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Southern Gardens

Since Spring has sprung and we’re in the midst of showers and sunshine, what better time to chat about Southern Gardens than now. I have extensive photos of my Great-Grandmother {Nana} and her rose gardens in our family collection, and have been so inspired by the beautiful, white climbing roses at Serenbe where we got married. That will be the next garden I tackle, however this year I decided to replant my herbs and go a little further with my vegetables this year in the tiny, square container garden my husband built for me a few years back. I’ve been busy posting photo updates on my Instagram, and pinning some of my favorite garden inspiration as well for ideas!

Southern Gardens

Southern Living has long been a staple for our Southern home {as I know it has for yours} and Senior Gardens Editor, Steve Bender {aka The Grumpy Gardener} is joining us to chat all about the essentials for growing a Southern Garden today!

As I planned for and planted my own herb & vegetable garden this year, with little thriving success over the past few, I got the chance to ask Steve a few questions, tips & pointers. Here is what he had to share …

 

Steve Bender Southern LivingWhat are your favorite plants & flowers to grow in the South?

Native azaleas, angelonia, coleus, oakleaf hydrangea, clivia, Japanese maple,  Lenten rose, daffodils, crepe myrtle.

What are your favorite fruits & vegetables to grow in the South?

Blueberries, figs, Japanese persimmon, sweet peppers, lettuce, okra, basil, rosemary.
What epitomizes a truly Southern garden?

A garden with plants well-adapted to the region that expresses the personality of the owner as well as Southern gardening history.
Tell us your top tips for a successful garden in the South?

Give plants what they like — sun or shade, dry soil or wet soil, mild winters or cold winters. Don’t mix plants that have different likes.

What is your favorite thing about gardening?

My favorite thing is it helps you relax and forget about everything else going on in the world. Your garden is your refuge.
What are some of the most creative garden containers or elements that you’ve seen?

There are so many old junky things that make really cool containers — like boots, colanders, bathtubs, suitcases, coffee pots, etc. Last year at P. Allen Smith’s place in Arkansas, I made a beautiful mixed planter out of a bedpan.
When is the best time to plant your garden?

The best time to plant is when it’s right for the plants and right for you.
What is the best way to prepare your plot for planting?

Good soil is everything. Before planting, loosen the soil to a foot deep and mix in lots and lots of organic matter, such as chopped leaves, ground bark, composted manure, garden compost, and sphagnum peat moss.
Who inspired your love of gardening?

My Dad. He was a big gardener and I followed in his footsteps.
How are you carrying on the tradition of gardening?

My garden has lots of pass-along plants given to me by family, friends, and complete strangers. Every time I see one of those plants, I remember the time I got it and the person who gave it. I share my plants too.

 

#southernchat:  Southern Gardens (Monday, 4/29/13, 9:00 pm edt.)

Q1: What elements truly epitomize a Southern garden?

Q2: What are your favorite plants, flowers, fruits & veggies to grow in your Southern garden?

Q3. Who or what inspires your Southern garden?

Q4: What are some of your favorite pots & creative containers for growing a Southern garden?

Q5: What tips & tricks have been passed down to you for growing the best garden?

 

Images via Shabbiness to Fabulous, KaraRosaLund, Pinterest, Flora & Fauna, Garden Artistry, Williams-Sonoma, Crush Cul de Sac

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Like many of you, I am gearing up to head to beautiful Jekyll Island for The Southern Coterie Summit on May 1st thru 3rd. I have been trying to decide which conferences I would attend this year, and many of them just don’t make sense for me, but when I learned of The Southern C, I knew it was a perfect fit. And, some of my favorite friends will be there too to enjoy the gathering, mixing & mingling.

The ladies behind Summit, Cheri Leavy & Whitney Long, are also the founders of The Southern Coterie, an online Southern social community. And, I am thrilled they agreed to join us this week for our #southernchat to give us a little preview as to what’s to come at the Southern C Summit!

Southern C Summit founders

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the line-up for the Summit, take a peek at the presenters which range from Southern authors, writers, designers, small business owners to bloggers and beyond. And, you know the hospitality will be top-notch coming from the South!

#southernchat:  The Southern C Summit (Monday, 4/22/13, 9:00 pm edt.)

Q1: What do you find most exciting about the idea of a “Southern” conference?

Q2: Are you attending The Southern C Summit this year?

Q3. Who are some of your favorite Southern bloggers or friends on Twitter?

Q4: Which presenters do you find the most interesting on this year’s agenda?

Q5: What Southern speakers or topics would you most love to hear from beyond this year’s agenda?

Chat Perk this Week: Our special guests Cheri & Whitney have a special treat for you this week! You can be their guest at this year’s Southern C Summit for just $300 when you enter #southernchat in the “Where Did You Hear About the Summit?” question during checkout anytime today (4/22/13 by 12 PM EDT)  to sign up! Click here to snag your ticket and we’ll see you there!

I have always had a passion for interiors, architecture and designers with a clearly defined signature style. I believe in the South we have a simplicity in home design. Yet, in the simplicity there is a rich and thoughtful detail that helps give nod to the care and craft that went into each selection. I love the craftsmanship of a wooden door and the inclusion of a farmhouse sink.

Ellen & Portia Elle DecorSouthern Homes

This week’s #southernchat is focused on the Southern Home and all the goodness and richness that goes into our Southern style. I am so thrilled to have a special guest, M.K. Quinlan, Senior Style Editor at Garden & Gun Magazine. When I asked her if there was an approach she’d like to take to the Southern Home concept, her answer was so much more thoughtful than I could ever have hoped…

MK Quinlan Garden & Gun“Lately I’ve gotten stuck on this idea of “slow-style.”  It’s a play on the slow-food movement, a way of considering your personal style – whether in your home or your wardrobe—in a manner that is authentic to the person you are and the place where you’re from. There’s no science to it, but I think combining heirloom pieces with new purchases that have meaning to you is a good place to start.

My least favorite thing in the world is walking into a home that has been “designed”—each piece of furniture new, fabrics perfectly color-coordinated, family photos stuffed in drawers. It doesn’t tell me anything about the people who live there. This is the danger of hiring an interior designer and not including your personal tastes and opinions in the design process.

In the South, I think we’re able to rise above this more than most because of the value we place in our personal history, and because the home is about so much more than “looking pretty” to us. It’s about entertaining and letting people into your life.”

——–

I have never thought of the Southern Home in such a way, but it truly describes the Southern way and my own personal approach to decorating. I have been collecting and curating pieces for as long as I can remember to slowly build my home into the unique interior it is today. The story behind each piece is truly inspiring, when you step into someone’s home, being able to learn the history behind an item is even further rooted in our art of storytelling. And, if you know me well by now {or if we’re friends on Pinterest …}  you know my own personal Southern home style is most certainly barn chic.

I know you’ll enjoy chatting with M.K. as much as I have on this topic, so be sure to join us Monday 4/15/13 at 9:00 PM EDT for this week’s #southernchat! Also, be sure to follow along with M.K. on Twitter at @GGBelleDecor and on the Garden & Gun Style Blog – Belle Decor – that she pens.

#southernchat:  The Southern Home (RESCHEDULED TO: Monday, 5/6/13, 9:00 pm edt.)

Q1: What key elements define a Southern Home (interior & exterior)?

Q2: What elements in your own home are Southern-inspired?

Q3: Who are some of your favorite Southern designers, architects, or artists for the home?

Q4: What home accessories & furniture companies are your favorite to shop for curating your Southern home?

Q5: What questions do you have for M.K. about about “Slow-Style,” Garden & Gun or her Southern home?

Images: Garden & Gun / Elle Decor / SJP Home

southern sweets

Southern Sweets

Join us for this week’s #southernchat as we talk about delicious Southern sweets from Goo Goo Clusters and Red Queen Tarts to marshmallows and shortbread cookies.  I look forward to hearing everyone’s favorites and sharing a few of them myself!

I love the history of the products from Chattanooga Bakery, the maker of Moon Pies and wish some of them were still around today! And, we even had a special chat just for Southern artisan chocolates. I loved stumbling across Sir Francis, who pairs such Southern ingredients as bacon & peanut brittle to make their boxes of confections.

To help further the Southern sweets discussion, we will be having special guest Jenny (@SweetSixCandy) who began Sweet Six Candy Co,  Using a recipe from her mother, Jenny spun her own versions of the six ingredient recipe and reeled people into her Sweet Six brown sugar candy. You can get to know more about this sweet company from our post yesterday to get an inside look.

Jenny also recommended I check into Wondermade marshmallows – and if they taste half as amazing as their packaging looks – I’m 100% sold! With flavors like bourbon & lavender, there is no doubt these fluffy wonders were made right here in the South. She also said I should look into  Jane’s Short Sweets, a company that not only makes sweets but is also sweet-as-can-be by donating all of their profits to charity!

Despite the size of your sweet tooth is, I hope you’ll join us this week for #southernchat!

#southernchat

#southernchat:  Southern Sweets (Monday, 4/8/13, 9:00 pm edt.)

Q1:  When you think of Southern sweets, which confections come to mind?

Q2:  What local sweets in your town do you want to share?

Q3:  What makes sweets in the South unique?

Q4: What Southern ingredients to do you love to see in sweets?

Q5:  If you could pick one family recipe for sweets to pass down to your children, what would it be?

Q6:  If you could pick one flavor of Sweet Six Candy to try, what would it be?

Giveaway: Our friends at Sweet Six Candy Co, have kindly offered up one 8 oz. bag of their candy, and you get to choose the flavor! Just join in the chat using the #southernchat hashtag and you’re entered to win!

There is nothing I love more than finding other Southern artisans, designers & business owners that are passionate about their business. I believe the cultural and craft of the South inspires companies and products that are truly meant to tell a story, and Sweet Six Candy Co. is no different.

I have loved meeting Jenny DeWitt on our weekly #southernchats and really have enjoyed watching her business grow. This week’s Southern Sweets #southernchat will feature Jenny as our guest, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Her beautiful candies are family recipe inspired and I just love their round tin packaging, too. I hope you enjoy sitting back and reading more about Sweet Six! Sweet Six Candy Co

How did you come up with the name of your business?
I was actually gifted the domain name sweetsix.com and wondered whether it might work for a candy. When I realized the original recipe had six ingredients it just made sense. Also, if someone happens to be searching online for sweet sex and misspells it, I think that gives me a fair chance of making a sale. You just never know.

What inspired you to go into the business of sweets?

Last year, I started a personal home economics journey. I taught myself canning, started a small vegetable garden, learned to make cheese, bought a sewing machine, and finally got my mother to share her secret candy recipe with me. It’s a recipe she invented back in 1956 and had never written it down. We worked on it for about a month to get the measurements just right and I started giving samples and small batches away to friends. Everyone said I should start selling it. So, I worked on a label and branding with a designer friend of mine and opened up an Etsy shop back in September. The response has been great.

What do you love most about being in the sweets business?

Honestly, I love that look on people’s faces after they take their first bite of Sweet Six. It’s as if they light up with happiness. I also love the experimentation part of the research and development process. Testing new flavors and combinations is really interesting. Sea salt was a complete failure, while the newest flavor, ginger, was so much fun to figure out.

Sweet-Six-No1_Original

Are there any characteristics of southern sweets that stand out above the rest?

I’d have to say dependability and creativity. You always know it’s going to be good and a little bit different than anything else you’ve tried. Southern cooks are not afraid of sweets. In fact, I don’t know a Southern cook who is afraid of anything in the kitchen. Whether they follow the spidery handwriting of their grandmother off of a hundred-year-old recipe card or fly by the seat of their pants, southern cooks are fearless. That comes out in the dishes they makes and most definitely in the desserts.

What are your most popular candies?

Right now I have eight flavors of Sweet Six and the most popular flavor has been No.2 Espresso. I know people who buy it to use in their coffee as sweetener or as an after-dinner treat. I make it with a locally roasted espresso beans. It’s pretty intense. During the winter holidays, No. 7 Pumpkin Spice is really popular. It’s great crumbled on top of Sweet Potato Pie or ice cream.

What can we expect from you next?

I’m excited to start adding new types of candies to my repertoire this summer. I’m working on lollipops right now. I’m playing with flavors like rose and saffron. I’ve started doing custom wedding favors which is a lot of fun. I think it would be amazing to come up with a unique and exclusive flavor combination for someone’s big day or event.

With Easter right around the corner, this week we will #southernchat about Easter Traditions, a topic suggested in one of our earlier chats.  Everyone has their own special traditions for Easter – from family to eggs to baskets. Some of my favorite Easter style pieces are oh-so-Southern-inpsired, keeping it classic but still spring fresh. Seersucker, straw, pastels, stripes and floral scents help set the stage for an Easter gathering you’ll never forget.

Easter Style

My own traditions growing up were family events that brought us closer together. My grandmother always put together special Easter egg hunts at her house, leaving little clues in each egg that led to the next.  After the last egg, the next clue helped us to find our Easter baskets which were filled to the brim with treats.  The wooden baskets we found were handcrafted by my parents and painted in soft spring colors, mine with a bunny and my sisters with a chick on it.  They went perfectly with the Easter dresses my sister and I would wear as we made our way to Easter brunch at my grandmother’s country club.

Liza Graves Style BlueprintThis week, we have a special guest, Liza Graves, co-founder of styleblueprint.com.  I very much related to the Easter memories that Liza had to share.

I grew up honoring Lent, with a grandmother and all of her sisters who gave up liquor each spring for 40 days and then got quite tipsy at the annual Easter party, held at my grandmother’s on a 3-acre lot on the river in the second oldest house in town. It was THE party to be invited to. Ham biscuits, coconut cake and sparkling punch, spiked and served out of a punch bowl, were always mainstays on the buffet table. Sometimes my grandmother & her sisters would get a little tipsy, get into arguments and storm off to their respective homes, all within one block of one another – just in time for the caterer to leave and everyone to proclaim that it was the best party yet.

I do think that everyone has funny Easter traditions, but the big Easter Egg Hunt at a friend or neighbor’s house, lent, smocked dresses, ham biscuits, coconut cake and family spats that end in hugs are something that most southern families have in common!

I love Liza’s spin on Easter, and I can’t wait to hear all about your Easter traditions, too! I hope you can join in the fun.

 #southernchat

#southernchat: Easter Traditions (Monday 3/25/13 9:00PM est)

Q1: What Easter Traditions do you & your family have?

Q2: When you think of Easter, what elements come to mind?

Q3: What are some of your favorite southern foods on the Easter table?

Q4: What are the perfect pieces for a classic Easter outfit?

Q5: What southern goodies will you be filling the Easter baskets with this year?

Kayce Hughes LogoGiveaway!

Special thanks to Liza for coordinating this week’s giveaway – a $50 gift certificate from our friends at Kayce Hughes! With stores in Nashville, Chattanooga, and now, Atlanta, what better place to outfit your whole family for the Easter holiday than here. Just join in the chat by using the #southernchat hashtag sometime from 9:00-10:00pm est on 3/25/13 and you’ll be automatically entered to win.

Easter Style: Rachel Zoe Straw Hat, ASOS Cork Clutch, NARS blush, Happ & Stahns Eau de Parfum, J.Crew Seersucker Dress, Gucci Necklace, Butter London Polish, Sperry Wedges.

If you love Southern food, there’s a good chance you take the taste of a biscuit very seriously.  A staple in the Southern kitchen from breakfast to dinner, biscuits also allow each person to personalize theirs with honey, gravy, and different preserves. Most biscuits are made with the same ingredients: flour, buttermilk or milk, and some kind of fat or butter, but within the preparation is where many secret steps and family traditions take root.

Being a most adamant fan of breakfast & brunch, for me it doesn’t get much more Southern than the biscuit.  I love the notion of a flour-covered countertop, a strong tin biscuit cutter, and a warm biscuit just out of the oven in time for the meal to be enjoyed fresh.

This week we’ll be talking ingredients, secrets, favorites, and traditions for our biscuit #southernchat.  I hope you can join us in the chat and that we might encourage you to share a special recipe of your own, or make your own biscuits for you and your family. Join in this week for our biscuit #southernchat at 9:00PM est this Monday 3/18/13.

 #southernchat

#southernchat: biscuits (Monday 3/28/13 9:00PM est)

Q1:  If you had to describe a Southern biscuit in three words, what would they be?

Q2:  What’s the secret to making biscuits from scratch?

Q3:  What is your favorite local restaurant to find the best biscuits in town?

Q4: What are your favorite spreads/toppings for biscuits?

Q5:  What’s your favorite meal or recipe that includes biscuits? Feel free to share links!

Giveaways: This week we have TWO extra-special giveaways this week! Just join in the chat by using the #southernchat hashtag sometime from 9:00-10:00pm est on 3/18/13 and you’ll be automatically entered to win. Two lucky winners will be chosen at random.

The first is thanks to Southern blogger, Kate Spears of Southern Belle Simple  and the  International Biscuit Festival to be held 5/15-18 in Knoxville, TN. They are kindly giving away a pair of tickets to Biscuit Boulevard for one of our lucky #southernchat friends to enjoy! Now that is one celebration I’d love to take part in {judges needed?}.

The second is thanks to our friends at Pillsbury, who are giving away a fun gift basket to one lucky #southernchat friend this week! I personally love their flaky layers biscuit, which is my favorite quality of a true Southern biscuit, and they’re so perfect when you’re in a pinch for a quick, home-cooked meal!

Image via MyRecipes.com

national pie day 2013

It’s that time of year again, when we celebrate one of my most favorite things … pie! This Thursday, March 14th, is National Pie Day, so what better our topic for this week’s #southernchat than pie. A quintessentially Southern treat, pie has graced the dessert table at many a gathering filled with some of our favorite local ingredients, from pecan to peach to apple and more.

For me, pie is a time-honored art that truly is passed down thru the generations. I shared my own Nana’s (Great Grandmother’s) Pie Crust recipe many years back on the blog, and to me it’s the best because it’s what we grew up enjoying. I’ve heard many secrets to the perfect pie crust … cold butter, cold water, lard, shortening … who knows what really makes “the best” but I’m all for trying them all! And, I love seeing some vintage pie accessories like wheel crimpers & cutters, pie saves, and good old tin pie plates. My go-to is this Emile Henry pie dish from Williams-Sonoma that I got as a wedding gift and it makes any pie look even lovelier.  There are so many variations on pies, too. The whoopie pie, Chattanooga’s own MoonPie, and my friend Abby Dodge even wrote this beautiful book on Mini Pies, too! And, one of my favorite things is a skillet pie, baked right into a cast iron skillet.

southern pie

This week we’re celebrating all things pie – from ingredients, to secrets, to favorites – so I hope you can join in the fun, and that we might just inspire you to share a pie recipe of your very own, or even make one from scratch this week! Join us for a special #southernchat at 9PM est this Monday, 3/11/13 to chat all about pie!

#southernchat

#southernchat: pies (Monday, 3/11/13, 9:00 pm est)

Q1: What are your all-time favorite kinds of pie?

Q2: Share some links to some of your favorite pie recipes from sites & blogs {yours included!}

Q3: Across the South, who serves the best pie around? Restaurants, chefs & more!

Q4: What is the secret to baking the best made-from-scratch pie? Tips & tricks welcomed.

Q5: In the South, good food is tied to great memories. What are some of your favorite memories that include pie?

{ If you’re interested in sponsoring the southern pie chat, or to learn more about #southernchat, see upcoming topics, to be a guest or host another giveaway, click here to learn more!}

Southern Pies: Garden & Gun bourbon pecan pie / Scratch bakery in Durham, NC / 3.14 Pies in Charleston, SC / My Nana’s Pie Crust Recipe / Moon Pies from Chattanooga, TN / Pie Shop in Atlanta, GA / Emile Henry Artisan Pie Dish from Williams-Sonoma / Mini Pies Cookbook by Abby Dodge

Artisan Cheeses

I am by no means a cheese expert but I am certainly a connoisseur! Cheese is one of my very favorite things and fresh, local cheese simply cannot be beat. This week our #southernchat focuses on something we all can love –  Southern Artisan Cheeses! A growing number of farms and creameries have been popping up across the South, and we are so fortunate to have such talented folks to share their craft {and cheese!} with us.

cheese board

I have long been a fan of Belle Chevre cheeses and am so thrilled that Tasia Malakasis has agreed to be our guest for this week’s chat. I fell in love with her passionate story of truly learning the craft and carrying it on in her home-state of Alabama. Growing up in Tallahassee, I was also familiar with Sweet Grass Dairy, and was so pleased to see they just opened a new flagship store in Thomasville, GA when I visited last month. And, I have loved chatting with @Timthecheeseman for some time on Twitter, and can’t help but visit Star Provisions here in Atlanta – a simply beautiful store & market where Tim is the well-known cheesemonger.

Southern Artisan Cheeses

Cheese Makers & Mongers

Beyond these wonderful cheeses, I was thrilled to learn of so many other creameries, dairies, farms & experts out there in the South. I know you will have a few more to share this week in #southernchat, and with so much to learn about this favorite food, the craft & more!

southernchat

#southernchat: southern artisan cheeses (Monday, 3/4/13, 9:00 pm est)

Q1: What are some of your favorite types of cheese?

Q2: Southerners love a good spread, what other types of foods do you like to include when serving a cheese plate?

Q3: What other local Southern cheesemakers, creameries, & farms do you know of to share with us?

Q4: The best ingredient is cheese! What are your favorite Southern cheese-inspired dishes & recipes?

Q5: What questions do you have for Tasia about her cheese and the craft of cheesemaking?

{ If you’re interested in sponsoring the southern film chat, or to learn more about #southernchat, to be a guest or host another giveaway, click here to learn more!}

Giveaway provided by Belle Chevre!

I’m so excited to share this week’s #southernchat giveaway, special thanks to Tasia & our friends at Belle Chevre! From the heart of Alabama, this company is as Southern as they come!

They have kindly provided one of their fabulous DIY Cheese Kits for one lucky chat participant tonight. Their DIY Cheese Kit helps to continue the craft and teach you at home, with the tools & ingredients to make your very own tasty cheese. I love the cute packaging and I am dying to give this one a try for myself! Tonight we are giving away the Original Kit, but you can also check out the Honey and Kids versions, too! What fun gifts these would make. To enter to win, you simply have to join us on Twitter for tonight’s Chat and use the hashtag #southernchat. One lucky participant will be chosen at random to win and the winner be announced at the conclusion of the chat! Good luck!

Southern Artisan Cheeses:
Looking Glass Creamery, Blackberry Farms, Belle Chevre, Spinning Spider Creamery, Sweet Grass Dairy, Locust Grove Farm, Bonnie Blue Farm.

southern movies

This week’s #southernchat is Oscar-inspired as we focus on some of the best Southern films & movies of all time. There are so many great movies, from new films to classics, that are set in the South or inspired by Southern events. Not to mention our favorite actors & actresses, landmarks, storylines and memories from these cinema staples.

best southern movies

best southern films

I know I have just scratched the surface of the chat with some of the movies I decided to include in today’s post but I just can’t wait to hear from you and see what I missed {especially the classics!} I hope you’ll join us and walk the red carpet to a fun chat.

southernchat

#southernchat: southern film (Monday, 2/25/13, 9:00 pm est)

Q1: When it comes the classics, what are your favorite classic southern films?

Q2: Now onto newer films … name your favorite southern movie of today.

Q3: If you had to pick just one movie that is quintessentially southern to you, what would it be & why?

Q4: We just saw so many of them walk the red carpet at the Oscars, who are your favorite southern actors & actresses?

Q5: If you were producing the next award-winning southern film, what would it be? Setting, plot, characters & more in 140 characters!

{ If you’re interested in sponsoring the southern film chat, or to learn more about #southernchat, to be a guest or host another giveaway, click here to learn more!}

Southern Film: Fried Green Tomatoes, Pure Country, Driving Miss Daisy, Sweet Home Alabama, Walk the Line, Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil, Steel Magnolias, Gone with the Wind, O Brother, Where Art Thou, Forrest Gump.

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