The Saga of the Easter Dog…

image  Because my birthday is close to Easter, when I was a little girl, my mother was going to make me a birthday cake; she bought a 2 piece metal cake pan molded like a sheep. imageI was a scared-y cat with a weak stomach, so I wasn’t sure if I could actually eat a sheep shaped cake. My older sister was a born prophet- she said ‘that cake’s gonna look like a dog’.  Baking commenced, the batter began to rise with the sheep’s ears getting singed in the cake tins. I was in a state! When the cakes came out of the oven, my sister said again …’that cake’s gonna look like a dog’… Mother told us to stop worrying- by the time the white icing was swirled on the sheep cake, and shredded dyed green coconut grass was put around the cake it would look just like an Easter Lamb. I looked at the burnt ears and watched as she trimmed its ears- I cringed looking at it! I thought it hurt the sheep~ surely that sheep could feel it’s ears being trimmed. It didn’t help that my sister, the miniature prophetess kept sayin’ the cake looked like a dog! The sheep cake fell over more than once… and just when Mother got the white icing ready to swirl on… the head fell off of the sheep/dog cake! Cryin’ commenced, wailin’really… ‘Y’all get outside and play while I work on this cake!’ We went outside ~ my sister, the pint sized prophet with the shiny brown hair that curled in all the right places, was running and playing while I, the cowlicked black haired, green eyed scaredy cat was sniffing and trying to get hold of myself. Mother finally let us come back inside… and guess what? the sheep cake did not look like a dog! It looked like a big ol’ white fluffy Easter Egg with green coconut and jelly beans surrounding it! How was I ever going to eat a headless sheep disguised as a Prehistoric Chicken Egg! And where were the candles going to be? Dried out, days later -the cake was dumped in trash….the cake pan went in the cabinets and was never used again. Decades later, all grown up~ I was collecting, of all things ~ sheep! I asked Mother if she still had the Sheep Mold…and I am not lyin’, Mother had given that sheep mold to a lady whose husband’s nickname was Jellybean! They had a yard sale at Jellybean’s house, the cake pan sold ~ who knows where it went? Mother felt bad about it…she found another one for me. I never made a sheep shaped cake! The trauma of the ‘sheep/dog/egg’ put a stop to that~ it was put on display with the other sheep at Christmas and Easter …until this year. Ok, y’all know where this is goin’ don’t you? With fear and trepidation, the project was undertaken to see if a sheep cake could actually be baked… imageFour days…I worked on this cake! A dense cake must be the answer~ a brownie mix was stirred up; sure enough the ears  began to burn, I pulled cake out of the oven, carefully scooped some mix from the stomach of the sheep to the ears. Oh gag and oh lord, finally that cake was baked…slightly burned ears but hey, that could be trimmed off…umhmm. I chilled the cakes. I made a thick chocolate filling. I decided no fluffy white icing for sheep wool. I would not use store bought ‘eyes’ either, who wants a sheep with a ‘surprised look’, right? The day before Easter, I melted semi-sweet chocolate. I grated milk chocolate to look like ‘wool’. After I poured the chocolate and set it up as a trial run, I thought ~ this thing looks just like a dog ! Well let me tell you right now sister, I was not going to dye any coconut to surround it! I had already tried and failed to make sugared violets! Oops I’m tellin’ on myself! I was nauseated from eating nearly a whole bag of jelly beans to calm my nerves! My sister~ who rarely uses her gift of prophecy now -told me it would be ‘cute’~ she seems to have switched to the gift of selective lying. I knew different but I kept going … a crack formed on the back of the neck! Oh no, please don’t let that dog head fall off! In the refrigerator the cake went…good, the cake firmed up! more chocolate was poured, more chillin’ ~ I was sort of horrified that there was now a good $20 worth of chocolate in a cake that wouldn’t be fit to eat! Out of the mold, the cake looked just like a Dog! the shaved chocolate was sprinkled around…I was sure it would fall over if anybody looked at it crooked! I surrounded it with Cadbury Chocolate mini-eggs…took a ‘beauty shot’ or 20 maybe…over and over the thought…this thing looks like a dog! She was right! I texted her a photo and told her it looked like a dog and further that cake was so hard it would take a chainsaw to cut it! We got so tickled!  For some reason in the midst of laughing I decided to just accept the idea of an Easter Dog! The moral of this story is –

Bakers,do not try this at home, just bake a batch of brownies. Wait for those prophecies, sometimes it takes years before they’re fulfilled. Embrace the goof-ups in life. They can turn into the funniest moments of your life!

Turns out when we got up the nerve to cut the Easter Dog ~ guess what? the tail section isn’t that bad…let’s just hope that dog head is dried out before we get to it…wait a minute, who’s rev-vin’ up a chainsaw in the kitchen?

Live, love and laugh y’all…life’s short! Camellia

The Sweet Beauty of Easter …

We’ve had a beautiful Easter Season at Camellia’s Cottage. We hope you enjoy the beauty in these photographs. You know – we just had to include at least one Easter Bonnet! Love y’all, Camellia

Easter Eggs

The sweet sleepy expressions on these Easter Eggs inspire me to think of the potential of a single egg and imagethe special traditions which include eggs- particularly at Easter. Since the early 1600’s eggs were mentioned in connection with the Paschal Vigil which is called Holy Saturday, a religious ceremony commemorating the time when Christ lay in the tomb. The hard shell of the egg represented the stone of the tomb and the inward parts the symbol of rebirth, when a bird hatches from the hard eggshell with new life. The empty egg shell therefore represented the Resurrection; the empty eggshell is a reminder to Christians that Christ rose from the grave and that those who believe can experience life eternal. Easter Eggs or Paschal Eggs as they are often referred to in some cultures were given with a greeting ‘Christ has Risen’, the eggs were joyful gifts of these enduring beliefs in the Christian faith. And while they were not written about until the 1600’s historians believe that the custom of giving Easter Eggs dates back to Christians living in Mesopotamia, who stained the eggs red to symbolize the shed blood of Christ. Some cultures, particularly in Eastern Europe decorated eggs in elaborate ways, each color being symbolic of their faith. White for purity, Red for the Blood of Christ, Green for eternal life and Yellow or gold symbolic of Christ the King. (these colors vary in significance). Out of these traditions came the Easter Egg Roll or Easter Egg Hunts when the eggs were used to celebrate Christ’s Triumphant exit from the tomb. I love history and hope I have gotten this right, it was an interesting study for sure. I was never very good at dyeing Easter Eggs so this mix of naturally occurring colored eggs, the brown and white eggs are common and I bought the pale blue and aqua eggs from a friend who raises Aracana chickens whose eggs range from pale blue to deep olive green. All together they are so pretty! I really couldn’t decide which pictures to share so here are a few more…


Have a wonderful day and a very joyfilled Easter!

Love y’all, Camellia

No Greater Love…

image‘No one has greater Love than to lay down His Life…for His friends…you are My friends…love one another as I have loved you…by this shall all men know that you are Mine…My Body is broken for you…’

                        A Divine Love Letter From the Gospel of John

Lookin’ for Fame?

imageIt takes a lot of nerve to start a recording studio anywhere, to open up shop in Northwest Alabama along the Tennessee River amongst 4 small towns just a few hours from Nashville; but in 1959, Rick Hall started FAME Recording Studios with his buddies who ultimately opened another hit studio called Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. ‘The Shoals’ sound is as legendary as the musicians who recorded there.

Start your your journey into the heart of the Shoals sound with a trip to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, lined with Gold Records and gawdy costumes worn by Alabama native Hank Williams, Tuskegee’s Lionel Richie, Fort Payne’s Alabama, The Commodores and Montgomery’s Nat ‘King’ Cole. Drive from there to Sheffield to the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio where the Swampers- the Fame’s original rhythm section  recorded with Lynard Skynard ~who can forget his hit- ‘Sweet Home Alabama’? Then there’s the Rolling Stones and Alicia Keyes just to name a few who  recorded hit music with the Swampers. Head over to Muscle Shoals to Rick Hall’s longest operating, one owner recording studio in the world, FAME Studio! Rick Hall is known as the ‘Father of the Muscle Shoals Sound’ – he recorded such great artists as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett (Mustang Sally), Otis Redding, Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers who pitched a tent in the parking lot just to be near the recording sessions before he became famous! Known as ‘that hippie in the parking lot when record companies asked about his performance with Wilson Pickett’s rendition of ‘Hey Jude’; Paul Anka, the Osmunds, Tina Turner, the Beatles, Elton John, Ronnie Milsap, BB King, Tim McGraw…. whew the list goes on, just like the Muscle Shoals beat….and if that’s not enough?

‘The Father of the Blues’, W.C. Handy was born and raised just across the river in Florence Alabama where there is a statue in his honor, a museum and library ~ every year there is a W.C. Handy Music Festival as well.

Camellia thinks I’m gettin’ longwinded, I think we’re gonna have to have a part 2 on the Shoals! So much more to see and do…but remember this- when a good many of those musicians were down and out , thinking their careers were over- they got back their nerve and went to Muscle Shoals to find Fame! Hold it down Camellia, you’re singin’ so loud I can’t think! You might want to update your playlist folks!

Love y’all, Allie Mac

*must see: PBS- Muscle Shoals Documentary ,