Just when the heat of summer slows me down to a southern drawl… a miracle happens. It sneaks up on me every year. When hydrangeas blossoms look like tight pincurls, and roses sit and sulk- fed up with the humidity; the porch ferns whine for church fans and ice water, even the impatiens lay down their heads and weep… that’s when the Glory Bower Trees quietly begin to bloom.
Hummingbird wings whir around her. Butterflies flitter on her pale green shoulders. Fat Bumblebees stir slowly around like plump fairy godmothers- coaxing the lacy summer ballgown onto Glory Bower. Her ladies in waiting, the crepe myrtles, have on raspberry or shocking pink corsages. When every other flowering thing closes up shop for harvest, the Glory Bower is just getting started; dabbed with a faint honeysuckle fragrance. Glory Bower is the real southern belle, never breaks a sweat, not one bead of perspiration. Glory Bowers put down deep roots- they’re my sweet homebodies, staying close to my windows so I can chaperone and gaze as the miracle unfolds.
If you ever find yourself wondering if Mother Nature stills performs miracles, just look to the Glory Bower- which blooms as fresh as spring, cool as a cucumber, sweet as honeysuckle in the scorching heat of summer. Wishing you a day filled with sunshine, the faint fragrance of gardenias, magnolias and honeysuckle and if you’re really blessed a faint whisper of butterflies, bumblebees and hummingbirds circling around a Glory Bower and who knows? Maybe an evening’s worth of a gentle rain…
Love y’all, Camellia
*All photographs are obviously mine. This post in a very edited form was first published as ‘Glorious July Miracles…’ right here on Camellia’s Cottage in July of 2016, photographs for this version have been edited as well and new ones added from this year’s Glory Bower. The proper name for Glory Bower is Clerodendrum, which we pronounce ‘Clair O Dendrum’. Since I live in St. Clair County, it seems to me… as much as I love this precious tree that it should be the official tree of my home county! The lacy blooms which attract butterflies, hummingbirds and bees in the heat of summer… fruits in the fall as a dark blueberry seed surrounded by magenta petals literally cover the Glory Bower then provides much needed food for the birds during our hot dry late summer and early fall. My original tree was rooted and given to me by an old gardener and I wouldn’t take anything for the ones who have sprouted around the cottage.
Lemonade was so common in the South that finding a recipe for it is almost impossible! We just knew how to make it- and when we did …it was usually for a picnic or a special occasion. Believe it or not even Orangeade was first made from real oranges. And then…it was mass produced. Local milkmen delivered small glass bottled orangeade and lemonade with a paper tab, that children drank at school and vacation Bible School alongside cookies which I still recall as a delicious combination! Only a few years later, mass produced lemonade and orangeade in wax paper cartons large and small were available. With the space age came mass produced citrus drinks and powdered versions of fruit flavored drinks like Tang or Koolaid; we loved those drinks too… anything to quench thirst in hot humid climates. Still. There’s nothing really to compare with homemade southern lemonade.
These days, I find myself craving the real thing, real southern lemonade- I’ve conjured it up from memory and honestly, it’s worth the effort- and really? There’s very little effort to it, and believe me a pitcher of homemade lemonade will make anyday feel like a special occasion! Here’s how you make Camellia’s Southern Lemonade:
Zest of 2 Lemons
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 cup of fresh squeezed Lemon juice (approximately 4-6 medium size lemons)
4 cups chilled water
Mint leaves, lemon and lime slices for garnish are optional. Also optional- add a few maraschino cherries and a tablespoon of cherry liquid to make Pink Lemonade.
In a small saucepan, combine lemon zest, sugar and 1 cup of water. On low heat bring to a simmer until sugar has completely dissolved, to make a lemon flavored sugar syrup. Strain and chill. In a pitcher, thoroughly combine 1 cup of lemon juice and 4 cups of chilled water. Add chilled lemon sugar syrup, again, until thoroughly combined. Add plenty of ice and garnish as desired.
Now y’all, the sugar syrup is easy to make- you can keep it in a glass jar with a tight lid in your refrigerator for at least a week, maybe longer…Believe me, you’ll be glad you did! Here’s hoping your summer is the best ever with lots of Real Southern Lemonade alongside a few nostalgic cookies!
Love yall, Camellia
* All photographs are obviously mine. * Koolaid and Tang are registered trademarks. *And, here’s a sneak peek at an upcoming Instagram image and short story- if you get a chance check out our feed there too! We’re having lots of fun!
We’ve posted 3 Lessons of Spring and one strong suggestion on Instagram in the last few days. I thought you might enjoy them too!
This rather humorous photograph of a planter we have here at the cottage, was about to be planted with a few bedding plants… I decided to snap a photo of her first! She’s inspiring don’t you think?
‘The mind is a wonderful thing! It’s where creative ideas begin, where we learn, where emotions form and where we make decisions. Deciding to use ideas, knowledge and emotions for good is the highest form of humanity.’
Eggs might be the ultimate food form of Potential. This photograph inspired us. ‘Potential, that’s one of the wonderful emotions I feel in Spring… nothing says it better than a basket full of eggs by my front door. Little Johnny Jump Ups aren’t really Spring flowers here, but they seem to rejuvenate themselves right now- and they have the potential to re-seed. now, that’s a lesson too! I hope your Spring brings you an awareness of potential all around you…not to mention the marvelous potential you hold within!’
These bearded irises were passed along to me by my grandmother many years ago- the deep purple is amazing and thrills me every year! This was shared with a lesson I think of every year!
‘Bearded Irises are standing tall in all of their glory…what a lesson they are! Standing up, not afraid to show the world who they are and own their unique beauty. And! Despite an unfortunate name, bearded irises welcome the day with gladness!’
Those 3 Lessons of Spring speak volumes without saying a word…
Deciding to use our minds for good, like the planter, it looks like a brilliant idea is sprouting.
To see potential in our world and within ourselves…whether it’s at the end of life’s cycle or like an egg- at the beginning!
To stand tall, like the regal Iris, despite an unusual name and short bloom time is a lesson to us all… to seize the time we have, bloom where we’re planted and in our own unique way.
Now, here’s a strong suggestion…it’s Time to Spring Clean… we can get sidetracked and buy things we don’t need! So, here it is! Shades of Blue…
‘Shades of Blue… natural dyes, indigo, prints and stripes, chambray, madras, Oxford cloth and denim. Blue is beautiful year round, especially in Spring and Summer! I’m Shopping My Closet first- then checking the choices with my favorite catalogs- for updates this season!’ It’s a spring closet clean out and a money saver too!
I love Spring…pollen and all..lt inspires me with its beauty and lessons all around! What will you do this Spring? I’d love to hear! I’ll be back soon with good tips, good thoughts and yes, good food!
Love y’all, Camellia
* All photographs are obviously mine. Follow @brendawyatt_ on Instagram for more tips and ideas! I’ve found new friends and seen the astounding things so many are doing! Happy Spring, yall!
There may be no Spring layer cake that’s as welcome as Cottage Strawberry Cake. I’ll admit my skills as a cake decorator are few- yet decorating this cake with fresh strawberries makes it look so appealing and beautiful! I sort of went overboard and pulled some wild and domesticated strawberry leaves and runners (washed well mind you! Then kept them fresh in damp paper towels until time to decorate the Cottage Strawberry Cake.
Whole strawberries may be served alongside the slices and provide a welcome tang to the sweet cream cheese frosting. Not being a proficient Cake baker either, with few exceptions. I used a name brand good quality cake mix and enriched it with milk, melted butter, pure vanilla extract and an extra egg to make a denser more flavorful cake.
I think anytime you use a boxed cake mix of any kind, it’s a good idea to enrich it and also to make homemade frosting! This frosting has fresh strawberries in it- which changes the texture a bit- the recipe has a few suggestions if you prefer the smoother texture. Here’s how you make Cottage Strawberry Cake–
A beautiful 2 layer cake with cream cheese icing and sugared strawberries. Impressive showing for Spring- especially if fresh strawberries and if you can find wild strawberry leaves and stems!
1BoxDuncan Hines Strawberry Cake Mix * made according to our swap outs
3/4 CupWhole Milk (reduced by 1 Teaspoon)
7 Tablespoons Melted and cooled ButterPlus more unmelted butter for pans
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
1 Cup Fresh Strawberries- hulled and choppedSprinkle sugar over berries and cover
12OuncesCream Cheese Room temperature
2Sticks ButterRoom Temperature
1 TeaspoonPure Vanilla Extract
1-1 1/4 PoundPowdered SugarSifted
1 Quart Fresh Strawberries- whole for decorating the cake
For Cake- prepare 2 - 8 inch cake pans: grease with butter, then flour lightly. ( Lining pans with parchment paper rounds is also a good idea) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (If using dark coated pans- reduce oven temp to 325 degrees) Blend cake mix, milk, melted and cooled butter and 4 eggs(3 eggs unless you want a denser cake) in a large bowl until moistened. Add vanilla extract. Blend well. (Do not mix according to box Directions!) Divide the batter equally between prepared pans. Bake cake layers on center oven rack for 26-30;minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. (Check after 25 minutes) Cool layers in pans on a rack for 15 minutes! Turn out of pans and cool completely - this is important!
For Frosting- In a deep bowl or your stand mixer bowl fitted with paddle attachment- not whisk! Blend together cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract. Add powdered sugar until thick consistency. Drain Room Temperature! sugared strawberries very very well. Fold into frosting. * Frosting may change texture when strawberries are added, you may add more powdered sugar if needed. Chill frosting until slightly firm before frosting cake layers. decorate with whole strawberries and greenery- if you don’t have wild strawberry leaves, mint leaves work well. Chill cake before serving. 8-10 slices.
Feel free to add a few drops of red food coloring to Frosting, though strawberries should add the color you want. If concerned about the texture of the frosting, you may substitute up to 1/2 cup of strawberry jam.
Our Cottage Strawberry Cake reminds me of a sweet and dear friend every time I make it, and isn’t that what any dish we make supposed to do? Good memories of sweet folks we’ve known and loved is the best reason I can think of to bake or cook anything! Hope you’re enjoying this Spring weather and dreaming of all the good things ahead…
Now, y’all- I live in a coastal southern state- the beach is just a few hours from where I live at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, and we’re talking foothills … not a mountainous terrain by any stretch of the imagination. Alabama is one of the lowest in terms of sea level in the nation…that means any place above 500 feet in elevation is …well, it’s way up there. For instance, Colorado Springs starts at 6200 feet above sea level! Still. Even with all of that thin air, after several trips to Colorado Springs, I’ve decided that some of the best things to do in Colorado are literally seeing America the Beautiful.
Where else, but Colorado Springs, could you go where the deer and the antelope actually play, where a schoolteacher named Katherine Lee Bates stood atop Pike’s Peak inspired to write ‘America the Beautiful’ ; where you can actually stay in one of Teddy Roosevelt’s favorite hotels, built by his friend Spencer Penrose; Colorado Springs is where Gymnasts, Swimmers and Skaters have trained for and won Olympic Gold Medals and where you can view a flyover by the famous Thunderbirds at graduations from the U.S. Air Force Academy, and my goodness, somewhere in them thar hills… folks track the movements of Santa Claus every Christmas? Yes, some of the best America has to offer are found close to Colorado Springs.
Here’s my top 5 Fun Things to Do in Colorado Springs and best of all, it’s great any time of year!
1. Garden of the Gods– this area is magnificent with red rock formations so huge and so amazing…it’s unforgettable! A man named Perkins left the area to the City of Colorado Springs with the wish that it would be maintained and open to the public! Rock Climbers climb, horseback tours are a sight to see and of course there’s always just a drive through with a stop or two just to gawk at the magnificent Red Rock Formations!
2. The Broadmoor Hotel– if you’re headed to Colorado Springs, to my way of thinking there’s no where else to stay for the full experience of Colorado Springs than the Broadmoor. When you drive up to the portico, look up! (The opening photograph) Blue Stars just say- America! Welcomed by the most outstanding staff anyone can imagine, your Broadmoor experience is just beginning! Built by Spencer Penrose and his wife, they opened the doors to 200 of their friends in 1918, for over a 100 years now…they’ve been offering guests more than the imagination can offer…wonderful views, genuine Remington sculptures are casually on display in the main building- you know the fella whose work is iconic of the American West. There’s even a museum on the grounds which hold even more memorabilia. All throughout the hotel, the décor is luxurious. Oil paintings on the walls, a theatre, a bowling alley- even the children have their own concierge! The Broadmoor has continually maintained 5 diamond status since the award has been given over 40 years ago. Over a dozen restaurants including a pub called The Golden Bee is so authentic- the interior is an actual English Pub which was dismantled and brought piece by piece, then installed with precision- every night a piano player plays as song books are handed around and beer is sold by the pint or yard whichever you think you’re able to consume and it’s not your imagination- when you leave you’ll have little golden bees stuck to your clothing too! At Julie’s, a French inspired patisserie, chocolatiers are behind glass in a climate controlled working- small wrapped chocolates are delivered to your room with the turn down service every night! A five star spa which even has an oxygen bar- for folks who are having a bit of trouble with the altitude! The list is almost endless, if you’re not inclined to ever leave there- The Broadmoor will show you a wonderful time!
3. The Royal Gorge. Just a short hour’s drive from Colorado Springs down to Canon City is one of the most magnificent train rides in the whole of America! In the 1870’s miners of lead, silver and gold (yes, there are still working gold mines near Colorado Springs! ) The miners inspired a 50 mile long railway pass along the Arkansas River…it winds along the same way even into six mile long gorge with sheer rock walls so high they plunge into the river- it makes me dizzy to think about it! This narrow 30 foot span is where a hanging bridge was built in 1879…anchored to the walls with girders, Royal Gorge Hanging Bridge is still maintained to this day! A trip through the Royal Gorge is a can’t miss – it’s a must, to see the awe inspiring scenery!
4. Seven Falls is a waterfall maintained by the Broadmoor- but open to the public. If you’re brave enough to climb well over 200 steps to the top, there’s a hiking trail on up from there. I took the old mine elevator halfway up to the viewing deck! And an unexpected treat was a restaurant called- Restaurant 1858, where you can enjoy the falls at lunch and dinner… the menu has things like wild boar and even vegetarian options. What impressed me, was the rugged terrain going back into the Seven Falls area, as you take a short hike or tram ride into the cavern… there’s a western style log cabin that honestly looks like Ralph Lauren just left! Navajo Rugs, nailhead trimmed leather chairs and perfect prints inspired during the 1858 era. A great place to warm up or catch your breath!
5. Pike’s Peak- is that enough said? Well, if you’re going to Colorado Springs, this is a not to missed experience, rising over 14,000 feet above sea level, the Pike’s Peak mountain range is stunning… there’s always snow at the top and the best donuts in the world rise high above the clouds! Ok, it’s freezing up there and the guides will tell you, the chances are you may not make it to the top but on the way- you’ll stop in the Crystal Lake region and get a chuckle of the Sasquatch Statue- otherwise known as Big Foot; where it’s maintained that the first sighting of Big Foot was reported.
Just the hairpin turns make this a very exciting tour any time of year. The first time we went, some poor soul took a family photo of us- I had it printed in black and white photos made into the ‘Ugliest Family Christmas Photos’ and actually mailed them! Oh my! If you take a small bag of Cheese Curls on your trip be prepared to watch in amazement as it swells up with the altitude change which is significant! Pike’s Peak might be best known for the patriotic song…‘America the Beautiful’ which was written by schoolteacher Katherine Lee Bates, who was so inspired by the sight she saw from Pike’s Peak and I ask you- Would you have wanted to miss that beautiful song? Yes, Pike’s Peak should have been Number One on the list…but there’s always building up expectations to high- just know the journey is worth it whether you get to the top or not! We’ve been 3-4 times and have only reached the Peak once! But the breathtaking views were well worth the risk of not making it!
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo This is a bonus fun thing to do! Guests of the Broadmoor have been enjoying the highest elevation zoo for years and years! The giraffes are a can’t miss area- the zoo has placed walkways up high so you can feed them! Look at that long black tongue! There’s even a bronze statue of Will Rogers inside the zoo, Rogers was a friend of Spencer Penrose too. These days, the zoo is maintained separately from the resort, however, guests of the Broadmoor do enjoy a free shuttle service that takes them right to the gates and believe me- it’s a real time saver! The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of the most popular activities in the region…get an early start!
Okay here’s a few bonuses! There’s the need-to-see Downtown Colorado Springs and nearby Manitou Springs which are fun drives too! Both have charming shops and restaurants too.
One restaurant I can highly recommend is- Carlos Miguels. It’s a reasonably priced white table cloth Mexican Restaurant just a short drive from the Broadmoor and is truly excellent! Then, there’s the somberly beautiful U.S. Air Force Academy, The Cave of the Winds is awe inspiring as well- where the inside temperature is a steady 53 degrees year round, regardless of the outside temperature! If you are real thrill seeker, the Broadmoor has a Zip Line Course that is ranked in the top 5 in the world…I’ll let you experience that one and tell me about it later! And, near Manitou Springs,there’s an area that can be explored of very early cave dwellings. And!
The very inspiring U.S. Olympic Training site where Paralympics also train and please don’t miss the beginning slide show inside the center, watching those gold medalists brought tears to my eyes! Athletes who were not trained to ‘come in secondplace’ have lived, worked, healed and trained to be the very best they can be actually seen training on this large campus!
These are my Top Five Fun things to do in Colorado Springs and a few more ‘can’t-miss-if you have time’ locations! One stunning thing: Pike’s Peak is almost always in view with the distinctive snow cap… and when I see it I must admit…I start humming if not outright singing…
‘Oh beautiful for spacious skies… for amber waves of grain…for purple mountains majesty…’
If you’re looking for a Spring or Summer- or anytime of year trip- check out Colorado Springs. Every time I’ve come back down closer to sea level in my sweet home here in Alabama, I’ve come back in awe of just how beautiful America is!
Love y’all, Camellia
*All photographs are obviously mine! *And there are of course other fine hotels in the area! And wonderful dining options as well!
These 10 Beautiful Ways to Stay Hydrated have given me the motivation I needed to meet one of my goals this year, and I’ve got 10 tips to help you get started too! I’ve challenged myself to stay hydrated and… and well, drinking all that water is healthy and all…for a few weeks, it was going great. Still. As Igot into this whole staying hydrated thing, I needed a bit of incentive. Here’s what happened- I was taking part in something else- a food photography challenge. For that, I needed a photograph of citrus fruits. Running out of time…no time to bake, no time to cook – a deadline was looming. Here’s what happened-
I made up a pitcher of pretty water. In fact, I thought it was beautiful. The kind I recall seeing in luxury spas and fine hotel lobbies. Beautiful ways to stay hydrated. Yes, I could do that! Just the incentive I needed. Tip 1: It’s easier if you make up a whole pitcher, similar to Spa Waters I’ve seen! With lemon, mint and cucumber! Let’s just say it’s a refreshing combination!
One thing led to another. I figured out that- Tip 2: Staying hydrated isn’t just water, it’s cranberry juice, apple juice, citrus juice and weak tea too. So I included those too. Thin slices of cucumbers or apples are easy and a refreshing snack too! This one is a re-run of Apple in Glass which I’d tried last Fall- the rerun was wonderful again!
One of my favorite ways to stay hydrated was an iced tea with lime and mint. Beautiful don’t you think? This time, I made a simple sugar syrup infused with mint. Mint Tea was a beautiful way, my grandmother made iced tea. All the best Sweet Tea in the South starts with a Simple Sugar Syrup– which is – Tip 3: One cup of water simmered with One cup of sugar…until the sugar has dissolved. With Mint Tea, the process is the same except fresh mint is infused into the sugar syrup. Kept chilled, sugar syrups last a long time. See that little jar sitting next to the glass of Iced Mint Tea? That’s the simple syrup made with mint! Which we seem to grow prolifically! Tip 4: Mint Simple Syrup is also wonderful to pour in your morning coffee!
If you want an extra treat- Rim the glass! Tip 5:For the Iced Tea, I cut a lemon or lime in wedges, mix a bit of sugar and a bit of salt in a bowl, rim the glass with the citrus wedge, then dip the rim in the salt and sugar mixture for a refreshing and beautiful glass of tea..or juice.. or water.
Here I did that with orange zest, a bit of salt, a bit more sugar and believe it or not- I grated a dehydrated strawberry too! Tip 6: Dehydrated fruit is wonderful grated for rimming a glass or mix with powdered sugar and decorate almost anything! The glass above, with oranges, strawberries and a rim of sugar, orange zest, a bit of salt and grated dehydrated strawberry was my beautiful glass of water this morning! Tip 7: Adding a bit of salt to the rim or the glass, makes me thirstier!
Tip 8: Add flowers to your water! Here and the opening photograph, I’ve used flowers- little violas or rose petals are so beautiful, just make sure they are pesticide free! Not just for your water, they sure look pretty floating in a cup of hot tea!
With spring and summer headed our way, it seems the garden is springing up weeds- these dandelions and yellow flowers all came from ‘weeds’ Here is another tip I love- Tip 9: Add leaves or tiny berries to Ice Cubes ! Look at these with shamrocks and wild strawberries!
We’re talking good luck here! Tip 10: To make pretty ice cubes, try anything small that you wish! Here’s how you make them- pour a bit of water in the bottom of the ice cube tray, in each section place clean leaves or berries, make sure they fit. Put in the freezer for a bit- to stabilize the leaves. Then fill the tray up and freeze. Okay, truth? If you’re in a hurry… just fill the tray up and insert a leaf or berry, but if presentation’s important? Do it my way! Now, I know you want to see that pretty glass of water with a viola again- So here it is!
We all want to look and feel our best, you’ve read the science and seen the articles about how important it is to avoid getting dehydrated… So! I’ve been on a mission! The result was 9 Beautiful Ways to Stay Hydrated! Now, make yourself some of this pretty water! And, I’d love to see how you’re staying motivated too!
Love y’all, Camellia
*Here’s another shot of my morning glass of water… I couldn’t decide which was prettier!
* All photographs are obviously mine! Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram- we’re posting almost daily!
Three years ago, when I first started writing – I was sorely lacking in photographic skills. Not much better now, but have learned a thing or two… Anyway, award winning photographer Jeremy Miniard took pity on me and provided some stunning photographs, then generously offered to let me use them! One of the first groups of photographs I asked him about were Doors; Jeremy has a treasure trove of photographs taken during his ramblings throughout Alabama. The doors he sent to me were amazing. They still are! I posted ‘Doors of Alabama’ using some other photographs offered to me- also out of pity I’m sure. This time… a poster worthy collection of Doors of Alabama are all Jeremy Miniard’s work… be prepared to be impressed!
Doors of Alabama
Thank you Jeremy! This journey just wouldn’t have been the same without you! Now. Y’all. I hope you’re inspired as I was by Jeremy’s photography – and also the beauty and history that surely was behind these old doors…peeling paint and all! Now….on your mark, get set and.. Get out there and take some photographs wherever you are! I’d love to see what you come up with! By the way, can you believe we’re still around after three years? Me either. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, for your support, for following this blog and for your kind words; and yes! the funny comments too! And as always…
Love y’all, Camellia
And I saved one of my favorites for last!
*All photographs are the sole property of Jeremy Miniard, please respect this and do not use them without his express permission. You will find his work at Remy Photography- jeremy.miniard.fineartamerica.com
I didn’t set out with Memory Gardens in mind… though the idea began to form when my grandmother shared some Hosta and Spiderwort, then an old gardener sent Daffodil bulbs and another shared Bearded Irises. My father in law, sent a few Redbud saplings from the family farm and my mother showed up one day with a sapling called Glory Bower, which blooms in the dead of summer when nothing else will. The Glory Bower is in bloom near one of our daughter’s birthday and always reminds me of her, beautiful and generous. Each year it seemed, I had memories of my family and others who had generously shared plants. Here’s a closeup of Spiderwort-
Tip #1 Memory Gardens can be scattered throughout the landscape or in a designated place. I do both.
I had an idea of purchasing a tree or a shrub on special occasions or in memory of a loved one…So, a memory garden was forming as I was learning about where, what and when to plant. On several occasions I gave a living plant instead of sending flowers and often bought one to be planted here at the cottage. Without really planning a Memory Garden, my garden was making memories for me.
Tip #2 Think perennials. Memory Gardens aren’t just about trees and shrubs- Herbs, like Rosemary- for Remembrance, Lavendar for Love and Devotion,Sage for Long Life and Wisdom- are great memorable additions. The bearded irises weren’t given to me by my grandmother yet, she loved them, so they remind me of her, always. Bulbs, Ferns, Hosta, Shasta Daisies are wonderful and can be planted in the garden, near a loved one’s birth date. Perennials as bereavement plants which die down but return year after year are a hopeful reminder of the resurrection.
When we re-did the front yard- a parking area in front of a picket fence changed things. A family member gave me two heirloom roses- New Dawn, they are the ones at the end of the fence. Every year, I’m reminded of her beauty, her thoughtfulness and her kindness. The pale pink roses still grow proudly at each end of the picket fence, And they bloom close to her birthday! A tiny gardenia shrub was bought on sale… it reminded me of a dear friend, who had loved a fragrance with a distinct gardenia note, the shrub is now so big- it has to be cut back! I planted a hedge of holly, that was perfect behind a garden bench given to me by my sister, it reminds me of her everyday. On and on it seemed, I was given plants or buying plants that evoked memories. The garden began to mature… What I found as the years went by… is that Light changes everything.
Tip #3 Even if you have established a specific area as a Memory Garden- be prepared to divide, move or even replace plants. When this occurs, I try to use memory plants in another more appropriate site, especially with adequate light.
Trees grow. Sun loving plants find themselves in the shade. Trees fall. Shade loving plants shrivel in the sunlight. Trees even age and die. The soil is disturbed or other trees crowd them out. And, these elements affect our yard to this day. So! It became important to me to establish areas where my memory plants had the best chance of survival. And some memory plants need dividing. I didn’t want to lose the old heirloom plants, so I divided them and spread them throughout the garden areas; still purchasing memory plants along the way.
Tip #4 Memory Plants are all occasion! Births, Milestones such as graduations, Weddings, Anniversaries, in addition to the Loss of a Loved One, are the perfect opportunity for memory plants. The main criteria is choosing a plant which evokes a memory of the occasion and the loved one.
Little Gem Magnolias were planted in memory of my Aunt Iva and my precious grandmother, Mimi. Yet the occasion when the magnolias were purchased commemorates our daughter’s wedding. They were used as a large display in urns at her wedding reception. I like to call these Little Gems- my ‘Steel Magnolias’; which Mimi and Aunt Iva certainly were, as were other southern ladies for whom I purchased the same small magnolias. Those magnolia trees and a few camellias I had purchased evoked to wonderful memories throughout our garden, not to mention the beautiful large blooms!
Tip #5 For very special occasions you may choose to plant a specimen tree or large shrub. Be sure to site the tree for its own specific needs for soil and light.
If you’re getting the idea that my memory plants were placed at whim, you wouldn’t be far from the truth, I planted for the conditions the plants and trees required. A freeform Memory Garden was more like it… until 2006.My mother in law died. I was devastated. I worked furiously in the garden in the days following her death. Being on my knees, seemed the right place to be; brought to my knees by this blow of her death- I could be alone, I could dig, yank weeds, weep over the least tiny bloom- gardening helped. Have you ever felt like that? Immersing yourself in a hobby or physical tasks that free the mind? Gardening was therapy for me. Shortly after her death, to honor her , we were given a piece of statuary, an angel.
It seemed too large to put on prominent display in the front of our house…. as I continued to work out my grief- a spot toward the back of our yard, kept catching my eye… it was a clump of dogwoods, they were in bud. It seemed to be the perfect spot! So, that’s where she is…my angel and my first attempt at a specific Memory Garden. At the base of the angel, were planted miniature daffodil bulbs from a funeral basket of spring flowers my sister gave our family. They have multiplied over the last decade. In the Spring since the Angel was placed, it still surprises me- if anyone glances this way, passing the cottage- down the side yard toward the dogwoods… there is an Angel. The spot for her Memory Garden was somehow, by some miracle- chosen for me, not the other way around. We have since lost some dogwoods, planted some roses and crepe myrtles.
Tip # 6 Be careful buying statuary. Use it sparingly. Place it appropriately, so that it’s shape and size work with your garden. Sometimes your site will tell you where it needs to be placed!
So! I have continued my practice of buying memory plants. In 2017, I planted a camellia for my friend, Denis who died that spring.(photo above) I planted ten azaleas when my mother died, also in the Spring of 2017. Five azaleas for her grandchildren and five for her great grandchildren- she adored them all! Those were interspersed in the existing garden. Still. She has her own specific Memory Garden.
Friends and family bought hydrangeas for my mother as well, she loved hydrangeas and I do too! They are in shades of pink, white, green and blue that can only be called ‘hydrangea blue’. I planted them in groups by color, not mixing them so it’s more pleasing to the eye. There were a good many, so- for my mother… there is a hydrangea garden along a side yard and around the back deck- areas which were never intended as a memory garden. Yet it seemed to chosen for me. I plan to add and add to it until the hydrangeas say- ‘No more, please’. Memory Gardening has been a source of great joy to me. I tend to name the plants- Denis, the Camellia delighted me, when she was full of blooms this year!
Tip #7 Add to your memories all at once or, perhaps a better plan is to gradually add to it, as I am doing with the hydrangeas and camellias.
Last fall, my beloved Walter, a Himalayan cat who had graced us with his presence at this cottage, died. I had to do something for Walter, I was almost inconsolable. My sister had given me a statuary cat, more than a decade ago, it had never found a permanent site. At age 17, I suppose, Walter had lived a long life- I never imagined the grief I would experience when he died. So, I created a very small Memory Garden for him… under one of the azaleas planted for my mother, the statuary cat was placed, with an engraved stone which epitomized Walter…it says, ‘Do no great things, only small things with greatlove.’ Rose petals fall on this small piece of statuary, it isn’t visible from the street, but I see him every day as I go to my car. Somehow it comforts me. I have recently planted a few scraggly violas near him hoping they will re-seed. There are lamb’s ears nearby too. Each one seems to be a bit of those small things only a family pet is able to bring to a household.
Now, I’ve gone all sad sack on you and I don’t want you think Memory Gardens are just for bereavement- they aren’t! Plant memories for any occasion- name them or not, but as you plant- you are putting down roots, you are making a garden, you are making your home, your neighborhood, your world a more beautiful place!
Tip # 8 Don’t be afraid to ask for advice! Your local garden shop is a wealth of information. Ask them to suggest plants to use, what the plant will require, and how large it will get. You may need to have specimen plants installed, sometimes a garden center will be able to suggest a service. Ask for help- your plants willlove you for it!
Like I said, I didn’t set out to create a Memory Garden… now, that I have, the memories make me a better gardener. When a baby is born or a beloved friend passes on… I hope you will visit your garden center and pick out a special plant. And if the notion strikes or if there is a space in your garden, perhaps you will plant it and start a Memory Garden of your own… now, if you excuse me, I need to go outside and plant a Leyland Cypress named Wayne…
Love y’all, Camellia
* All photographs are obviously mine. The quote near the statuary cat is attributed to Mother Teresa. My husband’s dear friend, Wayne died right before Christmas, an evergreen was given to the family and the Leyland Cypress is to be planted here at Camellia’s Cottage.
My first serving of Roulage was at a tiny tea room where ladies met for elegant brunch, where mother-daughter luncheons or bridesmaids’ met the day before a wedding to dine with the bride and her female family members. This beloved place was down a cobbled lane on Southside, a place aptly named Cobb’s Lane. When I was a mere teenager, yet I believed I had never tasted any dessert that was more decadent. A deep rich chocolate roll around a cloud of whipped cream. Yes, there were other dishes we enjoyed there, a beautiful salad plate, a chicken imperial, if not in name- regal in taste, though as someone recently recalled- ‘We went to Cobb’s Lane for the roulage.’ And we did.
The Roulage recipe I have is old, it has no attribution, yet I’ve always been told it was the famous Cobb’s Lane Roulage. And while I’ve updated the technique, the ingredients are essentially the same. Eggs separately beaten, confectioners sugar, a few tablespoons of cocoa- no flour no butter- poured into a squeaky clean and dry jelly roll pan. Filled and rolled with lightly sweetened whipped cream – the presentation is always impressive even if the cocoa is uneven when dusted or whether the roll cracks a bit. It’s imperfections are just part of a fresh made Roulage.
The French call the method a roulade, other cultures call it a Swiss Roll. Some have been redundant in calling this version- a chocolate roulage- in the the South, the essence of a Roulage is that it’s a chocolate roll. I suppose I thought of roulage as a jelly roll, but it’s not exactly a simple sponge cake, since the batter does contain egg yolks, but no flour- though the baker does indeed use her jelly roll pan. There are those who’ve tried to improve the unimproveable by adding Bourbon or Grand Mariner to the whipped cream, or by setting a slice of Roulage in a pool of raspberry sauce- still, the classic is best. To be honest, I don’t make Roulage often enough. Or at least that’s what I think every time I make it. Still. When I make a roulage, it takes me back to a tiny, elegant, hidden-away place, called Cobb’s Lane.
The classic dark chocolate roulage, is a light flourless sponge cake filled with whipped cream and rolled, then dusted with cocoa powder.
5 LargeEgg Yolks
1Cup Confectioners SugarSifted
3 TbsDutch Processed CocoaPlus more for dusting
5LargeEgg WhitesStiffly Beaten
1/2PintHeavy CreamWhipped and chilled
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. With the whisk attachment, stiffly beat 5 large egg whites and set aside. In another mixing bowl Beat 5 egg yolks until pale yellow. Add 1 cup confectioners sugar. Blend in 3 Tbs of Dutch Cocoa until blended well. Fold in gently, the stiffly beaten eggs whites. Smooth mixture lightly into an untreated 9x13 jelly roll pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes making sure mixture springs back lightly to the touch. During bake time, dampen a kitchen towel *Or you may use a silicone baking mat, which is what I have used with very good results. Put 3-6 Tablespoons Dutch Cocoa in a small bowl with a small sieve. Sift cocoa over a large piece of parchment paper. When roll is baked, turn out onto silicone damp towel immediately. (You may need to quickly loosen lightly before turning out) Trim edges of roll, then roll in damp towel - while still hot. Cool , while covered with an additional kitchen towel. ( Note: I have had excellent results turning the Roulage base in a silicone baking mat, instead of the damp towel, then wrapping the mat in a damp towel. When cool, remove the towel covering the roll and unroll on a cocoa covered parchment which coats the outside of roll. Spread whipped cream over surface, then roll. Place roll on waxed paper, cover. Cover this in plastic wrap securely and chill. With a serrated knife, slice roulage and serve on dessert plates, garnished with berries. ( Roulage may be frozen,if not serving right away. Serves 6 beautifully.
You will need a 9x14 jelly roll pan with a 1 inch rim or a similar size baking pan with rim. The pan must be squeaky clean and undressed to accept the batter.
A silicone baking mat or a dampened flour sack kitchen towel must be used to roll the roulade for cooling. A good grade of parchment paper or a second dry silicone mat or flour sack towel covered with sifted cocoa must be ready to unroll the Roulage, before filling with slightly sweetened whipped cream( you will need 2 approximately 2 cups of whipped cream- please do not use non-dairy whipped topping!
Very old recipes call for the dampened flour sack towel, I used silicone baking mats to roll and cool- with excellent results.
Roulage is best served fresh rolled, chilled and cut, however it may also be made a day ahead, placed infilled with whipped creamin freezer. The roulade must allowed to thaw completely to unroll. Fill with whipped cream, roll gently. Slice and place carefully on dessert plates.
It does take a bit of self confidence to make a Roulage, just remember that the imperfections of a Roulage, only add to its beauty. For really, it’s a dessert that shouldn’t-couldn’t-wouldn’t want to be mass produced perfection. Here’s hoping that some time, you’ll challenge yourself to make a Roulage.
There’s no doubt that Winter takes it toll on our skin; and while Spring is on it’s way…our thoughts turn to the time when we’ll shed these winter coats in favor of lighter weight clothing…which means- do I have to say it? Our skin will be revealed! Even after years of working in the fragrance and cosmetics industry- I must say, I’m always learning new things and paying closer attention to the largest organ in the human body- our Skin. It actually takes a lot for me to be inspired by new treatments and products- yet, I do think these tips are worth sharing!
Dry Brushing: This is my first and best skin care tip! The photograph you see is a dry brush that I purchased after reading about the benefits of dry brushing. I had to convince myself that it actually worked, and I’m here to tell you I’ve reaped the benefits! So, I ordered the full set of dry brushes. Not only is dry brushing a natural skin care product- it is also a practice every adult should be using! Dry brushing removes dead skin cells while at the same time – those nubs in among the bristles are stimulating the lymph glands to help rid the body of toxins, and… you’ll love this- it also aids in toning and tightening the skin! There are several different prices and products for dry brushing available, just make sure the bristles are of natural fibers. The dry brush set should come with directions also. The idea is to never get these brushes wet. Stand on a towel or a bath mat before you get into the shower or bathtub. When you brush your legs do it in upward strokes- always brushing toward the heart! The set I bought had a large body brush, a hair brush which stimulates the scalp and a side effect is it works to de-tangle. Also, in the set was a face brush which I was more reluctant to use, since I make an all natural scrub to exfoliate my facial skin. Y’all? this facial brush is wonderful! There is a ‘map’ that comes with my brush set to show you how to dry brush the face- so, it doesn’t just act as an exfoliator- it also stimulates my face and neck. I can actually see and feel the results after only a few weeks! So, if you add just this one thing to your skin care routine- it’s not a fad- it’s an ancient practice worth trying!
Water: We all know about drinking more water and wintertime it’s critical to drink more fluids. I’ve been trying to make pretty water to entice me! Here’s one I made recently-with cucumbers, mint and lime! As great as it is to consume more water- if we’re dehydrated in the first place, our internal organs are making the best of liquids we consume well before the benefits reach our skin! So- here’s a tip to make a good long soak do double duty- add ingredients to the water. The old remedy for aching muscles is Epsom Salts and yes it does work. However, adding any natural salt will bring precious moisture to the skin surface and make that just brushed skin look and feel wonderful. The other thing you may want to add to bath water is dry milk in granular form. Now…if Cleopatra knew this was good for her skin, who are we to second guess her? The science behind milk baths- is that lactic acid in milk is a natural skin softener!! Read that again! Lactic acid softens the skin! You can also add dry milk to your favorite skin scrub and make it even better!
Vitamin C Serum Touted by skin care experts as natural Botox®! You can pay almost any price you choose for Vitamin C serum. Now, you may be consuming loads of Vitamin C in tablet form or drinking lots of citrus juice, which is terrific for your overall health- again…it would take masses of orange juice before the benefits actually reach your skin! So, here’s what I’ve done in the photo above- I saved lemon peels, put them in 2-3 cups of water and brought the pot to a boil (the house smelled wonderful!) Cover and turn off the heat. Allow this mixture to steep for a few hours, then discard the lemon peels and keep lemon water serum chilled. The result is a lemon water, which is a homemade Vitamin C Serum. Orange peels will work as well. Vitamin C is water soluble, so it’s delivery system to the body, and also why it doesn’t remain in the body very long! With the homemade lemon serum- Dip a cotton pad into the lemon water serum, then saturate your face and neck. You will be surprised to note a skin tightening effect. This skin treatment is delightful, can be repeated as often as you choose and is practically free! The essential oils in citrus have been proven to reduce fine lines, fade sun spots, minimize wrinkles and have an excellent track record on delivering antioxidants to the skin. And that’s not all, lemon and orange oils are very potent- so potent in fact that used in furniture polish, they restore dry cracked wood, what do you think the effect that lemon serum would be on the skin? They do work on fading age spots, minor skin tags and even reduce scarring after surgery. Now, to be honest, there are wonderful Vitamin C Serum products on the market, some are very expensive and not all that much better than the less expensive ones- just look for at least 20 % vitamin C serum in the product!
What I want you to take away from these tips, is that they are safe, natural and proven. And, please use a good face and body moisturizer on the skin after these treatments, all natural moisturizers abound. Just make sure the term ‘all natural’ is actually true and is plant based. If you want to deliver an all natural moisturizer from your pantry, you can’t do much better than straight Olive Oil- which has a healing effect on the skin. If you want more skin care tips- send me an email- I will be happy to tell you the name brand of the dry brush system I am currently using- it is economical and all natural bristles; I will also recommend a few Vitamin C Serum products I am currently testing and seeing the results, quicker than I would have believed possible. We are not being compensated in any way for these recommendations, however, I do feel they are high quality and for a very reasonable price. Email us for this information, our address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
I believe good skin care helps us feel better, improves our overall look- first take care of the skin, then apply the makeup- is the rule! One of the best ways to age gracefully is to take care of ourselves inside and out!
Love y’all, Camellia
*All information is gleaned from my own background in the industry and personal testing and research, if you experience any side effects, rashes or other skin problems- discontinue use. I never recommend a product that we haven’t tested first!