The Pocketbook Project…


Domestic Violence is real- it is happening in your hometown, your community, even your neighborhood. The statistics are alarming. The truth is, you either know someone, are related to someone, or are someone who is the victim of domestic violence. There are women and children who are living in fear and you may not realize it. Look at the vintage drawing above.

  • has no color, ethnic or religious background
  • the face tells you nothing
  • the price is not shown
  • the level of education is not a factor
  • the clothing may hide the bruises
  •  the pocketbook is partially hidden.

Domestic Violence has no economic boundaries, does not favor a race or color, age range, level of education or neighborhood. You may not see the bruises or know the types of abuse-most suffer from one or more, even all of these:

  • some are mental
  • some are financial
  • some are emotional
  • some are physicalimage

The drawing is a Chanel suit, accessories and handbag from 1926 from a vintage history book of fashion. I was drawn to this particular sketch, it speaks to me. I have known victims of domestic violence. They don’t look different, they look the same maybe even better than most. Know a victim long enough and you will sense or feel-

  •  the fear
  • the dread to go home at the end of a workday
  • the isolation
  • the excuses
  • the entrapment

A victim of domestic violence lives in CHAOS- ‘Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome’

As you read this-let me offer a piece of advice – please don’t ask, ‘Why don’t they just leave?’ It’s never that simple, especially if there are children involved. When violence escalates, the abuser blames the victim; or promises the victim ‘it won’t happen again’-shame and fear often drives the victim back to the place of violence. This vicious cycle needs to be interrupted by hope that help is out there waiting.

I am honored to serve on the Steering Committee for The YWCA Purse and Passion Luncheon held in my hometown, which offers shelter, counselling, legal services, relocation and job placements for  victims of domestic violence. I wish there was no need to be on this committee; unfortunately, the needs are great. Most  women who escape do so with just the clothes on their backs, they are in emotional turmoil- often gravely injured, broken and scarred; without doubt these victims are at the lowest moments in their lives.

Hopefully you are asking yourself, what can I do to help? First of all, assess the safety factor for yourself, instead of trying to rescue. Find a certified domestic violence shelter closest to your area. Keep the hotline number with you- or programmed into your phone. If the victim is a close friend or relative, encourage them-

  • to develop a plan by talking to a person they can trust
  • call 911 for help as soon as possible
  • *keep important papers, social security cards, insurance documents, ID, driver license, birth certificates and passports
  • arrange a signal with a neighbor to let them know you need help, ask them to be ready to call 911
  • if a situation seems unavoidable, try to be near an exit and away from weapons
  • teach your children to go to another room, how to call 911, and make sure they know a safe place to go
  • ask your healthcare provider, beautician, co-worker or friend to take photos of your injuries and make sure the photographs are in a safe place

Some victims are so overwhelmed- even the above suggestions are too much to handle. However, just making a plan is often empowering. Ask them to write out:

  • If I need help I can talk to:  add name and phone number
  • If they are not available I’ll go to:   add name and phone number
  • In an emergency I can go to:  put emergency numbers here with 911 in bold numbers
  • The hotline or number for local shelter or safe house
  • Keep this information on hand.

Making a plan is often the first step a victim takes toward escape. If you do not know a victim of domestic violence- you still can help.  Here is the Pocketbook Project:

What’s in your handbag?

  • Wallet?  Donate as much as you can to a local certified shelter, regardless of the size of the donation every bit helps. If you shop on Amazon- look for the banner, Amazon Smile– which donates a portion of every purchase you make to the charity of your choice- Mine is YWCA Central Alabama!!!
  • Tissues? Every shelter needs paper products! It is amazing the amount of paper products women and children need
  • Comb or Hairbrush? The next time you go to your beautician, give her the hotline number for your local shelter- so that she can have it on hand. Beauticians are often the first to know if a woman is being abused.
  • Medications? Let this be a reminder that your healthcare provider is also a resource for identifying victims of domestic violence- again, ask them to display or have on hand- the names of local shelters and a plan of action. Healthcare providers take seriously their responsibility to report suspected abuse.
  • Cosmetics? Women leave home with the clothes on their backs- sample or full size cosmetics could mean the world to a person trying to regain her balance. Cosmetics are vital to self esteem and when it is time to go for an interview- indispensable.
  • Paperback? Volunteer to read to a child in a shelter while their parent receives counselling and legal services
  • Cellphone? Call your local shelter or Certified Organization and ask how you can help.. Even cellphones which are no longer in use, can be re-furbished; with a gift card or phone card- these cellphones can be the difference between life, injury or death for victims of domestic violence!

Your very own Pocketbook Project can mean more than you could ever believe…

‘Every woman deserves a purse of her own.’    Susan B. Anthony


Let me tell you about Purse and Passion’s- Our Place, since it was founded in our small county in 2009, we have been able to provide legal assistance, court advocacy for more than 5000 victims! And we have provided safe shelter for close to 500 women and children. In 2015, Our Place, the only certified shelter for victims of domestic violence in our county provided:

  • shelter for 86 women and children who were no longer safe in their homes
  • provided legal services to 66 victims
  • guided 449 victims through the complex legal system with our court advocacy program
  • provided support groups for 18 women and children
  • as a bonus program-Prom Dress Giveaway which often helps identify at-risk teens we provided free prom dresses for 20 high school girls in need.

All funds raised at our Purse and Passion Luncheon remain here- in our hometowns! We provide:

  • case management and crisis counselling
  • food and re-housing assistance
  • financial literacy programs (this is different from not knowing how to read- it is knowing how to manage money)
  • community outreach
  • healthy relationship education
  • and free legal assistance.

Wow! That’s a lot! Right now, we are working very hard to raise funds for our Annual Purse and Passion/St.Clair Luncheon which is our only fundraiser. The needs are great, our people are so generous and amazing. If you do not have a local organization- Go to: to find out more! We simply could not do this without the ongoing support of YWCA Central Alabama! You do not have to live in our area to help. A special thank you to my dear friend Elizabeth, who lives in New York- yet donates to Our Place! Her help and your help saves lives. Please remember –

 A house is not a home unless everyone inside is safe.

Love y’all, Camellia

*This is Camellia’s Cottage- post #100, the longest post offered thus far. To honor that milestone- it had to be something worth reading, thank you for stopping by. If you or a loved one is a victim of domestic violence please know our hearts are with you and that there is help, you can start a new life. The blogging community is doing a wonderful job on highlighting emotional and mental health issues, we honor them, as well as WordPress, who gives the space, the platform to bloggers to speak their minds and hearts..

*C.H.A.O.S – is a phrase I first heard on a wonderful website for homemakers-

* ‘Fashion in History- Apparel in the Western World’, 1970 by Marybelle’s Bigelow- San Diego State College.

Amazon Smile – with every purchase you make from, a portion of your purchase will go toward the charity of your choice!

Happy Birthday, Beautiful…

America the Beautiful…


For a Grand Old Lady she sure looks good at 240 years old! All decked out in spangles, stars, and stripes- Red, white and blue ruffled bunting- she’s deserves a party! She’s survived natural disasters, economic depressions and wars. One war came very close to dividing our country in two.. That one broke her heart. I wonder what she thinks nowadays about her bickering children? United we stand, divided we fall, y’all. She’s given us so much freedom. We must never confuse our rights and privileges with our duties and responsibilities to serve Old Glory.  We are free, we are independent yet- dependent on one another to remain strong. It means something to sing- ‘and crown Thy good, with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.’ Our loyalty to this beautiful Lady, America, must include all. Lady Liberty still stands on Ellis Island, beckoning –‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…’

statue of liberty

We show our gratitude best, when we respect one another, when we treat each other as family, when we debate without being disagreeable or rude. So, let’s throw a party for America and prove our love for this Grand ol’ Lady! Show your love for Old Glory by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance- ‘…One Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all!’ Turn off the bad news, light some sparklers or candles, then sing about her Beauty ‘from sea to shining sea.’ America, may God continue to ‘shed His Grace on Thee…’


Happy Fourth of July from Camellia’s Cottage!

Love y’all, Camellia

*America the Beautiful was written atop Pike’s Peak by a school teacher named Katherine Lee Bates in 1913

*quote from the Statue of Liberty- written by Emma Lazarus- image from the official Statue of Liberty site-

My undying gratitude to Jeremy Miniard for one of my all time favorite photos- the Patriotic Porch- – use only with permission

If you still need some inspiration- the ever famous iconic Southern boy, Elvis Presley singing- An American Trilogy!

Simple Spicy Shrimp…

I admire food bloggers- their sites offer photographs of food that are so beautiful they make  my mouth water even when they use food I otherwise wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole! It’s doubtful I will ever be a decent food blogger- however food is one of my passions, instilled in me by my grandmother. She was the best cook I’ve ever encountered.  I’ve eaten in the finest cities in the United States, I’ve tasted some of the best southern cooking right here in my home county, but Mimi’s recipes are my touchstone. When I cook, I ask myself- ‘Would Mimi think this is fit to eat?’  This recipe is not one of hers but she would have loved it- so here goes…


Simple Spicy Shrimp

Alabama’s Gulf Shrimp is some of the best in the world, there’s even an annual Shrimp Festival! I buy Gulf Shrimp from my local grocery store which gets deliveries almost everyday- the seafood manager has told me if I am not going to use it immediately to freeze it, so I do. If you buy shrimp, let me tell you how old timers gauge if it’s fresh- the next time you are at the Gulf of Mexico-or in the ocean- scoop your hands in the water, smell it deep and long…that’s what fresh’shrimps’ smell like. Strong odor? don’t buy it!

The shrimp in this dish are large (21-30 count per pound) peeled, deveined and tails removed but you can use unpeeled, peeled with tails on, whichever you like; the truth is, if you keep at least the tails on- the sauce will be more flavorful. I used 2 pounds of shrimp. I also made rice according to package directions for 4-6 servings. and I steamed broccoli, adding some lemon zest and 2 wedges of lemon as it was steamed. And I purchased Italian bread and warmed it, then sliced it before serving. Do not add anything to the bread! it is used for dipping!

  • This one platter meal serves 3-4. The shrimp cooks in the ‘sauce’. I  say that loosely because, this easy sauce thickens as the shrimp cooks. The sauce uses a bottled dressing which I only use for Simple Spicy Shrimp. I prefer making my own salad dressings. I have tried to reproduce this Shrimp without using the bottled dressing and it never turns out right. Since it is so good? Why mess with it?


There are several brands for the Zesty Italian bottled dressing – I prefer Kraft. You may find Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper difficult to find, but it must be used as well. Old Bay Seasoning is readily available – usually in the seafood section. For the Simple Spicy Shrimp, I used-

  • 2 lbs. of Uncooked Large Shrimp (thawed, chilled and set aside- until the sauce mix is ready)

For the Sauce-

  • 3/4 stick of salted butter (no substitutes)
  • 1/2 bottle of the Zesty Italian Dressing
  • 1/4 cup of the Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper
  • Old Bay to taste- which for me is about a tablespoon.
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (to taste if you are sensitive to spice)
  • 1 tablespoon of salt (shrimp needs salt- sea salt is best)
  • Zest and juice of one lemon

In a large saucepan, over low heat-gently melt butter. Add Zesty Italian, Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper, Old Bay, red pepper flakes, lemon zest and juice, bring to a gentle bubble. Add Shrimp. *caution, do not leave the saucepan- do not overcook shrimp! Shrimp continues to cook even after you turn off the heat and it will get as rubbery as a garden hose if you bubble or boil it too long! Just let it get gently pink, stirring occasionally. Take off heat, let it shrimp stand in sauce as you are assembling the platter. Cut Italian Bread, drain prepared steamed broccoli and fluff up the rice- add a little lemon zest to the rice if you’re so inclined.

Before I started the shrimp and the sauce, I prepared a large platter as shown, with hydrangea leaves and fig leaves if available. Separate the rice from the broccoli- or shoot! you can just mix it all together – however you want to serve it!

With a large slotted spoon, remove the spicy shrimp from sauce- pour the remaining sauce into a bowl- you’ll want to provide small individual bowls for each guest. (You’ve gotta dip that bread into the sauce and slurp it all over the rice and shrimp and broccoli too!) Decorate platter with lemon wedges and serve! Let me know how you like Simple Spicy Shrimp!01ab07f152d8843cc5dacd87f62023a58483f2db78


The great food bloggers don’t have anything to worry about from me! Just wanted to give it a try! You know, I get sort of tickled- recently Birmingham Alabama was voted a ‘new foodie’ city and it is; the truth is? I rarely remember a gathering of any sort where food was not cussed and discussed- Southerners love food, they love to eat it- talk about it- fix it, tweak it, fry it- oh yes, and real frying is not like you get in fast food places either…We have always had good food, and good cooks, good bbq joints and fish camps, fine dining, dinners on the ground where tables are groaning with food and folks never leave empty handed- taking a ‘plate’ home. I guess I learned that putting a lot of a few great things on the table, with a little something extra- like a platter of sliced tomatoes, thin slices of onion and fresh cucumbers…truly make a meal easier and oh so good!

Love y’all, Camellia

Find cookbooks and recipes for Alabama Gulf Coast Shrimp Alabama recipes



I have an ongoing conversation with my garden. Nature speaks to me in a strange language- I see dressmaker details in flowers- I see faces in wisened old trees, I see fabrics- sheer, satin, velvet or nubby. When a stem or branch bends or twists, I see embroidery or applique.  I see elves and nymphs hiding beneath tree roots; butterflies and hummingbirds are flowers in flight-busy bees remind me of happy cooks and homemakers. Let me say it this way…I try to use words to describe things when there are no photographs; for instance-if you couldn’t see these beautiful hydrangeas– how would I describe them to you?

  • Blue Eyelet Bloomers?
  •                  Blue Flowered Bubbles?
  •                               Big Blue Pom Poms on a Green Chenille Bedspread?
  •                   Blue Clouds over an Ocean of Green?
  •  Blue Lace Lollipops on Pale Green Sticks?    or Pink Cotton Candy? or-
  •                         Orbs overlaid with blue crochet?

Hydrangeas bring on summer with the pomp and circumstance of a parade- and stay around until autumn like pale parchments as if they hate to see the season go…

They are not fickle- though they do tend to surprise me…changing in spring from pale green to blue then brighter blue or decide that they might like to wear lilac instead…

Before new hybrids- old timers would say to ‘sweeten’ them up- with lime…to get pink blooms. Just look at this pink hybrid! Reliable bright cotton candy pink blooms shamelessly flamboyant in a friend’s garden!image

And in the last few years, I’ve become enamored of these sweet lace cap hydrangeas!

A bevy of beauty whether in a bouquet or peeping through a fence- I have to admit I love hydrangeas!

I’m greedy, I always want more! So, as much as I enjoy describing hydrangeas with words-I have to share more- hoping you love them too!

Cultivating Hydrangeas is easy – great companion plants in a slightly damp, shady or dappled shade environments, under-planted with spring bulbs, hostas and Ferns…Try it!

Thanks for stopping by Camellia’s Cottage…remember if you sign up we will never ask-

  • Your age or your shoe size, we will never ask where you were when you got those chigger bites-
  • we will never share your whereabouts though you might need to let your momma know occasionally…

If you follow our blog…

  • We won’t ask if your weight on your driver’s license is the same as on your home scale.
  • We won’t ask what you were eating or how much when you got that grease stain – or
  • Why you didn’t put down a quilt when you got that grass stain!

We will never ask when you started dyeing your hair, why you cut your own bangs –

  • We will gently let you know that your dress is hiked up-
  • We won’t mention that the buttons seem to be pulling since you gained so much weight…

We like you just the way you are! Stop by anytime day or night.  We’ll leave the light on!

Love y’all, Camellia

Thank you to a fellow lover of hydrangeas and friend -Alyson, for the beautiful photos of your pink hydrangeas and the bouquet! Think you want to grow hydrangeas? Here are few resources from

Hydrangeas!                 Hydrangeas

Father’s Day…


This is one of my favorite ‘Southern Daddy’ photos- the man is not the daddy, he is the great uncle admiring his great niece! This child is dearly loved, has wonderful parents and all manner of loving kinfolk . The reason I love this photograph is- the man’s expression tickles me…the way he is holding the child makes me smile. There are  all kinds of Southern Daddies… fathers, uncles, grandfathers, stepfathers, adoptive fathers, and ‘friends who are the fathers we choose for ourselves’ – men who choose to step in when other men can’t or won’t.  On Father’s Day, it is important to recognize that everyone does not have a father- a birth father, who chose to be involved and be a good influence in the life of a child.

The man you see in the photo- presided over 1000’s of adoptions in his tenure as Judge of Probate. The old name was ‘The Court for Widows and Orphans’. As duty after duty was added- the scope of Probate Court broadened to include all types of services- help for the mentally infirm, the elderly, marriages, guardianships, counselling unwed mothers and fathers, land disputes, elections and far more. But for this man- adoptions were a priority. He said with so many sad things which came through the court- adoptions were some of the happiest times.

So, on Father’s Day, I wanted to pay tribute to the men who stepped up, who showed up, who made time, who gave their lives to us all – when we were helpless, when we needed them- those brave men who took care of, provided for, listened, guided and protected us when we could not help ourselves and even now. To the men who gave us a glimpse of the Personality of Our Heavenly Father; who were role models for generations of children. They may not have achieved perfection, but met our needs in the best way they could; to these significant men in our lives- who coached and cojoled, teased and took us seriously; Happy Father’s Day!

Love y’all so much, Camellia

*Camellia’s Cottage-resident baby magnet and the ‘man’ is my husband- Wallace Wyatt, Jr., retired Judge of Probate St. Clair County, Alabama -1988-2008. (Full name is William Wallace Wyatt, Jr.- also our resident ‘Braveheart’)- for more information see Wallace Wyatt, Jr. Honored

Ask me if he is a good daddy? Oh yes! My yes! I’m sure our daughters would agree!

Inspirational Father’s Day books from



Sanctuary:  sanc-tu-ar-y’ 1. Place of refuge, safety, shelter 2. a nature reserve, park,  forest 3. a holy place, sacred place, church, temple, shrine. Latin:  ‘sanct’:-sacred /’arium’- a container. That quiet calm refuge which holds our sacred treasure is most descriptive of sanctuary.

Our Sunday Inspiration begins with a quote from chapter 28 of ‘Four Days- the Lazarus Principle’ :

‘Noise can create a negative atmosphere; quiet stillness has power within our spirits. Muir Woods is a National Treasure near the San Francisco area. I recall vividly the silence of the coastal redwoods- the quiet of the massive forest was palpable- I could feel the silence. It is a sanctuary of stillness. To walk there is a meditative prayer.

We have some sanctuaries to share with you- the woodlands of Alabama, treasured sanctuaries of New York City, and Home.

‘Everybody needs beauty as well as bread. Places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.’ ‘Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the deep green woods.’       quotes by naturalist- John Muir

‘I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it…They are earth born companions and our fellow mortals…join the trees in their hymns and prayers…few are altogether deaf to the preaching of pine trees…their sermons…go to our hearts…hear the trees speak for themselves.’          John Muir

Sacred Treasures of New York City

‘No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty…’     John Muir

Sanctuary: a place of refuge, safety, shelter. Everyone needs shelter, however, a house is not a home unless everyone inside is safe. Home should be the epitome of safe refuge.

Precious Lord, lead us to Your sanctuaries- be they woodland, marble or front porches. Grant to us that meditative walk, where we hear Your Voice in the stillness of the woodlands, in the hush of cathedrals or as crickets sing their happy songs beneath our shelters. How blessed we are, by Your Sacred Hands which formed the woodlands and seas, which prompted mankind to build and preserve places of worship and others who are keepers of safe homes where children play, friends are welcome and the weary return. May we never forget those who chose sacrificial duty and responsibility over rights and privileges so that we can live free in our homeland upon this earth, which spins like a blue marble through the vast star strewn universe. Ever and always we must return grateful, broken and melted down by the Cross of Christ and the Love that took Him to it. May we never forget Who bestowed upon us these beautiful earthly havens. Remind us often of our duty to act as worthy stewards- not as petulant messy children. Dress us now, in clean starched shirts and pinafores, fit for children of the King of Kings as You guide us safely through stillness to Your sanctuaries. Hear our prayers, as we seek to hear Your Voice. Amen.

We are so thankful to have the opportunity to share Camellia’s Cottage with you! We hope you find a sanctuary some place near you today-  have a blessed Lord’s Day! Now don’t forget- God loves you and…

I love y’all, Camellia


Of special note: St. Patrick’s Cathedral was opened on May 29, 1879- 137 years ago!

and Thank you to fellow blogger Snapshots in Cursive for her inspiring post ‘Gnarled Trees Speak Volumes- which inspired the shots of trees in this post! Go see the wonderful things she has been doing on her blog!

Quotes from John Muir are gleaned from The Sierra Club-

Definition of Sanctuary was gleaned from Wikipedia-

Quote from ‘Four Days- the Lazarus Principle’ by Brenda Wyatt-

Photographs are from our personal collection with the exception of the wonderful gnarled tree by still water, which is by Jeremy Miniard (the first in the second section of tree images) and cannot be reproduced without permission.

I couldn’t resist adding one more- from Santa Fe NM where we are on vacation ! Loretto Chapel- can’t wait to tell you about this sanctuary!image

Book Review…



This Memorial Day if you are looking for a book to read- I can wholeheartedly recommend Pulitzer Prize Winning novel- ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr. If you are a history buff and are looking for a way to honor the servicemen in your life; or those you have loved and lost; even folks whose lives are impacted by circumstances beyond their control- who soldier on despite limitations and live inquisitive lives in dire situations- this book is for you.

The way an author strings together words into images fascinates me as a reader. ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ – is masterful! The author spent 10 years writing it; and what the readers receive from Doerr’s masterful art- is amazing. The sentences are like photographs. They are formed using just the words needed to convey one of the most beautiful, heart rending, historically valuable books I have ever read. That is saying a lot since I have read dozens of books just this year. If you are looking for a book that will forever remain in your Top 10, this is it. It is not a light beach read- yet would be perfect at the beach since the chapters are spare, short and concise. The writing is so beautifully rendered- savor it, be absorbed in the content. The New York Times 10 Best Books in 2014, puts me behind a few years in reading it, however- I will be forever grateful that it has passed through my heart, mind and hands.

Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting For Stone reviews All the Light We Cannot See in this way- “This jewel of a story is put together like a vintage timepiece, its many threads coming together so perfectly. Doerr’s writing and imagery are stunning. It’s been a while since a novel had me under its spell in this fashion.”

I share his sentiment- and would add that even though the book deals with harsh realities of war and life- Anthony Doerr’s book does not rely on coarse and common language to convey hard times. I believe the author could take a common fork or spoon and elevate it to an object of great importance. It is not a romance novel- yet you, the reader will be romanced by it. Let me share a few sentences with you-

Imagine being a blind girl, you are alone in a house, in a city which is being bombed-

  •  ‘A stone drops into her palm. It’s cold. The size of a pigeon’s egg. The shape of a teardrop.’

A young orphaned boy listening to a ragtag radio finding a broadcast far away, which will forever change his prospective:

  • The brain is locked in total darkness…It floats in clear liquid inside the skull, never in the light. And yet the world it constructs in the mind is full of light. It brims with color and movement. So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?’….

And this line – in the same broadcast the child is listening to- becomes a question he returns to often as the novel progresses-

  • Open your eyes, concludes the man, and see what you can with them before they close forever.’

Doerr uses phrases like ‘the sleet fell like silver strings’- ‘Doubts: slipping like eels.’ ‘Everywhere mussels click and sigh…Galaxies of snails. A story of life immanent in each.’ ‘Statues smile down from ledges like kindly godparents.’

I hope I have whetted your appetite to read this book, ‘All the Light We Cannot See’.  It is unforgettable. I hope you will agree, let me know! For those of you who are wondering if my ‘war’ with mosquitos has been won? It appears, at least for now, that they’ve waved the white flag of surrender in this month’s battle! Have a wonderful weekend!

Love y’all, Camellia

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr-