Indigo Blue…

Blue is the most beloved color around the world. The color of loyalty, honor, order, calm and healing- Blue is the color of the sea and sky. Classic Blue inspires trust, respect and invokes responsibility. Blue was named the Color of the Year 2020 by ™Pantone- the leader in predicting color for fashion and home decor. If you’re wondering how to spruce up your wardrobe, your home even your online catalogs- look no further than the Color Institute for inspiration.  For fall and winter, the blues are darker and classic. Even the green of this season’s color story has a hint of blue. The whole year has had several shades of Blue. Take a look at your catalogs- chances are you’ll find a hue for you!

Indigo is grown on almost every continent in the world. Here in the USA, you may be surprised to learn that the most successful grower and producer of dye was a young girl named Eliza Lucas Pinckney of South Carolina. Educated in London, her favorite subject was Botany. Eliza’s father, a British soldier based on the island of Antiqua, had brought his sickly wife and their two young daughters to the colonies believing the climate would be better suited to his wife. He was dispatched back to Antiqua, leaving 14 year old Eliza in charge of the family estate. He sent indigo seeds from Antiqua to Eliza to experiment with growing. After three years of experiments- the 17 year old had perfected, not only growing indigo- she was producing dye cakes. There was a great demand for the dye in England for military uniforms. During the course of her production in years to come- it has been said that the Emperor of China preferred the color of Eliza’s dye above all others, for it’s unique luminous color.

Eliza also revived the culture of silkworms, indeed her signature look was a Blue Silk Dress. Tens of thousands of pounds were produced by her estate. She married young, had two sons and her husband died while Eliza was still considered a young woman. At this point, Eliza was running her father’s estate and her husband’s as well. She had become a patriot. One of her sons signed the Declaration of Independence, the other became a Diplomat. Upon Eliza’s death at age 71, in 1793, George Washington, at his request, served in Eliza Lucas Pinkney’s funeral as pall bearer.

Indigo dyed fabric, the robes of Kings, became widely used in the States, as the common dye of Denim- the fabric of farmers, pioneers, working folks and of course for uniforms and business attire. Indigo is no longer widely grown in the US, yet in recent years, a revival of sorts, to make and use natural plant based dyes has occurred, among them is small batches of safely harvested indigo. Though, India produces what has almost always been considered the finest.

Be inspired by Eliza, use Blue in your own artwork, backdrops, designs and yes, even in business. This young lady used her love of home, family and botany to build a life through wars, crisis, loss and upheaval. Perhaps the need- or perhaps the color Blue inspired her!

I’m a believer that Color tells a story, before you read a word. Color is one of my top 9 Elements of Design. Make seasonal shifts of your own- with a generous amount of Blue!

Love y’all, Brenda

*Indigo was produced in Eliza’s day under very harsh conditions in my country, which began in the late 1600s and early 1700s.  The story of Eliza is told to inspire not to laud the production practices of Indigo.*

*This post went out recently and somehow disappeared from my feed! Please excuse any inconvenience this may have caused!

A Seasonal Shift…

Several years ago, after a storm, as if Neptune or a mermaid had tossed a treasure of sand dollars on the shore, I found these on a walk. Sand Dollars in their natural hues- earth tones, amethyst, silvery too. Natural wonders found on seashores tend to be my favorites all year round. Still. I’d rather walk the beach in early Fall. It’s true. Shells. The colors….Grays, Vanilla, Sandstone, Peach Nougat and Greens are timeless colors, yet not always associated with Fall and Winter. This year they are! Even our seafood is at it’s best from September to April- Royal Red Shrimp achieves that fabulous color when brought up to the air from the depths of the sea. Succulent Oysters- leave behind color combinations in their shells that are amazing. Use those hues often this Fall and Winter. These along with Sand, Sea, Sky, Purples, Whites and Silvers are the tints to use when planning updates to home, wardrobe, branding, photo shoots and more.

Just think- *Use the Colors of the Shore, for a seasonal shift. Bits of gray stone, sweet gum balls, Loblolly Pine needles with a pop of autumn color are inspiring. Those were seen at Bon Secour Bay during November- a classic color combo. Now, really if you want to feast your eye on Autumn Color- all of the red and orange tones are in just one bowl of Seafood Gumbo! If it looks good in a bowl? Chance are- your designs will too! Don’t be afraid to blend reds and oranges.

Tone the rich bright colors down with grays, amber, vanilla and sand- that too is a winning combo. Now, you know we must have hot peppers to season our seafood- guess what? Those shades of Red, Samba, and radiant Orange are among this year’s color palette- especially autumn on into early winter. Bring them all together in a tweed and you’ll see all of the vibrancy of Fall.

If the sea and sky are the main stars of 2020? And soft whites, pearl grays and shifting sands are the supporting cast? Well then, these vibrant hues are the resounding accent notes! You’ll find them almost everywhere- from beds of Zinnias to turning leaves…farmers markets and vegetable gardens…the colors of a new season are all around you. These are the seasonal color shifts you need right now.

Choose which ones you love and add a bit of color bring the new seasonal color to all you do. Your online presence, your product pages, your online shops will look updated and your brand will be in tune and renewed.

Love y’all,, Brenda

Time…

img_5706Whether we like it or not- Time passes. Think of a clock… before we can say Tick- it’s already become Tock. That’s how fast time goes by. Being busy is a good thing- yet as Thoreau said- ‘It’s not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is- What are we busy about?’ I’ve asked myself this question almost everyday in the past few months…‘What will you do with this time?’ Some days my mind is sharp and I’m clear on what I’ll do with the time…other days seem like a blur. Some days I’m busy and yet it seems nothing gets done. Other days, I’ve been less busy, more focused and gotten more done in one hour than a whole day through. That’s the problem isn’t it? Our minds are often so overwhelmed, then when the noise is turned down, we filter out the urgent and are focused and productive on the important.

I think my best gift is to be on the support team. I’m never happier than when I’m cheering on others. In my immediate family, one was responsible for the adoptions of 1000’s of children, another is an excellent reading specialist- untold numbers or children will benefit from her work, still another is a software engineer working to keep our country safe, and another is an environmental engineer. What they do might look like luck or magic- yet,  I know it’s a combination of intelligence, imagination, making the most of their time and hard work.  To say I’m the underachiever in this bunch wouldn’t be an understatement. Still. During this pandemic, what we’ve found out is that those who are the support teams are the most essential workers now.  Hopefully cheering my family on, being their personal support, made a difference in what they’ve been able to achieve.

img_5705So! In an effort to support creatives, here’s where I’m spending some of that precious time.

  • First, let me give you a critical piece of advice– if you write a blog that’s great, just make sure you’re active on at least one other social media platform.
  • Post about what you love, at work and having fun. History will be very curious about what ‘regular’ folks were doing this pandemic.
  • Just be yourself, show up in your feed- even if you’re like me and hate to show my face or take selfies, thank you very much! Don’t try to perfect- that’s not a thing anyway. Put as much of yourself out there that’s decent. ( That’s what Momma would tell you anyway)
  • Work and also have fun.
  • Connect with people. That’s what being social is all about! Engagement with others helps you and helps them too!

img_5703If you’re interesting in growing– here’s my Rule of Four plan I’ve had in place for a while now, I try to do it everyday and uses barely any time at all:

  1. Like and leave at least 4 comments on accounts you follow. I no longer believe just leaving a “like’ is quite enough.
  2. Follow at least 4 hashtags- leave at least 4 comments on accounts you don’t follow. 
  3. Like and comment on at least 4 Stories or Videos. If they leave a message for you- please make a remark!
  4. Find 4 small accounts per week that you aren’t currently following- like and comment on their feed. This might be my favorite of the four! When someone’s starting out of beginning something-  leave a short appropriate comment. *And please don’t confine yourself to just one age or type, find folks who are creating things you aren’t, who are living lives in different ways.

Years go by so fast, we’re never sure what we did with the minutes- we only see the results when if we look back.  Here’s what I know for sure- so much more is happening in the minutes than in the hours, days, weeks or even years. All of it accumulates into something- hopefully, it adds up to a life well lived instead of well spent. Not that time doesn’t matter, it does. Yet, just like money- how you spend it or save it matters less than how you’ve lived.

Remember life rarely ever works out like we plan. We get sidetracked or distracted by all the setbacks, never realizing this- Life almost always turn out like it’s supposed to. Supporting others is never wasted time.

Love y’all, Brenda

A Map is Essential…

img_5482This old map hangs on the wall in pride of place, it’s a favorite here at the cottage.  Over 40 years old, it’s a map of our home county. A symbol of so many things, still- what I truly love is that it has the backroads, the railways, the river and streams that are so unique, right here. The towns are marked, the main roads that take you quickly from here to there and still has alternatives for ambling through the scenic routes too. It has a legend, a directional compass and pertinent information. Having a plan is one thing, having a map is quite another thing entirely, especially when times are uncertain. And, you may have to adjust the method by which you want to go, for part of the journey.

img_5481Did you know that it’s not uncommon for mapmakers who make maps for others, to have difficulty drawing a map for themselves? Good planners don’t always plan well for themselves.

And, while maps are helpful- the best mapmakers will tell you that taking the first step is the most difficult. So many choices! Still. Here’s what they look for- Landmarks, street signs, distinctive displays, prominent public buildings, lighthouses, natural streams, bridges and unusual landscape outcroppings. The main purpose of any trailblazing effort is to find a way forward and more importantly – to find your way back.

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A good starting point, for any creative venture is to ask yourself– Why did you decide to go on this journey anyway? And, if the answer is merely- to make money, it will never satisfy you or those who would do business with you. Again, I say – A Map is Essential. It’s your strategy. Some say of strategies- ‘If you can’t write it down, you don’t have a strategy.’ You need a strong plan A and a solid plan B, even the dream of a plan C.

Are you stuck, lost, looking for adventure or at a crossroad? Maybe, the road is blocked or you can’t see two feet ahead of you.  If your boat has gone adrift or run aground, you’ll be grateful for a lighthouse! And, what of road signs? This one always puzzled me- Beware of Falling Rocks. Now, what in the world are you supposed to do about a rock in the act of falling? A falling rock is like Hurricane Katrina and what this Pandemic is too. It’s those things that come out of the blue- fall out of the sky or silently, stealthily come at you when you least expect it. Fallen rocks never come marching down the road in full daylight or give much notice when they do. Right?

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That’s why your personal Map is Essential. It gives you options. The folks and businesses who do well, when trouble comes, move quickly to adapt. When fashion designers began making face masks, I applauded. When restaurants had to close- the ones who quickly adjusted to Take Out Only- may not have made as much- still going out of business wasn’t an option they considered. Others, who have adapted the best of all- had more than one stream of income.  You must create streams of income, or enhance the business you have with personalized service. After speaking with well over a dozen folks who are doing very well with their blogs and other creative businesses, here’s what I’ve found-  Bloggers and writers are adjusting their messages, some are using this time to create e-books, developing physical products they can sell, designing for others who want an online presence and even becoming course creators.

And, while a blog might be their home base, still -if they were offering workshops before- they adapted to workshops to be done remotely. If they’re designers, artists or creatives- they poured some of their time into helping parents with children at home- one is offering printable art for kids, exercises, games and more.  Others are doing podcasts, developing online classes for adults.  I’ve been taking one myself! In fact, I believe they work, because when I was first starting out, I took online courses from this platform, @wordpress every chance I had! It’s how I learned to blog and more. Other creatives have formed cooperatives and collaborations to keep their spirits up and found new outlets for their work. Some are learning to create personalized experiences with potential customers. Others are offering health and nutrition advice.  Instead of letting this pandemic be a roadblock, it is time well spent.

img_5298Some counselors are offering one on ones, even professionals who were already doing business virtually, were ready even before they saw it coming. Photographers are finding outlets with stock photo companies as a new stream of income. The printing company I use, quickly made masks and liners available, then sold out, rebooted and even sell replacement liners too. I purchased these and am very well pleased.

Others, began offering a free service to go along with their product, even if it’s waiving shipping charges. Still others who own physical businesses finally had the time to deep clean, re-paint and style their places to make them ‘magazine worthy‘ and are uploading photographs online, with a renewal of their customer bases and adding new fans regularly.

*This is worth noting, develop at least one social media outlet, now. Two might be better. When I started blogging, Facebook and Twitter were very active, basically for friends, family and opinion; now, Instagram is truly geared to inspiration and business! And… you’ll find plenty of it there. For me, it’s like taking the scenic view!img_5301

At least one course creator has a live Q&A every week, because she knows that having a personal experience is what keeps her students onboard and becoming successful themselves. *I know this is true because I’m one of her students!  I also predicted early on that delivery services and professional cleaning services will see a boom in businesses. Every surface will need to be cleaned and this is repeat business.

img_4819Those who have reliable transportation are becoming delivery services for other businesses.  And, did you know that podcasts are projected to develop into a billion dollar industry? According to AARP magazine- actor Alan Alda, at 84, even managing Parkinson’s disease, is still going strong with over 70 podcasts, if that doesn’t prove any age can do it? Nothing can.

img_5479When you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall- look carefully at that map of your business, be willing to adjust, take the scenic route- dream a little, be open to new possibilities. Who knows?  You might be the one who is a trailblazer or even teaches the ‘New Rules of the Road.’  If you resist change, it’s frustrating. If you change your outlook and adjust- you might find new ways of doing things are even better than before. A Map is essential. Remember, with a map there’s always more than one way to get where you want to go!

Love y’all, Camellia

*From Brenda: For the last few months, we have been accepting a few one on one coaching sessions from time to time, it’s been a wonderful experience!

*I am taking a course called, Instagram Makeover by Kat Coroy. It’s made a world of differnce in my feed and more! I was honored to be asked to help her with some course updates! Find her  @katcoroy and take that course! Xxx

*We also participated in a podcast at the end of 2019, honestly, this may be an option for almost anyone! look into it!

 

Gardenia Elixir …

Just the thought of Iconic Southern Scents and my mind drifts to sweet honeysuckle, exotic jasmine, the faint lemony magnolia and deeply fragrant gardenias. To me, Gardenias are the glamor girls of southern flowers, they don’t wear out their welcome and we remember them long after they’re gone. There may be no greater mood lifter than floating a few blooms of camellias, a big magnolia or several gardenias on water in a cut glass bowl or better yet- floating on top of the warm water of a bath, which is unbelievably soothing.

Honestly, just those thoughts can fling on me a full blown case of a Magnolia Fever. And, the cure might be as simple as a Gardenia Elixir. Southern ladies, like many other cultures tended toward using what they had to make amazing extracts for use in all manner of ways, especially when more expensive extracts weren’t readily available, much like Rose Or Orange Blossom Water. Gardenia Extract is similar to those and must be made when gardenias are in bloom. Recently my friend, Rebecca from the great state of Louisiana, posted two ways to use gardenia blooms- one is an infusion of the blooms into heavy cream for her No churn Ice Cream . Rebecca’s blog is called Why I Baked a Cake, a must read. And if you’re on Instagram- follow her making gorgeous cakes! @Whyibakedacake

Another recipe in her post, is an infusion for steeping gardenia petals in a simple syrup- which I’ve dubbed Gardenia Elixir. Here’s how you make it:

  • Mix 1 cup pure cane sugar to one cup of water in a saucepan, heat until sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Add the petals only of 4-5 gardenias.
  • Allow to steep at least 4-5 hours (I steeped mine over night)
  • Strain flower petals. Pour into airtight containers.
  • I keep any extra elixir chilled. When used, the fragrance is amazing. And, I made several batches to offer as gifts.
  • Rebecca told me she loves Gardenia Elixir in Tea, Lemonade and her favorite is to add the elixir to Prosecco. I also love it in Limeade. I found having this unusual fragrant elixir on hand, certainly makes any occasion a very civilized event.
  • Gardenias bloom in June, the season of love. Often a suitor would give his sweetheart a corsage of gardenias. Brides have requested gardenias in their wedding bouquets, a gardenia was pinned to the pillowcase of new mother or near bedsides of infirm dowagers; and it was not uncommon for gardenias to grace blankets or wreaths of a beloved’s casket or to discover large evergreen shrubs planted in cemeteries. From the cradle to the grave, southern ladies do love their gardenias. Gardenia Elixir is just one more layer to add on the sweet gardenia’s history.
  • Love y’all, Camellia

    *All photographs are obviously mine.