Add Mood with Nostalgia…

There may be nothing quite like roses and soft autumn leaves that brings forth sweet nostalgia for me… Roses past their prime or pink tinged rosebuds that are still full of promise. And I tend to prefer the softer side of Fall with the pink and red leaves.  A basket full of roses cut from my own, set by our picket fence are precious to me because I know they’ll soon be gone. Then as they wilt and dry, the soft scent is a reminder of a good season of blooms.

Old roses tend to be destined to be pressed or dried- held within the pages of a well loved book. I found an image of beautiful autumn leaves….there may be no more nostalgic image you could offer than a carpet of fallen leaves. Still. A wedding bouquet and the memories of a romantic getaway. We want to keep them all gathered in our imagination.

Mood. One of the most effective design tools we have. To create responses from our life’s imagination of simpler sweeter times. Sweethearts, proms, weddings… Nostalgic mood enriches emotional appeal- a sense of safety, security- of meaning and of times we felt loved and part of an affectionate community. To bring forth the ‘then and now’ – recreates pleasant moods.

In design, Mood is best used to stimulate good emotions. Recollections of sweet scents and exquisite events- puts us in a positive frame of mind. As a marketing tool- make the customer feel good, make them feel a stronger connection to your brand- form closer relationships to you through kindness, sentimental and pleasurable emotions. Folks are drawn to a more personal shopping experience these days. You might say- marketing and branding has joined the ‘slow food’ and ‘slow clothing’ movements, with thoughtful production of resources.

Good marketing sets aside the ‘overwhelm’- the tyranny of urgent demands on our time. Take your readers, your customers on a sentimental journey. Give them kindness, beauty and positive nostalgic mood. They’ll love you for it.

What better way to flourish and grow, than with a nostalgic sentimental mood? Creating Mood is a Design Principle you’ll want to employ over and over again.

Love y’all, Brenda

Light…

The gleaming car pulled up to the lamplit curb. A doorman saw the glint of a diamond stud as a bejeweled slipper gracefully stepped out, the satin ball gown caught the sheen of moonlight- he caught a whiff of jasmine and gardenia. She glided into the ballroom. Chandeliers reflected in the mirrored walls throwing sparkling light which competed only with champagne flutes and silver trays. A fountain splashed crystal droplets. And, holding court on the buffet table stood a shimmering ice sculpture. The twinkling of laughter, swirling sequin dresses and glittering jewelry created flashes of shimmering glimmering delight. Taking a flute of bubbly champagne, surely she would never forget this delight-filled night.

Okay I made that up Still. Even describing Light lends sparkle to the written word. Of the design principles I follow, there is none more important than light. Light. Number 1 of my 9 Elements of Design, stands alone.. Every other principle depends on light. Color, Texture, Mood, Shape and Form. Perspective, Balance, Space and Time. All of these principles depend on Light.

How do you describe a sunrise without light? or when the curtains close after a play- describe the darkened theater? The play of shadows on a wall. We sense color only by complicated systems of refraction of light (Please don’t ask me to go into all of that! It’s way above my pay grade.) The list is endless of how Light changes things- everything in fact. 

Whatever you design- art, interiors, landscapes, gardens, jewelry, floral displays, your online shops, catalogs, even your blog or social media sites. Light- my number 1 Principle of Design when Designin’ Your Business. Light is your most powerful tool and- The Crowning Glory of Design. 

Love y’all, Brenda 

Greens…

Greens, the freshness of them, all year round. In spring, I have to admit the tender leaves are such a relief. The first spinach salad with nothing but a simple vinaigrette, perhaps some slivers of onion and lots of bacon are a wonderful treat! We enjoy broccoli all year round yet, I do love it when we’ve grown our own! When grapes are in season, they are plumper and better than the rest of the year- and go with almost anything.

Green… eating green, is a healthy thing to do. When my children were small, I would say- ‘Eat your green vegetables- they have B vitamins, the Beauty vitamins!’  It must have worked because they are beautiful healthy ladies who truly love their vegetables, green or not. If I have a fresh cabbage, I cut it in thick slices and use it as a ‘nest’ for meatloaf or stuffed green peppers- it’s double whammy of deliciousness!

Collards are a favorite in the Deep South. I took some tender leaves, smeared on a cheddar, blue cheese/ pecan mixture; rolled them up. On a grazing board they were amazing- no cooking required. For the recipe- it’s called Camellia’s Bleu Pig A similar thing could be done with kale or chard- which is so beautiful.

A staple green vegetable  here, is the ever present Celery. Take a look at them- filled with a soft cheese mixture- then three stalks are pressed together Tied into bundles and chilled, it’s another addition to a charcuterie board. When sliced, they turn into Camellia’s Celery Blossoms  It’s amazing what a bit of crunch can do, look how pretty and fresh these simple blossoms are!

So? Why all the green? Well, I’ve just sown some salad green seeds, we have time for another round as we head into Autumn, and it’s always good to have easy nibbles on hand.

Then! there’s that Color I love talking about! Color is one of my 9 Principles of Design.  Green comes in so many shades and plays well with others…look at how pretty green is with dark burgundy salad leaves! For every color, there’s a corresponding Green that will add a bit of freshness to anything- your Wardrobe, Online shop, your Photography Backgrounds and Backdrops, any of your Designs even your Blog or Social Media feeds!

Green always sends a message of life, growth, nature and freshness that no other color can quite pull off. I personally think green is a neutral. Just think green leaves or grass- everything goes with Green. It’s just  the color to add those Beauty Vitamins to  anything! Color as a Principle of Design- is an amazing tool!

Love y’all, Brenda

Patina…

Patina… that magical thing that happens with age. I find it fascinating- maybe because I have a bit of patina myself. Ok, more than a bit. Still. Patina was originally a word used for a thing that happens to copper when it’s exposed to – well, life. Gradually patina came to represent objects that had been around a while, traveled through more than one experience- looked at life’s inevitable hardships and instead of becoming bitter became more beautiful and interesting- simply because it has survived and continues to thrive.

Patina holds within it, stories we may never read- through doors that have been the silent listeners to a time we’ve never known. They may not be shiny and brand new- yet, they’ve figured out how to be old, determined and useful.

One of the things I enjoy while traveling is taking photographs of architectural elements- especially those with patina like that wrought iron fence in New Orleans (oh, how I miss that old girl this year!) Patina is a good historical teacher who isn’t the least bit hysterical- especially when it comes to aging.

Now, it’s important to me that you know- I love all of you with all of your amazing talents, yet what always surprises me are those of you, who have a bit of age on them, seem more stable, less stressed, more inspired and less complicated or competitive- more willing to try new things. The ones of you who’ve realized that the last thing you want to do- is wake up and realize you didn’t do the things you were meant to do.

If possible, age should never be the limiting factor on potential. Patina is proof of timelessness- of a life fully lived. Just know, when you see patina anywhere- even the lines on a face, a bit of exposed brick, rust or peeling paint- you’re looking at proof that getting out of your comfort zones, staying strong, rising to the challenges, weathering the storms – results in something real, valuable and beautiful. Patina. Admire it. Aspire to it. Appreciate it in yourself.

Patina is a design trick used by the finest stylists. Take a tip from them. Use items with patina for your props or backgrounds. If you’re traveling, even in your own town- try to find and photograph patina. It’s beautiful and, I think you’ll find it everywhere you look.

Love y’all, Brenda

To Write Better, Read…

I’ve always believed that readers make the best writers. Any skill I have has come from reading books. I’m a collector of books. I treasure them. I also treasure handwritten notes and am especially proud of the few recipes I have which are written in my grandmother’s hand. It’s like having a bit of her still with me- unique to her and I would recognize her handwriting anywhere. I have a handwritten Cheese Sauce Recipe which has stood the test of time too. Written after World War II – it helps me realize that while ‘oleo’ was almost never used- it was during the time when supplies were rationed.

I also think journaling is a worthwhile pastime- in fact, I’m still surprised by what I was thinking or learning at the time…

My 6 year old sister taught 4 years old me- how to read and write. It set me on the path to being a lifelong lover of words and phrases. I collect them with no rhyme or reason except I like the way the sound or look on a page. I’ll take a few pages out with my hodge podge of phrases and words- then it’s almost like shaking them in my fist, then casting them on a page until I like how they look and sound.

Here’s a few notes from what I’ve been reading-

  • Alabama is filled with Dollar Generals and Church Spires.’ (It’s true you know!) and I could add- ‘we still have snake handlers and a Rattlesnake Rodeo. They’ve figured out how to season it up and fry it. I guess, that’s truly the safest way to take up the serpent and live.’
  • From southern author, Michael Lee West there’s this- ‘the bayous twisted off like spilled cane syrup, thick, moss choked woods formed a canopy over poisonous snakes and man eating alligators.’ Now, that! makes you want to visit my home state!

Reading made me want to draw a plan for an herb garden, I pored over that one for a month- it was partially laid out, then a tornado came through- the best laid plans were set aside- indefinitely.

I love true ink pens and grumbled that cursive writing wasn’t going to be taught- it’s an art form you know. A signature is a treasure, an identification, as unique as a fingerprint. Even a short handwritten note, a sketch or a snippet of calligraphy speaks to me.

Pat Conroy started everyday with poetry to get the rhythm of words, then he read 200 pages in whichever book he was reading at the time. Only then, did Conroy start his full day of writing. Mr. Conroy wrote by hand, on a yellow legal pad- five pages toward the book he was working on! Can you imagine! Perhaps that why Mr. Conroy was able to make a living writing books!

Creating content is an absolutely necessary skill in today’s world. If you fear you simply cannot write posts- Read! Then write, just as if you’re speaking directly to someone else or even your best self!

I repeat, ‘I’ve always believed that Readers make the best Writers.’

Love y’all, Brenda

Here’s Mimi’s Cheese Sauce recipe- because I know you want it!