Alabama Art Cards by Nall

Earlier this week, I bought a set of Alabama Art Cards designed by Nall – they are wonderful!

The face of each of the cards is this image, which is also the cover of the ‘Alabama Art’ book he edited, published in 2000.

In the spades suit, he features Frank Fleming, Kathryn Tucker Windham, and Martin Luther King Jr. (jokers are Bruce Larsen and Susan Starr):

Diamonds are Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Helen Keller, and Chip Cooper.

Clubs are Mose T, Betty Sue Matthews, and Booker T. Washington:

Hearts are Nall, Yvonne Wells, and Truman Capote:

…and each of the suits features a symbol of Alabama – the pecan, the dogwood berry, the cotton boll, and the camellia.

Enclosed with the cards is an insert where Nall writes about memories of growing up. He writes, “Before television, I spent many moments playing cards with family and friends, laughing and socializing around a front porch table or under the wisteria arbor. These memories are captured here in the portraits of many of Alabama’s best-known painters, photographers, writers, and sculptors.”

Ohr O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi

The Ohr O’Keefe Museum in Biloxi was under construction when the hurricane struck, but they’re proceeding and doing programming – including summer camp for kids. The architect on the museum is Frank Gehry (I love the design he did for the Disney Hall, and the Stata Center, especially) so you know it’s going to turn out interesting and wonderful!

I’m really looking forward to the museum being completed and opening, because Ohr’s pottery is just so magnificent. He lived from 1857 to 1918, was involved with Newcomb College pottery for a while, and was a real character – he called himself the “mad potter of Biloxi” and was a huge self-promoter. A crazy handlebar mustache, too!

Today, a piece of Ohr pottery runs in the tens of thousands of dollars. I saw one piece on Antiques Roadshow (they have a pic of his work here), and they said that although there were once 10,000 pieces of his that were purchased, less than 500 are probably “still out there.” They’re so neat, too – thin-walled, pinched pieces that are really abstract. Beautiful.

I bought “The Mad Potter of Biloxi: The Art and Life of George E. Ohr” and just last month, “George Ohr, Art Potter: The Apostle of Individuality” was published. I haven’t gotten it yet, but I’m thinking about it!

Right now, the collection of George Ohr pottery from Biloxi is being exhibited at the Mobile Museum of Art, with Shearwater Pottery (their building was heavily, heavily damaged too). The Mobile Museum site says that the Ohr/Shearwater exhibit is showing until September 30 – and the Nall exhibit I really want to see is there until September 24th – so I’m going to get back there soon!

Going to Pensacola

We drove over to Pensacola from Mobile to go to our favorite fish market in the whole wide world – Joe Patti’s. While Av was getting our order together…some grouper and pompano…I took a picture of these two lobsters being weighed for a customer:

It is crazy-busy there, but it’s really efficient and somehow fun and we love it!

They packed our fish (if you have a cooler, bring it in and they will fill it with ice and pack it perfectly – if not, they’ll pack it to go in one of their coolers) and we were all set.

This is the scene outside the market…every fish market should be this way! 🙂

Historic Blakeley State Park

This weekend, Av and I spent a little time at the largest National Historic Register Site east of the Mississippi (I didn’t realize it until we got there!) – Historic Blakeley State Park. There is a sign to take one of the exits off I-65 not far from Mobile to get to a Civil War battlefield…so Av and I drove out just to see what was there.

The park attendant gave us a little literature about it – Blakely used to be a thriving town back in the 1820s – bigger than Mobile, even – but today there’s not a single building left.

It’s also where the last major battle of the War was, on April 9, 1865, six hours after Lee surrendered at Appomattox. 26,000 soldiers fought there.

Part of the park is on the Tennsaw River. We walked around for a while by the water, and dragonflies were everywhere!

It’s really, really pretty there. Next time, I think it would be great to hike some of the trails out to the Indian mounds in the park. This site has some information about them.

Hilton Garden Inn, Montgomery AL…and a little bit about B&Bs

Av and I spent one night in Montgomery this week, at the Hilton Garden Inn.

There aren’t any historic hotels in Montgomery to stay at – so it’s either something like this (which is in the middle of a really nice corporate park) or a B&B. TripAdvisor lists three different ones, but I could only find the website for the Red Bluff Cottage.

I think sometime this Fall, Av and I are going to stay at one or two of the B&Bs in Natchez – but we’re not going during Fall Pilgrimage. I know that if you stay at one of the bigger B&Bs, you have to make sure that when you make the reservation that your room will be in the main house because some of them have so much business that they have built separate buildings for overnight guests on the grounds.

Av and I have stayed in Port Gibson at the Bernheimer House – it’s about 35 minutes north of Natchez. Loren and Nancy are really, really nice, and Loren keeps us updated on the restoration he’s doing to the mosaics on the outside of the home. So neat!

Embellishing Canning Lids

I thought I’d try to make the lids of my watermelon rind pickle jars pretty – so I took out some scrapbook paper:

…and my 2-1/8″diameter round paper punch (which was *the* perfect size for the lids):

…and made my circles:

The circles were just the right size to cover all the lid that shows through the band:

I then just took out my Mod Podge for glue, and a little foam brush to apply the Mod-Podge to the lid:

Here it is – I just spread a thin layer of Mod Podge onto the lid:

Added the paper circle back on, pressed down, and it was all set!

Sooo much better! I know my friends & family will love these! Yay!

Watermelon Rind Pickles

Av and I got a really nice watermelon at the State Farmers’ Market in Montgomery, and I decided to make pickles with it. I’ve made these before, and they turn out really nice!

I think, but I’m not sure, that watermelon rind pickles are mostly found in here in the South (and I know, at first they don’t sound very appetizing)…but they’re so yummy that you should give them a try if you can!

3 quarts watermelon rind (3 quarts is what you’ll get from a small/medium size watermelon)
1-1/2 tbsp pickling lime
5 cups sugar
1 gallon water
2 cups white vinegar
1 stick cinnamon
2 tbsp cloves

First, I quartered my watermelon, then cut off the green skin:

I scooped out all the yummy red watermelon so that all that’s left is the rind, then I cut the rind into strips, and from there, into bite-size pieces. I put the rind into a large pot, covered with water, and added the pickling lime. This must set overnight – 8 to 12 hours. I don’t know why, but the pickling lime makes the rind sound ‘squeaky’ when it’s stirred!:

The next day, drain the watermelon, and rinse it according to the pickling lime package instructions (which mine stated to rinse three times with fresh water):

After the third rinse, put the rind in another pot and cover with cool water. Let this set for 45 minutes, then drain again.

Now it’s ready to start cooking. I put the rind in a clean pot and covered with water, then boiled it for an hour. This will make the rind start becoming transparent:

In the meantime, I started on the syrup. For that, take a pan and add the water, vinegar, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves – and bring to a boil. When the rind has boiled for an hour, add it to the syrup pan, and boil for thirty minutes. The rind should have a more transparent look by this step:

In the meantime, I started sterilizing the jars. I used the exact instructions from the box the jars came in (it’s *so* important to follow those directions carefully) – here are the sterilized jars (the lids are in another hot water bath):

…then I added my hot watermelon rind mixture. I put plenty of pickles in each jar and filled each up to about 1/4″ from the top with the syrup. I put the lids on, then the bands, and placed the filled jars into a hot water bath, boiling them for 15 minutes.

(This is just one set of jars) Once fifteen minutes had passed, I took the cans out to cool – they need to cool for 12 to 24 hours. It’s really satisfying to hear the lids pop, which is the sound they make when they start to cool and seal.

Tomorrow I’ll make pretty labels for them and give them to friends and family.


Most Current Update on Ceramic Paints Project

I’ve updated my original post, but I wanted to post here that I did hear back from Dick Blick, Pebeo Porcelaine, and Adorn magazine (where I got the idea for the ceramic paints project) about the food safety of using the paints on food surfaces. Although when I got emails back from Dick Blick and Pebeo Porcelaine, I concluded that the paints were not really food safe, I received this message from the editors at Adorn:

“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’ve updated that post – you can read all the information I got back from all three sources there too – but I think just to be on the safe side, I won’t use the paints on any food surfaces.

Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans LA

We just got back from spending the last few days in New Orleans. The Monteleone was great. We last stayed there about four or five years ago.

The lobby is beautiful – the grandfather clock was made in 1909:

The rooms aren’t very large, but they’re pretty…and comfortable:

The hotel’s Carousel Bar — the seats revolve around the center bar once every fifteen minutes:

Joe’s Dreyfus Store Restaurant, Livonia LA

It was really okay that Mulate’s wasn’t that great, because we decided to visit Joe’s Dreyfus Store Restaurant for dessert. We’ve been wanting to go there for *ages* – so we drove to Livonia and had a fabulous time!

I ordered the bread pudding and it was soooo wonderful:

Av ordered the cheesecake, and it was fabulous!:

Everything we saw being served looked (and smelled) so great…so we are definitely going to try to come back for supper soon!