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!


Sweet Summertime

There are very few things like summertime in the South. Somehow things slow to a snail’s pace and speed up all at once. The air is thick and wet, making even breathing a laborous task. One of my favorite things about it? The random showers. The rain pours in buckets, and the sun still shines brightly through. Most of the time, it lasts for five minutes, max. Each rain drop has the ability of making a splash the size of a grapefruit it seems. The showers usually happen when you least expect it – you may be leaving the grocery store with paper bags that break when wet or you could just as easily be in your swimsuit playing in the pool with your kids.

We just keep umbrellas on us at all times. They’re handy to have to keep away both rain and sun in the Texas heat. A couple of my favorite movies always come to mind when this time of year comes ’round. Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood and To Kill A Mockingbird. To be honest, most Southern movies make me feel at home and are simply good for my soul.

Tomatoes grow best when the air waters them, too, I’ve noticed. The more humid the weather, the more my plant gives. It reminds me of my frist trip to California. We went to a winery, and the lady truly was surprised I was the age I was (yes, I was over 21). She said the humidity keeps skin younger. I have no actual scientific evidence to prove this, but then again, I don’t have any evidence it isn’t true, either. 😉 What are your favorite things about summer? Thank you for reading!

Keep cool with my kids’ favorite sprinkler!

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Traditions and Casseroles

imageWhen I first started this blog, I tried to strictly stick with etiquette. My goal was to simplify etiquette so that everyone felt comfortable knowing and using it. However, as I’ve learned over the past several months, etiquette, particularly in the South, isn’t as “Emily Post” as I originally thought. So much of what we do and how we act hinges on the traditions that have been passed down to us from our parents and grandparents. Personally, I love this. It connects us with those we may have known only briefly before they passed away, as well as with those we may never have had a chance to meet.

In a world of political correctness that has stifled diversity, I crave uniqueness. I want traditions and cultures that make areas of the wonderful USA different and special. My goal for Etiquette by Emily in 2016 has been to incorporate traditions, tying them to etiquette and, in some cases, pointing out the differences. This is not stuffy etiquette. This is everyday etiquette – etiquette for everyone.

That being said, I want to showcase a tradition I have noticed dying off, save for within churches: bringing food for those who have had a significant life event take place.

Growing up, I think my mom took casseroles, breads, pies and more to people who had recently suffered a death in their family or celebrated a birth. In the South, we closely tie food to comfort (possibly too much so, but it’s not an area I’m willing to give up). A way to show love or appreciation is through food. Bringing food to someone eases some of the everyday burdens, allowing the recipient to focus on their new baby or on grieving. To be quite honest, it blesses the giver as much as the recipient.

This week I had the privilege of taking a casserole (recipe below) to a friend who had a baby a few weeks ago. It’s not the healthiest of casseroles, but it’s an easy, kid-friendly one that heats up well. Priorities. I remember after the births of my kids, the people who brought by food were eligible for sainthood, in my opinion. After nursing, burping, being spit up on and surviving on little-to-no sleep, cooking was the absolute last thing on my to-do list.

I want to make sure this tradition is continued, so I rounded up my kids, Katherine and Grant, and allowed them to “help” cook. Katherine stirred the cream of different things soups together, and Grant helped sprinkle in the garlic powder. It’s important they understand the importance behind this tradition. The recipe, which is not my own, also connects them with their grandmother. In a world where busyness is glorified, it’s good to step back and breathe to remember it’s not all about us. I hope you’ll consider continuing this tradition with me. It’s the perfect opportunity to get out that box of old recipes and cook up something delicious.

Chicken Noodle casserole:
12 ounce egg noodles, cooked per package
2 cans cream of anything soup (I usually use one cream of chicken and one cream of mushroom)
1 cup sour cream
¾ cup milk
1 teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder, paprika
Dash of salt
3 cups cook, diced chicken
Mix everything up

24 Ritz crackers
½ stick of butter, melted

Crush crackers on top. Drizzle butter over it all. Bake covered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Uncover, and bake for 10 minutes more.

Vacation Books

Sorry for the hiatus! I just returned from a trip to South Carolina with our dear friends, where I made sure to mind my etiquette manners. 😉 We stayed at an interval our friend’s parents have at the beach, and on the last night we were there, we made her mom a meal (her dad was not there). I would COMPLETELY recommend this in place of a hostess gift when staying with someone, particularly since in this case, they live at the house only eight weeks a year, with other families living there the remaining 44 weeks. Additionally, we flew, and our friend’s mom drove there, so space was limited. A thank you note will still follow our visit.

While there, we took in some of the historical side of the town (my favorite part of any place), as well as some fun shopping. One place, The Christmas Mouse, supplied all of our 2015 Christmas ornaments. We were about to decide to return to the beach house, when my friend made the call to go ahead and go insidbookse the general store. I’m SO glad we did. I bought four books for my kids and three for myself. 🙂 Being that this blog is still very new, I’m trying new things to bring interest to this site. All three books are etiquette and South-related. My first I hope to use for a few different posts. It is “What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should)” by Ronda Rich. I’m incredibly excited about this one. My other books are “Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy” and “Suck In Your Stomach And Put Some Color On” both by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson. These two are for the feisty etiquette lovers!

All of the kids books were South and beach books. The Southern Mother Goose has several Texas poems, which my daughter already loves! Do you have any etiquette books you love?