Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Fun

I really enjoyed myself in downtown Newnan this morning. I was there taking photos of cute--mostly preschool-aged kids in Halloween costumes. They were busy getting an early start on Halloween by collecting tons of candy. It was basically pandemonium and very sweet at the same time. The store owners do this every year and I the kids are as cute as they can be.

I was a bit surprised when I passed Ken's Bargain Basement and saw Amy Casey giving out cute little books. It wasn't surprising that Amy was giving out books, the surprise was that the kids were so happy to receive them. The kids kept saying, "Look Mommy, a book!"

These cute kids, marching in a line were from a local Christian church. They were all dressed up as Bible characters--a great idea.

This stylish lady standing in front of Scott's Bookstore was very nice to pose for me. Her name is Marley. I'm talking about the dog, not the woman whose name is Susan Perkins. Marley is a therapy dog and was minding her manners like a perfect lady.

I loved seeing the moms dressed up like the kids--very sweet. I love Muppets.

And you also have to love seeing a man dressed up in a suit and tie for work, who's willing to get down on the level of little kids. That is sweet, too.

I will say that it was unseasonably cold and those in the shade were not as lucky as those in the sunshine, even the witches and goblins, and there were a few.

When I go home tonight, I will have the perfect Halloween meal--hot warm vegetable beef soup. Hot, low in calories and appropriately orange.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A pumpkin eater

My daughter sent me her photo of her family's newly carved Halloween pumpkin. They collaborated on how to do the carving and decided on having the larger pumpkin taking a bite out of the little pumpkin. A really cute idea. I would never have thought of it but I wanted to share a little bit of creativity (reminds me a little of Cinnamon Toast Crunch). A perfect idea for two cute boys and their mom who did most of the carving.

On Halloween they will be Frankenstein and Batman and I think all the neighborhood kids that visit will really think their pumpkin idea is cute and crazy--just like them.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane: A reminder to take care of outdoor business

Yesterday morning when I went to church, I was a little chilly and when I left church, it was much cooler. As the day grew longer, it grew cooler and very windy. I was hoping we would get rain for our parched lake and garden, but cool weather wasn't the only result of hurricane Sandy and a simultaneous cold front moving through. This is supposed to be a monster of a storm and I was amazed at just how windy and cool it was in our area, since the storm was so far away.

I had noticed the forecast earlier in the week and my husband went to my mom's house and moved her big plants into her garage--safe from the cold. The problem was that I almost forgot to bring my own plants in! Last night I was scurrying around moving plants in and even knocking off a few leaves in my haste.

The only plants I had outside at this point were some succulents and though they might have been fine, I didn't want to leave anything to chance. I hurriedly brought them in, leaves, twigs and all. I really do need to clean them up. The wind has blown debris all in the pots and there are leaves and twigs in every plant. It's quite a mess.

I know I will now be bringing them in at times and taking them back out depending on how cold it gets. It reminds me of having to dress in layers. In Georgia, you have to layer during the late fall and winter because it can be warm one day and make your teeth chatter the next. We are constantly putting on or taking off a sweater or coat. It's impossible to know how to dress from day to day. I will be putting the plants in and out for a while, until I find a good winter haven for them.

What I need to do is set a reminder on my phone to remind me to care for my plants during the winter. I am better at taking care of outdoor plants than indoor plants. They just don't get my attention like they do when outdoors.

I didn't see any frost this morning which is good, but I did notice the wind had taken down leaves that had already turned and also green leaves that probably only came down because of the blustery night.

The leaves have been blowing across our lawn and we'll have to do something about it quite soon because we don't want it staying on our grass for too long. If we do, our grass probably won't look very good through the winter.

We did forget to take in our patio furniture and thankfully it was saved by the rail on our deck. (I thought I heard a bumping noise last night.) We usually enjoy our patio furniture most in the fall and then again in the spring, so we sometimes forget to move it when a storm hits.

I am hoping the storm passes as quickly for the people north of us and leaves them as save as we are today. I also hope it is not the monster storm that was predicted.

Friday, October 26, 2012

All about beekeeping

Steve Page of Barrington Farms, LLC was our guest speaker at Crossroads Garden Club this past Monday evening, October 23rd. Page is a certified beekeeper in the Georgia Master Beekeeper program, sponsored by the University of Georgia. He has won numerous awards, including the 2011 Beekeeper of the Year awarded by the Coweta Beekeepers Association and his honey has been named Coweta's Best Tasting Honey.

Above, members of Crossroads Garden Club ask questions after Page's presentation.

Page began keeping bees in 2007 when he purchased two hives after noticing how few honeybees were visiting his garden. His bee hives grew in number each year until he no longer has time for the garden. He now has over 70 hives in Coweta and south Fulton counties and has seen his honey yields grow every year. He harvests approximately 50 pounds of honey from each hive every May and it is astounding how much honey his bees produce altogether. His yields have increased so much each year, that he is a very "busy beekeeper"

Steve Page allowed use of his photos, so all of the images of bees are courtesy of Page. Above, Page explained that bees see flowers as vibrant, attractive ultraviolet colors and easily hone in on the colorful flowers as they fly in search of nectar and pollen to take back to their hives.

Bees are very busy, too and Page related some facts about bees and beekeeping in his presentation.

First, bees live in a box called a super and there said there are three types of bees in every hive--the queen, the drone and the worker.

The queen is an overdeveloped female bee that is made that way by being fed a diet of royal jelly by worker bees until she develops into a larger bee raised in special queen cells. Mature queens are then mated by male, drone bees and she spends her days laying eggs in honey comb cells.

The worker bees, all female, go out and bring in pollen and nectar from flowers and make the honey and bee bread which feeds developing bees. A worker bee takes about three weeks to mature from an embryo. Above, a worker bee transports pollen back to the hive.

The color of the nectar determines the color, taste and crystallization-time of honey.

Some interesting facts about bees:

Much of the honey in our area is from the tulip poplar but if you looked into the hives you would see honey cells with varying hues in the same comb. The honey will take on different colors depending on what is in bloom.

Above are some of Page's hives with varying numbers of supers. Page stacks new supers as the lower ones are filled. Beekeepers never "rob" the bees of all their honey.

Bees feed on nectar and turn it into honey by a process that is similar to fermentation. They do this because nectar spoils easily and honey is very stable. Honey is their winter food source and they make more honey than they need for the winter. It provides the bees with carbohydrates and protein to get them through each winter.

The bees seals each cell as it is filled with honey. 

Most plants that produce fruit need full pollination of each flower by the bees to produce a complete fruit. For instance, an underdeveloped, pointy cucumber must have pollination of each seed to make a complete cucumber. Squash that die prematurely on the vine or apples that are misshapen are that way because of incomplete pollination.

Bees pollinate one-third of all crops grown. Bumblebees and other types of bees pollinate too, but it has been determined that bees increase food production in the U.S. by $16 billion dollars each year. Bees are so important to the production of fruits and vegetables on farms that some beekeepers (with huge numbers of bees) are contracted to move them on semi trucks to help farmers pollinate their crops. Bees often travel from coast to coast this way, following the blooming crops.

In our area, bees are at work from January to the middle of June and from the middle of September until frost each year. The new crop of honey is ready in May or June.

Above bees pollinate apple blossoms and below they drink water.

There are four kinds of honey: extracted, chunk honey, comb honey and creamed honey. Honey should be stored inside a cabinet protected from light and may be frozen to extend the shelf life and to keep it from crystallizing.

Honey has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes, for wounds, cough, sore throat, as a sleep aid and is used to prevent allergies. Honey should never be fed to a child under two years of age because of their undeveloped digestive systems.

Page said it is always recommended to purchase honey from from a local grower for two reasons: First, because eating honey that is locally produced is reported to help fight allergies and in recent years it has become a common practice for unscrupulous honey sellers to add less expensive corn syrup to honey to extend it--a practice called "honey-laundering." Also honey is being purchased from China and that honey sometimes contains leads and harmful chemicals.

Above, Janelle Taylor, a Crossroads Garden Club member, is tasting honey from Pages' bees.

Page captures swarms each year and puts them in hives where they produce honey. It is common for a beekeeper to be stung by a bee or two on occasion, but said the stings become less bothersome and he has learned to wipe the stinger away quickly so less venom is injected. He said that stings may even be good for those who suffer with arthritis.

Page is also a pioneering beekeeper who has merged technology with beekeeping. He has a hive that is hooked up to advanced equipment and from his computer or cell phone he can get a picture of how well his hive is progressing. He monitors hive temperatures, weight and humidity. Page thinks that combining technology and nature will make a difference as time goes by. You can see this online at his website,

Page is a member of the Coweta Beekeepers Association that meets each month at the Asa Powell Sr. Expo Center on Temple Avenue, in Newnan. It is a very active club, dedicated to expanding the knowledge of beekeeping, in hopes of increasing the honeybee population in our area. Members travel from neighboring counties each month to attend the monthly meetings. All meetings are open to the public. Members speak in schools and offer help and mentoring for new beekeepers.

They offer a class each year for beginners, "Introduction to Beekeeping." It's an all day event, held this year on Saturday, January 26, 2013. The day includes enough information to get started in beekeeping and includes a book, lunch and tons of advice. The class cost is $50 for individuals. Additional family members may attend for an extra $10, though only one book will be provided per family for that price.

Page has not experienced any colony collapse disorder that has been in the news in recent years, yet he related that it is still a problem with large beekeeper who follow the crops by transporting bees all over the country to pollinate fruit and vegetable farms.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dioramas and face paint

Lately my creative grandchildren have been busy at school and at play. My granddaughter has just completed her first diorama--and I thought it was perfect because I can remember when I helped my children make dioramas. My son enjoyed working on them and he patiently helped his daughter, gluing on sand, dyed cotton balls green for trees and white for clouds, fashioned a house from cardboard, including a balcony and created a Ferris wheel that really spins. Their only regret was that they couldn't find any small people to make this shoebox diorama fully 3-D. Maybe next time.

The book that inspired this art was the Treasure of Pelican Cove by Milly Howard, and after reading the book and all the hard work, Riley received an A. I think she deserved it. I know I am biased.

My grandson on the other hand is working on face paint for Halloween--a topic that fascinates him. This year he will be Frankenstein. Believe it or not, this face paint washed off very easily, though it left a major ring in the bathtub. We will use green face paint as well on Halloween. I imagine his expression will be the same.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Halloween Ideas

Again I am looking for new ideas on the Internet to keep kids--namely my grandchildren--happy and busy. Busy kids really don't get into things and they are so proud of themselves when they make something. It really doesn't take much to satisfy them, so I will begin with what we have done so far this year.

The first thing we did was a variation of the spiders in the photo above at and the one at the top from They are easy and very quick. I didn't do the spider candle holder and I used white pumpkins.

Really, I don't know how you carve out a hole for the candle in the small pumpkin/gourds. They are so hard. I needed a very sharp object to get a hole started but it was very easy to finish. Pipe cleaners are the best. We used a black sharpie and drew on the eyes and mouth. Very easy.

After seeing these cute ghosts above, I bought some small pretzel bags at Walmart in the cake decorating section, drew a cute "ghost face" on the bag and filled it with miniature marshmallows. Great treat, super easy and I give credit to for this really cute idea. Ours looked just like the ones above!
I loved the downloadable above from great way to top a cupcake.

My pumpkin at home is "au naturel" but that doesn't mean I don't love the painted and decorated ones above.

The truffles above are kind of like little ghosts and "tribbles" from the original Star Trek, thanks to the coconut and white chocolate candy coatings. I made some Oreo truffles recently but here is a website that tells you how to make the cutest truffles and coated cake

From comes this new recipe for mint chocolate brownies. I thought I had seen about everything with brownies but this is a new twist--I love--very cute!

This is one of my favorite Halloween recipes. I love it and candy corn. Find it at

We made these treat from last year but used sunflower butter. They were very tasty and fun. I just may use them again for the little ones.

I really, really love the pumpkin man above. Snowmen are cute, why not extend that to pumpkins? There must be "a little magic" in either the hat or broom and he will last longer than a snowman. I found this at

I have been thinking about a wreath for my front door. I might not get to it until Thanksgiving but these Halloween wreaths were great. Most of what I found was a little creepy and I am not into creepy but the rolled felt "roses" glued to a grapevine wreath at would look great on my door. I may even be able to adapt it to just a fall celebration wreath. I really do like it.

This wreath made from rags at is lovely.

Same idea but different colors--I found this wreath at

I love the simplicity of this yarn wreath with the bat flying around the moon. It is also at

I hope I have given you as many ideas as these photos have inspired in me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My new IKEA tray


Not long ago my tray that had used for more years than I care to admit, just fell apart. It was made of wood and some kind of white board and was very sturdy until it practically disintegrated. I am just glad I didn't have a teapot on it at the time. I often use it to carry my teapot and teacup into the living room so that I can pour a second cup of tea while watching TV at night.

A few days later I was at IKEA when I noticed they had this very nice, white, oval metal tray and it was only $9.99! I bought it immediately and I must say it is perfect for what I need. Perfect size, perfect shape, perfect price!

I do really like IKEA but I don't get to the store very often. I love the style (though I will admit I don't decorate in IKEA style very often) and I certainly love the prices. I enjoy receiving their catalog and I just have one little problem.

Maybe I am crazy but I am dismayed by the names on their products. This tray was named ROMANTISK. I do understand the company had its first store in Sweden and the business is run from the Netherlands but I find there is a disconnect when I pick up a tray labeled BÄRBAR, a duvet cover called BJÖRNLOKA or a round pink rug called a VÄNNERNA RUND.
The truth is, I become a little disoriented when I shop there and I have to stop and think--did I just wake up in Sweden? or perhaps Denmark?

They do have a great store with great ideas. You can get a meal there with family friendly prices (I can even run a ribbon through the slots on the sides to make it really festive) and I always find something that is a great price. All my confusion is worth it because I really love my tray. It may get dings and scratches but I don't think it will ever fall apart.

Monday, October 15, 2012

My box of stuff

 i stopped by a yard sale during the weekend and as I looked around I noticed a box that was filled with handmade items. As I skimmed through the box I mentioned to the homeowner that these things inside were lovely.  Most of the items were hand-embroidered or crocheted or both.

The man said that he would sell me the entire box for $5 if I really liked it. I asked him who did all the pretty embroidery and crochet and he credited his mother and aunt. I immediately said yes because I knew the items were pretty and unique. I decided they would make a nice investment because even though I didn't have a use for the mostly dresser scarves, I could work them into pillows or other projects. Some are pretty enough to frame and hang on the wall.

What was in the box? I was astounded when I got my treasure home and started looking through the goodies. There were more embroidered pieces than I could imagine--embroidered handkerchiefs, dresser scarves, bread basket covers, a nice tablecloth and more. There were quite a number of neck scarves, and doilies. I found two thin flannel blankets in perfect shape, a sweatsuit, a new sweater vest, a drop cord, a box of brand new nylons, new socks.

All in all it was much more than I was expecting and I was very pleased. There were some items I won't be able to use and quite a few embroidered items that I will have to come up with a use for but I was very pleased with my purchase.

The needlework was beautiful and there are pieces like the one above. That one would take me a year to complete!

There was a pile of handkerchiefs. Some hand hand-embroidered lace edging. A couple had monograms and one even had a tatted edging.

I was intrigued by these handkerchiefs that look like silk with Mother embroidered above a US Army eagle and USA beneath it. I have never seen anything like it. They are selling some like this on eBay. I think they are beautiful and I think they would be touching for an army mom to own, even if they are vintage.

I also love the delicate cross stitched handkerchief with the pink dotted edging. I think I will give it to my granddaughter. I'll bet she's never seen a handkerchief before.

 I don't think I would buy a boxful of items every day but each time I have done it, I have been quite pleased. Once I bought a large box of canning jars. That was a great purchase.

Linens are not something that many people buy and I think it is because many don't want to fool with washing the linens and another reason is probably because they are a bit old-fashioned. I think that even though this may be true there are ways these items can be used as they are.

I know that I will be lining baskets with some of the dresser scarves. I also will be using some of the items as backgrounds for photos.

I may be crazy, but I really love my box of goodies and though I rarely buy something like this, I feel like I really got my money's worth.