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MAKE AN UNEXCITING BEDROOM EXCITING

Web Admin - Wednesday, July 19, 2017

How to Make an Unexciting Bedroom Exciting

I have a bedroom shaped like a small box.  Nothing architecturally stunning about it.  4 walls, 2 windows and a floor.  Yawn.

When you have a large bedroom there is just so much you can do to spruce it up.  There are amazing occasional chairs that you can put in there to form a reading nook.  Or perhaps an ornate dressing table?  How about splurging on a canopy bed much as they had in medieval times?  But when your bedroom is small, you have to be far more creative.

Most designers will tell you that you need to splurge on one big dollar item and build your room around that.  I say that's great if you have $5,000 (or more) to spend on a big wonderful bed!  However, I don't.  So my solution is to snaz up what I have and improvise.  Nearly anything can be made to look far more expensive than it is if you dress it up a bit.

Dreaming of a canopy bed?  Try this trick.

Look how elegant this is! Curtain rods attached to the ceiling and heavy drapery.  
That's all you need to accomplish this look!

The look above is so simple! Attach a curtain rod to your wall and slap on a set of curtains! As your mood or the season changes...so can your mini canopy! Works wonders for a small room with low ceilings! AND if you put a mirror behind it?  The illusion of a window will be born!

Curtain rods can be attached to the wall behind your bed OR they can be attached to your ceiling!  You can hang heavy draperies to give it drama or hang lightweight curtains to give it an airy and light feel!  And the absolute best thing about this type of canopy bed, is you can change it out at a whim.  You're not married to any particular look, style or color scheme.

What if you're just not a canopy kind of person?  What to do?  How about a comfy "head board" that will look great and give you a cushion for those nights when you want to sit in bed and read or watch TV?  All you have to do is purchase inexpensive beadboard, nail or glue it to your wall, paint it and then attach comfy pillows to it.  Note:  If you are a renter, make sure to get permission from your landlord before permanently affixing anything to your walls.  If your landlord won't allow a permanent improvement, then hang it like a picture.  Attach picture hangers on the back of your beadboard and hang it.  Nothing permanent about that!

If you don't want to do the beadboard, this would still be comfy and super cute if all you did was hang floor cushions on the wall behind your bed.  Either way, you get a great look for very little cash.



For the head board above, all you need are two (or three depending on how big your bed is) floor cushions.  Try thrift stores or bargain stores.  Don't worry if you hate the look of them when you buy them.  You can easily change that with a bit of fabric or pretty pillow cases.  Get the cheapest ones you can find, recover them, hang a couple of hooks on your wall and sew a couple of rings on the back of the cushions and you have a head board that will give you style AND comfort!!

What always makes a room, any room, appear larger and brighter than it really is.......mirrors!

If you have a wall that perhaps isn't right for a piece of furniture due to traffic flow or maybe it's just too close to the bed or another door such as the closet, try putting a mirror there.  It will furnish that space, allow light to bounce around and give it some style and functionality all at the same time.  Let me show you a sample of a unique mirror below.....


Old doors can be found at salvage companies, on the curb, at Habitat for Humanity outlets or maybe even in your basement or attic.  This one was just a simple unadorned door from a renovation that was going to be tossed out.

All it took was some paintable wallpaper for the inset at the top, some molding to put around the inset as well as on the top and then going to the glass store to get a piece of mirror to fit nicely in the front.  Once you have your mirror, glue it in place and put a thin molding around the edges with brad nails and glue.  This will not only give it that finishing touch, but will keep it firmly in place for generations to come!  Note: do any painting before you place your mirror otherwise you just might have a mess to clean off your mirror.

As for the door knob, take it out and using a wall repair kit that comes with a plastic screen for large holes in walls, patch the area where the knob used to be.  Once it's all dried, paint and no one will ever know it was even there.

OR you could leave the doorknob if it's an unusual piece and use that to hang your purse or scarves on.  Whatever you wish!

Enjoy and have a great time trying these tips out in your own home!

Ensley Alabama

Web Admin - Friday, July 07, 2017

Ensley, Alabama



A large city neighborhood in Jefferson County, Alabama, Ensley was once a separate and thriving industrial city. It was formally incorporated on February 12, 1899, but later annexed into Birmingham on January 1, 1910 under the "Greater Birmingham" legislation.



Founded in 1886 by Memphis entrepreneur, Enoch Ensley, as a new industrial city on the outskirts of a rapidly developing Birmingham (then just 15 years old) and directly adjacent to the Pratt coal seam. Zealously promoting and investing his own wealth in the project, Ensley soon attracted the interest of the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company (TCI), which bought a controlling interest in the Ensley Land Company. In the first year of development, sanitary engineer Edwin Waring, Jr. of Rhode Island was contracted to lay out the new city's streets and infrastructure, including an early application of separate storm and sanitary sewers. Meanwhile, Ensley and TCI erected four 200-ton blast furnaces which were in operation by April, 1889, the largest such grouping in the world. Despite the grand beginning, a series of setbacks began with the death of Colonel Ensley in 1891. The economic panic of 1893 resulted in the dissolution of the land company. The entire property was sold at sheriff's auction for less than $16,000.







In 1898 the Ensley Land Company was reorganized and active industrial development resumed, including the construction of hundreds of small workers' cottages. It was here that TCI pioneered the open-hearth process of making steel in the Birmingham District. By 1906 two more blast furnaces were completed and a record 400,000 tons of steel were produced in a single year. Schools, churches, public buildings and stores were rapidly constructed to keep pace with the scores of new mills and plants opening up.



The success of the development established a corridor of industrial development reaching out to the southwest of Birmingham. During its heyday between the late 1890s and the Great Depression, Ensley was known for its lively fraternal halls and dance clubs, including Tuxedo Junction at the crossing of the Wylam and Pratt City streetcar lines. In 1939 the hit song "Tuxedo Junction" made the spot nationally famous. It was written by local musician Erskine Hawkins and arranged by Glenn Miller.
When U. S. Steel purchased TCI in 1907 they began planning a new, larger plant northeast in the center of a large planned community to be named Corey (now named Fairfield). Although the new plant was close enough that workers living in Ensley wouldn't have to relocate, the move did stifle any ongoing development. 

With the loss of the major industrial activities in the 1970s, Ensley has lost much of its population and economic base and white residents fled to the suburbs after desegregation.

(The following is an excerpt from AL.com)

Mr. McCall is Ensley's neighborhood president, and his neighborhood stretches from about the old U.S. Steel plant to Avenue W, and from Village Creek to about 35th Street. It's a big area, but it's not as big as the area of Birmingham where the streets are named "Ensley." In Five Points West, Ensley Highlands and other areas south of Interstate 20/59 that aren't part of the Ensley neighborhood or community, as defined by the city, the street names still end with "Ensley."

Even in Green Acres, which is far closer to Midfield and southwest Birmingham than to the old U.S. Steel plant, the street names say Ensley. The City of Birmingham annexed Green Acres in 1949, nearly four decades after Birmingham merged with the old City of Ensley.
McCall has seen how people refer to the entire west side as Ensley, and has seen how, when people see every bad thing that happens west of Legion Field lumped in with one name, it's hurt the chances for growth in his neighborhood.
"It doesn't make Ensley look good," McCall said. "I guess people don't know when they talk about Ensley, what Ensley really is."
Ensley still has its crime, he said, but it's not as bad as its reputation suggests.
"Ensley is a safe community," he said. "You don't see kids standing on the corners like other areas, you don't see that."
When Mr. Hawkins talks about bringing Ensley back, he sees the hesitation from people who live in other parts of Birmingham. He knows the thoughts of crimes that might have happened in Central Park or Five Points West are going through their minds.
"I tell them Ensley is really safe and they always challenge me on that," he said.
Both Hawkins and McCall realize that the key to bringing Ensley back is to convince people of its potential.
"I believe it can come back," McCall said. "You've got to get the people with the money that there is a need to come back to this area.
"There are opportunities out here that could make it come back to what it used to be." (end)

Historical Ensley

1st Baptist - organized 1900

Ensley Ambulance - circa 1900


Ensley Bank - cica 1909


2801 Lomb Ave -circa 1950's

Ensley-Franklin Theater - circa 1900-1910

Ensley High School Basketball Team - circa 1910

Ensley Yearly Kindergarten Picnic - circa early 1900's

Holy Family Hospital

In February 1941 four nurses---three of them nuns---from Nazareth, Kentucky, arrived in Ensley to open a clinic to serve poor blacks in the area. For a little over $12,000 they bought land, a duplex for the convent and "a little Negro hut" for the clinic. Interns from St. Vincent Hospital donated their services two days a week to the free clinic.

After the U.S. entered World War II, the Sisters of Charity were unable to obtain materials to build a clinic, so they added two more "huts" to the complex. In 1946 seven black physicians formed the first official medical staff, and fund raising efforts began in the city for a new building. By July 1950 some $250,000 had been raised.

On January 10, 1954, the new structure, Holy Family Hospital, was dedicated. After an expansion in 1964, the hospital had 83 beds and a staff of 130. Four years later the Sisters sold the facility and the new owners renamed it Community Hospital. After another sale and renaming to Medical Park West, the hospital closed in 1988. 




Investment Opportunities for Ensley

The area of Ensley, Alabama has mainly smaller single family homes and apartments and has the potential to grow which comes from the continued progress of its local enterprises. The population has increased by 20% since 2010 and is projected to grow by an additional 10% by 2018. The median household income of the area is $50,051 with 20% of those occupants holding a bachelor’s degrees or higher. Health care and social services make up 15.81% of the civilian workforce in this area and retail trade making up 10.81% of the workforce. 

According to City-Data's website, as of 2015, there were 7,379 people living within Ensley's zip code of 35218.  60% of them were renters.  That site also touted Ensley as being significantly above the state average when it comes to renters "length of stay since moving in."  This is a very good thing for potential investors.  Couple that with the much lower than state average home prices and a solid average age group of 38.5 and Ensley would appear to be a very good place for landlords.

The town of Ensley is only 7 miles west of Birmingham, so if you are trying to plan your commute to work, expect an average travel time between 15-25 minutes, depending on traffic patterns. 

Ensley has a long historic history.  With a long history comes periods of great prosperity and equally long periods of economic struggle.  I, for one, see Ensley making a comeback.

YARD TEA PARTY!

Web Admin - Sunday, June 18, 2017

Yard Tea Party!


I am always on the lookout for a cheap yet attractive project.  I ran across this on the Hometalk page and had to share it.  It looks cheap, easy and really really cute!

Super easy way to get that pouring tea pot/kettle into a teacup look for your backyard.
  • pouring tea pot tea cup decor
You will need:

A tea/coffee pot of your choice (Thrift Store)
Candle holder stand (Thrift Store)
Tea cup and saucer (Thrift Store)
Plastic crystals (Hobby Lobby)
Garden hook (Dollar Tree)
Silicone or outdoor adhesive of your choice.
  • pouring tea pot tea cup decor
Silicone your tea cup and saucer together to make them stable.
  • pouring tea pot tea cup decor
Silicone your cup and saucer onto your candle holder.
  • pouring tea pot tea cup decor
Silicone your plastic crystal into place on your tea/coffee pot.

Let all silicone dry completely before bringing outside.
  • pouring tea pot tea cup decor
Place your garden hook in the ground and hang your tea/coffee pot on it.
  • pouring tea pot tea cup decor
Place your tea cup and saucer stand under the "drip" of the pot.
  • pouring tea pot tea cup decor
If you want the tea cup stand to be more solid, dig a little hole and bury the stand bottom in the ground.

Some of the best locally owned Birmingham Restaurants!

Web Admin - Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Some of the best locally owned Birmingham Restaurants!

Birmingham Alabama has earned quite a reputation in the past decade not only for its amazing food but the incredible choices available to diners.  Just about any style of food that you could possibly want is generously represented here.  Here are my top 10.

Of course, I can't possibly write about Birmingham food without mentioning Pepper Place!  Located in historic Avondale, this area is full of great restaurants, coffee shops, antique shops and one of the best farmer's markets in the state!  






BETTOLA'S

One of the restaurants in Pepper place is Bettola's.  James Lewis, who was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s 11 best new chefs in America in 2011, began serving his oven-fired pizzas and house-made pastas at this Italian trattoria in the Pepper Place complex a decade ago. Lewis is always coming up with new and creative takes on traditional Italian dishes, but our favorite remains the classic Margherita pizza, with San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and basil. On a nice fall or spring night, we highly recommend that you dine out under the stars on their roomy patio.

Address: 2901 Second Ave. South, Suite 150, Birmingham
Phone: 205-731-6499




BOGUE'S

The original Bogue's in Highland Park has been replaced with a Walgreen's.  However, Bogue's bought and renovated an historic fire station next door and now that Bogue's is larger,, even more folks can enjoy the incredible food at this historic Birmingham restaurant!  Pat and Mildred Bogue opened their namesake diner in downtown Birmingham in 1938 and eight years later moved to the Highland Park area, where it became a neighborhood breakfast institution for decades. While the location may have changed, Bogue’s remains an old reliable for omelets, pancakes and its famous sweet rolls, as well as daily lunch specials that include turkey and dressing, country-fried steak and baked spaghetti.
Address: 3028 Clairmont Ave. South, Birmingham
Phone: 205-254-9780



WHERE DO YOU TAKE OUT OF TOWN VISITORS?

Web Admin - Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Where do you take out of town visitors?

The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer and people are beginning to crawl out of their houses and head out looking for fun things to do, places to see and places to take out of town visitors.  So here are a few of my favorites.

Hungry?  You really should try The Garage.  Located at 2304 10th Terrace South
Birmingham, AL 35204, this place has tons of atmosphere and good food to boot.

Warning: Bring cash with you because The Garage accepts nothing else.  Also, if you're looking for a place that ON the beaten path....this isn't the place for you.  It's almost a badge of pride to know exactly how to get to this bar without getting lost and spending hours winding through the back streets of Southside.  But the hunt is well worth it. Their patio is eclectically cluttered with architectural artifacts and antiques while nearly completely covered in Wisteria.  The attitude is "Welcome, grab a seat!"  Not only is the ambiance supreme but the food is excellent too.  Toss in live music and you've got a great place to wile away a few hours.  But before you go, make sure to browse the antiques.  It's my favorite place to take out of towners because there's really nothing quite like it anywhere.





Reed Book Store at 2021 3rd Ave. North, Birmingham, AL 35203 is such a gem.  If you love books and/or antiques 1/100th as much as I do.....this store will blow your mind!  It's part bookstore part antique store but all mind blowing!  I can't go there unless I know I have at least 2 hours to spare.  As soon as you enter, you are nearly overwhelmed by all the goodies to look at and drool over.  Yes, it really is that great.

Jim Reed, the proprietor, has spent decades amassing a very impressive collection of rare and antique books.  He is also a popular inspirational columnist and gothic humorist who has authored several books of his own.  He has catalogued over 50,000 books, magazines and posters but estimates he has an additional 250,000 that he has not catalogued and are just waiting for someone to dig through them and find their dream book (or poster or magazine).


Birmingham has its very own Statue of Liberty.

The Birmingham Statue of Liberty is visible to motorists driving on the southern outskirts of Birmingham on the I-459 bypass.  Located in a commercial development called "Liberty Park" it sits right next door to the Boy Scouts of America local headquarters.

For over 30 years Ms. Liberty graced the top of the Liberty National Insurance Company building in downtown Birmingham.  Over two decades ago, she was lifted from her perch by crane, carefully restored and has since enjoyed her permanent home in the Liberty Park area of Birmingham.

According to the inscription on the plaque:
"A bronze replica, one-fifth the size of the Statue of Liberty, was commissioned by Frank Park Samford as the symbol for the company he founded, Liberty National Life Insurance Company. Created by sculptors Archer and Lee Lawrie, the statue was cast in Sommerville Haut Marine, France, in 1956 and was placed atop Liberty National's home office building in downtown Birmingham and then moved to its present location and dedicated on July 4, 1989."





Birmingham also has its super hero...well, actually it's a Goddess...but anyway.  Miss Electra has lightning bolts for hair and wears absolutely no clothes.  Her sculptor named her "Divinity of Light" in 1926 but Miss Electra was adopted by the locals and the name stuck.  She stands on tiptoe 20 stories above ground on the roof of the Alabama Power Building in downtown Birmingham.  Although she is 23 feet tall, she is the smallest of Birmingham's mythical giants trailing Statue of Liberty (36 feet tall) and The Vulcan (56 feet tall).




Joe Minter's Yard is not really a business but it is an experience that everyone should have.  Mr. Minter's Yard is located at 912 Nassau Street near Shadow Lawn Memorial Park in the Woodland Park neighborhood.

Joe Minter is a retired construction worker and self proclaimed "outside artist".  He has transformed his yard and the vacant lot next door into an outside African American museum.  While his is not a formal museum, he is always happy to take folks on a tour.





DIY CONCRETE PLANTER IDEA

Web Admin - Wednesday, May 03, 2017

DIY Concrete Planter Idea

I love unusual planters.  But unusual planters can be super expensive.  So what do you do if you want them but don't want to take out a second mortgage on your house in order to have them?

You make them!  Yep.  It's not as difficult as  you have think.  Below are step by step instructions and pictures.  Make sure you read the tips at the end of this article.  They can save you a lot of money, time and frustration.  





Aren't these just the cutest planters?  Now onto the instructions!

Materials

All you’ll need for this easy DIY project is 

A dust mask, 
A safety pin, 
Bag of rapid dry cement, 
A couple pair of rubber house cleaning gloves, or old garden gloves and 
A big bucket to mix your concrete in. 

Of course, once everything is dry you’ll need an assortment of flower or succulents to fill it with, of course. Put this concrete planter in your home or adorn your garden with a collection of these.

Instructions

Before starting this project make sure you are working in a well ventilated area. Protect your hands with disposable rubber gloves and your nose/mouth with a dust mask. Avoid breathing in any of cement particles. In a medium size bowl, carefully mix your cement and water. Follow the instructions on the package, mix until the cement is smooth.
Take your gloves and using a safety pin carefully poke holes in the fingertips. This will help remove air pockets. Place the gloves in a tall container to help hold it upright.  You can use a bucket, an empty clay pot or even a bowl.  It all depends on what you have on hand and what fits best.  
Carefully take your cement and pour it into the gloves. If the cement is too dry and difficult to work with, add a small amount of water to smooth it out.  It should have the consistency of oatmeal or pudding.  Carefully push the cement through the gloves, distributing throughout the gloves evenly. Gently tap your rubber gloves to remove any remaining air bubbles.
Once you have filled your gloves with the cement, you can keep them in the shape you want them to be when they're dry by using bricks, rocks or even votive candle holders and place them under the fingers or wherever you want.  If you just want the fingers to be curved in a  natural position, place them in a plastic bowl.  

Create a 2nd cement hand for a larger two hand planter. To merge your hands together carefully create a cut on your gloves where the two pieces meet. Scoop out a small amount of cement to merge the two pieces together. To create a bowl shape, place a piece of plastic wrap over the exposed cement and place a small bowl over the plastic wrap to create the bowl shape.
Let your cement cure for at least 24 hours. Thicker cement will require more time to dry.  If you live in a very humid area or it has rained recently, it might take longer than 24 hours.
Once your cement has dried carefully remove the rubber gloves. Strategically cut the rubber gloves off. Avoid applying too much pressure to the cement when removing the rubber gloves. If a finger is broken during the removal process, reattach it using E6000 glue.

Use small pliers to help remove the small stubborn left over glove pieces.
Once our hands are completely dry, all you have to do is add potting soil and small succulents.  You can also add pieces of preserved moss to decorate your planter. Water accordingly with a spray bottle.

TIPS

1.  Always wear a dust mask whenever pouring dry concrete or cement.  You cannot avoid the dust that blows up and you most certainly do NOT want to breathe any of it.

2.  When buying your materials for this project, BUY CEMENT - NOT CONCRETE.  Also makes sure it states on the bag that is can be used for casting.  Rapid set cement is what you want to buy.  Below is a picture of the bag.  You can see it states it can be used for casting.

3.  My last tip is to let you know that while this is a really easy project, the most difficult part of it will be getting the cement down into the fingers.  It will take a little patience and a lot of squeezing to get it down there but after the first finger or two, you will get the knack of it and the rest will be quick and easy.

4.  If you want a little color to your project, you can either add cement coloring to the cement when you are mixing it, or wait until the hands have completely cured (dried) and then simply paint them.  I have used left over interior wall paint, spray paint and even fabric paint on concrete planters and have had excellent results with all of the above.

Enjoy!!

ANOTHER INSTALLMENT OF "DID YOU KNOW"

Web Admin - Saturday, April 15, 2017

Another Installment of "Did you know"

Did you know that the first speech given in the south by a sitting President occurred in Birmingham?

When Birmingham Alabama was founded in 1871, it was a model city.  It boasted railroads, blast furnaces and steel mills.  There wasn't a more bustling industrial giant in the south at that time.  So it was no wonder when in 1921, President Harding decided to give a speech in the south that he chose to do so in Birmingham, Alabama. The remarkable part of this story is the fact that this was the first speech given in the South by a sitting president in which he called for racial equality.


The city threw a huge birthday party which lasted two days on its 50th anniversary in October 1921. President Harding arrived at the Birmingham Terminal Station at 8:45 A.M. aboard a special train from Washington.  A grand parade began at 10:00 A.M.  Sitting in the lead car President Harding greeted thousands of onlookers waving American flags.  His motorcade eventually traveled to the Tutwiler Hotel where the hotel's balcony served as the reviewing stand for the President and his party as the parade traveled past.  The parade included Civil War veterans, groups of industrial workers and National Guardsmen.  It seemed that the whole city had turned out for the Presidential visit.




Harding’s official address to the city was delivered in Woodrow Wilson Park in mid-morning to a large crowd. He planned to use this speech as his first public show of support for the Republican National Committee and their plan to reorganize in the South.

President Harding spoke of the great migrations of black laborers to the North during World War I and the meritorious service given by black soldiers during the war.  He then spoke of political equality as a guarantee of the U.S. Constitution: “Let the black man vote when he is fit to vote; prohibit the white man voting when he is unfit to vote.”  White listeners fell largely silent, the African American spectators cheered from their segregated section of the park.  In his call for “an end of prejudice” Harding went further than any president since Abraham Lincoln.
President Harding also participated in the cornerstone laying ceremony of the Masonic Temple and was given an honorary degree by Birmingham-Southern College in ceremonies conducted at the First Methodist Church.

The President observed a parade which included 67 women who selected by the different counties of Alabama to be their "Queen", and 1,000 members of the American Legion selected from every post in the state. Each Queen was provided a decorated car for their use in the parade.


(Jefferson County's Queen - Mary Elizabeth Caldwell)
To mark this historic event, commemorative coins were also made that same year. The coins were half-dollars issued in 1921 to honor the 100th Anniversary of Alabama Statehood, which occurred a few years earlier in 1919 but war time conditions had delayed the production of the coins until 1921. The coins were first placed on sale in Birmingham on Oct. 26,1921 in connection with Birmingham’s celebration and the first coin was presented to President Harding. 
Also, a special postage stamp was made that year in honor of Birmingham’s anniversary. It was the first postal commemoration of Birmingham.  Surviving copies are very rare.
The official start of this celebration began at noon on the 25th of October with the blare of bands and the blowing of whistles at every industrial plant in the district. The ceremonies started at Woodrow Wilson (Capitol) Park with a speech by Chairman Sydney J. Bowie.
President Harding arriving for festivities
The festivities began at noon and continued on into the night.  Highlights of the festivities included a fashion show by the Fashion-Industrial Exposition that took place in a long tent that extended the full length of West Twentieth Street. The Birmingham municipal band provided music. Henderson and his flying circus performed in the air over the middle of the city. His act ended with death defying stunts from an airplane while gripping the rope with his teeth.
In addition to the above activities, there was a children’s costume and baby parades on Friday with prizes awarded.  Baseball at Rickwood Field took place with a double-header. The first game was according to rules in 1871 and second according to rules in 1921.  Free bank concerts and orchestras continued throughout the event. Some orchestras came all the way from West Virginia to perform for the President.  
There was the Queen of the event contest, a Masquerade carnival, pageant at Avondale Park, and a Queen’s Ball at the Tutwiler hotel on Tuesday night.  These are just to name a few of the many events held.
While the President was in town, he also somehow made time to head the grand civic parade, attend a luncheon given by the Semi-Centennial committee at Tutwiler, attend the opening of Alabama division of American Cotton Association at Tutwiler, attend the Birmingham-Southern College inauguration of Dr. Guy Snavely where the President received degree of LL. D. Ceremonies were held in First Methodist at Sixth Avenue and Nineteenth Street, North.
As if his day wasn't already packed, the President also attended a reception in his honor at the Birmingham Country Club and witnessed mine demonstration at US bureau of mines station at West End. To round out his day, he took an auto ride through the city.

While I'm sure everyone involved needed a restful vacation after this week of constant festivities, overall, it was a very successful event.  Certainly never seen before or since.

RE-GROWING VEGGIES YOU BUY FROM THE SUPERMARKET

Web Admin - Monday, April 03, 2017

Re-growing veggies you buy from the supermarket

Did you know there are several veggies that you can grow from scraps?  Yep.  How much money would you save and how much quicker, tastier and healthier would your dinners be if you could just step outside and pick whatever you needed?  Let's look at a few veggies that you should never have to buy from a store again.

Garlic

You can grow a new bulb of garlic with just one clove. Plant a clove in some potting soil with the roots face down. Now in case you're new to gardening, there is a difference between a garlic bulb and a garlic clove.  I have included a photo below to show you which is which. Keep the pot in direct sunlight and cut the shoots back once they get established. This will help encourage bulb growth. After the bulb has reached maturity, take a clove and repeat the process for more garlic.

Bean Sprouts

You can get a new batch of bean sprouts with as little as a tablespoon of scraps. Soak the leftover sprouts in a jar with a little bit of water. Leave the mixture on the counter overnight and drain in the morning. With the sprouts back in the container, cover with a towel and rinse them the following morning. Repeat the process until the new sprouts reach the right size.

Celery

Celery might be the easiest vegetable to regrow. Simply cut the base of the celery stalk and place in a bowl with warm water. Keep the container in sunlight and you will start to see the stalks thickening and growing from the base. Once this happens, transplant the veggie into soil to finish the growing process.

Avocado

Regrowing this superfood takes just a bowl of water and some toothpicks. Wash the seed thoroughly and suspend it over a bowl of water with some tooth picks inserted into the seed. The water should cover about an inch of the seed. Do not place the bowl in direct sunlight, but keep it somewhere warm. Add water on a daily basis as needed. A stem and roots will begin to appear, but it might take as long as six weeks for this to happen. When the stem gets to six inches in height, cut three inches off. Place the plant in soil once leaves start appearing.

Sweet Potatoes

You need half a sweet potato to regrow a new plant. Suspend the half of the potato with toothpicks over shallow water and wait for roots and sprouts to appear. When the sprouts hit about four inches, break them off and put them in a bowl of water. Once the roots in the new bowl reach an inch, it’s time to transplant to soil.

Potatoes

Like the sweet potato, regular potatoes are a resilient plant that can be regrown with just a few peelings. The trick is to make sure the peelings have eyes and are cut into smaller pieces. Now you might say....what's an eye?....I have included a photo of potatoes with eyes.  Notice the bumps that stick out on the potatoes?  Those are called "eyes".  You may have to do a little searching at the store to get potatoes with eyes these days as a lot of potato producers have them rubbed off before shipping (I don't know why).  They rub off super easily.  Each section should have about two or three eyes. Let the peelings dry overnight and then plant them in soil to a depth of about four inches. In a few weeks, you will begin to see a new potato plant sprouting leaves.  

Lettuce (practically any type) and Cabbage

It's easy to regrow lettuce and cabbage with just a few scraps. Pour a small amount of water in a bowl and place the lettuce scraps inside. Make sure the bowl gets a lot of sunlight and mist the lettuce a few times a week. In three or four days, you will begin to see new roots and leaves growing. At this time, remove the lettuce or cabbage from the bowl and place in soil.


Onions

Onions take a bit of a different approach.  I have included a link to a site that gives very good step by step instructions on how to regrown onions.  Short article with great step by step photo's and great information.  Well worth a read.



http://www.anktangle.com/2011/03/growing-sprouted-onions.html

For other sites that offer even more veggies that you can regrow, try these:

https://www.davidwolfe.com/stop-trashing-your-scraps-16-produce-items-to-re-grow-at-home/

http://freshorganicgardening.com/search/window+sill+onions/

THE AIR THAT YOU BREATHE

Web Admin - Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Air that You Breathe

Renter's have a special problem and that's air quality.  If you are a renter, the chances are great that you aren't the only person who has ever rented that space.  There have been others.  That brings up a multitude of questions.  Did the people before you own dogs or cats?  Just because your landlord doesn't allow pets....doesn't mean there weren't any living there. Also, just because a pet owner swears their pet NEVER has "accidents" in the house....doesn't mean they haven't.   Did the former residents smoke?  Again, just because the landlord says they didn't...it doesn't mean that's true.  Even if they didn't smoke, you can never be certain that their visitors didn't smoke inside the house.

Was the carpeting replaced before you moved in?  If it was, was the subfloor resealed? Was the space painted and if so what kind of paint was used?  Is there a chance that asbestos, lead based paint or oil based products were ever used in your space and that there might be a trace of it still?.  These are a likely possibility if the space you're renting is older.  How is the ventilation in your rented space?  If it's an apartment, the chances are you have fewer windows and the ones you do have are probably smaller and seldom opened.  

Bad air quality can not only cause a plethora of health issues over time, it can greatly aggravate existing health issues like asthma, COPD, allergies, even migraines and sinus infections.

How do you handle poor air quality?  The first thing to do is clean.....everything.  Maybe your landlord had the carpets cleaned before you moved in....maybe not...maybe they just vacuumed.  Best to err on the side of extreme caution and head down to the local hardware store and rent a carpet cleaner.  The thing to know about cleaning your carpets is that the water will soak into your carpet pad to some extent.  If that isn't allowed to thoroughly dry, mold will grow.  Now it's not going to be the horrible black mold that everyone is so afraid of, but it will be mold and any type of mold can cause an unattractive odor.  It can also aggravate your sinuses or asthma so the best thing to do after cleaning your carpets is to put out fans and make sure everything is dry.  

Once that's done, it's time to clean all the other surfaces no matter how clean you think they look.  Even if your landlord hired professionals to come in and clean it top to bottom, you still have to wonder what products they used.  Cleaning products like bleach and/or ammonia are super cleaning products in that they will kill about any germ that they come into contact with.  However, they are also not at all user friendly in that their chemical components can linger for days even weeks after they've been used.  While you're cleaning, don't forget the ceilings.  Remember smoke rises and the ceilings will collect it all.

Once your rental is spotless and you're feeling great about how clean it is, the next step to living a clean life is to get plants that actually purify the air.  Of course, you can buy an air purifier but how pretty is that?  

Plants are cheaper than purifiers, lower maintenance than purifiers, they don't wear out or break down and best of all, they're prettier than purifiers.  Some studies suggest that having plants in your house can actually help lower your blood pressure.

Let's look at some indoor plants that make great purifiers.

English Ivy

These plants are super easy to care for and control.  Because they're an ivy, they will trail. All you have to do is train them to trail where you want, or snip off the growth.  Kinda like giving your plant a haircut.  They don't require a ton of light or a ton of water.

The dense foliage of the Ivy absorbs formaldehyde - a chemical that is extremely common in the making of carpeting.  Formaldehyde is the most prevalent indoor pollution of them all and is present in glues, pressed woods products such as some flooring, kitchen/bathroom cabinets, pressed wood shelving, wall paneling and even some furniture.

Peace Lilly

Some people call this plant the funeral flower.  This is another easy to care for plant that requires little light, little water and little maintenance.  I would recommend whenever you dust your furniture, to dust the leaves of this plant, while you're at it.  A thick layer of dust on any plant will prevent it from breathing and from absorbing pollutants.  I recommend putting a large dollop of olive oil or pure vegetable oil on a clean cloth or paper towel, then using that to clean the leaves of your plant.  It not only gets all the dirt off your plant but give them a shiny appearance.  Warning:  some plants don't like to have their leaves cleaned with oily products so google before you oil a plant if you have any doubts. 

This plant is one of the absolute best plants to have in every room of your house.  This hard worker gets rid of VOC benzene which is a carcinogen found in paints, furniture waxes and polishes.  It also sucks up acetone, which is emitted by electronics, certain cleaners and adhesives.

Lady Palm

The  Lady Palm is a hardy plant that can tolerate semi low light.  It's best to keep this one near a light source.  I have one that I've kept beside a floor lamp in my not at all sunny living room and it does fine.  This plant can get up to 6 feet tall but it is a very slow grower so you have plenty of time to figure out where to put it once it's that tall.

She is not only gracefully built and easy on the eyes, but she actually rids your air of ammonia which is a super villain of the respiratory system and is a major component of certain dyes, textiles and cleaners.

Boston Fern

The Boston Fern is such a beautiful plant.  However, it can be a picky plant and I've never had good luck with them.  I've known others who have tremendous success with them....but not me.  These plants have a need for constant moisture and humidity.

They are actually one of the best air purifiers known.  They remove formaldehyde which is present in glues, pressed woods products such as some flooring, kitchen/bathroom cabinets, pressed wood shelving, wall paneling and even some furniture.  There have been studies that show this plant even removes toxic metals such as mercury and arsenic.

Snake Plant (aka Mother in Law's Tongue)


If you can't keep this plant alive.....you don't need to have plants...at all.  This plant is so easy, it's crazy.  The only plant that is easier to keep alive is a plastic plant.  Once in a while dust the leaves and give it a small drink when the soil is dry.  That's it.

This is maybe the best plant for a small space.  It grows up - not out - and it tolerates low light or bright light.

This easy fella does his work at night.  During the night, he will absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the room.  He's one to have in every room of your house - including the bathroom.  Put more than one in your bedroom for a boost of oxygen while you sleep.

To make him even more invaluable, he also sucks in benzene and formaldehyde. 

Golden Pothos


Every live plant that I've ever received from a florist has this little ivy in it.  It's a medium growing ivy, it tolerates low light or bright light, it can go long periods of time without watering....it just likes to be dusted from time to time.  If you don't know whether it wants a drink, look at the leaves....when it's really thirsty, the leaves curl up and begin to look wilted.  Give it a good drink of water, and they will unfurl and look good as new. Like the English Ivy, you can trim it if it reaches further than you'd like and it's easily trained.

The Pothos suck in formaldehyde, carbon dioxide and Benzene.  Triple threat with this one!  This plant can be found anywhere that live plants are sold and it is the cheapest houseplant around.

Wax Begonia


If you have a sunny location and want some color in your plant choices, this is the one for you.  It has lovely leaves that look as though they've been waxed and the plant comes in a variety of colors.

This beauty cleans benzene and chemicals produced by toluene, a liquid found in some waxes and adhesives.

Red Edges Dracaena 



Beautiful plant that can actually get up to 15 feet tall, loves a sunny location and is compact enough to fit into most sunny corners.  Moderate to bright sunlight.  Requires little water and you will love the red edges on each frond.

This plant will take care of gases released by xylene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde, which can be introduced by lacquers, varnishes, and sealers.

Spider Plant


Another easy to care for plant.  You can use it as a hanging plant or in a pot atop a pedestal or table.  It is a prolific reproducer so if you want more of them, it's not necessary to go out and spend money on more plants.  All you have to do is wait until the plant grows "mini" spider plants at the end of it's leaves.  Pick one off and sit it atop some soil, it will root and grow.

This is a another plant that absorbs formaldehyde and benzene.  

Between the cleaning and these plants....you will have a super healthy indoor environment!

As always, enjoy your space!

Lake Martin

Web Admin - Thursday, March 02, 2017

Lake Martin


Alabama is a beautiful state.  You have beaches, farmland, rolling hills, mountains, rivers...and lakes....lots and lots of lakes.  

One lake that is enormously popular is Lake Martin.  This lake is located in Tallapoosa, Elmore and Coosa counties and is not to be confused with the equally popular Logan Martin Lake.  These two lakes do not share the same water source and are located about 90 miles from one another.

Lake Martin gets its water from the Tallapoosa river.  Its maximum length is 31 miles with an average depth of 41 feet but a maximum depth of 150 feet.  It boasts 743 miles of shoreline.











The Martin powerhouse is used to generate electricity for the Alabama Power Company. Construction on the damn began in 1923 and was completed in 1926 creating what was at the time, the largest man made body of water in the entire world.  Originally known as Cherokee Bluffs, for the geological formation upon which it was built, the name was changed in 1936 to honor Thomas Martin, then President of the Alabama Power Company.

There's never a shortage of things to do when at Lake Martin.  Fishing, swimming, boating, skiing and hiking are just a few of the pleasures afforded visitors and residents alike.  There are festivals scattered throughout the year.


Aquapalooza Festival

One of the most popular attractions of the lake are the islands.  Listed below are the main islands.


  • Chimney Rock Island - Chimney Rock Island has long been a famous landmark on Lake Martin. Its name came from a tall rock resembling a chimney that protrudes from the top of the island.





  • Acapulco Rock Island - Acapulco Rock Island is adjacent to Chimney Rock Island at the Tallapoosa River Gorge. It is often mistaken for Chimney Rock.



  • Doctor's Island - So named because a group of doctors used the island as a base camp to fish. Their camp was destroyed by fire a few years ago. (no photo's)
  • Goat Island - Goat Island is north of Martin Dam. It has become the residence for a family of goats.  Everyone is welcome to visit the island.  However, no dogs or guns are allowed on Goats Island....for obvious reasons.





  • Graveyard Island - A small county graveyard from before the construction of Martin Dam is located on what is now a tiny island in Lake Martin. About 30 by 30 yards (27 m) around, it is in the Bay Pine area.




  • Real Island - Not an island or distinct community, residents named it for "Real Island Road," which runs through it, and a nearby marina. (no photo's)
  • Sand Island - Sand Island is a small island located between Willow Point and Kowaliga Marina. Over the years erosion has taken its toll on the island, but rocks have recently been placed around the island to prevent it from being completed washed away. Boats frequently park on its sandy shallow beach. It is likely the smallest island on the lake.



  • Young's Island - The Young residence (of Young's ferry) was here and was destroyed by fire in the early 1990s. The foundation remains and there are historic markers for the graves of the family's children. 

  • Weed Hill Island - Weed Hill is a small island almost directly across from the Pleasure Point Marina boat ramp. Although at one time it was much larger, erosion has reduced the landmass. (No photo's)
  • Wood's Island - Wood's Island is a larger island, connected to the mainland by a land bridge during low water times. It has several trails for hiking. It can be found at the end of Young's Ferry Rd on the West side of the lake. 


  • Wilmarth's Island- only inhabited island on the lake.



  • Neptune Island


  • Flag Island 

If you happen to get hungry while at Lake Martin try these amazing eateries:

For a sit down meal that offers everything from incredible burgers to prime rib, try the secluded Kowaliga Restaurant.  Every seat has a view of the lake.  Opened in 1953, it has been a stable of this area for decades.  Hank Williams, Jr even wrote a song about a poor lonesome wooden Indian which was about the wooden Indian that has graced this restaurant since its opening.


If you're not in the mood to have a sit down dinner.....try this floating food "truck" instead!
Tired of water related activities?  Try the Children's Harbor.  Great place for the kids to explore and the parents to relax.

Another great activity are the Jim Scott gardens.  This isn't a tourist spot even though it is a tourist attraction and anyone who misses it is missing an incredible experience.  Jim Scott has been working on his gardens for 20 years or so.  Bit by bit he has landscaped his land to hold multitudes of secrets and surprises around every bend.  He isn't a landscape professional or a horticulturist.  I honestly don't know what he did for a living.  All I've been able to find out is that he was not a professional landscape guy.  There are a minimum of 5 full time employees who help maintain this unbelievable garden.

Jim's gardens are off the beaten path on Lake Martin.  It will take a GPS and someone who's been there before to find your way but once you get there.....it's as if Heaven has been in Alabama all the time.  Unfortunately, Jim only opens his gardens to the public a couple of times a year, so missing that window of opportunity is pretty easy.

There are so many incredible pictures that I could fill this blog with them.  It was nearly impossible to choose "just a few".  Folks this is a MUST SEE.











Now that you've gotten a sneak peak at Lake Martin......put in for your vacation time and head out!  There are cabins, houses, boat slips, RV camps and campsites for rent so there's no reason not to stay for a few days!

Enjoy!

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