10 Beautiful Ways to stay Hydrated..

948407C9-974C-4732-A031-DD6C00912C54These 10 Beautiful Ways to Stay Hydrated have given me the motivation I needed to meet one of my goals this year, and I’ve got 10 tips to help you get started too! I’ve challenged myself to stay hydrated and… and well, drinking all that water is healthy and all…for a few weeks, it was going great. Still. As I got into this whole staying hydrated thing, I needed a bit of incentive. Here’s what happened- I was taking part in something else- a food photography challenge. For that, I needed a photograph of citrus fruits. Running out of time…no time to bake, no time to cook – a deadline was looming. Here’s what happened-35C41FF2-F32E-4B4F-A0FC-2FB30FFB197F

I made up a pitcher of pretty water. In fact, I thought it was beautiful. The kind I recall seeing in luxury spas and fine hotel lobbies. Beautiful ways to stay hydrated. Yes, I could do that! Just the incentive I needed. Tip 1: It’s easier if you make up a whole pitcher, similar to Spa Waters I’ve seen! With lemon, mint and cucumber! Let’s just say it’s a refreshing combination! DF8AEF91-2282-45BD-A406-CE4008D4B128

One thing led to another. I figured out that- Tip 2: Staying hydrated isn’t just water, it’s cranberry juice, apple juice, citrus juice and weak tea too. So I included those too.  Thin slices of cucumbers or apples are easy and a refreshing snack too! This one is a re-run of Apple in Glass which I’d tried last Fall- the rerun was wonderful again!

C22A277A-EE39-48CA-BAC5-5CD9C734AD6D.jpegOne of my favorite ways to stay hydrated was an iced tea with lime and mint. Beautiful don’t you think? This time, I made a simple sugar syrup infused with mint. Mint Tea was a beautiful way, my grandmother made iced tea. All the best Sweet Tea in the South starts with a Simple Sugar Syrup– which is – Tip 3: One cup of water simmered with One cup of sugar…until the sugar has dissolved. With Mint Tea, the process is the same except fresh mint is infused into the sugar syrup. Kept chilled, sugar syrups last a long time. See that little jar sitting next to the glass of Iced Mint Tea? That’s the simple syrup made with mint! Which we seem to grow prolifically! Tip 4: Mint Simple Syrup is also wonderful to pour in your morning coffee! 235A23C5-6851-4703-871F-D75471D83442

If you want an extra treat- Rim the glass!  Tip 5:For the Iced Tea, I cut a lemon or lime in wedges, mix a bit of sugar and a bit of salt in a bowl, rim the glass with the citrus wedge, then dip the rim in the salt and sugar mixture for a refreshing and beautiful glass of tea..or juice.. or water.F05E8CD4-761C-4205-B005-5C25CF6558B7

Here I did that with orange zest, a bit of salt, a bit more sugar and believe it or not- I grated a dehydrated strawberry too! Tip 6: Dehydrated fruit is wonderful grated for rimming a glass or mix with powdered sugar and decorate almost anything!  The glass above, with oranges, strawberries and a rim of sugar, orange zest, a bit of salt and grated dehydrated strawberry was my beautiful glass of water this morning! Tip 7: Adding a bit of salt to the rim or the glass, makes me thirstier!

ADBF8513-BD28-42F3-AB00-C27A5F327BEDTip 8: Add flowers to your water! Here and the opening photograph, I’ve used flowers- little violas or rose petals are so beautiful, just make sure they are pesticide free! Not just for your water, they sure look pretty floating in a cup of hot tea!79F2811C-5D5A-44D8-9EC2-0D16FC9DC7B9

With spring and summer headed our way, it seems the garden is springing up weeds- these dandelions and yellow flowers all came from ‘weeds’ Here is another tip I love- Tip 9:  Add leaves or tiny berries to Ice Cubes ! Look at these with shamrocks and wild strawberries!


We’re talking good luck here! Tip 10: To make pretty ice cubes, try anything small that you wish! Here’s how you make them- pour a bit of water in the bottom of the ice cube tray, in each section place clean leaves or berries, make sure they fit. Put in the freezer for a bit- to stabilize the leaves. Then fill the tray up and freeze. Okay, truth? If you’re in a hurry… just fill the tray up and insert a leaf or berry, but if presentation’s important? Do it my way! Now, I know you want to see that pretty glass of water with a viola again- So here it is! 948407C9-974C-4732-A031-DD6C00912C54

We all want to look and feel our best, you’ve read the science and seen the articles about how important it is to avoid getting dehydrated… So! I’ve been on a mission! The result was 9 Beautiful Ways to Stay Hydrated! Now, make yourself some of this pretty water! And, I’d love to see how you’re  staying motivated too!

Love y’all, Camellia

*Here’s another shot of my morning glass of water… I couldn’t decide which was prettier!F05E8CD4-761C-4205-B005-5C25CF6558B7

* All photographs are obviously mine! Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram- we’re posting almost daily!

Sweet Tea…

Southern LivingKeep It Sweet

Every now and then, Sweet Tea just gets to me…at a picnic earlier this summer- I drank at least three big red Dixie cups full of it- then took a big blue Dixie cup home with me- to help me cool off in the car on the way home… I had the cup swathed in a paper napkin, to catch the drips.  It’s been so hot, I rubbed my neck with the cool damp napkin- probably had sweat beads on it.  Then, I put that blue Dixie cup on my forehead and turned the air vent full blast on me to cool me off…Picnics are fun, but hard work- fanning flies, setting out pans of food, making sure a trail of ants doesn’t wind it’s way over to the Key Lime Pie or up the side of the Coconut Cake. I thought about that beautiful teething baby running a low grade fever, her daddy was in bed with vertigo and hoped they’d be alright… Anyway, about the Sweet Tea- it put me in mind of when I first learned how to make it and of another time when I learned to fully appreciate the Romance of making Sweet Tea. There have always been controversies over Southern Iced Tea making. Whether to use bagged Tea, so as not to have to strain it- or to use loose Tea Leaves so as not to have any of that lingering paper taste from tea bags; whether to use Lipton, Red Diamond or Luzianne. My grandmother preferred Luzianne, some said it was of her French Huguenot  side-saddle-horse-riding Momma– my great grandmother, Hattie LaVada Sparks.

Hattie LaVada never cast a shadow in her own kitchen; I’ve been told her husband and double first cousin, John Thomas Sparks spoiled her to death, most especially with Good Household Help; the cooks taught my Mimi how to make Biscuits light as a feather, Corn Sticks fit for the King of England, how to wring a chickens neck, then pluck, brine, steam it to perfection- then serve it with southern grown Rice speckled green with fresh Thyme, swimming in Lemon Butter; and of course the making of Sweet Tea. One of my uncles owned an Ice House- so you know we know how to ice it down. Well, you start with a Sugar Syrup. Don’t listen to anyone who ever tells you differently- Sweet Tea isn’t worth drinking if you don’t start with a Sugar Syrup. White Cane sugar, from sugar cane grown in Alabama, then refined is just the start… Make a pitcher of Tea with straight sugar and that sugar just sinks to the bottom of the pitcher and sulks.

  •  Sugar Syrup is the base, you can dress it up by adding
  • Orange Zest if you’re using Orange Pekoe,
  • Lemon Zest if you had Earl Gray- there’s a science to Sugar Syrup.
  • One cup of sugar to one cup of water, heated gently until every single grain of sugar is dissolved. Then you can doctor it up however you want to.
  • I’ve been told that the doctoring of it decided how strong you wanted it to be when it cooled off.
  • Long Island Tea probably was provoked by somebody from the South; though I have no personal first hand knowledge of this concoction.IMG_3186

There are lots of recipes for Southern Sweet Tea but if they don’t start with a sugar syrup? Find another one. I married a man who was raised on sweet tea but prefers ‘unsweet’– like some…he’s a purist. In restaurants all over the South, the waitresses ask ‘Sweet or Unsweet’? I’ll not venture to guess why this is- but I suspect it’s an influx of Yankees. I rarely make Sweet Tea just for myself- yet if I know some of my guests will want it, I make it. I will admit that there is a Fresh Mint Infused Sugar Syrup with my name on it in the refrigerator, and hopefully I’ll have some fancy ice cubes to dress it up! Now, let me tell you how I first observed the ‘Romance’ of Sweet Tea.

I was born in April of 1952, a leap year, after a hard winter. That sentence alone should speak volumes to you. We lived on a Circle in Birmingham, there were nice brick homes all around it. Right at the downward curve in the circle lived Roxanne Roberts. Her daddy was a travelling salesman, her mother looked like Doris Day. Roxanne. a blue eyed blonde looked just like she’d stepped out of a Madame Alexander Box. I had stick straight black hair with pale green eyes- Mimi said my eyes were from the French side of the family- her sister, Great Aunt Trix always peered at me and said to my momma- ‘Gene, isn’t she unusual?’ Every. Single. Time. Trix saw me. I’m getting off on a tangent…

By some quirk of fate, Roxanne liked me- I had a long ponytail, like she did, but Roxanne’s ended in a perfect curl; mine hung as straight as a horse’s tail. She had perfected a walk- sort of like a duck, which resulted in her ponytail swinging from side to side, it was remarkable. Roxanne’s  momma called my momma.  Roxanne wanted me to come over for a Tea Party. With my Tiny Tears doll in tow- which I suspect now, was the draw for Roxanne- we went out to their ‘Florida Room’– complete with louvered pebbled glass and handles that cranked the glass open… A breeze was blowing…

While we were checking out the wonders of Tiny Tears, Roxanne’s momma was in the kitchen right off the Florida Room- making a Sugar Syrup for the Tea. She was barefooted and had on red pedal pushers and a white blouse tied at the waist. She brought our Tea and Cookies out to Roxanne’s Tea Table and poured our Sweet Tea in sweet little juice glasses with a lemon slices and sprigs of mint. Roxanne said her momma always made Two Pitchers, one plain and a special one for her daddy. I had never heard of such luxury.

Mrs.Roberts was fixing his tea while we played. I heard her opening bottles and setting out some glasses, filling the pitcher with ice. She poured herself a long tall glass from Mr. Robert’s pitcher. Stirring it with a long iced teaspoon, she took a generous drink of it-humming to herself. All of the sudden, Mrs. Roberts broke out in song- ‘Summer Time…and the livin’ is easy…’  She paused profoundly, like she was thinking about the song long and hard, took another long sip leaning back- Then, whew! She dipped down and sang even louder…‘Fish! are jumpin’! and the Cotton is High!’ Swinging her head around; smacking her lips, with that perfect shade of red lipstick… My Momma never did that when she made our Iced Tea!  Mr. Roberts came home from out of town. Roxanne hung back- ‘Shh…watch!…’ Mrs. Roberts was swayin’ her hips and singin’- it was actually pretty good. She was no Ella Fitzgerald but Roxanne’s momma had the moves down pat. Mr. Roberts apparently liked it. He picked Mrs. Roberts up by her waist and swung her around and said ‘Honey, I’m just dyin’ for a glass of that sweet tea!’….

It is indelible in my memory- unforgettable.  Roxanne never asked me back for a Tea Party- I strongly suspect it was because she found out I had been impersonating Elvis from age 7 on up to about age 9.  But I sure never forgot there’s a certain Romance to making Sweet Tea.

Oh lord, y’all…what a story! It’s like every other Southern tale …part myth, part truth and part outright lies… Now don’t forget to make yourself a Sugar Syrup, one part sugar to one part water, simmered gently until every sweet grain has melted, pour into a glass pitcher, add the brewed tea and stir…‘Summer Time! And the livin’ is Easy…So hush little baby don’t you cry….’

Love y’all, Camellia

*photograph from Taste of the South and may be subject to copyright- click link at the top of the photograph- it includes recipes for Sweet Tea- don’t forget you’re looking for the ones with Sugar Syrup *photograph of Sweet Tea includes some of those fancy ice cubes I was talking about! photograph is obviously mine