Polly’s Scalloped Oysters

I grew up several states away from my grandparents, but we saw them at least once a year for a few days in the summer. My dad is the sixth of nine children. I am one of 27 first cousins, and that’s just on my dad’s side of the family. My grandmommy, Polly, had her 9 children over a 22 year span. Some of my cousins are close to my dad’s age. Polly saw the world change in many ways. She raised children during the Great Depression, World War II, the Vietnam War and more. I am thankful for the times we shared together and memories I have of her.

Pauline Virginia, my Grandmommy Polly

I can still see her hands making fried chicken. I remember her apron and her waist. I memorized her ankles, and I can picture her church shoes in my mind as though I was looking at them now. Her arms were soft and padded when she gave me a hug. She drank coffee in the afternoon. She perched on a Cosco folding step stool when there weren’t enough seats for everyone at the kitchen table. And she was the only person I heard call my dad Rob growing up. I wish I could talk to her again. I have a million questions.

Me with Grandmommy Polly. 1984? Yes, I have very poor eyesight.

I was recently given 2 of her recipes printed in a church cookbook. One of those recipes is for Scalloped Oysters. According to my dad, oysters were a Christmas dish. They ate them fried on Christmas Eve, stewed for breakfast Christmas morning, and scalloped for Christmas dinner, which was lunchtime.

Polly’s Scalloped Oysters

Freshly shucked oysters work best for this recipe, but those are not easy for me to come by. I’m an hour northeast of Atlanta, so I had to settle for oysters in a tub from the grocery seafood department.

If you love oysters, this is a recipe that you need to try! Enjoy!

Polly's Scalloped Oysters

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A traditional recipe for Scalloped Oysters.

Credit: BelleAntiquarian.com

Ingredients

  • 1 pint oysters
  • 2 cups cracker crumbs, small crush
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup half & half
  • 1/4 cup reserved oyster liquor
  • 1/4 tsp. Worcestershire
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • black pepper

Directions

  1. Drain oysters and reserve 1/4 cup of the liquor.
  2. Combine the cracker crumbs and butter
  3. Grease a casserole and put a layer of the crumb mixture on the bottom
  4. Put a layer of the oysters on top of crumbs and sprinkle them with pepper.
  5. Put a layer of crumbs on top of the oysters.
  6. Repeat another layer of the oysters and sprinkle with pepper.
  7. Combine the salt, cream, oyster liquor, and Worcestershire and drizzle over all. Do not stir.
  8. Top with remaining crumbs.
  9. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.
  10. Allow to rest 10-15 minutes before eating.

Our Favorite Gluten Free Products

Food at our house can be a headache. Our daughter is highly allergic to many fruits and all nuts that grows on trees. Ken is gluten intolerant. Between the two of them, food gets really restrictive around here. If you have a gluten allergy or just choose to eat gluten-free for health reasons, then you know that finding gluten free products that taste good can be a challenge.

At some point I will share a few recipes that we’ve adapted to be gluten free over the years, but I thought I might share a handful of gluten free items you can buy at the store that actually taste really good.

First up, is the gluten free cauliflower pizza from Aldi. It’s priced around $6.99 at our local store, and it goes out of stock quickly. When it’s in stock, we usually buy several and put the extras in our freezer. (It’s a refrigerated pizza. You’ll find it in the refrigerated section of the store.) We like this pizza because it tastes like a normal thin crust pizza. Don’t be fooled by the smell when it’s cooking. Yes, it smells like cauliflower while it’s in the oven. But trust me, it does not taste like it at all. Jackson is probably our pickiest eater, and he says it tastes like normal pizza. He eats it, too!

Next, is my personal favorite. I am not gluten free, (I love BREAD!) but I buy these Absolutely Gluten Free flatbread crackers for myself. I could eat the whole box. In one sitting. I. love. them. Especially the “everything” flavor. We buy them at our local Publix grocery store.

The Good Thins crackers are Ken’s favorite crackers. He eats them with everything from hummus to guacamole. I am not positive that all of the flavors in this line are gluten free, but I know that several are, including the corn flavor that Ken likes.

We really like the Nature’s Path Dark Chocolate Chip gluten free waffles. They come in a couple of flavors. Since Ken doesn’t eat bread, and we haven’t found a gluten free bread that we like, he will use the plain waffles to make a peanut butter sandwich. We buy these at Publix.

One of Ken’s favorite gluten free products is the Krusteaz gluten free brownie mix. Ken is a brownie connoisseur. He is not a dessert person, but brownies are his thing! Follow the directions on the box, and these will turn out just like regular brownies. A lot of gluten free dessert alternatives use nut flour, which we can’t have in the house due to Samantha’s life-threatening allergies. So these brownies are a good dessert alternative for Ken. We buy this at Publix, but it can probably be found in most stores.

The last gluten free item that I’m going to mention today are the KIND protein bars. They are not cheap, but Ken really enjoys them. We usually go through 2 boxes a week. Sometimes grabbing something filling on the go when you’re gluten-free can be difficult. This is his go-to, grab and go item. These can be found in most stores.

All of these items were gluten free at the time I am publishing this post. If you have any gluten allergies or Celiac disease, I definitely recommend double checking the labels.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad – 4 Ways

Last summer our daughter, Samantha, and I spent 9 nice travelling throughout Greece. We fell in love with the food while we were there. Both my husband and daughter have food allergies (each to different things), and it’s been very easy to find Mediterranean recipes that they can both eat.

When I made our Mediterranean Chickpea Salad for the first time, it was a big hit. It quickly became a weekly staple, and over time we modified it a few ways. It starts with a basic recipe that can be changed depending on your preferences.

My favorite thing about this Mediterranean Chickpea Salad is that it holds up incredibly well in the refrigerator. It is great to bring to a potluck or picnic.

The basic recipe starts with:

  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 English cucumber, chopped.
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped. (Sometimes I use 2)
  • 1 medium onion, small dice. (I use yellow, but red onion would be great, too!)
  • 4 oz. crumbled Feta cheese (I use reduced fat. Add more or less to taste)
  • 3 – 4 oz. chopped green olives
  • 3 – 4 oz. chopped Greek kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup of Ken’s Greek Simply Vinaigrette (I like the fresh taste of Ken’s, and it’s gluten free.)
  • Optional add-ins: chopped tender artichoke hearts or chopped canned beets

This basic recipe is very forgiving. You can add or leave out items depending on your tastes and what you have available in your pantry. Once you have the basic recipe prepared, here are 4 ways that we use it at our house:

1. As a weekly food prepped item

I include this as one of the recipes that I food prep for the week. We can eat it for lunch or dinner. It takes very little time to prepare it on Sunday, and then it’s ready whenever we need it. I store it in a airtight container, and it lasts for several days. If you are planning to use it throughout the week, I do not recommend adding the optional beets.

2. Add Quinoa

If you are looking to add even more protein, quinoa is a great add-in. I don’t recommend adding the quinoa in until you are ready to eat it. If you are food prepping, you can always prepare the quinoa ahead of time, but store it in a separate container.

3. Add Tuna

If you want to make this a more substantial meal instead of a side item, you can add tuna. I only use solid white albacore tuna in water. Make sure you drain the tuna completely of any water. If you are using tuna, you may want to add a little more dressing so that it doesn’t taste dry. I don’t add tuna unless I’m going to eat it right away.

4. Add Grilled Chicken

Ken loves chicken. It’s kind of a joke with everyone who knows him because he loves chicken more than the average person. He’s that guy who goes to a steak house and orders chicken. So naturally, we often add grilled chicken to this. I think the chicken holds up pretty well in the refrigerator. I sometimes will add it if I know that we’re going to be eating it within a couple of days. If you are into food prepping and saving time, you could even add a rotisserie chicken.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A healthy, versatile, Mediterranean-inspired salad perfect for a quick summer dinner.


Credit: BelleAntiquarian.com

Ingredients

  • 2 cans (16 oz) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 English cucumber, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, small diced
  • 4 oz. Feta cheese
  • 3 oz. green olives, chopped
  • 3 oz. Greek kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of Ken’s Greek Simply Vinaigrette
  • Optional Add-Ins: tender artichoke hearts, chopped or canned beets, chopped

Directions

  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Add them to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Chop the cucumber, bell pepper, onion, green and kalamata olives. Add to the mixing bowl.
  3. Add the feta cheese and Greek dressing.
  4. Mix all ingredients well.
  5. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

3 Fast Weeknight Meals

Schools starts in Atlanta in less than 2 weeks, which means back to school for our high schooler and back to work for me. I work part-time as a substitute teacher, which is a blessing to me in many ways. (But that’s another blog post for later.) It also means sports practices and other extra-curricular activities all start back, too.

I really struggle to cook after coming home at the end of the day. Our day starts at 5:30 a.m., and most nights I can truly go straight to sleep the minute we walk in the door. When we get home the last thing I want to do is to cook dinner. And really, I can’t even think of what to cook.

If you’re like me, and you just need a quick, easy idea for what to make for dinner on hectic weeknights, here are 3 ideas for you. The key to all of these is having what you need waiting for you at home. Over the weekend, plan out your meals.

1.Costco Street Tacos plus Rice OR Tortilla Chips

Costco sells a Street Taco Kit. It includes grilled chicken, slaw, shredded cheese, corn tortillas, limes, a cilantro lime crema, and salsa. It is priced by the pound. Most of the kits are around $15. It’s enough to feed at least 4 people depending on the size of the kit that you buy. I recommend making rice ahead of time so that you can just warm it up. I usually make a week’s worth of white rice on Sunday, but we also like Zatarain’s spanish rice, which calls for a can of diced tomatoes. If you pair the taco kit with a bag of tortilla chips or pre-cooked rice, Dinner is ready in 5 minutes or less. If you have to cook the rice, dinner is ready in less than 20 minutes.

2. Aldi Cauliflower Cheese Pizza with a Salad Kit

Any frozen pizza will do, but we enjoy the gluten free cauliflower pizza from Aldi. Aldi sells a big selection of ready to bake pizzas. They are ready in 7-11 minutes, depending on the one you buy. Pair your pizza with a salad kit, and dinner is ready in about 10 minutes.

3. Filled Pasta with Steamed Broccoli and Bread

I select a refrigerated pasta that has some sort of meat in it, either chicken or sausage. My guys like to feel like they ate some meat in their meal. The refrigerated pasta cooks quickly, and the broccoli is cooked in the microwave for around 5 minutes. Your whole meal will be ready in about 10 minutes or less.

I hope these ideas help you when you’re tired after a long day at work.

Mediterranean Fish Packets

I’ve been on a Mediterranean food kick this summer. Honestly, I have to say I feel SO healthy and well. That’s what it’s all about, right? I found this fish recipe that I love, and I changed it up a bit to make it work for me. I am excited to share it with you. I have even made a batch of this fish when no one else was home, just so that I could have leftovers. And here’s a secret *whispers*, one day I ate it for lunch AND dinner. That’s how much I love it.

I like to use Mahi-Mahi for this recipe. Costco sells a bag of frozen Mahi that is individually vacuum sealed. Get it. You need 4 of the fillets for this recipe. You’ll need to unwrap each the day before, put them in a dish in the fridge, and let them thaw.

You’ll take the next ingredients and mix them together in a bowl:

  • 1 can (15 oz) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) petite diced tomatoes, drained well. *I recommend Publix brand. They taste fresh and not like tomato soup.
  • 1 zucchini, chopped. *I like zucchini, so I add more.
  • 1 medium onion, chopped. I prefer less. Adjust to your taste.
  • 1 garlic clove, minced.
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 tsp pepper, divided (I like more).
  • 3/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 4 Mahi-Mahi fillets (6-8 oz each)
  • 1 lemon, cut into 8 thin slices.
  • Optional add-ins: 2 tbs. capers OR small, tender artichoke hearts OR mushrooms OR green olives

Take a piece of aluminum foil 12″ by 18″ or so. Spray it lightly with cooking spray. Rinse and pat dry the fish. Place it on the foil. Sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture on top. Place 2 lemon slices on top. Fold the foil and crimp the edges so that nothing will leak out.

Now, you can either cook this on the grill or in the oven. You want to cook it at 400* for 15-20 minutes. The fish is done with it flakes easily with a fork and the vegetables are tender.

I served this with fresh watermelon and cantaloupe. I also have a cocktail that pairs perfectly with this. I’ll be sharing that soon! Finally, for dessert, lime sherbet and lemon cookies. This whole meal is refreshing and satisfying. I’ll put a printable below in case you want to try it.

Mediterranean Fish Packets

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A fresh, light, Mediterranean-inspired fish recipe perfect for a quick summer dinner.

Credit: BelleAntiquarian.com

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 oz) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 4 Mahi-Mahi fillets
  • 1 lemon, cut into 8 thin slices
  • Optional Add-Ins: 2 Tbs. of capers OR small, artichoke hearts OR mushrooms OR chopped green olives

Directions

  1. Preheat grill or oven to 400*. In a bowl, combine beans, tomatoes, zucchini, onion, garlic, wine, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper. If you are adding optional add-ins, mix them in at this time, too.
  2. Rinse fish and pat dry. Lightly spray a 12×18 inch piece of foil. Place the fillet on top of the foil; season with remaining salt and pepper. Spoon bean mixture over fish; top with lemon slices. Fold foil around fish and crimp edges to seal. (Repeat for each fillet.) Transfer packets to grill or baking sheet in oven.
  3. Bake until fish just begins to flake easily with a fork and vegetables are tender, 15-20 minutes.

Southern Hummingbird Cake with Tupelo Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

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Do you have a favorite cake? Funny enough, I associate a specific cake with each of my siblings. My sister, Tara, is without a doubt “Pineapple Upside Down Cake.” It’s one of her faves and I enjoy making them for her when I can. My twin bro, Ty, is Coconut Cake. We grew up with a sweet little Southern neighbor named AnnieBelle, who adored Ty so much that she made him a Coconut Cake all for himself. I’m not sure if he likes it as an adult, but there’s nothing he can do to change my mind that Coconut Cake = Ty. And my biggest bro, Stephen, is Baked Alaska. It’s a long time running joke that he would, of course, request one of the most difficult desserts to make from his wife on his birthday. Poor Dawna.

So what cake am I? I don’t know…I’ll have to ask them what they think. Samantha thinks I am “Carrot Cake.” And I do love it. But for my birthday I decided to make a Southern cake staple, the Hummingbird Cake. The density and icing is totally something you would like if you are a carrot cake lover.

I’m making a few changes. First of all, no nuts for us – Both because of food of allergies and because I don’t like a crunchy cake. Secondly, I am using Tupelo honey in both the cake and the icing. My sister gifted me with a jar of my favorite Tupelo honey from the Savannah Bee Company.* Tupelo honey has a buttery flavor and it’s going to pair nicely with the bananas, pineapple, and coconut in my recipe. (Recipe at the bottom.) *This isn’t a paid advertisement. I just really like their honey.

To get started, mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl whisk the eggs and oil. I whisked the honey in at this point, too. But next time I’m going to add it at the same time as the bananas.

Time to add the bananas, pineapple, and coconut.

So rich with the yummy Tupelo honey cream cheese icing…Disclaimer: I am NOT a cake decorator. Not pretty, but oh so good!

Southern Hummingbird Cake

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

A traditional southern cake recipe.


Credit: BelleAntiquarian.com

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups of sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups very ripe chopped bananas
  • 8 oz canned crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • (optional) 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • softened butter and flour for greasing pans

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350*
  2. Grease and flour two 9-inch baking pans
  3. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, sugar
  4. Beat eggs and oil in a smaller bowl; add to flour and stir with a spatula.
  5. Stir in bananas, un-drained pineapple, coconut, and honey. (And nuts if you are using them.) Mix well.
  6. Pour batter into pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cakes are done when a tester comes out clean.
  7. Allow cakes to cool in pans for 10 minutes and then cool completely on wire racks.
  8. Ice with honey cream cheese icing and top with toasted coconut and/or nuts.
  9. To toast coconut or pecans spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 350*.
Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 2 tbs. room temperature butter
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3-4 cups of powered sugar
In an electric mixer beat the cream cheese, butter, honey, and vanilla until it is smooth with no clumps. While the mixer is on a slow speed, gradually add the powdered sugar until you get the consistency that you like. The more powdered sugar you add the thicker the icing will be.


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Easter Egg Salad

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What do you do with all of the dyed eggs when Easter is over? We love deviled eggs, but don’t forget about yummy egg salad! Here’s my personal recipe below. Try using different kinds of bread, too. You can get variations of flavor with rye, white, or croissants. I personally love egg salad on rye bread.

Ingredients

  • 10 hard boiled eggs
  • 1/2 cup of Kraft Miracle Whip (Mayo is BIG in the South, and if you want to use mayo, you can. But the Miracle Whip adds a pleasant tang, so I use it in my egg salad.)
  • 3/4 tbsp. of dry mustard
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Get Cooking!
  • To cook the eggs place them in a cold, large saucepan. Cover with one inch (or a finger tip) of cold water. Once the water starts to boil, reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Remove and place in an ice bath until completely cooled. 
  • Peel cooked eggs and rinse with water to remove all bits of shell. “Surprise” shell is very unpleasant!
  • Cut eggs in half; Separate the yolks from the whites.
  • Chop the whites; Smash the yolks with a fork; Combine in a large bowl.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. If you prefer more Miracle Whip, salt, or pepper–add to taste. 
  • Chill before serving.
Use this method to boil all of your eggs to avoid those weird green yolks. Eggs are one of those starchy foods, like pasta, that continue to cook even after you turn off the heat. The ice bath stops the cooking. No rubber eggs, please!
Enjoy!

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Square Foot Garden Plans for 4 x 4 Beds

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Today is the first day of Spring, so it’s fitting that I post about my garden plans! I made these plans for myself, but I thought that I’d share them with you.

Just to be clear, I am not a master gardener. I am average in my experience, but above average in my passion for growing things. What I lack in experience I make up for in random knowledge of gardening that I’ve picked up over the years.

I am so thankful to be living in that Age of Information. Several years ago when I was planting my first garden I checked out dozens of books from the library and did countless hours of research on the internet. Anything you want to know, it’s out there! You just simply have to ask Google!

Our backyard is on the south side of our house, which is perfect for full-sun loving plants. I have set up our raised bed garden boxes to orient along with the east-west axis that the  sun travels in. I purchased our raised bed garden boxes as kits from Home Depot. While it may be slightly more money than making the boxes on your own, there are several reasons why I chose to go with a kit. #1 I could do it myself. I’m a small person and working alone I needed to be able to handle the materials and build the boxes. #2 No tools required! While we own all of the tools needed to cut wood, I am not comfortable using them without help. #3 My step-dad was recently building some garden boxes for my mom and had an accident resulting in a hospital visit and loss of fingers. #4 These come with untreated cedar. Treated cedar will poison your food and I didn’t want to hassle with finding untreated wood. I know these garden box kits are still available because I recently had to purchase another one to replace broken boards from a passionate soccer player we have in the house.

Knowing which direction the sun moves across your garden is very important.

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Knowing where North and South are will help you decide what to plant in each garden box. This is very important because you will want to make sure that the taller plants are on the North and West sides of the garden, otherwise they will shade your other plants and block the sun that they need. In my case, I need to make sure the taller plants are on the left and back sides.

Below are the details of the 4 garden boxes that I am planting in this area. You may wonder why I chose the plants I did or did not use. First and above all else, you’ll learn quickly to only plant what you will eat. Also, there are things that I love, like carrots, but after 4 years of trying with no luck to grow them I am giving up on them. Maybe a neighbor will trade some with me.

The 3 Sisters method using cantaloupe instead of squash.
C = Corn, B = Beans


//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.jsIn the back left corner I am using the Three Sisters method. This is a Native American technique of growing food. Traditionally the 3 Sisters are corn, beans, and squash. The corn gives the beans something to climb on. The beans feed the soil nitrogen that the corn and squash use. The squash with its large leaves shades the soil, keeping it cool and moist. I love squash, but my family hates it. So I am not opting for summer, zucchini, or pumpkin. Instead I am using another relative of the squash family, the cantaloupe! Since I am working in a 4 x 4 garden box, I am using a dwarf variety. But honestly, any variety would work. In the Three Sisters method, plant the corn first. When it is 6 inches high, plant the beans and cantaloupe (squash). I am also including Marigold and Nasturtium because they are companions for them, deterring pests. I’m using a dwarf variety of Nasturtium to save space. Did you know you can eat the flowers and leaves of the Nasturtium? Hmmm…

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In the back right corner I am using the 3 Sisters method again, but with a dwarf variety of watermelon. We want a full size variety also, so I’m going to find another spot in the yard for that. I have enough wood for one more square foot garden box, I just need to decide where to put it.

Tomato Garden Plan for a 4 x 4 Raised bed

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In the front left corner, or southwest corner, I am planting a square foot garden box for tomatoes. Mainly what I want to note on this one is the placement of the taller plant varieties so that they don’t shade the shorter varieties. Also, I’ll be planting companions basil and marigold to deter pests. I’ve had issues with Hornworm in the past. I know they aren’t completely avoidable, but I detest them, and I’m hoping the basil and marigold will cut down on them. When I prepared my boxes (another post maybe), I did search for any larvae. The box I’m using for the tomatoes is a new addition this year. I’m hoping that will also help. Did I mention that I hate loathe Hornworms? I’m going to plant several different varieties with different color. We eat a lot of homemade salsa in the summer, and it’s beautiful to see the different colors in it.

Cucumber & Pepper Garden Plan for a 4 x 4 Raised Bed

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My final garden box in this area is for cucumbers and peppers. I always grow my cucumbers vertically. The easiest way to do this is to put a round tomato cage over the mound. As the cucumber vines grow, train them onto the cage. You have to do this; they won’t do it on their own. My daughter and I love to find the “curly q’s” (unofficial term) at the end of the vines and wrap them onto the cage. You can also use twist ties from bread to keep the vines on the cages. I do this for two reasons. #1 It saves space in a small square foot garden box. #2 It keeps the vines off of the ground and away from pests.

Notice that the lettuce is intentionally planted to get shade. This is another reason you need to consider sun movement. Also notice that two weeks after the first cucumbers are planted there is a second planting. This is will just extend the time we can harvest cucumbers. For this planting I will possibly NOT grow them vertically. They can shade the ground and keep in moisture for the peppers.

The other plants are companions and will keep pests away. (Hopefully!)

I hope this helps you! Maybe this will be your first year gardening…you can do this! I’m happy to answer any questions you may have. I’m not an expert, but I don’t mind sharing what my experiences have been. Feel free to leave any questions in the comment section below.

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A Twist on a Southern New Year’s Menu

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I am a girl who loves tradition. Love it. And apparently y’all do, too! My previous post on the Southern New Year’s menu, along with the explanation of why we eat what we do, has been extremely popular. (thanks for that!)

And while we will be keeping to tradition this year with my New Year’s Day dinner, I will also be changing it up a bit. I’m not going to repeat my previous post with all of the symbolism, so please go HERE if you need a refresher.

With this menu I’m still going to serve greens, black eyed peas, cornbread, and pork, just with a modern twist! So fun!

The black eyed peas will be used to make a hummus. (Mmm! I love hummus!) I found a recipe (here). Since I don’t like black eyed peas, I usually only choke down (how ladylike) a few of these. So cheers to trying something new this year.

Black Eyed Pea Hummus Recipe
As for the greens, I’m going to make some kale chips. The flavor of the kale chips will go great with the hummus, but won’t necessarily be sturdy enough to be a “vehicle” for it. These are super easy to make. You can even find bags of kale at the grocery store that come with seasoning packets. But basically all you need is some olive oil, salt, and pepper. For a recipe go (here). 
For ham, I’m going to make some ham and Swiss sliders with King’s Hawaiian rolls. Can.Not.Wait. To find the recipe, click (here). The only changes I’m going to make are that I’ll be using some shredded Swiss that is already in the fridge, and since there will only be 4 of us eating, I’ll cut the recipe in half or even 1/4. 
And finally, the cornbread is actually going to be our dessert. I found a cornbread pudding recipe that looks fairly simple, and I’m going to give it a go. You can find the recipe (here).
Cornbread Pudding
My predictions are that the kids will love the sliders and the pudding, but not so much the hummus or kale chips. They are pretty good eaters, but aren’t always great at trying stuff that I make myself. (Please don’t tell them that they often have kale in their smoothies and have absolutely no idea.)
I really hope that y’all have an awesome New Year. 
P.S. If you’d like to save this page for later, please click the Pinterest button at the top or bottom of the page. 

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Atlanta Fall Bucket List

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October, the Southerners’ reward for surviving summer. 

I’ve never met a Southerner that doesn’t like love October. Honestly! Would such a person be human? Despite having 31 days, and sometimes 5 glorious weekends, there never seems to be enough October to go around. Unless I schedule our October days to make the most of the cool things happening around town, we just don’t get around to doing it all. 
I’ve made a list of some neat things both ITP and OTP (that’s inside-the-perimeter and outside-the-perimeter for all of you newbies) that you may want to take advantage of this fall. Each name links back to a website; Just hover your mouse and click for more details! I’m happy to add to the list. Just leave a comment or shoot me an email.
Now, go forth and get your pumpkin on!

Inside the Perimeter

1. Boo at the Zoo (Zoo Atlanta) – Special activities Saturdays and Sundays, October 18, 19, 25, & 26. 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
2. Ogre-tober and Scarecrows in the Garden (Atlanta Botanical Gardens) – Lots of Ogre-tober happenings! Click to check out their calender of events. 
3. Capturing the Spirit of Oakland Halloween Tour (Oakland Cemetery) – The only time of year when tours are available after dark. Advance tickets must be purchased and sell out quickly!
4. Georgia A-Scary-Um (Georgia Aquarium) – Special extended hours. Kids 12 and under get in free if they dress in costume with each paying adult. Click the link for details!
5. Fernbank Boo-Seum Trick-or-Treat (Fernbank Museum of Natural History) – Lots of un-scary fun for the little monsters on the Saturday before Halloween. Special events throughout the museum from 10 – 2, all of which are included in admission or FREE for members.

Outside the Perimeter (and Beyond!)

5. Stone Mountain Park Pumpkin Festival – Tons to do here for the kids. Check out the website! Sometimes tickets go on flash-sale. 
6. Buford Corn Maze – More than just a corn maze! Hayrides, family activities, and a haunted forest. 
7. Jaemor Farms – Take a drive up to Alto, Georgia. The farm itself is gorgeous, and there are super fun things like apple canons, slides, corn maze, pick your own pumpkins, petting zoo, etc. Even a wonderful farm market with everything from fresh produce to fried pies. This is my fave!!! Click the link for more deets!
8. Gold Rush Days – Dahlonega, GA. Before the California gold rush, there was the Dahlonega gold rush! During peak times to see fall foliage, this should be a blast!
9. Oktoberfest – Helen, GA. The town of Helen is a re-creation of an alpine village, and this year marks their 44th annual Oktoberfest. 
10. Georgia Apple Festival – Ellijay, GA. It’s 43rd year as the Georgia Apple Festival, the town of Ellijay puts out quite the welcome wagon. Fun for the whole family, minus Fido (no pets allowed).
11. Six Flags Fright Fest – Frights by night and thrills by day!
12. The Great Miller Lite Chili & BBQ Cookoff – Chili? Yes, please! Held at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, GA. 
This is is far from being complete of everything Atlanta has to offer this fall. Make sure you take the time to create some awesome, life-long memories!