Native Neutrals…

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Hotel St. Francis in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Interiors with neutral color schemes are my favorite. They are peaceful, calm and soothing. Perhaps the first lengthy discussion I remember having about interior design was at Bon Secour Bay outside of a restaurant named Meme’s. The driveway into this delicious dive was of whole and crushed oyster shells. I think I might have been 14 years old. My best friend and I got into a hilarious conversation of how we could use oyster shells as décor in the home. We  thought perhaps as salt dishes, beside a dinner plate to hold a few pats of butter, lemon wedges or even as powder room soap dishes; maybe a container by the kitchen sink to hold our rings. Of course it was all silly- but oysters hold a sweet spot in our hearts- where else do you think our love for pearls comes from? And just look at the beauty of the neutral colors found in oysters!

I am a native of Alabama, these are the neutral colors that I love.  A whole color scheme can be found in an humble oyster. Our families had met at Meme’s to watch the shrimp and oyster boats come in at sunset and to partake of some of the most memorable seafood I ever recall. And believe me, if you live in the Deep South- with all of its bayous and rivers, bays, streams and the magnificent Gulf of Mexico-you know your seafood! Alabama Seafood is some of the world’s finest!

Meme’s started out as an oyster bar. Oysters have romantic notions ascribed to them- probably because Casanova was said to have eaten dozens and dozens of the oysters daily. I knew a big ol’ logger named Bud– from South Alabama who had huge burlap bags of oysters brought up to his camp every Friday to feed his men- Bud said ‘Oysters keep their pencils sharp’…I was never sure what he meant by that. I can tell you this- Bud the logger wouldn’t take any prizes for dancing! He would hoist the women up off their feet and haul them around the dance floor like a stick of pulpwood! Oysters have a more genteel word that describes them best- Peacemakers.

Bon Secour Bay is in part a state refuge area, it is a small peaceful town of less than 1000 people, Meme’s of Bon Secour- was destroyed by Hurricane Fredrick in 1979 and was never rebuilt- Alabama Wild Shrimp is a point of pride for the bay area. Bon Secour was originally a French fishing village and it’s name means safe harbor. And isn’t that what we want for our homes? To be a refuge from the storms of life and the one safe place we can count on? Blessed are the peacemakers, the backdrop for all of the colors life brings.

Several years ago, we began renovating…I had always used color– navy, leaf green even peach with blue ribbons or periwinkle blue for girlish bedrooms-always with white trim. I had become weary of so much color, I have after all, led a pretty colorful life filled with colorful people. Colorful is a southern term for…well, a nice way of talking about folks and events that are full of personality and generous with memorable stories. Native Neutral interiors are fabulous hosts for colorful folks!  When the renovation began- for inspiration I turned to our roots-

  • Black cast iron skillets, old kitchen utensils, the Ironworks and Steel Works of Birmingham, white square columns
  • The faded barn board of my husband’s rural farm background, the Coalminers, the Wiregrass region, the rich Black Belt soil, the pale rock of the Appalachians
  • The French linen my grandmother loved, the pearl necklaces, the statuary
  • The marble quarries, the  cotton fields, the Spanish moss draped over live oaks
  • Pale heirloom silver, burlap bags of oysters, baskets and straw rugs, an old map of our county
  • Alabama’s white sugar sand beaches and more shades of white- pearl and oyster.

All serene, peaceful-Native Neutral colors. Camellia’s Cottage is not grand,  renovated and peaceful – she cannot compare with the beautiful Hotel St. Francis in Santa Fe…yet neutrals have a found a home here just as they have in the oyster’s shell.

 

Big Walter is the most peaceful being I know- that sweet feline has even gone along with my Native Neutral interior design scheme! There are no oyster shell soap dishes or a single crusty shell for my ring when I wash dishes- but I’m thinking about it…

‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God!‘ Matthew 5:9

Love y’all, Camellia

Visit: www.eatalabamaseafood.com    www.mobilemag.com  for more information!

Images are all mine- except for the glorious sunset which was shared by Jeremy Miniard. The images of oysters- on the right- with the oyster knife is from Mobile Magazine and the other two are from www.eatalabamaseafood.com The images of Bon Secour Bay and Meme’s are from AOL images

 

 

 

Flowers of the Southwest…

 

If I were to compile a list of things I love about Santa Fe New Mexico, the list would be very long and surely incomplete. It is called ‘The City Different’ and that is true; but it is also an ancient city with light so stunningly perfect, artists who are now famous, settled there to capture and re-create things of amazing beauty- one is Georgia O’Keefe.

Her paintings of flowers are iconic. I share her love for the Flowers of the Southwest…they are not so different from my favorite flowers at home. The photographs include some from my list of favorites:

  • Morning Glories- my grandfather greeted me with ‘Moan-in’ Glow-ree!’ every time I spent the night at his house- I can still smell the coffee brewing and bacon frying  as my grandmother fixed breakfast-and hear his lilting happy greeting whenever I see morning glories.
  • Hollyhocks- which are a staple in Santa Fe and Taos- are loved in the South as well. I once grew some, my husband fertilized them- maybe over-fertilized them because they grew over 10 feet tall!
  • Roses- I can never grow enough roses! The light of New Mexico does something magical to Roses.
  • Trumpet Vine – is a flower we consider to be invasive, yet it’s charming blooms climbing up a tree here or over an adobe building there never fail to amuse.
  • Lavender- is not grown reliably in the South’s humidity- I plant and re-plant it- the fragrance reminds me of my grandmother’s Yardley Lavender Soap which she would put in muslin bags among her linens and lingerie drawers. Of course we loved to take a bath with it too!

And that’s just my short list of flowers! The photographs have not been re-touched- they have been edited just to showcase the flowers- I think you’ll agree they are amazing Southwest beauties! And because this was a ‘mystery vacation’ – I have included two photographs of flowers which are made by artists and are not real- see if you can find them! Enjoy…

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Everywhere I turned, it seemed there was a picture perfect moment. All but the last photograph were taken in Santa Fe and Taos, the last one in the historic district of Albuquerque, New Mexico. See if you can find the morning glories! I’m still trying to identify all of the different species I saw, help me out! I forgot to mention how much I loved honeysuckle when I was a child- pulling the ‘string out’ and tasting the sweet nectar!So, naturally I had to take a picture of that!

How would it be possible to make a list of the things I love about this part of the United States of America? How would it be possible not to be thankful to our Creator, for using broad brush strokes of beauty all across this land? No wonder great artists are still inspired to come to this region.   Our ‘mystery vacation’ holds more…

Love y’all, Camellia

Mystery Vacation  – go take a look!

oops I goofed! here is the other pot of flowers that is not real- can you believe these are made from very thin wood? again, not retouched in color..

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