Thursday, August 28, 2014

John Deere and Farmdale....Green!

Paint. Paint may send me to the looney bin. Well, not necessarily paint proper but the process of selecting a color. Selecting a color, mind you, when you have known your whole long life that you want a dark stained or painted house with blueish-green shutters and a silver/gray/galvanized roof. The latter is more so the culprit for near insanity.

So the roof is installed and it is WHITE!!!! Styrofoam white. Sandy white - like the Gulf. Cloud white.

Ok, technically my roof is not "white." It IS the color I selected and always dreamed about... yet...when installed, the galvanized silver/gray LOOKS white on my roof's pitch. It even glows as moonlight does through the magnolias and pines. Cue "Georgia on my Mind" and "Stars fell on Alabama" and most any other country song involving moonlight.

Moonlight... there's the name for my roof. Not sliver, not gray, not galvanized - moonlight. After throwing a fit to my poor aunt and sister as if I were an emotionally disturbed child, and swearing I was going to throw it onto our road for all of Perry to pick apart and run over, I decided to keep the roof and tweak my color scheme. Thus, this is really why paint almost sent me to the looney bin - retrofitting a new palette to a moonlight hued roof.

Eighteen paint samples later, I landed on a selection for the board and batten pine siding for Farmdale. You see, y'all, I don't just have the main body board and batten to contend with, I have foundation panels, second story clapboard siding and then the coordinating shutters, mullions, trim, corner boards and painted brick too. I had all that picked out and selected before the roof's lunar eclipse. Square one for the paint selection was were I found myself.

"If I must select my colors again, they better be pretty names." The poor gals at James Farmer Inc had to hear my color and roof rants for days. I was a beast. Unconsolable and irrational I was... All because the roof wasn't exactly what I had imagined. From Sherwin Dubs to Ben Moore to Valspar's all stars, I zebra striped Farmdale with eighteen samples of paint. From green to gray, white to cream, tan to toupe, brown to darker brown, I employed my sister Meredith and my Aunt Kathy and we painted all the samples. And then the names -and stars I guess too - started to line up for ol' Farmdale... Linen White, Gentle Lamb, Gina's Eyes and Afternoon Nap, Mountain Hideaway...Colors with delightful names all started rising to the top ranks and file! Even with the roof's lunar loveliness!

Then, as life would have it, my final two siding selections came down to Crater and Dragon's Breath... Come on!! Really? Not the prettiest names but the colors seemed right. So, Farmdale shall end up being a custom color somewhere between the oddly named aforementioned colors. Farmdale Green I shall call it. It's a green/brown/gray/gold/mossy/moodycolor that I'm liking a lot.

I firmly believe that every person is entitled to one legitimate NBD in their life (nervous breakdown for those whose family doesn't have acronyms for everything like mine). Any additional NBDs are just selfish and annoying. I daily must decide if today is the day I shall have mine. Will I have it at Ace Hardware while unable to find the right tint of furniture wax? On a ladder at a client's house while hanging art? Or maybe at Chickfila on one of my multiple daily pilgrimages for tea? "No James... Not here not now." I tell myself.  "Save your NBD for somewhere else and another time... Ok buddy?"

What usually sobers my mind from a quandary such as this is a dose of reality. I live in a southerly world of pretty places and people. Many people do not. The roof will protect me from the rain which is more than many folks have. So, I am thankful for my roof. I am thrilled with my custom color selections and I am most of all, hopefully a little more compassionate towards bewildered people with terribly awkward facial expressions in the paint aisle.

I want to approach them, tell them it'll be alright and that we should all be glad to have a roof and walls to paint.

From Farmdale to your homes, I hope  all is well.

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Toast to a fine Coody Couple

In the events business, I have the privilege of witnessing many celebrations - and weddings especially - from an interesting, firsthand viewpoint.

Often I am honored to present the bride her bouquet wrapped in a grandmother's lace and secured with an heirloom cameo or brooch evoking emotions of all sorts. Often too I get to pin a boutonnière on a groom because his hands are a little shaky and then have what may be the only quiet, still moment of the day with a guy that's often my friend or marrying a friend of mine.

I get to don the cake with flowers, light candles upon candles upon candles, sneak peak at the bride in her dress and veil before the crowd, bring a diet coke to the mother of the bride and a myriad of other little things that just make the day special. Little things that make the day memorable too. These little things are even more special and memorable when I know the bride and groom - cherish them more so.

Growing up in Hawkinsville, I've known LL's family for years, and her home place is a stone's throw from my Granddaddy's church. Laura Lyn is my office manager. She's the steady hand guiding the SS JFI through the wild waters of being a small business - a small, multifaceted business for that matter! LL is probably the one of the most brilliant and poised and eloquent and gracious gals I've ever met... And then hiring her was a brilliant decision on my part! Really. Brilliant move ol' Jimmy!

The brilliance of me hiring Laura Lyn is only outshone by the brilliance of Brince marrying her. Brince is the brother of my best friend Maggie Griffin and has been a great buddy of mine since we were children growing up in Hawkinsville. We grew up in what I feel is a magical place of Georgia farmland and Ocmulgee River bottom - all intertwined with memories of the shockingly cold Mock Springs, late night monopoly games and enough AB's BBQ to feed an army. Such a childhood could not have been shared with a finer friend.

Now we're all "grown up." Yes we still have fun times at the river and eat BBQ, but being grownups now means Brince is my insurance agent and the former Miss UGA and Miss Warner Robins and marvelously intelligent college gal runs my business rather than the pageant circuit. We're buying and building houses and celebrating one year anniversaries - Brince and Laura Lyn's first year of marriage proper and my first anniversary of their wedding date... For it was memorable, special and full of so much fun and meaning for me for two such amazing people in my life to be joined.

As Mr. and Mrs. Harris Brinson Coody celebrate their first anniversary, I want to toast this amazing couple and share some of the images from their special day. Selfishly, it was awesomely special for me to be a part of that day. I could elaborate on the details of the food, flowers, decor and the dress, but this is honestly a case where pictures are worth the thousand words I would use.

Laura Lyn and Brince's rehearsal dinner and wedding reception further mean so much to me, for they agreed to let me include them in Dinner on the Grounds. Special day, special memories and even special weather that day for two incredibly special folks in my life. Happy anniversary y'all! The honor of being a part of your story and wedding is all mine.

Photography: VUE Photography
Venue: Twin Oaks

...don't forget to check out Laura Lyn's blog, Miss New Coody!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Whole Wheat Blackberry Muffins with Citrus

Summer fruits and veggies start coming in this mid to late summertime heat. Often, it is not just a lil’ bit of ‘maters or peaches or squash – it’s a bushel and a peck! Blackberries for us are one of those crops. We have stands of wild blackberries down the dirt roads and edges of the woods on our property that fill our baskets with berries and, in turn, give us all sorts of blackberry delights!

From cobblers and crisps to jams and salads, we have found many an excuse to devour blackberries. Aunt Kathy, with her astute culinary prowess, makes these blackberry muffins that we all clamor and beg for during berry season. The whole wheat flour is heartier and holds up better, since the muffins are laden with berries. A citrus sauce makes for the perfect glaze, and I have found that I love citrus with blackberry any ol’ time!

Sprinkle a scant amount of a course sugar atop the muffins after glazing with the citrus sauce and see if you have any leftover for tomorrows breakfast! Hope y’all enjoy these as much as we do!

Whole Wheat Blackberry Muffins with Citrus
Recipe from A Time to Cook – Dishes from Southern Sideboard
Photography by Helen Norman

1 stick butter
3⁄4 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3⁄4 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1 3⁄4 cup blackberries, sweetened if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place paper liners in muffin tins.Melt butter. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and make a well. Pour buttermilk, eggs and butter in the well and mix with dry ingredients until moistened. Then fold in blackberries. Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until lightly golden.

Citrus Sauce
1 (12-16 ounce) jar marmalade
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed* orange juice
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed* Meyer lemon juice
1⁄2 teaspoon zest from orange and Meyer lemon

Warm the ingredients together and pour over muffins as a glaze while muffins are still warm.

*Freshly squeezed juice is key. Peels of the rinds also make lovely garnishes

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lady Pea Salad

Lady Peas – the crème de la crème of Southern summertime peas. Now that’s not saying that Pink Eyes, Black Eyed, Cream 40s, Purple Hulls, Zipper, Crowder and Butter Peas are not up to snuff – not by any means. Lady Peas are just a Southern delicacy of sorts.

And, as any true Southerner can attest about their own lineage, we know our “people” and can enliven the past accordingly. The Lady Pea and her relatives are technically beans horticulturally speaking… but a good dose of familial lore and a fabulous “pot liqueur” can modify any Southern heritage. I firmly believe that my Grandparents’ stories about their childhood, home places and family became more and more glorious and even grandiose as they aged. It is only natural for Southerners to cover their “bean” roots and call themselves “peas” as they age. Such rebranding and family pride is as genetic to our makeup as our love for peas. May the circle be unbroken y’all. Amen. (And adding an “amen” is only natural too for Southerners.)

Just like a Southern Belle herself, Lady Peas have a few hallmark characteristics that set them apart from other “cowpeas” or more eloquently said “Southern Peas.” Lady Peas are not “crowded” in their shells like their “Crowder” cousins, rather resting ever so daintily in their hulls. Why is the group called “cowpeas” one may ask? Well, you try having to decide to feed your family or your livestock after Sherman ransacked your farm. Those “cowpeas” cooked up nicely and in turn, became a Southern staple foodstuff after the Civil War. Not that peas were not eaten in antebellum times, the Black Eyed and other “cowpeas” were more so thought of as fodder. I doubt though that Ol’ Bessie ate her Black Eyed peas with a hank of fatback and billowing pan of cornbread. For a refresher course on why we Southerners eat what we eat on New Years, Black Eyed peas notwithstanding, check out my New Year’s menu history! Ok, back to Lady Peas…

Lady Peas also yield a much more delicate, sweet flavor with a creamy texture and a clear broth upon cooking – not a darker, brooding broth as many of their cousins do. Oh so ladylike y’all! A direct quote from my beloved Mimi, “If all I had to do was rock babies and shell peas, I’d be in heaven.” I can’t help but think that’s what Mimi is up to now.

For my Lady Pea Salad in A Time to Cook, I wanted the very essence of the pea to be forthcoming and prominent. Thus, this salad is a blanched pea salad. Blanching peas is paramount to preserving and cooking, but I love the texture of blanched peas. A bit of crunch to soak up the dressing. This recipe is a simple and very elegant dish – perfect for a side to any summertime meal, a light snack or as a spread of sorts – a Southern caviar if you will. Besides, if you have some fine Southern ladies in your life, I’m sure they will love this recipe. Southern Ladies are a treasure and worth being served such a fine delicacy. The chiffonaded basil and minty garnish carry the flavors forward and I’m sure you’ll be having ladies upon ladies asking for seconds – ever so elegantly of course.

Photography by Helen Norman

3 cups blanched peas of your choice, e.g., lady peas
1 cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2-3 basil leaves, cut in chiffonade
mint for garnish

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and serve warm after blanching or chilled. It’s quite tasty both ways. Chopped mint is a nice addition to the salad as well as a garnish.

Farmer’s Note: my Herbed Mayonnaise for my Tomato Aspic is also a delicious dressing for this salad

Thursday, August 14, 2014


If any of y’all have ever built a house from the ground up, you KNOW it is a process. You pay lots and lots of money for things you don’t even see – foundations, encapsulation, ductwork, bracing, cinderblocks that you’re just going to cover with brick... but… you’ve got to have these things before you can have your Georgia pine board and batten siding, your antique bricks (and their expensive mortar mind you), your “tin” roof and your shutters. Ahhh, shutters. Those will probably be a post in and of themselves.


To build from the ground up or renovate or whatever your house’s project may be, you must have a great team. Thankfully, I have such a team. Every morning, they see me bouncing out of my suburban (clad in plaid and some sort of loafer), and they know that I’ll scale any scaffolding, race across any roof, load up any ladder or meet them wherever their working to investigate the progress. Pester – maybe – but that has such a negative connotation. I prefer “check in” for that allows me to “check out” and let them finish their task at hand. If I didn’t “check out” and head back to JFI, then I’d probably stay all day on the job site and rearrange the kitchen layout a dozen times, move the steps at least once and start painting. I am terrific at starting a paint job – finishing one is NOT my strong suit. I am good with color, so maybe I should stick with selection rather than application.



I’ve known several of the guys building Farmdale Cottage since we were kids. Most all of them have worked with me on clients’ homes around Middle Georgia, and I find that very comforting. There is a trust factor and comradery almost with these guys, for we’ve moved furniture and walls together, transformed outdated bathrooms and kitchens together and now, we’re building Farmdale together.

My sister Maggie captured all these action shots and some construction details. I don’t covet the guys from Wall 2 Wall Construction working in this summer heat, but I do appreciate them doing so. The brick foundation is almost complete, the roof is starting this week, windows and doors arrived and some are even being installed. I’m still a good ways away from planning my first dinner party (which I’m afraid will probably be delivery pizza and paper plates until I get all moved and settled in), but I cannot wait nonetheless. Big Napp had a slogan when our church was moving from the old sanctuary to the new one – “joy of the journey.” It is a journey – amen to that right? But the joy comes in the little things – the little steps – that all slowly but surely come together and create the journey proper. The journey is the story.




So, from the Georgia Red Clay piles of Farmdale to you, thanks y’all for letting me share some of my joy on this journey.

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