Monday, September 15, 2014

She's a Brick....House

Sticks and stones... Well hand-hewn cedar beams and antique bricks more so.

Farmdale is coming along. Each day brings a new element to life. Slowly and surely it will come together and a home - my home - will be ready to move in! I cannot wait!

Though I have lived in Middle Georgia my entire life, I have always loved A. Hays Town's architecture and his perfect capturing of the Arcadian, Creole and Louisiana vernacular. Though Farmdale is not a bayou cottage, I did take some inspiration from those fantasist, soul-stirring homes with my bricks and beams - hopefully evoking some of that Louisiana/Hays Town essence. Thankfully, my fantastic architects poised my home to adapt to such a style.


Bricks and beams are from the earth and land. These elements can be awesome bridges to connect our homes to our land, thus keeping our homes grounded, in tune with place and apropos for their settings. I love the tints and textures of the antique bricks and how they were further blended with a new brick in my blend from my friends at Cherokee Brick in Macon - still keeping it local and Southern. But these bricks tell a story...

My bricks are molded from the clay and dirt of Middle Georgia - a constitution many of us can relate too. When we boast dirt on our hands, we boast a connection to our past. These bricks are reminders of the hands before mine that were stained and dirtied and even nourished by our native soil. These bricks have heard hymns and sermons, witnessed weddings and funerals, and now they will now be a part of dinner parties, holidays and fun times for family and friends. I believe Southerners are keen on knowing our people - knowing our people's roots and the soil they run and grow in is so special too.

The bricks above the foundation are going to be painted - 
I adore painted brick and had to have some at Farmdale!

Farmdale is sited in a glade within my family's wooded land. Lots and lots of oaks from live to red to water to laurel canopy the woodland terrain and large pines and cedars dot the wooded landscape - these are some of my favorite trees and a natural choice for my home.

Cedar beams (stamped with my initials mind you) will span my living room and heart pine beams from a cotton warehouse will don the ceiling in the kitchen. My floors are planed from the same heart pine beams - ancient lumber structuring a Southern agrarian mainstay in one life and giving me a floor and foundation for mine.


My back hallway - a narrow gallery - boasts the antique brick, a handsome hewned cedar beam and sturdy cedar columns. Their perfume is intoxicating - clean, woody, earthy and soulful. These sticks and stones - bricks and beams - are probably my favorite elements of the home's construction. Sure, I can't wait for fabrics and furnishings, but there's just something so everlasting and timeless and meaningful about the earth and land forming foundations for my home.

As any true Southern gent, I know my people and where they're from.  Furthermore, I know my bricks and heart pine - and where they're from too... true Southern fashion.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Summer Garden Pasta

Meteorologically speaking, fall has fallen. Maybe in parts well above the Mason-Dixon Line or high in the Appalachians, crisp mornings and whispers of Autumn proper are upon y'all. When I'm in Cashiers, I can feel it too, but whilst back in Perrydise, the equinoxes have not yielded one to another and summer still reigns supreme. 

Indian Summer is what this seasonal limbo is often referred to. And summer garden produce is still coming in too! With the plethora of produce, a couple of my favorite dishes make their way to the table this time of year. In Dinner on the Grounds, I have my Cashiers Farmers Market Pasta, and from A Time to Cook, my Summer Garden Pasta comes to life on the pages. 

I love this pasta. It's simple and delicious and full of flavor. It can be doused with cream and covered with cheese or served simply without the cheese and cream ... yet be so elegantly fresh and light. It's even better the next day reheated!

Plus, this is a pot and pan dish. Boil the pasta in a pot and sauté the veggies in a pan. Mix it all in the pan and serve! There'll be some chopping too but it's a fun meal. A meatless meal but you'll never miss it... Unless you just want a piece of salmon or some shrimp or sausage for good measure.

This dish is an all time fave of mine and my family. I hope it becomes one for you and yours! Enjoy this season of summer fading to fall and all the produce the season affords! Happy eatin' y'all! 

Summer Garden Pasta
Photography by Helen Norman

½ pound pasta, shape of your choice
2 shallots, peeled and minced
1 medium Vidalia or other sweet onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
½ pound tomatoes, chopped
1-2 small yellow squash, diced
1-2 small zucchinis, diced
freshly ground black pepper
dash of red pepper flakes, optional
4 ears of corn
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/3 cup roughly chopped basil leaves
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 cup or more heavy whipping cream
¾ cup grated Monterey Jack or Parmesan cheese
¾ cup panko breadcrumbs

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and then transfer pasta to a large baking dish sprayed with cooking oil.

In a large, deep skillet, cook shallots and onion in a pan with olive oil and butter over medium heat until they are caramelized and crispy. Add the chopped tomatoes, squash, and zucchini and stir together. Season to taste with salt and pepper; for a bit of heat, toss in a dash of red pepper flakes.

Remove corn from the cobs and add to the skillet; stir. Once the veggies have softened, add garlic and basil and stir gently (the pan is probably getting full). Pour in the vinegar and stir to release any caramelized bits stuck to the bottom of the pan and wake up the flavors. Now add a gentle pouring of heavy cream, amount depending on how creamy you want the sauce, and stir well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Once the cream begins to simmer, transfer the whole panful to the baking dish filled with cooked pasta. Gently mix the vegetables and pasta together. Distribute cheese over the top. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs are toasted, about 15 minutes.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

John Deere and Farmdale....Green!

Paint. Paint may send me to the looney bin. Well, not necessarily paint proper but the process of selecting a color. Selecting a color, mind you, when you have known your whole long life that you want a dark stained or painted house with blueish-green shutters and a silver/gray/galvanized roof. The latter is more so the culprit for near insanity.

So the roof is installed and it is WHITE!!!! Styrofoam white. Sandy white - like the Gulf. Cloud white.

Ok, technically my roof is not "white." It IS the color I selected and always dreamed about... yet...when installed, the galvanized silver/gray LOOKS white on my roof's pitch. It even glows as moonlight does through the magnolias and pines. Cue "Georgia on my Mind" and "Stars fell on Alabama" and most any other country song involving moonlight.

Moonlight... there's the name for my roof. Not sliver, not gray, not galvanized - moonlight. After throwing a fit to my poor aunt and sister as if I were an emotionally disturbed child, and swearing I was going to throw it onto our road for all of Perry to pick apart and run over, I decided to keep the roof and tweak my color scheme. Thus, this is really why paint almost sent me to the looney bin - retrofitting a new palette to a moonlight hued roof.

Eighteen paint samples later, I landed on a selection for the board and batten pine siding for Farmdale. You see, y'all, I don't just have the main body board and batten to contend with, I have foundation panels, second story clapboard siding and then the coordinating shutters, mullions, trim, corner boards and painted brick too. I had all that picked out and selected before the roof's lunar eclipse. Square one for the paint selection was were I found myself.

"If I must select my colors again, they better be pretty names." The poor gals at James Farmer Inc had to hear my color and roof rants for days. I was a beast. Unconsolable and irrational I was... All because the roof wasn't exactly what I had imagined. From Sherwin Dubs to Ben Moore to Valspar's all stars, I zebra striped Farmdale with eighteen samples of paint. From green to gray, white to cream, tan to toupe, brown to darker brown, I employed my sister Meredith and my Aunt Kathy and we painted all the samples. And then the names -and stars I guess too - started to line up for ol' Farmdale... Linen White, Gentle Lamb, Gina's Eyes and Afternoon Nap, Mountain Hideaway...Colors with delightful names all started rising to the top ranks and file! Even with the roof's lunar loveliness!

Then, as life would have it, my final two siding selections came down to Crater and Dragon's Breath... Come on!! Really? Not the prettiest names but the colors seemed right. So, Farmdale shall end up being a custom color somewhere between the oddly named aforementioned colors. Farmdale Green I shall call it. It's a green/brown/gray/gold/mossy/moodycolor that I'm liking a lot.

I firmly believe that every person is entitled to one legitimate NBD in their life (nervous breakdown for those whose family doesn't have acronyms for everything like mine). Any additional NBDs are just selfish and annoying. I daily must decide if today is the day I shall have mine. Will I have it at Ace Hardware while unable to find the right tint of furniture wax? On a ladder at a client's house while hanging art? Or maybe at Chickfila on one of my multiple daily pilgrimages for tea? "No James... Not here not now." I tell myself.  "Save your NBD for somewhere else and another time... Ok buddy?"

What usually sobers my mind from a quandary such as this is a dose of reality. I live in a southerly world of pretty places and people. Many people do not. The roof will protect me from the rain which is more than many folks have. So, I am thankful for my roof. I am thrilled with my custom color selections and I am most of all, hopefully a little more compassionate towards bewildered people with terribly awkward facial expressions in the paint aisle.

I want to approach them, tell them it'll be alright and that we should all be glad to have a roof and walls to paint.

From Farmdale to your homes, I hope  all is well.

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Toast to a fine Coody Couple

In the events business, I have the privilege of witnessing many celebrations - and weddings especially - from an interesting, firsthand viewpoint.

Often I am honored to present the bride her bouquet wrapped in a grandmother's lace and secured with an heirloom cameo or brooch evoking emotions of all sorts. Often too I get to pin a boutonnière on a groom because his hands are a little shaky and then have what may be the only quiet, still moment of the day with a guy that's often my friend or marrying a friend of mine.

I get to don the cake with flowers, light candles upon candles upon candles, sneak peak at the bride in her dress and veil before the crowd, bring a diet coke to the mother of the bride and a myriad of other little things that just make the day special. Little things that make the day memorable too. These little things are even more special and memorable when I know the bride and groom - cherish them more so.

Growing up in Hawkinsville, I've known LL's family for years, and her home place is a stone's throw from my Granddaddy's church. Laura Lyn is my office manager. She's the steady hand guiding the SS JFI through the wild waters of being a small business - a small, multifaceted business for that matter! LL is probably the one of the most brilliant and poised and eloquent and gracious gals I've ever met... And then hiring her was a brilliant decision on my part! Really. Brilliant move ol' Jimmy!

The brilliance of me hiring Laura Lyn is only outshone by the brilliance of Brince marrying her. Brince is the brother of my best friend Maggie Griffin and has been a great buddy of mine since we were children growing up in Hawkinsville. We grew up in what I feel is a magical place of Georgia farmland and Ocmulgee River bottom - all intertwined with memories of the shockingly cold Mock Springs, late night monopoly games and enough AB's BBQ to feed an army. Such a childhood could not have been shared with a finer friend.

Now we're all "grown up." Yes we still have fun times at the river and eat BBQ, but being grownups now means Brince is my insurance agent and the former Miss UGA and Miss Warner Robins and marvelously intelligent college gal runs my business rather than the pageant circuit. We're buying and building houses and celebrating one year anniversaries - Brince and Laura Lyn's first year of marriage proper and my first anniversary of their wedding date... For it was memorable, special and full of so much fun and meaning for me for two such amazing people in my life to be joined.

As Mr. and Mrs. Harris Brinson Coody celebrate their first anniversary, I want to toast this amazing couple and share some of the images from their special day. Selfishly, it was awesomely special for me to be a part of that day. I could elaborate on the details of the food, flowers, decor and the dress, but this is honestly a case where pictures are worth the thousand words I would use.

Laura Lyn and Brince's rehearsal dinner and wedding reception further mean so much to me, for they agreed to let me include them in Dinner on the Grounds. Special day, special memories and even special weather that day for two incredibly special folks in my life. Happy anniversary y'all! The honor of being a part of your story and wedding is all mine.

Photography: VUE Photography
Venue: Twin Oaks

...don't forget to check out Laura Lyn's blog, Miss New Coody!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Whole Wheat Blackberry Muffins with Citrus

Summer fruits and veggies start coming in this mid to late summertime heat. Often, it is not just a lil’ bit of ‘maters or peaches or squash – it’s a bushel and a peck! Blackberries for us are one of those crops. We have stands of wild blackberries down the dirt roads and edges of the woods on our property that fill our baskets with berries and, in turn, give us all sorts of blackberry delights!

From cobblers and crisps to jams and salads, we have found many an excuse to devour blackberries. Aunt Kathy, with her astute culinary prowess, makes these blackberry muffins that we all clamor and beg for during berry season. The whole wheat flour is heartier and holds up better, since the muffins are laden with berries. A citrus sauce makes for the perfect glaze, and I have found that I love citrus with blackberry any ol’ time!

Sprinkle a scant amount of a course sugar atop the muffins after glazing with the citrus sauce and see if you have any leftover for tomorrows breakfast! Hope y’all enjoy these as much as we do!

Whole Wheat Blackberry Muffins with Citrus
Recipe from A Time to Cook – Dishes from Southern Sideboard
Photography by Helen Norman

1 stick butter
3⁄4 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3⁄4 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1 3⁄4 cup blackberries, sweetened if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place paper liners in muffin tins.Melt butter. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and make a well. Pour buttermilk, eggs and butter in the well and mix with dry ingredients until moistened. Then fold in blackberries. Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until lightly golden.

Citrus Sauce
1 (12-16 ounce) jar marmalade
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed* orange juice
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed* Meyer lemon juice
1⁄2 teaspoon zest from orange and Meyer lemon

Warm the ingredients together and pour over muffins as a glaze while muffins are still warm.

*Freshly squeezed juice is key. Peels of the rinds also make lovely garnishes
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