Mimi’s Award Winning Pimento Cheese…

80DB15D0-3FF3-49C8-BB76-D2BB0F852A13Mimi never knew her pimento cheese won an award, it would have thrilled her, yet I don’t think she’d have been too surprised. Anyone who ever tasted one of her Tea Sandwiches would have agreed. Her recipe for Pimento Cheese was highly prized. Mimi kept a bowl of pimento cheese made up most of the time. My job was to grate the sharp cheddar cheese, in a little cheese grater with a handle which I turned in amazement. It’s still one of my favorite kitchen tools.

44EB0E2F-C33C-4B48-BA4A-28647A0D9AC4The grated cheese was as fine as angel hair- Mimi’s Pimento Cheese was devilishly spiced, I’m not sure she ever wrote down the recipe but I can still see her now, conjuring up a mixture that’s pure Southern Soul in a bowl. It’s only sharp cheddar cheese, a jar of pimentos and mayonnaise- the spices make Mimi’s Pimento Cheese memorable. Cayenne, Red Pepper Flakes and what we call Pepper Sauce, the brine from a jar of hot peppers that we use to spice things up and even pour over turnip greens or blackeyed peas. Pepper Sauce is one of those secret ingredients that even now, mostly only real southerners know. Go to a local meat and three in small towns across the South and you’ll see a small bottle of pickled hot peppers with a hole in the top of the bottle- a shaker if you will. The bottle’s not there for anyone to actually eat the peppers- no, it’s for the brine, the ‘sauce’ . Pit masters add pepper sauce to their barbecue sauces, old wisened cooks hardly even think about adding pepper sauce to their cooking. Pepper Sauce isn’t the same as ‘hot sauce’ that fiery red hot sauce shaken over… well, lots of things. Mimi added several drops of hot sauce to her Egg Salad but never in her Award Winning Pimento Cheese! So! Here’s how you make it!

Mimi’s Award Winning Pimento Cheese

The classic and highly prized southern classic- Pimento Cheese. Spicy with cayenne pepper and sharp cheddar cheese, is wonderful for tea sandwiches, picnic sandwiches and as a dip for crackers or celery sticks. 
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 12 Ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese Finely Grated * Do not use pre- grated!
  • 1 Small Jar Pimentos - partially drained Do not use ‘diced’
  • 1/2-3/4 Cup Good Quality Mayonnaise * look for lemon juice in the ingredients
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Brine of pickled hot peppers * clear vinegary liquid only

Instructions

  • On the fine side of a box grater, shred sharp cheddar cheese.. In a medium sized bowl, put grated cheese. Add brine of hot pepper to fill partially drained jar of pimentos. Add cayenne pepper to pimento jar also. Scoop Mayonnaise over grated cheese. Pour spiced pimentos over Mayonnaise and add red pepper flakes. Stir gently to combine. Mimi’s Pimento Cheese will occasionally need additional mayonnaise- add a bit at a time to desired consistency. Chill, until ready to use. Spread thinly for tea sandwiches. 

Notes

Mimi’s Pimento Cheese is a time tested recipe - she often used extra sharp cheese, please do not try this recipe with pre- grated packaged cheese. Fine Grated Cheese is best, however you may like a chunkier Pimento Cheese and a food processor will work well for that.. It is wonderful molded with an indention in the center filled with red pepper jelly or strawberry jam, then surrounded with party crackers...it’s a crowd pleaser! For Tea sandwiches, a thinned out version (do this with more mayonnaise bit by bit) spread thinly on loaf bread, crusts removed,  cut into desired shapes with a serrated knife. Pimento Cheese is used to top burgers, to make grilled cheese and many other uses. Mimi would probably have disapproved, still,  enjoy it however you wish! 

Now a word of caution, don’t use pre-grated cheese, it won’t work! And don’t even think about using a milder cheddar cheese, use sharp or even extra sharp cheddar. The flavor depends on it! Finely grated is best, I never saw Mimi use even a medium grate. Still. It’s not just about ingredients- it’s about the Method too! And if you have a recipe for Pimento Cheese that contains Cream Cheese? Well, Mimi would have been horrified. Don’t use it. Period.

Now- this is important- don’t buy diced pimentos, buy pimentos. And don’t get fancy and add roasted red pepper. Okay, not if you want the Award Winning taste. You may add an extra small jar if you like, though one will do.  Just partially drain the jar of pimentos, leave them in the jar, fill up the jar with the pepper sauce, add the cayenne pepper- screw the lid of the jar back on the pimentos and gently shake before adding to the grated cheese and mayonnaise.

Now, about that mayonnaise- Mimi made her own for years, until she found brands of store bought mayonnaise that contained lemon juice in the ingredients! This is a must! Truth be told she didn’t always add red pepper flakes, yet when she did? Mimi thought they gave her Pimento Cheese flecks of color that she liked to see.  The sharp cheddar, the cool mayonnaise and pimentos are the perfect balance for the heat of the pepper sauce and the spices! Trust me on this.

Now, about that Award… Several years ago, I was cajoled out of Mimi’s recipe, this friend also had a recipe for another famous Pimento Cheese- which was also entered in this fairly high fallutin’ private contest. The competition was fierce, the folks who attended had fine credentials. By all accounts it was a well orchestrated event. I have to say, I wasn’t one bit surprised  her pimento cheese on first place. After all, it was Mimi’s and her Pimento Cheese has always been First Place to me!

Love y’all, Camellia

* All photographs are obviously mine. As you can see, I couldn’t resist making up a few Tea Sandwiches…

Nerves…

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She was the nervous type, always scared to death of something or other, I tell you she was no Grace Kelly, Her Serene Highness of Monaco.  An old timer said of her nervous condition, ‘You can always hear a chicken’s feathers ruffle. Scared of her own shadow.’  I rifled through my notes and found that Southern folks talk about their nerves– a lot. Here’s a sample.

  • ‘I was nervous as a cat.’  I have to admit most cats I know don’t exactly quiver like nervous ninnies. They nap a lot. I have known a few cats- a very few- who get on my last nerve. That goes for other things or people too.
  • Some folks say- ‘My nerves were bad that day.’ or… ‘I was a bundle of nerves!’  even this…
  • ‘That noise is working on my nervous system.’ or if it’s really bad- ‘I felt like I was about to have a complete nervous breakdown.’
  • Or nervous exhaustion- ‘ I can’t sleep. I’ve worried myself to death’.
  • ‘My nerves are shot, I tell you they were almost completely gone. If someone tells you I’m Koo Koo for Cocoa Pops. Believe them’

You don’t hear about nerves much these days….oh maybe something like ‘Nerves of Steel’…Mostly, we hear about Stress, Anxiety or other disorders which are all real and can be serious conditions… the terms and treatments have changed. I’m guessing, for lack of a better way to describe things, our Southern Mothers tended to blame the nervous system for the unexplainable. It’s sort of shame terms change like they do. A case of ‘Nerves’ was one size fits all- a delicate way of putting things.  If there is one thing Southern folks used to excel at- is putting things in a more genteel format. The South is a region of church steeples, azaleas, Dollar Trees and eccentricity.

817EB075-9980-49F3-AA90-364003142014For instance, even when we suspect someone is acting in an unusual way….  ‘We always felt a little bit sorry for her- she was a shy soul who had fallen arches, varicose veins, thick ankles and- kept her venetians closed tight as a tick. Most folks suspected her nerves were bad or that she might be a closet drinker. But nice, let me tell you- you will never meet a nicer person in the world, a little unkempt, bless her heart- but so nice.’ Yes, that’s the Southern way of putting things. If we suspect someone might be going over the edge- well… there are telltale signs…

7B5D1FF2-B9DC-4998-8021-BCA16E4D9C16‘Most folks plant petunias in an old tire, but Emma’s been working herself to death- she’s got a whole tire garden – whitewashed or white walled tires with a bottle tree slap dab in the middle or it- I think she’s just got nervous energy that needs workin’ off- One of the neighbors said they thought they heard incantations at night around the bottle tree- but I think it was just those bottles rattling when the wind got up. So what if she planted a tire garden anyway? It’s better than keeping things all bottled up or falling out with a case of bad nerves.’

FFBFBD55-3F11-4FEE-9936-5BC1B6892790And there’s this- naturally some folks do get nervous when they have to get up at meeting to make a little talk, their hands sweat and quiver-One suffering man said…‘I’m so nervous, I could thread a sewing machine and it going.’  Nerve wracking.

3615C552-C99B-44A7-88CD-7CDC0BD9EE6FAll women worry about their children; if they will they make it all right when they get grown but some Southern women worry about whether or not theirs will rise above sorry circumstances– one woman said the houses she grew up in smelled of chlorine bleach, steamed cabbage and home permanents. She wondered if her daughters would rise above it– they did. One has her own Happy Housecleaning Service and the other is a Beauty Operator.

Now, it must be said- that often Southern Mothers are simply mortified by person’s behavior, it sets their nerves on edge. It’s imperative to point things out to their children-

‘Don’t be hanging out over there. Her mama’s not right…mental. Goes to juke joints on Saturday nights. Some say it’s her nerves…but really! layin’ out at night and then layin’ out in the yard in broad daylight to even out her tan. I tell you she’s on the verge…or maybe she’s already gone cuckoo- a genuine floozie. Why, it’s beneath her. Some folks try to excuse it away by saying she was an army nurse in the South Pacific for 15 years and never adjusted to civilian life. The nerve! honestly. I tell you now, it’s no place for young folks to gather. You just need to politely decline any invitations from them and their loud mouthed neighbors too.’

781CACEF-A11C-4645-B3AF-F99391EAEC5DAnd then there’s the case of Aunt Freezia Butler… she’d always been a bundle of nerves, she was high strung when she was a young girl. As a grown woman, Aunt Freezia suffered from tension headaches, nervous stomach, had occasional bouts of Saint Vidas Dance and knew the heartbreak of psoriasis. Aunt Freezia was a buttoned up type, had a tight perm to match; mostly she didn’t trust doctors. Still.  Freezia was a spiritual type – Hard shell Baptist. She claimed it was biblical to take a nip for her oft infirmities according to St. Paul. So she kept a bottle of spirits in her chifforobe ‘for medicinal purposes only’ said it settled her nerves. It probably did.

06FB0CC4-D75D-4F33-A2E5-EF0584686C28A final warning, beware of the wilting Southern Beauty Queen who has gotten to the age when her mind has started to wander… she will offer her delicate and limp hand like a fading gardenia, then takes to her bed with a rare case of Magnolia Fever. Watch out for this type.  Her nervous spells will run you to death- waiting on her hand and foot. Do everything- only to watch her turn on you… mean as a snake! Then! this old Beauty will have the nerve to blame it on a tension headache; says she is declining rapidly- knows the end is near- makes elaborate funeral plans and final wishes. Southerners fall for this- Every. Single. Time.

Okay. ‘Pull the velvet drapes, please. I think a bad case of nerves is coming on… I need to collect myself. There. I’m back to being the Serene Highness of the South.’

C90CCD7E-E08B-4B96-9412-1E13DCCF0540Now, you know the secret of my crazy writing habits- it’s keeping notes…in no particular order, of amusing or unusual phrases or words- then it’s like pulling a rabbit out of the magician’s hat. Some time, somewhere when I least expect it- all of those reams of random paper bring on a goofy piece of writing designed to amuse and inform. This one- for instance- is like all Southern tales… part truth, part myth and part outright lies.  And, you have to admit- it took a lot of nerve to write it!

Love y’all, Camellia

*This is meant to be a humor piece. I have the utmost sympathy for anyone who suffers from any type of nervous disorder and am thankful we have better ways to address it medically. *All photographs are obviously mine. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.  *This is the truth and the whole truth- I have come up with no word for a collector of words and phrases- this photograph is just a fraction of the crazy notes I keep! *And one more thing- we were asked back in the Spring by Z Publishing – to submit an article from a previously published piece of writing. We chose one from Camellia’s Cottage entitled- Bevy of Beauties. We were astounded and grateful to have been chosen and included in Alabama's Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Fiction

Good News!

Water Under the Bridge

When this crazy place called Camellia’s Cottage was just moving along on a hope and a prayer…ok more than one, lots of prayers! Still. I realized that my photography skills were very limited. Part of our Mission Statement was- to showcase the natural beauty of our home state, Alabama. Enter talented photographer, Jeremy Miniard– who had taken gorgeous photographs that hadn’t seen the light of day! We had no budget for a photographer, yet Jeremy agreed to share some of his with us- and wow, has he made us look good! Starting way back in the first year that we started Camellia’s Cottage- Jeremy’s photographs were showcased with Doors of Alabama, Porches of Alabama and more! Okay, I admit it.  I have often sat and stared in wonder at his images of this hidden gem we call Home! Last Fall, Jeremy’s photographs, were entered in not one but two categories, and both won First Place in Outdoor Alabama, the official website for Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources! This is a big deal!Coastal LifeWow, let me say that again- Our own, award winning photographer, Jeremy Miniard won First Place in two categories- ‘Water Under the Bridge’ and ‘Coastal Life’ ! The Gulf Coast of Alabama is a well kept secret here! Due to one of Jeremy’s photographs we had used, a blogger from Hawaii linked one of our articles with photographs to his blog about Hawaiian Beaches! Wow! He told me he had no idea that the beaches in Alabama are so beautiful!

Outdoor Alabama also asked for submissions of the Covered Bridges of Alabama- the stunning photograph by Jeremy is beautifully composed with shades of purple-at the top of the page- I know you’ll agree it is astounding, apparently the judges agreed! Are we proud or what? Actually what we are… is proud- but also so thankful Jeremy has been so generous to share his talents with us! Jeremy’s winning photographs will most certainly be used in brochures to promote tourism in Alabama!  And hopefully you too, will agree with the folks at the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources- this is one Sweet Home we have right here in Alabama!

Congratulations Jeremy! You’ve been Camellia’s Cottage Natural Resource and a Treasure!

Love y’all, Camellia

  • *If you’d like to check out Jeremy’s photographs and the other categories, mosey on over to Outdoor Alabama’s Facebook Page!  And check out Outdoor Alabama here – Outdoor Alabama
  • *Photographs used in this article were by permission from Jeremy Miniard and should not be used without his permission. Other works may be found at jeremy.miniard.fineartamerica.com
  • *And while we’re at it, there’s a little more good news… A few months ago, Camellia’s Cottage was nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award by a wonderful writer, cook and baker named Ursula at A Little Swiss, A Little Canadian – Simple Recipes made with Love. Due to some time restraints we have not been able to finish the requirements for this award, but we are certainly astounded and grateful to have been nominated! Hey, Ursula, you’re the best, sweetie! Many thanks and all the best to you and yours! Check her out, y’all! at A Little Swiss, A Little Canadian here – A Little Swiss, A Little Canadian

Award Winning Pimento Cheese…

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Family recipes are sacred in the South- Mimi’s Award Winning Pimento Cheese is one recipe I had held in the family vault for over 30 years until a friend asked for the recipe- actually he begged. He wanted to put it in a Pimento Cheese Contest, and I was not surprised one bit when it won First Place! It turns out there were some serious food critics there. I discovered later that the Cookbook Editor for a James Beard Award Winning Chef tasted Mimi’s Award Winning Pimento Cheese; even she agreed it was indeed the winner! In case you are wondering…there are lots of Variations of Pimento Cheese. Yankees have been trying to duplicate Southern Pimento Cheese for years; without much success I might add- they get too creative. Southerners often add an Ick ingredient to Pimento Cheese-they mash in Cream Cheese! Avoid those recipes like the Plague! As you know, I am an Amateur Food Critic myself- perhaps because my grandmother was the most serious Food Critic I have ever known! Mimi’s food backed up her expertise. I’m feeling in a generous holiday mood, so even though Mimi’s Award Winning Pimento Cheese is a year round favorite- it is especially welcome this time of year! Now, before I share it- you must understand it is a Method as much as it is a recipe! 

Mimi’s Award Winning Pimento Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 12oz Sharp or Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese- finely grated, don’t you dare buy packaged preshredded cheese!
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes
  •  1 small jar of Pimentos- not diced and not drained!
  • 3/4- 1 cup of good Mayonnaise –  I say this all of the time, it is too bad you don’t make it yourself– however, you must look for lemon juice as an ingredient in store bought mayonnaise, and don’t dare try to cut calories by getting light or reduced fat mayonnaise Hellman’s® has lemon juice and so does Winn Dixie’s® store brand, if you can’t find either, buy the regular kind and add lemon juice to it!
  • 1-2 teaspoons Pepper Sauce – for those of you who don’t know what this is- we use it to spice up turnip greens. It is an essential ingredient in a Southern Pantry- made from pickled hot peppers, the liquid is really what we want far more than the actual peppers! This is not Tabasco ® ! We use a lot of that- but not for Pimento Cheeseimage

Method:

  • I wish everyone had one of these little graters which finely shreds cheese in the most perfect form. You can use the fine side of a box grater- *please don’t do this in a food processor! Finely grate the Sharp Cheddar- *grate it cold, let it come to room temperature for the best results. That pre-shredded mess is coated with corn starch or something and it will not absorb the other ingredients! Put the finely grated Cheese in a medium size mixing bowl, allowing a short time to soften.
  • Start with adding 3/4 jar of the Pimentos and most of the juice to the grated Cheese .
  • On top of Cheese put the good Mayonnaise, start with 3/4 cup- you may need to add the rest later.
  • Add 1-2 teaspoons of the Hot Pepper Sauce on top of Mayonnaise. You aren’t stirring yet are you?
  • Add Spices- Cayenne Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes on top of the Mayonnaise.
  • Now you can lightly incorporate the Mayonnaise, Pimentos, Pepper Sauce and Spices into the cheese. The mixture will seem stiff at first- keep lightly mixing until all is absorbed.
  • At this point, you will know if you need more Mayonnaise or Pimentos with a bit more of the juice. *Hint- for a sandwich spread or Tea Sandwiches you will want Mimi’s Award Winning Pimento Cheese to be thinned out more, but to spread on crackers- a stiffer mixture is better. This is by feel, so you will need to either grate more cheese, if too thin- or add more Mayonnaise if too thick.
  • Do not be overly concerned as you are mixing, right at first. Just know that your hard work of grating that Cheese will pay off! It will begin to absorb the Mayonnaise, Pimentos, Spices and become thicker. When the Pimento Cheese is chilled it will become a stiffer mixture. Wait until it has chilled and set to decide whether to add more mayonnaise or more cheese.
  • Keep refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use.For a party it will hold well at room temperature. *Warning! This is a spicy Pimento Cheese! Mimi was a spicy lady! But I’m warning you, if you mess with Mimi’s Award Winning Pimento Cheese you’ll be sorry!  Enjoy.

This is a staple in the kitchen of Camellia’s Cottage, I hope you also will be convinced it’s truly Award worthy. *Do not send the container to a friend’s house before their party- you may find Mimi’s Award Winning Pimento Cheese has disappeared before party time! Remember to finely grate the cheese yourself and keep that Cream Cheese for something else, darlin’

Love y’all, Camelliaimage

Obviously all photographs are mine!

Champions 2…

thLVYH4CPFbeach scene from chariots

In your lifetime, you will see lots of winners-only a few can be called Champions. On or off the field, whether winning or losing-Champions are those winners who are unforgettable.

Joy. Valiance. Poise. Passion. Determination. Courage. 

Those are my favorite words to describe a Champion-Yes, competitive, strength and skill are also part of a champion’s tool kit. Barbaros and Eric Liddell  were in the winner’s circle. Off the field- they lived their lives with  joy, poise, passion, courage and determination- they were Champions!

Barbaros’ trainer, Michael Matz competed in the Olympics in 1976 and 1992 then in 1996 Matz helped his equestrian teammates win the Silver Medal. In 2006, Matz said he knew Barbaros was special-the horse joyously won the Kentucky Derby- then was frolicking in the grass with joy the next Monday when no one was watching!   Barbaros’ veterinarian surgeon, Dr.Dean Richardson, wanted to be an actor before he found his passion for horses. A horse named Barbaros put Dean Richardson in front of the cameras! In press conferences-the veterinarian said he was amazed at Barbaros’ courage and poise, for 8 long months. Champions have an indefinable star quality – you may see lots of winners, you’ll never forget champions!

 ‘In the dust of defeat as well as the laurels of victory there is a glory to be found if one has done his best.’ 1924 Gold Medal winner-and Scottish Missionary to China -Eric Liddell

eric liddell

Unforgettable- that’s what a Champion is. Soon after Liddell arrived in Paris to compete- he preached a sermon, from Isaiah 40: 26,29-31- those famous words ‘They  shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not grow tired.’  Harold Abraham, Liddell’s fellow countryman, the privileged son of a wealthy Polish immigrant, financier Isaac Abraham, was Jewish. Harold was a winning sprinter and long jumper from youth through his years studying law at Cambridge . He continued to be a runner- but was upbraided for hiring a coach; it was considered ungentlemanly for an amateur to hire a professional coach. The two men won races in Great Britain before competing in the 1924 Olympics. Abraham won the Silver Medal in the 100 meter and Liddell won the Gold in the 400 meter. Liddell went to China to do his life’s work as a missionary. Abraham continued to compete and in 1925, he broke his leg ending his career in competitive sports- ironically, his brother Sir Adolphe Abrahams was the founder of British Sports Medicine. Harold Abraham became a sports journalist and commentator for 40 years.

Eric Liddell was sent to a Japanese prison camp called Wiehsein Interment Camp in Shantung Provence, China-after Pearl Harbor. Norman Cliff recalls when he arrived as a POW, there was a Scotsman who had won a gold medal in the 1924 Olympics. The man was Eric Liddell- tall, tanned and very thin and always smiling. Liddell had permission to teach the young boys science and physical education.  His wife and children had been sent to Canada in 1941, he was captured in 1943. Eric deeply missed his own children; teaching children in the camp helped him endure captivity. In 1945, a mere five months before the war ended…Norman Cliff, received word that Eric Liddell wanted Cliff to play ‘Finlandia’, the song of peace– the melody is also the hymn, ‘Be Still My Soul’.

Be still my soul, The Lord is on thy side…leave to Thy God to order and provide…Be still, my soul- thy best, thy Heavenly Friend…Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.’

Less than a week later, Eric Liddell died. The British and American armies liberated the Weihsein Interment Camp on August 17, 1945. Eric Liddell was born in China, joyfully ran the race life set before him, then was buried in China. Eric Liddell was a Champion.

British screenwriter Colin Welland, immortalized Eric Liddell and his teammate Harold Abraham, in his 1981 Oscar winning film- Chariots of Fire. The success of the film was as unlikely as the pairing of Olympic medal winners- a wealthy Jew, who ran to be visible to Anglo Saxon society and an Anglo Saxon preacher who ran to honor God. Welland wanted to be an actor, his father insisted that he become a teacher, he was a professor of Art. The screenplay, a historic drama- must have had the qualities of a Champion– for Hollywood to produce it.   Welland chose the name- Chariots of Fire, while listening to Britain’s stirring hymn, Jerusalem– from the chorus refrain- ‘Bring me my Chariot of Fire’… th2MTLOYT4chariots of fire movie pic

Winning 4 Academy Awards- including Best Screenplay and Best Original Score. The famous Greek composer, Vangelis wrote the well known soundtrack. Composing since the age of 4, Vangelis is not a trained musician- he is self taught and cannot read or write musical notation! Vangelis plays almost exclusively on electronic instruments. He says: ‘…I think that technology and music have always been together…music is science.’ Vangelis is a Champion.

 Tommy Emmanuel is known as ‘the world’s greatest living acoustic guitarist’…the defining quality I found in him is JOY. He plays with joyful abandon- would do it if no one was listening or watching! At CAAS in Nashville recently, he circled up with a small group of amateurs with the same enthusiasm as onstage. The international tour schedule for the 61 year old Australian guitarist reveals his stamina. He will perform at the Lyric Theater in Birmingham Alabama! His music is indefinable- he played with Eric Clapton, Tina Turner and Chet Atkins!  Tommy  Emmanuel said the greatest moment of his career was playing with his brother Phil at the Sydney Closing Ceremony of the 2000 Olympics! It seemed only fitting to close my treatise to Champions for you to hear-Tommy Emmanuel play Chariots of Fire with Japanese rock star Kyoji Yamamoto electronically as Vangelis prefers- the video is not good, but close your eyes…and listen.

Love y’all, Camellia

Champions…

barbaro statue at nightWe all love champions. The Olympics brings out our love for champions. We love to see how honed skill, willpower and flesh meld together into a champion. And there is one quality that I particularly thrill to see in a champion- joy. No, not the joy of winning, the joy in the doing- the sheer joy of running the race. The- ‘I would do this if no one was watching’ kind of joy; now to me that is a real champion. I’ve been watching for that joy in the 2016 Olympics, some have won and others have lost but to me? When I’ve seen it- I’ve seen a champion. It’s a rare quality. Several years ago, we were in Louisville Kentucky, I remember it well- it was the week after the Kentucky Derby…Louisville was still decked out- we stayed at the famous Brown’s Hotel, we took a tour out to Churchill Downs…it was very impressive; it was the first time I had ever heard about the champion racehorses who were buried on the grounds- the guide said the head, the heart and the hooves of the horses were buried along with the cremated remains. The head for determination- the will to win; the heart for courage; the hooves for speed to run the race. barbaro wins!Barbaros wins the 2006 Kentucky Derby!

Only one horse is actually buried at the racetrack- Barbaros. His story is one of great promise- after winning  the 2006 Kentucky Derby, he was considered a shew in for the Triple Crown. He did not- at the Preakness, something terrible happened and he had to be pulled out of the race. I know nothing about veterinary medicine, but the bones in one of his hind legs had to be repaired in more than 20 places, then became infected- the condition he had was a death knell.  His surgery is still groundbreaking and provides useful information for those who care for horses. Barbaros lived for 8 months afterwards- his head and his heart- his joy, courage and determination never flagged, until  the last two days of his life. When that light went out, his owners and veterinarian knew he was suffering terribly and could not be saved. His grieving owners gained permission to bury Barbaros at Churchill Downs and commissioned Alexa King of Lexington, Kentucky to create a life-size bronze of Barbaros. Look at the above photograph of Barbaros winning the Kentucky Derby! All four of his hooves are off the ground! The bronze that Alexa King created is a gorgeous engineering marvel! Look at the opening photograph and you will see the 1500 pound lifesize horse has all four feet off the ground! The sculptor also managed to capture Barbaros in action, in spirit and as the guide pointed out- even the determination and joy!

alexa king-artist of barbaro bronze statue‘When I mold clay in my hand I sense the movement of a horse!’ Alexa King

At the base of the statue is a quote-

God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His Pleasure’

Eric Liddell

Eric Liddell was a gold medal winner in the 1924 Paris Olympiad. He was dubbed the ‘Flying Scotsman’. He won the 400 meter, which he had not trained to run; against all odds- he won over the highly favored Americans. Like Barbaros, he could practically fly! Eric Liddel was of Scottish descent but was born in China to missionary parents.

While he was being educated in Great Britain, he developed a love of running. God had indeed made him fast. He also loved education and science- he became a teacher and a devout follower of the teachings of the Church of Scotland, with the intention of returning to China, to join his parents in their missionary work. Eric Liddell ran to honor God…eric liddell the runner


‘Seeing we are encompassed by so a great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us; and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…’ Hebrew 12:1-2

to be continued…

You won’t want to miss Part 2! Love y’all, Camellia

www.derbymuseum.org  www.equinebronze.com www.ericliddell.org

Liebster Award #2…

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Well, this has been a week for the books! Three awards…honestly unbelievable, but we are so thankful here at Camellia’s Cottage! Thank you so much to a precious blogger who also is a Southern girl! The Introvert Mom Blog – when she posted a photo of her little girl from behind stepping into a shallow creek- I fell in love! Her little girl’s hair was just like my grown daughter’s hair at that age! Now, I have to confess, that this is the second Liebster we’ve won since starting this blog about 4-5 months ago! But, the excitement of being recognized is wonderful! So, I am going to abbreviate the paying it forward portion of accepting this award- I love the number five, it represents ‘Grace’ to me- and getting the Liebster again- is like a ‘grace note’ in a song! Just makes life better! So, I am going to nominate 5 bloggers- all Southerners this time- for the Liebster Award- they are:

Now, wonderful bloggers- if you will: go to The Global Aussie and find the rules for grabbing your award! This blogger is a really cool Australian gentleman- you will love his blog!

I look forward to reading your responses to these 5 questions I have for you:

  • What is your favorite book?
  • What do you like best about blogging?
  • What is your favorite southern food?
  • Do you have a ‘day job’ and if so, what is it?
  • Are you right handed or left handed? (am asking because I’m a southpaw!)

Good luck and Congratulations y’all- I love your blogs! To those reading this post I hope you will visit them as well- I also would like to thank WordPress for their support, as a new blogger (even now!) the Blogging U Courses have been great! And I plan to continue taking them to read, discover and learn. Again, a big hug to The Introvert Mom Blog for this honor.

Love y’all, Camellia

 


 

The Liebster Award…

imageI’m so long winded I had to do two posts about the Liebster Award. As part of the process of receiving the Liebster Award, the blogger shares 11 random personal facts, which you will find at the end of this post- and more important-Camellia’s Cottage pays it forward by nominating other bloggers that we feel deserve recognition. We have chosen 11 blogs that we feel are outstanding. Walter is excited…drum roll please! image

Little Leaf of Spring- https://littleleafofspringblog.com – a young lady from London who has chosen to live in Paris.

Life Happens- http so://l1fehappens.com – who loves coffee as much as I do!

Mint Julep Girl – https://mintjulepgirl.wordpress.com – a beautiful Southern girl

The Yellow Telephone – https://theyellowtelephone.com – two girlfriends, long distance girlfriend who are staying in touch by blogging.

Tiny Love Challenges – https://tinylovechallenges.wordpress.com – a girl who lives in New York, who has committed to recoding 365 small acts of kindness.

Society of Southern Gentlmen-https://societyofsoutherngents.org  A very accomplished family man who lives in Huntsville Alabama who is committed to preserving the traditions of how a gentleman should act.

Almost a Cake – https://almost awake.wordpress.com – a beautiful food blog!

Is This a Keeper?  – https://isthisakeeper.com  A blogger who loves to try new recipes and found herself asking her testers ‘is this a keeper?’

Art and Kitchen by Food Friends – https://artandkitchen.wordpress.com – a new blog created by an already successful food blogger that decided to share space with her food friends

Curl a Little Finger – https://christinanifong.com formally ‘Curl a Little Finger’ blog – a sweet charming blog – she is a freelance writer, a mother and an ‘eater and grower’!

Renee Lilly  – http://buzzworthydesignblog.com  Renee is a fantastic interior designer right here in my Alabama hometown and beyond!

So to all you busy as a bee bloggers, here is your invitation to claim your Liebster Award- image

Congratulations! What’s next?

  • Thank the person who nominated you- post a link to their blog
  • Display the Liebster 2016 award badge on your blog
  • Write a post about your favorite blog that is not your own, explaining why you like it
  • write 11 random facts about yourself
  • Nominate 5-11 blogs that you feel deserves the award – inform them that you have nominated them!
  • Create 11 questions for the bloggers to answer

List the official rules in your post – you can find them at this fantastic Australian blogger’s site- https://theglobalaussie.com

Here are your 11 questions:

  • What is your favorite Southern city?
  • Two things, what is the hallmark of a southern lady and the distinguishing mark of a southern gentleman?
  • What is the most difficult thing for you to do as you post your blog?
  • List 3 things on your personal bucket list.
  • My favorite beach in Alabama is the white sugah’ sands of Orange Beach- what is your favorite beach- it can where you live or have visited elsewhere
  • List 3 of your favorite things, one must be ‘southern’
  • What inspires you on a daily basis, whether you blog about it or not
  • Do you prefer ‘sweet’ or ‘unsweet’ iced tea?
  • Tell me 5 things about yourself that you want others to know
  • What is the most challenging aspect of blogging so far?
  • Give me your 3 best tips for creating a great blog post

Ready, Set, Go! then we’ll celebrate!

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imageTo complete the process of acquiring my own Liebster award,  I will share 11 random facts about myself-

1. I am tech challenged, a woman of a certain age who loves Himalayan cats!

2. Most southerners love sweet tea, not me, I prefer unsweetened with lemon with the exception being, iced mint tea

3. I really prefer coffee, black please!

4. I decided to start this blog because I fell headfirst on an uneven sidewalk in Georgetown DC. After my head injury, I believed it was important for me to challenge myself to learn new skills which require concentration and creativity.

5. I am a collector of funny stories.

6. I am a published author, you can find my book ‘Four Days- the Lazarus Principle’ on Amazon.com and other major booksellers

7. I grew up in the shadow of the original Iron Man, Vulcan- overlooking the massive steel mills and ironworks in Birmingham- if you grow up there, the choice is to become as ‘coarse and common as pig iron’ or be ‘refined into a steel magnolia’; I try to choose everyday to be the latter.

8. I do not believe anyone should be mistreated; I am a Christian who believes that I am at my best taking care of ‘the least of these’ and that the distinquishing mark of any faith should be to ‘love one another’ as God has loved us. One way I act on these beliefs-I am a member of the steering committee for the YWCA Purse and Passion/St.Clair luncheon to benefit victims of domestic violence.

9. I will always be indebted to my older sister, who at age 6, taught me how to read from her ‘Dick and Jane’ books- I was 4 years old. It started the most wonderful journey for me, a lifetime lover of words and books!

10. The most challenging thing for me as a writer or blogger is to avoid comparison.

11. Finally, I am a better cheerleader than a promoter of my own work-I thoroughly enjoyed nominating other bloggers for this part of the award process I prefer to promote lighthearted, good wholesome things, artists and others who live in my home state, Alabama. I hope you will look beyond the headlines to the beauty, industry, creativity and generosity in ‘my sweet home in Alabama’ . Again, it is an unexpected honor to receive the 2016 Liebster Award. Look at the cute award badge below! Love y’all, Camellia

 

We’ve been nominated for an award!!!

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‘We’ve been nominated for a Liebster award! Can you believe it Walter? I hate to disturb your nap, but Camellia’s Cottage has been nominated for an award!’~ Walter is looking at me like I’m crazy but Allie Mac, Brenda and I are excited around here! I mean, an award? y’all…really?photo Let me tell you what it is…The Liebster Award is given to new bloggers by another blogger. A big southern ‘Thank you darlin ‘- goes to an amazing blogger -Agatha Chocolats ! I think I’ve gained weight just looking at her blog with all of that chocolate! You have to go see what that little Southern girl is up to! To thank her properly here is a thank you note especially for you, Agatha- imageI like Agatha’s blog because of the images she uses- some are even short video clips, the 13 recipes she does once a week, the unusual combination of mystery and chocolate is intriguing and the playful, tasteful way she produces her blog. Currently it has to be my favorite! She has inspired me to be a better blogger.

Agatha had some questions for me when she nominated Camellia’s Cottage-

  • What would be the motto of your blog? Agatha, I would have to say, ‘Our Sweet Home in Alabama ‘.
  • What is your favorite childhood book? Hands down, it’s ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ – I love the question in it- ‘How do you know you’re ‘real’? And the reply, ‘You know you’re ‘real’ when your eyes fall out, your fur gets loved off and you are very shabby ‘ – by that definition, I am well on my way to- ‘becoming real’!
  • What is the best pairing for chocolate? It took one second to answer that one! Coffee!
  • What forms of social media do you like best when connecting with your readers outside of your blog? I’m old timey here, I would love to chat with them by phone or at an old fashioned ‘tea’ .
  • If you could invite 3 people (living, dead, fictional…anybody!) who would you invite? Well, darlin’ I would have to have 2 parties or one ‘dinner in the ground’! If I could have them back for just one meal, I would choose my grandmother, my husband’s grandmother and my precious mother in law for the first party. For the second party I would invite the ever inspirational Jesus Christ, who attended and even served some of the most miraculous meals ever! Then, C. S. Lewis,  one of the most scholarly and prolific authors ever! And of course, Thomas Jefferson- whose wide range of interests never fails to amaze me!
  • What would you serve? Agatha, I would want the ladies to cook for me! My grandmother’s turkey and dressing, my mother in law’s famous fresh coconut cake and my husband’s grandmother made delicious ‘southern baked-with-brown-sugar acorn squash’! For the men I would serve Parisienne Chicken, steamed broccoli, Sweet Orange Rolls, and a Mandarin Orange/toasted almond salad.
  • What are your 5 best qualities? Well now, that’s a hard one- I suppose (1)my sense of humor, (2)my love of place, (3)I hope I am creatively inspirational, (4)my concern for victims of poverty and domestic violence and the welfare of children; and (5)I would never want anyone to leave here- hungry or empty handed.
  •  What is the best thing covered in chocolate? Agatha! I hate being pinned down but I would have to say-  my homemade English Toffee!
  • What is your passion? My threefold passion is a love of learning, reading and writing, all of which come together at Camellia’s Cottage.
  • If you had 3 wishes what would they be?  Bless your heart, who wouldn’t want 3 wishes? (1)I wish Alabama could be experienced, not by the headlines, but by her natural beauty, a place where talent and  technology rub shoulders with farmers, football players, fashion designers and fishermen, where world renowned chefs and home cooks learn from each other; where goodness and greatness show their generosity regularly and where writers and publishers, art and industry exist on a level barely acknowledged; where kind gentle folk work hard, love their families and appreciate what true southern hospitality really is.(2) I wish I could read at least 100 books in 2016- I’ve read almost 50- so I’m making a good start, and finally, (3) I wish folks would choose watching, listening and reading things that aren’t loud and cynical ( where are Huntley/Brinkley?) but factual news which would inform and fill us up with hope and goodwill- I think those things should start with me and hopefully Camellia’s Cottage will do that.

Finally, Agatha Chocolats asked, which is the my most favorite published blog post? No contest! It was the least ‘liked’ or noticed on Camellia’s Cottage- called ‘ Lookin’ for Fame?’ Posted on March 23, 2016, about the amazing music, talent and recording genuises in the ‘Shoals’ of Northeast Alabama -I hope it will inspire you to at least see the ‘Muscle Shoals’ documentary! here’s a link- https://camelliascottage/2016/3/23/look-in-for-fame And we hope to do a part 2 to go with it, because world famous fashion designers, Billy Reid and Alabama Chanin are doing amazing work up that way too!

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There is more to accepting this award, including my personal nominees for the Liebster Award, which I will do in my next post…

In the meantime go take an indulgent visit to- Agatha Chocolats @ https://agathachocolats.com !   Love y’all, Camellia

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