Southern Magnolia…

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It’s a fact- the closer you live to a Southern Magnolia the better your life will be…Tall, stately and oh so beautiful, she wears flamboyant flowers and her signature citrus scent. Her green satin leaves are lined with brown linen that sets off the creamy white flowers, red berries, then rustic cone shaped seed pods, she does enjoy her seasonal wardrobe. A true Southern lady, Magnolia tends to prefer the lower and coastal landscape. She seems particularly happy in a mixed crowd-

  •  Silly Longleaf and Loblolly Pines,
  • Moody Live Oaks with long gray beards
  •  She happily waves to the Nutty Hickories, Walnuts and Pecans-
  • And don’t get me started on the Shy Dogwoods, the Sour Persimmons,
  • The clinging Muscadines and those crazy Redbuds!

Magnolia Grandiflora may be her given name, but just call her ‘Mag-knowl-ya’. Like so many Southern Ladies she knows how to age gracefully– and stands peaceful and serene regardless of winds or high water and seems to have a high tolerance for shock.  AE535DE0-98A6-4415-80D7-F7DB05F9076D

She makes her home from the Low Country of Virginia and the Carolinas all the way down and across the South right over to Texas, where she quietly makes her presence known. Give Magnolia a Decent Footing, she’ll spread thick sprawling roots and bring Beauty to her surroundings all year round. Magnolia is the epitome of Southern Hospitality offering red berries to winter songbirds and her shiny leaves beautify every special occasion. From the cradle to the grave, Magnolia seems partial to the Holidays. Rich in symbolism, the Southern Magnolia represents

  • Beauty
  • Strength
  • Faithfulness
  • Grace
  • Dignity and
  • Hospitality

This year, a Magnolia Wreath seemed perfect for the front door, since we have three native Southern Magnolias and two hybrids called Little Gems, their dwarf cousins growing on the property. We made a full and simple wreath of Southern Magnolia Leaves to welcome Thanksgiving at the cottage. Beautiful. Simple and Traditional for large or small homes. Here’s how we did it-

  • Start with a Strong and Decent Base.
  • Cover with Natural Moss for the big leaves to cling to.
  • Mingle old, new and browned leaves in an orderly Dignified way.1E452A26-746E-496F-8A42-14FF71185D81
  • Generously cover the base.
  • Welcome the Little Gems in a Hospitable way.
  • Securely attach large wreath to front door.A90922D5-FCDD-437B-A560-067EC16073BA

Our Evergreen Southern Magnolia Wreath will carry herself in Dignity, Speak Kindly, look Beautiful and Age Gracefully, I promise!

Love y’all, Camellia

  • *all photographs are obviously mine
  • *Spanish Moss is covering a large grapevine wreath
  • *No wiring was required since the wreath is on a covered porch, she held up beautifully today despite the sonic boom- yes, NASA is investigating!

Egg Custard Pie…

9D879E52-F825-4B79-9CA1-533545189D57On Southern Dessert Tables, Egg Custard Pie is a Classic.  Custards were brought to the Colonies by the British and remained popular in the South, especially when boiled or baked in small custard dishes- From fancy Crème Brule to humble Banana Puddings- we do love our custards! When times were hard and cooking was done to survive- Egg Custards were thought to be comforting and necessary.  Filled with eggs and milk, ingredients on hand in most southern kitchens, Egg Custard Pies are rich but not overly sweet.  Some even thought, the sick and recovering should be fed Custards – to fatten them up! Leave it to the Southern Sweet Tooth to make a Dessert out of a Comfort Food! Some custards are cooked then poured into a baked pie shell. Cooked Custards may Scorch. Filling an unbaked pie shell with the custard mix- is a bit easier.  Custards aren’t hard to make, but then again…

  • An Overbaked Egg Custard Pie?  A telltale crack in the center.
  • Under-baked Custard? Too thin and wouldn’t set up. CF494A8D-61DE-4815-A268-94E1AD22EEF2

A Southern lady’s baking  skill was tested by her Custard Pies! Egg Custard Pies aren’t made that often any more- but we still have fond memories! I can hear it now…

‘Florigene could charm a bird out of tree just being who she was- but when she baked her Custard Pies- a whole flock of folks came around’

My mother in law, Eleanor, was famous for her Custard Pies- Coconut, Egg  and Chocolate Custard Pies. I wish I had kept count of how many times someone told her how much they loved her Egg Custard Pie- so Eleanor would surprise them with one! Quietly serving the pies to her family- I’m not sure we always appreciated her skill. Custard Pies seemed to be a favorite of hers. When she died, over and over folks whispered, ‘I loved Eleanor’s Custard Pies…’ More than a decade has passed since she crossed over from this life to the next, yet those pies are still remembered fondly. Recently, I had not one, but two friends exclaim over the virtues of  Egg Custard Pies- yet neither could recall when they had last eaten a homemade one. 

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As the holidays approach, I think of my mother in law so often. Before, it seemed like stepping on sacred ground- to try to bake Egg Custard Pie. In fact, I would not even try to replicate her famous pie. The recipe I used is not hers- I don’t have it. I researched old cookbooks and found several that seemed close- my adaptation makes two pies- one to keep and one to share. And I changed it up to be more like a deep dish pie, by using a cake pan instead of the more shallow pie plate. The ingredients are always the same- it’s the method and the measure that differs from recipe to recipe. Eggs, Milk, Sugar, Vanilla poured into an unbaked Pie Shell and baked, then chilled. Here’s what I came up with-

Camellia’s Cottage Egg Custard Pie 

  • Preheat oven to 375º
  • Line Two 8 or 9 inch Cake Pans with your favorite pie crusts.
  • In a mixing bowl, measure 2 cups of Sugar, a pinch of salt, 1 Tablespoon- All Purpose Flour and 3/4 teaspoon of freshly grated Nutmeg.
  • In another larger bowl, whisk 6 Large Eggs, beating until well combined.
  • Add dry ingredients to whisked eggs, mixing until well combined.
  • To egg mixture, add  2 cans of Evaporated Milk (not sweetened condensed) plus 1 cup of whole milk.
  • Then add  1 tablespoon of Pure Vanilla Extract and mix until all is combined well.  *The purists insist on straining this mixture- I didn’t. 647AFB91-AA01-4E1B-8C1E-7EA5147A6492
  • I poured portions of the mixture into a glass pitcher for ease of pouring the egg custard mixture into the Two Unbaked Pie Shells.
  • Grate more Nutmeg over the top of the Pie Filling.  *If pans are full- place them on a large sheet pan for baking.
  • Bake Egg Custard Pies for one hour- checking after 45 minutes to see if Custard is set. *Mine were baked in 8 inch Pie Pans and needed the full hour.  2A0EACEF-59C4-4A2A-9B90-67656897C1BE
  • Remove from oven to cool, the filling will be puffed but will settle.
  • Chill completely before serving so the filling flavors will be well developed.
  • Makes 2 Deep Dish Pies. 8c942e73-4c3a-4de0-bae0-cbcccf540837.jpeg
  • Keep refrigerated until serving. Any leftovers also should be kept chilled.
  •  *This is a rich but not too sweet pie. Approximately 8 servings in each pie.

My goodness, y’all! This Egg Custard Pie is good! And, next time- I might consider coating the top with granular sugar, then with one of those kitchen torches- Brule the top! Let’s just hope I don’t set the house on fire! This Fall, try making the comforting Southern Classic – Egg Custard Pie, for Sunday Dinner or even for the Holidays! Your Dessert Table will be even more popular!

Love y’all, Camellia9D879E52-F825-4B79-9CA1-533545189D57

*all photographs are obviously mine

Freshen up for Fall, y’all…

60B3C876-BBFB-4CA2-8F15-9308077EBA05In the South, when we start saying- ‘It’s nice outside!’ The Fall days have cooled down, all of that Daylight has been saved…it signals a time when I want to Freshen up for Fall indoors and out… The Cottage is small but has a good many windows which tends to expand the space visually, bringing the Outdoor Views inside. It’s a fact, that if the foliage outside is still lush and green, the sofa pillows have hints of green too; when the foliage is thinner and more colorful– I want to make changes indoors, bring out cozy throws and warm up the color palette. When abundant Fall Vegetables, Fruits and Holiday Foods start showing up too- It’s time to Freshen up for Fall, y’all!6A21141C-7353-4783-B49E-7684D565E3B7

I spent some time last week clearing out and taking inventory of the pantry and freezer to shop here for meals, already in the freezer and take advantage of grocer’s sales on-

  • Turkeys, Corn Meal  and Grits-
  • Sugars- brown and white
  • Apples, Pears, Peppers and Pecans too.
  • (The signature sign of a good Southern hostess, is a bowl of Toasted Pecans!)

While I was clearing out inside– the sunny cool days beckoned me outdoors more than once! A year ago, we visited the historic Grand Hotel near Fairhope, Alabama.. the abundant colorful arrangements in the foyer were stunning. I wanted recreate them here -if space allowed!67EC36D1-1C1B-4DC2-942B-24461F95947C

It doesn’t. Still. Outside here at the cottage- the sky’s the limit! So, here’s what we did-

  • Inside, we cleared off counters, cleaned out pantry and fridge, used what we had on hand and freshened up while still taking advantage of the abundance of Fall. We cozied up the sofas and chairs with a few throws and a big bowl filled with Fall Fruits and Vegetables.75DE720A-8EF3-4F07-A761-CCDA5F945125
  • We looked outside and made note of the views. It’s still nice outside, so why put up the outdoor cushions when we still have a few weeks to enjoy it? We can keep the cushions and a paisley throw nearby inside for reading or relaxing. We pulled terra cotta pots and urns in closer-still lush with summer Ferns and a big pot of dark Coleus clustered beside the chaise. At the same time? We improved the view from indoors- the cozy cluster outside is hiding bare rose branches and hydrangeas no longer at their peak.701DC1D7-5A1C-4F12-B6FA-8AF9E668EE65
  •  Over the sink, the kitchen window overlooks an ironwork table and chairs…now bare from summer’s plants or arrangements- we put a big pot of fat Mums and some faux white baby pumpkins in a galvanized tub to brighten the view from inside while taking advantage of a dogwood beginning to change from summer’s green to Fall’s Brilliant Red. 00323B39-22B4-49A5-810F-3F9830B7659C
  • *Note: Most faux pumpkins are a better fit for continuous outdoor use. Bring them in if you’re expecting a downpour! Don’t be afraid to mix faux and real in arrangements or fruit bowl.  Abundance is key. Real baby pumpkins and gourds will stay fresh a while longer if refrigerated- hopefully ’til Thanksgiving!
  • In another area- we set up a Big Disguise. Where a tree had to be removed is a big bare hole not yet ready for re-planting… 2901D58C-9A8A-4702-92EF-3234D01CFFA6
  • In front of the railing, we set up a temporary Fall scene using a small Fire Pit and a Flea Market Ironwork Container with a faux candle. Take a look! 0E5D3182-3D2C-4B06-B62D-197656DE011DNow, while it’s not as grand as the famous Grand Hotel… it’s a big scale arrangement that was fun to assemble with some fresh Magnolia Leaves, swept up fallen leaves, Nandina Berries, vines and bundles of twigs. D4EC8D16-8657-4329-9C2D-8BF040BC8EE1
  • This arrangement, using what we had on hand- is whimsical, improves the outside and freshens up the view from inside Camellia’s Cottage for now, as we prepare to enjoy Fall!

I’d love to know- How do you Freshen up your cottage or castle for Fall?

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine.

*The photographs of large scale floral arrangements were taken at the Grand Hotel and Spa in Point Clear, Alabama- beautiful all year round… Well over 100 years old, The Grand is a Stately Southern Lady lounging on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay, Alabama. Everyone should try to visit at least once in a lifetime! It is now part of the resort collection of Marriott® Hotels.

Autumn…

fall jeremy 4

There’s nothing stingy about Autumn… Generous words always describe the Colorful Wonders of Autumn. fall jeremy 8

Without a word spoken, her adjectives are Lavish, Splendid and Magnificent.

Reaching toward a Sapphire Sky…fall jeremy 9

the Treasures of Autumn are Emerald, Gold, Ruby, Copper, Amethyst and Bronze.

Autumn is the most generous of all seasons – fall jeremy 6

Rich and warm- she sheds her Abundant Harvest at the feet of fields and forest…fall- jeremy 1

No wonder thoughts of Home and Holidays open our hearts in Autumn.

Love y’all, Camellia

* Alabama in Autumn photographs are used with permission from Jeremy Miniard who so generously shares his talents with Camellia’s Cottage. Find him at jeremy-miniard.fineartsamerica.com

Green Bean Bundles…

75DF340B-0D30-4F46-9930-7B952284028EThe first time I ever tasted Green Bean Bundles was at a wedding reception. The  food had been prepared by the finest cooks in the county- well, at least in a twenty mile radius of Methuselah Baptist Church. The groom was Brother Joe’s boy- they had the same coloring- honey blond hair that waved just right. Brother Joe had done right by the boy, he’d had a good wholesome life. The bride was a striking redhead with bright blue eyes; both the bride and groom had that fresh scrubbed look- pink cheeks, sparkling eyes- corn fed and well bred.

She didn’t look it, but the bride was a few years older than Brother Joe’s boy, John Roy. John Roy had fallen in love at first sight of Babs in a sequin suit twirling her fire batons.  He was a freshman in high school and she was a senior- a high school majorette- Babs didn’t even know John Roy existed. She went off and got her education and he got his… One evening he pulled up at church and there was the pretty fire twirling majorette- except now she was leading a step sing at Methuselah Baptist Church. One thing led to another… John Roy and Babs decided to get married.

It wasn’t a big church but not too small either, big enough to have an active Deacon Board, WMU, quilting circle and even an Altar Guild led by a local florist who kept a pretty bouquet there every Sunday. The church was one of those sensible red brick buildings with clean white trim, Brother Joe made sure the grounds were neat as a pin.  The church folks were thrilled John Roy had come back home- he had a steady job as production manager at the local plant; Babs taught the pre-school music program, was majorette sponsor in addition to her teaching job. The ladies of the church wanted to help with the wedding reception to be held in the paneled Fellowship Hall, kept fresh with lemon scented polish.

The bride was a cream puff of tulle and lace- the groom was as solid as sawmill timber. The wedding was simple but sweet as could be. The reception was a spread, I can tell you now… The Deacons supplied the Ham, the Bride’s family furnished the wedding cake, bowls of roasted pecans and one of the church ladies specialized in wedding mints. Every once in a while when I’m washing my devilled egg plate I think of that wedding reception still. Egg Plates in every hue came out of the little church kitchen- amber and green pressed glass, a pretty white ceramic with pink roses and at least two white ones- were swapped out as each was emptied of devilled eggs. Sitting beside the egg plates were long casserole dishes, too delectable to name…7E36CE03-19FC-4510-961E-E270DE515553

with the exception of the unforgettable Green Bean Bundles … glistening with spices and oven roasted bacon. Now, all of these years later, I think of that wedding reception every time I make Green Bean Bundles … It’s the kind of dish that elevates even simple Roast Chicken, Fried Pork Chops or Meatloaf into an occasion! I’ve adjusted the recipe over the years and made them my own but they still take me back to a sweet wedding at Methuselah… Here’s how to make ’em-

Camellia’s Cottage Green Bean Bundles

  • 1 lb. package of frozen whole green beans thawed (fresh may be used if in season, ends trimmed and blanched quickly- some use whole canned green beans as well)
  • 8-10 slices of uncooked bacon- cut in thirds
  • 3/4 cup of Italian Dressing- Use your favorite bottled brand or -Blend 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, I teaspoon of garlic salt, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons brown sugar,1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup oil- preferably olive oil
  • Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take small bundles of green beans and wrap with portions of uncooked bacon. Line the bundles up in an ungreased 8×8 glass baking dish until filled. Drizzle Italian Dressing Mix over the bundles. Bake for 30-45 minutes until bacon is done. Serve warm. Makes 4-5  servings. Recipe may be doubled or tripled to fill larger glass baking dishes.

Do not make these when you are alone- you’ll eat the whole dish! Over the years, I’ve eaten at many similar gatherings- dinner on the ground, potluck suppers, family reunions and Holiday Dinners…and the romance of a small country wedding reception at little red brick church- put on by the best cooks in a 20 mile radius!  Oh me, like all Southern tales- this one is part truth, part fiction and part outright lies, but those Green Bean Bundles are the real deal!75DF340B-0D30-4F46-9930-7B952284028E

Love y’all, Camellia

* Let me set the record straight a bit. The bride, groom and Brother Joe are fictional, embellished for humor! The details of the wedding have long  since been forgotten, though typical of many sweet small weddings I’ve attended throughout my lifetime. Methuselah Church is fictional as well- though the description fits so many ‘neat as a pin’ small churches throughout Alabama that I have loved. However, the recipe for Green Beans Bundles is real, the places they’ve been served including a wedding reception are real too. The devilled egg plates at all of these gatherings always amaze me! The 20 mile radius? Well, let’s just say, I don’t have a good sense of direction- but I’ve heard that term my whole life- and somehow, in some places I think it surely must be true!

 

Let the Herbs speak…

BA1C7C01-836D-4FF1-BF9D-5E5F64E22C8DIt’s a language as old as the hills, if we’d only listen…the Language of Herbs and Flowers. As the festive seasons approach… my mind turns to comfort foods and gifts. There is no more wonderful Gift of the Earth for cooking than Herbs. Fresh or dried herbs can make a lowly Chicken sing instead of squawk… an humble bowl of Vegetable Soup will fill the house with a more exquisite aroma. Who can imagine Cornbread Dressing without the scent of Sage? A Steak is fragrant encrusted with Rosemary. Herbs and Flowers have been speaking to Folks for hundreds of years. Bundled and hung to dry, herbs are gifts that keep giving long after harvest. No one really knows just when Herbs and Flowers uplifted folks with their Fragrant Whispers…and were often thought to ward off evil spirits. Historically, the color of flowers gave way to romantic notions.

  • Red Roses meant romantic love- therefore florists deliver their message often.
  • Did you know that purple flowers speak of love at first sight?
  • Orange tones practically shout of enthusiasm and fascination…
  • Yellow Roses tell of joy and friendship
  • Green for young love or peace
  •  White is reserved for reverence, purity and sympathy.

Herbs speak a similar language with potent hidden meanings and messages. As long as anyone can recall- as far back as early 1000 A.D. huge Yule logs began warming folks when the nights grew short and dark…ghost stories were told around the fire that must not be allowed to go out..even a chunk of the Yule Log was saved to start the New Year’s Fires but not before a Green Leaf was brought into the house, most believe it was an evergreen herb of some sort!F58B9363-33C5-4FED-ADBE-1AA2A0DE3C0C

If you’ve ever grown Rosemary, Lavender, Sage, Oregano or Thyme… these Mediterranean beauties have an intense aroma which actually softens with age as they hang to dry.  I’m not sure when I first heard of the tradition of drying a meaningful bundle of herbs which were tied to a Yule Log or given fresh then dried to throw on the New Year’s Eve fire.  The bundle of herbs had meaning, some said warded off illnesses and misfortune; brought all kinds of good gifts to the home when folks threw the fragrant bunch on a hot fire. If you’re blessed with an herb garden of any sort- it’s easy to collect the herbs now, tie them off and hang to dry for the holiday’s good wishes! Or you can have some early fun- throw them on your Autumn fires and listen to what they say…

  • Rosemary for Remembrance,
  • Lavender for Love and Devotion,
  • Oregano for Joy and Happiness,
  • Thyme for Affection and Friendship which does take some thyme to foster…excuse me- Time.
  • And don’t forget old gray Sage… he’s always good for some Sage Advice or Wisdom! I particularly love the custom in other cultures to bundle Mexican Sage into smudge sticks… when it’s almost dry…the end is lighted to cleanse the house with it’s fragrant incense.

The Greenery I harvested include regional favorites- Magnolia whose glossy leaves remind me of a sweet wedding with her huge lemon-y jasmine scented blooms- for me, Magnolia represents- Home. The gray Spanish Moss hangs in profusion from Live Oaks along the Coastal Region- representing this strange, everlastingly wonderful region where I’ve spent most of my life-called the South.4055B045-7D4B-44D4-8E1C-15B9FE7E28D1

I’ve added Holly, often used for a Hedge of Evergreen Protection. The wooly Lamb’s Ear with her fuzzy leaves, which for truth- can stop the bleeding; I’ve used that Old Wives’ Wisdom of wrapping a Gardener’s nicked or scraped finger with an herbal bandage, Lamb’s Ear to stop the bleeding! So, adding Lamb’s Ears represent the Healing of Wounds suffered in the course of Living in this old world…

Quite often I add other fragrant natural aromatics, such as cinnamon sticks or pinecones to my offerings-  representing the Spice of Life and Life Eternal. Attached to bundles of Kindling or a small Yule Log- Keep the evil spirits away and Send a Message in a way nothing else can- Let the Herbs speak for themselves…

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine  *No claims of Lamb’s Ear’s healing properties are offered by me, I can attest wrapping a small wound from a thorn or scrape while gardening is temporarily effective. Lamb’s Ear was used to staunch blood flow and dress wounds on battlefields for centuries. Herbalists note the natural bandage has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties. Please use caution- as soon as possible, wash and dress any wound properly. For the purposes of a Lamb’s Ear’s addition to a bundle of herbs- the symbolism is a wonderful thought- ‘to heal wounds’.  *Herbs added to a small fire log or bundle of kindling along with a written explanation of the meanings is so nice- be sure to add instructions to remove the ribbon. Carefully toss the bundle of herbs on a fire for fragrant sentiments. What a nice way to send good wishes any time of the year!

Bundle Up!

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Bundle up! Cool Autumn days are here- warm sweaters, cozy blankets and oh yes! Let the Festivities Begin! …Was that a groan? So much to do- so little time… Ask me if  I’m a  natural born multitasker?

‘Well Darlin’ I fried two chickens at once, four frying pans- too much work and the grease splatters weren’t worth it.’

The Southern drawl isn’t equipped to use the word multitask effectively, on the other hand- Bundle brings forth fond images: Bundles of Joy wrapped in Receiving Blankets, a Bundle of Clean Clothes right off the clothesline, Bacon wrapped Green Bean Bundles for Sunday Supper, a Bundle of Kindling or a mother’s voice…‘Bundle up now, you’ll catch a chill.’   When Holiday tasks are bundled up, it’s a joy not a chore…

Here at Camellia’s Cottage,  for Fall and Winter Holidays, we try to think like party planners, which elevates the preparations to something joyful. A color scheme, a menu, a theme… Then there’s  three things we bundled up to kick off the Season-

  1. The Family Christmas Vacation was booked and bundled back in July
  2. The Permanent Lists have been updated- Guest Lists, Traditional Food Lists,  Gift Lists and Mailing Lists
  3. Packaging, Stationary supplies and Ribbon orders were placed early… Yes, you read that right! My favorite Holiday Bundles are Paper Goods and Supplies!  

I know from experience that Setting the Scene for the Holidays begins with finding a common thread that runs all through the Season this is a sure fire formula for Holidays Bundled with Joy.

We use a neutral color palette for Camellia’s Cottage- White, Gray and Black. Natural Sisal Rugs, Cool Marble and Warm Barn Board are accents throughout. Whatever the season, Green is the common thread, the ultimate neutral in nature- think Pumpkin Patches, Sultry Magnolia Leaves and Soft Southern Pine. On my Supply List-  Each year, I add a new shade of Green Satin Ribbon; for holiday magic -a new shade of Red too, since both work all year. I add Cello Bags in several sizes; White, Clear Cellophane and Natural Wrap are also used year round. Wonderful mail order sources bring ribbon and supplies right to the Cottage Door! Nice Stationary is the epitome of Southern Grace and Good Manners!  There’s nothing like putting pen to paper for handwritten notes, though we’re finding new and beautiful ways to express our holiday wishes!

This season, Camellia’s Cottage is excited to be working in cooperation with Paperless Post®- the premiere retailer of online stationary… including the Southern Must Have- Thank You Notes! Why, Paperless Post has designs by world famous designers- Oscar de la Renta, Kate Spade and Jonathon Adler- talk about an all star line up! All of our stationary needs are bundled up in one place!

Paperless Post® includes options to download my own designs, photographs and to personalize the wording. There are options to order Paper Designs, too.  I found an array of ideas for Fall and Winter Holidays. I won’t get stuck with unused cards, with Paperless Post® – order a few or a whole slew.

For an Annual Eggnog Party, not held at the Cottage-the hostesses are updating the festivities using online Save the Date and Invitations- here’s what we’ve done so far:

  • The theme is Traditional
  • The favors have been chosen (a Famous Eggnog Recipe tied to Cellophane packages of Shortbread),
  • The program is being planned (Christmas Carols, an Inspirational Reading and more!)
  • Holiday food will be divided up among the hostesses (I’ll make Mimi’s Pimento Cheese, I’m told the Dessert Table will be loaded!) and-
  •  Our Local Animal Shelter is the charity we’ll support.
  • Tartan Plaid will be just right for our theme, the common thread that pulls it all together. Think donations in a big basket lined with a cozy plaid blanket, beribboned Scottish Shortbread favors, who knows? We might even see a Kilt or two- doubtful! But we can always scheme!

With the help of Paperless Post, we’re working up a Traditional Tartan Plaid by Oscar de la Renta. His square design for personalized Save the Date – To notify out of town guests . The Plaid Rectangular Online invitations to the Heads of each Clan will say- ‘Join us for an Evening of Comfort and Joy’ . Check out how Paperless Post works- it’s fast, fun and bundled up! Paperless Post®  has an online RSVP tool which tracks and stores responses ‘Let us know how many in your Clan will be there’ Online Cards are convenient, save time, money and best of all- Oscar de la Renta’s Plaid Holiday Design will make our annual event extra special!


The most difficult Holiday Tasks are easier when they’re Bundled Up! Here’s some tips:

  • Don’t go it alone- Online resources abound- Paperless Post® is a delight- easy to use, with helpful cheery staff-  I can highly recommend them for making Holidays easier. All of the Holiday Stationary for Camellia’s Cottage has been bundled up with a few joyful clicks and downloads. A very high stress chore was easy as pie and best of all? Checked off the To Do List!
  •  If you’re hosting a Holiday Party, enlist the help of others– divide and conquer! Decide early who’ll bring side dishes and desserts, who’ll polish the silver, who’ll participate in the festivities and who will track the RSVP list!
  • Double up-  Pick out a cookie dough that can be made in several flavors or shapes, store in the freezer until ready to use. I chose Shortbread-plain, pecan and orange. Shortbread actually improves after it’s baked! Most cookie dough can be held in the freezer for two months, it’s as easy to make four batches as it is for one- well, almost.5E8CB7C2-F0FE-4D66-9D41-B4B6A62C6C0A
  • Fall Outdoor Clean Up? Make it do double duty- I’ve  bundled up sticks for Firestarters and Kindling. In dry storage, the bundles will be mossed up and beribboned, with instructions to toss a few sticks on outdoor fire pits or indoor fireplaces! Hint: Men love to get kindling!
  • Bundle in bulk! When I’m grocery shopping, I add a few holiday necessities to my buggy each trip, this spreads out the cost of Holiday Cooking and Baking. Make sure you have parchment paper, foil and freezer bags too.
  • Do double duty in the kitchen– While the Sausage is frying and the Biscuits are baking- take another package of sausage, grated cheese and a bit of self rising flour- stir into a mix, chill- scooped into little balls, frozen on trays, then bagged with directions for baking on the freezer bag. You’re ready with pickup food any time!08D7A535-9828-40D4-87C6-A36AE3A887D9
  • On a nippy night, while a big pot of Vegetable Soup is bubbling on the stove, instead of one pan of Cornbread- make two! One to enjoy hot from the oven and one for the freezer, to be used for Thanksgiving’s Cornbread Dressing! Repeat.
  • Layer it on!-  Cozy Throws for sofas and chairs are an invitation to bundle up. Tie Ribbon on everyday Throw Pillows like Holiday Packages, remove after the Holidays for easy clean up. Simple and beautiful.
  • This year, when I made my Fall Wreath- I covered a plain grapevine wreath with gray and eerie Spanish Moss and Dried Hydrangeas, creepy faux bugs and little peeping eyes were added for Halloween! Quickly removed, a ring of Shiny Magnolia Leaves- curled to show their brown undersides, will be layered right on top for an elegant beribboned Thanksgiving Wreath; then embellished more for the Christmas Holidays! Talk about bundled for joy! That’s triple duty for very little effort- just layering on as the season progresses keeps life beautifully simple.
  • Bundled up Gifts-Bundle Candles, especially white  tapers- tie with pretty satin ribbon- great gifts for inevitable power outages or candlelit dinners. Rolled Cloth Napkins look especially nice tied with Ribbon. A plain Linen Hand Towel embellished with old lace- bundled up with a pretty soap, an easy and nice hostess gift! I must admit, my Holiday Labor of Love is making Pecan encrusted Toffee and Sugary Puff Pastry Palmiers.  Packaged in cellophane bags and tied with pretty ribbon- who can resist?

Everyone is busy, avoid Holidays fraught with multitasking nightmares…Bundle up! Begin now. Find ways to incorporate Holiday preparations into daily living. Don’t go it alone. Partner up, like we did, with Paperless Post® Enjoy the ease of online invitations and the process of themed Party Planning. Find a common thread, like pretty Ribbon or Tartan Plaid for Holiday décor. Now, about those gifts…I’m looking at personalized Thank You notes! No self respecting Southern Lady would be caught dead without them!

Love y’all, Camellia

A huge Thank You! to Paperless Post® for your cooperation and help. *Images for Cards and Invitations were used with permission from Paperless Post®

* All other photographs are obviously mine, as well as the images of my own personal designs- the pumpkins and purses can be downloaded to online form with Paperless Post!