Faux Mercury Glass Challenge

I love DIY projects especially when you can upcycle something that’s an ordinary household object like a jelly jar. Just recently my friend and modern pioneer, Georgia Pellegrini, challenged me to add my own twist to a DIY project from her latest book Modern Pioneering.

When I saw her painted mason jars I thought, “What can I do to give these a little Moss Mountain Farm style?” And I came up with just the pioneer ordered, a stylish mercury glass look. You see in the mid-1800s in America mercury glass was used as an affordable alternative to silver. My version of Georgia’s project is an inexpensive and easy way to recreate this 19th century life hack.

Materials for Making Faux Mercury Glass
Clean mason jars
Water
White Vinegar
Spray bottle
Paper towels
Looking Glass® spray paint

Directions for Making Faux Mercury Glass:
To begin fill the spray bottle with 1 part water and 1 water vinegar and shake.

Set the nozzle of the spray bottle to a fine mist setting.

Gently spray a fine mist of the water vinegar mixture on the outside of the mason jar. The objective is to create small droplets of water that bead up and do not run.

Immediately follow up with an even coat of the Looking Glass® spray. Allow the paint to dry for just a minute and then apply a second round of the water vinegar solution. Wait about two minutes then gently blot the beads of water vinegar solution with a paper towel. Don’t rub the surface very hard or the paint will streak. A gentle pressure is good enough to achieve a realistic mercury glass look. Repeat the process three to four times rotating the jar from resting on its base to the top so you can get full coverage.

The paint needs about three hours to dry completely before you use the jars.

So now that I’ve completed my challenge I’m kicking the ball back over to Georgia and asking her to recreate a project from one of my books. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to see what she does and post pictures of your own DIY projects for a chance to win Georgia’s book Modern Pioneering and my cookbook, Seasonal Recipes from the Garden. When you post your picture tag @pallensmith and @georgiapellegrini and use the hashtag #modernpioneering.

Garden2Blog 2014

Garden 2 Blog is an annual event that I host at my farm where top garden bloggers from all over the country converge with industry leaders and discuss new trends. It’s really a highlight of the season and I am so looking forward to learning from it. I’m proud to call the Natural State my home and I’m excited to share it with a group of people who love being outside as much as I do. To show off some of the gardencentric characeristics of the capital city we’re going to take a tour of a few public gardens in Little Rock and the rooftop garden at the Clinton Library.

With 23 garden bloggers and 9 sponsors, we’ve got our hands full! I’m so grateful for our partners for making this event possible, because without them there would be no Garden2Blog. They are an exceptional group of industry leaders who are making great strides with their products, and I’m thrilled that they’re coming to share their knowledge.

It’s my pleasure to welcome bloggers because I’ve seen the work they do and am continually impressed with the way they merge the physical with the digital, the garden with the blog. Gardening goes back a long way in my family, and I’ve often felt that it was an art that was dying out through the generations. But these days, the virtual garden has helped revive gardening and green living. It’s now trendy to have a plot to garden in an urban setting, and this is partially due to the efforts of people sharing all the benefits of getting out in the garden online. The best part about it, though, is the wealth of knowledge becoming accessible for everyday people and new gardeners.

My mission is for us to grow in our passion for gardening by learning, and I hope that Garden2Blog 14 will advance that mission. Be sure to follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’ll post pictures and giveaway a few goodies.

#G2B14 Bloggers
Susan Fox www.GagasGarden.com
C.L. Fornari www.GardenLady.com
Rebecca Sweet HarmonyintheGarden.com
Lisa Steele www.Fresh-Eggs-Daily.com
Kathy Purdy www.ColdClimateGardening.com
Jan Bills TwoWomenandaHoe.com
Mary Beth Shaddix www.MaryBethShaddix.com
Christina Salwitz PersonalGardenCoach.wordpress.com
Robin Horton www.UrbanGardensWeb.com
Kylee Baumle OurLittleAcre.blogspot.com
Jenny Petterson www.JPetersonGardenDesign.com
Lamanda Joy TheYarden.com
Michael Nolan www.MyEarthGarden.com
Chris Van Cleave RedneckRosarian.wordpress.com
Teresa Byington TheGardenDiary.com
Robin Wedewer BumbleBeeBlog.com
Kenny Point www.VeggieGardeningTips.com
Steve Asbell www.TheRainForestGarden.com
Kelly Smith Trimble Blog.DIYNetwork.com/MadeRemade/
Jerusalem Greer www.JollyGoodeGal.com
Janet Carson UofACEsmg.wordpress.com
Linda Ly www.GardenBetty.com
Stephanie Buckley www.TheParkWife.com
Julie Thompson Adolf JuliesGardenDelights.com
Tina Wilcox www.OzarkFolkCenter.com/herbs/yarb_tales.aspx

Books Published by G2B14ers
A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting and Coming Together by Jerusalem Greer
Pick Fresh by Mary Beth Shaddix
Indoor Plant Décor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants by Jenny Peterson and Kylee Baumle
Four Seasons of Roses by Susan Fox
Color by Numbers by Steve Asbell
Fine Foliage by Christian Salwitz, co-authored with Karen Chapman
Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens….Naturally by Lisa Steele
Refresh Your Garden Design with Color, Texture & Form by Rebecca Sweet
I Garden: Urban Style by Michael Nolan
The Creative Herbal Home by Tina Wilcox, co-authored with Susan Belsinger
Coffee for Roses by C.L. Fornari
A Garden Wedding by C.L. Fornari
The Cape Cod Garden by C.L. Fornari
A Garden Lover’s Cape Cod by C.L. Fornari
Gardening in Sandy Soil by C.L. Fornari
A Garden Lover’s Martha’s Vineyard by C.L. Fornari

Sponsors
Proven Winners
Jobe’s Orgranics
Laguna
Flexzilla
Bonnie Plants
Troy-Bilt
Le Creuset
Hubbard Life
United Solutions
U.S. Foods

Arkansas Eats

As an Arkansas native I’ve always known that we have some stellar places to eat. Everywhere I go in the state there is a fantastic feast waiting at a restaurant, diner or roadside stand. Which is good because I love food.

The state is famous for southern staples such as fried catfish, barbeque and pie but our food is also influenced by our proximity to the southwestern flair of Texas. As we are an agricultural community a traditional Arkansas meal always includes a generous helping of something that was grown nearby. Purple hull peas slow cooked with a ham hock, cornbread, sliced tomatoes and fried okra are all sides you’ll find on the dinner table in Arkansas.

We’ve never strayed far from our culinary roots, but the national trend for locally sourced ingredients has produced a number of sensational restaurants that specialize in home-style cooking with a contemporary twist. How about catfish served over a bed of hoppin’ John and fried okra? Or perhaps a grilled pork chop with creamed corn, peppers and almonds. Are you hungry yet?

Arkansans aren’t the only folks who recognize what our state has to offer. Recently Forbes Travel Guides included our capital city Little Rock as one of five secret foodie spots with shot outs to Ashley’s, Ciao Baci, ZaZa’s Fine Salad + Wood-Oven Pizza Co. and Whole Hog Cafe.

Arkansas Farm to Table Restaurants

In addition to these recommendations I have a few others that I suggest you try for a plate full of local flavor featuring seasonal ingredients.

Brave New Restaurant – Get the mixed grill that includes a variety of grilled meats served with an herbed demi glace.

South on Main – This is where you will find the fried catfish and hoppin’ John. Yum!

Trio’s – In the summer they have a farmers’ market plate with seasonal vegetables that’s wonderful.

Table 28 – The restaurant offers unusual interpretations of southern favorites. Make reservations for a seat at the chef’s table (table 28) for an exclusive 6-course meal prepared and served by Chef Rains.

The Root Café – Great burgers and sweet potato fries. A definite must if you have a hankering for breakfast on a Saturday morning.

Capital Hotel Bar and Grill – The Friday lunch special is red sauce braised brisket with rice bread and chow chow. That’s what I’m talking about!

The Hive – If you love a good pork chop this is the place to go. Chef Matthew McClure sources the pork from a local farmer raising heritage pigs known for their exceptionally tender and flavorful meat. Oh, and be sure to stop in at the nearby Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The current exhibit is a collection of French modern masters including Matisse, Cezanne and Degas. It will be on view until July 7, 2014.

28 Springs – You can’t come south and not eat chicken and dumplings. Savory herb gravy and a flaky biscuit crust make these some of the best chicken and dumplings to be had.

The Farmer’s Table Café – One look at the breakfast menu and you’ll know why this place is the talk of the town. The Hash Skillet is to die for.

HEIRLOOM food + wine – A glass of wine and a platter filled with artisanal cheeses, seasonal fruit, walnuts, honeycomb and fig-rosemary crackers plus an amiable companion? Is there a better way to end the day?

Special thanks to Lyndi over at NWAFoodie.com for recommending some great restaurants in northwest Arkansas!

Fried Dill Pickles


It’s astounding to me but it wasn’t until 1963 that someone thought to fry a dill pickle. I know, right? Bernell “Fatman” Austin was the first to serve these treats at the Duchess Drive In in Atkins, Arkansas and they’ve been a southern staple ever since. If you don’t believe me try them and get back to me. Here’s a recipe that is similar to those served at a local catfish joint.

Ingredients
1 quart jar dill pickle slices
2 teaspoon red pepper
2 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoon black pepper
1 eggs
8 ounces milk
5 – 6 drops hot sauce
2 cups flour
vegetable oil

Instructions
Mix egg, milk, hot sauce, and 1 tablespoon of flour in bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl combine the red pepper, paprika, black pepper and 2 cups of flour.

In a large, deep skillet or fry cooker heat vegetable oil to 375 degrees.

Dip the pickle slices in the egg and milk mixture, then dredge them through the flour and spices, then the egg and milk again and then the flour once more.

Next drop the battered pickles into the hot oil and fry until they float to the surface and turn a nice golden brown.

Serve immediately.

Four Fab Shrubs for Containers

Some of the most exciting developments in gardening are happening in the world of shrubs. Compact sizes, interesting foliage and gorgeous blooms are just a few of the innovations I’ve seen while out scouting garden shows and spring trials for plants to grow in my garden.

These new features have transformed shrubs from one-season-wonders and supporting players to flashy focal points in both flower beds and, thanks to small sizes, containers. These new colorful, easy-care shrubs are ideal for high maintenance and lazy gardeners alike. Take a look at four that I’ve chosen for my Proven Winners® Platinum Collection.

Sunny Anniversary™ Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora)

photo credit: Proven Winners

Fragrant pink flowers touched with pink and orange bloom from mid-summer through September.
Full sun to partial shade; zones 6a – 9b; 3 – 4 feet tall and wide; deciduous.

CONTAINER COMBO

Sunny Anniversary™ Abelia (Filler), Angelface® Blue Angelonia (Thriller), Superbena® Royale Peachy Keen Verbena (Spiller)

Tiny Wine® Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolious)

photo credit: Proven WinnersThe smallest ninebark available to gardeners with an extra full form and refined foliage. Colorful bronze-maroon foliage all season and dainty flowers that appear up and down the stem in late spring.
Full sun; zones 3a – 7b; 3 – 4 feet tall and wide; deciduous.

CONTAINER COMBO

Tiny Wine® Ninebark (Thriller), Colorblaze® Dipt in Wine Coleus (Filler), Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum Petunia (Spiller)

My Monet® ‘Sunset’ Weigela (Weigela florida)

photo credit: Proven Winners

A petite weigela with golden variegated foliage that turns to a gorgeous red in fall.

Full sun; zones 5a – 8b; 12 – 18 inches tall and wide; deciduous.

CONTAINER COMBO

Superbells® Yellow Chiffon Calibrachoa (Spiller), Graceful Grasses® Red Riding Hood, My Monet® ‘Sunset’ Weigela (Filler), Dwarf Purple Fountain Grass (Thriller)

Lo & Behold® ‘Lilac Chip’ Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)

photo credit: Proven Winners

Soft lavender-pink flowers borne on a compact shrub from mid-summer until frost. This buddleia will repeat bloom without deadheading and does not produce seeds so it won’t spread.
Full sun; zones 5a – 9b; 18 – 24 inches tall and 24 – 30 inches wide; deciduous.

CONTAINER COMBO

Lo & Behold® ‘Lilac Chip’ Butterfly Bush (Thriller), Snowstorm® Giant Snowflake® Bacopa (Spiller), Superbells® Lemon Slice Calibrachoa (Filler)