Updating Our Home

We have a very traditional home. It was built in 1940, and I absolutely love the formality of it in some regards. It has a formal dining, which I consider a must. It also has a formal-style living room, which I love most days. However, we have young kids, so sometimes a formal life doesn’t work for us. I recently purchased cubical storage shelves for our sunroom, and I cannot wait to get them put together!

I wanted the kids to have a corner of the room that they can have their joint toys (legos, crayons, etc.) together. I’ll post a picture of the completed project! I wanted to make sure all of the readers knew about Target’s discount on kids’ home items through the 20th! Get up to 25% off!!

Up to 25% off kids’ home + an extra 20% off bed & bath with code HOMEREFRESH Sun-Thurs. Valid 1/14-1/20 

I have been asked more about discounts lately, and I am a firm believer in not paying more than you have to. That being said, I will always make an effort to only showcase ads that I truly believe you, the readers, will benefit from. As always, thank you for reading!

Southern Traditions

I am absolutely mesmerized by various Southern traditions. The South is uniquely made up of various culture, creating a new one in its own right. I love this so much. However, it’s easy to be drawn into other cultures and fail to see what’s so special about your own.

For me, this is best highlighted by my own family’s Christmas Eve meal. Instead of having the same food each year and having that be our tradition, we explore new cultures and even time periods. In 2016 we had an Italian feast, and in 2017 we were transported back to the 1950s. This is our personal tradition.

I’ve always been one to romanticize what others do. After watching Pocahontas, I desparately wanted to be Native American. It’s this way with everything, though. I think it’s what makes etiquette so special to me. Traditions are the foundation of who we are, making traditions a cornerstone of culture. I get such a thrill learning about new people and new cultures.

I had the opportunity when I was in undergrad to study abroad in China. Again, I was struck with wanderlust. I genuniely felt sad at the thought of leaving this world without ever having seen it.

While we may not be able to travel extensively now, I enjoy bringing other parts of the world to my family.

However, it’s also important for me to not forget about the culture I live in. I mean something on a more micro level, though, than Southern. The South has several regionally distinct areas that all have their own sub-culture and traditions.

Today I want to highlight a favorite tradition of mine here locally in Hopkins County, Texas – Hopkins County Stew. It’s amazing. If you’ve never tried it, I enjoy mine best with crackers crushed in it to soak up some of the broth, loaded with cheese and a side of pickles (which may or may not also end up in the stew). It’s simple and comforting. If you’ve never made it before, this cold weather is the perfect time to start! Enjoy! Learn more about our annual stew contest! Fun fact: I worked this event the day before Grant was born!

P.S. If you try it, let me know what you think!

 

What We Lose With Participation Trophies

While the title of this post may not seem to be strictly about etiquette, it is my belief that those with good etiquette know far more than just about utensils and stemware. They know about grace. They know about kindness. They know about humility. Each of the preceding qualities are ones I feel we are losing with the participation trophy mentality.

People of all ages need to know how to win gracefully and lose gracefully. In an “everything goes” society, it’s important to remember that not everything does. It is perfectly okay that we excel in some areas and not in others. It’s okay that we are not the best in everything we do. With participation trophies, we often feed a false sense of security and belief that everything one touches turns to gold. We are losing drive. We are losing desire. We are losing passion.

What are we teaching our kids when they still win even if they didn’t put forth any effort aside from showing up? Sheltering them from the realities of life does much greater harm than any good that may come from it.

The kids who are never lost anything don’t know how to respond with grace when they are not invited to a party.

Their identity lies in being included, and they don’t know how to react when they are not treated the same as every other person.

Now, please don’t mistake me. I will never, ever advocate for anyone being left out. What I’m saying is that we all have different strengths and weaknesses. If we fail to identify those weaknesses, how do we expect to work on the weaknesses and to grow from them? Emotionally, we are stunting ourselves. Instead of seeing a lack of invitation as a personal attack, we need to know how to move from it.

Our differences are beautiful. New Orleans is one of my favorite cities because of the uniqueness you’ll find there. They embraces their culture and the people who make up said culture instead of trying to be the same. Maybe your gift is encouraging others. If everyone expects to win, when will your gift be used?

Embracing the fear of failure and being willing to try anyway is something else I’m afraid we’re losing in the participation trophy world.

This year I wish you a lot of grace and happiness. I hope you’re willing to try. I hope you’re willing to fail. I hope you’re willing to grow.

 

My Top 5 Christmas Party Hostess Gifts

Hi, everyone! Happy December 13th. Quick note: The Twelve Days of Christmas start on December 25th, not today! 😉

Today I wanted to give you a few hints for Christmas party hostess gifts. Here are my top 5 gifts!

Josh Cabernet Sauvignon. I love the flavor, and it’s moderately priced at around $13 a bottle. The label, however, is very clean looking, and I feel like it tastes comparable to higher priced bottles. Don’t forget, though, that when you give a bottle of wine, you’re giving it for your hosts to consume at a later date.Kind of along those lines are these adorable and very functional glass markers.

These Wine Glass Markers with Colorful and Stylish Design – Set of 6 (Pineapple) are perfect because they can be used on stemless glasses, too.

I also LOVE these cute cocktail napkins. I always have several sets, usually Southern themed, in my hostess basket at home. If the person(s) you’re visiting enjoy cooking, I always recommend theseGrand’aroma Bruschetta,garlic, Basil, Truffle Flavored Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 8.5-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 4). Garlic is my favorite one for everyday cooking, but they’re all delicious and add a new level of flavor to your meals.

Honestly, my last favorite pick is a giftcard to a local coffee shop. I know giftcards are very debateable, but I have noticed that the majority of people enjoy coffee. If they don’t, they enjoy tea or soda or the sweets coffee shops have.

I hope you have enjoyed this list, and I’d love to hear what your top picks are, too! Thank you for reading!

{The links in this post contain affiliate links, and we will be compensated for purchases made through the links.}

The Twelve Days of Christmas

I’ve written briefly on the 12 Days of Christmas in the past here in regards to how long you may leave Christmas decorations up. It’s a pet peeve of mine when people insist they must be taken down before New Year’s Day, as the Christmas season extends from December 25th through January 5th, concluding  Janary 6th with Epiphany. Clearly New Year’s Day is in the middle of the 12 Days of Christmas.

I’ve also written that it is perfectly acceptable to send Christmas cards through the end of the 12 days.

However, today I want to briefly talk on the importance of the 12 days. As a Christian, Christmas has much more than a secular meaning to me. During the 12 Days of Christmas, we remember the birth of Jesus, the killing of innocent children by King Herod, the importance of John the Apostle, among many other vital parts of our Christian faith.

Advent, the time beginning four Sundays prior to Christmas, prepares our hearts and minds for Christmas. The anticipation adds a specialness you can’t find in a store. I also feel is helps keep my family grounded and our eyes on the cross.

Keep in mind, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – Geaorge Santayana