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.

 

It’s a Family Tradition

Sorry. The title is actually just because my husband is a fan of country music. 😉 But today we are, in fact, talking about family traditions and how important they are. In my opinion, traditions are also basic standards your family expects and show your priorities. If you have monthly family get-togethers, you prioritize family time. If you have holiday traditions, you value holidays. And so on.

Growing up, my paternal grandparents, Grandma and Grandpa Wilder, lived in Irving, fairly close to the DFW airport. Although they moved to their new house when I was around 11 (I’m about to be 31), I still consider this house their home. At night in particular, when everything was quiet, you could hear the airplanes soar over the city. It’s no coincidence that, as an employee for American Airlines, my grandpa loves airplanes. However, he liked them most in mini version – model planes, in fact. He had a shop that he would spend many hours in building airplanes, flying remote controlled planes, etc. It was a topic he was always excited (and still is) to speak on. He has, in fact, been quoted and showcased in several model airplane magazines.

While planes weren’t my forte, they most definitely were for my brother. Today, at the ripe ol’ age of 26, he’s a pilot. I truly believe the interest created by my grandfather cultivated his love for flying high.

On the flip side, my grandma, though very classy and classic, would always let me push the limits a little. I remember one time in particular, she made me peanut butter toast (I remember it being the first time I had tried it) and let me stay up late (it was past 9pm when we started the movie) to watch 101 Dalmatians. It was absolutely wonderful, and it’s a memory I always think back to when I let my own daughter stay up past bedtime for one-on-one time. Although I was one of 17 (?? Not really sure how many at that time) grandchildren, I felt so special that she had made the night all about me.

This bond I made with my paternal grandparents has lasted through the years. At my grandparents’ 50th anniversary, my grandma passed down various items she had at her wedding to the granddaughters. I inherited a handkerchief she carried. It was carried by me at my wedding. When Garrett and I got engaged, she passed down her original wedding ring set, as my grandpa had gotten her a new one for their 50th. For years she had gotten small rashes on her ring finger that she thought was from soap. In addition to her beautiful ring, I also inherited her allergy to white gold. Go figure. 🙂 Regardless, I will absolutely cherish this ring for as long as I live and will one day pass it down to Katherine.Family is a value that has been passed down from both sides. As such, family time is something I truly treasure. I hope you are able to make time for your loved ones and make memories you’ll have forever.

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!