Friday, October 16, 2009

My Tree

My October Glory maple tree is a beautiful bright orange, with some pretty red leaves mixed in. This little tree was planted in 2004, when me and Chip got married and bought this house. It has lived through a lot, including the winds of Katrina when it was just two years old.

It is one of the first trees to turn colors in the fall. I love it for that.

It was 46F when I woke up this morning in Oxford. I took a walk in the cool air, and it felt fabulous. I love fall!

- Posted from my iPhone with BlogPress

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Birthday Cake and Go Rebels!

I just finished frosting Chip's birthday cake. It is a Snoball cake. As in a Hostess Snoball. I asked Chip what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday, and that's what he came up with. I am suprised that I was able to pull it off!!

I baked a Devil's food cake in one round pan and one 2.5 quart pyrex bowl. I scooped the middle out with a knife a spoon, then filled the middle with marshmallow/7-minute frosting. I used the same frosting to ice the cake Then, I dyed coconut neon orange,and covered the cake in it.

Today the Rebels play Alabama in Oxford. We are having a little get together after the game to celebrate Chip's birthday, and hopefully Rebel win. We really need this win to revive our season. We are ready!

- Posted from my iPhone with BlogPress

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Big Move

Fall is in the air, and as always, that means fall gardening chores. After work on Friday, I put on my favorite gardening jeans and my clogs, and began one of the biggest projects of the season - moving one of my raised beds.

I love this raised bed that I bought a few seasons ago from Gardeners Supply Company. It is their Two-Tier Raised Bed. One half is six inches deep and the other half is twelve inches deep. Plus, it has these great poles that can be used to drape row covers. I originally placed this raised bed in a spot too shady to grow vegetables, so I decided earlier this year that it was time for a move.

I'd been wanting to move it beside my other two raised beds, but the summer heat and humidity had kept me far, far away from tackling this project. In its new spot, it will get about 8 hours of sun a day in the summer. This area is on a bit of a slope, so I did have to grade the slope a bit.

First, I had to move all the soil from the raised bed to the tarp. I removed about 3/4 of the soil from the deeper bed, then called it an evening. It took me about an hour and a half to clean out the bed, dig, fill the garden cart, then dump the soil from the garden cart onto the tarp.

After attending a family reunion at Holmes County State Park on Saturday, I picked up where I left off and dug out the rest of the soil. Once I had all the soil out, I deconstructed the raised bed (so easy!) and started grading the slope where I planned to move the new bed.

I really hoped to finish the entire project on Saturday since there was rain in the forecast on Sunday, but after digging for another two hours on Saturday evening, I was once again ready to call it quits.

On Sunday morning, I was ready to pull this project together and FINISH IT. My wonderful husband volunteered to help me so that we could try to get it done before the thunderstorms rolled in. We started putting the bed together and moving soil at around 9:30 AM in 65F weather. It was cool, windy, overcast, and threatening rain all morning. In my opinion, the perfect time to do tough chores. By 11 we had the bed built and all the soil moved in. I moved on to other gardening chores (weeding the iris bed, putting fresh pine straw around the raised bed in its new location, moving some elephant ears that were in a bad spot), and Chip (did I mention that I have a wonderful husband?) started on the next big project on my list - moving the compost bin.
By 1 PM two huge chores on my list were done, and I felt great about what we'd been able to accomplish. I don't usually recruit Chip to help me in the garden. I can be terribly bossy out there because I want everything done my way because - after all - it is my garden. Depending on the day I'll either be a real meanie or I'll be nice and let him do it his way, then go back behind him and redo everything. Today, though, we reached a happy balance out there. By the time I got cleaned up, the storms had rolled in for good. It is 9 PM, and it is still raining out there.

So now, my backyard vegetable garden is much improved. I've got a sunnier location for my vegetables, a neater spot for my compost bin, and some additional work space for turning my compost bin.

With fall here, the leaves will be falling from the trees in no time, and I'll fill my lunch breaks with raking and my bin with chopped leaves. Did I mention that I found out that our leaf blower also has a leaf vacuum that chops the leaves? I am really optimistic about managing those leaves this year! We'll see if that changes once they start falling.

And, once again, I leave you with my gardening motto. Happy Fall!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Something Cool for Fall

Check out this web cam, shooting live photos of Purchase Knob in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park every 15 minutes. Look at those beautiful fall colors!

Back to New Orleans

New Orleans is a wonderful city. Chip drove us south down I-55 last weekend to spend a little time in the French Quarter and the Garden District. I didn't take nearly as many photos as I should have. But isn't that always the case when you are having a good time?

Friday, September 25th was our fifth wedding anniversary. We had dinner reservations Friday evening at Lilette, a beautiful neighborhood restaurant in the Garden District. We strolled by this gem on our last trip to New Orleans, peeked into the dining room, and decided that Lilette was next on our NOLA restaurant list. Then, in early 2009, John Harris, chef-owner of Lilette, was nominated for the Best Chef: South James Beard award (eventually losing to John Currence of Oxford's City Grocery fame). We arrived early for our reservation and enjoyed champagne and a toast to our marriage. The dining room at Lilette is defninitely sexy and romantic. It just sparkles in contrast to the deep-burgundy walls. Our appetizers were fantastic. I devoured the light and fluffy gnocchi in a sage and brown butter cream sauce. Melt-in-my-mouth little pillows of heaven! Seriously! And I couldn't help but have a few nibbles of Chip's delicious grilled beets with walnuts and goat cheese. (I'm definitely recreating that one at home this fall). The entrees were so-so. Chip ordered the Kobe strip steak, and it just wasn't all that. The meat was chewy and unflavorful. Salty even. But dessert saved the meal! I ordered the sticky toffee pudding with caramel ice cream. Chip ordered the bread pudding with Earl Grey ice cream. Mine was fabulous. I didn't share. Chip didn't either.

After dinner we crossed town to Frenchman Street in Marigny to Snug Harbor Jazz Club. We had tickets to the 10 PM Ellis Marsalis Quartet performance, and I was so happy that we arranged this. Ellis Marsalis is the father of the famous jazz musicians Branford and Wynton, but all of his sons play jazz. Ellis Marsalis played piano and his son Jason accompanied him on drums. The bassist and saxiphonist were also fantastic, but the highlight of the evening for me was vocalist Johnaye Kendrick. She joined the quartet for the second half of the show, and her voice was just gorgeous. She sang soulfully and purposefully without oversinging anything. She has a way with her voice that just leaves you wanting to hear more.

Saturday we had a healthy breakfast at Surrey's Cafe and Juice Bar, visited Shadyside Pottery on Magazine, and ducked in and out of the French Quarter bars as we avoided rain showers and watched SEC football. We had fresh raw oysters and shrimp cocktail in the afternoon, and then headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

Dinner was at John Besh's (2006 Best Chef: South winner) newest restaurant - Domenica - in the Roosevelt Hotel. The menu is really different, and we liked it. They serve an array of soups, salads, and a charcuterie plate. Their appetizers, pasta bowls, and entrees are served in small or large portions so you can order a small portion of many different things if you want to go that route. And we did. We got a charcuterie plate that came with amazing fig preserves and some weird savory beignets. The meats and cheeses were yummy, the fried bread - not so much. Later, we split three of the small pasta plates: cavatelli with fennel sausage, spinach gnocchi (I was craving more after Lilette), and tagliatelle with rabbit ragu. My favorite was the rabbit ragu. Chip wanted to lick the bowl of the fennel sausage pasta. The gnocchi were just okay - way more dense and chewy than Lilette's. All in all - the meal at Domenica was probably more consistantly good than Lilette, but I prefered the atmosphere and the service at Lilette. Our server at Lilette was just wonderful.

The highlight of Saturday evening was having drinks at the Sazerac Bar also in the Roosevelt Hotel. I can't believe I did not take any photos! The bar is an Art Deco masterpiece, complete with murals of life in New Orleans painted by artist Paul Ninas in the 1930s. I overheard one bar patron say that the murals have likenesses of all of New Orleans' social elite from the 1930s era. On the right night, you may catch someone at the bar who knows the history behind each one.
I had a Ramos Gin Fizz which basically goes down like a milkshake and tastes like one, too, just not quite as heavy or sweet. The menu said that the Ramos Gin Fizz was invented in New Orleans and made famous by the Sazerac Bar because it was Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long's favorite drink in the hotel's heyday. Gov. Long definitely knew how to pick a drink. It was delicious.
Sunday morning we packed up, headed to Besh's Luke Restaurant for breakfast, then made the 3 hour drive back home. I love New Orleans. There is just something about that place that makes people feel free. Like they've been given a permission slip to be themselves, not so stuffy and caught up in the rat race. I know I feel like that when I'm there, and it is a wonderful place to be.