A Southern Tradition from the Garden

IMG_1294

I haven’t had one single red tomato yet, but they are close.  But the thing is….I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on those juicy maters, so I pulled a couple of green ones off today.  Aren’t they gorgeous!?  I am sure you can guess what recipe I am about to share with you….yep…you guessed it!  FRIED GREEN TOMATOES!!

IMG_1303

I love, love, love some friend green tomatoes!  I only get them if we go to a decent restaurant, but not anymore!  I am not really going to share the fried green tomato recipe, instead I am going to share the dipping sauce recipe with you today.

I cheated on my batter today and grabbed a mix at the grocery store.  Mixed it up and fried those babies to the perfect golden brown!

IMG_1295IMG_1300IMG_1302

Meanwhile, on the other counter, I was whipping up this summer yummy, super quick dipping sauce, that will compliment just about anything! (Hubs thinks it tastes like Zax’s Sauce – yummo!)

IMG_1305

This simple sauce is made from staple pantry items that you probably already have on hand, it makes the perfect amount for one meal, and it keeps nicely in the fridge if necessary (wasn’t necessary here!).

IMG_1296

Grab your ingredients, mix them together, and walla…you are done!  Yep, it is that easy!

IMG_1297

1/4 cup mayo, 2 Tablespoons ketchup, 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt, 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. 

What are your plans for this yummy sauce!?

Summer Garden Update

Do you remember when I had my fingers crossed that I would get at least ONE vegetable from my garden this year?  Well, guess what!?

IMG_0942

Look at that thing!  And this is AFTER I just cut back a ton of greenery.  We have made squash casserole, fresh salsa, squash chips, and added cherry tomatoes to almost every meal. 

IMG_0931

See that bucket on the side?  That was round TWO of the cut-backs!  These plants are Happy, Happy, Happy!  Here is my happy cherry tomato plant….I am currently picking about 5 tomatoes a day!  I have a gallon size freezer bag almost full of the ones we can’t eat in time.  I can’t wait to use them this fall in chili, spaghetti sauce, salsa, and vegetable soup!

IMG_0936

You see here that my heirloom tomato plants are pretty happy too!  I haven’t seen a red one yet, but they keep growing and growing and growing!

IMG_0934IMG_0937

My pineapple, green peppers, and jalapeños are still kicking too!  I actually pulled off a beautiful green bell pepper today!  I am so proud of my garden!  I can’t wait to share some of our recipes with you!  Stay tuned!

A fresh Take on Salsa

For a couple of years now, I have been wanting to have a garden.  I have always been so jealous of all those green thumb people that share all their fresh veggies all summer long (and I am grateful for the veggies!).  Then a few years ago, my precious brother-in-law and sister-in-law started gardening.  And let me tell you, they have become pretty dang good at it!  Again, the jealousy…Smile 

So what’s the problem you say?  Just start your own garden.  Tons of people do it.  Well….here is the problem….I have a BLACK thumb!  I kill everything!  Hubs just can’t see spending the money on a garden that I will kill….and I see his point.  BUT, this year I finally convinced him…here’s how:

1.  Start small – I just asked for one 4×4 raised garden bed.

2.  Plant with a Purpose – I wanted a salsa garden.  Both my boys LOVE homemade salsa!

3.  Plant for the future – last summer I learned to can, and I presented the plan of making a salsa garden, making homemade salsa, and canning it to last us through the winter.

Finally, he caved. Smile  So this summer, for my birthday, my amazing husband took me to get all the fixings for a good salsa garden.

10441390_10204208116548902_6622229231921884487_n

We racked up with wood, soil, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and much more!  We came home and hubs built our box Smile  What you see below is round two!  We started with one layer, and Harley ran right through the garden.  So we added a higher layer in hopes of keeping her out….more on that later.

10342476_10204217741149511_4380336757440229155_n

I have been watering and tending to my sweet little garden every day – hoping to prove that I can do this too!  Surprise, Surprise – We are already getting some fruits of our labor!

10411725_10204348904868522_9189072829962032786_n

Spicy Bell Pepper

10420278_10204348902268457_1415507876604371341_n

Beefcake Cherry Tomatoes

46222_10204348900148404_1305057865335688282_n

Onions! Yippe!

10436041_10204348907508588_5829077817525399030_n

Yellow squash

Our biggest worry the whole time has been the dogs.  We were more worried that Willow would try to eat the vegetables, but so far so good on that end.  Our unforeseen issue was Harley thinking we had built her a personal sandbox!  After building a second layer high, we still ended up having to put chicken fencing around the garden to keep crazy Harley out.  Now we seem to have it figured out. Smile

10371725_10204239272647785_8943330503891674615_n

Willow while I am watering the garden – this girl loves the water!

10448241_10204239283728062_6661303304831744636_n

Now I am just crossing my fingers in hopes to get enough veggies out of the garden to actually make some salsa Smile  Stay tuned…

Mom’s Succulent Birthday

I am so in love with the hanging succulent gardens all over the web.  I am sure you remember the one I made for my kitchen a few months ago. (Read about how we made it here)  When my parents came to visit, my sweet momma commented on how much she liked it…and a light bulb came on above my head!

IMG_1820 copy

My parents live in beautiful sunny Florida and have the absolute perfect weather for growing succulents!  When momma’s birthday rolled around Hubs and I got busy making her a beautiful succulent garden of her own.

IMG_1825

Mom’s hanging garden was designed to hang on her screened-in porch by the pool, and it much larger than mine (2ft x 3ft).  We built the hanging box here in GA and traveled it down to Orlando on our last visit.  I took mom to the local home improvement store to let her pick her color and her plants.  M and Hubs helped get it painted, get the plants planted, and get it hung on the porch before mom came home from work.

IMG_1821

Of course her hanging succulent garden is thriving and doing well with all the sun in Orlando.  And I am sure momma loves having something beautiful to watch grow.

IMG_1820

Accidental Garden

Do you want to know what happens when your husband doesn’t dispose of last year’s pumpkins properly?

IMG_1872

You begin to grow your own pumpkin patch!!

So last fall we went to the pumpkin farm and got some beautiful pumpkins (read about it here).  When the season was over, I asked my sweet hubs to dispose of the rotting pumpkins.  He just walked around the back of the house and placed them in our mini garden location (read about it here) which we had cleaned out for the winter.  So when I was ready to plant new veggies for the summer, I found this:

IMG_1873

The pumpkins were never touched.  They just rotted in on themselves and since we didn’t carve them, they were still full of seeds.  The seeds germinated and sprouted, and now I don’t have the heart to dig them up.  They are already growing so good! 

IMG_1874

I guess we won’t have fresh summer veggies, but everyone can come get a free pumpkin at the Carver’s this fall!!

Homemade Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day, a day to honor our mothers, but I hope that you all honor your mothers every single day of the year.  Mothers are the most selfless people I know, and they deserve to be pampered every day!

I am sad to not be with my momma today, but I know I will be down to see her in a couple of weeks.  We made her something super special for her back screened porch, but you will have to wait to see that!

Hubs is actually blessed to have two mothers!  He was adopted and is so lucky to still have a relationship with both of his mothers.  We wanted to give them a little something to show them that we love them, and appreciate them both.

IMG_1166

How super cute is that!?  We had a great time building these special little gifts, and actually had a helper that day too!  My nephew came over for a little while, and was eager to make one for his momma too.  So here is the skinny…

I started by painting my mason jars (pint size) with off-white spray Krylon spray paint.

IMG_1076

To give the mason jars an antiqued look, after they dried, I lightly sanded the high spots on the jars.

IMG_1091

Meanwhile….in the driveway….Hubs and Nephew were busy building the boxes/trays to hold the jars.  They cut cedar wood planks down to size (2 inches high, 12 x 4 inches perimeter).

IMG_1080

IMG_1086

IMG_1096

After everything was cut, they used the nail gun to put everything together securely and then used the air-sander to smooth the edges.

IMG_1113

IMG_1118

Finally we put a coat of stain on the boxes, and set them aside to dry.

IMG_1128

We then filled our mason jars with soil and plants.

IMG_1132

IMG_1072

IMG_1136

The last little personal touch, was made by cutting out vinyl quotes on my Silhouette Cameo.  I will give you more details on how I did that later.

IMG_1140IMG_1160

I was so happy with the final look!  They are super cute for a kitchen window seal, front porch table, or even dining room table.

IMG_1165IMG_1168

I was so proud of my nephew’s hard work, and he was so excited to give his to his momma today!

IMG_1161

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mother’s out there!

Sweet Succulents

I have this spot in my kitchen….this big blank white space…that I have been racking my brain on what to do with. (Sorry I don’t have a before picture)

I also have been in love with these hanging succulent gardens that are all over the web, and I have been wanting to find a place to put one in my home. 

{source}

{source}

{source}

Beautiful plants, big white space in the kitchen, seems like a perfect match!  So I began begging Hubs to build me the planter box.  Months later, I just gave up and decided to pull out the power tools and do it on my own!

I started by cutting and building a double-thick frame out of 1×1 wood strips.

IMG_5429

I used wood glue and the nail gun to secure the frames together.

IMG_5431

Next I took a roll of chicken wire, and fit it inside the frame, pushing it down level to the front.  I used a staple gun to secure the chicken wire to the frame.

IMG_5432IMG_5433

I stained the frame with the stain that matches the other wood in our home.

IMG_5438

I did call in Hubs to cut the back piece for the frame, since we were using a large piece of plywood and I couldn’t hold it up myself.

Now comes the fun part!  I started filling my box!!  I started with a layer of Spanish moss to hold the dirt in and give a better look while I wait for the plants to fill in as they grow.

IMG_5441

Next I filled the remainder of the space with cactus soil.  I packed it in very tightly to get as much dirt as possible.

IMG_5442IMG_5443

Next, I used the nail gun to secure the back piece over the moss and dirt.

IMG_5446

I laid out my plants before I began planting to decide on the final look.

IMG_5447

I carefully used my fingers to make a hole in the front of the planter, then carefully pushed the roots into the hole and pushed the dirt back around the freshly planted roots.

IMG_5449IMG_5451 

After I had planted all the plants, I gave the whole planter a good spray of water with the hose and let it dry outside before bringing it in to hang.

IMG_5453IMG_5454

I just loved the variety of colors!  These plants are supposed to be pretty hardy and from now on I will only need to spray them with a water bottle every few days.  The plants will grow and spread to fill the empty space in the planter.  The final product is pretty heavy, so we made sure to get a hanger that would hold the weight.

IMG_5456

I love the HanGMan hanging systems because it includes a level so I know my picture will hang nicely and easily! 

IMG_5457IMG_5459IMG_5460

I am in love with the final look.  It covers that big white space with a beautiful pop of color.  It also brings live plants into the home, which I love.  I also love how it complements my hanging herb garden over the sink.  I can’t wait to watch the plants grow and change the whole look!