Thank You Notes…

e662cc3e-e8ed-4539-b3c8-8bce54b7c88aA certain type of Southern lady may be thought to be snobbish because she only joins small groups such as sewing circles, book clubs, altar guild or exclusive clubs with limited memberships. I’m here to dispel this ugly rumor. It’s not really about being exclusive, it’s more to do with her ancestor’s obsession concerning proper thank you notes!

Recently, a southern mother was deeply concerned when her daughter signed up for speed dating…‘Marybelle, what were you thinking? Yes, darling I certainly want you to find a suitable match but speed dating? Just think of how many thank you notes you’ll have to write to find Mr. Right?’   Okay. I made that up but it could happen.

Southern mothers do belong to one large group- the one which is simply horrified that cursive writing is no longer part of the curriculum. Penmanship speaks volumes. Fine penmanship, eloquent sentiments and a unique signature spell Culture with a capital C. Sloppy handwriting, fill in the blank notecards, preprinted sayings with a signature which has reverted away from fine cursive writing, not to mention being struck through with mistakes, misspellings and has ink blobs, well…this just reeks of being low and uncouth.

Actually I’m exaggerating a bit here…today’s southern mothers are willing to accept neatly penned and simply worded notes of any kind as long as it’s not mass produced, pre-printed or electronic. Shiver. And! The best southern mothers try to make sure their offspring- male or female- stays well stocked with suitable stationary, pens and notecards with proper envelopes… Some mothers have even stooped so low as to include postage stamps. Save the precious children the price of a postage stamp and remember – metered postage is tacky. So are pre-printed well wishes, sympathy or thank you notes which only require a signature. Tacky is not an image builder. While monogrammed or personalized stationary is preferred- nice blank notecards are suitable for informal notes.

49e6806f-7ea5-4c4d-8f23-083a51f5a079If the all occasion blank notecards are hand embellished- well, it’s better…anything that has a personal touch is acceptable when engraved is simply too formal. I personally received a box of beautiful notecards as a Christmas gift, also I had picked up several packages of informal blank notecards during the past year. With snippets of ribbons found while I was putting away holiday packaging, I decided a bit of embellishment was in order for the thank you notes I still need to write- in my cursive writing of course. Using a paper hole punch placed in strategic locations, I threaded ribbon and even hem tape through the holes and tied them in cute bows.

78c0d6c5-2e97-48d0-8104-f2aee32d724cThat’s all there is to it. Still. I think they’re just precious. Oh my, how I do run on..Now. While I’m at it… and though it’s electronically transmitted– I hope my image won’t suffer too much for saying ‘Thank you’ to all y’all who have graciously followed this crazy blog in the last three years! You’ve made it so much fun for me, I hope we can continue to bring good things to your inbox in 2019 and hey! We’d appreciate it if you’d tell your friends about us too!

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine.

*The hole punch I use is from a scrapbooking kit, however what you may need to embellish your own  notecards is a hole punch with a longer reach than standard hole punchers – like this McGill 2″ reach craft punch from Amazon

Fall Wreaths…

imageFall Wreaths are an essential transition from summer to harvest, on Southern doors and interiors you will find wreaths and arrangements gleaned from yards and gardens. From the cradle to the grave, Southern ladies insist that:

  •  Knowing a good florist is essential, especially if you don’t happen to have a green thumb or know anyone who does. Please do this by recommendation- if you visit a florist that bases the business on lots of glitter, tinted carnations, specializes in funeral wreaths shaped like golf carts, makes holiday arrangements with canned snow and plastic snowmen  or Horror of all Horrors mostly uses artificial flowers– with as much grace as you can muster, tiptoe backwards out of that shop and run- don’t walk away. Resolve to never darken the door of that place again! It can only lead to social embarrassment.
  • Being in a Garden Club trains ladies in the fine arts of arranging flowers, especially yard flowers for their homes. Being on the Altar Committee of your church is a labor of love and if you have a member who makes an offering of artfully designed yard flowers all the better. Working Garden Club Holiday Houses is not for the faint of heart- it is as rigorous as SEC Spring Training! Beautification of your community is considered  an act of love and devotion as long as you do it with a stylish garden hat and matching gloves; are able to merely glow and grow, without breaking a sweat!
  • The very height of a Southern lady’s repertoire is to actually grow flora and fauna in her yard to use for home décor and special events. Any time there are especially auspicious occasions you can find florally talented ladies roaming all over yards that are known to have seasonal specialties, snipping and trimming from yard to yard to get up enough for a yard arrangement, which is highest form of floral gentility, good taste and refinement.

Fall Wreaths are part of the genteel Southern tradition. If you don’t actually have a granddaddy who owns a cotton farm, well- at least you can round up some cotton to make a Fall Wreath to grace your interiors or front doors. Cotton Wreaths are highly prized in Alabama. I fashioned my own wreath from cotton grown in the George Washington Carver Garden at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, which was given to me as a gift from the gardeners. I had my husband go to an actual cotton farm and chop cotton for me so that friends and family could have their own! Be sure and leave the ’empty cotton bolls’ on the stems- they are called Southern Stars!wreath

Fine gentlemen consider it a privilege to grow Muscadines even if the deer eat all of them before anyone gets enough to actually make a pot of jelly! Southern men might dream of Muscadine Wine but he knows the ladies will appreciate the vines for their Fall Wreaths, even if his vines aren’t successful that year. img_0120-2

Herb boutonnieres are a wonderful addition to weddings and funerals- Granddaughters of a large family I know, fashioned herb badges for family members- Rosemary for Remembrance and Lavender for Love and Devotion, for the visitation and then a few months later, they planted Rosemary and Lavender behind the gravestone. I know one lady who knew that a prominent member of the community would be wall to wall with funeral stands on his behalf. She decided to cut and wrap a massive arm bouquet of fresh rosemary to be presented to the widow at the gravesite- it was a sweet gesture of remembrance. Fall Wreaths can be made from fresh herbs and hung to dry for snipping later, Southerners love this idea. I admit to having fresh basil drying in my pantry as we speak, shamefully I did not fashion it into a Fall Wreath. However, months before a nightly nip in the air arrived, I cut and filled big galvanized tubs with hydrangeas which are drying for Fall Wreaths and filling baskets here at Camellia’s Cottage.

imageThis weekend, get outside and wind up some Vines, some of the most beautiful Fall Wreaths I have ever seen were made from Kudzu vines! Morning glory vines also make wonderful wreaths… even cuttings of long flexible shrub branches wind up in a quirky sort of way….the wreath on top of the white chest at the end of this post was made from Fresh Gardenia shrub growth- it just happened to dry into a glorious shade of brown, I added cotton to it, to make a Fall Wreath. It is one of my favorite wreaths. You can also purchase grapevine wreaths and stick rose hips, herbs or dried pods and berries along with magnolia leaves for a stunning Fall Wreath- you don’t have to spend a lot to get a lot of decorating magic. Go ahead and embrace the imperfection of yard finds. And please remember the advice from our Southern ladies- Yard flowers are the most loving, because they are a part of who we are.

Love y’all, Camellia. image

All of these less than perfect photographs are shamefully mine.

Spring Green Onions DIY fun project

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These green onions have been growing all winter in our raised kitchen garden bed! It’s so nice to have something green to garnish with or perk up a dish all year round. The idea isn’t new, but one that really does work and there is no way to make a misstep on this one! It is fun to do on your own but so easy you can get the children involved too! It might even be fun to tell them they are planting food for the little bunny rabbits! So, the next time you buy a bundle of green onions, try this- cut the root ends off about 1 1/2 -2 inches and set aside. See below:2016-03-11 11.50.22

You can take the fresh root ends and plant within a few hours or save the tops in a single layer until they are dry (soak them overnight before planting if you do this) – either way don’t worry they will grow!2016-03-12 10.16.45

Next, with the straight end of a wooden spoon (I keep one set aside in my gardening bag for poking holes for large seeds or seedlings, please don’t reuse for cooking!) Poke holes2016-03-12 10.17.50 in the soil, we have a little pot here, but your potted outside-the-kitchen- door herb pot or a raised bed like we have or a well prepared spring garden plot- even a pot of its own that is well drained will do! 2016-03-12 10.18.48

Carefully ease the root end of the cuttings into the soil, they can be planted quite close, press gently but firmly on the sides of the onion roots to make soil contact. Do not cover the entire root end! Water well and in a week or so you will see the green onions begin to sprout! 2016-02-28 10.39.00

Again these have been growing for several seasons in our raised bed. When I need some for cooking- I take a pair of scissors and cut the tops off – leaving the root ends growing for the next time I need them.

The Green Onion DIY project – add new root ends from the next bunch you buy and soon, if you need a little green for garnish or some chopped for a recipe you won’t have to rush out to buy green onions at the grocery store, just step outside.

The fresh taste is so good! I prefer green onion tops to chives, they aren’t so tiny, impart more of an onion taste, can be removed easier if the diner prefers not to have them and make a dish look good with a bit of green- on top of a baked potato, on a luscious cheese omelet, sprinkled across the top of macaroni and cheese or just on a platter of tomatoes.

I am always inspired by easy gardening projects that work, are useful and beautiful!  I can’t promise the children will eat them but they will have fun watching  them grow! Who knows? those bunny rabbits might leave some colored eggs in that patch before too long!

Isn’t this spring weather wonderful? Showers and all!

Have fun y’all, Camellia

Raised Bed Gardening Books http://amzn.to/1RfjO9T