Southern Girl Academy: Crafting

The one thing that all Southern Girls know is that being with family is essential. There is no replacing the value that Southern Girls place on the Family. The other thing that all Southern Girls know, is that being with family can be rough as h-e-double-hockey-sticks. The other thing Southern Girls know is this – always be prepared.  That is why every Southern Girl needs an Emergency Craft Kit on hand at all family functions. Especially those of the in-law variety.

There is a myth-purported by men of course – that domestic arts such as crochet, embroidery, knitting, paper crafting, baking and such were simply the tools by which women to learned how to keep perfect homes. Unfortunately, for several years the feminist movement bought this tale hook, line, and sinker. Thus, the domestic arts fell out of vogue. Until now. The current resurgence in all things domestic proves what Southern Girls have known all along: If your hands are busy, then your mouth is less so. And the same can be said for your Sister-In-Law.  And your cousin Tilly. And your great-aunt Sue Beth. This is why the Emergency Craft Kit was created.

A few uses for the Emergency Craft Kits are as follows.

  • When you are about to get your husband written out of the will. Example: You are at your in-laws and your MIL wants to tell you exactly how she raised her son better than you are raising yours. Before you tell her exactly how your are still trying to undo all the damage she did, simply break the kit open, get her started on stringing some beads with her grandchildren. This will give you time to fix a stout drink and remember Jesus.
  • As a preventive measure at large family gatherings where everyone has a different political opinion. Example: It’s Christmas, your mother has asked you to please play nice this year for the sake of your father’s blood pressure. At the first sign of complete ignorance and bigotry on the part of your brother-in-law, simply open the kit, break out the glue sticks, ephemera, and scissors and invite everyone to come make collage gift tags. Your brother-in-law will flee the craft scene as it is obviously “women’s work”, and you will get some of your last minute gift wrapping done.
  • As a way to remain polite when you are dragged to a social event that you are dreading. Example: You have been asked to attend the baby shower for your cousin Trixie. While you love Trix, you do not love her husband or her husband’s family. In order to keep this day all about Trixie and to not look bored/pissed off/like a condescending beeatch/ completely horrified, you come prepared with your bag of embroidery supplies ready to work on the baby bib you are embellishing for Trix’s little bundle of joy. This way you remain occupied with your work, distracting yourself sufficiently without looking rude – and you gain brownie points. Since you are making a handmade gift, you must be a saint.

If for some reason you have not yet had the chance to make your very own Emergency Craft Kit, here is brief tutorial on how to make your very own.

1) Find a vessel to hold your crafty arsenal.  Anything will do – mine is a vintage train case.

2) Decorate, Decoupage and Dizzy it up! I added tissue fringe, fun scrapbook papers, and other various embellishments on mine. I attached everything using a Glue Gun (which is the MOST important craft tool.) The purpose of this beautification is so that upon opening your ECK everyone will be immediately drawn to it’s happy splendour and temporarily distracted from whatever family insanity is at hand.

3) Fill your case with a well rounded assortment of crafting supplies and tools, such as:

Things that Cut

Regular scissors, pinking sheers, punches, circle cutter and rotary blades are all very handy to have on hand. Pinking sheers give a nice zig-zag finish to items, while the rotary blades are great for cutting straight lines on long sheets of paper. Also, punches are great tool for releasing anger and aggression. Instead of punching your brother for telling your mother that it was your idea not to come home for Thanksgiving, just punch paper instead.

Things that Glue

Glue is the second most important item in any craft kit. Glue guns are essential, followed by glue sticks, white school glue, YES paste (can be bought at Micheal’s but not Hobby Lobby),  and Modge Podge (not shown.) YES paste is great for adhering paper to things like book covers, cardboard, chipboard and other paper based items.  The rolling tool shown with the YES paste is called a Brayer. It helps smooth out the bubbles in your paper after you have glued it down. Modge Podge is the best product for decoupaging. I prefer the matte finish.

Things that Stamp

Stamps come in so handy for all occasions. If you have never bought a stamp start with an alphabet kit, like the letters in the middle. These are the best stamps to have because you can spell out any word for any occasion and purpose: birthday cards, scrapbook pages, ransom notes, ect. Stamps can be expensive for their size but if you will watch the sales and visit the $1 section at Micheal’s you can find some great deals. Also, there are 2 types of ink that I like to use. One is called Dye Ink (as shown above) and the other is Pigment Ink, which I prefer because it is not so saturated.

Strings and Things

There is no way I can convey the usefulness of having a variety of ribbons, strings, yarns and ball chains around. They can rescue almost any craft project that is going awry and they have been known to save the day for many a wardrobe malfunction.  Clothespins seem to be incredibly handy in all sorts of craft and emergency situations as well. If you are looking for an inexpensive way to stock up on these items, take a trip to your local thrift stores. They are a great place to purchase cool craft supplies as people are always cleaning out Granny’s closet when she has gone on to a better place. Like Tampa.

Other Things that Help

These are what I call the “duh” tools. Things you will forget you need until you sit down to do a project and then it is all “well duh! How did I think I was going to get glue on that paper?” So, next time you find yourself at the Dollar Store stock up on the following items:

  • Silver Glitter – everyone needs glitter in their kit. I promise. You may think you are too refined for it, or too neat freakish for it, but I promise the moment will come when you need it. Like when  your glitter TOM’s suddenly look a little bit like you neighbors shit-zu with the skin problem, and you are on your way to the Heifer International fundraiser and you know that Mary Steenburgen is going to notice your sad state of footwear if you do not act quick. In that moment, you will thank me for the glitter.
  • Sponge Brushes – Perfect for decoupaging, painting and in-a-pinch make-up application.
  • Sharpies – Surely I do not need to explain the importance of Sharpies?
  • School Ruler – Good for measuring, guiding your rotary cutter and for slapping away your husband’s Uncle Ned’s extra friendly hands.
  • Measuring Tape –A great thing to keep in your purse, measuring tapes can be used for more than just measuring. They are useful as emergency belts, dog leashes and when you need to tie someone or something up. Like your children in Anthropolgie.
  • Hole Punch – There are too many uses to list. Just trust me. Buy one. Or 10.
  • Thread
  • Album Binder Rings– One of those random items that you would never think to purchase, but once you do, I promise you will find a dozen ways to use them.

So there you have it. Craft 101 – how to make your own Emergency Craft Kit. The first step in Southern Girl world domination.

And remember this makes a great wedding gift for any Southern Girl. Especially one with a yankee MIL.

Jerusalem Greer comes from a long line of creative and resourceful Southern women, who always managed do a whole lot with just a little. She credits her mother for pulling up her carpet when she was little, so that she could glue-at-will without fear for her current successes  in craftiness. Jerusalem draws her inspiration from most things vintage, Nora Ephron movies, great books and the wide world of creative bloggers. She has been married to her Sweet Man of 14 years, has 2 amazingly creative and very messy boys, 1 Dog, 2 Hamsters, 1 Toad and 1 Hedgehog. She also loves Jesus, coffee and yoga and leaving her clothes on the floor.

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Southern Girl Academy: Home Decor

Growing up in the South, my Mama taught me the value of keeping a tidy, decorated, put-together house. It does not have to be fancy, and it does not have to be expensive, but you do have to make the most of what you have. Rule number one of being a proper Southern Decorator is never apologize for the state of your house. When company drops in unexpectedly welcome them in, turn on a pot of coffee, and for goodness sake offer them some dessert.

Photo courtesy chicklingosigns.com

Let’s talk about decorating that space where you live. Word placards are the way us Southerners like to send a message without being offensive. Take this one for instance. Growing up this is what my Mamaw had proudly displayed above her toilet.  She didn’t ever have to say one word, she just hung the placard and all who entered knew what to do.  Let the decoratin’ do the talkin’ and you’ll be just fine.

Southern Decorators proudly display pictures of their families to decorate their walls and tablescapes. Black and white pictures adorning your walls equal style and Southern Charm.  They also tell your family that they are special and they are the ones who make your house a home. Let the decoratin’ do the talkin’ and you’ll be just fine.

And last but not least we pay tribute to the monogram. It can be monogrammed bath towels, blankets, or an initial on the wall…the possibilities are endless. Remember, nothing says Southern Charm like pretty monogramming on your things. Let the decoratin’ do the talkin’ and you’ll be just fine.

Anyone can have a house that exudes Southern Charm. All it takes is filling it with things you love. For me that includes family heirlooms, family pictures and a kitchen table that is always company ready. Look around and see what your decoratin’ is sayin’ about you and your style.

Anna WannamakerAnna Wanamaker enjoys studying her Bible, Decorating, Decluttering and Cooking. She is a Salsa Connoisseur and lover of Mexican food.  Enjoy this moment, for this moment is your life is the quote Anna lives by.

Southern Girl Academy: Fashion

One of my earliest memories is a line of big-haired aunts around a salad bar. That and sneaking into the china cabinet to look at my Grandmother’s feral, jet-black hairpiece.

When properly utilized, this impressive structural anomaly boosted her teased and hairsprayed coiffure to heights previously unknown to mortal women. Along with her pearls, the hairpiece was deployed for weddings, funerals and Sunday church, spending the rest of its time lounging menacingly next to the gravy boat where inevitably a timid clutch of grandchildren would double dare each other to touch it. I couldn’t tell you why she kept her hairpiece in the china cabinet, only that she made the best chicken and dumplings I’ve ever had.

Needless to say, I grew up with an eye-rolling aversion to anything remotely identified as “Southern” or “feminine.” I eschewed cowboy fashion and camouflage for oversize men’s button-downs, leggings and black wingtip dress shoes. Oh, you didn’t know they made black wingtip dress shoes for women? Of course they did, it was the eighties. And I wouldn’t have been caught dead in pearls, opting instead to wear a tongue-in-cheek vintage t-shirt under a black blazer to give a speech for 11th grade student body president.

Embracing my traditional Southern roots while accepting my feminist sensibilities wasn’t easy, and my wardrobe suffered the rebellion accordingly, and schizophrenically, over the years as a result.

Growing up with two brothers, I spent hours on horses, ATVs and bass boats. I’ve gone mudding, frog gigging and deer hunting. Alternatively, I’ve dolled up for beauty pageants, homecomings and proms. Haven’t we all? A Southern country upbringing requires a staggering amount of shoes. But one thing remained a constant: I never left the house without mascara.

red bootsThankfully, I’ve come to learn a few things about what it means to have style, and perhaps even Southern style, if such a thing exists. I’ve even come to terms with my love for high heels and vintage aprons. I own, and even wear on occasion, a modest string of pearls and a pair of red cowboy boots. I still never leave the house without mascara.

I’ve accepted that a Southern woman can be soft and hard, pretty and tough, deliciously diverse and delightful all the same, with the appropriate shoes for any occasion. After all, a Southern woman must be prepared if her beau suggests an impromptu midnight boat ride to check his trotline. (True story.) And if my most recent birthday shoes are any indication, I am a woman who is ready for anything.

birthday shoesBeing comfortable and happy in your own skin, with your own unique style, can be the truest form of feminine expression.

Maybe I’ve finally grown into a proper, stylish Southern woman, one who has learned to appreciate good china, perfect meringue, a killer blowout and a man opening a door, but I haven’t forgotten the strong Southern women who’ve opened them, either. And I still have that t-shirt.

Angel Murphy Galloway is a reformed country girl living among numerous pairs of shoes, three dogs and one husband in the big city of Little Rock, where she works in nonprofit arts management. She also really likes your outfit. You can follow her on Twitter @angelmg.

Southern Girl Academy: Make-Up

I am so pleased to have been asked to share my wisdom on Southern women and makeup with the good students of this Academy. Let me just say that, by virtue of your being here, you have proven yourself to be a fine, upstanding creature who, even if not already blessed with the good sense, natural grace and devastating charm of a Southern woman, is at least on the right track to developing those virtues. For that, you are to be commended.

mascaraMy background with makeup and beauty is rich and long. I was born of a beautiful Southern woman who has always made great efforts to put her best face forward, and who has  passed along her secrets and wisdom to me through the years. What I have learned from her, and other attractive women in my life, could fill a book, not a blog post. Also, I have always had a natural curiosity about decoration and enhancements that has played out from my chin up more so than anywhere else in my life. Perhaps I could have been an artist, but my eyes became my favorite palette at an early age. This curiosity has culminated in a professional MAC makeup case overflowing with products of all shades and formulas, and that contains no less than 10 different types of mascara at any given time.

Those are my qualifications. Now that you know more about me, I trust you will take my beauty advice to heart. Here are what I like call The Basic Rules For Being A Southern Beauty.

  1. You must accept the fact that there is no such creature as a natural beauty. You know who comes closest to having natural beauty? Two year olds. And even they could use a touch of concealer from time to time. I have seen some of the world’s most beautiful women up close, and honey, there ain’t nothing natural about them. I don’t care how cute you think you are, or how busy your lifestyle is, trust me, you need some enhancements. If you think you can get by with a natural look, you must understand that it takes a deft hand to create that illusion.
  2. cliniqueYour first experience with makeup other than Bonne Bell Lip Smackers should never be before age 12 or 13, and should be at the Clinique counter. Girls, please stop bugging your mothers to let you wear makeup if you’re any younger, and please stop thinking you can start with Chanel or Dior. (You must earn that privilege, after you’ve both mastered the art of seduction and earned a paycheck that justifies owning a $50 lipstick.) You should start with either Aglow or Berry Delight blush, and either Adore U or Baby Baby lipstick, depending upon your skin tone. That is it.
  3. As you get older, you will graduate into foundations, eyeliners, bronzers, and the like. The possibilities are endless. Just remember that you must always, as mentioned above, know your skin tone and your “colors.” All good Southern women have, at one point, learned their “season.” If you don’t know yours, get yourself to the nearest department store makeup section and have a consultant help you figure it out.
  4. Maybelline Great LashFor minor purchases, drugstore makeup brands are perfectly acceptable. In fact, when you tell people that your beautiful new gloss is by Maybelline, they will admire your thrift and resilience (two important traits for Southern women to have, a la Scarlett O’Hara). But for complete overhauls of your look, get thee to a professional.
  5. There are a few makeup items you must have on your face and on your person at all times. The first is some type of foundation, concealer or powder. Everyone has pores, everyone has blood vessels, therefore everyone can use some smoothing out. You must always have on mascara, whether light or heavy. If you don’t, people will wonder if you’ve fallen ill. You should always have a bit of color on your cheeks. Pinching them is only a very temporary fix. And you should always have at least a slick of gloss on your lips, preferable something with a tint. Ladies, Chapstick doesn’t count. It is not makeup. It is something that people who live in very cold places (i.e. Yankees) must wear because the good Lord has seen fit to punish them.
  6. If you have an outstanding feature, by all means, play it up. But don’t whore it out. For example, if you have luscious, full lips, draw attention to them, but don’t feel the need to always lacquer them in a dark color. If you have perfect almond-shaped eyes, you should certainly draw attention to them by using multiple shades of eye shadow at one time, but don’t try to wear a smokey, dramatic look every day. The rest of us can only take so much of your perfection before we get just a teensy bit jealous. And a jealous Southern woman is not something you want too much of in your life.
  7. Lancome Julia RobertsAs you get older, you should avoid very shimmery finishes on your eyes and very dark, matte finishes on your lips. Both of these things are aging, and can look downright silly on anyone over 40 or so. However, if either of those have been your signature look for more than 10 years, you may consider keeping them so as not to confuse the men in your life. You might just consider toning your signature down a bit.
  8. And speaking of signature looks, if any woman in your social circle tries to copy and steal your signature look, you may feel free to give her withering looks. Just make sure your withering looks are done with as little facial movements as possible, so as not to crease your eyeshadow or smear your lipstick or anything like that.
  9. wine  galss lipstickYour makeup should never be anywhere other than on your face. Your foundation should not smear off on your collar or your friend’s face as you air kiss her. If it does, try a new formula, or a lighter touch. Your lipstick should never be left behind on a glass. Here’s a trick: Before drinking, as you bring your glass to your mouth, slightly moisten the rim with your tongue. This will keep your lipstick from attaching to the surface.
  10. A Southern woman will always let a friend know if something is amiss with her makeup, but in subtle, non-intrusive manner. A gentle caress can wipe away a stray eyelash, and a slight flick of the tongue along with pointed eye contact can alert someone to lipstick on her teeth. Remember, you look better when surrounded by other lovelies, so don’t let your companions look like fools. For more than a few minutes, at least.
  11. Whenever possible, always apply your makeup in private. I know many say it is acceptable to reapply lipstick at the table, but really, if you can excuse yourself to the ladies’ room to do this, you should. Part of what we’re doing when we wear makeup is creating an illusion, a mystique, which is defeated when we share our boudoir practices with the general public, or even our husbands.

Finally, I’d like to wrap things up with a visual aid.

dolly parton

The woman on the left is Dolly Parton, a consummate Southern woman. Although her makeup is heavy, she still looks lovely. Notice the carefully crafted look on her eyes — they are works of art. And her lips are perfectly sculpted. Though this look is too heavy for everyday wear, Dolly is a performer, after all, and her makeup suits both the occasion and her features.

Tammy Faye Bakker

The woman on the right is Tammy Faye Bakker. Contrary to popular belief, Tammy Faye was not a Southern woman. She was from Minnesota. Enough said.

Amy Bradley-Hole achieved the perfect liquid line about the time she was acing her SATs. She’s been coaching friends and family into the most beautiful version of themselves ever since. She knows the only natural beauty is inside, that’s why the outside can use a little sprucing up. In fact, she’s been known to go shopping in the rain to prevent a friend from wearing back-up makeup on purpose. You can follow her on Twitter @amybhole.