Antebellum Flowers

Crinum Lily
Oh, the very thought
of this dear old southern flower
takes my breath.
Related to the amaryllis, the crinum is what the old southerners refer to as the Easter Lily, and it is the lily in our historic cemeteries. Crinum lilies are most often found at old home sites and in historic neighborhoods.
Old Southern Heritage
Crinum lilies often grow wild along rivers and swamps and certainly make up the landscape of memories southerners have of a childhood spent roaming the lush countryside.  This is the lily of southern childhood.
The crinum lily is a link to our old southern ways. The sight of the tender crinum in a lone field often signifies the place where an old home once stood, a lovely wood church rose high and narrow, or a loved one was long ago buried.  It is a pretty marker all along our southern landscape.
Old Southern Way
This dear sweet lily is a testament to the unwritten histories of our southern heritage. Keeping crinum lilies is so old-fashioned, too few southerners even know of them or of their history in the lives of southern women. 
This old lily has been lovingly passed from one dear southern lady to the next for hundreds of years, and mamas would come calling on their newly married daughters with crinums in hand.  Often, these graceful lilies were the first things planted alongside the old bridal roses.
Old Southern Tradition
It is the tradition in my family to take the long, narrow crinum fronds and weave them into pretty runners for our Easter tables. The southern ladies and their little girls would sit together on quiet afternoons and weave the lovely green fronds together.
The garden bounty of fresh vegetables nestled together
in old eggshell china has been placed upon lily frond mats for centuries.
Choosing Crinums
Several varieties are native to the Deep South. The native ones are high summer and fall bloomers, so now is the time to plant them.
Crinums offer a lovely show among the waning late-summer flowers.
The milk-and-wine lily is a pretty peppermint striped and is lovely in floral arrangements. 
The Ellen Bosanquet is a deep red-burgundy.
Crinum powellii is a traditional, graceful white.
Crinum americanum is a slender-petaled white flower.
I urge anyone wishing to keep our old southern traditions alive to consider growing crinums.
Old Southern Garden
Old Fashioned Crinums
Plant crinum in a sunny spot from late-spring to late-summer. Till in a rich compost to prepare a nice growing medium for your crinums. Plant bulbs 10 inches deep. Do not mulch once planted.
Crinums are perfect near garden ponds, but I have found that they will thrive in heavy clay, too.
Crinum may experience foliage frost kill, just trim back dead foliage and cover bulbs with pine straw for the winter.
Do not despair if you do not see blooms in the first few years. Once ready, they are prolific bloomers, and you will enjoy decades of beautiful, vanilla-lemon scented old southern lilies.

Classical Education

It is the tradition in my family to have children privately tutored.
My ancestors insisted on classic education with emphasis on the logic, rhetoric, languages, grammar, sciences, mathematics, philosophy, history, fine arts, music, and theology.
My family keeps a library of the lectures, lessons, primers, and copies of original source materials from each generation of students.

Grandmother's House

A Southern Memory
It is my earliest memory. Mother wore a chiffon of white silk, and I was dressed in a cotton lawn day dress of the softest primrose. We were dressed in keeping with the world into which we were born: simple, and special, and light, and soft. Mother’s gloved hand holding my own as I climbed and climbed the many gray-painted steps of the grand old porch of my Grandmother’s home.
Grandmother’s porch is deep and cool and sweet. Pom-poms of Boston fern hang in shadowy rows, crisp white rocking chairs of thick, old wicker stand sentry under a robin’s egg blue veranda ceiling. Before that grand door awaiting entry, I stood up a bit straighter. I delighted in the very grown-up privilege of attending Grandmother's tea.
Old Southern Home
Her dear home was built for the south. High ceilings, tall, tall windows, and a wide center hall allow the heat to rise and the breeze to flow.
There is neither air conditioning, nor fan.
My dear grandfather smilingly declares, “The house was old when Richard Lee was a boy.” It is an old, old home, and one that requires man to contend with and be a partner to nature.
Grandmother’s home is light and still and serene. It offers a cool, genteel respite from the heat of our south and the frenzy of our times. The surprising cool and the mingled scent of beeswax polish and roses is a succor for the senses. I often find myself sitting stock-still, waiting for another taste of the elusive breeze, rare as a pearl.
August brings 95-degree heat and 95 per cent humidity, yet duty and tradition transcend mere weather.
Southern Lady
Grandmother, this tiny Dresden china doll, who isn’t even five feet tall, carries herself with all the might of a sovereign. A required mix of perfect comportment and gentle manner, her quiet ways and formal habits are a reflection of care.
The willful decision
to remain serene in a frenetic world,
to choose to be well-read and cultured,
to insist on excellence in character
and discipline in manner.
Old Southern Ways
Grandmother has tea in the afternoon, year round, always properly dressed, always in ceremony.
We live the old ways and in ceremony. The thoughtful acts which demand a slowing-down. This is where I learned how to behave, and the behavior was refined.
This is where I learned the mannerly, and the manner, was thoughtful and intelligent.
This is where I learned to listen, and the sound was the art of polite conversation, and the skill at my grandmother’s piano, and knowledge brought to life through the well-read.
This was where I learned to see, and the scene was of the natural world brought to order in Grandmother’s cutting garden, and fine old family treasures carefully maintained, and lovely womanhood which was natural and well cared for.
This is were I learned to value refinement,
to revere intelligence,
to maintain tradition,
to raise my family.

Old Southern Ritual

The Art of Ritual
In the South, we savor our rituals. We are attuned to the deep seated need for reflection and order. The power of ritual abides in us all, however it takes discipline to tend to it and create it.
Ritual can be carved from the mundane. It is the slowing down and savoring a moment. It is living, observed. The ritual of afternoon tea can be all the more special when it is saved, delayed. Decide which tasks must be completed before your day is done and save tea time for then. The work will then take on a different light.
A warm bath has a primal appeal. It sooths and nourishes a weary body. Choose Epsom salts, herbs, dried flowers, milk, or fruit oils for your bath. The warmth and care you give yourself allows you to better care for others.

Chicory Coffee

     A rich, deep, French Roast is mixed with smoky, pungent chicory to create a lovely velvety, thick-as-mud coffee.
Chicory, a relative of the endive, is a Mediterranean native and was introduced to Europe via France in the 15th century. It is believed to have tonic qualities and is quite uplifting.
     For the best-tasting coffee, choose a French press coffee maker.  Once the coffee is steeping, steam milk or half-and-half to a temperature no greater than 155 degrees. When possible, choose a copper milk steamer, as the copper distributes heat most evenly, thus ensuring better temperature regulation.
     Combine equal parts coffee and steamed milk to serve. Sugar complements chicory nicely but is not necessary, as steaming milk tends to make it sweet.

American Script

English Round Hand
The 1700's was a time when a variety of writing styles were taught and used in various groups. Your penmanship would reveal your age, gender, profession, and societal rank. However, while reading instruction was spreading, writing was only for the upper class and their secretaries, professionals, merchants, and clerks.
The upper-class colonists wrote in English Round Hand, also known as the English copperplate method. George Bickham's copybook, The Universal Penman, was incredibly influential in England upon its publishing in 1743. It set English copperplate as the standard.
American Copperplate
In the late 1700's John Jenkins created a distinctly American style based heavily on English copperplate. His book, The Art of Writing, was published in 1791. Jenkins' American copperplate was the writing style from the colonial to the antebellum period. It was taught until 1840's.
Modified Round Hand
Duntonian Script was a modified round hand which became popular from the 1840's to 1865. At this time regular school attendance was up, and Duntonian Script was a style suitable for young pupils. Alvin R. Dunton, 1812-1892, created this writing style with a variety of writing needs in mind.
Spencerian Script
The most important and longest-taught American writing style of the 1800's, the Spencerian method, was created in the early 1820's. Platt R. Spencer broke down letter forms into easily reproducible common elements, which could be combined to form individual letters. This method was beautifully ornate, yet fairly easily learned. It proved incredibly popular and became the standard of the 1800's. It is still the standard among southerners of a certain standing.
The Palmer Method replaced the Spencerian handwriting system by the 1890's. A. N. Palmer, 1859-1927, created the style which would be popular in business and elementary schools into the early 1920's. This new method did away with much of the ornamental flourish, and the resulting plainer script was easier to write quickly. Its creation coincided with the advent of business and secretarial schools, and it was tauted as the business writing style.

The Value of Aesthetics

It helps the healthiness both of body and soul to live among beautiful things.
--William Morris
As we endeavor to shape the minds of our children, let us not forget to establish for them a realm of beauty and nature.
Children experience the world sensorially before weighing it intellectually. Therefore, the world we first create for a child sets a foundation for what the child considers correct, beautiful, appropriate.
As a child's participation in the natural world helps to develop an important relationship to it, so too does a child's experience with art.
While there are many, many art and craft products geared toward developing a child's creativity and imagination, it is more important to expose our children to the great works of art first.

Old Southern Linens Wash Recipes

Antique Linens Care
Hemstitching. Skillful embroidery. Delicately tatted trim. These were the skills and accomplishments of our ancestors. A southern girl was taught the gentle home arts at her mother's knee. It was her pride to be known as a talent at her needlework, and each girl knew that her pretty creations would one day adorn her home and be a blessing to her family.
Many southern women cherish these hand-crafted treasures passed down through the generations but are unsure just how to care for them. Sadly, many beautiful heirloom linens remain stored away creating the tell-tale yellow-brown storage stains.
What so few know is that consistent use is the key to maintaining antique linen. Clearly, the more often you use your linens, the more you must wash them. Proper washing techniques actually keep your linens at their best.
Of Special Note
I have received more e-mails about all of the old southern cleaning products and toiletries I make, and I posted a bit about them.
I do indeed make my own dish soap, scouring powders, spray cleaners, antique linens wash, laundry soap, linen sprays, hand scrubs, toiletries, cold cream, bath products, body scrubs, work scrubs, dusting powders, sachets, etc. from very old southern recipes.
I follow the recipes from my family's old household ledgers and journals, and because they are a part of the original estate, I am hesitant to post the recipes or offer the products to readers.  It is both a legal matter and an issue of propriety.  I gladly share the recipes from the journals that have been bequeathed directly to me, and the following one is useful for infant clothing and linens, too.
Honoring Our Past
It is a wish of many southern homemakers to return to the traditional home-care practices. All the ease and convenience our quick, modern household chemicals, appliances, and cleaning gadgets have not created for us a more satisfactory existence.
Quite the opposite is true. Our modern methods remove us from the superior position of skilled homemaker to one of mere middle man. Just as the industrial revolution did away with skilled workers and made unskilled, assembly line drones, so too does a cauldron of someone else's chemical mix remove us from our task.  How long would one's clothing and linens remain in good form if all laundering concoctions were removed from market shelves tomorrow? 
Old Southern Ways
There is a profound grace found in the old ways. The slow methods offer a time for reflection and a task for the hand. These gentler generations benefitted from the quiet and the patience of time. It is a fitting tribute to these lovely, handmade linens to use the same methods for cleaning and care as their makers did.
What You Will Need
Table Salt
White vinegar
Old fashioned soap. I recommend Savon de Marseille, as it is unscented and all natural. Traditional bars of white castile soap work well, too.  However, ensure the soap is hemp oil free and fragrance free.
Cleaning Methods
Bring a pot of water to a boil.
Turn off heat, and add two sliced lemons and 1/4 c salt per gallon of water.
Add linens, cover, and leave overnight.
Repeat once more only if a significant amount of staining remains.
Hand wash with soap.
Add vinegar to final rinse to remove any residue.
Stubborn Stains
Rub a lemon half directly onto stain.
Cover lemon-soaked stain with salt.
Lay flat on a towel in the sun for several hours.
Hand wash with soap.
Add vinegar to final rinse to remove any residue.
What Not To Use
1. Bleach and bleach substitutes should never be used on linen. While bleach will remove stains it will also irreparably damage the linen fibers. Bleached linen will disintegrate over time.
2. Detergents. Dishwashing and dishwasher soaps and laundry soaps will break linen down.
3. Oxy- products. Many people actually recommend them, but I would never, ever use them.
4. Washing Machine and dryer. They are simply too agitating for linen fibers.
5. Starch. The beauty of oft-laundered linen is its superb softness. Starching linens creates an unnatural look and feel, and starch will break down linen fibers.
6. Hot iron. I do not apply an iron often, but when I do, I keep it at a very low setting and place a cotton towel between the iron and the linen. The beauty of antique linen is that it is softer and much less prone to wrinkle than newer linen.

Old Southern Food Ways

Traditional Southern Culinary Habits
I am slim, and I eat well. I have never dieted, nor have I ever owned a scale. I do not avoid any food group.  I do not fear carbs or fats. 
I do not get sick, and I have no allergies.  My skin is clear, my hair is shiny, and my teeth are healthy, straight and strong. 
While my genetic makeup may determine some of this, I know that my culinary upbringing and my cooking and eating habits determine my weight and health.
The Five Hundred Year Rule
If it did not exist 500 years ago, I do not eat it.
In other words, I eat no artificial foods. Ever.
To me, processing foods means:
creating yogurt and cheese
baking bread
hand-making pasta
cooking meats and eggs,
crystallizing cane juice into sugar
roasting coffee beans
drying tea leaves
collecting honey
What We Eat
The following is an example of my current food choices.
Plain, whole milk, organic yogurt.
Dry roasted, unsalted almonds.
Pickled vegetables.
Good mustards.
Distinctive honeys.
Dark salad greens.
Green beans.
Herbed vinegars.
Beef (grass-fed only).
Lots of fresh and dried herbs.  I grow basil, rosemary, lavender, oregano, bay, and thyme.
Lamb in season.
Some chicken.
Fish: smoked trout, herring.
Lots of cheese.
Greens: mustard, collard, and turnip.
Various root vegetables.
Various peppers.
Summer squash.
So, so many tomatoes.
More pears than apples.
Stone fruits.
Only the very best bread (I prefer rusty European breads over eggy yeast breads).
Only the very best chocolate.
Full bodied red wine and dry, dry white wine.
Coffee with cream.
Black tea.
Salmon: never, ever farm raised. Never.
Meats and dairy products always organic.
Cooking Practices
What We Don't Do
We do not drink milk or fruit juices, ever.
I do not make homemade versions of fast food. 
No homemade pizzas, hamburgers, corndogs, nachos. 
I do not find compiled foods appealing, nor to I consider it a very fine culinary practice. 
I do not make homemade versions of boxed and bagged snacks. 
No homemade French fries, no homemade chips.
We do not eat casseroles.
We do not eat sandwiches. 
We do not eat corn, except for the occasional cornbread, hominy, or grits.
We do not snack.
No children's menu.
What We Do
Our meals are formal, and all of our entertaining is very formal. We eat in the dining room only. Children eat what adults eat.   We drink water throughout the day.
We eat a lot of vegetables. We eat salads everyday, and it usually consists of red onion, arugula or spinach, and various herbs and vegetables.
I bake a lot.  It is something I truly enjoy.  I bake all of our breads twice per week, usually Saturday and Tuesday mornings.  I bake sweet things on Saturday afternoons.
We will occasionally make ice cream.
I keep most dishes at three main ingredients or fewer (excluding herbs and spices). I cook with cream and butter, but the overall dish remains very simple. I make a lot of soups. Our desserts are usually fresh fruit and often cream.
I do not often have a need to employ a solidified fat, but when I do I use beef, goose, or duck. I cook mostly in butter, but when oil is needed I use walnut and, on occasion, olive oil.  I never use corn or other vegetable oils. I make a vinaigrette of Champagne vinegar and walnut oil and creamy, herb-filled salad dressings.
Typical Meals
We follow a set meal time every day. For breakfast I bake biscuits, or rice muffins, or various breads, and we eat it with butter, cheese (mostly goat cheese) and berries. We often have vegetable and herb soups, smoked trout, and nuts with breakfast, too.
Dinner is our main meal, and we usually eat several courses: hors d'oeuvres, salad, main dish, cheese/ dessert.
We generally take tea in the afternoons. I'll make an omelet, yogurt, or bread and cheese.
I often braise or roast meats. I roast or steam vegetables.

Southern Lady Gardener

Southern Flower
There is a most delicate garden species in the deep south. Of the lightest shades of pale. Carefully shaded from the hot southern sun.
One may detect the presence by the sight of pretty straw brims, pale cotton with the tiniest rosebud print, chamois gloves, the dull glow of pearls.
Some are hot-house beauties,
some are shade-tree lovelies,
others are night blooming rarities.
Trailing this delicate specimen is the lovely scent or orange-flower blossom, or lavender, or verbena.
Southern Womanhood
It is the time-honored tradition of the ladies of the deep south to tend to their gardens. It is such an integral part of southern culture and southern womanhood that one may begin to believe that these fine ladies are as much inhabitants of these gardens as any other southern flower.
Southern Stewards
From this sacred plot comes the foundation of southern belief: We are of this land, and the land is of us. With land and home comes our identity. Our partnership with the soil is reflected in our partnership with our community. We are the stewards of the land. The Lord has fashioned in man a caretaker of his earth. The southerner lifts up thanks to God for the responsibility and the bounty.
Southern Roots
In this garden, the southern lady tends to history. It is in the cuttings taken from the gardens of the generations which came before her. She is reminded of her great-grandmother as she tends to her jasmine. She grows the roses her mother grows. She plants magnolias for her daughters and pines for her sons.
Southern Wings
From this soil the southern lady nourishes her family. She grows her tomatoes and squashes in late spring, her salads in summer, her deep greens in fall, her root vegetables in winter. Her babies help lift the old English trug baskets, heaping and heavy. They learn from her, and they learn about her. These little ones grow strong in health and knowledge.
Southern Home
From this garden she decorates her home. Pretty flowers. Handsome herbs. Vine wreaths get filled and re-filled as the seasons turn. Cool summer baths, petal-speckled as with confetti.
It is where she goes for comfort, and duty, and care, and connection. It is where she creates comfort, and duty, and care, and connection.

Southern Comportment

My great-grandmother was a formidable woman. She was exacting in her ways and suffered no fools. The great lady, this matriarch, shaped the last three (and now four) generations of my family so strongly that her quick intelligence is felt in many of our ways.
Rules of the Old South
As we begin to organize her diaries and correspondence, we often come across some rule, some mandate, she so often extolled.
The following ten rules were found in letters to various family members. The most recent rule on this list was written in 1932. We have uncovered many, many more...

Be mindful that every decision you make has a consequence. There is a right way and a wrong way to behave. It is foolish to pretend otherwise.

Modern education theory is mere trend and drivel. There will always be a student taught through classical means. Either you to will be, or you will incur the pablum shovelled into the mouths of the masses.

Be serious about politics. It is of no use for you to engage in political sentimentality. You must engage intelligently or you are not worthy of your vote.

Reject the church that will pander to modern tastes.

Dress with propriety. It is disrespectful to others to cling to excuses of comfort. If you accept comfort as an excuse, you communicate that you are weak.

Practice the discipline of serenity. It is easy to become irritated. Decide to respond in a dignified manner to daily annoyances. You must control childish impulses and demand of yourself mastery over them.

Move gracefully about your day. Demand of yourself the effort it takes to stand up straight, sit properly, hold up your chin.

Insist on eating properly and engage in natural, reasonable physical exertion. There is no excuse for allowing your body to become burdened by too much weight or ailments brought on by your own habits.

A child's education is the responsibility of the parents both in its cultivation and its maintenance. To believe otherwise is a foolish error.

Intelligence is a desirable attribute. Do not accept the dangerous modern desire for the common. This home-spun foolishness costs us our dignity and our rights. Insist on intellectual and moral integrity.

Your Perfect Dress

The Shift Dress
The shift dress is the most flattering outfit for any body type, whether you are thin or very heavy. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this classic style. If you can purchase but one item of clothing, the shift dress is it. There is no other clothing style that will flatter a lady's body better than a shift.
Whether you are apple or pear, slim or curvy there are key elements to look for when shopping. One need only consider the following elements when determining which shift to choose.
Key Elements for Any Shape
There are a few simple guidelines one may consider when dressing to best advantage. Acknowledging your basic body shape and dressing for it is important, and knowing whether you are a bit more pear shaped than apple shaped is beneficial, but knowing which clothing lengths, shapes, and fabrics are most flattering to you is key.  The proper cut, drape, and taper are essential to a flattering effect on a figure.
Creating Illusion
-Avoid knit jersey, as is universally UNflattering. It is not of a quality that will hold up.
-Choose natural fibers that are thicker and have a solidity. 
-Find a shift that is most tapered at the lower ribs. This will always be the slimmest part of your silhouette, and you simply cannot go wrong remembering this guideline. Also, this shape accommodates fluctuations in weight.
-A boat neck is especially flattering to those who are pear shaped, who have narrow shoulders, and those who wish to off-set broader hips by creating the illusion of a more even proportion.
-A V-neck is universally flattering. For those with very broad shoulders a boat neck collar will unflatteringly emphasized them, but a V-neck or a rounded neck lends pretty symmetry.
-Ruffles will add thickness and bulk to the upper-body, and I have rarely seen them actually improve a lady's appearance. Unless you have extremely wide hips in proportion to a tiny upper body, it is best to leave ruffles to children.
-A sleeveless style is always more flattering than a cap-sleeve, even heavier arms are shown to better advantage sleeveless.  However, there are many occasions when a sleeveless style is inappropriate.  The flattering cardigan or jacket are then necessary.  Plus, they offer opportunities for lovely enhancements and embellishments. 
-A three-quarter sleeve is the most flattering sleeve length for anyone. If you are carrying a bit more weight than your build can comfortably accommodate, then make sure the sleeve hits your arm at the highest slim point. This creates the illusion of a long, slim, graceful wrist and hand, and it actually elongates the look of the arm better than a long sleeve.
-A back zipper will pull the fabric of your dress a bit behind you, creating a more flattering silhouette.
-Even if you are self-conscious about your weight, do not choose a loose-fitting dress, it will just create boxy bulk. It is especially important for women who are thicker through the waist to choose a shift that will be form fitting.
-A shift is always most flattering when it comes to the middle-to-top of the knee.
Remember, Keep It Slim At The Lower Rib Cage
The proportion is perfect and the lines of the dress are quite flattering.
A dress is tapered at the lower rib cage allows for comfortable movement, and a flat front style
offers a smooth, tailored effect.
The Plus Size Shift
There is simply no other outfit so flattering to a fuller silhouette than the shift.  One needs simply to compare images of a clothing catalog's plus-sized model in a shift to images of her in other outfits to see the difference the shift makes.
Perfect Maternity Wear
The shift dress is always a lovely and dignified choice. Again, gentle tapering at the lower rib cage allows for comfort and movement without creating a bulky silhouette.  A three-quarter sleeve slims and elongates the wrist and allows for comfort and coverage. 


Children's Church.
Play dates.
Toddler socialization.
Leave home.
Story hour.
Leave home.
Song and play hour.
Television instruction.
And entertainment.
And indoctrination.
And, "Don't forget to eat at...".
Compressed chicken, fried. Fries. Fried pies.
Organic corn syrup. Organic frozen dinners. Organic animal crackers.
Organic baby formula.
Toys made by the hands of other children.
Not by the hands...
...of American men... American companies... American towns.
Of plastic.
Now, BPA-free!
Play families.
Dancer-singer-actress-model doll.
Suitable for ages 3 and up!

Southern Lady

Return to Southern Tradition
It is disheartening to consider
the modern notions of southern womanhood.
The depictions of female southernness
in literature, television and movies
are bawdy,
and not only unintelligent
but anti-intelligent.
It is a disrespect to true southern womanhood,
yet sadly,
southern women buy into it,
support it,
and mimic it.
I fear fewer and fewer southern girls
are being raised in the old ways,
and they turn to the television version as a model.
Southern Wedding Day
In a time when young ladies
wear revealing wedding dresses
with exposed corsetry in church weddings,
wish to look sexy on their wedding day,
perform choreographed dances at their receptions...
it is perhaps appropriate that we explore examples of lovely weddings,
which are respectful of faith,
mindful of tradition,
and examples of true femininity.
Restoring The Southern Lady
It is my wish that we restore the old virtues of the Southern Lady.
The true southern lady is pious, modest, and dignified.
These true southern ladies
whose virtues bless the home,
whose accomplishments embellish the hearth,
whose intelligence is sharpened and taste carefully cultivated,
and whose beauty is based in femininity...
shall return our culture to what is great
and what is true.

Southern Formality

We live in a time that is structurlessly informal and yet hyper-sensitive to the rule of etiquette.
Our popular culture represents a casual lifestyle as the ideal, and there is a praise of informal ease.
However, it renders many adrift who, too late, realize the errors of formless function.
The number of etiquette lessons, rule books, cotillions, and advice columns in the last ten years is a testament to the realization of what has been lost. A loss of what used to be simple, proper upbringing.
There is an inherent ease to formal living too few realize.
There is a security which comes from knowing what to expect and what is expected.


Once I had recognized the taste of the crumb of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime flowers which my aunt used to give me...immediately the old gray house, where her room was, rose up like a stage set...the little pavilion opening on to the garden which had been built out behind it for my parents...the country roads we took when it was fine.
This lovely sponge cake with its tender crumb is a beautiful little accompaniment to tea. Madeleines carry a most delicate perfume of orange flower, only subtly detected if one were to savor each curved, fluted shell.
The True Madeleine
Unfortunately, there are many, many inferior Madeleine recipes, some even call for lemon or orange zest and no orange flower water at all. The beauty of the true Madeleine is the lovely scent of orange flower and its delicate shape, as they are only made in shell-shaped pans.
This is the original Commercy, France recipe from 1755. It is a simple, simple recipe, and the only ingredient you may not have on hand perhaps would be the orange flower water. Just make sure to purchase an orange flower water suitable for cooking.
1 3/4 all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 c superfine sugar
2/3 c butter
6 eggs
1 tbs orange flower water
Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly butter then lightly flour molds. Sift flour and baking powder together. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar with a wooden spoon. Add eggs to the butter and sugar. Sift flour and baking powder mixture into the butter, sugar, egg mixture. Stir in orange flower water. Spoon into molds. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn Madeleines out onto a wire cooling rack.

Old Southern Garden

The day's hours are announced by a bounty of heavenly southern scent.
As the sun makes its way across the sky, it coaxes the fragrances from our gardens with its warmth. Early morning brings us the scent of our roses, which are always planted to receive the first rays of the day.
Noon brings the earthy scent of corn and tomato plants from the vegetable garden.
Late afternoon brings the mingled scents of verbena, rosemary, and lavender from our full-sun-loving herb garden.
Evening time brings the lush, mysterious scent of our night-blooming flowers.

Old Southern Ways

The South Before Air Conditioning
How can it be that something that has only been a common way of life since the 1960's could so dramatically change the landscape, architecture, culture, and traditions of our beloved South?
Grace of Thoughtful Living
It is hard to imagine the slow, quiet life our people lived before air conditioning. Creating an artificial environment brought an end to much of our outdoor living, and I believe there is a gentle grace that has gone with it. How would life be different if we had to live life and plan our days around the elements? What have we lost in our quest to fix our surroundings?

Gracious Southern Womanhood

Old Southern Ways
I was born into the graceful world of the South, and I want to care for the old customs and manners. I believe many southern women long for the quiet dignity of our past.
Southern Cooking
I believe in the rituals of southern home cooking. Many southern women rely on the time-honored recipes passed down through generations and across centuries. I stood at my mother's side as she mixed ingredients in the bowls her mother used, and her mother's mother, and on and on.
Southern Homemaking
We want to maintain the old fashioned gentle arts of gracious homemaking. We care for our homes, as we know these things entrusted to our hands will become the heirlooms in our family's future.
Southern Heritage
Southern women cherish family heirlooms, whether it be grand furnishings, Grandmother's wooden mixing spoon, or the tender family stories and the sweet old hymns. We believe in preserving the blessings from our past in the face of an impersonal, modernized society.
I hope to find more southern women who share a reverence for our lovely traditional ways.

English Pottery In The Antebellum South

English Pottery
Before the 1700's, the southern colonies relied on England for its porcelain.
English Earthenware
Earthenware is made from potters' clay and lead glaze and has been manufactured in England since the medieval period. Earthenware was not produced in America until the 1620's.
English Stoneware
Stoneware has been produced in England since 1540, and its earliest form is called Rhenishware. While it does not require a glaze, a salt glaze was sometimes added as an aesthetic and functional element, as this made stoneware easier to clean.
Important Porcelain of the 1700's
Porcelain is very white, and its translucent quality makes it highly desirable. Produced in China since 500 A.D., porcelain was not introduced to Europe until the 1400's. Chinese porcelain is the oldest found in the colonial south. European ceramists tried to recreate Chinese porcelain but could not produce the quality, as true porcelain is made from kaolin clay. "Artificial porcelain" spread through Europe and eventually to America.
Until the 1700's Dutch delft, English delft, French faience, and stoneware from Europe abounded in America. It was not until the end of the 1700's that Staffordshire became the most highly prized European porcelain.
Minton pottery of Staffordshire, England was established in 1793 and produced fine porcelain. The Minton mark has changed with the years, and this allows for ease in dating your items. From 1863-1872, Minton was marked with a globe. In 1873, the globe was topped with a crown, and an "S" was added.
English pottery often integrated the British Royal Arms into a mark. A lion was placed to the left and a unicorn to the right of a shield, and a crown topped it. Before 1837, the marks included a small shield centered on a larger one, but after 1837, it was removed.
Wedgewood Creamware
In the late 1700's, Josiah Wedgewood developed a cream-colored earthenware still known as creamware, and although it is earthenware, it is highly sought-after. Queen Charlotte of England was the first to order it, thus Wedgewood is called "Queen's ware."
Wedgewood Standards of 1780
CC cream-colored
edged shell-edged
printed transfer printed
dipped mocha
painted hand-painted
Wedgewood Pearlware
In 1779 Wedgewood developed "pearlware". It was a whiter stoneware, as cobalt was included in the glaze coating. Pearlware is the most common earthenware type in the early 1800's, but Wedgewood made very little pearlware, and it is very, very rare.
The early pearlware can be distinguished from the later versions by the blue in the glaze around the handles and in the crevices.
Mason's Ironstone
In 1813, Charles James Mason patented ironstone in Staffordshire, England. It is a dense earthenware that resembles Chinese porcelain in its bluish color, but is never translucent like porcelain.
Whiteware is a less-expensive alternative to porcelain and other stonewares. It was very commonly manufactured in America in the 1800's. It is as white as porcelain but never translucent.
Transferware is very popular and very, very common. The item itself may be stoneware, creamware, or whiteware with a transfer printed image. An illustration is created and then made into a mold. The mold is then dipped in a color substance and set onto an already-fired ware. When the mold is removed the image remains. This type of print is identifiable by tiny dots of paint.
Hand-Painted Polychrome
Polychrome was very popular in the 1800's. It is rather rare, as it was hand-painted and not mass-produced. The two most common decorative designs were floral, which showcased a specific flower; and sprig, which adorned the rim of a piece with a leaf pattern. Brush strokes are apparent on these pieces, as the were hand-painted.
Annular Dippedware
Also called "diptware", these pieces have a ring, or repetitive rings, wrapping the rim. Undamaged period pieces are very rare, as they were quite utilitarian.

Southern Matron

Southern Beauty
I lament the passing of a genteel time. A time when the dignity of the southern matron was the highest standard.  It was a pretty time when discretion, kindness, courtesy, and privacy were gifts bestowed upon all.
The southern matron is our connection to our past and our family foundation. She represents a life lived in service. She is the keeper of our history, our stories, and our secrets. The South has always, always upheld a great reverence to aging gracefully. In France, and among certain classes in England, aging gracefully is high art and highly praised, too. "Elegance is the privilege of age" is an adage southerners believe in.
Classic Dignity
Her silver hair is always set, or in a chignon, or a tasteful French twist. The southern matron has spent her life carefully tending to herself and, most importantly, perfecting her demeanor.
She dresses to reflect the dignity of her station. The southern matron exercises discipline in matters of taste and dress. Lovely, tasteful, classic dresses in sumptuous fabrics carefully chosen to lend an air of refinement, never fashion. Stockings are worn, and shoes and pocketbooks are timeless. She limits her jewelry to a timeless few pieces: wedding set, pearls, and perhaps a brooch.
She is fastidious in her care for herself, her clothing and linens.
Her old fashioned treasures are carefully chosen and carefully arranged in delicate porcelain, or cut-glass, or even simple fruit or jelly jars. Fresh-cut flowers are always, always present. These are the luxuries of the southern lady.
Southern Ways
The southern matron lives her life in ritual and simple ceremony. She reads cherished leather bound volumes her ancestors read before her. Her stationery has remained the same throughout her life: light blue linen. The southern matron gardens and revels is the bountiful southern land.

Antique Southern Roses

Lady Banks' Rose
This abundant bloomer is a delicate and beautiful rose perfect for Eastertide. The tender, tiny roses bloom in white or yellow clusters and are perfect for your Easter dinner table, sideboard, or on bedside tables. The thornless stems make these fine little roses a lovely decoration for a child's Easter basket and are quite tasteful if worn to Easter services.
Southern Heritage
Lady Banks' is an heirloom rose that has been grown in the South since the early 1800's. It was introduced to the west by J.D. Park for the Horticultural Society of London.
A walk through any historic southern cemetery will acquaint you with this pretty rose. Southern women tend to the graves of departed loved ones their whole lives, and heirloom roses are always planted. Its semi-evergreen shrub remains beautiful long after its blooming season and will grow quite tall.
Planting Lady Banks' Roses
It is perfect planting season for the Lady Banks', as the cooler weather presents the lowest stress. Antique roses tolerate our southern heat and humidity well, as they are almost always impervious to blackspot.
Choose a planting area that gets at least six hours of full sun and is very well draining. Dig a hole that is twice the width and depth of the rootball. In the middle of the hole, create a "cone" of a soil mixture of 50/50 sharp sand and peat moss mix with a bit of organic fertilizer added. Place the plant into the cone and allow the root system to drape a bit over the cone. Hold the plant in place and add an improved soil mix until the roots are covered. Water well, and let it drain completely. Once drained, pat the soil down and finish filling the hole with soil. Pat down the surface again and cover with organic mulch.

Rice Muffins

Sunday Morning
Rice is a southern staple. Most southern women serve rice everyday, especially in the low country. We always have rice on hand, and we enjoy many delicious, traditional recipes that go back hundreds of years.
Old Southern Tradition
For hundreds of years, my family's cuisine has remained virtually unchanged. It is not the tradition that breads are served with meals, nor do we eat casseroles, ever. Breads and biscuits are traditionally served with breakfast, however, but it is never served as breakfast. They are served in very limited quantity.
We have always taken our larger meals at dinner time (noon). We often have tea, which is a lighter meal, as our supper (4:00 pm), and these rice muffins have been served at teatime in my family for hundreds of years.
An Elegant Accompaniment
The oldest account I can find of this recipe used in my family is the early 1800's. The texture is wonderful. It is not the modern version of a muffin, which I do not care for. It has an almost Yorkshire Pudding or soufflé texture, so it is lighter, yet richer at the same time. The baking powder is a much later addition to the original recipe, but it does ensure consistent rise.
Rice muffins are wonderful with sweet compotes and savory spreads, too. This recipe is quite easy to prepare and offers a subtle and elegant accompaniment to Sunday dinner.
Old Southern Kitchen
Rice Muffins
1 cup flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbls sugar
4 tbls melted butter
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup slightly lukewarm milk
1 cup cooked rice, any variety
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Line standard-sized muffin tin with buttered muffin cups.
In a large bowl, sift dry ingredients and set aside.
In another bowl, mix melted butter eggs, milk and rice.
Combine wet and dry ingredients.
Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Southern Antiques

West Indies Mahogany
True mahogany wood comes from the West Indies, Cuba, and Florida, and has been used for fine furniture since the 1500's. It appeared in England in the 1720's in the Queen Anne style. If one were to outfit a home in antebellum mahogany, solid S.mahogoni would be used.
English Mahogany
In 1754 Thomas Chippendale published The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director. It was the first book published in Europe dealing solely with furniture. Since most items were rendered in mahogany, it solidified mahogany's popularity.
20th Century Mahogany
The 1940's saw a resurgence in mahogany in classic styles, but West Indies mahogany was not used in these mass-productions. African mahogany is much less expensive and more readily available. "Fiddleback" and "African Ribbon Stripe" grain patterns of the Khaya mahogany from Africa are now used and primarily as a veneer.
Important Southern Cabinetmakers and Suppliers
John Shaw
Shaw came from England to Annapolis, Maryland in 1763 and was
established on Church Street by 1770. He worked in the Federal and Chippendale styles. He was one of the only southern cabinetmakers to use chestnut for lining drawers.
William Camp
Camp made Federal furniture in Baltimore, Maryland.
Brazilia Deming and Erastus Bulkley
Deming and Bulkley supplied classical furniture on King Street in Charleston from 1818 to 1840.
Important Styles
Queen Anne, 1720-1750
Chippendale, 1750-1780
Federal, 1780-1820
Hepplewhite, 1785-1800
Duncan Phyfe, 1792-1847
Sheraton, 1800-1820

Old Southern Charm

In The Land of Enchantment
Historically, southern women have understood and internalized the many interesting dichotomies of the south.  Our environment is a rather powerful one.  We endure extreme heat and blazing sun, yet enjoy such a lush, verdant land.  We are stifled by the profundity of our humidity, but we are rewarded with the pristine beauty and delicacy of fragrant, jewel-like flowers.
Indeed, this is the foundation of true southern beauty.  Our beauty is wrought in our resistance to the withering effects of our environment.  We endeavor to remain serene and fresh in the midst of heat, strife, and trial. 
The World of Charm
We choose to create for ourselves a preferred environment, one which allows for our own cultivation.  Just as a pretty magnolia blossom rests in its blue-green shade and is at its loveliest under proper conditions.
So, the southern woman maintains her own proper conditions.  Behind the antebellum brick and old wrought iron and nestled in the tangled depths of ancient gardens she lives a life apart, it is the garden within her.  The cool, still green of inner reserve is where she treads.  She is in the company of her own thoughts and she guides her thoughts to the lush, gentle landscapes of care and reverence and repose. 
This is the legacy of old southern beauty.
It is cultivated from within.

Southern Perfume

Springtime Fragrance
A high quality perfume is an important component to the southern woman's refined, thoughtfully composed wardrobe. Southern women believe in investing in the highest quality skincare and perfumes.
Southern women are serious about scent. We have grown up among heady southern flowers, spicy pine forests, the deep iron scent of red clay earth, and the garden bounty of Mother's kitchen. We know that our perfumes must shine for attention.
It can be a challenge to fine a lovely perfume suitable to the heat and intense humidity of the Deep South. Not only is a heavy perfume unpleasant on a sticky day, the south is alive with fragrance, and many perfumes would clash. There are two lovely perfumes I would recommend for springtime in the south.
Chanel Gardenia
Chanel Gardenia was first introduced in 1925. This most refined scent is reminiscent of southern white flowers. It is delicate and charming, not at all aggressive, and perfectly suitable for a young lady. There is a hint of orange blossom, but it is softer and not as creamy.
Chanel's Gardenia does not actually smell like gardenias, but this can be a good thing, as the scent of gardenia can only be artificially manufactured and is cloyingly heavy and sweet.
This scent is not always available, as Chanel chooses to present it as a limited edition. Do not fret, because it always makes a return.  However, there is a possibility it has been reformulated and is not quite as delicate.
Hermes Un Jardin Sur Le Nil
Update: It seems to have been reformulated.  The supple aqueous nature is gone.  Now, it is an obvious, less nuanced green.
This is a suitable hot weather fragrance. It is fresh and green with a clean, slightly citrus note. It is reminiscent of cool, crisp water. Lovely clean skin after a day
in the sun might be its most accurate description.
This perfume elicits many complements, as it is such a lovely foil to our hot and humid days. Its uplifting and sophisticated scent is suitable for young ladies.
An important aspect to acknowledge is the very high quality of this perfume. It is immediately apparent that Hermes does not spare expense when creating perfumes. It is the perfectly refined, high-quality perfume for our sunny southern springtime.

Southern Manners

Delicacy and Formality
There is a gentle formality among southerners that I find most familiar and comforting. It is a land where manliness is identified with chivalry. Power is measured in self-restraint, not self-promotion. The southern lady is the bearer of culture and esteemed in the highest by the southern gentleman. This culture of civility transcends class and race, yet no class nor race is exempt from the responsibility.
I am by nature, upbringing, and habit rather formal in my ways, so it is always a joy for me to be among those who are reserved, quiet, kind, dignified, and respectful. Those who insist on the discipline of mannerly behavior. The gracious southerners who remain unflappable in an age of declining grace. Those with soft, slow, southern voices who meet everyone with a warm greeting.
The Art of Behaving Well
In the South, these traits manifest themselves in the laughing voices of the sweet southern ladies who gently squeeze your hand and declare you are sweeter than sugar. It is the gent with a beau's heart who knows your name but only ever calls you "Missy". It is every parent who insists on respectful behavior from their children for their own sakes and for the sake of society.
It is pearls and dresses, but is also getting down in the grass to tend to your babies, chickens, and roses. It is bow ties and pocket watches, but so too is it rolling up sleeves to help a stranger, solve a problem, and give of yourself. It is manners and morals and a code of conduct carried from mother to child.

Old Southern Valentine

Cream Puffs
This is the original recipe that has been in my family for at least 120 years. I have seen many versions, but nothing comes close to this one for authenticity. No southern kitchen would be without a perfect cream puff recipe, and this lovely French dessert is also perfect for Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, cream puffs have been relegated to a fried, doughnut shop version filled with pudding. That is nothing at all like the light, subtle taste and texture of this fine original.
Simplicity And Elegance 
This is one of the easiest, most elegant, and most versatile recipes. Since the pate a choux (pastry) is unsweetened, you can create a sweet or savory filling, making it a perfect appetizer, lighter main course, or dessert. This is the original pastry for making éclairs and the Croquembouche, the traditional French wedding cake.
From Our Archives
While I have found earlier versions of this recipe recorded in my family's cherished kitchen ledgers and journals, this 1890's entry is the earliest I have found in our ledgers of this particular version. The only thing I have added is an actual oven temperature setting, as my family's original recipe provides no information on temperatures. Do keep an eye on them as you bake yours and make sure they become dry and golden.
The original version is filled with lightly sweetened whipped cream and the top is dusted with powdered sugar. Many people add a chocolate, but this is the original recipe. There are two parts to making the pate a choux and both are quite simple.
Old Southern Kitchen
Cream Puff
Pate A Choux
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
4 eggs
1 cup water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Add water to a pot and bring to a boil.  Add butter to the boiling water.  Stir until melted.  Add flour to the boiling mixture, then stir for three minutes and until the dough leaves the sides of the pot.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Once cool, stir in the eggs one at a time.  Beat mixture to a sooth consistency.  Drop by the spoonful onto a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 370 degrees and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and thoroughly dry.  Allow to cool.
Filling and Finish
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar (or per taste)
Powdered sugar (to dust the top)
Mix heavy whipping cream with sugar, whip until fluffy. Cut through side of the cooled cream puffs and add whipped cream. Dust tops with powdered sugar.

Old Southern Perfume

We loved the smell of her face powder and the light orange-flower perfume she wore, the crinkled waves of her hair, the knot speared through with a small pointed Spanish comb.
"Portrait: Old South"
Katherine Anne Porter
Orange Flower
Before the lady of the house outfitted cupboards with verbena sachets and lavender soaps, the antebellum bride wore the tender scent of orange flower.  In the Old South, the only flower used in the bridal bouquet was the orange flower. For the first year of marriage, the new bride carried handkerchiefs scented with orange flower water to mark her new station in life.
The truly, truly ethereal scent of orange flower is at once crisp and delicate.  It is evocative of the sweet, fresh, morning cool of May and June.  Yet, is carries with it a tender creaminess which hints at the honey warm days of summer.  It is a singularly pleasing scent which lingers prettily on sun warmed skin.

Guidelines For Dress and Comportment

Discriminating Taste
I live by rules. I have a natural instinct towards categorizing things as either right or wrong, which I further refine through knowledge and careful attention. I do not subscribe to the modern notion of relativism, as there really is no such thing.
I am the guardian of my behavior, and I live in careful check of it. This sort of awareness extends to my personal dress and comportment, as well. I was raised to be careful and carefully aware of my position and to value it. Appearance communicates the level of one's own self-worth.
As With You, So With Your Children
I believe this list to be woefully incomplete, because I do not possess a written list of rules, yet these rules are as intrinsic to me as my name. Both were given to me by my family, and as with one's name, if something is consistently repeated and enforced throughout a child's lifetime, it becomes theirs, it becomes them.
Never underestimate the power of your manner and manners, your dress and comportment, or your standards or intellectual leanings; for they will surely be the foundation upon which your children build.
The Rules
I am a product of the Old Guard, where it is still considered in poor taste to wear makeup. It is never present in certain circles.  Women of this class understand the superiority of excellent skin, hair, and dress, and excellence is wrought through diligence and care.  It is an unwritten rule, and yet quite the social marker. 
It is a sign of poor manners to present oneself as untidy or plain.  These are the impeccably dressed, expertly coiffed regal matriarchs of the south. 

I am never without a funeral dress. I always ensure I have an appropriate one before there is need. Please, please consider getting one now. You will never want to associate one with the passing of a loved one, because you had to purchase it upon learning the sad news.
Proper funeral attire is never sleeveless. The appropriate fabric is a lightweight wool crepe. The knees should be covered, and black stockings should be worn. Patent leather is not to be worn. Even if one must stand in 100-degree heat and 100-percent humidity, it is an important tradition to uphold.
It is a sign of respect and proper decorum to wear a dress or knee-length skirt, cover one's shoulders, wear stockings, and closed-toe shoes to church.
It is vulgar to be inordinately noticeable. It is a very modern notion that one should wish for attention. This quest for recognition has so completely replaced the quiet values of decorum that the south had held as the standard, that too few realize it.
I do not wear clothing with logos, nor do I wear pieces which clearly identify any designer.
I match my pocketbooks and my shoes.
I recognize the profound impact jeans have had on society. However, I do not wear them, nor do the ladies in my family and immediate social circle. Jeans are still regarded as workman's clothing, and I respect the distinction. It seems to me that if one's work uniform is drafted into popular culture, the recognition of the workman's trade is diminished. There is job dignity expressed in the uniqueness of one's uniform.
If I find an article of clothing that is especially well made and fits me unusually well, I will buy several. For example, I have a small stack of a certain shirt that I bought nearly ten years ago. I keep them in air-tight storage, and replace its twin when necessary. It is a perfect example of choosing classic pieces.
I do not own flip-flops, and it is so deeply ingrained in me that they are shower shoes, that I simply do not consider them shoes.
I own few pairs of sandals, and I wear them only for certain lawn functions. 
Tee shirts are undergarments.
Do not leave the house in shorts.
No sweatpants or yoga pants.
Proper bed clothes, neatly pressed, and for bed time only.
Dress every morning before starting the day's activities.
When I wear a strand of pearls I never wear earrings.
There are only three hairstyles worn by the women in my family from earliest childhood to one's golden years. If hair is long it is worn up. Both of my grandmothers and all of my aunts wear either a French twist or a chignon, I have never seen any of these ladies with their hair down.
A classic bob is an appropriate and flattering cut for an expecting mother and the mother of young children.
The mothers of older children wear their hair in either a bob or keep longer hair worn in a French twist.
Elderly ladies choose from a bob, French twist, or classic chignon.
Investing time and money in high-quality, nutritionally dense foods will help one obtain beautiful skin, a healthier appearance, and a slimmer physique.
Investing in fewer, but high-quality, wardrobe staples will help you look chic without having to try. Imagine how many accessories one must strategically coordinate to dress up a trendy, but poorly made t-shirt.
Invest in high-quality skin care and toiletries starting at a young age.
All skin types need oil. 
Also, remember that great skin care will keep your skin supple and radiant for generations.
Children wear white exclusively until six months to one year of age.
Girls wear dresses, pinafores, and bloomers almost exclusively.

Dupioni silk for spring.
Linen and Metis for summer.
Seersucker, for boys and men, on the first of July.
Tweed for fall only.
Winter white rather than dark colors.
Wide wale corduroy for fall only.
Narrow wale corduroy for winter.
Patent leather for dress occasions only.
Crocodile for travel only.
Spectator pumps for sporting events only.
Tennis shoes for sport only.
No sleeveless clothing.
No open-toed shoes for church, funerals, or business.

Antebellum Cleaning Recipes

Southern Homemaking
A gentle respite from the heat, toil, and strife of the outside world, the gracious southern home offers a fresh, cool world of quiet and comfort, order and charm.  The assaultive burden to one's senses may be left behind as one enters. 
The traditional southern home does not participate in the noise, glare, assertive scents, or chaotic disarray.  There is the quiet of garden lingerings.  There is the honey glow from gently cared for furniture and the soft, filtered window light.  There is the mere hint of beeswax as the sunlight warms mahogany polished to a buttery glow.  The air is enlivened only by the herbal bouquet dressing a pretty vase offered as a happy welcome to those who enter.  The southern home offers serene care.
Southern Legacy
It is the decidedly lovely southern tradition to follow the old garden inspired and garden infused ways to give great care to our most cherished world.  We need only to look to our past to find the most effective, gentle and lovely recipes for home care. 
The journals and home ledgers passed to me by my ancestors provide me with a glimpse into a world of gentle maintenance and order.  I still use those recipes today, as I have delicate items to clean: hand painted bone china, coin silver, marble, copper pots and kettles, hand-worked wool rugs, cypress floors, antique furniture, antique cast iron, etc.
Dish Soap
I make a dish scrub that is gentle enough for hand-painted items. This "dish soap" will truly clean dishes, glasses, flatware, and pans.
Hand-knit Wool Wash Rag
I use hand-knit wool wash rags to wash dishes, dust delicate items and books, clean countertops and floors.
Copper Cleaners
I use buttermilk to clean the tarnish off of copper pots and kettles. It is wonderfully gentle, and it is always on hand in southern iceboxes. I use a natural scrub brush on all of my copper pots and pans.
If your copper is heavily tarnished, dip the cut side of half a lemon in salt and scrub the lemon salt mixture onto the copper. It is the most effective way to remove heavier tarnish.
For The Home
Spray Cleaner
I make an all-purpose spray for glass and countertops. It cleans well, leaves no scent, and is safe for marble. 
Scouring Powder
I make a scouring powder for a deeper clean. It leaves surfaces squeaky clean but is safe for porcelain, marble, iron and enamel.
Beeswax Furniture Polish
I make beeswax furniture polish, but I use it sparingly, as consistent dusting with a dry cloth will keep items in good stead.  Consider dusting more often, as it will greatly enhance your home and furniture and reduce the need for additional cleaning items.
Natural Feather Duster
I use a feather duster for larger dusting jobs. It is gentle, and the feathers actually attract dust. The synthetic items on the market today are too harsh and will scratch surfaces.
Natural Broom
I mop marble with clear, hot water only after I have washed floors kitchen soap solution and wash rags.   Hardwood and cypress is bathed in the old, old French "vinegar water". I do use natural broom, because it is gentle on all flooring surfaces.
Linen Water
I make flour and herbal waters for a variety of uses. I am very picky about lavender, and I do not wish to have a powdery or sweet version.  The lavender I grow is a rather herbaceous one, and it imparts to clean, fresh water scent.
I spray our bed linens and handkerchiefs. I would not suggest spraying it during ironing, as this will weaken the clothing fibers.
Linen Wash
For heirloom, antique and vintage linens and lace I make a linen wash. One can never be too careful with the laundering of these special items, but many of them suffer from dreadful yellowing.  Nothing is more appropriate for the gentle care of infant linens. 
Skin Care 
This too was a very old recipe by the time it was entered into these old journals, and it holds true to the test of time.  A true refinery is an appropriate mix of healing and soothing florals or herbs, rich minerals, and a good, gentle emollients.  It is as nourishing as it is cleansing, and it is a lovely way to administer proper care.


This sweet southern delicacy was created in the 16th-century by the cook of Count Plessis-Praslin, who boiled crushed almonds in sugar until they were golden and crisp. The recipe became popular throughout France, and was brought to Louisiana by the French.
The southern version is made with local pecans and brown sugar instead of white. This is one of many shining examples of the rich culinary tradition of the South.
New Orleans of the early 1800's was the home of the pecan praline. Pralinieres, Creole women in starched white aprons and tignons (a madras kerchief worn as a headdress), sold their Pralines aux Pacanes on the streets.
2 1/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tbls butter
2 1/2 cups pecans
Combine sugar, water, and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Stir in pecans and stir until mixture reaches the soft ball stage of 240 degrees.
Remove from heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon for one minute or until mixture is no longer glossy.
Drop by the tablespoonful onto a buttered baking sheet.
Let stand until firm.

Southern Coin Silver

Southern Treasure
Because major silver lodes were not discovered in America until 1859, silversmiths melted down outdated silverware and silver coins.
Coin Silver flatware and holloware was made in the South until the United States adopted the "Sterling" silver standard in 1868. The new standard required that there be at least 925 parts silver in each piece.
Coin Silver was composed of 850-900 parts silver and was alloyed with copper. This made Coin Silver items look similar to sterling, but there were a few key differences. Since Coin Silver has a lower silver content, it has a matte patina. Coin Silver is also harder and more brittle that sterling.
Coin Silver is highly prized in the South, and the antebellum southern states had many fine silversmiths. I have compiled an abbreviated list of silversmiths from South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama; and I have included city names and dates when possible.
South Carolina
Hayden and Gregg, 1830's, Charleston
Alexander Young, 1784-1856, Camden
James Spear, Charleston
John Mood 1792-1864
William Ewan
Samuel Talmage
Fredrick Marquand
Humphrey P. Horton
Cornelius H. Rikeman
William and Archibald Cooper, Louisville
George W. Stewart, 1840's, Lexington
Butler Bryant
Daniel Winchester
George W. McDannold, 1840, Mt. Sterling, Winchester, Covington
John Kitts, 1850's, Louisville
Henry Hudson, 1850's
Jacob Dolfinger
Joseph Draper 1830's-1850's
Asa Blanchard 1770-1838, Lexington
Knapp, Mobile
James Conning, 1813-1872, Mobile
James R. and Daniel Poor, Selma
Samuel Bell, 1820's-1830's

The Fragrant Ladies

Developing a child’s palate is not limited to cuisine. The scented world of childhood carries a profundity of meaning, context, even self-identification. That foundation is the reference point. What comes after is always based on, compared to, and filtered through those first scents. It is no wonder. Our olfactory cortex is directly linked to the memory center of the brain, the hippocampus. Sent becomes memory. Memory is scent. Developing a discerning palate in our children is a kindness and gift we can bestow.
Raising a child in the rich experiences of real scent, those elements of our natural world that give us such great delight, will serve them well. Our children will be better armed against the artificiality of a chemical-laden consumer world divorced from nature.
A child raised on the flavors of real food, the out-of-doors, and in a home environment of real scent will have built an olfactory foundation which makes the artificiality unpalatable.
In order to help a child to develop a sophisticated approach to considering what is, and what is not, of value (in any category) one must recognize that one’s own discernment will have lasting influence on a child’s cultural tastes and expectations.
The tawny scent of honey.
The sweet, bright scent of cold butter.
The sharp, resin-greeniness of rosemary, sun-warmed and driving bees mad with desire.
The prim, camphor-sweet of lavender, dressed in her silvered-gray, just as Miss Havisham would be.
French bread baking.
Orris root powder. Oh, the scent of dear, sweet scent of The Old South.
The summer tangle of limes, tomatoes, garlic, onions, cilantro, jalapeno.
Sun-warmed earth.
The mineraly scent of a tomato leaf.
Thyme-grown pathways.
The vanilla-lemon of a magnolia in bloom.
The stately, delicate oblate leaves of the tender Lemon Verbena, the fragrant ladies, as my mother named them.
Night-blooming jasmine. The reward for surviving yet another southern summer day.
Cold-water scent of watermelon, which mommas send children deep into the yard to eat. (No dripping on this clean floor.)
Grape-sweet wisteria.
Sun-kissed skin.
Sun-brewed tea.
Ladies in old perfumes.
Bridle leather.
Floral waters.
Fried chicken. Upon which one’s worth (or goodness, or might) may be judged.
Biscuits cooked in a gas oven.
Hot cast iron.
White gravy.
Linen water. Smooths the wrinkles out of the heat.
Verdant-sharp grape flowers.
Tart scent of our fig trees.
Mulberry ice cream.
Summer rainstorm. Yes, please!
Lemon blossom.
Jungles of basil.
Carpets of oregano. Smells like old cast iron pencil sharpeners to me.
Pert, uncharted forests of mint.
Honey-sweet beeswax polish, warmed and fragrant from the sun shining onto a sideboard.
Mossy green of swimming in the stock tank.
Summer suppers.
Oh, but this is childhood.

The Land of Evening Lingerings

As he hurried along, eagerly anticipating the moment when he would be at home again among the things he knew and liked, the Mole saw clearly that he was an animal of tilled field and hedgerow, linked to the ploughed furrow, the frequented pasture, the lane of evening lingerings, the cultivated garden-plot. For others the asperities, the stubborn endurance, or the clash of actual conflict, that went with Nature in the rough; he must be wise, must keep to the pleasant places in which his lines were laid and which held adventure enough, in their way, to last for a lifetime.

Secrets For Beautiful Skin

Wild-caught Atlantic Salmon
Good, healthful food improves the mind, the body, and the skin.  Few choices will make such visible improvements as quickly as adding a lovely portion of salmon to your day will. 
Beauty Treatment
I eat wild-caught salmon for an extended time as a beauty treatment. This is a miracle for your skin. You WILL see the difference in your skin within a week.
Simple Is Best
I simply add a bit of sea salt to it before baking, and that is it. It is perfectly fine to add fresh garden herbs to it. Fresh rosemary or dill will complement salmon beautifully, and both improve skin, too.  A complementary pepper sauce aids in enhancing, rather than masking, salmon's delicate flavor.  Louisiana Hot Sauce is a tangy, rather astringent foil for the unctuous salmon.
Pretty In A Can
When I am unable to find a nice piece of salmon, I do rely on a very good canned version.
I buy Honey Boy Skinless Boneless Red Salmon, 6 oz (it has a black lid), and I buy it in bulk. 
If you must choose only one food to add to your diet, this is the one.
If you are unable to find this brand, do please choose one which CLEARLY STATES: Wild-caught Atlantic salmon, boneless and skinless.

Old Southern Tradition

Simple Pleasures
Southern World Of Scent
When I begin to feel the first stirrings of Spring, I do follow the lovely, and so very southern, tradition of using my new ablutions of the season.  The scents used are chosen by carefully considering one's entire scent signature.  It has long been the practice that southern women carefully choose their scents and thoughtfully craft an olfactory expression of their lives.
This antebellum southern tradition is taken so seriously that southern ladies would choose scents based on their age and life situation, the effect the scent of her sachets would have on her clothing, and on subtle distinctions in the weather where she lives. Of especial importance is the surrounding flora and the rich, alluvial scent of earth.  Our deep, rich soil drapes our heavy air in a thick, minerally molasses.  Our creamy, heavy flowers offer a soporific tug, and we are cloaked in and lulled by its primeval allure.  The southern child cuts teeth on such headiness, is it no wonder that the southern woman should consider it a companion and friend?
As a southern woman ages, she gradually narrows down her choices, and in her more mature years, she would have chosen her signature scent. Her linen water, sachets, dusting powder and soap marked her distinct and revered station in life, whether it's new bride, new mother, or matriarch.
I've read of the choices my ancestors made in the journals and ledgers they kept. I can ascribe certain personality characteristics to the family of my past by the scents chosen. I think this is a lovely legacy, and I hope there are many our age doing this. I still base my choices on the seasons and the weather.
Winter to Spring
Wintertime and early Spring means the very subtle scent of rose or orris. Oh, the lovely old, old orris.  How the scent always brings to mind the dear, sweet ladies of my childhood.  It is the sweet, soft scent of gauzy Spanish moss and bald cypress. I always, always have orris dusting powder and sachets on hand, and it is the tradition to use only orris in a wedding trousseau. 
It is not common to find a rose scented item of good quality. However, you may be pleasantly surprised by a few rose soaps and especially rose petal dusting powders and salves. When true rose is added to a powder, salve or a soap of superior quality the scent is subtle and very compatible to your skin's natural scent. 
Linden often the choice of women of old southern lineage, as they are often still connected to their ancient European roots. It is especially common in Charleston and Savannah to drink linden tea at Easter. 
It has a very soft citrus flower scent. It is a fresh, but soft and not a bit powdery. It is still possible to find fine French soap varieties that are hand crafted, natural soaps made the same way since the Middle Ages. These soaps are very mild and moisturizing, and I love how creamy they are.  We are especially fond of making linden dusting powder.
Once the weather turns consistently humid, the linen water scents most often employed are lavender or orange blossom.  Very rarely may one find an orange flower water that is true to the gentle floral creaminess of the flower, though.  Orange flower water was very common in New Orleans and is still faithfully used by the older, Louisiana French (as opposed to Cajun) families.  It is lovely on freshly laundered, crisp bed linens on a sultry summer night.
When the air turns crisp, it is the clean scent of lavender or rosemary. Now, one must be very, very picky about lavender scent, and most lavender scented items are quite off-putting. I do not want something sweet or powdery. I want the true, pure, clean scent of the lavender leaf and flower.
I grow copious amounts of lavender and rosemary, and I do make lavender water, rosemary water, salves, sachets, and dusting powders myself. The herbaceous clarity is a good foil to many of the warm spices often employed in our cuisine during the season.  I do not care to have those linger.
In The Clear, Dark Winter
As fall turns once again to winter, I crave the scents of this world around me.  To my senses, the ancient traces of metal-sweet fine pipe tobacco and honeyed leather seem to reemerge from old books and ledgers and old stately chairs.  The air carries the cold and damp and chilled earth.  Only true verbena is the scent of a southern Christmas.  The scent lingers from pretty sachets and dusting powders, and winter in the south is wrapped in its subtlety. I have always considered it the scent of the mystery of this season.

Southern Home

Choosing Antiques for the Authentic Southern Home
The history of southern furniture is an unfortunate one. Many items not stolen or destroyed during the Civil War were destroyed by our oldest aggressors, heat and humidity.
Progress is only now being made in cataloging and preserving southern-designed, southern-made furniture. While I'm glad about that, it does not make antique buying easy.
Many southern wives in their 20's and 30's are trying to outfit our homes with antique pieces, and most want to do so in an authentic southern style. But what does that really mean? While many choose pieces that look southern: Victorian panel beds, Empire oak, etc. These pieces are from up north and were as mass-produced as anything you'll find in department stores today. So, what comes closest to the pieces in southern homes 200 years ago?
Historical Accuracy
Unless you are able and willing to outfit your home in solid, West Indies mahogany, English walnut, or oak, you may wish to consider the painted furniture of Sweden.  While it is authentic in neither line nor aesthetic, it is quite, quite close.  The proportions are especially close, and painted furniture is historically accurate to the antebellum south.
Southern Painted Furniture
Southern humidity is a furniture killer and a bug's heaven. These two facts of southern life left few furniture options. Many true southern antebellum homes had painted pieces in white and light, light colors. The paint worked to protect the wood from moisture and bugs, and it provided a cool, serene respite from the hot southern sun.
In southern homes fabric choices are taken very seriously, as these must accommodate our heat and humidity, too. Our toiles, plaids, florals, and checks work beautifully with these pieces.  While not traditionally used, many choose to decorate with mattress ticking and seersucker, too.
Swedish Gustavian
Swedish antiques can work in a variety of decorating styles. You can find pieces that are plain and austere or really ornate.  The paint colors are unbelievable. It is not a dull milk paint white, nor is it a shocking, fresh from the spray can white. It has this gauzy, lit-from-within quality in shades ranging from pale, pale grays to blue/whites.
What I love best is the genius of proportion. Pieces can be very tall, but then quite narrow, or very wide, but seven feet tall and only 19 inches deep.  The beautifully carved pieces illustrate the fact that these pieces need not be simperingly sweet nor cloying. The lines are lean and graceful and appropriate for a southern home.
These pieces are made for storage, which is great for those with young families. Large pieces are pretty used in formal dining rooms, living rooms, or even master bathrooms, as the paint can protect the piece from humidity.
Swedish sideboards will both brighten and traditionalize a dining room. Paired with a trestle or even a traditional Gustavian table, the look is fresh and timeless.
Southern Little Girl
This is a favored look for a little girl's room. Paired with pretty sages, blues, pinks, peaches, or yellows in delicate florals, gingham, plaid, or stripes, this says Old South like few other antiques can.
No Victorian panel beds here.