10 Beautiful Ways to stay Hydrated..

948407C9-974C-4732-A031-DD6C00912C54These 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 I got 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-35C41FF2-F32E-4B4F-A0FC-2FB30FFB197F

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! DF8AEF91-2282-45BD-A406-CE4008D4B128

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!

C22A277A-EE39-48CA-BAC5-5CD9C734AD6D.jpegOne 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! 235A23C5-6851-4703-871F-D75471D83442

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.F05E8CD4-761C-4205-B005-5C25CF6558B7

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!

ADBF8513-BD28-42F3-AB00-C27A5F327BEDTip 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!79F2811C-5D5A-44D8-9EC2-0D16FC9DC7B9

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! 948407C9-974C-4732-A031-DD6C00912C54

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!F05E8CD4-761C-4205-B005-5C25CF6558B7

* All photographs are obviously mine! Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram- we’re posting almost daily!

Fresh Mint…

IMG_2684Sometimes I think Fresh Mint is a stepchild in the world of Herbs. An informal survey revealed very few use Fresh Mint often, but most Southerners grow it. Truth  be told, give Mint a soggy spot in the garden and it can be invasive- yet if you smell fresh cut mint- there is something so refreshing about it. I was out in the garden checking to see what was coming up and found a vigorous patch of Fresh Mint. I grabbed a big handful, stuck it some water; my hands smelled good and the kitchen had a nice fragrance. I began thinking of new and long neglected ways to use garden variety fresh mint. Mint, in the herbal remedy world is known to lift the spirits, aid in digestion, ease the stomach and sinuses; some say it helps improve circulation too. A small vase of mint on a bedside table or even in a bathroom would lend a soft fresh fragrance. I generally dry my garden mint by tying it in bundles and hanging it upside down to dry. Mint Tea is refreshing as a winter tea, and it is nice to have a sprig of mint to decorate an Irish CoffeeIMG_2356-but what of the rest of the year? Well… Southerners are known for their love of Sweet Tea. My grandmother made Sweet Mint Tea. You cannot make Tea sweet without making a Simple Sugar Syrup- (one cup sugar to one cup water heated until the sugar dissolves) Mimi added a packed 1/3 cup of fresh mint leaves to her Mint Simple Syrup. Strain the mint leaves before using. Simple Syrups when chilled will last a long time. I still make it up from time to time. Look at my Mint Tea!IMG_0109

Brew tea as you would normally, adding Mint Simple Syrup while the tea is hot. There’s no harm in gilding the lily– Rim those glasses when you’re ready for a glass of Mint Tea!

  • Grate the zest of a lime into 1/2 cup of sugar. Dip the top of the glass in the mint simple syrup, then dip the rim into the lime zest/sugar mix to rim the glass. Let dry for a minute.
  • Put a generous amount of ice in the glass, add Mint Tea over ice.
  • Squeeze some lime juice into  the Mint Tea-
  • Garnish with lime wedges and a nice sprig of Fresh Mint- honestly this is one of the most refreshing drinks you will ever have!

Before you know it- the Kentucky Derby will be here and a whole lot of folks grow mint to make Mint Simple Syrup to use in their Mint Juleps, and of course the Spas and fancy places are making up flavored waters- so why not do it at home? Southerners have always loved ‘to take the waters’ at Natural Hot Springs, now the spas have all manner of ways to mimic that experience! Make up a pitcher of ice water- throw in slices of lemon and cucumber- add mint leaves and stir. In the Southern humidity, we need all the hydration we can get, a pretty flavored water is great incentive …or, you could entertain the idea of bringing back the old fashioned Ice Water Teas and do it in style.IMG_0064

Several years back, we went to the famous restaurant, Serendipity in New York City with some wonderful friends- the girls and I ordered their famous Frozen Hot Chocolate! I made my own version here at the cottage and admittedly, it is messy but oh so good… Chocolate Ice Cream (Chocolate Mint would be good too!) scooped into a coffee mug, my version has Marshmallow Crème on top instead of whipped cream. To add to the fun…I brushed some mint leaves with melted chocolate and chilled. Chocolate-coated Mint leaves are an old trick as a palate cleanser but awfully nice added to a plate of shortbread cookies too! In the case of my Frozen Hot Chocolate, as a garnish-a chocolate mint leaf along with a stem of  fresh mint skewered a maraschino cherry! I dare you to try this as a quick and easy dessert!IMG_2677

Basil is a member of the Mint family of herbs, if you ever find yourself short of basil but long on mint; it makes a decent stand in for basil and some even swear by making Pesto using fresh mint, olive oil, walnuts and parmesan cheese. Of course there are mint jellies and mint sauces for Spring Lamb and when fresh Early Peas are in season – do like the French do- add shredded lettuce, a pat or two of butter then steam… for a twist on the classic French Spring Peas, add a bit of chopped Mint to garnish, careful not too much! Fresh Spring Peas with mint- a truly refreshing side dish.  I love to chop up whole bunches of Parsley, add a generous handful of chopped fresh Mint, add chopped romaine, sliced green onion tops, cucumber slices and the twist on this salad is adding chopped salami. Dress with lemon and lime juice, garlic and olive oil. Now, that is one refreshing and healthy salad!IMG_2115

Perhaps my favorite use of Fresh Mint in homekeeping, is a filler in flower arrangements- Mint is generally so plentiful and sturdy enough to hold up in bouquets.  I wish I knew how to make these into scratch and sniff photographs! IMG_0054

The fragrance of yard flowers- Fresh Mint and Rambling Roses is …well, amazing! But really, ain’t that pretty? I hope I’ve inspired you to try Fresh Mint. If not? I guess you could stand around smacking peppermint candy or  popping that Spearmint gum like a Scalawag. Oh me!

Love y’all, Camellia

* all photographs are obviously mine.IMG_0038

The Beholder’s Eye…

‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’imageI noticed when I was weeding the front beds today, that when I was yanking whole wads of them out, it felt more like being mad. When I eased the weeds out carefully I was more aware, slowin’ down does that! Weeding is a constant in gardening. By slowing down a bit, I had an odd sensation- something very akin to gratitude for the weeds, what?!? Yes you read that right! Weeds are place keepers in the soil to stall erosion, otherwise every downpour would muddy up the drainage ditches! These very place keepers caught my eye, before I pulled out those spiky things at the base of the irises a faint waft of garlic rose. I realized they were garlic chives! Probably a carryover from when I divided the irises! Garlic chives are not easy to find in garden centers, in fact they are highly prized herbs. Chopped and added to softened butter,  garlic chives add something nothing else can- to bread, a baked potato, a crisp cracker or even melted over warm shrimp. I was delighted to find them since the other patch I have has almost played out. But they don’t look right where they are and it’s not time to dig iris tubers so they’re staying where they are! The beauty of garlic chives is in the Beholder’s Eye. Weeds may be ‘fine plants’ waiting to be discovered. Take a look at the Oxalis below-imageAn old gardener complained to me once, ‘I can’t ever get rid of that old Oxalis, its everywhere!’ I know he yanked out, rooted up every one he ever found, they were the bane of his existence in his garden! Years later I was working at a fine garden center, around St. Patrick’s Day potted up just as pretty as could be, were blooming Shamrocks! The common weed was elevated to a fine gift plant! And imagine my surprise, while working there, to find the bane of my lawn, Ajubaweed, was sold as a groundcover! It’s the Rule of the Beholder’s Eye. Right about now in my area, the daffodils have finished blooming but…the foliage is all flopped over; don’t just run a mower over them or weed-eat them all up. No, no, no, I’m going to show you a ‘love knot’ for the floppy foliage- imageDaffodils need the food in the foliage to come back strong next year! It doesn’t take long…just tie the long stems into knots and they will look tidied up! The ‘Moral of the Beholder’s Eye’ is this- how we view everything whether plants, events or people determines their value, their worth. There is no truer saying than ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. The greatest lessons can be learned on bended knees  in a garden! So, put on your Beholder’s Eyeglasses and tell me what you find!

Love y’all, Camellia