Wednesday, May 30, 2012

(Re)Discover Chattanooga - The Lookouts

I was not expecting to spend Memorial Day weekend in Chattanooga.  My traditional plans are attending the Backstreets Memorial Day party in Clemson, SC.  But when my grandmother had a (small) stroke last week, my plans changed.  I have a good amount of family in Chattanooga, and we were able to spread things out so we could spend time with Grandmother in the hospital without being there all at once and overwhelming her. (She is home and doing very well except for some understandable nervousness)

So Sunday night I decided to make the most of my down time, and mark something off my "Chattanooga Summer To-Do List"....A Chattanooga Lookouts game!  It was HOT, but there was a bit of a breeze, good company, and cold beverages to go around.

I had a blast at the Lookouts game, and was was crazy impressed with our seats...$9 for lower box seats.  General admission is $5, and there are plenty of good seats there too.  You can also hang out in the Big River Beer Garden behind 3rd base, or the air conditioned lounge behind our seats off 1st base.  (There are family sections too if adult beverages are not your thing)

The between the innings entertainment was a hoot, and the game was competitive.  More than anything, I enjoyed the chance to relax in the sun. A baseball game in the 'new' ballpark downtown by the river was the perfect setting.

I'm a sucker for fireworks, and the Memorial Day celebration after the game did not disappoint.

 And because I'm a fan of my new phone, here's a video of some of the fireworks show.

The Lookouts game was exactly what I needed Sunday night, and I'm glad I crossed this one off my Summer To-Do list gives me more time to go back. : )

The Chattanooga Lookouts:
Schedule  AT&T Field Directions  | History

2012 Individual Game Tickets
Lower Box Seats: $9
Upper Box Seats: $6
General Admission:
Adult: $5
Senior (55+): $3
Kids (7-12): $3
Kids (6 & under): Free

Pro Tip:  The stadium is walking distance from the restaurants, bars, hotels, and the TN Aquarium.  Whether you wear comfy shoes or take the free trolly, take advantage of the fact that there's so much close by.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

wildflower Wednesday - a walk in my garden

This is my first Wildflower Wednesday post!  I don't think I'll be a contributor every week month, but I hope to share some of the wildflowers as they make appearances in my yard.  I took these pictures with my phone on Sunday, during a walk around my house.

If this is your first visit to my blog, I moved into my great grandmothers cottage house last November, so this is my first spring in my new house.  She passed away when I was 9, so I do not have many memories of her yard, and this year is a year of discovery for me.  Here is a little bit about why I'm loving being in this house, and a little bit about what I'm doing in the garden.

Possibly a thistle?
Spotted Wintergreen
Budding Black Eyed Susan in the front walkway
Fire Pink
Single Black Eyed Susan in the yard
Cute purple flower in with the vinca minor
 I hope you have enjoyed my instagram filtered wildflowers!  Thanks for stopping by :)

Edit 5/24/12:  Wildflower Wednesday is monthly, not weekly.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

go go gadget gardener

You have to love it when a productive weekend spills over into the next week. I'm working my way through a load of mushroom compost, and so far 1/2 the rock garden is has compost worked in, and I fertilized the day lilies & boxwoods.

Happy Day Lilies

Beginnings of my raised veggie bed
The big accomplishment this weekend was starting the raised bed for my veggies. It's about 16' x 4' x 6". The previous tenant had a raised bed here about 10" deep, but took it with her when she moved out. She did leave a third of the dirt, so I was able to work compost into it, and get a good 10 feet out of it. I'll section this much off for my tomatoes and peppers and plant squash in the remaining part of the bed.

Its so nice for my tomatoes to be out of pots and in the ground! I planted two Sweet 100 Cherry tomatoes, a German Johnson Gold, a Cherokee Purple, a Pink Brandywine, and what I hope is a Yellow Brandywine (note to self, label your seeds better). Most of these plants are a mix of farmers market plants and discount hardware store finds. Only one of my tomatoes from seed was in good enough shape to plant, and I will be THRILLED if it survives and bears fruit.

I also have managed to put some flowers in the ground in the past few days! This is kind of a big deal because I wanted to wait as long as possible so I could see what my growing conditions are, and also just to see what comes up....but who can resist pass along plants :)

I've added Black Eyed Susan's beside the Yuccas in the boxwood garden, and sown some Chiante Sunflower seeds between the boxwoods to add height and color.  One of the Black Eyed Susan's came from my mom and lived in a pot on my balcony last summer, and the other came from my grandmother.  The plan is to add some zinnias too, to make this a mini cutting garden.

I little color will go a long way here

In the rock garden I planted one lavender plant, and have sown some lavender seeds.  This is really just a test to see if I have enough sun to grow lavender...I'm not holding my breath, but I think it would look really pretty with the basil I planted 2 weeks ago in the hollow tree trunks. Last summer I figured out that if you put dry, whole, basil in a freezer bag, the next day you can crunch it up without ever having to chop basil.  My goal for this summer is to have one large bag in the freezer, and one small bag that I can pull out to use on what I'm sure will become a daily basis :)   I've also planted a flowering ground-cover and some volunteer impatiens in and amongst the rocks. A neat surprise in the rock garden are the wild geraniums.  It will be neat to see what they look like as they grow this summer.

I also planted some woodland poppies and money plants by my back door.  This area is last on my list of gardens to tackle, but I come and go via the back door, and I think this will make for a really pretty spot by my back door next spring.  I'll add some daffodils this fall, and at least this little spot will be good to go :)

woodland poppies  (left) and money plants (right)
The plant for the rest of the week is to plant some Lily of the Valley from my mom's house, finish working in the compost, and to get a load of mulch.  Pretty much everything needs to be mulched, and even the beds I'm not really working with right now need to be mulched so I can deal with them this fall & next spring.  I'd love to plant my Confederate Jasmine, but my to do list is still pretty long!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Raspberry Sweet Tea Cocktail

Best surprise ever!   I took a walk around my yard yesterday and I found raspberries!   

This was such a good surprise, and it didn't take me long to decide what I wanted to do with them...a sweet tea vodka cocktail as my first entry into The Greenish Thumb's Garden to Table Challenge.  (Check out Wendy's site for weekly lists of recipes with in-season good)

Here's the recipe:

  • 2 oz Sweet Tea Vodka (Firefly, Jeramiah Weed, etc)
  • 4 oz water
  • Splash of Sprite
  • 1/2 handful of fresh raspberries

If you have a shaker, you can combine all ingredients, add ice, and shake to release the juice.  If you don't have a shaker or muddler, just add the berries into your glass, squish with a fork, add the rest of your ingredients, and stir.

Cheers Everybody!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

may bloom day

The best thing about this post it not going to be my writing, because there isn't enough time to do much of that.  The best thing about this post is taking a moment out of a fairly crazy schedule to walk around my yard and see what the month of May has brought to me in my new-to-me yard.

Happy Garden Blogger's Bloom Day!

This cute little wildflower has popped up in a few places.  Anyone know what it is?
My little holding zone.  Begonias, Basil, and Lily of the Valley
My Day Lilies are shaded, so these are the first blooms.
This self sown Gerber Daisy is about to show it's first flower.
These red wildflowers are my favorite May surprise.
A little bit of purple in my driveway
Yuccas.  I'm not a fan of the foliage, but the blooms are pretty!
My Confederate Jasmine doesn't mind that I haven't found it a permanent home.
Can't leave out the wild daisies!
Edited: 5/16/12 9:06am to add captions.
Edit: 5/16/12 5:00pm - Valhalla and my mom have confirmed that the red flower is Silene virginica (fire pink) and the white flower is Cimaphila maculata (spotted wintergreen).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

walker's wedding

Do you have friends you love no matter what?  I just returned from the wedding of one of those friends. If someone were to make a movie about Walker's wedding it would open with the following statement:.
"This is a movie based on a true story.  The events shown in this film are not stretched nearly as much as you might guess."
The stories are too numerous to share, but let me just say that the house next door literally burned down and it wasn't a big deal.  The key words of the weekend were "FIX IT, FIX IT, FIX IT!!" and believe it or not, everything important got fixed.  In the grand scheme of things it really wasn't a big deal that neither the best man nor his stand in made it to the rehearsal, or that more than one groomsmen was demoted after their custom made-in-Hong Kong suits didn't fit.  A size 12 ring was acquired, no one had to go to the hospital (including the girl who passed out during the ceremony), and the carriage carrying the bride and groom off into the sunset did not flip over.  Most importantly Walker and Eve got married.

That's when you know that your friends have always got your back, and you are making memories that will last a lifetime.

Congratulations to Walker and Eve, I wish you all the happiness in the world, and I know that I am on the long list of people who will help you "fix it" if there is ever anything in need of fixing.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

(Re)Discover Chattanooga - Summer to do list

Summer is my favorite time of year, regardless of where I have lived.  Summers in Clemson were amazing.  It was beautiful, students were gone, and we spent a lot of time on the lake or on the patio.

Summers in Chattanooga are great - but for the opposite reason.  For a quiet as it was in Clemson, there are tons of things to do in Chattanooga.  I still get to play outside, and relax as much as I want, but there are so many more things to do in Chattanooga.

Here's a quick list of what I'm most looking forward to this summer.
    • Riverbend - (June 8th-16th) Riverbend is not a secret - some nights there can be over 100,000 people.  But I think how good the music can be is a secret, as is the value ($32 for 8 days and 100 bands)  I'll do a full list later, but here are the bands I'm most looking forward to: Gov't Mule, Foreigner, Blackberry Smoke, BoomBox, Rebirth Brass Band, Yo Mammas Big Fat Booty Band, Roger Allan Wade & Friends. Website
    • Farmer's Markets - It's Market Season!!  I love the Brainerd Farmer's Market, and want to make it to the Sunday Market downtown this year too :) Brainerd Market on Facebook Chattanooga Market on Facebook.
    • TN Aquarium's new exhibit - Giant underwater mammals...count me in.Website
    • River Rocks - I had a blast at the Hunter Museum laser light show last year, and I would love to go to a few more things this year.  One thing I hated to miss: the sculpture burning.
    • Chattanooga Lookouts game - One of the things I hate I didn't do last summer was make it to a minor league baseball game.  Since Harrison Ford is in town filming a baseball movie at the old stadium, I'm sure I won't be the only one thinking about baseball, but I want to go anyway.
    • Outdoor dining - I want to find a good place to eat and drink outside this year.  MY patio is awesome, but I want to find someplace else we can hang out too.  I'm thinking maybe the rooftop at The Terminal??
    • Southern Brewers Festival - (August) This sounds weird coming from the girl who is allergic to hops, but Woodchuck was there last year, and I got to have fun along with everyone else, and it was a blast.
    • Ooltewah Nursery - The Ooltewah Nursery is a local nursery that has earned a few national awards.  It's not too far from my house, so I'm going to try and take advantage of their knowledge this year.
    • Nightfall - Nightfall is the weekly outdoor concert series downtown.  The music is good, and it's free.  Free fits in my budget :) 

    Sunday, May 6, 2012

    A little garden advice

    I am not a gardening expert.  I do not have acres of corn, and I am not responsible for any of the homes on your local garden tour. (yet) I am just a girl who played in her mom's garden and has grown a thing or two in pots.   I'm sharing a little of what I consider to be gardening advice, well, just because I can.  If you agree, disagree, or think I've left something out please leave a comment and maybe we can all learn something, and have pretty pretty outside spaces this summer.
    Two words - drought tolerant.
    • These words on a plant tag are a southern gardeners best friend. Even though I'm still getting to know my yard (in all of it's shady glory) I know that without a doubt it is going to get hot this summer, and there will come a point when I won't water as much as I should. Solution: drought tolerant plants.
    • Garden newbies, friends with 'black thumbs', when you see this on a plant tag, seriously consider putting it in your cart. It's one of the secrets to not killing plants.
    • These are especially good words for container gardening.
    • Organic (ie not rock) mulch is great because it does 4 things:
      • Holds moisture so you don't have to water so much
      • Keeps the weeds out 
      • Breaks down and feeds the soil
      • Looks all neat and pretty without have to fill every space with plants
    Read the plant tag
    • All of the information on the plant tag is important.  It will tell you what conditions the plant needs to survive.   No matter how hard you try, the plant has already made up its mind about what it needs, and if you ignore what it wants, the plant probably won't make it.
    • It's not a bad idea to keep the tag too. You can put it in the ground by the plant, or toss them in a drawer. This way you have a baseline for what works and doesn't.

    Put plants where you will see them.
    • Most plants will let you know when they need to be watered, so if you're worried that your thumb is more black than green, place plants in your daily traffic pattern.  
    • You'll be less likely to forget to care for the plant, and more likely to enjoy it. After all that's the point right?

    Fertilize your plants
    • Whether you use organic compost, or miracle grow, I won't judge.  The important thing is that plants get hungry and need more than just water.  
    • Starting with good soil helps, and the plant tag will tell you if it has any special fertilizer needs.

    • Who doesn't love plants that come back year after year?
    • The cool thing about perennials is that once they are established most require less and less care to look good.

    Five of my fav 'plant & forget it' plants:
    Info & photos from Dave's Garden Plant Files
    1. Day Lily more info (especially the common ditch lily) 
    2. Mint more info, (boarder line invasive, great for mojitos)
    3. Lantana more info, (comes in lots of colors)
    4. Succulents in general
    5. Confederate Jasmine More info (one of my all time favs)

    Thursday, May 3, 2012

    (Re)Discover Chattanooga - National Cornbread Festival

    This past Sunday I crossed something off my bucket list - The National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg, TN.  This is one of those, I've always wanted to go, but then I moved to South Carolina, things for me.  So I got a few friends together, and we made it happen.

    Of course, I did manage to leave my phone in the car, so instead of my blurry iphone pics, Chattanooga Blogger Tony Burgess has let me use his!

    The reason South Pittburg hosts a cornbread festival is because Lodge Manufacturing is based here.  They are a very old cast iron company that specializes in the cookware that is a must have for making cornbread.

    Mayfield milk is also more than kind-of-a-big deal, and Maggie the cow was present to great you when you walked in the gates.

    This was the 16th year of the festival, and I was impressed with how large & well done it was.  There was music on multiple stages, and craft vendors all down the main street. In the side streets vendors were selling homemade everything, from jams & candies, to jerky and full size pies.  (little old church ladies were selling the know they had to be good).  There were food vendors selling fried everything - think Twinkies, cheesecake, onion blossoms & fried green tomatoes.  There was even an amusement park complete with a Ferris wheel.

    The best part of the festival by far was Cornbread Alley.  For $4, you got to sample 9 different types of cornbread dishes....and they were good.  Make me want to bake good, and that is saying something!  Here's a list of the different types of cornbread in Cornbread Alley this year.  This year's recipes haven't been posted yet, but they will be soon.  Here's a link to where they will be, along with previous year's recipes, and also the winning recipes from the cornbread cook-offs.
    1. Cornfetti Bread
    2. Deep Fried Sweet Potato Tots
    3. Butter Pecan Muffins
    4. Rodeo Pups
    5. Cornbread Pizza
    6. Razzle Dazzle
    7. Raymond's Pineapple Cream Cheese Cornbread Cake
    8. Sour Cream and Onion Cornbread
    9. Toasty Hushpuppies
    When the recipes are posted (and I'll let you know) you should give a few a try...of this list, I had about 5 favorites! (Sour Cream and Onion, Razzle Dazzle, Raymond's Pinapple Cream Cheese Cornbread Cake, Deep Fried Sweet Potato Tots & the Rodeo Pups)

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012

    Garden Update - Rock Garden

    Before...just a little overgrown.
    I love my house and I love my yard. I have a long way to go, but I really am enjoying working in the yard and making it look nice.

    My first big project was clearing the ivy from the sideyard. That was a chore. My next project is the rock garden between the driveway and my back door. I see it every day, so I thought it's a good place work on next.

    The soil here is in pretty bad shape. There have been many, many years of neglect, and the dirt is dry and compacted. The first step is breaking up the churt & root mess and adding a rock edge. Then the plan is to mix in compost & top soil, and top with mulch.

    My mom and I have done the center section, and it's up to me to do the rest.

    Ignore the peeling paint, and look at the pretty weed free dirt & rocks

     The rock boarder isn't perfectly straight.  Normally this would bother me, but nothing about this house with multiple additions is straight, so I think it fits right in.

    The plan for this year is to clear out the rest of the bed and amend the soil so that it's ready for planting this fall or next spring.  I'll plant herbs in the hollow tree stumps, and add annuals in pots in between.  It should look nice this year when it's mulched and give the earthworms time to come back and do some work. (The joke here is that to encourage the bugs & worms to come back, I have been watering my dirt.  My water bill is usually $5- $10, so I don't mind.)

    Future home of the butterfly bush

    There is a bird garden at the end of this bed, and I'm going to clear out the vinca minor from the top section and add a butterfly bush.  There's just enough sun here that I think it will do ok, but not get super huge.  Eventually this will be a patio space as well, but time & money are two things I do not have enough of.

    It's a work in progress, but it's going to be pretty

    That's it for now.  I hope to have more to share by the end of the week :)
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