Monday, September 30, 2013

Gluten-free Tailgating

The sign, proudly displayed by a Reinhardt University fan (and relative of the coach) says, "RU ready for some football?"

In addition to loving RU football, this fan also is on a gluten-free diet. That makes tailgating a little boring so we decided to try and take it up a notch with our tailgating menu.

Today's spread included, GF mac and cheese, GF corn dog muffins, GF make-your-own sandwich wraps (GF wraps, turkey, cheese, lettuce and mayo), a vegetable tray with ranch dip, a grab-you-own fruit tray, GF brownies, GF chips and a cooler filled with  bottled water and soft drinks.

The GF mac and cheese was everyone's favorite. We made cheese sauce from 2 cups whole milk, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, salt, pepper and added three cups of grated sharp cheddar after the milk mixture had thickened, poured it over the noodles, mixed well and dumped it into a crock pot. We covered the top with a cup of cheddar and heated it for about an hour on low in the crock pot.

On the way to the game, we could hear, "Wow, that mac and cheese sure smells good." and "I am getting hungry."

The corn dog muffins were good and easy to make. A GF muffin mix and quarters of hot dogs baked until done. We brought Ketchup with us but we did have a few calls for mustard (Sorry!).

The GF brownies--Yummy!

The fruit tray, which was just all kinds of washed fruit: grapes, bananas, strawberries, apples and plums and blueberries were all gone by the end of the day.

The team won. We had plenty of good-for-you snacks and a few not so good for you snacks. Plenty of fun and excitement.

It was a good day!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

New hydrangeas

Last year I planted an oak leaf hydrangea and sadly it didn't make it though the year because the weather was just too dry. I did water it but obviously not enough because when this summer rolled around my hydrangea was just a little dried-up stick.

This morning I went to my Mother's house to dig up a few hydrangeas and hopefully they will survive the fall. I was waiting until this little dry spell was over but since it has stopped raining, I will just have to water a bit to maintain healthy plants (I hope!).

I volunteered my husband to help with the digging and I am glad I did because it certainly was dry and the ground was very hard. We dug up about five plants and began planting on the two spots I decided were the perfect places for my new grape leaf hydrangeas.

The first place was in between two of my crepe myrtles at the end of my driveway.

And the other, I placed to the right of the center crepe myrtle tree. I thought small ones would be better because I really want to keep these plants smaller under these trees.

 The other I planted in the same general area as last summer's poor dead hydrangea.

I potted a few trees. One of them will go to our longtime friend and garden club member, Daphne. I will water it faithfully until next week when I take it to her. It is looking quite good now.

This year I am planting at the recommended planting time and I love it. I don't always time my planting at the optimum time.

So folks, it is time for fall planting. If I can time it right--anybody can! Good luck to both of us.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Plant sale coming up!

If you're a person who loves to garden, like me, you love to plant something new each season. That is why I am excited because I just received the news that the Coweta County Master Gardener Extension Volunteers’ (MGEVs) would be holding their first annual Fall Plant Sale. Each spring they hold a very large and successful spring plant sale and it is a very popular event. People are standing in line to get in for the healthy and beautiful plants they offer for sale.

Because of this, they have decided to hold the fall sale on Saturday, October 5th from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at the Coweta County Extension greenhouse located next to the horse arena just inside the Coweta County Fairgrounds, 275 Pine Road, Newnan.

According to the MGEVs, fall is a great time to plant shrubs, perennials, and trees and they have been very busy propagating, growing, and transplanting plants for the upcoming sale. There will be a large variety of plants including chrysanthemums, ferns, coneflowers, bearded iris, Shasta daisy, butterfly bush, beautyberry, forsythia, gardenia, hydrangea, willow, bitter orange, crape myrtle, plus many more. Fall vegetables will be ready as well. They promise reasonable prices and garden-ready plants.

Don't arrive late because they plants go fast.

Master Gardener Extension Volunteers (MGEVs) support UGA Cooperative Extension--Coweta County through community education, raising funds for scholarships and supporting 4-H.
If you have questions or need additional information please contact the Coweta County Extension Office at (770) 254-2620.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Curtain fixes

My mother's curtains weren't working for her. She had 1/2 inch curtain rods and 2-1/2 inch pockets on her curtains. Above, the curtain rod fix. The before curtains were all floppy and the curtain ruffle at the top kept flopping over.

We started out just looking for 2-1/2 inch pocket rods. In fact we searched all over town and found a variety of sizes but no 2-1/2 inch ones.. We finally decided to fashion new rod extensions to make her rods wider using the old inexpensive rods.

At Hobby Lobby I found some very think fusible interfacing. I cut it into 4-7/8 inch strips the width of the windows and folded the strips in half.

I then was ready to fuse the sides together to make a tube to insert the rod.

The interfacing was easy to seal together with a hot iron on the wool setting. I ironed the bottom third which fused the interfacing together.

I then slid the rod inside the interfacing, taped the edges to the rod and slid the interfacing-covered rod into the curtain pocket and the curtain was ready to hang.

I had to adjust the gathers so that they looked evenly spread across the rod but the curtains look great and we have since done the same thing on the curtains in her other room.

This fix was very inexpensive since I had a coupon for 40 percent off at Hobby Lobby and I was very happy to finish the project. It was tedious and frustrating at times but the curtains now look better than ever.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A couple's first gardening experience

 Crossroads Garden Club welcomed one of our members, Dianne Carnicom and her husband Mike as speakers for our August meeting. Dianne and Mike planted their first vegetable garden in the spring and summer of 2013 and we were very curious to learn what kind of experience it was for them.

Sometimes new gardeners hit a wall on their first attempt and we were treated to an open and honest evaluation of what it takes--mentally, emotionally and physically to begin a fairly arduous task and see it to the end of the growing season.

The Carnicoms, longtime residents of Coweta County's Thomas Crossroads area had limited space for gardening. Their subdivision didn't prohibit growing a garden but they didn't know if they had the room or if their soil would yield enough to make gardening worthwhile. After researching the possibilities, the couple chose to make raised beds in their back yard.

They felt because of the limited space and not much experience, the raised bed method would create less work since there would be no tilling, and better soil and weed control. In their research on the internet and from long-time gardening neighbor, Wilma Smith, they felt the yield would be greater and it would fit in better with their lifestyle. Mike, a manager with the FAA and Dianne, a substitute teacher at Woodward Academy, decided to plant some of their favorites including tomatoes, squash, okra, beans and sugar snap peas.

The Carnicoms chose to build their beds from composite deck materials with end posts covered with copper caps. Underneath they laid down a weed barrier and they were ready to begin.

Seeds were purchased in early March and they started tomatoes in individual containers, inside. While the tomatoes were growing, they worked to fill the beds with a mixture of Miracle Grow Potting Soil, Black Hen Compost and peat moss, purchased from a garden supply store. Into this mixture, they planted their seeds and plants.

Their neighbor, Wilma Smith gave them encouragement and later furnished bamboo poles from Smith's bamboo “forest” to stake the beans and peas.

As the plants grew, the Carnicoms were surprised when the squash plants seemed to outgrow the containers in which they were planted. In the center of the squash, okra seeds had also been planted and the squash plants grew so large, they had to remove the okra to a different planter.

The Carnicoms had a similar situation with their tomatoes and though they didn't move them to create more room, found their size created problems when staking and tending the plants. They soon found their beds overflowing with large beautiful plants and were both elated and surprised with the results.

Dianne said that Mike would go out each afternoons after work to coax the peas and beans up the trellises and though the peas needed some help, trellis-climbing was not a problem for the beans. They naturally found the stakes and easily grew up and over the trellis.

When the weather warmed up, the okra soon began growing and according to the Carnicoms, turned into trees.

As the couple began to evaluate their harvest, they noted the peas were okay, the squash were amazing, the green beans were good, the tomatoes were great and the okra did well after they were provided with their own bed.

Pests were controlled with liquid Sevin and some of the tomatoes developed blossom end rot which was controlled by spraying with a commercial end rot spray. Also, tomato vines would have probably grown better had they used cages to keep the limbs and tomatoes from touching the ground.

The Carnicoms felt the soil composition, bed size and trellis structure worked for them. This year they really didn't have to do much watering, but the open-bottomed beds aided in drainage and the location of the beds, in full sun, helped the plants to produce. They would definitely plant the okra later and in a separate bed and reduce the density of the tomato plants. If they had read the seed packets carefully, they would have noted the size of the mature plant, using this information to prevent some of the overcrowding.

In the final analysis, they would plan a little more, read the seed packages and make larger beds for their squash. Overall, the experience was very good and they will definitely plant a raised-bed garden again next year. They even have a garden addition, a "See Rock City" birdhouse. Mike said no southern garden should be without one. They bought it on a recent trip to Chattanooga.

As our club listened to their presentation, we loved their enthusiastic presentation and were inspired by their skill in adding the stylish copper caps to their boxes. We also admired the organizational techniques they used, like attaching the plant information in plastic bags to each garden box. Of course, we salute them for taking on the large task and succeeding with such enthusiasm.

It was a great presentation and we look forward to hearing what they will do next year.

Crossroads Garden Club meets on the 4th Monday night of each month, except December at 7:00 pm at 3072 Highway 154, Newnan, Ga. For more information email or We would also appreciate it if you would like us on Facebook.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Malabar spinach smoothies

I ran out of kale for my smoothie this morning and remembered my Malabar spinach (Basella alba), growing on my back porch.

This Asian spinach-type plant is not quite as good as spinach to me. It doesn't have quite the same flavor but is still good. Some find it slightly slimy (it's not like okra). It grows in a vine and is a lovely plant. It has a pretty red vine and now that the seasons are beginning to change, the leaves are beginning to form a reddish rim.

The leaves are heart-shaped and it does well in very hot weather. My plant is beginning to put out little black berries which will become the seeds. If I don't harvest the seeds, I will probably have volunteer plants to come up next year. The plant I have came up from seed that way. It was actually a bonus plant.

I noticed it winding up one of my tomato plants in the middle of the summer. It then climbed up a pepper plant and at first I thought that might not be a good thing but it eventually helped to give support to my pepper plant so I let it grow.

Back to the smoothie. It was the bomb! This made a great addition to my healthy morning smoothie. Last year I was ho-hum about growing Malabar spinach. Now I love it am planning to grow more for my smoothies.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Yard sales and questionable choic

The Ragu vs. Prego commercial sometimes gets on my nerves, but I must admit that when I was looking over some of my latest yard sale buys I scratched my head and wondered, "What other questionable choices have I made lately?"

Here are a few.

Above I purchased a not so nice mandolin for a dollar. I knew it would probably never be used to entertain company with strains of country music, but if I do a good job restoring it, I could use it as a wall-hanging.

The chair I bought at a thrift store in Florida. It was $3, worth every penny (I hope) and one day I will try to restore it with all new materials. I will strip it down to bare wood. No stuffing will remain, only new everything, including a nice coat of stain and poly. I'm only out a few bucks if I mess it up.

This chest was only $5. I will sand it smooth and probably paint it black. It will be used in my half-bath for bathroom tissue, soap and towels. I think it is at least structurally sound. We'll see how long it takes me to start this project.

I love, love, love this little book of poems about flowers. I bought it to use for graphics in art projects. It is old, worn and a thing of beauty to me. I think I paid $2. Might not have been a bargain but still, I love it.

I bought this at a thrift store in town and though it is not in the best shape, the drawer pulls match my dining room furniture. I am thinking, restain, poly and a nice marble or granite top. I think I might have paid as much as $15 for this future piece of furniture for my dining room.

Above, a fireplace insert. I have always wanted one and I don't know if this one will work in my fireplace but I thought I could resell it for the five bucks I paid for it.

When my husband saw this in the car he said, "We really need to talk."

We then had a discussion about how sometimes things could burn the house down and would I please just give him a call before purchasing something like this again.

It looks like people are beginning to pull out things for fall and yard sales are beginning again. I love it. I hope I can use all the things I bring home but I am sure some of my purchases will be questionable. I just can't help but think if I redo some of these "treasures," what little money I have invested will surely be worth it.

I think my husbands rebuttal would be, "Maybe."

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Collards in Dixie cups

OK! I have more than a hundred collard plants growing. I was in a hurry and didn't have any newspaper to make pots from so I decided to buy little Dixie cups. I bought 3 ounce bath cups and the price was right--under three dollars for 200 cups.

I also decided to put my plants outside for a few days. I am trying some new grow lights and the plants aren't thickening up like they should. More sunlight should be just what the doctor ordered.

The tip of the day--the Dixie cups. You can write on the sides with a permanent marker and they aren't waxed so they make a great easy, and did I mention cheap way to pot your plants.