Hampton Inn, Selma AL

This was our first stay at the Hampton Inn in Selma. Before, we’ve stayed at the historic St. James Hotel, which is right on the Alabama River – but since we were in town for a special event, we stayed at the same hotel as most of the other guests.

This Hampton seems like a newer one, and we had a good stay.

Summery Lemon Pie : Lemon Icebox Pie

When I was a Freshman in college, my boyfriend and I would visit his dad and new step-mother, and one day she served us the yummiest lemon icebox pie ever. It was cold and lemony and just the thing right in the middle of summer. I asked her for the recipe, and it was so simple – just four ingredients and no baking (no eggs)! Especially during the summer (it was 95* yesterday), who wants to be an ingredient snob with a pie that takes all of five minutes to make!? I make this every summer and everybody always loves it:

8 oz. Cool Whip
1 can condensed milk
1 can frozen lemonade
1 graham cracker crust

…it’s so easy – just put the Cool Whip in the KitchenAid bowl, then the condensed milk, then start adding the lemonade until it’s just the right amount of lemony flavor (I usually use the entire container).

Super-Easy Lemon Icebox Pie
Pour it into the pie crust and freeze overnight (keep it stored in the freezer – it’s not hard to cut through).
So good!!

Practicing Painted Ceramics

Note (7/21/2006): Since doing this project, I noticed that on the Dick Blick product page for these paints, they advise that these are “not recommended for use on surfaces that come in contact with food.” The bottles of paint that I have show that they conform to the ASTM D-4236 non-toxicity regulation, meaning that they are certified non-toxic. In Adorn magazine, where these paints were featured, they write, “they are set when baked, so they’re safe to eat on – and even to throw in the dishwasher!”. I wrote an email to Pebeo Porcelaine today, and to Dick Blick, asking why they show the ASTM label but still advise against using it for certain applications. I may wind up learning a lot about ASTM, but I’d rather know for sure than to be unsafe! For now, I’m changing Tchotchke’s new dishes so that she will be using something other than the dishes I made below, and l’ll update this post when I hear back from either/both.

Note (7/24/2006): I heard back today from both Pebeo Porcelaine and Dick Blick. Pebeo Porcelaine sent me a Word document that said that “an application on the inner surface of a plate can be altered by using knives, forks (scratches…)” and by certain foods. In other words, not food-safe. The nice people at Dick Blick said, “These paints have not been FDA approved for use with food. They are for decorative purposes only. The non-toxic label is for the paint in the liquid form.”

So in other words, it’s an error in the feature of Adorn magazine where they state that (dishes painted on with Pebeo Porcelaine) are “safe to eat on.” I’ll send Adorn an email today to let them know what I found out, and hopefully they’ll put something on their website and the next issue so other people will find out.

If any of you would like to see the Word document that came from Pebeo Porcelaine, just email me: ginger AT deepfriedkudzu DOT com and I’ll send it to you.

Note (7/31/2006): I contacted the editors at Adorn, sent them both emails from Dick Blick and Pebeo Porcelaine, and this is what they emailed me back with a few days later:

“Hi Ginger. We have contacted Pebeo and have confirmed that the Pebeo Porcelaine Paint 150 used in our Adorn feature is food safe. The paint has been tested at Duke University, and was reported non-toxic and food safe for food contact.

Though the paint is non-toxic, it is not recommended for use on a dinner plate because sharp objects, such as a steak knife, could damage the design and bacteria could potentially become trapped in cracks caused by utensils. However, the paint itself is not harmful to ingest even if scraped off.

The reason the paint is not currently FDA approved is cost. The cost for FDA approval is approximately $50,000 per paint color, which Pebeo may pursue at a future time.”

I appreciate the editors at Adorn looking into this, but I am going to still avoid the use of the paint on any surface that comes in contact with food just to be on the safe side.

I mentioned a few days ago that in the new Adorn magazine, they had a feature on painting plates with Pebeo Porcelaine 150 paints – so I went to Michael’s and bought a starter set, along with some new brushes to try it out!

Here’s the setup: the magazine, the paints, brushes, a water bowl to clean the brushes, a paper plate as a palette, Windex (it takes the paint right off), paper towels, and a couple of bowls…

I thought I would just make Tchotchke (our cat) a couple of new food bowls (7/24/2006: important – see note above), and since I was just practicing, I decided to start with a really simple design – just a flower and some writing…

I painted the flower on, then took one of the paints that comes in a marker-like pen and wrote inside the bowl (writing on the inside of a bowl isn’t easy! My handwriting is better than this, really! Promise!).

The paints have to set for 24 hours before they’re baked, so the next day I took them and put them in a preheated 300* oven for 30 minutes. Here they are, all set!

Next time, I’ll try something a lot more ambitious, but for now, I think these are fun. I’m going to a china shop tomorrow, so I’ll pick up some new pieces for Leslie and me to paint later. Nice!

Slotin Folk Fest

The next Folk Fest is August 18-20 in Atlanta at the North Atlanta Trade Center. I’ve never been to it, but it’s an event where 90 galleries and dealers from all over the US show (from their website:) “Self-taught Art, Outsider Art, Folk Art and Southern Folk Pottery & Anonymous Antique Folk Art.” I’ve never been to it, but it sounds like it would be fun just to see what everyone is showing!

Bottlecap Magnets and Thumbtacks

This is the easiest craft ever!

I needed some extra magnets, so I took out my box of bottlecaps (I bought these on eBay a couple of years ago when I did a resin-poured bottlecap project):

…got my hot-glue gun, and some magnets out:

Put a dot of hot glue on the back of each bottlecap:

…carefully put the magnet on:

…and they were all set!

I make bottlecap thumbtacks for Av’s office, too. All it takes is the hot-glue gun, bottlecaps, and quilter’s thumbtacks:

The Alabama Theatre, Birmingham AL

Av and I were in Birmingham on Sunday so we went to see Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the older version) at the Alabama Theatre. What’s great is that during the summer, the Alabama shows lots of classic movies – like the Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, Sound of Music, Gone with the Wind, and many more. There’s a calendar of what’s playing here.

The inside (it was built in 1927) is just *gorgeous*:

This is Cecil Whitmire, who is the general manager there. He plays the “mighty Wurlitzer” organ that they have – it is on a riser that allows it to come up out of the floor or descend back under the stage once a show starts. Cecil is a *great* organist.

Before the movies, Cecil will play the organ, then everyone in the audience will do a sing-a-long with him on the organ (on Sunday, we sang “She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain,” “Home on the Range,” and a couple of others), then an old Looney Tunes is played on the screen, and finally the movie starts. Anyway, it is just fabulous and so much fun!

Since this is Independence Day weekend, Cecil played a medly of patriotic songs and we all stood when the curtains drew back and a huge flag was displayed.
I also can’t wait until the Riley Center opens in Meridian, in September. It’s a renovation of the opera house there, and it’s going to be *beautiful*!

Independence Day Tassel

All the credit for this idea goes to the feature in the July/August issue of Southern Lady Magazine – they did a how-to for “Elaine’s No-Hassle Tassel” (provided by Elaine’s, a ribbon shop in Montgomery that I’m going to visit next time I’m in that area).

In the magazine, they used smooth silver ribbon to make a tassel that looked great on an armoire. My version used red, white, and blue ribbons as a doorhanger for the upcoming Independence Day holiday.

I bought six different spools of ribbon – red, white, and blue solids and also three different ones that looked like they would go well.

I cut 3 pieces that were about 24″ each from each spool – so even my shortest spool (at 3′) was enough for this project. Make sure that two of the spools you use will have at least 30″ left on them to make the hanger (30″) and the tassel wrap (30″). Most of my spools had five yards on them, and that was plenty – with lots of extra left for another project.

In the end, I used about 14 yards of ribbon total.

Independence Day Tassel

From each of the six spools, I cut three 24″-long pieces:

Independence Day Tassel

Next, I made a swallowtail cut on each of the ribbon ends (that’s what makes the upside-down ‘V’ shape at the bottom of each ribbon). First, take the ribbon, fold it in half and cut at an angle:

Independence Day Tassel

Here are all the ribbons after they’ve had the swallowtail cut at the ends:

Independence Day Tassel

Next, I made a knot about 2″-3″ from the bottom of each end of each ribbon. This gives the final tassel more volume:

Independence Day Tassel

I cut one 30″ length of ribbon and laid it out, then on top of that I put all the other ribbons. I tried to make sure that the knotted ribbons were centered on the long ribbon:

Independence Day Tassel

Then I carefully picked up the long ribbon and made a knot to secure all the smaller pieces:

Independence Day Tassel

Then, I cut another ribbon 30″ long (I used the blue with stars ribbon), and wrapped it back and forth around the top of the tassel, just a short way from the top. This secured the whole thing and helped make it look finished:

Independence Day Tassel

Now, I just took the tassel and hung it from a doorknob. I think it turned out really great and I think everybody will get a kick out of it at our Independence Day get-together!

Independence Day Tassel

Two Shows to See

One of my favorite artists, Nall, is bringing an exhibit called “Violata Pax” to the Mobile Museum of Art to show between August 4 and September 24. There’s an article in the Mobile Register here, and Nall is quoted about the two other exhibits that will be shown:

“The Mobile show includes Alabama art, one of my dearest passions,” he says, “and ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ pencil drawings done in the research period of developing pencil paintings at a time when I was using 20-year-old eyes.

“My porcelain, silverware, posters, etchings, glassware and many more media will be exhibited, as well as a retrospective of works dating to the 1960s.

I also read that William Christenberry (who, among other things, is famous for his pictures of Hale County, AL) is curating his own show at the Smithsonian American Art Museum through July 8, 2007. An interview in the Washington Post here has an interview with him, where he mentions that he’s put quotes from William Faulkner and Eudora Welty with his work because they and other Southern writers influenced him. He’s also putting together an exhibit of outsider art there. Nice!

Pearl River Resort – Golden Moon Casino Hotel, Philadelphia MS…and Peggy’s

On our way back home, Av and I stayed at the Golden Moon Casino Hotel. This was our first time to stay there. It’s different:

This is the Silver Star hotel/casino, which is right across the street from the Golden Moon. Both properties are operated by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

The rooms at the Golden Moon are nicer than the Silver Star (we stayed there one night a few years ago for a convention). This was our room at the Golden Moon:

It was okay, but the room smelled at first like a huge container of powdery carpet deodorant. Either it dissipated when we opened the door or we got used to it – either way, we only stayed a few hours overnight inside the room, so we survived.

The next morning, we got up and shopped at Williams Brothers (which is one of those stores that’s been around forever – it’s 50% grocery store, 45% clothes and shoe store, and 5% tack and feed store!). It’s really neat to walk around. Next, we went for lunch at Peggy’s, which is right in downtown Philadelphia:

Peggy’s has been around since 1961, where Peggy and Don Webb started serving food out of their home’s kitchen – and the guests would eat in the dining room. They moved out recently, and there’s extra seating now in the living room! We love it. Av had fried chicken and some rice, and I had chicken and potato salad with butter beans:

At Peggy’s, you just walk into the house, up to the kitchen where the food is set, serve yourself and pour some tea, then they bring bread and dessert. There’s no check to pay – you just leave…I think it’s $7…in the basket. So nice!