Saturday, September 30, 2006

Hummingbirds still here?

I still have two hummingbirds hanging out at my feeders. It seems to me that they're usually gone by now? I know they'll stay the winter if they have new babies or they're too old to make the trek back to South America or Mexico or wherever they head. I'm wondering if anyone else is still seeing any at their feeders. I had a bunch for a while, but they have moved on, probably just made a pit stop here for fuel.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Flax tip

I'm always trying to find ways to sneak good stuff into food without changing the taste or the look. Greg (my husband) is pretty good about eating almost anything I put in front of him, but he doesn't lean toward eating tofu, cous cous, or anything you'll only find in a health food store! Given a choice between Bryers ice cream and Toffutti, guess which one he'll choose?

I want to keep him around as long as I possibly can, and I hope to hang in there just as long. So, I add bran or other fiber to pancakes, only buy whole wheat, buy free range whenever possible, make sure there are plenty of fruit choices, avoid sugars and fats, etc., etc., etc.

After reading a bit about flax seed, I thought it would be a great thing to incorporate into our regular diets. So, I merrily traipsed off to the store, grabbed a container of flax seed and then tried to figure out what to do with it (my typical method of operation... impulse buy, then figure out the mechanics later).

Those pesky little seeds are not easy to hide in foods. However, I came up with one way to add them to almost anything - I mix the seeds in my pepper mill with the peppercorns. Now, anytime we use pepper, we're getting some flax seed.

Next time I'm at the store I plan to pick up another pepper mill just for the flax seed. I plan to add some to soups and other concoctions just like a spice when I'm cooking.

Anyone else have any great ideas on how to incorporate healthy things into not-so-healthy dishes?

A bit about flax seed in case you don't know about it:

Benefits of flax seed as shown in many studies include lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, it may also help lower blood triglyceride and blood pressure and may keep platelets from becoming sticky therefore reducing the risk of a heart attack. Flax seed oil may be able to heal the inner lining of the inflamed intestines, so those with Crohn's Disease and colitis might want to read up on the benefits.

It has a high content of alpha linolenic acids, which is a type of plant derived omega 3 oil. It also has lignan, a phytoestrogen or anitoxidant and it is high in fiber.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Has anyone noticed that everytime a new strip shopping mall goes in the first store to open is often a nail salon? It seems there are at least as many nail salons as there are drug stores.

How many women get their nails done at a salon? I keep mine short as I work with clay and fingernails are not condusive to smooth lines, plus they don't look very good at the end of the day!

I'm curious - does anyone know much about the business? How many do we have in the county? How many women regularly visit the salon and how many times a month do you have to go to keep your nails beautiful? I know nails are fun - I get a kick out of some of the designs and colors. When we have girls night we always "do our nails" at some time during the night. My nieces love to paint my short nails strange colors... which only lasts until they leave or I get home!

I guess I'll be looking up nail salons on the Internet when I have a few minutes just to see if there's any data on the growth and how they survive or thrive.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Scuppernongs Gone

A few weeks ago a friend and I stopped by the Fayette Art Center and Gallery in Fayetteville (it's on Fisher Ave. next to Fayetteville City Hall). We parked in the handicap area on the side as my friend has difficulty negotiating stairs (and yes, we were in her car and she has a handicap permit!). As I was helping her get out of the car I noted a gentleman sitting on the front porch of his house across the street watching us. I gave a friendly wave (being a friendly sort of person).

A few minutes later I looked up and he was walking across to talk with us. The house is one of the older houses that I love in this county. A huge porch to sit on in the evening or early mornings and it even has a few stained glass windows. I itched to get a peek at the inside, but in addition to being friendly, I try to be polite so I didn't ask for a tour!

We talked for a while about the house, the area, the history of Fayette County and other general things before I introduced myself and the gentleman introduced himself. Mr. Ed Travis is a true gracious southern gentleman.

After a bit we parted ways, but not before he invited us to come pick scuppernongs, apples and figs from his back yard. It has been many, many years since I had a scuppernong and many more since I picked them so I jumped at the chance. He told me to get Kathy (the owner of the Gallery) and get all we wanted as the scuppernongs were falling off the bushes.

After looking at all the new art in the gallery, Kathy and I walked across and picked our scuppernongs. They were truly falling off the vines! Ed had a wire running behind and through all the vines and the buckets he provided had hooks on them so we could hang them within reach while plucking the ripe fruit. After a short period I found it easier just to put the bucket under the vine and with a light touch let them fall into the bucket.

After filling our buckets we went back into the 2nd backyard and got a few apples from the trees. We also grabbed a few figs from the huge bushes or trees.

Ed and his wife came out to talk to us for a bit before leaving. They rent out some of the rooms in the house and, unless it's been rented in the last two weeks, there is a vacancy. I suppose that was my opening to weasle my way into the house for a look, but they were on their way out and I didn't want to hold them up.

People like the Travis' are not unusual in Fayette County. We are so lucky to have open hearted, giving and caring people in this county. I hope we'll somehow manage to keep the flavor of the county in years to come. How many places are left in this world where a huge assortment of fruit is grown between a jail/courthouse (the house backs up the county jail) and a main road?

The scuppernongs are long gone. I took them to a family get-together and had the pleasure of teaching my young nieces the "proper" way to eat them (squeeze the pulp into your mouth leaving the skin, push out the seeds with your toungue and discard... then enjoy; yes, I know some of you might eat the skin, but it's the pulp that's sweet and really, really good).

If you'd like to see more photos of the house, the vines and Mr. & Mrs. Travis, go to the Fayette Forum link on the sidebar, click and look for the Fayette Photo Gallery. Click on Scuppernongs Gone.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sticking with organic

I'm not going nuts on the organic front, but I am buying organic whenever possible. If the difference in price isn't outrageous and the food looks frest, I'm opting to buy the organic.

One thing that completly surprised me is the difference in taste. Maybe when they grow things organically they shy away from hydroponics, picking too early and mass producing in dark rooms, too. All I know is that a tomato tastes like a tomato from the garden (well, duh, I guess it is from the garden ;-) and tonight I had peas that tasted like the peas I used to sneak from my neighbors yard.

I'm a native Georgian, but my father was in the Air Force. We moved when I was young and I lived in a variety of states and countries before coming back to Georgia. Our neighbors in England had a small back yard (RAF base housing) that they turned into a garden - completely. There was a huge commons area behind the housing which served as a community play ground so I guess they didn't need their postage-stamp sized backyard for playing.

I loved to sneak over, open a pod and eat the peas raw. That taste is something I haven't experienced until tonight when I had tried the organic frozen peas I picked up at Wal-Mart. Yup, Wal-Mart.

Surprisingly, Wal-Mart and Publix have the best selection of organic food I've found locally. I've been going once a month with a good friend to the Dekalb Farmers Market to pick up a good supply of the things you can't find around here unless you're willing to pay shockingly high prices.

Did you know the difference between cage free and free range eggs? Cage free just means the chickens weren't in a cage. They could be (and probably are) still de-beaked and cooped up in some tightly packed barn. Free range means they get to roam like chickens are meant to roam. They keep their beaks because they're not going to peck at each other as they're not crammed body-to-body.

I haven't found free range eggs in Fayette County (yet?). But the Dekalb Farmers Market has these fantastic HUGE Amish free range eggs that are less expensive than the cage free eggs at Public, Kroger & Wal-mart. I cracked one open the other day and it had two yolks! When is the last time you had a double-yoked egg? I'm not sure if they taste better, I add so much to my eggs (spinach, cheese, mushrooms, onions, whatever is left over from dinner...) that I have no way of comparing taste.

I'm thinking that next year I'm going to put in a garden (for the deer probably!). The people who owned our house before us had a vegetable garden in the back. They had an electric fence around it. I don't think I'll want to do that as the shock is enough to kill hummingbirds, so I'll have to investigate other ways to keep out the wildlife. After all, people have been growing food since long before the invention of electricity!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Panhandlers in FAYETTE?

Times they be a changin'! My two sisters came to visit me this weekend. On their way here they made a quick stop at Wal-Mart at the Pavilion in Fayetteville to pick up a birthday present (an espresso machine). As they got out of their vehicle they were accosted by a large (huge) red-eyed, mean talkin' man with a cute little tyke. He said he had run out of gas and needed some money, would they help.

Now my two sisters are about the most generous types on earth. Claire has given up years of Tuesday nights to feed the homeless. Her church members take turns buying the food and cooking for 200 or more that show each week. Lynda is off a similar nature.

If they had given even a tiny bit of credibility to the man's story, they would have gone into Wal-Mart, bought a gas can or two, gone and filled it up and handed it to the man.

Unfortunately, he was so obviously not legit they shook their head no and went into the store. The man had similarly approached the people in the car next to them and they had similarly said sorry, can't help.

Claire and Lynda made record time getting the present (they were bragging later about how they had, for the first time in their shopping life, not dawdled on any of the aisles looking at sales items, etc.

They zoomed out to the truck only to discover that it had been keyed. Yup, keyed. They noticed that the car next to them had also been keyed.

After a short conference, they decided it would be a good idea to report the incident to Wal-Mart, even though they did not see the man in hanging around the parking lot thinking Wal-Mart's security would keep an eye out. Nope, our stalwart and rightly thinking Wal-Mart managers called the police who responded VERY fast!

Two cars arrived; one took my sister's report, assigned a case number and went through all the appropriate steps. The others took off to try and find the panhandler. For those who may not be aware (I wasn't), it is illegal in Fayetteville (and probably all of Fayette County) to panhandle.

Unfortunately, it didn't look like they were able to locate them man and the unfortunate little girl with him.

My sisters and I discussed this off and on throughout the weekend. We worried about the little girl and we worried about others whose cars may have received the same treatment.

One thing I didn't think of until after my sisters were on their way back home is the difference in their reaction to a panhandler compared to what mine probably would have been.

Because I live in Fayette County, it would have been so out of the norm to see a panhandler I would have walked into Wal-Mart and reported it before shopping. I would have expected the police to come and try to track the man down.

My sisters live on the north side of Atlanta. They are more accustomed to seeing panhandlers and they're not used to a quick response from the police.

Yes, it's bad that we in Fayette are starting to see some of the same problems that occur in other counties and cities. However, we've still got a long way to go before we accept things like panhandlers as a normal part of life. We have the ability to stop this from becoming the status quo. However, to stop it, we're all going to have to put some effort into protecting our way of life. We can't leave it up to our elected officials, our police, to others. We ALL have to get involved and be vigilant.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Denver & the Mile High Orchestra

Traveled to Kennesaw last weekend to see Denver & the Mile High Orchestra with my son, his wife and our granddaughter, Niah. What a great night!

We had a great time with the kids, don't know what I did to deserve such a wonderful family! It was Niah's first concert and she had a ball! She was clapping and dancing and laughing all night. She didn't stop moving until the band stopped playing.

We ate at a buffet before the concert - we ALL needed to keep moving to work off the extra food. Every time I eat at a buffet I say "never again" simply because I eat too much. We in America are so spoiled...

The band was fantastic. Denver is the name of the band leader. I imagine you probably thought, as I did, that Denver referred to the city. Turns out the leader wasn't born in Colorado or anywhere near - his mother just liked the name Denver. He, in turn, named his son Boston. Nope, they don't live in or near Boston. In fact, they live in Tennessee. I don't know that there are two areas that contrast more than Boston and Nashville!

The band plays a fun mix of big-band style Christian music with a bit of almost every genre tossed in. The leader, Denver, is truly a talented artist who could be famous in the "secular" world. If you ever have the opportunity to hear the band, don't hesitate!

They played at the Dozier Art Center. It's brand new, this was their first concert. The Center boasts a 600 seat auditorium (where we were) and a 300 seat black-box theater.

It's a private venture, not funded by any public money. Dozier is a developer who wanted to support the arts and felt he could make a profit doing so. It's going to be interesting to watch this venue and see how it does. It's gorgeous, huge, and it looks like they're doing things the right way.

We in Fayette County are trying to 'grow' an art center. Currently a group is working with the YMCA to build one near the center of the county. At one point I was involved in trying to raise some money for a center, it didn't pan out.

I am a huge supporter of the arts. I would love to see a nice venue for the arts in our great county. It will be interesting to see if the community is willing to support an arts venue. There seems to be a lot of support for sports in the area. I'm hoping the arts can garner at least as much support.