Please Excuse Our Progress…

We are updating a bit!

Thank you for your patience! In the meantime, if you’d like to sign up for our blog posts in that cute little space over there > >>>>

Rest assured we will never ask your weight, height, shoe size or whether you tint your hair straight out of a bottle, or if you’ve neglected your charm school training. We will never ask your age, simply because you don’t look it anyway- still pretty as a picture and the very essence of health and vitality! We will never ask for or use your personal information- because really, that’s the height of being tacky. What we will ask for is that you will be on your best behavior and use your highest comportment skills- otherwise we will wonder ‘who your people are’ and worse – we might privately question the quality of your upbringing- so don’t go embarrassing your momma!

We love to hear your stories and hope you will continue with the highly witty comments; of course your high praise when warranted and… In return, we will try to maintain high quality postings and avoid things, such as the questionable use of double negatives, the horror of dangling participles and the inexcusable use of ending a sentence with a preposition. Still. Occasionally we do admit to mangling the King’s English when we deem it appropriate for emphasis.

Just know this- we are so thrilled you’re here! Thank you for stopping by, and you’re always welcome to stay awhile. Soon we will be back with more delicious recipes, a few hints and pinches and hopefully a few laughs as well!

Love y’all, Camellia

And a big P.S. We are posting fresh content regularly on Instagram! Hit that cute little button below and follow along if you’re the least bit curious!

Some Things Never Go Out Of Style…

20877054-9485-4571-9E48-88F0E310F2ABSome things never go out of style. Pearls. A handwritten thank you note. A good white blouse. A bereavement casserole or a pound cake. A kind word.

57DDD8B5-4814-47B7-8581-B0AD79AA7981A well cut suit and a decent raincoat. A genuine compliment. Well made shoes kept in good condition. Giving someone your full attention. Looking decent when you leave the house. Table manners.

CE7D9B55-9CC0-4A59-9F6A-7FC389CEF403Good language skills, even if spoken with a slight accent might make the difference in social situations or could call into question your upbringing. My grandmother sure drove this point home! Extending common courtesies. These things never go out of style.

I saw a disturbing headline recently that questioned whether the southern tradition of good manners is alive and well. Occasionally, I have to wonder whether that headline is true.

AD7FC119-65A2-408F-A6D4-5D3D7FE00A6ARecently, a sweet southern lady remarked, in her best southern accent, ‘Folks just seem so impolite, why just yesterday someone in a nice car behind me, actually honked their horn! Impatient and aggressive if you ask me.’  She was rattled to say the least. Okay, the two of us are… of a certain age. Still. She had a point and a nostalgic conversation ensued about good manners and other things that never go out of style.

CD92A979-5A2B-42CA-AC06-BE9ACA3558E3It’s important to understand that life is always better when we have at least a few genuine lifelong friends who stand by us ’til the end! So…no matter how many beauty contests you won or how high you rise on the corporate ladder- remember that you will always need friends and you will never be queen of everything! Since this is true- be the one who is willing to shine up and straighten your friends’ reputations and crowns without letting on that her tiara had slipped in the first place!

66AB7C8C-2897-4EFA-97A2-54BDCA467411Hospitality is important to friends, family and even strangers who might stop by…always be ready to offer refreshment of some sort. Be as generous as possible- the best hosts offer abundance… it sets the guests at ease so they won’t have to worry if there will be enough. And! Be the one who offers to add to the abundance by bringing a dish or drink if you are a guest!

18F26ABE-5E14-4D94-913E-357DF6ED18ADLearn and follow the basic rules of polite social engagements. Find out ahead of time what the occasion entails and the dress code. Always take a hostess gift, offer to help with set-up or clean up, leave at a reasonable time and don’t be the guest who wears out your welcome, then- for heaven’s sake – remember to write some sort of complimentary thank you note!

 

 

Come down off your high horse. While you value your opinions- others have their own perspectives which may differ. Show respect. Avoid discussions that could get heated. Is whatever you think, worth expressing, if it means losing important friends and relationships?53D8E6A0-6B0B-4AAA-AA65-7B34C0525218

And while I’m at it- limit gossip, I’m not sure it can ever be eradicated…just know when talk has gone over the edge from idle gossip to just plain meanness. No amount of saying, ‘Bless his heart.’ ‘We need to pray for her.’ Or passing unfair judgement ever made anyone look better! If you look back on your life…you might find that we are all just one bad decision away from being in the same dilemma- we’ve taken so much pleasure in passing along!706E302B-54B3-446B-ADDF-513ACF10DC2B

Thank you for letting me preach a little here…This judgement of others would include religious beliefs that folks hold dear. My own faith is important to me- yet that doesn’t mean I have all the answers to life’s dilemmas.450D5F7F-CA36-4871-A080-8B886E1F8C85

I recently read that a certain eastern religion believes in Smile Energy- I don’t know all of the particulars…yet I do know this- life just feels better and lighter when I smile than when I frown! Speaking of making a face… please don’t! Would you rather be known for your smile or your sour attitude? F1591DBC-BE6B-4B88-9BF6-3EC2C4B96B4E

If you belong to an organization, participate! Be the one who offers encouragement but is also willing to gather the kindling, bring the marshmallows and light the campfire! Let the leader lead, be teachable, become part of the sisterhood or brotherhood.

 

 

I speak from experience on this- find a group you can support wholeheartedly and the quality of your life will improve in direct proportion to your enthusiasm.  And, while I’ve been talking about things that never go out of style… offering support to others might be the one thing that never goes out of style! Support is best expressed by one of my favorite authors…

‘Support is a hand held when you’ve failed, a smile in the morning when you leave to face the world, a laugh shared till your sides ache and tears flow down your cheeks.’ By Mary Alice Monroe from ‘Second Star to the Right’

A ‘hand held’ when the day hasn’t gone so well or you need support…or even as a sign of affection- costs nothing but could mean everything!

82D70BF6-F81E-4077-B124-50C3673CC7EFThough darlin’- our southern mothers would add- ‘Limit those public shows of affection to hand holdin’ or a peck on the cheek, unless folks get the wrong idea about you, then, question your upbringing!’ Our southern mothers’ advice is another thing that never goes out of style! Oh me, how I do run on!

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are from my private collection with the exception of the ‘friends’, the hospitality queens with the turkeys and the ‘ugly face’ which were found via Pinterest so long ago I haven’t been able to run down the source- if they belong to you please let me know so I can credit you properly! Thank you. * The photos I chose for this post were chosen for subject matter only. They are fine beautifully mannered folks!

 

Traditional, Eccentric or Colorful…

Southern women are traditional, eccentric or colorful creatures; sometimes we are just one or the other- a straight up Traditional, an Eccentric, or a Colorful Southern woman-though sometimes you will run across an adorable combination of two out of three… If you’re blessed above all others- you will find that exotic Southern woman who is the delightful combination of all three!

Southern women take writing thank you notes, having impeccable manners, paying our respects and dressing appropriately seriously, with an emphasis on appropriate as in Behavior with a capital B.  The traditions of Southern Hospitality are things we won’t budge on too often. A Southern woman would have to have a very untraditional excuse to get by with it.

However, if a Southern woman can pull off a certain flair, well we might call her colorful. She’s the one who can wear a caftan when everyone else has on a cocktail dress-  the one who can go natural and still look good; or can insert very carefully an outrageous word or two. That’s Colorful.

My mother always said my grandmother had ‘radar’ or ESP- ‘You can’t pull anything over on Mimi, never could.’ was one way of putting it…Someone who had ESP or home cures or even weird dreams that could be interpreted and yes, could read minds- that Southern woman is Eccentric…She has her tonics, her potions, her keen mind, her Almanac and her ways. You don’t want to live your life without knowing all three types- or the combinations.

So, let me just say, after you have passed along all of the social graces and insisted they must be followed at all costs or the dreaded label of ‘trashy’ will follow you all the days of your life…After you have done all you can do to train up a Southern daughterthen you can add this delightful rule:

‘Always have at least one friend who’s up for anything.’

Right? Y’all know I’m right. I can hear the applause…

Love y’all, Camellia

This photo was found on http://www.seniorsingapore.com- am not sure of it’s origins, but I think the Cotton Candy ladies are hysterical.

Foundations…

women in girdles

There was a time when language was carefully and kindly spoken- where even women’s undergarments were called foundations. The vintage photograph shows women of all shapes and sizes beautifully.  Women who were statuesque were admired. I personally think that Margaret Mitchell contributed to this admiration when she had Scarlett say- ‘I’ll never go hungry again!’ The great equalizer after the War between the States was that all Southerners were poor. Struggling through Reconstruction, some held on to their dignity, some got just plain mean, some had never known anything else but being poor- scraping out a living from red clay soil, while the Yankees were in the process of re-building us. Scarlett O’Hara decided to work with the Carpetbaggers, Scalawags and Yankees, and like it or not- she did succeed in never being hungry again.  Southerners developed a distaste for Yankees. My grandmother said it best- ‘I know why Yankees are so harsh- they’re cold all the time and they don’t eat right’. And actually the South does have better food, that’s probably why we struggle with Obesity. I mean when you fry a whole lot of stuff like:

  •  Green Tomatoes
  • Chicken
  •  Catfish and Okra

Well you get the picture. Fried food made inexpensive food just tastes better.

Just when the economy was getting better- 64 years after the war had torn us apart…the Great Depression knocked a whole lot of folks back down. Many in Alabama had always been poor, now it was worse.  I recall asking my husband’s grandmother one time- ‘Is she poor?’ and she answered – ‘Oh yes honey, she’s real skinny’.  Grandmamas was a tall, statuesque woman who wore hats and probably knew a thing or two about folks going hungry. And she fed more than a few folks all the years I knew her.IMG_0531I completely adored her! Our older daughter is named for her. A big part of the foundation of her life was to make sure her table was laden with food, the extra produce was canned and preserved. And while she was a ‘true daughter’ of the confederacy- I never detected the least bit of mean-spirited nonsense in Grandmamas at all toward anyone, I never heard a slang term used by her or about anyone. I wrote in my journal- ‘When Grandmamas hugs me, it is like sinking into a feather bed.’ She was ample, she was generous, she was bighearted. She wrote me five page letters that she called ‘newspapers’, giving me all of the latest triumphs and tragedies from family, friends and community.  It is well known in the South- that

  • Pyrex dishes were filled to the brim- taken to new mothers, sick folks, church picnics and to the bereaved- why, a glass sea of Pyrex dishes could be seen anywhere you went!
  • Roasting pans produced large Hens, Roasts or Hams
  • Iron skillets put forth the sustenance of Southern Life, Fried Chicken or Cornbread
  • Canning jars not only got people through the long winter but added an extra bit of flavor with pepper sauce, jams and jellies, pickled peaches or cucumbers. These were the tools they used to sustain us throughout our lives.IMG_1393

The foundation Grandmamas laid- of tables laden with food- was passed down to her daughters. My mother in law was known for baking a Coconut Cake for anyone who just mentioned loving her cake! She once made dozens of fried pies for the entire JSU Marching Southerners Band Dorm, when our daughters were there! That’s bighearted, abundance! The words- full-bodied, lush or abundant when applied to wines, gardens or buffet tables give the most pleasant mental images. When applied to a woman’s statuesque full figure, not as much. And that’s a shame – there are days when I would love to receive a hug that felt like I was ‘sinking into a feather bed’.  Our Grandmothers were of a genteel generous generation who spoke kindly and made sure that no one, no matter who they were- left their homes empty handed.

Now, I’ve gotten all historical on you because it occurred to me that the Foundation of Southern Food is Big Hearted, Generous and Abundant. And while I applaud the efforts to eat healthy- we can’t deny that much of the move back to all natural fresh food– is not new- it is just newly discovered. Homegrown fresh food was all we had just a couple of generations ago- at least where I come from!

Chicken, Casseroles, Shrimp, Grits, Cornbread and Pound Cake are all big hearted and generous- all make up the Foundation for great Southern meals. Just plain wonderful as they are- still Chicken, Shrimp, Casseroles, Grits, Cornbread and Pound Cakes accept other ingredients graciously. I’ll leave it for another day to expound on these wonderful combinations.

Since I’m being nostalgic today-I recall when ladies and gentlemen spoke with genteel courteous language. The foundation of their lives was rich in the traditions of good manners, speaking well and good regardless of poverty or wealth.  Rough, coarse and common talk is the stuff of honky tonks. Language that separates, tears down or degrades is worthless to  society.  Perhaps we could blend diverse ingredients into polite disagreements and dignified conversations, like a good spicy Gumbo or a comforting Casserole.. I long for it truly.

Love y’all, Camellia

Image of vintage women in foundations- from a wonderful site- http://www.fortieswardrobe.blogspot.com Images of chickens, casserole and shrimp are from AOL images and may be subject to copyright. Image of Grandmamas, kitchen implements, the cornbread, pound cake and grits are from our personal collection.

We’ve been nominated for an award!!!

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‘We’ve been nominated for a Liebster award! Can you believe it Walter? I hate to disturb your nap, but Camellia’s Cottage has been nominated for an award!’~ Walter is looking at me like I’m crazy but Allie Mac, Brenda and I are excited around here! I mean, an award? y’all…really?photo Let me tell you what it is…The Liebster Award is given to new bloggers by another blogger. A big southern ‘Thank you darlin ‘- goes to an amazing blogger -Agatha Chocolats ! I think I’ve gained weight just looking at her blog with all of that chocolate! You have to go see what that little Southern girl is up to! To thank her properly here is a thank you note especially for you, Agatha- imageI like Agatha’s blog because of the images she uses- some are even short video clips, the 13 recipes she does once a week, the unusual combination of mystery and chocolate is intriguing and the playful, tasteful way she produces her blog. Currently it has to be my favorite! She has inspired me to be a better blogger.

Agatha had some questions for me when she nominated Camellia’s Cottage-

  • What would be the motto of your blog? Agatha, I would have to say, ‘Our Sweet Home in Alabama ‘.
  • What is your favorite childhood book? Hands down, it’s ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ – I love the question in it- ‘How do you know you’re ‘real’? And the reply, ‘You know you’re ‘real’ when your eyes fall out, your fur gets loved off and you are very shabby ‘ – by that definition, I am well on my way to- ‘becoming real’!
  • What is the best pairing for chocolate? It took one second to answer that one! Coffee!
  • What forms of social media do you like best when connecting with your readers outside of your blog? I’m old timey here, I would love to chat with them by phone or at an old fashioned ‘tea’ .
  • If you could invite 3 people (living, dead, fictional…anybody!) who would you invite? Well, darlin’ I would have to have 2 parties or one ‘dinner in the ground’! If I could have them back for just one meal, I would choose my grandmother, my husband’s grandmother and my precious mother in law for the first party. For the second party I would invite the ever inspirational Jesus Christ, who attended and even served some of the most miraculous meals ever! Then, C. S. Lewis,  one of the most scholarly and prolific authors ever! And of course, Thomas Jefferson- whose wide range of interests never fails to amaze me!
  • What would you serve? Agatha, I would want the ladies to cook for me! My grandmother’s turkey and dressing, my mother in law’s famous fresh coconut cake and my husband’s grandmother made delicious ‘southern baked-with-brown-sugar acorn squash’! For the men I would serve Parisienne Chicken, steamed broccoli, Sweet Orange Rolls, and a Mandarin Orange/toasted almond salad.
  • What are your 5 best qualities? Well now, that’s a hard one- I suppose (1)my sense of humor, (2)my love of place, (3)I hope I am creatively inspirational, (4)my concern for victims of poverty and domestic violence and the welfare of children; and (5)I would never want anyone to leave here- hungry or empty handed.
  •  What is the best thing covered in chocolate? Agatha! I hate being pinned down but I would have to say-  my homemade English Toffee!
  • What is your passion? My threefold passion is a love of learning, reading and writing, all of which come together at Camellia’s Cottage.
  • If you had 3 wishes what would they be?  Bless your heart, who wouldn’t want 3 wishes? (1)I wish Alabama could be experienced, not by the headlines, but by her natural beauty, a place where talent and  technology rub shoulders with farmers, football players, fashion designers and fishermen, where world renowned chefs and home cooks learn from each other; where goodness and greatness show their generosity regularly and where writers and publishers, art and industry exist on a level barely acknowledged; where kind gentle folk work hard, love their families and appreciate what true southern hospitality really is.(2) I wish I could read at least 100 books in 2016- I’ve read almost 50- so I’m making a good start, and finally, (3) I wish folks would choose watching, listening and reading things that aren’t loud and cynical ( where are Huntley/Brinkley?) but factual news which would inform and fill us up with hope and goodwill- I think those things should start with me and hopefully Camellia’s Cottage will do that.

Finally, Agatha Chocolats asked, which is the my most favorite published blog post? No contest! It was the least ‘liked’ or noticed on Camellia’s Cottage- called ‘ Lookin’ for Fame?’ Posted on March 23, 2016, about the amazing music, talent and recording genuises in the ‘Shoals’ of Northeast Alabama -I hope it will inspire you to at least see the ‘Muscle Shoals’ documentary! here’s a link- https://camelliascottage/2016/3/23/look-in-for-fame And we hope to do a part 2 to go with it, because world famous fashion designers, Billy Reid and Alabama Chanin are doing amazing work up that way too!

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There is more to accepting this award, including my personal nominees for the Liebster Award, which I will do in my next post…

In the meantime go take an indulgent visit to- Agatha Chocolats @ https://agathachocolats.com !   Love y’all, Camellia

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