Southern Girl Academy: Sororities

Southerners LOVE secrets and the South is certainly full of them; from the trunk of Great Grandfather’s Confederate money that’s still in the basement (because you still never know if you might need it,) to the still your daddy has deep in the woods.  Ladies get in on keeping secrets as well.  We have the secrets to our families’ recipes (Only last week I was given the recipe to my grandmother’s banana bread) and the secrets of our sororities.  Any Southern girl of “breeding” joined at sorority while at college.

The names sororities generally consist of two or three Greek letters, often the initials of a Greek motto, which may be secret.  Each group as her own letters, symbols, crest, passwords and grip.  These are not revealed to you until you go through the secret initiation ceremony.  This usually occurs several after several weeks of “pledging.”  But before you stop reading because you’re now positive that Greek life is portrayed exactly in the movie Animal House, know that it’s a little different for women

Choice of sorority is crucial.  It begins long before college.  For me it began in junior high school – probably before.  My grandmother – the quintessential Southern aristocrat – would drive me along Sorority Row at the University of Alabama and tell me to which houses I was a legacy (all of them).  Legacies are daughters, granddaughters, or sisters of a member of the sorority. Many southern sorority women are part of a longstanding legacy tradition within the sorority.  She wanted me to attend there so badly she could spit (if she ever did such a thing).

Much to her chagrin and dismay I attended college in Arkansas where no legacies were to be had for me.  After receiving an invitation to join a sisterhood, later, my job became enlightening the new members on the history of our illustrious organization.  Along with the founders, purpose motto and creed, I taught new members about the finer points of pouring your beer in a glass before you drink, and not wearing your sorority letters to a “kegger.”  I always stressed that a lady only makes the paper unless she’s “wed, bred, or dead.”  After about 8 weeks they were initiated and finally knew the secrets of our sisterhood.  Of course many new initiates celebrated this event with copious amounts of alcohol.

Sure there is still the notion of fanatical loyalty, conformity, hazing and browbeating, but that was not my experience.  There was however a fair amount of partying, husband hunting and connection building.   For the guys, you can forget about the topless pillow fights and midnight hot girl on girl experimentation – or can you???  I enjoyed my time as a collegiate in a sorority.  And even today if you ask me the secrets of my group, I wouldn’t tell you!  Secrets are sacred in the South!

Anne Cadle is an alumnae of Zeta Tau Alpha fraternity for women.  Despite a freakish inability to make the most basic of Southern drinks, iced tea, she still considers herself a good girl from the south.  As the daughter of an Army Colonel she can drink you under the table and give you a cussin’ to make a sailor blush.  However, she’s also the daughter of a debutante, so she has the manners and up bringing not to do such a thing.  She blogs about her slice of the South.  You can stop by anytime for some store bought iced tea or her favorite beverage, Chardonnay.

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Southern Girl Academy: Cotillion

Students, I’ve been asked to school you in the fine art of the thrilling, torturous Southern tradition of cotillion. The best way I know how to convey to you the importance of this rite of passage for young Southern lads and ladies is to recount my own experiences in Little Rock Junior Cotillion in as vivid detail as I can muster without undoing all those years of counseling it took me to recover.

Little Rock Junior Cotillion was quite a big deal in those years, and it is still going strong today. Mrs. Ellen Butts founded the program in the 1950s as a method of teaching good manners, social graces and dance steps to children in grades 6 – 9.

The thrill of those early days of Cotillion is almost indescribable. The new dresses – fabulously froofy ones with lots of taffeta and ruffles. The new shoes – high heels with open toes. The panty hose – a lovely shade of nude unrolled from a little plastic egg. The white gloves – required by Mrs. Butts and with a pearl button that fastened on the inside of my wrist. Such glamour!

But there also was angst. Though terribly boy crazy myself, I was not in the popular clique and therefore not one of the girls all the boys wanted to dance with. When I close my eyes, I see an awkward middle schooler with a horrible layered 80s haircut in a hand-me-down rabbit’s fur coat trying desperately to impress those around me. I even had to endure several weeks of attending the dances with a cast on my arm, thanks to my severe lack of coordination on the dodgeball court. Such torture!

My earliest cotillion memory is from December 1982, when tornadoes ripped through Little Rock, leaving my house without power. That Saturday night, I was in the middle of a real pre-teen crisis. “How am I going to curl my hair?” I whined to my mother, who was a soothing my nerves in the glow of the Coleman camping lantern. “How am I going to put on my eye shadow?”

Thankfully, my grandparents had power. There, I completed my routine of tightly curling my bangs into a configuration resembling a roll of coins and carefully covering my eyelids in a thick layers of iridescent blue and pink eye shadows. Gorgeous.

Dressed to the nines in our satin and taffeta and bows, my friends and I were all atwitter as we were chauffeured by a parent to the Racquet Club. I still remember the glow of the upper room as we rounded the corner for drop off. The nervous anticipation as we ascended the stairs, pausing to shake Mrs. Butt’s gloved hand before taking our place along the wall. Girls on the left. Boys on the right. A drumbeat announced the start of the Grand March. And then the horror began.

I could see the boys counting, trying to figure out which girl they were going to get as their first partner. They began switching places, shifting around in line to either a) avoid getting a dud, which I assumed was me, or b) ensure they got the girl of their dreams, which I assumed was not me. Finally, we ended up in pairs.

The rule was you had to dance the first set of dances with your first partner before you began plea bargaining with those around you to switch. I do remember several evenings that I ended up with a winning switch, dancing “The Stargazer” in the awkward arms with a boy I actually had a crush on. Mostly I remember my silent prayer that I not be rejected multiple times in one evening.

To Mrs. Butts’ credit, not all the dances were partner dances. We learned such dances as the “Jedi Frog,” which entailed some jumping around and waving your arms over your head – but in cool way. My two favorites were “The Freeze” and “The Military Shuffle.” I can still do both of them with aplomb, even saying the motions out loud in the droning voice of the instructor as I do them. I assure you, I’m not alone. My high school friends and I still routinely break into the shuffle whenever given the chance. It works best to Prince’s “Delirious,” just so you know.

My son is going into 6th grade next year, and we’ve already sent his application in for cotillion. Why, you may ask, are parents today still subjecting their children to such torture? Hell, it’s good for them! Experience rejection at an early age! Learn to serve your “date” her cold Coca Cola before you enjoy your own! Enjoy the swishing, swooshing of taffeta in preparation for all those bridesmaids dresses!

But really it’s just so I can teach him to treat girls the way I wanted to be treated back then. Be kind to every girl you dance with. Never, ever swap places in line during the Grand March. Smile. Make small talk. Compliment her nude stockings and open toe shoes. And most of all, memorize every move to the Military Shuffle so you can bust a move with your mom at your wedding reception.

Jennifer Cobb Pyron is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, writer, editor, part-time comedian, 80s trivia genius and wannabe rock star. She works at Arkansas Business Publishing Group where she’s Associate Publisher & Editor of Little Rock Family. She will happily teach you cotillion dances at any time … just ask!

Southern Girl Academy: Hurricane Parties

Anyone who says they’re not afraid at the time of a hurricane is either a fool or a liar, or a little bit of both.
— Anderson Cooper

Fair warning here – if you’re here this week thinking you’re gonna get a recipe for the (in)famous New Orleans libation known as the hurricane, you’re better off elsewhere. Visit DrinksMixer.com and pick your favorite.

Admittedly, the concoction of rum, amaretto, and triple sec is uniquely suited to a southern palate – one that prefers sweet tea to tea-colored water and bourbon to vodka. But this post is about much more than the unfortunately named drink.

Hurricane parties don’t revolve around getting drunk in the Quarter. Instead, they focus on families hunkering down against the forces of evil otherwise known as the hurricane. In southern Louisiana, the hurricane party has become an opportunity to gather together, play games, pray, and sometimes drink while you wait out the storm.

Matriarchs have hurricane party planning down to an art, as any good Southern woman would. The first time a weatherman mentions a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico likely headed to the coast, moms call their kids away at college to come home.

Note: Mothers in the northern part of the Gulf South do the same thing. They just want you far away from the storm. They haven’t lived through one, and they don’t want their babies to do so either. Unfortunately, their desire isn’t always fulfilled. Spending time with Cajun college roommates and their families is so much better than visiting your Southern Baptist Mamaw. Trust me… sorry Mom.

As the storm nears, the largest home on a family’s homestead – many extended families live close to one another – becomes hurricane headquarters. Beer, food, cards, pennies, water, buckets, and other necessities are assembled. If you’re really lucky, the rural house with well water will have a swimming pool so that toilets can be flushed even when the electricity is gone.

Family members assemble, and the last piece of the party puzzle is in place. Daddies gather their babies up, and Mamas work to cook something before wind knocks power out. Anticipation builds, and everyone is truly grateful loved ones are near.

But that love doesn’t always run deep throughout the hurricane party experience. When the lights go out, and sometimes the water doesn’t run, the cards and pennies – along with bloodthirsty players – make an appearance. Bourre, a card game like spades in that the players aim to win tricks, is the traditional game for Cajun families, especially when they’re gathered for hurricane safety. Warning: you can lose your shirt quickly in this game and your penny stash might have to last for days. Play smart and don’t ever gloat over a won hand. Your luck will change.

Bourre and other games hold boredom at bay until the all clear is issued. Sometimes, a kite or two is brought out, and the adults will climb on the roof to take advantage of the hurricane-force winds. Folks from further north will probably regard that with skepticism, but the South is composed of “freaks.” The hurricane-party point is not to be wild or dangerous, it’s to pass the time enjoyably.

These gatherings turn a time that could be incredibly scary for everyone involved into a time of bonding. Hurricane parties allow us to learn about the differences and similarities between generations. They force us into close proximity with those we might not like all that much because of past transgressions.

They make us “make up,” and therein lies their value. An extended family – with friends too – becomes closer. And all that togetherness can be attributed to something named Andrew, or Claire, or Hugo.

Come to think of it, hurricane season starts in June. I better start saving pennies now.

Tonya Oaks Smith has spent most of her adult life smoothing frayed edges, herding wet and hungry cats, breaking down silos, and perfecting the #facepalm – all while dancing backwards and in heels with a big smile on her face. She’s a preacher’s granddaughter from Calhoun, Louisiana, so Tonya knows both her Jell-O molds and Jell-O shots.

Southern Girl Academy: Movies

You’ve heard of art imitating life and vice versa, and when it comes to Southern women and the heroines that portray them, you couldn’t get a more accurate representation that what takes shape on the silver screen. Movies as they are more commonly known, and at one such point – talkies. But I digress. I could sit here and prattle on about the most iconic of all Southern movies– both old and new: like Driving Miss Daisy, Smokey and the Bandit, Ghosts of Mississippi, Sling Blade and True Grit (written by our own Charles Portis, thankyouverymuch.), but I won’t. Instead, I want to talk about the leading ladies in some key Southern films.

First, Southern women have the tendency to come across as frail. Let me assure you, this is a front. We Southern women are a strong bunch, both physically and mentally. Here are just a few lessons we can learn from the Southern ladies of the big screen.

How to get what you want: Gone With the Wind

The quintessential Southern lass: Scarlet O’Hara (played by the lovely Vivian Leigh)

Scarlet was driven and determined to get what she wanted, regardless of who stood in her way. And her prize was a man. And then money. But mostly a man. (Or a man with money) And a beautiful dress was a priority to help catch him. But when faced with no money, she went so far as to have one made from her mother’s drapes. That takes both initiative and brains. We Southern ladies are no dummies.

Taking matters into your own hands: Fried Green Tomatoes

How many times has someone done something to you and that little switch in your brain flipped? A calm, cool and collected Southern lady has a number of options, the first being to smile and coo an insult so sweetly that the recipient will be left questioning whether or not you intended to be mean. Another option is to smash into that car that cut you off and scream “Towanda!” at the top of your lungs.

Sometimes a lady has to take off her proverbial starched white gloves and put on the boxing gloves. Or in this case, the driving gloves.

This movie is a tale of friendship in both of the parallel stories being told. Women bonding over love lost, broken friendships and death. There’s even a surprise ending involving cannibalism. I’m not going to lie; we Southerners do love a good Bar-B-Q, but really? Southern ladies draw the line at eating people.

Grace under pressure: Steel Magnolias

Dealing with grief can be a bitter pill to swallow, but these ladies do so with grace, charm and a healthy dose of snark. As fragile as the magnolia blooms for which they are named, sometimes they seemed to be forged from steel. Although she was beside herself with grief over the untimely death of her daughter, M’Lynn moved forward and helped her son-in-law pick up the pieces and raise her grandson. And, in epic Southern fashion, a new child was born of a friend and named for the beloved lost daughter. Like most, we honor our family by having their names live on.

From grace and strength to poise under pressure to simply getting what you want, Southern ladies know best. So the next time you need a lesson on how to be a proper Southern lady, look no further than your DVD collection.

Kelli Marks rambles on her blog about her life with pups, her obsession with baking and this little habit of building houses. She likes it when you stop by. She also pokes fun at the mundane and ridiculous though a pseudo-alter ego at Kelli Hates.

Southern Girl Academy: Music

Most define southern music as country music and most assume all southerners listen only to country music. While some do, I don’t listen to modern country at all and I’m not the only one.

For me and many other modern southern women indie folk music is more pleasing to the ears and socially acceptable than country music these days. This likely has something to do with the fact that modern country music tends to sound closer to Lady Gaga than Waylon Jennings. It has lost the soulful, story-telling harmonies and nostalgia of the past. However, any good southerner can appreciate the renaissance of this type of music by the likes of the Zac Brown Band, Darius Rucker and Jamie Johnson.

I should mention, too, that I personally adore Lady Gaga. Any woman who is so confident to arrive anywhere in a meat dress or an egg has earned my respect.

Besides, southern ladies should have diverse taste in music so as not to seem simple.

Southern music is about nostalgia.

Susan Probasco, my darling and very sassy friend, who just so happens to be an anthropologist and expert on women from the delta had this to say when I asked her opinion:

Q: How do you define southern music?

Susan: “Authenticity is really the key. This is a problematic notion, but authentic or not, music that feels nostalgic seems to have great appeal for our generation. Nostalgia especially sells during hard economic times.”

Q: What’s an example of a nostalgic southern song?

Susan: “Walking After Midnight” by Patsy Cline and “Good Ole Boys Like Me” by Don Williams are both great. A nostalgic song can take you away from the stress of modern, everyday life to a simpler time. And a theme to nostalgia from classic country music can inspire current artists who aren’t necessarily southern, but whose works speak to the theme of nostalgia – Alison Krauss (IL), Keith Urban (AU) (IA), Deana Carter (WI), etc.”

Growing up I spent some time with my dad at his doublewide trailer on a dirt road in Southwest Little Rock. Daddy smoked Marlboro Lights, drank Budweiser and shot bottle rockets out of a Coke bottle year-round just for the fun of it. My sister and I rode three wheelers and played with the driveway gravel.

During the summer we spent our days at Nanny & Popo’s house. Some mornings we would play in the yard, which at the time felt huge, while Popo tended to his tomato plants. Other mornings we would stand on stools and bake sugar cookies with Nanny. In the afternoons we watched her “stories” (southern for soap operas).

In the late afternoon we would meet Maxine, Nanny’s across-the-street neighbor for a walk.

Our family had a concrete business, so at noon all the men would come over for lunch.  These weren’t fancy times, but they were good times. Music that reminds me of this is good for my soul.

I remember driving around with daddy in his truck listening to country music. This was the early 80s and country was country. Sometimes he would put me in his lap and let me drive. I cherish these memories. Daddy is gone now. He died when I was in the eighth grade. My sister and I never lived with our parents. We were raised by grandparents (she in Chicago and I in Little Rock) because we were born to teenagers who just simply weren’t ready to be parents. It happened. We don’t talk about it.

High school is awkward for every teenager, not just those of us raised by grandparents. Music helped me survive. Any time I put in a tape of the Oakridge Boys I could bring my daddy back.

These days I’ve moved on. Southern women must always move on. We must not dwell or dawdle in the past, but it is good to remember. My taste in music has changed, but I still appreciate anything with soul, harmonies and a nostalgic story. It just sounds different these days.
Southern Rules about Music:

  • Always have music on somewhere in the background – turn it up if you are home alone and cleaning, turn it down if your Nana stops by
  • Familiarize yourself with Pandora and use it. Generally, I have no idea who sings what, but I do know there are a couple of artists I really like. Pandora does the rest for me.
  • Learn something about your favorite artists. The gift of conversation sets southern women apart. Even if you have no idea who Cee Lo Green is, be prepared to tell an interesting story about Lucinda Williams or whomever you are into at the moment.
  • Go to a concert on occasion. This is just for fun, but it will also give you something worthwhile to talk about later.
  • Appreciate the classics: Hank Williams, JR. (You should know that he is commonly referred to a Bocephus by true southerners. It’s the equivalent of ancient Christians drawing a fish in the sand. You either know or you don’t), Jerry Jeff Walker, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard should give you somewhere to start.
  • Be Diverse in Music – Just because you are southern does not mean you only listen to country music.  Like what you like and own it. Being southern also means being confident in your eccentricities.

Pandora Suggestions for the Modern Southern Woman:

  • Lucinda Williams (daughter of poet and Arkansas resident Miller Williams)
  • Lucero (Favorite lyric: “Prettiest little girl I ever saw, standin’ on the banks of the Arkansas”) or Old Crow Medicine Show
  • The Band Perry or Lady Antebellum
  • The Indigo Girls
  • Any of the aforementioned classics (Waylon, Hank, Willie, Jerry Jeff, Merle)
  • Adele (she’s not southern, but that girl’s got soul)

Stephanie McCratic received a good Christian upbringing. She will use it against you at will and to her advantage. Raised in Little Rock, she now lives in a small town in Northwest Arkansas with her husband Steve. Her 17-month-old daughter Charlie is quite advanced.

Southern Girl Academy: Books

The South’s greatest export is not cotton. It’s great literature. Stories practically drip from our trees like so much Spanish moss. Sure, those who weren’t raised right might make jokes about Southern illiteracy, but anyone who’s been here knows Southerners are storytellers. We can’t tell you what happened yesterday without weaving in an epic narrative of good and evil, joy and pain, heroes and villains. You may be waiting for us to just get to the point already, but we’re engaging in what just might be our national pastime. And who can blame us? We’re surrounded by a cast of rather colorful characters!

Flannery O'Connor

Flannery O'Connor

One of the South’s best writers, Flannery O’Connor, was once asked why Southern literature is so full of freaks. (Obviously, she was the right person to ask, as her work features stolen wooden legs, serial killers, street corner prophets, hermaphrodites, and a guy in a gorilla suit.) Miss O’Connor responded: “Whenever I am asked why Southern writers particularly have this penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one.” One of the great benefits of a region in which there is still some concept of being “raised right” is that the freaks stand right out. And freaks make for excellent reading.

More than anything, even its freakish characters, Southern literature is deeply rooted in the South as a place. The South may as well be an unconscious character in most Southern fiction. As Flannery O’Connor wrote, “If you’re a writer and the South is what you know, then it’s what you’ll write about and how you judge it will depend on how you judge yourself. It’s perhaps good and necessary to get away from it physically for a while, but this is by no means to escape it.”

Some writers, like William Faulkner, seem haunted by the ghosts of slavery and the Civil War, which float through his stream of consciousness prose like specters. Others, like O’Connor, are concerned with the religion of the South, which, as anyone asked where they go to church on a first meeting can attest, is pervasive here. And others, like Harper Lee in To Kill a Mockingbird explore particularly Southern issues of race and prejudice (though this is not to say that racism and prejudice are not problems elsewhere).  None of these works would even be possible written by non-Southerners.

To be a true Southern Girl is to be proud of our region’s rich literary heritage. You can’t grow up here and not be steeped in story. You can’t be from here and not be proud to call folks like Kate Chopin, Margaret Mitchell, Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, Cormac McCarthy, Maya Angelou, Walker Percy, Alice Walker, and Tennessee Williams fellow Southerners. All Southern girls must do their reading, and for extra Southern Girl Academy credit, field trips can be arranged to such holy places as Oxford, Mississippi, where William Faulkner lived and wrote; Piggot, Arkansas, where Ernest Hemingway wrote portions of A Farewell to Arms; and Andalusia Farm, where Flannery O’Connor lived for most of her life.

Sarah Orsborn is a real life debutante, born and raised in the South. She blogs at The Adventures of Ernie Bufflo, and is studying to be an English professor, to pass on her love of Southern literature to future generations.

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.