3 Simple Spring Projects…

As we do all we can to practice good health measures and shelter in place… I thought it might be good to have a few simple projects, easy enough to involve the children while they’re out of school and in need of a bit of fresh air.

The Green Onion Project is one I practice all year round, in our mild climate. Save the root ends of green onions…they will dry in a small bowl on the counter or you can put them in the ground right away, your choice. If you don’t have a garden space- a container filled with potting soil will do just fine.

They do better outside, though I suspect a very sunny spot indoors will do. Scoop out small holes and press the green onion root in firmly with no air pockets. Put as many as desired. An inch apart is just fine.

Water in well and without just a week or so you’ll begin to see green tops emerge! I generally cut the tops when I need them leaving the root end planted. An easy project to do with children!

Hint: you can thinly slice the root end of celery also, press firmly in the soil… you won’t get long stalks, yet before long, you’ll have the very flavor filled tops.

The Ice Cube Project. I love to make pretty ice cubes. Shamrocks might be my all time favorite. Find smallish shamrocks or clover (pesticide free) Fill ice cube trays 3/4 full with water. Top with a shamrock and freeze. Feel free to add more water during freezing process if the shamrock isn’t submerged

. Tiny wild strawberries work very well. Also, very thin slices of lemon or lime cut in quarters are beautiful in a glass of tea or lemonade.

Cranberries and Blueberries should work as well. Experiment with various fruits. This is a fun project, if your choice fails… try again! Staying hydrated is always important- making it pretty is always good incentive!

Spring Violet Tonic This project isn’t fool proof and it’s not for children to do alone. Pick a packed cup full of wood violets or violas. Flowers only, please and once again pesticide free. (The wood violets are coming into their own now in the South, violas work well too!) In a small saucepan, add one cup of cane sugar, one cup of water and one cup of wood violets.

Simmer until the flowers and sugar have dissolved (don’t be surprised- it will look like a green sludge) Allow to cool, refrigerate if not using right away. Add a tablespoon of the mixture to the bottom of a glass. squeeze about a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice, ice and top with club soda. The result will be a pale violet color! Violets are full of Vitamin C, this Spring Tonic is actually good for you!

Here’s hoping you’re staying safe and well. We are all in this together, be kind and patient with one another and don’t forget to say your prayers.

Love y’all, Camellia

All photographs are obviously mine. *Always wash any produce and pat dry.

Bevy of Beauties…

 

img_3484They still spring forth from twisted roots, thick marshes, stark rocky hillsides, rushing rivers, dark coal mines and the red clay soil of Alabama, a veritable Bevy of Beauties. Let us never forget that:

  • Stars Fell on Alabama,
  • Hank Williams wrote ‘Hey Good Lookin’ , What ya got cookin’  and-
  • F.Scott Fitzgerald found his Zelda right here in my Sweet Home, Alabama.

It’s no coincidence that Southern girls aren’t just cuter, they are stunning beauties. We know this from birth. They’re like Strands of Steel woven through Lace Christening Gowns, Ruffled Petticoats and Tulle Tutus. For southern girls, there’s an immediate affinity for Sparkle, Sequins and Crowns.

Their eyes flash with fury, the art of flirting comes naturally at an amazingly early age. Charmingly, disarmingly  and alarmingly they manage to get their own way, especially with their daddies, brothers and beaus, who are more than happy to go along with it.

Some prefer devastating hats, some wear Hollywood style sunglasses all year round, some prefer to wear their crowns- All. The. Time. Others insist on over-accessorizing. We allow it, we encourage it and just between me and you? It’s easier than arguing them down.

We crown our daughters for every conceivable Fruit, Flower or Nut- not to mention Cotton, Crisco┬« and Congeniality! And- Bo Weevils, too. For others, the Tutus and Dance costumes aren’t  reserved just for recitals but worn everyday. Recently, I saw a tiny girl with a running suit which had wide bands of sequins down each tiny arm and each tiny leg- her mother said the child loves it so much she has to wash it while the little girl is sleeping!

img_3500It must be said, that those who are born loving sparkles often get the crown– we have spawned more than one Miss America right here in Alabama. Southern Beauties win more often than any other region of the United States!   We may be the Land of Cotton but someone somewhere has made a killing off  the 1000’s of yards of tulle for years now! Ball Gowns, Prom dresses, Homecoming Courts, Beauty Pageants, Cotillions and every conceivable holiday including Alabama’s own Mardi Gras, in Mobile, Alabama.

Even Senior Centers have beauty contests- I have warned my family if the day ever comes when they think I need to be assisted in living ( even though I’ve never won a beauty contest in my life!)  It will cost them a fortune in sequined pageant dresses alone. Why? because Southern ladies nevah evah give up hope or stop flirting for that matter!

img_3484It would be a mistake to think these beauty queens are all fluff, many go on to become-

  • Lawyers,
  • Surgeons,
  • Executives,
  • Artists,
  • Teachers,
  • Engineers
  • Rocket Scientists.

If you research the Southern Bevy of Beauties, you will find articles have been written throughout the years- all asking and trying in vain to answer the question of why Southern women are so much prettier

  • Some say it’s the extra amount of Sunshine, others say it is the Humidity that makes their Skin Glow and their Hair so Full.
  • Some say it’s the Slower Pace or the Sweet Southern drawl, or maybe it’s growing Sugar Cane.
  • Some say it’s Handed Down from Generation to Generation from folks who have stayed in one place.
  • Some say it’s Training or other less desirable reasons- which, to be honest, hurts my feelings to read such nonsense.

To pigeonhole Southern Beauties would be a mistake- some are as soft and gentle as Wood Violets, some are livin’ as large as our Magnolia Grandiflora, some cover pain and heartache like the sweet scent of Jasmine.  Some are more like creamy Gardenias, you can’t miss ’em but they’re shy and bruise easily. Others are  late bloomers like the Glory Bower. Then there are those who simply bloom at the wrong time– like Camellias, our Winter Rose. We name them for-

  •  Our indigenous flowers,
  • Our ancestors
  •  Others are so precious we’ve named them Jewel, Ruby, Opal and Pearl.
  • Then there are some who are quicker than a lightning bug can blink- so we’ve nicknamed them,  Junebugs, Skeeters and Katydids.
  • They are as sparkling as our Rivers,
  • They giggle and babble like our warm Springs
  • They are as tough and spunky as Pig Iron, yet soft as Moonlight and twinkle like Stars.

There is an intoxicating mix of culture in the South- more Flags have flown over the Deep South than any other. The spice blend of Native American, Spanish, French, British,  African, Greek, Italian, German and Caribbean have influenced the very food we eat and also contribute to our sweet and spicy Bevy of Beauties!

Most of my ancestors were of European descent, yet I have an American Indian great grandmother aptly named Bama. Whole counties, rivers and towns bear names like Choctaw, Etowah, Tuscaloosa and Cherokee. In the county where I live, the will of a Cherokee Indian Princess is on record. Of course she was a Princess! No other region of America has been so ravaged by war and gone down a trail of bitter, blood, sweat and tears like the South. We’re still struggling with the aftermath. It is undeniable that Beauty is Born out of Trouble. So, is it any wonder that our Daughters are the Queen of our Hearts and a Bevy of Beauties?

img_3274We teach them that to be well received,

  • They must have good manners, high standards,
  • Be well dressed, get good grades,
  • Have a winning smile and be good citizens.

Secretly we know that beauty and brains is a devastating combination! So, from generation to generation- we revel in their beauty but admire good posture. We remind our daughters, they are born of backbone and courage! And that my friends, is the truth of where our bevy of beauties get their real good looks!

Love y’all, Camellia

*Photographs are the personal property of the community  of Camellia’s Cottage and should not be used without permission.

* Photograph of ‘Katydid’ was taken by Hollis Ellison a wonderful photographer!

*This post was originally written in 2017, in 2018, Z Publishing awarded Bevy of Beauties…  for Emerging Writers of Alabama. This post has been edited and updated from the original. It seemed fitting to redo this post since we have been blogging 4 years this month!

*Some of the vintage beauties are from Ash-Clairma 1961, the high school annual of Ashville, Alabama where surely some of the most beautiful ladies on earth were born.

* ‘Hey Good-Lookin’ was written by Alabama’s own Hank Williams.

* Zelda Fitzgerald was from Montgomery, Alabama.

*Alabama has had three winners of the Miss America Pageant┬«, over 20 were runners up and countless have been finalists and special award winners, including our very funny Award Winning Author- Fanny Flag.