spent on this farm.  My granddaddy planted cotton and in the summer, we hoed or chopped cotton (got all of the weeds out) and in the fall, we picked the cotton.  I loved picking cotton (well not in the early morning because the cotton was all wet from the dew).  Cotton is so fluffy and white; however, picking the cotton from the bow is very hard on the nails.  My Memma got up at the crack of dawn and cooked ham, eggs, red eye gravy and biscuits.  And, no, the biscuits were not from a can.  I would head to the fields with granddaddy and we would gather our cotton sacks and at the age of five, I could carry two rows (that is pick from a row of cotton on the left of me and a row on my right).  Those rows could be mighty long, too. 
Memma would come out to pick after she cleaned the breakfast dishes and put stuff on to cook for lunch.  Right before dinner time (dinner is lunch in the South and dinner time is called supper) she would go to the house and finish up dinner.  Wow, we would take our sacks, filled with cotton, to the wagon and weigh it (I got paid so much per pound of cotton).  Then, we would head to the  house and eat fried corn, fried okra, pinto beans, cornbread, fresh tomatoes, onions, coldslaw and God only knows what else.  We usually had a fresh peach or apple cobbler for dessert.  And, of course, a glass of sweet tea. 

One of these days I am going to go into detail and post Memma's recipes.  You know, she had a recipe for Poor Man's Cobbler.  When I asked what that was, she said when she and my Granddaddy lived in a community called Boxes Cove and the only thing they had for a grocery store was a Rolling Store (a grocery store on wheels) they sometimes ran out of fruit for a cobbler, so she made a Poor Man's Cobbler.  There was no fruit in the cobbler and she used vinegar.  It tasted just like Apple Cobbler.

Back to my story, after dinner, we would go back to the fields and pick until dark (or as my Granddaddy would say, "we'll pick till dusk settles".  Then, we would weigh one last time for the day, and go eat left overs for supper.

Those were the days, my friends.  Those were the days.  Memma and Granddaddy, you will live in my heart forever!

Oh My Goodness, I have a Follower

Thank you Arnold!  I might also add that the painting of the barn is from a photograph that Arnold took!  The painting is called "Arnold's Barn". 

Coconut Oil

I am trying to post a link to Amazon for coconut oil...It may or may not work as I am new at this blogging thing.

http://www.amazon.com/Natures-Way-Organic-Coconut-Ounce/dp/B003B3OOPA

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Coconut Oil

We have had the coldest winter in Atlanta this year.  One night, as I was getting ready for bed, I looked at my legs and they looked like my Granddaddy's cotton field looked when the sun had scorched it for days on end.  In other words like a road map.  My skin was so dry.  And, I had a shower full of smelly smelly stuff that was supposed to make my skin smooth and certainly not dry.  I did some research and found that all of the body washes in my shower contained perfumes that dry your skin instead of moisturizing.  What to do?  Well, a dermatologist from Alabama said to throw all of perfumed body wash stuff out and use coconut oil.  The coconut oil should be pure, unrefined, organic, extra virgin coconut oil.  Nature's Way and Swanson's are just two of the companies that make this. 

Of course, when I read this, I had a bee in my bonnet until I found this oil.  I finally found it at Whole Foods.  A friend of mine just recently bought some at a Farmer's Market in Decatur, Georgia. 

Let me tell you, I have already gone through a jar of this and I love it.  It looks like lard (for those of you who may know what lard is).  It is white, and soft and you scoop some into the palm of your hands and it liquefies.  It makes your skin feel like a million bucks.  You can use it all over your body.  I find that it has helped with that crepe skin thing.  It has a faint coconut smell.

 So, Goodnight and Yawl come back now, you hear?

So, You Want to Lose Weight, Huh?

Okay, enough about paintings for awhile.  Let's get down to brass tacks here.  My son's wedding was almost a year ago in May. I knew around March, 2010, that I needed, wanted and was going to lose weight before his wedding.  Yes, I had packed on some pounds and was disguising it in a size eight or ten.  For some reason, I didn't look that big in my clothes, but the scales were a different story.  I bought the Jazzercise DVD.  I am just not disciplined enough to go to a class after work.  The lady on the tape drove me crazy.  So, somehow, I found out about Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred.  I bought that DVD and loved it.  I would workout and sweat would pour off me.  My hair was wet after the workouts.  I also walked for approximately 30 to 45 minutes a day.  Jillian's DVD usually took about 25 minutes including the warm-up and cool down.  From March to May I dropped two dress sizes.  I went from an eight or size ten to a six. I actually ran the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta last year (July 4th).  Now, fast forward almost a year later and I am a size four and almost a two.  I have used most all of Jillian's DVD's.  I really like using Jillian's Kettlebells because you can take off or add up to twenty-five lbs.  I have continued to maintain and tone by doing some of her random kettlebell routines.  I really hate to admit how much I lost, but no one is reading my blog anyway, so I will just go ahead and say...about 26 lbs.  Probably more, because I did not weigh myself until I had been exercising for awhile.  I also used an Iphone application called "Lose It" where I recorded everything that I ate as well as all of my exercises.  That really helped as well. 
I did not realize how many calories you eat in a day.  And, trust me.  It is all about exercise and calories.  It helps to drink a lot of water each day.  I drank three cups of green tea during the week as well because someone heard on Oprah that green tea boosts your metabolism.  That may have helped.  Hope this is good information for anyone that wants to drop some pounds.  It is really hard to get those last pounds off, too.  But, exercise, exercise and count those calories.

Additional Paintings




Oil on Canvas - Car from Cuba

This is painting that I did of a car on a street in Cuba.  Especially enjoyed using burnt umber and browns with medium orange.  Enjoy.

New Painting-in Progress Grapes, Cantaloupe





I am working on this still life painting.  I like the colors especially the yellows, reds and yellow ochre in the cantaloupe.  When painting grapes, I paint the shape using a purple and french ultramarine blue, then I splash magenta over part of the grape and that gives it the transparent look.  A trick I learned from a book by one of the great artists, (I will have to mention his name in a later blog as it is late and I cannot recall his name) is to put a sliver of white over the grape. 

China's Furry Animals - Panda Bear and Raccoon - Oil on Canvas

I had so much fun working on these furry animals from Shandu, China.   I used indigo, french ultrmarine blue and ivory black on his fur, along with white.  The other animal reminds me of a raccoon; however, my Chinese friend said that the animal was actually related to the Panda family.  The bear is eating away on grass that I created using my all time favorite - sap green.  I use Windsor Newton oils as well as Rembrandt.  The paintings are on stretched canvas.

Taylor and Katie's Portriat


I recently completed a portait (oil on canvas) of Taylor (age 4 1/2 years) and her baby sister, Katie (3 months).  I am also posting a portrait that I did of Taylor when she was three.  One thing to note is that I need to get better at taking photographs of the paintings.  The paintings are better than the pictures. These two little munchkins are my grandchildren.  When Taylor was a baby, I would sit and sketch her while she napped.   Now, when Taylor visits, she wants to go to my art studio (such as it is) and paint.  I will have to post one of her paintings.  I am learning that Taylor's patience is about like mine.  She wants to move on to the next fun thing to do before completing the painting.