Happy (Early) Mother’s Day

I decided to go ahead and publish this post on Friday instead of Sunday just in case you’ve forgotten what Sunday is – Mother’s Day!

I haven’t experienced anything more life changing than becoming a mother. Every emotion I was capable of, I think I experienced. And it’s wonderful. Truly, it is. If I’m being 100% honest, though, I also mourned the “old” me. The “me” who didn’t have the weight of a thousand worlds suddenly thrust upon her. I remember the first time the realization hit me that I was completely and fully responsible for a small, innocent human. I went out to my granny’s house and sat with her for the longest time. I remember her looking at me for a while before speaking. She only said, “Being a mom has aged you.”

Now, she wasn’t referring to the dark circles that has appeared the same time my baby girl did. There’s an innocence that is lost when we become parents. That moment shifted our relationship into an even deeper place. It was also the moment that made me realize that we don’t achieve those deep relationships without the valleys. The all-nighters, incessant crying and constant neediness has formed a bond between my daughter and myself that you simply cannot manufacture. You have to hit those lows to come out on the other, wonderful side.

I’m grateful to all of the moms in my life.

To my mother-in-law, who raised me husband, I’m so thankful you look at me like a daughter and truly love my kids.

To my grandma who would stay up late with me eating peanut butter toast watching Disney movies while everyone else slept. Thank you for cultivating my connection with past generations of our family.

To my granny who taught me more during her life by simply being the loving person she was. Plus, she had the kindest laugh.

And to my mom, the one who would make me a glass of water in the middle of the night because it “tasted better” than when I made it and who has always shown true, unconditional love.

 

Making Every Day Special

My granny had a talent for making every day special. Even though I was 12 when she and my aunt built a new home to move into, I associate most of my childhood memories with her in her old home, which she and my pappy moved into when they were married.

It was a simple white frame home with well-loved wood floors. There were also three points of exit, which probably caused gray hairs for my granny when she was watching me. The home didn’t have central heat or AC, so windows were regularly open, and the smell of honeysuckle permeated the air. She was an avid pie maker, so it was a regular occurance to see a cocount meringue pie in the kitchen.

My granny always told me that she cooked simple meals. But they never felt simple. Even a sandwich lunch in the heat of summer was special there. She pulled out all of the stops, and, as a mom, I wonder where she found her energy. For sandwiches there were always multiple varieties of meats and cheese in the Brookshire’s deli bags. Variety never stopped there, as there were options for every topping I could think of. She’s usually have a cantelope or other ripe summer fruit that she had cut up earlier, and tomatoes were both a topping and a side, sprinkled with a bit of salt. While her favorite chips were Lays potato chips, those were never the only ones she had. Even in the absence of one of her homemade pies (which never lasted long), Little Debbie treats were there following the meal. She still made it an experience.

I was thinking about these meals recently. I think too often we add unneccesary pressure on ourselves. While I do not (and will not) ever think it’s acceptable to just grow lazy and do the bare minimum, I also don’t think it’s prudent to add extra work just to add the extra work. She never felt pressured to make seven-course meals. She knew how to keep things appropriate.

My granny made sandwiches special. She enjoyed doing more than throwing a piece of meat and cheese on a slice of bread. That’s where I find much of my motivation. The meal never cost much, but, even as a 31 year old, I remember those meals vividly.

To me, this sums up etiquette so well. It doesn’t have to cost much. It just has a way of making the ordinary special. Don’t let fear hold you back from making each day special. You don’t need to work yourself silly. Invite friends over for sandwiches. I can guarantee those memories will last.

My daughter, my mom and I are the next generations of my granny’s legacy.

 

Nail Trends

When I was younger, I remember my granny telling me that one of her top compliments in her life came from her mother-in-law. My great-grandma told my granny that her nails looked very neat and clean. It was a simple statement, but as a child of the Depression, it made quite the impact on my granny. Even with Rheumatoid Arthritis, she always kept her nails well manicured, even if she didn’t paint them any longer.

As a girl she would tell me of the different trends she followed with her nails. In the 1930s and 1940s, the half-moon manicure was very popular, and when she was first on her own, this was the trend she loved. She said she would paint all of her nail other than the area where a half moon would be.  After researching this a bit, it seems the Hollywood crowd would wear their nails longer than my granny did, and they’d also leave the tip bare, other than clear polish.

My own mother also has beautiful nails, and when I was starting kindergarten (1991), I remember them most often as long and red – very fashionable for that time.

Now, though, it seems as though history is repeating itself as it so often does. The half-moon manicure is making a comeback! The next time I get a manicure, I think I’m actually going to attempt this trend as a nod to my granny. I’m going with red, though, for my mom.

Fun fact: There’s an old wives’ tale that states that the more nails you have that have half moons, the more attractive you are.

 

Granny’s Easy Peach Cobbler

My granny was known for her sweet tooth. There was never a day in her home that we weren’t offered dessert after every meal. This was the lady who added sugar to my bowl of Lucky Charms. 😉 And she oozed sweetness. There will never be another one like her, and I’m thankful to have several of her “recipes.” I use that term loosely because she rarely measured, but today I’m very happy to share the first recipe of hers I remember making.

My granny loved peaches. In fact, the jarred vanilla peaches from Atwoods were some of her favorites. She always had canned peaches at home, and it was from this very simple ingredient that she was able to create a favorite dessert of mine – easy peach cobbler.

Photo Credit: Google Images

In a 9×13 pan, melt a stick of butter in a 350 degree oven. While it’s melting, combine 1 cup of flour, 1/2 teapsoon of baking powder, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of milk and a dash of salt. After the butter has melted, pour the flour mixture on top of the butter. Add two cans (16 ounces each) of sliced peaches in syrup on top. As if that weren’t sweet enough, sprinkle on sugar and cinnamon before baking in the oven for about 45-50 minutes. Delicious every time.

I’m thrilled to share receipes with you, and I can’t wait to hear from each of you about your favorite recipe. Please feel free to share them at etiquettebyemily@gmail.com.

Thank you for reading!

Traditions and Recipes

(Birthday girls get birthday pie in the South)

Last night I made some pies for a rehearsal dinner. Every time I make pies now, it reminds me of my granny. She was the pie queen. Every single crust of hers was perfectly thin and flaky. Just enough of the filling would soak in to make it delicious and worth every calorie. Like most Southern cooks, she never measured; she just felt the give the mixture gave to let her know if more milk, sugar, etc. might be needed. It never mattered. They came out just right each time.I wish I had that talent. I, on the other hand, have scoured over a dozen recipes my granny had written down (just for chocolate meringue pie) to try to find one that remotely tastes like my granny’s did. Before she passed away, I had her try some, and she gave me pointers for improving it – let the crust bake for about 90 seconds longer, increase the temperature about 15 degrees. Suggestions like these. About six months before she passed away, she gave me the approval. But, truthfully, I think she said it to be nice. No pie could ever touch hers.

My mother-in-law has always joked that if someone asks for her recipe, she gives it to them with a minor alteration. Maybe a slight measurement change or missing an ingredient that isn’t vital to the dish. She said that way people think, “Hmmm, it just isn’t quite as good as when Jane Smith made it.” However, I truly believe that it never is the same anyway. Recipes keep memories alive. Sometimes that right bite takes us back to our granny’s house, with a window AC unit, open windows in the kitchen that had simple white curtains blowing in the summer breeze, our bare feet on the laminate flooring and the perfect creamy bite of chocolate meringue pie in our month. No earthly mansion could compare to the paradise we experienced in that moment. No need for keeping up with the Joneses, as we had something they never would – a pie made with love from arthritic hands and a beautiful heart.

Although I’m missing my granny a lot lately, I’m so thankful for every memory I had with her and the recipes I get to share with Katherine and Grant. I hope you have plenty of memories like these, as well. If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comment section. Let’s keep the memories alive.

As always, thank you for reading!