A Map is Essential…

img_5482This old map hangs on the wall in pride of place, it’s a favorite here at the cottage.  Over 40 years old, it’s a map of our home county. A symbol of so many things, still- what I truly love is that it has the backroads, the railways, the river and streams that are so unique, right here. The towns are marked, the main roads that take you quickly from here to there and still has alternatives for ambling through the scenic routes too. It has a legend, a directional compass and pertinent information. Having a plan is one thing, having a map is quite another thing entirely, especially when times are uncertain. And, you may have to adjust the method by which you want to go, for part of the journey.

img_5481Did you know that it’s not uncommon for mapmakers who make maps for others, to have difficulty drawing a map for themselves? Good planners don’t always plan well for themselves.

And, while maps are helpful- the best mapmakers will tell you that taking the first step is the most difficult. So many choices! Still. Here’s what they look for- Landmarks, street signs, distinctive displays, prominent public buildings, lighthouses, natural streams, bridges and unusual landscape outcroppings. The main purpose of any trailblazing effort is to find a way forward and more importantly – to find your way back.

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A good starting point, for any creative venture is to ask yourself– Why did you decide to go on this journey anyway? And, if the answer is merely- to make money, it will never satisfy you or those who would do business with you. Again, I say – A Map is Essential. It’s your strategy. Some say of strategies- ‘If you can’t write it down, you don’t have a strategy.’ You need a strong plan A and a solid plan B, even the dream of a plan C.

Are you stuck, lost, looking for adventure or at a crossroad? Maybe, the road is blocked or you can’t see two feet ahead of you.  If your boat has gone adrift or run aground, you’ll be grateful for a lighthouse! And, what of road signs? This one always puzzled me- Beware of Falling Rocks. Now, what in the world are you supposed to do about a rock in the act of falling? A falling rock is like Hurricane Katrina and what this Pandemic is too. It’s those things that come out of the blue- fall out of the sky or silently, stealthily come at you when you least expect it. Fallen rocks never come marching down the road in full daylight or give much notice when they do. Right?

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That’s why your personal Map is Essential. It gives you options. The folks and businesses who do well, when trouble comes, move quickly to adapt. When fashion designers began making face masks, I applauded. When restaurants had to close- the ones who quickly adjusted to Take Out Only- may not have made as much- still going out of business wasn’t an option they considered. Others, who have adapted the best of all- had more than one stream of income.  You must create streams of income, or enhance the business you have with personalized service. After speaking with well over a dozen folks who are doing very well with their blogs and other creative businesses, here’s what I’ve found-  Bloggers and writers are adjusting their messages, some are using this time to create e-books, developing physical products they can sell, designing for others who want an online presence and even becoming course creators.

And, while a blog might be their home base, still -if they were offering workshops before- they adapted to workshops to be done remotely. If they’re designers, artists or creatives- they poured some of their time into helping parents with children at home- one is offering printable art for kids, exercises, games and more.  Others are doing podcasts, developing online classes for adults.  I’ve been taking one myself! In fact, I believe they work, because when I was first starting out, I took online courses from this platform, @wordpress every chance I had! It’s how I learned to blog and more. Other creatives have formed cooperatives and collaborations to keep their spirits up and found new outlets for their work. Some are learning to create personalized experiences with potential customers. Others are offering health and nutrition advice.  Instead of letting this pandemic be a roadblock, it is time well spent.

img_5298Some counselors are offering one on ones, even professionals who were already doing business virtually, were ready even before they saw it coming. Photographers are finding outlets with stock photo companies as a new stream of income. The printing company I use, quickly made masks and liners available, then sold out, rebooted and even sell replacement liners too. I purchased these and am very well pleased.

Others, began offering a free service to go along with their product, even if it’s waiving shipping charges. Still others who own physical businesses finally had the time to deep clean, re-paint and style their places to make them ‘magazine worthy‘ and are uploading photographs online, with a renewal of their customer bases and adding new fans regularly.

*This is worth noting, develop at least one social media outlet, now. Two might be better. When I started blogging, Facebook and Twitter were very active, basically for friends, family and opinion; now, Instagram is truly geared to inspiration and business! And… you’ll find plenty of it there. For me, it’s like taking the scenic view!img_5301

At least one course creator has a live Q&A every week, because she knows that having a personal experience is what keeps her students onboard and becoming successful themselves. *I know this is true because I’m one of her students!  I also predicted early on that delivery services and professional cleaning services will see a boom in businesses. Every surface will need to be cleaned and this is repeat business.

img_4819Those who have reliable transportation are becoming delivery services for other businesses.  And, did you know that podcasts are projected to develop into a billion dollar industry? According to AARP magazine- actor Alan Alda, at 84, even managing Parkinson’s disease, is still going strong with over 70 podcasts, if that doesn’t prove any age can do it? Nothing can.

img_5479When you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall- look carefully at that map of your business, be willing to adjust, take the scenic route- dream a little, be open to new possibilities. Who knows?  You might be the one who is a trailblazer or even teaches the ‘New Rules of the Road.’  If you resist change, it’s frustrating. If you change your outlook and adjust- you might find new ways of doing things are even better than before. A Map is essential. Remember, with a map there’s always more than one way to get where you want to go!

Love y’all, Camellia

*From Brenda: For the last few months, we have been accepting a few one on one coaching sessions from time to time, it’s been a wonderful experience!

*I am taking a course called, Instagram Makeover by Kat Coroy. It’s made a world of differnce in my feed and more! I was honored to be asked to help her with some course updates! Find her  @katcoroy and take that course! Xxx

*We also participated in a podcast at the end of 2019, honestly, this may be an option for almost anyone! look into it!

 

Contemplatin’ Freedom…

408E9F09-38B0-4454-B5EB-16462BF5C81BI was feeling contemplative about the Fourth of July- okay, I was peeling potatoes for the potato salad- a mindless task… that’s when contemplating is easy. We had just gotten back from a last minute trip to Washington D. C., a city that is filled with more  profound history and symbolism than perhaps any other in this nation. It’s a white columned marbled and statuesque city- some of the marble was quarried right here in Alabama! Of course I’ve been to DC several times in my long and storied life- yet I always come away with a sense of awe and wonder; always learning something new…or something I knew seems to come alive in my mind.  For instance, the expanse of the sky overhead is startling for a major city- there are no skyscrapers- by law. Why?

E2F13F06-B017-41B7-8FDD-73C0CC7D0E9CLook at the statue that crowns the dome on top of the US Capitol Building. Her name is Freedom.

  • No building shall rise above Freedom.
  • Nothing in our nation’s capital is allowed to cast a shadow on Freedom.

Pause and contemplate that! Profound, especially when you consider that Freedom was commissioned in bronze when our nation was divided- literally by civil war and unrest. The pediment that Freedom stands on is embossed with the Latin words E Pluribus Unum, out of many one.  The center part of the capitol building had been destroyed during the War of 1812.. it was being rebuilt; the new plans included the iconic dome…made of cast iron weighing 1000’s of pounds… President Lincoln insisted that work continue on the building despite the war that had torn us apart, so the American people would be encouraged that our nation would once again be united and whole.

F7C6A780-B268-464D-BB94-1E223DA6F00BWhen we last visited Washington D.C. renovations were being made to the interior of the dome, now completed, it is once again a masterpiece.  I couldn’t help being reminded of one of my favorite Scriptures…

‘Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses who have  gone before us, let us throw aside every encumbrance and run with patient endurance the portion of the race set before us…’ Hebrews 12:1

George Washington figures strongly in the painting- he is flanked by Liberty and Victory within the dome and each symbolic creature seems to be looking down from the heavens…other figures represent aspects of American life and industry that helped forge our freedom. For instance, Mercury is offering a bag of gold to Robert Morris- the financier of the American Revolution, the war which defeated tyranny and the power of a monarch.  Americans prize freedom; historically, we’ve been willing to fight and struggle to remain free. Now, I know most of you are thinking…

‘Wow, that’s pretty heavy stuff to be thinking when you’re peeling potatoes.’ Well, yes, I guess it is-  however, even Southern girls can contemplate things like this quicker’n whipping up a bowl of potato salad!  After all, it was the Fourth of July- it’s not all about fireworks and barbeque- though I must admit to lovin’ the tastier aspects…. George Washington loved pit barbeque- even gave a few barbeques himself! A tall athletic man, Washington was also endowed with amazing leadership skills, wealth and an impeccable reputation- wouldn’t even lie about cutting down a cherry tree as any school age child is taught. The cherry trees surrounding the Tidal Basin evoke his memory. George Washington was honored as a Revolutionary War General, the First US President and also called The Father of our Country. Washington was named a national icon in the 1800’s when the new capitol dome was being designed. The dome’s design includes a feature that bathes the entire Rotunda in light. Light is symbolic of Truth and Goodness… the two virtues that our government and her people should always strive to attain.

Anytime you’re going on vacation to an historic city- there’s so much to see and do…it’s good to have a few goals. For this trip to Washington DC, the purpose of our trip was to attend an award ceremony at the Pentagon and take the tour, which included the location in the building where an airliner struck the Pentagon on 9/11- the damaged section is now a chapel with  an honor anteroom, including a window looking toward the frightful path of the weaponized plane and overlooking a memorial garden for the 183 lives lost that fateful day. Also we wanted to see the newly renovated dome, eat a lobster roll at Luke’s near the National Portrait Gallery, eat at Bobby Flay’s Burger Palace in Georgetown and we had plans  to watch the somberly beautiful- Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. CD31FDD7-D9A1-44C7-BD8D-23B97C0FDEB3

The day we were there, four funerals were to be held. As we waited for our tram to take us back- everyone became quiet and with hands over heart- we watched as a caisson slowly passed by- with 6 saddled black horses- the horses on the left had riders…the horses on the right were riderless adding to the  beautiful yet haunting sight. No photographs were taken out of respect for the slain veteran. The architecture in the cemetery is astounding in its masterful detail.

I had finished making our Fourth of July potato salad… A thought had occurred to me- Just how long had it been since I had actually read the Declaration of Independence and why among all of our national holidays had I not made a tradition of reading it? We read the Thanksgiving stories of Pilgrims and Indians, we read the ‘Night before Christmas’ to our bright eyed children…of all the traditions we have in this great nation…why not read the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July? Oh, I think we all know some of the beautiful phrases-

  • ‘When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary…’
  • “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’
  • ‘And…with a firm reliance on divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.’

Yet somehow the whole declaration and its history isn’t dwelt upon annually. For instance, when you read the whole document- just the reading of the indictments of the monarch, King George III- are extremely informative. The time frame of it’s writing is also interesting… the Revolutionary War was already underway  when the declaration was written and ratified. Even more pressing and dramatic to contemplate- British war ships were bearing down upon New York Harbor!

In June of 1776, the colonies had become increasingly united concerning the need to declare independence from the Crown and Parliament. The delegates appointed a Committee of Five, which included Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson- Time was of the essence…

Jefferson was assigned the task of writing the declaration…he had a little over 2 weeks to write what would become one of the most important documents in human history. After consulting others who edited the document… Jefferson wrote that they ‘mangled it’  even as he exclaimed in his later years that the edits to sentence structure and removal of a full fourth of his original produced ‘the majestic document’ we now know as the Declaration of Independence…it was accepted on July 2, 1776. With that, the colonies had officially severed ties with Great Britain. John Adams believed that eventually Independence Day would become a day of celebration for generations.

  • On July 4 with a few more changes…
  • the wording was approved, it was signed and sent to the printer.
  • Two hundred copies were printed-

Now, this is important! President of the Continental Congress, John Hancock sent a broadside copy of the Declaration to General George Washington, who ordered that the declaration be read in full publically on July 9, 1776 to encourage folks to join the cause and to inspire his troops in New York City…wait for it…

  • The Declaration of Independence was read aloud… as 1000’s of soldiers on British warships were in New York Harbor!
  • This is profound enough, yet when you consider that 225 years later… the United States was attacked near the same location.
  • Standing overlooking the New York Harbor the Twin Towers were pummeled by those who would terrorize the American People.
  • Symbolism is one of our greatest teachers… Overlooking the same New York Harbor, rising up out of the ashes, in 2014 the new and gleaming One World Trade Center stands 1776 feet tall…

EA88D03E-E929-4DDA-BBB1-1CC5A50428C0May I be so bold as to suggest that-between July 4 and July 9 of each year… we make an effort to read the Declaration of Independence?After all, it ultimately became the spectacles through which the US Constitution is interpreted.   And in the reading of it, perhaps we will hear the echoes General George Washington’s voice , full of truth and goodness- as he declares Freedom from Tyranny and hear the inspiring words of the majestic document that still inspires generations..

The Declaration of Independence-  ‘…with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other- our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.’

Every thing they had was offered for the cause of Liberty- their lands, possessions and incomes, their very lives and the one thing these brave men valued above all- their honorable reputations.

E2F13F06-B017-41B7-8FDD-73C0CC7D0E9CRemember Freedom? Standing high above our nation’s capitol building? Contemplate Freedom, often. Let nothing overshadow Freedom. Let nothing rise above Freedom.

Independence Day is a wonderful national holiday, full of many reasons to be thankful for the protection of divine Providence – I hope yours was full of good food, fireworks, inspiration and contemplatin’ Freedom.

Love y’all, Camellia

*Please make note: The purpose of Camellia’s Cottage is not political opinion or commentary. Our purpose is to promote gracious inspiration and genteel conversations.

*All photographs are obviously mine. The photograph of the small American flag was near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I wondered if perhaps a young child had placed it there…

*Forgive me for not crediting sources…many are from tour guides and multiple resources from which notes were taken but no one source to provide a consistent resource.

Gardenia Elixir …

Just the thought of Iconic Southern Scents and my mind drifts to sweet honeysuckle, exotic jasmine, the faint lemony magnolia and deeply fragrant gardenias. To me, Gardenias are the glamor girls of southern flowers, they don’t wear out their welcome and we remember them long after they’re gone. There may be no greater mood lifter than floating a few blooms of camellias, a big magnolia or several gardenias on water in a cut glass bowl or better yet- floating on top of the warm water of a bath, which is unbelievably soothing.

Honestly, just those thoughts can fling on me a full blown case of a Magnolia Fever. And, the cure might be as simple as a Gardenia Elixir. Southern ladies, like many other cultures tended toward using what they had to make amazing extracts for use in all manner of ways, especially when more expensive extracts weren’t readily available, much like Rose Or Orange Blossom Water. Gardenia Extract is similar to those and must be made when gardenias are in bloom. Recently my friend, Rebecca from the great state of Louisiana, posted two ways to use gardenia blooms- one is an infusion of the blooms into heavy cream for her No churn Ice Cream . Rebecca’s blog is called Why I Baked a Cake, a must read. And if you’re on Instagram- follow her making gorgeous cakes! @Whyibakedacake

Another recipe in her post, is an infusion for steeping gardenia petals in a simple syrup- which I’ve dubbed Gardenia Elixir. Here’s how you make it:

  • Mix 1 cup pure cane sugar to one cup of water in a saucepan, heat until sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Add the petals only of 4-5 gardenias.
  • Allow to steep at least 4-5 hours (I steeped mine over night)
  • Strain flower petals. Pour into airtight containers.
  • I keep any extra elixir chilled. When used, the fragrance is amazing. And, I made several batches to offer as gifts.
  • Rebecca told me she loves Gardenia Elixir in Tea, Lemonade and her favorite is to add the elixir to Prosecco. I also love it in Limeade. I found having this unusual fragrant elixir on hand, certainly makes any occasion a very civilized event.
  • Gardenias bloom in June, the season of love. Often a suitor would give his sweetheart a corsage of gardenias. Brides have requested gardenias in their wedding bouquets, a gardenia was pinned to the pillowcase of new mother or near bedsides of infirm dowagers; and it was not uncommon for gardenias to grace blankets or wreaths of a beloved’s casket or to discover large evergreen shrubs planted in cemeteries. From the cradle to the grave, southern ladies do love their gardenias. Gardenia Elixir is just one more layer to add on the sweet gardenia’s history.
  • Love y’all, Camellia

    *All photographs are obviously mine.

    Treasures, Tools and Talents…

    img_5014Pastels, pens and pencils. Watercolors, canvas, easel and brushes. Chisels, angles or whisks. Mirrors, lens, makeup or muffin tins. Wood, stone, seeds or soil. Old roses, lace, a box of photographs. Violins, a garden stroll, vintage love letters.

    img_5021What tools do you possess? Your wisdom, your talents, your joy. Still. Tools and talents only represent potential. Unless you use your tools and talents, nothing to treasure ever happens. Blend your skills, tools and talents, even your limitations – combined with joy, the results are nothing short of miraculous.

    img_5025Let me prove it with a storyOne of the greatest storytellers of all time, as a child actually wanted, to build cardboard castles. He had scissors, paper and glue- the problem ? He was limited by his thumbs which had one joint. His physical defect enabled him to draw illustrations and to write… just not build cardboard castles. He said-

    ‘It was this that forced me to write. I longed to make things, ships, houses, engines. Many sheets of cardboard… I spoiled, only to turn from my hopeless failures in tears. I was driven to write stories instead… You can do more with a castle in a story, than the best cardboard castle that ever stood…’

    As a result of using the tools he had, the ability to write and draw, Lewis blended those with a stellar imagination. the great C.S. Lewis wrote the ever classic children’s fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Certainly far more than cardboard castles!

    img_5015Don’t fret over your limitations, do not neglect the gifts within you… it’s ultimately your treasure. What’s in your treasure chest is the sum of your personality, talents, tools and imagination.

    img_5018Approach your talents with love, awe and appreciation- for talents are your unique means of expression to the world. Something no one else can do quite like you!

    img_5031Be careful and wise as to how and when to offer your treasures. When you do, give the full measure of reverent abandon, humility and lavish joy, within your power to employ. Do not fear being fabulous. For as much as we may enjoy the shy muted approach of a sunrise, who wants a halfhearted sunset? Give us the blazing glory; the majestic marvelous magical you.

    Love y’all, Camellia

    *Quote by C.S. Lewis- from his amazing book- Surprised by Joy

    A message from Brenda

    * Several months ago, I was asked to help with some updates for an online class I was taking. The question was posed- ‘Do you ever reuse content or photographs?’ My answer was, ‘Yes. My photographs are my treasure chest. Something I dig into over and over again.’ Photographs can be edited to use an ingredient, color or focal point, then reverted to the original. I also have used a photo on a solid white background adding a quote.

    And while I rarely reuse content, I have re-blogged a favored or timely post. I have used the feature offered by WordPress, called ‘Sticky’ which enables me to use a seasonal post, a recipe, an inspirational piece to stick to the front of my blog, as the opening post. I also wrote a book published in 2013, from which I occasionally use quotes. And, often I’ll use almost all of the content of a blog post in a corresponding Instagram post. I think of reusing content and photography as an expansion of the ‘tools I’ve been given’ which are unique to me. Artists, photographers, food stylists and content creators often send a sample of their work to prospective buyers, editors of food or travel publications, as a way of generating passive income. And, it’s not uncommon at all, to take a series of stories, poems, even recipes, then compile that series into book form. Reuse of your own material is the best and most efficient use of your time.

     

    5 Principles of Good Design…

    Why is a gate standing ajar or roses along a fence so inviting? How does a change of pillows or adding a house plant lift the mood? A clean open room or a swath of colorful flowers pleases the eye. Why are we drawn in with a touch of wonder, a bit of mystery or whimsy, just from reading words upon a page? And, what is it about the morning sunlight, a cheerful window box, open shutters, finding an unexpected sculpture, even overlooking a greening field? Emotions are stirred, inspiring the click of a camera, the swath of a paintbrush, the writing of poetry.

    img_4608Whether you’re writing a novel or a blog post, making a garden plan or creating a room… producing artwork, planning an event or marketing a product or service- Good design is essential. Here are my 5 Principles of Good Design:

    img_49181. Structure– This sets the boundaries, writes the outline, establishes the parameters. Structure in creative design includes entryways, walls, fences and paths.  Windows, enclosures, doors even garden gates all offer a view from beyond. Structure is  the size of a canvas or even the frame of great artwork. Good placement of structure, allows for taking advantage of natural or planned views. Outbuildings, barns, sheds, greenhouses, even porches are good examples, too. Structure is very much like the plot of a story, the layout of a room, setting the stage, doing a first draft or an initial sketch- even a basic recipe. Everything depends on the planned or existing structure.

    img_48652. Light and Color. Whether muted or harsh, light is an amazing tool, that’s why we have phrases like ‘… shed light on a subject.’  Words, fabrics even paints are really absorption of light. Twilight in a garden, dark passages, shady fern glades opening onto a patio’s splashing fountain, glistening droplets cool down a sunlit space. Light highlights form. Color can be compared to a main theme, prompting a response. Color draws the eye and keeps it focused. Shades of color massed together are more pleasing than bits here and there. All good storylines have a main theme, color is way to establish theme. Keeping color consistent is important, with the occasional exception of an accent color, always best when used sparingly.  Do you enjoy reading about colorful places, delightful folks or being enlightened? Remember that phrase and you’ll do alright.img_4924

    3. Focal Point– a focal point draws you in. Into the garden, into a story, into a work of art. A focal point has the effect of pausing, just as a curved path slows the pace. Focal points can be compared to deciding which type of frame best suits a painting. And, a focal point is very much like punctuation, exclamation mark or even a main character. img_4855

    4. Emotion. This might be the most important principle of all. How does the design make you, your reader, your audience feel? Is it the scent, is it the shape, the shadows? Is it the sense of comfort or being home? It might even make you smile or be inspired. Never underestimate the value of mystery, curiosity, serenity, anticipation or a bit of whimsy. And always leave room for serendipity. The unexpected twist. Emotion is movement, memory and motivation. Change structure, focal point even light and color and you experience new emotions. Adding whimsy to a serious garden, home or story always brings a smile.

    5.  Abundance and Restraint. There is a place for both in great design. The abundance of roses, a single flower, each has a message all its own. Generally in a garden or a home- abundance is highly desirable, a huge bowl of fruit, a flower arrangement, an overflowing bread basket, a mass of single color. Often in a painting, a marketing plan,architecture even in writing – restraint is often best. Remember, if the restrained design of a room, a work of art or a garden looks easy, it’s not.  Nature teaches us the best lessons-  dew drop says something far different than a generous spray from a watering can.

    Tell me your story, don’t leave anything out. Take a photograph, set the scene, put color and emotion – use restraint or abundance to its best advantage and if it’s a recipe… well, you know I want you to do everything except scratch and sniff the spices, vanilla or lemon! Spark my imagination, let me feel the emotions.  Let the colors in your art or garden lift my spirits, thrill me with color combinations, set boundaries with a fence, gate or beautiful frame.img_4471

    If you design a beautiful room, add a focal point or a pleasing outdoor view, maybe a charming window box. Literally, frame the view of your amazing work of art and it actually visually expands the experience. Give me abundance or show restraint, it’s like editing– often what you take away is more important than what you leave in.  And, hey! In the South, we like a bit of whimsy, humor and often we tilt to the morbid side of things. We put our crazy eccentric sides out there and relish being different, maybe we could use a bit of restraint. Oh me, how I do run on…

    Love y’all, Camellia

    *This is a larger subject than one blog post can contain. Still. I think to have these principles in place builds a framework on which your creativity can thrive.

    • Build the framework with structure. 
    • Light and color are much like adjectives or spices.
    • Add a focal point as your main character.
    • Use emotion to its best advantage, this is the active part of your design.
    • Stir in restraint and abundance and you have a winning combination.

    To Blog or not to Blog…

    img_4683‘To blog or not to blog, that is the question.’

    Over the last year, I have spoken with quite a few incredibly talented folks with hopes and dreams for making a life or a living. Without exception, I came away wishing they had a blog. Why?

    My #1 reason has always been, when I find an artist, photographer, author, gardener or an amazing cook or teacher, even a seller, I want to know more about them. A blog offers me the chance to get to know you. I tend to head right to their About page. A business which includes a blog, seems more personal, trustworthy; especially if that business includes a Mission Statement. I’d like to know or see some of the folks who work there too.

    2. Then, I scan a few of your posts. All businesses large or small seem more trustworthy, more solid, more stable and committed, if there is a blog. My favorite sites show Behind the Scenes. Showing your reader what you do, engages them, tells your story, makes anything more interesting and personalized. For instance, if you’re a jewelry maker, telling me the piece you made was inspired by the hollyhocks that grow outside your studio, brings me into your thinking and surroundings.

    img_4682An artist who tells me what inspired a painting and a bit of your process gives me a personal experience.

    A realtor who shows me unique homes, beautiful interiors or simple plans being developed – creates intrigue, increases interest. These things makes me want to linger longer on your site.img_4580

     

    3. Your blog is a Virtual Brick and Mortar shop– a place where folks can enter anytime, look around at their leisure, get a feel for the place and owner. A blog gives folks reasons to be there, get to know you, trust you, your services and your products. And! Trust you enough to sign up with their email- giving you a reliable and inexpensive way to stay in touch.

    Invite me into your garden, your seed and plant nursery. Let me see your bakery, your design aesthetic, or hear your music.

    Now, you know I’ve got far more reasons, yet let me leave you with this- pandemic or not, virtually telling your story, showing your process and conducting business is all about creating a personalized way to engage others. I must say- since talking with all of those folks? The ones who have blogs or started blogs (especially in short form) have far outpaced those who haven’t. So, the answer to the question- To blog or not to blog…is a resounding ‘Yes!’ We will stay in touch and revisit this subject again! Hope y’all are staying safe, well and going strong.

    Love y’all, Camellia

    Message from Brenda: Since this post was written,  a dear friend, one of the most unique people I’ve ever known, has gone on and been received on the other side. I will miss her terribly. She didn’t have a business. Still. I wish she had shared her stories, which are many, I wish she had written her perspective on things, told her family history and the truly funny stories only she knew how to tell and make us all ‘laugh our sides off’. No doubt she has left behind stories and lessons that have never been told. Just one more reason, for any of you out there who need another reason to blog- this is it. Tell your story.

    At Home…

    img_4141

    I’m a homebody. I do love to be at home. Of course, I’d prefer not to have to stay at home. Yet, even if I were out shopping, I’m basically a window shopper. So! During this critical time, I’ve been doing what I  naturally enjoy doing… looking at catalogs, magazines, reading books and I do love a good success story. I might be at home- yet I guess what I’ve been doing is collecting.   I started collecting success stories right after the stay at home orders.  What would folks do? The small restaurants, the home owned businesses and cute shops I count on or enjoy rambling around in? These are the hardest hit right now.  The major holidays were past- though I knew Mother’s Day always adds a boost in spending or dining out. And, what inspires me most is the ingenuity of businesses large and small, to adapt quickly, embrace the situation, make the adjustments and move forward. And you know, this has always been true, pandemic or not.

    The folks who face facts, protect and respect others even when life was disrupted, they made hard decisions and knew they would take some losses, yet are using their genius to move forward.
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    So, here’s a few I’ve admired and a few things I’m working toward; I hope you’ll be inspired too!  A large retailer who I’ve long admired, has added At Home features, updated to reflect what they’re doing at home now, rather than just trying to sell home products- it’s in their blog area on their website. His wife’s recipe for waffles, a peek into their home life with games and outdoor walks.  It’s being updated regularly and rather than pointing to the retail products,  they’re opening with an At Home feature in their notifications and ads, with this soft thoughtful approach.
    img_4483I’d like to do something similar by giving you a link to a dessert we’re loving right now here at our home, Camellia’s Cottage! The ever popular Lemon Squares…

    And, may I add, this large retailer, is doing something I love with their At Home blog- they are micro-blogging, writing short up to date, time appropriate content. We bloggers would do well to be inspired to micro blog right now!
    img_4487Another large retailer, known for their classic clothing quickly added stylish face masks from the fabrics of their most popular styles. Guess what? They’ve sold out! Masks are on backorder, I predict they will have added substantially to their accessory line!

    img_4194A beach hangout renowned for it’s good food and rowdy fun loving crowds- made the decision, when they were allowed to reopen- they would have tables set ‘one alligator apart’ in distance that is! They set their tables six feet apart outdoors, closed the interior  spaces and provided their employees with protective masks and gloves for food preparation. They decided the safety of their customers and employees was imperative and did it in an amusing way!  I predict they will have a good season. Other local cafes and restaurants hopefully will be able to serve in outdoor settings too!

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    Retail clothing sales will be different for the foreseeable future. For years now, Alabama fashion designer, Natalie Chanin has employed folks who work from home, doing the hand applique required for so many of her designs. Those employees may not face the layoffs since Alabama Chanin was a forward looking company to begin with! (find them @alabamachanin on Instagram) They were already a slow fashion company, it’s paying off now! And p.s. they also have a blog within their website- it’s a thing, y’all For instance, a beautiful gardening product site I love has been doing this for years- it’s called @shopterrain) If you have a business website, adding a blog is vital now!

    And here’s a few more ideas I’ve seen… businesses who are finding new ways to do business!, after we’re allowed to img_4475

    • The owner of a small chain of breakfast places- is serving drive thru only, yet he reconfigured the inside of his restaurants as a small grocery store- using his supply lines, he’s buying milk, bread, bacon, eggs and more. The customers are thrilled to get their breakfast to go and pick up a few grocery items while they’re at it!
    • At a local Chinese restaurant, the owners have converted one of their glass storefront windows into a takeout window, they accept phone orders only and have reconfigured to accept payment safely or by phone.
    •  A small women’s boutique in Wisconsin, has added an online business and has personally contacted their loyal customers. When my friend in Houston orders from their shop- they’re now offering free shipping and have started including a handwritten Thank You Notes! (they never go out of style) Think. Personalized Shopping Experience!
    •  Rethinking consumer habits during the time of COVID 19, a dry cleaner who was already doing pick up and delivery has been able to retain their alterationists by offering face masks at a reasonable price. I think this is brilliant!
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    •  Collaborating is becoming one of the best things to do for small businesses. A gift shop works with a garden shop, to create gift containers and baskets including live bedding plants or herbs – even small garden tools, seeds and small bags of potting soil. Even potting up windowsill gardens or indoor plants that are vital to indoor air quality are great ideas too! They’re offering free gift wrapping and curbside service and delivery options! Ditto for bakeries collaborating with florists!
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    •  A hair salon is offering products for stay at homes with facetime calls for directions for using these products. Another is making house calls. (Some states are allowing this) Still others are collaborating with small cosmetics, small boutique clothing shops or health food stores to offer personalized care. Why? How to look good on video is highly popular and much needed now! We all need all the Tools we can get!
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    • An Interior Designer shifted her focus from interiors by collaborating with a local landscapers and realtors to create Curb Appeal for her customers. Brilliant isn’t it? Using antique urns, outdoor safe containers, paint for shutters and front doors has helped all of those businesses keep going, not later- Now!
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      Some are organizing Pop Up shops, with permission and collaboration with essential businesses for a set number of hours, with safe payments and limiting handling of stock. Pop up shops would be a wonderful addition for grocers and plant nurseries or florists assuming the grocer doesn’t already carry these items!
    •  Travel and Food photographers are pitching magazines in their fields to sell photographs- buffing up a few writing skills has helped many. Even contacting stock image sites is becoming a way photographers are adding to their incomes. *Check out @greatescapetravelpublishing for all sorts of hints and tips for photographers and travel writers- don’t wait, do it now!img_4495
    • The most amazing thing I’ve seen so far is from a large printing service which is now offering face masks with a package of filter liners. I ordered masks from this company- after I ordered, they notified me that the price of the filter liners had gone down– and they refunded me the difference- now, I ask you? Who do you think I’m going to do business with? The one who refunds or the one who decides they’ll pocket that extra profit? Find them @vistaprint

    Now, I told you that I’ve come up with a few ideas of my own. Here’s one or two I’m ready to share now-img_4461

    One of the reasons I was motivated to write this blog in the first place, was to record my grandmother’s recipes and other southern classics. I’ve now written over 400 blog posts, many of those recipes have been shared, so! I’m thinking of using these recipe blog posts including a few humor posts to produce an Ebook! I’m checking out Kindle Direct Publishing (print on demand) since I’ve already self published a physical paperback and Ebook before.  Please know it’s a rigorous process. If I do publish an ebook, maybe I’ll help others do it too! There are lots of books and courses about creating ebooks, just know the prices for online instruction may vary widely. Just look into everything carefully!

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    One recipe I’m sure to include will be Homewreckers… a recipe for the most decadent brownies you’ve ever tasted from a famous screen star!  And, I would love to combine all of the humor posts I’ve written into a book as well… I’m sure to include what was one of my earliest posts and continues to be a favorite… I warn you it’s longwinded like me- yet, it’s my Mother’s Day gift to you! If you’ve read this far, you deserve something for your trouble! I do believe businesses and blogs should offer something for your time, right now! So, that blog post? I’ve made it easy to find…You’ll find it here Our Southern Mothers…

    Now. It’s Mother’s Day here in the States, yet there’s another holiday being observed here and abroad- it’s VE Day- the day Nazi Germany surrendered unconditionally to European Forces on May 8, 1945. I was reminded this morning in a dear friend’s post of this quote by Winston Churchill, which is perfect in these days when we’re finding out new ways to succeed at living and doing business.

    ‘Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.’

    Keep moving forward with all of the enthusiasm you can!

    Love y’all, Camellia

    *A word from Brenda

    I am trying to support local businesses, I hope you are too! And, if Camellia hadn’t been so longwinded today- I would add I am also using stock photos, along with my own- and gleaning ideas wherever I can to bring them to you! That street side café is a cute example of a stock photo- yet? If you’re wondering who that beachside restaurant is- with tables ‘one alligator apart’ it’s none other than the Florabama ! find them @_florabama along with over 42.1K followers, we love them too! They also offer watersport rentals and plan to follow CDC guidelines. In other words, they’re keeping their business open because they know- it’s not about them- it’s about their customers!

    * Remember- Accept the situation. Adapt quickly. Embrace this time as an opportunity. Make the adjustments. Move forward. Y’all, we can do this- stay inspired…. the photo below is one I clipped and put in a journal years- I took a pic…it inspires me to work At Home!img_4471

     

    Take the Stairs…

    img_4343In 2016, we were taking a tour of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the site of new beginnings, expansive ideas, critical decisions and unbounded courage.  What sprang forth was- yes, a new nation. Still. These new ideas could bear a high cost. They were Taking the Stairs to form something new. The first steps to form a nation, were taken in this building. The Declaration of Independence was crafted on this site. A period of turbulent challenge and change followed those decisions.

    img_4346Life changed, forever. Families were separated. Lives were lost. Travel became difficult. Reputations were ruined. Businesses failed. Fortunes were lost.

    It wasn’t easy to take -The Steps to Form a New Way of Life. What would happen to-

    • The Cooks, the Candle and Candlestick Makers?
    • The Churches, the Bakers and Undertakers?
    • The Taverns, General Stores and Lodging Houses?
    • The Farmers, the Livestock, Dairies and Glassblowers?
    • The Carpenters, Brick Masons and Ironworking Forges?
    • Curtain, Furniture Crafters, Clock Makers, Shutter and Cabinet Makers?
    • The Millineries, Munitions, Wig, Wagon and Map Makers?

    Okay. Wait a minute. You get the picture, no need to go overboard here…Folks were worried about keeping house, home and business together, right? And while I’m at it- what about that Staircase? The detail, the craftsmanship and my two favorites in the scene… Light streaming in the window and Paint Color! Amazing.

    At any point of dramatic change- conflict, war or plague… the toll is incredible. We are at a pivotal moment in time. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this- Whenever, I’ve read sensible instructions to get in physical shape- there’s always been the simple advice- ‘Take the Stairs’ Instead of riding an escalator, it’s far better to take the stairs. One Step at a Time has always been sage advice.

    img_4349May I tell you something, you may not believe this- yet it’s true. It’s far easier to climb the steps than to walk down a flight of stairs. Anyone, including me! who’s had knee surgery will tell you- it’s far more difficult to descend rather than ascend. The problem in times like this is our mental state, taking a downward spiral…img_4350

    It’s normal to be concerned, even anxious… still.Once you’ve accepted the situation, done all you can for your safety- you do have a choice- Accept the new normal. Accept that things may never be the same. Next choice? You can either- Spend too much time wishing things were the same as before and being frustrated. Or. You can… Embrace it as a New Start and an Opportunity. img_4347

    State of Mind might be the most important and best First Step. Then…Ask yourself these things-

    • What are my unique gifts and talents to offer the world, right now?
    • What would I be doing for my business, this time of year? If someone had given you a week or so to close your business, I’ll bet you would have done some spring cleaning, perhaps re-painted, had carpets and floors cleaned. Reworked the layout of your business. Do all you would normally, just do it better and smarter.
    • And, you would have made sure your base of support had the pertinent information concerning your business, while making sure that base knew you would be there for them.
    • You may never know, your call or contact could mean the world to someone, especially in your core base of support. And! they may have ideas you’ve never considered.

    There are no easy solutions, to get back- your health, your life, your finances and your business. A free standing small business or side income, including a blog. After securing yourself, your family, finances and staff if you have one- What do you do? Take the stairs. It might be slower to take it one step at a time, yet this is has always been the best way to start getting in shape and to shape up your life and business.

    If you have a business and are in danger of losing sales, readers, advertising? What do you do, now? First understand that technology is going to play a larger part in your life and business. It’s your way of keeping touch with your base of support– especially during times of social distancing. If you need to upgrade anything- let technology be the first step and learn the skills to use it. There are a whole lot of free and low cost courses out there! Use these resources as your own personal Library to get your mind focused.img_4348

    You will need to adjust your plans from last year’s business model, yet this doesn’t have to mean major changes. Some cost little to nothing. Do those first best steps. The best advice from a retail training I took was this-

    ‘If you want business, find a need and fill it. If you don’t have customers, make a list of everyone you know. Support and encourage them in their current endeavors. Let them know where you are and what you have to offer. If you don’t have sales, add a free service. If you still don’t have sales or to increase the sales you have- add a low cost service. If you still don’t have sales, maybe you didn’t really find a need that needed to be filled.”

    What are you doing right now to reach out to your base of support? If they are following you on any platform of social media- follow them back! Leave a nice comment every now and then. Believe me, they will pay attention to your messages, if they feel they have a personal connection to you!img_4356

    • If possible, reach out to your core supporters with a phone call or a post card. Start now, if you haven’t already, building an email list. Social Media advertising is still one of the best values out there. Be authentic and unforgettable!
    • If you currently have a website, add a blog. Write authentically, short updates of what your family is doing during this time of isolation. What you had for breakfast, a funny story about your children or pets- even show what you actually wear to work at home. Add any updates you’re making to your place of business- safety measures you plan to put in place. Behind the scenes is always a winner, just do it in good taste.
    • For awhile now, folks have been leaning into support businesses that give them a personalized shopping experience.  The businesses that are actively seeking ways to provide a service with their physical products are the ones most likely to weather this crisis. And service based businesses are finding now, that adding a product or a free service are too!
    • You may have to accept a smaller profit margin for a while, though some profit is better than no profit at all, right?
    • And while it may seem counterproductive, give. Many in times past, in serious financial difficulties found a way to ‘make sure no one who came to them hungry, left that way.’ Giving does have a way of multiplying and coming back to the giver. And, at the very least builds good will. Support local businesses, if they stay in business it helps yours!
    • New and future businesses must have a social media presence and ways to interact with their customers. I repeat– If you are a product based business, it is essential that you add as many services as possible. If you are a service based business, now might be the time to add a few products, even add how to instructions or videos.
    • Start now brainstorming ideas to make sure you have streams of income, rather than depending on just one.

    This is a long post, which began with a beautiful staircase, the scene of brave folks who risked everything and still managed to forge ahead, build on what they had started and accomplish great things in less time than anyone would have imagined. They did it by taking those beautiful stairs one step at a time– each bringing the best of who they were as they began the long climb. This country was never a perfect union, they just had a hope to build a ‘more perfect’ place decade by decade, generation by generation of  determined folks – who despite the odds, the setbacks just kept coming back one step at a time.

    Love y’all, Camellia

    *A message from Brenda: We are keenly aware of the high unemployment numbers and are heartbroken about the economic hardships on so many. This post is essentially for small business owners and individuals who currently need ideas and encouragement to do what they can to keep their businesses going. If you are unemployed- often cottage industries have been started during times of great need and financial hardship. If you fall in this category, start small with great ideas- one step at a time. And! please don’t do anything that would interfere with the aid you are receiving in any form – governmental, grant or supplemental. Apply for it if you haven’t and take it one step at a time. Do whatever you can to take care of the basic needs of yourself and family, including staying as hopeful as you can.  Camellia and I will still be putting out lighthearted content yet- we feel the need to shift our focus to sending you serious content to help others. We welcome your suggestions too! We all hope for a safe sensible way to see the ‘Open’ sign on our favorite businesses again. Great love and prayers for you all, as we move through this unprecedented time in the history of the world. I’ll see you on the Stairs!img_4353

     

    Taking Care of Your Beautiful Mind…

    img_4155This image captured my imagination a while ago. At first I thought I would write about the joys of a glass room or starting seed in a greenhouse, even on a window sill. For some reason known only to the angels, those were never written yet the image remains. When all but the most essential businesses closed, this image took on a whole new meaning of – Stay at Home or even ‘A Room of My Own’ Those also would have been good subjects. (I’m winding up here to tell you something important!) I’ve realized that as this situation continues-

    • The number of emails,
    • The number of individual posts on social media increases,
    • The recorded calls increase
    • And my stress level goes up by the same measure.

    I realized that taking care of, limiting what comes into my mind is essential. Now, my background is in retail and marketing, even owning my own business years ago… I know that there’s a tipping point when good information becomes an irritant – regardless of how pertinent, important or even good news is offered. Sending out too much information leads to less business rather than more. Believe me on this one thing if nothing else.

    *A word to any size business, when it comes to sending emails- less is more. This applies to how much you send out. An urgent message is an exception. Let me tell you this-

    • This morning I spent about an hour unsubscribing from businesses who aren’t relative to my current situation and who are flooding my inbox too often.
    • I set filters on how often I receive emails from local businesses and my personal favorite sites. Also, business owners, your need to filter emails just went way up.
    • You need to filter and minimize emails from coming into your business email account.
    • Don’t overthink this, just do it. In fact stop thinking so much, being sidetracked and unclutter your business accounts and, therefore your clear your mind.
    • These are a few ways I’ve chosen to take care of my beautiful mind concerning email messages.

    For other social media, individuals and businesses would do well to take a look at filtering the number of posts received from accounts that are putting too many posts out daily. Believe me when I tell you this- During this isolation we are all on information overload. acs_0140

    • Posting too often makes you look desperate.
    • It makes you look as if you don’t have enough to do.
    • It might even make you an irritant. And!
    • It will lead to a drop in followers. Posting less will help you retain them.

    Why do we do this?  When you are in a panic to get more fans or business – you put more out there, thinking it’s the best thing to do! Right? No, don’t do it– help your friends, followers and associates by posting meaningful content less often and take care of their beautiful minds. There is no way, even a few hundred followers can absorb more than one post per day. (*Posting on stories in IG is a way to post more often- your most loyal fan base is there. And, Facebook might be a place to post more often, since it’s based on friends, family and opinion- still, I think it’s best to post less often) Of course, if you aren’t in business, don’t really care about whether you lose influence- go ahead and post to your heart’s content! Bless your heart.

    *Bloggers- when you’re first starting out- you may need to post a few times a week. As you grow- it’s best to post once a week, maybe less often depending on your readers. I received a very important tip from an enthusiastic reader when I first started out- she told me – as much as she loved reading everything I wrote, that she simply couldn’t keep up with every post.  And guess what? I had a bit of a personal polling done- the majority said to post less often. This doesn’t mean your folks don’t love you, they just don’t have the time or attention span, not to mention eye strain.

    In this time when we are all either working remotely from home for our regular jobs, in an essential worker category or even keeping up with family needs, you will do yourself and your readers a favor and at least think about upgrading your content with your most beautiful photos and your very best words-  then send it out less often.

    img_4195And! While I’m at it- less is more when it comes to word count. Whether you post for business or pleasure, great content in fewer words is well received any time, most especially when folks are on information overload. So, if you have a business and are in danger of losing sales, readers or advertising ? What do you do?

    • Limit information.
    • Limit how often you post.
    • Set limits on how much you, the business owner, allows into your own beautiful mind.
    • Think about what your customers need.
    • Find a way to give it to them in small bites.
    • And always remember your business isn’t about you, darlin’ , it’s about them. Find out what they need and find a way to get it to them.
    • Also, don’t forget to leave a comment on sites you follow, it creates connection and community.
    • And perhaps most important for taking care of your beautiful mind…If you think of this time as an opportunity instead of a calamity- it will show up in everything you do.

    And find a way, a time, a space to clear your mind often…even if it’s in a virtual dream room of your own. like mine… it’s pretty isn’t it? Find a space, a way, a time. Everyone, including your own beautiful mind will thank you for it.

    Love y’all, Camellia

     

    Practicing the Art of Being Home…

    img_4092We’ve been practicing the art of Being Home… and as we say- ‘I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out’ how to stay upbeat on this space, while not minimizing the situations we find ourselves in as we all are trying to stay healthy and well. I’ll admit, I had several posts in the works. Still. I always have a goal to write what I would want to read– especially as it pertains to making life a bit better. So! I decided to come up with a few ways to enjoy being at home, while we are also practicing social distancing. I started brainstorming for a few ideas.. Think of things you enjoy doing at home. What would you be doing at home this time of year? Think of things you’ve been putting off or things you hoped to get done, yet hadn’t had the right kind of time to get done before.

    img_4102Practicing this Art of being At Home..  means staying active and while it might not offer all the benefits of working out in a gym- housework definitely burns up calories! And keeping a home, adds to a good mental state, too. I think we’re all trying to stay positive. For me,  the first step has been to accept the situation and it’s helping me embrace  it. And, the best advice is to keep it simple. Is there anything more satisfying than a warm stack of towels or a fresh made bed, with newly laundered sheets.

    img_4107If you have fresh flowers or even a bundle of herbs to place bedside- it truly is the epitome of practicing home arts. The little bundle of meaning filled herbs is an easy project.

    • Magnolia and Camellia leaves represent Home here in the South.
    • Lamb’s Ears are a healing herb-  gardeners kept it growing in case of  small wounds or bee stings- wrap a wooly leaf of Stachys Byzantine around a wound, to stop the bleeding and some use lamb’s ear as a dressing to lessen the swelling and pain of bee stings.
    • Sage is a component of this tussie mussie- and we all want to be wise!
    • Oregano is a joyful herb which was thought to foster health and happiness.
    • I added rosemary to this one… ‘Rosemary for Remembrance’ and who doesn’t want a better memory or even sweet dreams?  Please note if you have allergies as I do, just replace or omit any with another one.

    Scents in the home are often associated with good feelings… here’s one- Coffee Beans! Coffee beans were used to ‘clear the olfaction’ or the sense of smell after being on overload of fragrances- sellers of perfumes often offer a pouch of coffee beans, so that a buyer can experience new fragrances. I find the aroma of coffee beans to be a mood lifter… just take a whiff of the container and you’ll see! Drinking coffee has health benefits too! img_4095

    Citrus scented cleaners, detergents, soaps- oh the list is endless- are popular for a reason! The scent of Lemons, even Oranges are known to be excellent cleaners and! You guessed it- natural mood lifters! Here’s one of my favorite ways to make an air freshener and skin treatment too!

    img_4101Save lemon and orange peels, place in a small saucepan, cover with water and simmer for the best natural air freshener you can imagine! Then, cool the mixture, remove the peels and chill the remainder for a wonderful skin tightening treatment. Use regularly and I have found it lightens … ahem, age spots if you’re plagued with them! Wash the face or hands, pat dry. Dip a clean cotton pad in liquid and swipe over the skin. Pat dry again, immediately following with a moisturizer. If you really want extra benefit, instead of a moisturizing product, simply coat the skin with a good Olive Oil. Coconut oil is good too. Please note: high quality vegetable oils are absorbed quickly by the skin and leave no residue! Try this one! I know you’ll love it!

    img_4096One thing I would be doing- getting my skin in shape to get a head start on a summer glow. Epsom salts  added to a warm bath, eases tense muscles, and the salts bring moisture up to the surface of the skin, which is always a good thing! Even soaking in that old ancient beauty treatment- a milk bath is easily accomplished by added granular dry milk while the water is running.  Milk is a natural skin softener and simply washes down the drain- The salts or granular milk are both known as safe and healthy additions, they have no harsh chemicals or oils and truly can be mixed for an extra luxurious treatment. img_4089

    And here are few things that will actually help keep your immunity levels up a bit higher and also to make life feel a bit more luxurious, using items you may already have!

    Make a habit of taking a hot steamy shower. The goal is to…well, perspire. Okay, men you can sweat! Perspiring is one of the best ways to detoxify- ridding the body of toxins is a true immunity booster and improves blood flow, may lower blood pressure and for sure is a mood booster! (In fact, up the temperature in that milk/salts bath and you get the same benefit!) Remember how we sterilized almost everything? Some believe perspiring lowers the risk of infections! Fighting infections through the use of hot water to clean towels, linens, dinnerware and utensils, even clothing at high temperatures is recommended. (be careful with clothing- some fabrics have warnings against high temps for washing and drying! )

    Saline nasal mist and clear eye drops are a life saver for me during allergy season- it turns out even with washing your hands- using saline nasal mist or rinse should be on your regimen too. Clearing out the nasal passages, also clears out potential viruses before they become an infection!

    img_4093Of course, we need to be drinking lots of water, too! Perspire like that pretty glass and …Apply ice to those weary eyes, tired faces and aching hands. Well known models swear this is one of their major secrets to looking fresh and certainly gets them awake and looking good on camera- Zoom meeting anyone?

    And, if you live in the south, float a few gardenias in that bath water…okay camellias, magnolias and rose petals are good too. Our southern mothers floated blossoms on water in cut glass bowls… adding them to a bath was simply a luxurious extension! Ladies everywhere, adding a scented flower to your bath lifts the spirits and believe me, this will make it a bit easier to Stay at Home.

    Love y’all, Camellia