Wednesday, May 29, 2013

#travel2013 - Waynesville, NC

Wedding season is officially upon on.  This weekend I was thrilled to attend the wedding of two of my Clemson friends.  Weddings bring together families of all kinds, and this wedding brought together my Backstreets family.  I don't think it could have been a more perfect weekend.  (If you haven't heard me talk about Backstreets, its a bar in Clemson where I was a regular, then Artist in Residence.  It is so much more than a bar though, it is family.)

The wedding was in Waynesville, NC, a place I had never been.   From Chattanooga, it was a gorgeous 3 hour drive through the mountains.

The drive took me along the Ocoee and Nantahalla rivers.  The water was up some, and the paddlers were taking advantage.  It reminded me just how long its been I've been rafting...something that I need to fix this summer.

It was such a beautiful drive.

When I arrived in Waynesville, I was greeted by friends at the hotel, and we took a little walk through the town.  And by town, I mean about 2 blocks of shops and cafes.

What we learned about Waynesville is they love their sweets, specifically chocolate.  There was more fudge & truffles than just about anything else.  And they love a good chocolate alcohol mix.  There were wine truffles, Grand Marnier truffles, champagne truffles, bourbon truffles....and the list goes on and on.  It was all amazing, and I appreciated the fact that our hotel was in walking distance from everything.

The wedding was great, and it really was wonderful to catch up with my Backstreets family.  Even though I shouldn't have been, I was pleasantly surprised how many people made the trip.  Catching up with everyone was a highlight for sure.


After the Saturday wedding, I drove to Clemson to spend Sunday & Monday.  There is no place like Clemson in the summer.  It's beautiful, and the pace slows to a crawl. I spent almost no time indoors, and got some much needed sun as a result.  The food and the company were fantastic.  It was the perfect mix of putt-sing around working on stained glass, and just hanging out catching up.  I was sad to leave, but I know that I will be back.

And I really do wish that a few people would take me up on my offer to show them around Chattanooga.  Cough, cough, hint hint, wink wink PeteLisaBrandyTravisRickyJoshJaredCiaraAngelaAnnaJimRobert etc etc. :)

Next up: New Kent, Virginia (this coming weekend) for wedding #2 of the season.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

emily vs ivy

It never ends. That's all there is to it.

Just when I thought I had the ivy under control, and away from my house, I realized how HUGE my property feels, and that the ivy has doubled down in areas I didn't even know had ivy problems.

I don't even want to talk about my side yard

Recently, my dad and I were walking around my house, and he started pointing out how the ivy has killed all, or parts, of some trees.  This progressed to pointing out which of the larger trees are in danger of being overtaken by the ivy.  He's right, of course, and so after he left I decided to cut the ivy off one of the larger trees he mentioned was a good candidate for saving.  I've been focused on the front yard, and this tree was in the back.  (I don't think of my self as having a back yard, just a small stretch of woods.)

This is my back yard,  it's THAT bad.

As soon as I got to this tree, I saw that all of the trees in the back are huge, and they are all covered with ivy.  Old ivy, with thick hairy about overwhelming.  But, my trusty saw tooth bow knife works like a charm, so I methodically got to work.  Here's how it goes:
  • First I whack off the leaves on the bottom 3'-4' of the trunk so I can actually see the vines. 
  • Then I work my way around the base, severing each of the vines, and pulling down what I can. I cut out a minimum of 6", but try to cut our pull a full 3'to 4' all the way around the tree.   This will kill the ivy farther up in the trees as it heats up this summer. 


close up of hairy ivy

It looks like I will be repeating this process literally hundreds of times this summer.  Then the next step will be pulling the ivy back from around the trees, or trying to pull it out entirely.  There is so much ivy in these woods that I'm worried I will have a problem with soil erosion if I'm not careful. There is a lot of vinca minor in parts of this area, and I wouldn't mind leaving that as a ground cover, ONLY because it doesn't climb.

Sooooo, if anyone wants to go all Rambo in the woods anytime soon, let me know! I've got a couple extra knives, and a vendetta against the ivy.  I pay in food and beverages!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

(Re)Discover Chattanooga - Flying Squirrel Bar

Today marks one week since Flying Squirrel Bar opened their doors in Chattanooga's Southside neighborhood.  I have a feeling it's been quite a week for them.  I couldn't resist a bar named Flying Squirrel, so last Saturday I went with friends to check it out.  We went for after dinner drinks, and we had a blast.

When we walked up to the Flying Squirrel, the first thing we noticed was all the people milling about.  People were coming in from all directions, congregating at The Flying Squirrel.  All of the bike racks were full, as were the seats on the outside section of the bar.  When I was growing up, this was one of the areas of town where I was told "lock your doors."  The atmosphere has changed though, and it really felt like a neighborhood.

We took a quick tour of the inside, and there is no other word to describe it other than beautiful...ok maybe classy.  It's full of locally hand crafted wood (much of it reclaimed or scrap), and large, modern, glass windows.  There are LED pendent lights, and an array of seating options.  There is an upstairs lounge with couches and chairs, and the main section downstairs has semi private booths, as well as floating bistro height bars for those who like to stand and mingle.  Outside, there are garage style doors that open up to reveal that the bar is actually shaped like U, as well as tables, and a retaining wall that doubles as bench seating.  Even the bathrooms are cool, with neat sinks and european style hand dryers.

Our waiter confirmed that the opening weekend had, as we suspected, been nuts, and that the after dinner crowd was actually a lull for them.  Our table ordered a mix of craft beers and mixed drinks, and I have to say that I really enjoyed my Watermelon Old Fashioned made with Chattanooga Whiskey.  I'll also say that I am not a gin drinker, but the Rare Form (a gin martini with rosemary syrup) was really good.

As the night went on, we saw the crowd shift to a younger dynamic.  Being somewhere between 'young professional' and 'older than I actually feel', I liked the wide range of people who were checking out this new neighborhood bar.  Everyone seemed laid back, even if you could tell they were ready for a night out.  I can see Flying Squirrel as a place I would be comfortable just about any time of day, and I wish there were something like it on my street!

The only thing I can't praise Flying Squirrel for is the food, and that's only because I haven't tried it...yet.  (I'll let you know when I do.  Word on the street is that the garlic fries are on point.)  The staff was knowledgeable and attentive, and the drink menu was comprehensive without being so ambitious that it couldn't be executed well.  The atmosphere is great, and it didn't feel like a place that had only been open a few days.  Everything is finished and in place, and no one was rushing around trying to get used to the setup.  The guys from the Crash Pad do a good job, and The Flying Squirrel is no exception.  I definitely encourage you to check it out the next time you're on the Southside!

Flying Squirrel Bar
55 Johnson Street
Chattanooga, Tennessee 37408
Tues-Sat: 5pm-3am
Sun: 10:30am-2pm  5pm-1am (limited menu)
Closed Monday
Website | facebook | @squirrelbar | Instagram
Flying Squirrel on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

may bloom day 2013

For someone whose middle name is rose, it pretty surprising that this is my very first bloom day post with ROSES!!

I was so excited that when I moved into my great grandmother's house and I found two roses.  One is a small bush rose, and the other is a rambler.  Both had been severely cut back before I moved in, both had problems with their foliage last year, and neither bloomed.  Thanks to an ID from Connie at Hartwood Roses, I was able to confirm Rose Slugs as the culprit munching on the leaves.  I didn't catch it early enough to prevent all of the damage, but I was able to contain it enough that the tea (?) rose has 4 blooms.

Ignore the house about to be painted in the background.

The rambler is doing much better than the tea (?) rose, and I'm seeing a lot of strong healthy new growth.  The new canes are about 3 times as thick as the rest of the plant.  I'm not sure if it's the weather, the compost & mulch from last year, or a combination of both, but I'm really happy how this rose is doing.  My first bud is getting ready to bloom, and more are forming.  The next step will be documenting the blooms, and trying to identify the rose.


Also doing much better this year is my rhododendron.  Last year it had some new growth but only one bloom.  It has been fertilized and mulched with pine nettles, and this year it is covered in new growth and about 10 beautiful blooms like this one:

One of the surprises in my yard last year were blackberries bushes!  There is a row of blackberries in my yard that the previous renters had mowed down each year.  I have let them grow, and this year the plants are covered in blooms!

My Mock Orange is in full bloom right now, and it smells amazing. It's about 6.5 feet tall, and a perfect fit off the corner of my porch.  If there was one plant in my yard that I would try to propogate through cuttings, this would be it.

Something new I have found this year are wildflowers called Little Brown Jugs. (information form the University of TN Institute of Agriculture ) They have heart shaped, waxy leaves, and the petal-less flowers are underneath.  The flowers really do look like little brown jugs. 

Also blooming in my yard are a few wildflowers, or weeds as some people like to call them.  My hellebores and pansies are hanging in there too, but I'm not sure they'll still have their petals by this time next month.

I hope you've enjoyed your walk around my yard.  If you'd like to see what else is blooming around the world today visit Carol over at May Dreams Gardens.  She hosts a blog party of sorts on the 15th of each month, where people around the world share what is blooming in their yards.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

(Re)Discover Chattanooga - The Terminal Brewhouse

I've been back in Chattanooga 2 years now, and it's only when people stop and say "you've never been to insert any number of cool places" that it becomes evident that I really was gone for a decade.  I promise I am not as old as that makes me sound.

One of the places people are shocked that I'd never been is The Terminal Brewhouse. A few weeks ago, I was with friends on the Southside, and they decided this was a problem that needed to be fixed.  So we walked from the First Tennessee Pavilion over to The Terminal.

One of the reasons The Terminal has been on my unofficial list of places to go in Chattanooga is their rooftop patio and garden.  It's picnic table seating, with panels for shade, and herbs, flowers, and has vines growing all over.  It's not a surprise that I love an urban garden.  So, we sat outside and ordered drinks and an appetizer.

I'm not qualified to talk about the house brewed beer, (I'm allergic to hops) but I know that it is made on site, and it has a good reputation around town.  I am qualified to talk about the appetizer, and our 'Festo' - feta, basil, olive oil spread - was great.  It's simple, served with pita bread, and addictive... you've been warned.

As much as the Terminal is known for their beer, they are also known for their burgers.  The Bison Burger is known by some as the best in town.  The menu is pretty simple, and you can tell what The Terminal does, they do really well.  I had to be different and ordered the "Macho Man" sandwich.  Randy Savage would be proud.  The menu says "An 8oz cajun dusted chicken breast topped with hot sausage, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and cajun mayo."  It was amazing.  I ordered mine with a side of bacon grits, and yeah, it was good.  Really good.  It was also huge, so it took a while to eat, which was OK, because it was prom season, and we enjoyed another round of drinks while we watched people bring in their prom dates.  Yes, The Terminal is a burger place that is prom date worthy.

The other completely unrelated, but fun, thing about our trip to The Terminal was that the Chattanooga Whiskey 'Whiskey Truck' was parked outside.  Great minds think alike, right?

The Terminal
No. 6 14th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37408

Website | Menu

 The Terminal Brewhouse on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 2, 2013

(Re)Discover Chattanooga - Market Season

I love that Chattanooga is a 'have your cake and eat it too' kind of town.  We have some of the fastest internet connections in the country, smart grid power, and I also know the people who grow my food.  I'm not sure if that puts me into some kind of stereotype category akin to hipster, but I think that's pretty sweet.

One of the cool things about Chattanooga is the local food movement.  Most people know that we have an awesome Sunday Market downtown, but they don't know that we have farmer's markets all over town, each with different hours.  Gaining Ground is a big part of the local food movement, and they keep an updated and full list of Farmers Markets on their website.  Here's a quick list of some of local markets:

Brainerd Market (Saturday mornings)
Chattanooga Market (Sunday)
Signal Market (Thursdays)
Ringgold Market (starts June 1st)
Main Street Market (Wednesdays)
Hixson (Saturday mid mornings)
Cumberland Market

There are even more local markets in Georgia, Cleveland and the surrounding area, so check out the Full Market List from Gaining Ground.

This past Saturday, I braved the rain to attend the Grand Opening of my farmer's market, the Brainerd Farmer's Market.  This wasn't really a grand opening as much as it was the first week of their extended hours, 10am - noon, rather than 10am - 11am.  It's too early in the season for a lot of veggies, but the time is right to start your garden, and there were a lot of plants.  I got red bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes, and strawberries to start my garden.  Since I am only one of the residents on my property (lets face it, the rabbits, chipmunks, racoons, geese, deer and ducks really own the place), I'm going to try strawberries in hanging baskets this year.  I think this will make it easier keep the critters away from my strawberries, and also clip the runners, so I can keep strawberry plants for next year too.

A lot of the farms at the Brainerd Market had CSA applications as well.  I think this is such a great way to support local farms, and force you to eat a little healthier while you're at it.  I was happy to find out that most farms offer full and half share options, as well as multiple pick up locations.  These options are pretty important to me since 1) I live by myself and my canning skills are less than stellar, and 2) my Saturday's can be busy during the summer, and having another option is nice.  If you've thought about joining a CSA take some time to stop by a farmers market this week and check it out.  It might be a really good fit for you.

Another cool thing about our markets is that there is more than just veggies.  We have local farms that raise cattle, chickens, and turkeys so there is a good supply of meat, eggs, cheese, and even milk.  Companies like Niedlov's & Link 41 (my favorite local business) stop at some of the markets as well, so you have local bread & sausage available too.  You'll also see items like handmade soaps, jams, baked goods, and fresh cut flowers.  The food trucks get in the scene sometimes too, so it's a really cool environment.  (And I promise they don't look at you funny if you don't bring an organic cotton reusable bag for your purchases.)

Anyway, I hope this has helped you get a better idea of the Farmer's Market scene.  Maybe I'll see you around at either the Brainerd Market, or the Sunday Market!
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