A Quick Tour of Historic Homes in Madison, Georgia

Madison, Georgia is a convenient meeting spot for when we want to meet our son, Jackson, for dinner or drop something off without driving all the way to his little college town. Madison is a tiny little city east of Atlanta, easily accessible by I-20 or GA HWY 441. It was spared the wrath of Sherman on his march to Savannah. (Did he really have to burn EVERYTHING?) And it is a stunning showcase of many styles of homes, not just the typical Greek Revival architecture that you’d expect to find in the deep south.

After meeting up with Jackson in Madison this weekend I decided to park and take a stroll to get some pictures to share. The weather was absolutely perfect, and to top it off, the azaleas were in high bloom. Serendipitous! Enjoy my photos below, and be sure to check out the 20th annual Madison Antiques Show & Sale May 20-22, 2021.

The Presbyterian Church
Multiple pictures of this one because I loved it!

Southern Traditions (that Y’all Should Know About)

Seven years ago I wrote a blog post about 10 southern traditions that everyone should know about. Since then I have heard a few people say how some of those traditions are ridiculous. But our traditions are what bind us as a southern culture. They unite us and give us a common link to each other. I think the world could use a little more of that – looking for what we have in common, instead of how we’re different.

I wanted to repost those southern traditions and share them again. Even if you’re not southern, these are traditions anyone can enjoy and participate in.

Southern Wedding Traditions

Cake pulls have been a tradition for southern weddings that date back as far as Victorian times. A tiny charm with a ribbon attached is placed into a cake and the bridesmaids pull the ribbon and receive their fortune.  Southern wedding tradition also says that if a bride and groom go to the site of their wedding exactly one month before the wedding day and bury a bottle of bourbon, then it will not rain on their wedding day. The bottle should be completely full and buried upside down, or so tradition says. To learn more about cake pulls and their meaning, visit Southern Living.

Photo via Southern Living

Bottle Trees

Southern gardens traditionally have a “bottle tree.” Bottle trees were believed to attract evil spirits at dusk. The spirits were supposedly trapped in the bottles, and when the sun rose and shone on the bottles, the spirits were destroyed. Tradition says that as the wind blew across the bottles you could hear the spirits moaning. 


Churches in the south aren’t just worship centers. They are a hub for social gatherings and community outreach. You can find churches throughout the Bible belt hosting potluck dinners, selling smoked pork butts as fundraisers, and stocking food pantry shelves to help those in need. The easiest way to see what southern holidays are like, is to find a southern church. Easter, Trunk-or-Treats, and Christmas pageants are all big events. Whether you join the Methodist, Baptist, or Presbyterian church in town, finding a “church home” will fill your social calendar.


Football in the South is not taken lightly. Friday Night Lights in the local high school stadium will bring out the whole town. Even those who do not have a high school student take supporting the local team seriously. Local businesses take pride in the hometown high school football teams, too.

If you think high school football is big in the South, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve met a SEC college football fan. Getting married? You better not schedule that on a game day! College football is almost a religion unto itself. Your neighbor might be a perfectly nice person, but if they cheer for the wrong team, you’ll always deep-down hold that against them. (“She’s nice and all, but she likes Alabama.”)

Tailgating before the big games is almost as big of a deal as the game. Serious tailgaters don’t just serve the basic burgers and dogs. It can get fancy and decadent. Ladies find ways to create the perfect outfits using their school colors. Just because it’s a football game doesn’t mean that pearls can’t go with it! Some men wear polos, button-ups, and even bow ties with khakis on game day.

photo via Pinterest


In the south we will find any excuse to get together, especially for food. A low country boil is an event in itself. Sometimes called Frogmore Stew, a low country boil cooks corn on the cob, sausage, potatoes, and some type of shellfish, whether it’s shrimp or crayfish, in a big pot. Once it’s cooked, it is dumped out onto tables covered in newspapers.

Only the best barbecue comes from the south. We like to cook any kind of meat low and slow with smoke. Add a side of Brunswick Stew, and your BBQ meal is complete. We even eat a meal for good luck on New Year’s Day. It doesn’t matter who your mama is, what neighborhood you’re from, or what you look like, in the south collard greens, cornbread, fried chicken, and mac and cheese are traditional staples.


Southerners don’t use manners “just for show”. We use manners because it shows respect to others. We joke that saying “bless your heart” is really a nice way of saying anything from “that poor girl” to “you fool”. But the point is, even if we don’t like someone or we disagree with them, we can be respectful and simply say, “bless your heart” before moving on. We teach our kids to saying ma’am and sir to show respect to anyone older than us, because we realize that with age comes wisdom. We hold the door open for the person behind us, because why not give your fellow man or woman a hand? Manners are not demeaning; they show human compassion.

In the South, some children and young adults attend cotillion, which is etiquette training that teaches manners, basic dancing skills, and ways to be a conscientious and courteous member of society.

Haint Blue Porch Ceilings

Haint Blue porch ceilings are a long-standing tradition in the south. Haint is the combination of the words Haunted and Saint. In other words, a Haint is a ghost or an evil spirit. Haint Blue has been said to repel evil spirits from entering a home. Some people also believed that it kept the bugs away, which can be bothersome on southern porches on summer evenings.

Haint Blue is a hue that can vary depending on who you’re asking. It can also vary regionally. For our ceiling we selected one of the most popular Haint Blue colors, Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue, HC-144. To see more about our Haint Blue porch ceiling, click HERE.

To summarize, in the South we are proud of our culture, history, and traditions. We love people, food, and football. To read more about Southern Traditions, here are a few other posts that might interest you:

Haint Blue Porch Ceiling

Southern Easter Traditions

The Southern Easter Menu

The Southern Thanksgiving Menu

The Southern New Year’s Day Menu

Southern Hummingbird Cake with Tupelo Honey Creamcheese frosting

Dressing with Southern Class and a Little Bit of Sass

10 Southern Traditions that Y’all Should Know About (original post)

Haint Blue Porch Ceiling

We recently painted our porch ceiling Haint Blue. Haint Blue porch ceilings are a long-standing tradition in the south. Haint is the combination of the words Haunted and Saint. In other words, a Haint is a ghost or an evil spirit. Haint Blue has been said to repel evil spirits from entering a home. Some people also believed that it kept the bugs away, which can be bothersome on southern porches on summer evenings.

Haint Blue is a hue that can vary depending on who you’re asking. It can also vary regionally. For our ceiling we selected one of the most popular Haint Blue colors, Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue, HC-144. Southern Living agrees that Palladian Blue is one of the best choices for a Haint Blue ceiling.

Popular Porch Ceiling Colors from Benjamin Moore’s website.

Palladian Blue is a blueish-green. It looks different shades on our porch throughout the day. A lot of the accents on our house trim are beige, so a baby blue color like Clear Skies might’ve looked garish. A color like Clear Skies would also look better on a porch ceiling in a coastal region of the South.

This porch ceiling from Bless’Er House was an inspiration point when I was picking out a color.

We recently refreshed our whole porch, but painting the ceiling was my favorite part.

To learn more on other Southern Traditions you should know about, you can read my post HERE.

Budget Friendly Porch Makeover

If you are refreshing or redecorating any outside space, the perfect time to do so is after the 4th of July. As soon as Independence Day is over, retailers shift gears into back-to-school, fall, and Halloween. Everything is deeply discounted at stores and online. Everything that I added to our porch this year was on clearance.

Our local Homegoods has a corner of the store with miscellaneous clearance items. I found these outdoor throw pillows that ended up being $4.50 each. The navy seat cushions were $10 each. And the rug was a great deal, too. To compare, a nationwide big box store also had their outdoor cushions on clearance, but their “clearance” price was $35 for one seat cushion.

Lowe’s Home Improvement had an incredible selection of outdoor items on clearance. Most of their throw pillows ranged from $4-$6. Since I already purchased some, I skipped on those. But I did pick up a white garden stool/side table from Lowe’s. They also had plants on clearance. I picked up some 8 packs of Caladiums for $3 each. That’s like $0.38 each! It doesn’t cool off in our area until November, so these still have several months until they don’t look good anymore.

Hosta, Creeping Jenny, Polka Dot Plant, and Caladium

Other places where I found outdoor clearance items were World Market and Hobby Lobby. The wreath on the front door was originally $70 at Hobby Lobby, and I picked it up for $17.50.

The one change that I made to the front porch that wasn’t a clearance item was to paint the ceiling Haint Blue. Painting porch ceilings Haint Blue is a southern tradition. I’ll be blogging more about that soon, but I have to say that I abosolutely love it. If I was only able to make one change, I’d pick painting the ceiling.

From Homegoods: White Lantern, Pillows, Cushions, rug.

From Lowe’s: Plants, white garden stool.

From World Market: Small blue lantern.

From Hobby Lobby: Wreath.

Everything else we already owned.

Plants in front of our porch create privacy from the street.

Southern Hummingbird Cake with Tupelo Honey Cream Cheese Frosting


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


  • 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


  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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A Twist on a Southern New Year’s Menu

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. 


Atlanta Fall Bucket List


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!

Barn Wood China Cabinet: Before & After

I like refinishing hutches. I have a whole folder on our hard drive dedicated to before and after pictures of hutches that we’ve done. They are straight forward, and they sell really well for us. (BONUS!)

So I don’t know why it is that we hate china cabinets. But both Ken and I do. Somehow those simple doors on the front that officially make it a “china cabinet” also turn it into a project from hell. I also have a folder dedicated to before & after pictures of china cabinets. I hope I don’t ever have to add another picture to it. I don’t want to say, “never” but, I never want to refinish another china cabinet again. Unless it’s free. And unless I’m doing it for myself.

Ugly, ugly!

Here’s the before of the latest china cabinet that we’ve redone. It was next to free because the glass shelves on the inside were gone. Buying it we knew we’d have to invest in the expense of replacing them, but we know a guy. 😉 Not really. We know Ace Hardware. They sell and cut glass.

Now, this is the point that I also have to point out the missing pane of glass on the right. I wish I could blame that on the kids. But that was an adult in the house. And not me.

The other pane came out and some chicken wire went in. Because chicken wire definitely goes with what we had planned for this.

Yesterday I posted about how we came upon the jackpot of barn wood. Check out that post (here). Before we even started on this china cabinet we knew that we wanted to add some of the barn wood to it and change the look completely. This is where I get on my soap box and proclaim, “Please do not throw out furniture. Find a way to reuse it. Invest in quality furniture to begin with and you will never need to replace it!”

Ahem, without further ado, the AFTER:

This took over a week to complete. Seriously, it did. With prepping, cutting wood, installing wood, drying wait time, painting, drying wait time, sanding, curing wait time, waxing, hardening wait time, installing chicken wire, and new glass shelves it was a FULL WORK WEEK. The wood is priceless. It cannot be replaced or replicated. This is a one of a kind, truly unique piece. And since I’m never making another one (never say never?), there is only one opportunity to get anything like it from us!

Now THAT’S a makeover! Completely different.

//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.jsHope you enjoy the before & after. If you’re local and you’re interested in purchasing this, please use the icons at the top to contact us. Facebook is the best way!

Update: This piece has sold and is no longer available,

Barn Wood: The wood that almost wasn’t.

The area we live in, a suburb of Atlanta, has changed a lot in the past 25 years. Like, a LOT. It’s not the same place it was when Ken and I grew up. There aren’t many open fields left. It’s mostly businesses and neighborhoods and concrete. And more people. And it wasn’t. Before.

Atlanta is known for having the native-born people far outnumbered by the transplants. But we’ve lived here our whole lives, and we know a lot of other people that have, too. So this story is for them. And us. But I have to start from the beginning:
Fort Daniel isn’t just the name of an elementary school in Gwinnett County, and Hog Mountain isn’t just the name of a road (or two). Fort Daniel was an actual military fort built in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries on Hog Mountain, which was the southern boundary of the Native American hunting grounds.  This area is approximately located on Scenic Highway and in between Old Peachtree Road and Gravel Springs Road. The fort was rebuilt in 1814, but there is some speculation as to whether it was completely rebuilt from the ground up, or rebuilt using the existing structures. For our purposes, it just matters that it’s old.
Recently a barn-type structure located near our home was being demolished. A sign invited anyone that wanted to take whatever wood they liked. And so, being us, we started the process of removing wood.  During our visits there to load up our truck, we talked with the landowner, Mr. Boyce, a few times. He was having the structure removed so that his two sons could build their homes there. Someone was supposed to come demolish the building and haul it away, but those plans didn’t work out. And, it turns out, this wasn’t just a barn. Mr. Boyce bought the property 25+ years ago, and he was told that at some point in time someone had moved one of the old barracks from Fort Daniel there, and it had been used as a storage barn ever since.
Ken carefully removing pieces of wood from the structure. At one point he was balancing
on a rotten tree stump to get the perfect pieces for me.
This wood that we got, is, at youngest, from the early nineteenth century. Each piece of wood is stunning. On the sides that were exposed to the elements you can see the faint, original green color, places where a “newer” (which may be decades old, as well) whitewash color shows. Mostly there is the much sought-after silver gray color. On the back, the sides that were not exposed, the wood is rich and brown. It is a color that you can only get with time, and a lot of it. This color is enough to move you me emotionally.
This is my favorite piece of wood that we got. Isn’t it beautiful?! I’m saving it for something special.
We’ve taken some of the wood that we collected that weekend and added it to a china cabinet that we’ve customized. The wood looks weathered and beautiful, but don’t mistake it as fragile and brittle. This wood is rock hard and strong. It has lasted a very, very long time. This wood is our history. It’s special. And it was almost trash.
Here’s the china cabinet! I was trying to avoid my reflection, so you have to see it from an angle. 😉
Ready to be filled with special things!
Ahhh! THIS WOOD is a dream!
This piece is currently available and can be seen by appointment. Use the icons at the top of the page to contact us. 
To learn more about Fort Daniel, Georgia, visit these websites:

Belle & Beau on the Dixie Highway 90 Mile Yardsale

Nothing says “family time” like packing up the kids and dog and heading out to spend the entire day yard sale hopping. Oh, who am I kidding? I forced them to go, all of them. But since I put in almost 5 hours sitting at the ball field for soccer tryouts this week, I figured they could spend 5 hours in the car while I worked had fun searching for inventory.

Diesel’s first time coming “picking” with us, and he did great!

My friend, Kimberly, told me about the Dixie Highway 90 Mile Yard Sale a while ago. But unfortunately for me, it always conflicted with other plans. I was on the fence about going right up until the time we pulled out of the driveway. It’s a really long drive for us to get there, and there is never a guarantee you’ll find anything good. In fact, I was worried we were going to drive all of that way and get rained out.

First things, first. In my world of yard sales, people set up at 8:00 and “early birds” show up at 7:45. With traffic, we ended up not getting to Adairsville (one of the cities on the 90 mile stretch) until 10:30, and people were just then starting to set up. Not sure what that was all about, but I’m glad we got a late start. I would’ve been all huh? and wuh? and “this is a bust.”

Our 9 year old played “photographer” today. And I love seeing the day through her eyes! Here are a few of her pictures. At the bottom you can see a picture of some of the things I ended up buying.

Sweet iron bed. The guy insisted it was a “twin” but I knew better. Smaller than a twin! He wanted $75


Loved this.


Some very cool bottles here. We must be on the right track!



We ended up buying all of the insulators here.


 Here is a small portion of what we ended up getting:

Insulators, camera and case, skates, dolls, milk glass tea sets – one for iced tea and one for hot tea. etc, etc

Best deal of the day: the insulators
Favorite find of the day (that I’m keeping!): jadeite sugar bowl with holly leaves on it. Everything else is for sale.
Should’ve skipped on: antique scale (not pictured)

We had fun and will definitely do it again!