Balloon Flower Power

balloon flowerI’ve been blown away by the abundance of blooms on my Balloon Flower (Platycodon grandiflorus) this year. When I first purchased my balloon flower a few years ago, it was very small. It had one one huge purple bloom and that was enough to draw me in. Purple was my favorite color as a child and it’s still my favorite color of flower.

ballon-flower-budI took it to the counter and the design associate explained that it was a balloon flower. She shared that the blooms are hollow and swell like balloons before bursting open into the most glorious purple flowers. I was already sold on the flower and this more than sealed the deal. Within days, a bud formed and it was fun to watch it swell and pop open to a beautiful purple star.

balloon flowerEven though it was a perennial, I didn’t give my balloon flower much hope for survival because I’ve killed many other perennials in the bed in which it was planted. However, to my surprise, it came back again last year – at least a sprig or two with a few blooms.  I thought for sure our unexpected harsh winter would do this plant in, but I was wrong. This year it has gone crazy and I have a large mound filled with buds and blooms at varying stages.  I love that the blooms are still going strong in the heat of July.

I did a little research and as it turns out, the Balloon Flower tolerates major extremes such as the scorching summer heat in Arkansas. It thrives in full sunlight but also adapts to partial shade when need be. About the only extreme it doesn’t tolerate is soggy soil or drought.

In A Southern Garden (1942), Elizabeth Lawrence wrote of the balloon flower: “Once entrenched, it improves with time and should be one of the most permanent plants in the borders. It is certainly one of the most beautiful when grown well.” I’m pleased that I took a chance on this flower. It has more than exceeded my expectations and I’ve certainly gotten more than my money’s worth from this purchase. I highly recommend adding this to your garden or at a minimum to a container for a fun splash of color and intrigue.

~Southern Fried Gal

Remembering

remembering

It’s hard to believe it has already been a year since Granny passed. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t think about her. Evidence of her influence on the person I am today is all around. Here are a few favorite stories I’m remembering today.

remembering

This is Granny and my handsome papaw when they were just married. Papaw fibbed to her about his age while they were dating. When they went to get their marriage certificate Granny wondered why he brought his mom with him. That’s when she found out he was actually about 3 years younger than her and needed his mom’s permission to get married. His mom passively said she knew who would wear the pants in the family. Granny replied by telling her she should have taught her son not to fib. That sass was one of her best characteristics. She and papaw kept our family in stitches.

remembering

Granny was a spitfire. This is one of my favorite pictures of her of all time because it perfectly captures her personality. These are some of the ladies she worked with at the plant. I love the eclectic mix of styles - from prissy to tomboy and a little in between. Granny is the gal on the far right – the one with the black rubber boots and a cig in her hand. Personality!

remembering

Granny had her own sense of style and liked to be well put together. I have fond memories of watching her get ready as a child. Her hair had to be just so. Lipstick and freshly painted nails were required. The purse had to be changed out to match the shoes. She kept her jewelry simple – studs or loops for the ears, a dainty gold chain with charm, watch and wedding rings. Now that I think about it, her style was girly and dainty which is quite a juxtaposition to her spitfire personality.

remembering

Granny drove this canary yellow 1969 Chevy Camaro until she couldn’t drive anymore. Can you say Hot Rod Granny? I have lots of fond memories in that car including the time that she rolled my head up in the window. My favorite is a time we were at a red light on Midland Boulevard in Fort Smith, AR. A car full of teens pulled up next to us and one of them yelled out the window, “Hey grandma! Want to race?” Granny yelled back, “Helllllll no! I don’t want to race and I’m NOT your DAMN grandma!” Then she dropped it in gear and  left them in her dust.

These are just a few of the many stories I’m remembering today. God broke the mold with Granny. She was unlike any of my friends’ grandmas. I wouldn’t trade her for the world.

~Southern Fried Gal

Estate Auctions {finds & tips}

estate auction

My best friend and I have become addicted to weekend estate auctions. We live two hours from each other. We keep an eye out for those we can attend together and try to one-up each other on those we attend alone.

When we went to the first auction a while back, I was a little bit intimidated. My grandfather attended auctions frequently when I was growing up. I remember going to a sale or two with him and was scared to scratch my nose for fear of purchasing something accidentally on his behalf.

estate auction

It didn’t take long for me to loosen up once we got to the auction. I started out with a few small purchases just to get my feet wet. Bestie was more of a pro than I. She told me if I really wanted a piece to pay attention to the resale dealers. If they were still bidding then I could feel pretty good about getting a good price because they would want to get a decent margin. This tip has served us well. Of course we are also cautious of being bid up probably because we have watched  few too many Storage War episodes.

Before the end of the evening, I bought this cute pie safe for less than $200. I think this was a good buy. The inside is a soft, buttery yellow. I’m trying to decide if I should clean up and leave as is or paint the exterior.

estate auction

This is a chest that bestie scored for less than $300. It’s huge! The bottom piece is hand-carved and the entire piece is put together with wooden pegs. You can’t tell in this picture, but the hardware is metal with a nice patina (not black). We both LOVED this piece. So that we don’t fight, our rule is that the person who mentions the piece first gets first dibs. We were sure this piece would go for over $1000. We sized up the crowd throughout the night looking for those who would be our competition. Lucky for us, it was one of the last pieces to go at the auction that night.

That’s another good tip for getting a good deal. Estate auctions usually last for hours and most folks leave long before it ends. The auctioneer and workers get more tired with each passing hour. That’s the perfect combo for getting great deals. You have to pay attention, though, because things are sold at a quicker pace at that point.

estate auctions

I’m a sucker for old quilts and these are a plenty at estate auctions. Patchwork quilts are my favorite. Sometimes I get caught up in bidding and before I know it I’ve paid way more that I planned for a quilt. Then a few minutes later I may score an even better quilt for little to nothing.  You can never predict what will happen at the auction. I try not to fret over spending more on one  item and instead do a happy dance that the average of the two was way lower than I was prepared to pay.

estate auction

Inevitably, there is a piece or two at each of the estate auctions that I kick myself for not buying.  This is one of those that got away. It ended up going for less than $100. On the surface it may look like a chest in definite need of a coat of paint.

estate auction

It’s really a vintage Murphy Bed! How cute and functional is that? I kick myself every time I look at this picture. I daydream about which color I would paint it, what bedding I would use and how impressed my guests would be. This is shaky ground psychologically. As I said earlier, you cannot predict what happens at auction. It’s easy to get caught up at estate auctions in the should have/could haves.

Which brings me to a final tip. Let it go. Just because something sold for a nice price doesn’t mean it would have if you also bid on the item. Maybe the person who bought this was willing to pay a very high price to get the piece. Maybe it was broken. This is the absolute hardest tip for me to follow because I have a tendency to obsess.

Have you been to any estate auctions? What are your tips for getting a great buy?

~southern fried gal

Succulents

succulents

It seems the Arkansas weather has finally decided to stay above freezing which means I can plant my favorite succulents without fear. Mom always had a pot or five of hen and chicks so succulents bring back warm, fuzzy memories from childhood. I used to try and grow these indoors but I have found more joy in planting them outside. They can almost be planted and forgotten – almost.

Echeveria is probably my favorite succulent family. Pictured above is my Echeveria, Perle Von Neurnberg. It has a soothing effect over me. Maybe it’s the beautiful pinkish purple color. Maybe it’s the perfect point at the tip of each leave. Maybe it’s how they are perfectly organized around the center of the plant. Sigh. Did I mention this is my favorite?

succulents

I like to have a variety of succulent types and colors and textures. This is Pachyveria hybrid glauca also known as Little Jewel. It’s a good option to tie together green and pink succulents as well as add height to the arrangement.

succulents

Kalanchoe luciae intrigues me. I think it’s because in theory it organizes its leaves around a center but they seem more haphazardly placed than the Echeveria. The leaves are round – but not perfectly round. The blush around the edges adds a pretty touch to an otherwise tough appearance. There’s just something about this one.

succulents

If you want to add a different texture to your succulent garden, go for Kalanchoe tomentosa. This is another good plant to pull together colors in your arrangement and add height.

I also like to fill a rustic urn with this plant and showcase on a side table or shelf. It’s unexpected. If you decide to do the same, be sure it gets lots of light.

succulents

Succulents are fun to mix and match into arrangements in almost any container. I also like to showcase my favorites in a multi-pocket pot like this. It’s fun to watch them grow and fill in the pot. I can admire each individually or as an overall piece. Either way, you really can’t go wrong with succulents.

What is your favorite succulent and why?

~southern fried gal

REO Speedwagon {Let’s Rock}

Disclaimer:  I will receive two free tickets to the REO Speedwagon concert in Little Rock for sharing this story and promoting the Rock the Robinson/Moms Rock event.  There will be no other compensation.  The opinions in this post are all mine. I only share stuff I’m interested in regardless of compensation.

reo speedwagon

When I was invited to participate in the REO Speedwagon campaign with fellow Arkansas Women Bloggers, I was immediately taken back in time to the roller rink in my small home town. Affectionately referred to as the chicken coop, it was the place to be each Friday night.  This is where I first fell in love with Classic Rock. We rocked it out in the rink. I can still envision whirling around the rink to “Time For Me Fly” or “Take It on the Run” in flared jeans and a raglan-sleeved t-shirt.

reo speedwagon

Not wanting to date myself too much, the band formed much earlier, but it was the 1980s ‘High Infidelity’ that catapulted the rock group into music history. That was prime roller rink days for me. Looking back at the pictures cracks me up. We were such babies but didn’t know it. This is about the same age my son is now. That scares me!

reo speedwagon

Especially when I think about the heart palpitations I had when they announced couple’s skate!  I had the biggest crush on a guy that ruled the rink. He was so cool with that whistle hanging around his neck. Every now and again he would actually pick me! Hits like “Keep On Loving You” and “Can’t Fight This Feeling” are some of the best love songs for being pushed around the rink by a boy.

NOTE: The couple above is not me. It’s friends from school. Don’t you love how they are skating arms-length-apart?

reo speedwagon

So now that we’ve journeyed back in time together, why not join me at Robinson Center Music Hall on May 8 at 8 pm for more rocking and reminiscing with REO Speedwagon? This will be the last rock concert at the Robinson before its scheduled renovations. Let’s make history and Rock the Robinson one last time!

I’ve been given a special offer code so you can save on ticket prices. Please enter MOMSROCK - when checking out.

Prices with discount code are as follows:

$52.00 (discount to $47.00)
$47.00 (discount to $$45.00)
$37.00 (discount to $35.00)

If you can’t be there in person, follow our rockin’ night with REO Speedwagon using #RockTheRobinson,#ARWB, and #REOSPEEDWAGON on Twitter & Instagram.

~southern fried gal

Photo Credits: Special thanks to Vicki Glenn Davies and Jennifer Lloyd Hardcastle for responding to my plea for roller rink pictures on Facebook!

Bird Houses {In the Country}

bird houses

Not many things warm my heart more than a man caring for wild birds. DH’s pappy loves Jesus, sweet tea and wild birds. He has the best bird real estate in Black Springs, AR.  Here are a few of the bird houses he’s built using scrap materials, a little creativity and a lot of love.

bird houses

Directly out the back door of Pappy’s home is this high rise unit located on the west side of town. One thing I love about country style – there’s little waste. Almost everything is upcycled. Notice how he pieced together each scrap of wood into a simple and clean little house. Even the sweet little {dead} tree it sits upon has new purpose.

bird houses

This cute little house is located on the north side of Pappy’s home. No matter where they are located, the opening for each faces east. I doubt this is a coincidence. I’ve heard this is a secret to attracting blue birds. Shhh…

Bird Houses

This bird house was crafted from leftover wood and aluminum siding. How precious is that? A white picket fence would be perfect for this house – if birds had a need for that sort of thing. I think my favorite part about this house is that it is hung securely with coated electrical wire.

bird houses

On the northeast corner of Pappy’s house, I found the home I would want if I were a bird. On first glance, the house is simply an old hollowed out log with scrap wood attached on top and bottom. Looking closer you start to see the details that were carefully planned and some that probably weren’t.

bird house

The sloped roof is a must have to avoid leaks. The same electrical wire secures the house to the tree. Did you notice that the roof is not really a scrap piece of wood but instead an old cabinet door? I’m likin’ the lichen (ooh – that was bad) that now covers most of the door. The rusty hinge over the opening adds even more charm. It matches perfectly with the rusted nail perch.

bird houses

This home has seen quite a few broods over the years. It was in need of a good cleaning and a little light repair work when we snapped these pictures. Maybe Pappy will upgrade to hardwood floors this time around.

I love the country charm of these bird houses. Each has its own unique look and story. If you are feeling inspired to craft a country bird house of your own, Birds and Blooms shares a few ideas with instructions for materials you may have on hand such as a coffee can, an old boot and cloth.

~southern fried gal

Moroccan Shabby Chic

Moroccan Shabby Chic

My friend, Lisa, has a gift for style. Whether it be her wardrobe or her home you can count on a fabulous look. The sitting room in her home is one of my favorite places in the world. It’s simple and complex and breezy and cozy all at the same time. Her overall home decor style is shabby chic. This room stays true to that style with a touch of Moroccan flair.

Moroccan Shabby Chic

Ms. Mildred Pearl (Millie) invited us in for a tour. I was immediately drawn in from the hallway by the contrast of the white sofa with the dark chest, dark light fixtures and dark leather ottoman. The windows face east so the room was filled with warm, morning sunlight. It danced in and out of the room casting lovely bright spots and shadows that mimicked the contrast of the decor.

moroccan shabby chic

Millie insisted we pause in this corner to admire the ruffled voile throw, leather pouf and the gorgeous chest tucked in the corner nook. Everything looked as if it had been collected over time and across the world. I was especially drawn to that chest. I wanted to know its story.

moroccan shabby chic

Looking from the sofa across the room I spied more fluffy, white furniture contrasted with pops of hot pink and a dark accent table. It’s this side of the room that most gave me that Moroccan Shabby Chic feel. I’m sure that table was hand-carved in Morocco. Please don’t tell me if it wasn’t. The simple glass cylinder filled with fresh hot pink blooms was the perfect simple touch. Maybe she has fresh flowers in this room every day. Maybe not. Either way this gesture made me feel special and welcome on my visit.

moroccan shabby chic

Millie wanted us to feel confident that any seat in this room was equally comfy and cozy.

moroccan shabby chic

I was easily convinced and decided to join her in the adjoining white chair. If I were a bookworm, this would be the perfect spot to curl up with a book and enjoy the warm, morning sunshine with a hot cup of coffee. I’m not a reader so I’ll just sit here and enjoy the peaceful and calming vibe of the room.

moroccan shabby chic

This is the view from the room into the main hallway. Sigh. I could sit in this room for an eternity.

~Southern Fried Gal

p.s. Thank you, Lisa and Millie, for letting share and for the kind hospitality.

Spring Door Decorations

 

spring door decorations

Spring is in full effect. Trees and flowers are budding and blooming. There’s so much wonderful inspiration for spring door decorations yet my door is undressed. I always have a few ideas floating around in my head but nothing has come together, yet. Last night I went through old posts looking for inspiration. My door is still empty. However the activity was not in vain as it provided inspiration for a quick compilation post.

I always try to do something a little different each year. It’s funny looking back and seeing the similarity across the years. I guess it’s hard to hide our signature styles. We like what we like. One thing you’ll find most in common is how easily and quickly each are to pull together.

spring door decorations

Check out the cross in the top picture. The primary colors are purple, green and brown which is the same as the basket of tulips and ivy. My favorite color as a child was purple. My room was various shades of purple. I even had purple shag rug carpet! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this color finds it’s way into my decorations as much as it does.

spring door decor decorations

I really like using live plants on my door when at all possible. It all started a few years back when I crafted this basket wreath on the cheap. The basket in the previous picture was a thrifty find at Tuesday Morning. Purple flowers have been replaced with white. The butterfly replaced with a mushroom. Both have variegated ivy.

spring door decorations

Check out the lines and colors of this look compared to the last one. In my mind these two looks were completely different. But really they are more similar than not. The basket has been swapped out for a metal bucket. Both are long and tapered. Both have a lattice design. Both have white flowers and greenery. Isn’t that funny? One big difference is live vs. fake plants. I’m not totally opposed to using fake flowers (as long as they look natural).

This was one of my favorite quick and easy projects. The metal bucket was hung from the door with ribbon. A daisy bush from the local craft store was plopped into the bucket. I added a bunny on a stick and a bow to finish it off because that’s what I had handy.

spring door decorations

Or if you prefer to stick with live flowers, squish a red solo cup (are you singing that song now?) into the bucket, fill it with water and add clippings from a pretty bush in your (or your neighbor’s) yard. Shhhh. Easy peasy, right? Be warned – house finches built a nest in this and I was stuck with dead flowers on the door until they were ready to fly.

I’ve just shown you that spring door decorations don’t have to be fussy or hard to pull together. So why is my door bare?

How about you? How is your door dressed for spring?

~Southern Fried Gal

Dogwood Tree Obsession

dogwood tree

It’s one of my favorite times of year – dogwood tree blooms are out in full force in Central Arkansas. I captured this gorgeous and HUGE tree on my drive home from work yesterday. I was five hundred shades of green wishing this beauty was in my front yard.

dogwood-bloom

Here’s one of the blooms from the measly dogwood tree I planted in the back yard a few years back. It was a stick when I planted it. This is a bloom the first year it came back. It didn’t survive the second year. That broke my heart.  We had a wet winter that year and these beauties prefer well-drained soil.

dogwood tree

So for now I’ll drive the long way home everyday and admire the lacey, white leaves of as many as possible. Hopefully the neighborhood watch won’t turn me in for lingering and admiring these beauties. I promise to only take pictures and nothing more.

dogwood tree

I love how these trees grow under the canopy of the larger trees. The pure white blooms pop in a field of bright, spring green.

dogwood tree

What I admire most about these trees is their seemingly effortless nature. They don’t need to be the tallest or the brightest. Their natural beauty stands out. Their blooms are free flowing and airy. I think this is why my recovering Type A personality is drawn so much to them.

dogwood-pink

I mostly prefer the white dogwood tree, but every now and again a colored tree will steal my heart – like this one. Oh. My. Word. It’s so pretty! This neighbor offers a two-for-one special.

dogwood tree

We are lucky to have dogwoods in this neck of the woods. I found out a few years back via my blog that they don’t survive in the most northern part of the nation. Sad. If you are also fortunate to have them, I encourage you to slow down and admire their beauty. They will only be in bloom a short time. 

~Southern Fried Gal

Lovely Paper Crafts

Paper Crafts To Go

A few weeks ago I stepped out of my comfort zone and met a room full of (mostly) new gals for paper crafts and fun.

paper crafts w/ friends

Gina  (Desperately Seeking Gina), pictured left above, invited me to join her for a Camp Lovely paper crafts night. It sounded like a lot of fun and I desperately (pun intended) wanted to spend time with Gina so I agreed to go. Most people don’t believe me when I tell them I’m shy but I do have lots of shy moments – especially in a room full of new people.

I almost chickened out but thankfully Gina coached me the night before. She shared that Julie (eggs and herbs), pictured right above, was going to be there and promised it would be fun. She made good on her promise. We laughed and crafted and snorted and crafted some more.

Here are a few of the paper crafts that Christen Byrd guided us through that evening:

paper-crafts-pinwheels

Pinwheels – these can become addicting quickly! I’ve resisted the urge to make more since camp. This is a handy trick to quickly and cheaply add a little fun to a party. 

paper-crafts2

This picture is filled with eye candy – and the girls aren’t bad either. Ha! Seriously – it was a lovely group of ladies and it was a blessing to spend the evening with them. These are the giant tissue paper poofs they created. We also learned how to make paper circle garlands (running down the table), paper dresses (not pictured) and cute banners (pictured in the top photo).

Paper Crafts

By far the coolest trick that Christen taught us was to take these dyed coffee filters (that she hand dyed prior to camp) . . .

paper crafts

and turn them into gorgeous paper flowers. I tried to convince her to give this away as a door prize but she wouldn’t hear it. I don’t blame her. They are fabulous.

paper crafts

This is how my flower turned out. Gina captured this picture. I think she worked some sort of camera magic because I don’t remember it looking quite this good.

paper-flower2

This is how Gina’s flower turned out. Isn’t it pretty? The green paper was beautiful. It was really cool to see how everyone’s flowers turned out. We could probably do some sort of personality analysis based on finished product.

paper crafts camp

I’m glad Gina coached me to step outside my comfort zone and join in on the Camp Lovely fun.

When was the last time you stepped outside yours? I double-dog dare you to do it!

~Southern Fried Gal