Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What is Country Yard Art?

Whimsical & Salvaged Garden Ornaments

The first known use of garden ornaments became common in the western cultures are in Ancient Roman gardens. A great many examples have been excavated from Pompeii and Herculaneum. The Italian Renaissance garden and Garden à la française were the peak styles of using created forms in the garden and landscape, with high art and kitsch interpretations ever since. The English Landscape Garden expanded the scale of some garden ornaments to temple follies. The Asian tradition of making garden ornaments, often functioning in association with Feng Shui principles, has a nearly timeless history.

Well sometimes, Suthunuhs can take it to a whole different level with their garden ornaments.  Mr. Jolly knows I am not into kitsch, but he knows that I  love originality.  On our road trip we found  many antique stores and garden places that had such a fun way of displaying their yard art that you almost convinced yourself that it would look great in that little corner of your yard. 

This little guy is made from tin cans and junkyard finds

Kinda creepy, but I liked the "en masse effect"

This Steel Flamingo is more sturdy than the Pink Plastic Flamingo of the 1950's

Such creativity with corrugated metal

Miss Moo looked lovely in the garden of the antique shop. Utterly over the top

My Sunday drive in the country with Mr Jolly, stopping randomly at  antique shops brought back memories of an elderly man that lived down the road from my family home in Alabama.  Mr. Call made yard art  in his spare time from scraps of wood and metal.  I had forgotten about the pink mama pig with her curly metal tail and her baby piglets that Mr. Call made for me to put in our flower garden.  He was such a sweet gentleman that was always dressed in a white starched shirt and suspenders.  He alway looked liked he was headed to church.  His workshop was magical to me as a kid; it had the smell of shaved wood and honeysuckle.  When my Dad and I would visit Mr. Call, he  always had a small gift of penny candy or a something he had made for me hidden in his egg basket.  Just before Mr Call passed away, he gave me a lucite pin with a little squirrel holding a pearl.  It is still one of my most cherished possessions. 

If you live in the Northern Virginia area, and have the urge for garden Ornaments check out
Really Great Finds, Lucketts, Virginia.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Decoration Day & Dinner on the Ground

Childhood Memories

I remember piling into the truck with Dad, Mom, and Sis and heading to Hickory Holler,Tennessee for Decoration Day. Hickory Holler is where my Mom grew up.  Decoration Day was a late spring or summer tradition that involved cleaning community cemeteries, decorating them with flowers, and holding a religious service in the cemetery, followed with "dinner on the ground." Decoration Day seems to predate the post-Civil War celebrations.  Ultimately, Decoration Day gave us our national Memorial Day.

"Dinner on the ground" was the fun part of the day for us kids. All of the church ladies would have cooked their favorite scratch recipes to share with everyone for a picnic. Some of the churches constructed covered pavilions for the Dinner on the grounds.

Others simply had long tables made from benches with planks on top.  The tables would groan with the tremendous load of cooked food. No Take-out Food presented here!  I particularly remember the coconut cakes (not your regular two-layer, but a six-layer cake), fried chicken, and deviled eggs. 

As an adult, I am still trying to re-create the famous "dinner on the ground" Coconut cake, and my Mom's biscuits and Tea cakes.  My sister and I are considered very good cooks, but how we never got the recipe for the Tea cakes is beyond us.  Well, on the biscuits.....after 30 years of trying, I have given up!  I only make biscuits once a year for my christmas party, and that is pure torture.

I had not really thought much about the many traditions that were a part of my growing up in the deep South, until I mentioned Dinner on the Ground to a friend, and she was completely clueless as to what I was describing. I decided to start exploring other traditions of my childhood and the forgotten wisdoms  of country living. 

Country Wisdom......Decoration Day was to honor the deceased, and  Dinner on the Ground was a way to provide communion to those gathered in the cemetery with the deceased.  A lovely tradition that really had a true meaning.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Suthunuhs Love Their Cornbread

When it is hot summer weather, and all you want to eat is fresh vegetables from the garden, you gotta have cornbread!

Mr. Jolly likes his cornbread sweet.  I don't... might be something my Mama said about Yankees putting sugar in their cornbread mix.  I make cornbread muffins so we can both enjoy our cornbread the way we like it.  I use pink cups for mine and blue for Mr. Jolly.

If you spotted the ear of corn in the picture above, I cut the corn off  the cob and roast the kernels in a dry iron skillet until slightly  charred as if the corn had been grilled, and then folded into the coarse, yellow cornmeal.  I pour buttermilk in and mix lightly (mixture is still lumpy); add cheddar cheese, and fresh chopped jalapeno peppers; pour half of mixture in pink cups then add a little sugar for the Yankee muffins.  I don't measure anything I just eyeball the contents and look for a consistency (do not over mix)that is not too runny.

My favorite cornbread is baked in an iron skillet or cast iron cornstick pan and not in fancy cupcake wrappers.

To keep the cornbread from sticking I heat up the cast iron skillet with about a teaspoon of shortening and then throw in a tablespoon of plain cornmeal and then add my cornbread batter while it is sizzling.  This will make the crust of the cornbread crunchy.  Preheat your oven to 350°. Be sure to not overcook the cornbread, it will be all dry and crumbly inside.  Test the center of the cornbread with a wooden toothpick.  My most favorite, favorite cornbread is adding lip smacking cracklins to the batter.  Are you wondering what the heck are cracklins? Cracklins are not the same as pork rinds or pork skins you see in the grocery.  Fresh country cracklins are the hog skin with a layer of fat, then fried or smoked. 

So what's on for dinner tonight... cornbread, center cut ham steaks, spicy pinto beans(started with dried beans soaked over night)  tomatoes, and green scallions.  I could have done without the ham steaks, but Mr. Jolly thinks they will be perfect for this Suthunuh's dinner.  Ending the meal with grown-up frozen popsicles.  Home made lemonade, champagne, orange liqueur- cointreau poured into molds.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hunting for Junk and Treasures at Lucketts

Last weekend was a perfect time to drive to the Lucketts Annual Spring Market.

The Old Lucketts General Store and Design House scored an A+ on the execution of their Spring Market.  They had 170 antique dealers surrounding the stores on 15 acres, with excellent food vendors and live music.  The weather could not have been more perfect.  The collection of antiques, home accessories, funky clothing and cool junk to transform into your own museum piece would have made any junk hunter swoon.  Mr. Jolly even enjoyed going from tent to tent viewing all of the stuff.  Of course, he knew that he was safe from me dragging a big piece of furniture home, because we were in a two-seater car, and not in my old SUV that I can flip down all the seats and haul half a barn  home. 

Love the Handle on the Red Door

Built from Salvaged Finds

Reflection of a Shopper

Should Have Bought  These

Well, I can not believe that I went home empty handed from this wonderful event, but I have business cards and notes from some of the vendors that I really liked.  The Lucketts Store has a perfect wine bottle chandlier that I see as a birthday gift to myself. So it is not over yet! 

If you happen to be rambling around on a weekend, and you missed  the Spring Market you can still shop at the Lucketts Store in Leesburg, VA.  seven days a week.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Farm Fresh Eggs From Sunnybrook Farms

I had big plans yesterday to stop by two local farms to buy fresh eggs.  First, I forgot my country manners of calling first, and second,  I forgot to take my empty egg cartons.  Driving to my first destination on Snickersville Turnpike with my camera tucked neatly into my pocket for a possible impromptu photo of the chickens was foiled by  a yellow chain blocking their drive way.  I was so disappointed!  I had passed by their farm last Friday, and they had a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers for sale which I would have snapped up, but Mr. Jolly was behind the wheel with the vision of a large bucket of popcorn and a movie.  Stopping was not an option for him!  I was so ready to buy their fresh flowers, and fresh farm eggs.  I will  remember next week to call first!  I really wanted fresh eggs so I did a u-turn and headed back down Snickersville Turnpike --  my destination this time, a farm on St. Louis Road in Middleburg.  I have passed by this farm many times, and I always say to myself "I must stop here sometime!"  Having decided this spring that most of my food purchases will be made locally, and hopefully from my neighbors, I am on a quest.  My country definition  for neighbors means " If they are in Western Loudoun County...they are my neighbors." 

I arrive at my destination of Sunnybrook Farms and pull into the driveway. 

Another closed gate, but the Produce Cart is there.  YEA! 

Sunnybrook Produce Cart

Country Honor System

You don't see any eggs on the cart, because I snagged the last dozen of eggs available, and I had safely stowed them  in the front seat of my car.  Sunnybrook Farm also has hand spun yarn available at the Produce Cart, and other seasonal finds from their garden.  The yarn is spun from the raw wool from their very own sheep.  I definitely want a photo shoot with their Teletubby Cormo Sheep: Dipsy, LaLa and Po.  In February Lily, their Jacob Ewe gave birth to Lottie, who  thinks she is a dog.  Lottie hangs out in their house with the dogs, and at night sleeps on her dog bed next to their bed.  I have to see this sweet baby, named Lottie.    Hopefully I will catch Bridget, the owner of Sunnybrook Farm and she will introduce me to her lambs.  Here is a picture of my fresh eggs.

Fresh Eggs from Sunnybrook

Did you know that you don't have to refrigerate fresh farm eggs?  You can leave them out on your kitchen counter as long as they have not been refrigerated, and they have not have been washed.  In most countries other than the US, they never refrigerate their eggs.  Now, how would you like your eggs cooked for breakfast, Mr. Jolly?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Classic Cars on Main Street

Heading home on Saturday after lunch in Purcellville, I spotted a line-up of classic cars parked in the parking lot of Cardinal Bank on Main Street. Of course, I had to turn around and go back to look at the cars.  I have what could be called a suppressed addiction to old cars.  Mr. Jolly likes to refer to my addiction as "Brenda's used cars that don't run." Sitting in a circle under a large shade tree were the owners of these classic beauties.  They call themselves "CAM Jammers", a classic car club in Purcellville. They usually gather in the parking lot on Saturday afternoons to enjoy each others cars.

Purcellville CAM Jammers

I immediately walked upto one of the owners, Bill Krens and started to ask about his sleek Buick Skylark.

Bill Krens with his Skylark

Mr. Krens, a retired air traffic controller was happy to share his knowledge about his car.  The Skylark first appeared in limited production in 1953 and 1954. There were only 836 Skylarks manufactured in 1954 like his, and the unique chrome tailfins, containing the tail lights had never been seen before. The Skylark name vanished after 1954, only to reappear in 1961. This is such a classy looking car! Mr. Krens, an avid collector of old cars, said he has approximately 123 cars stored on his farm in Hillsboro.  Wow!  Talking to him was a treat, and he agreed I could call him up for a visit to see all of his cars.  Besides being a collector of cars he has his own airstrip on his farm for his planes. Can't wait to find a weekend to request a visit. Another passion of mine, airplanes.  Don't ask me why!

I think classic cars take us back to our childhood, and this car sitting in the parking lot brought back many memories of my parents' 1959 Pontiac.  I always thought the back fins on our car was so Jetson, and I loved our interior color of Sunset Glow with ivory.

1959 Pontiac Catalina

This car reminded me of my sister's high school boyfriend's red Chevy.  Remember drive-in movie theaters? This car was perfect for a summer night at the movies.

1960 Chevy Impala

I could go on and on about all of the cars, so I will end with one last photo of a newer car and his owner Alan Jackson. 

Alan W. Jackson with his Corvette

If you happen to be in Purcellville on a Saturday afternoon around 4 pm  and you love classic cars, stop by and visit the Cam Jammers.

Monday, May 7, 2012

After Lunch, Time for Some Shopping

Hopped across the street from having lunch at Market Burger to Purcellville Marketplace.  Their new storefront in the Old Samuel Case Building is deceptive of how big the building really is.  Their old location was twice as large, but the charm of exposed beams and old brick in their new location is charming, and works well with all of their old vintage display cases used through out the store.    I always head here when I need a last minute birthday gift, candles, or just something that reflects the country attitude.  I started chatting with Matt Totman to see how he likes the new location, and I wanted to make sure that everything was going well. I would be an unhappy camper if they moved from Purcellville.  It is the kind of store that you can wander around for hours, and of course buy things you don't need.    From my experience it takes at least 3-4 times around the store before you see everything.  I'm always methodical in covering every inch of a store.  This of course drives Mr. Jolly insane, so my methodical approach is reserved when he is not with me, and I am lucky to get one walk thru when he is with me.

Doesn't Look Like Much From the Outside, but

if you heed the sign in their window

This is what awaits you inside

You can have all of the assistance you want, or just be left alone as you wander around the store.  Matt and his crew know just the right amount of help to offer.

I know Christmas is not on anyone's mind right now, but they have a room that is always stuffed with Christopher Radko ornaments.  A little weakness of mine.   


Love, Love our neighborhood gift store!   My next purchase
a great wooden tray for the 4th of july

What I love about country stores, you walk in as a stranger and leave as a friend.  Thanks Matt for the candy!

Click on any picture to enlarge