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What does it mean to be a Southerner in the 21st century?

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How to Survive Winter: a Guide from a Southerner Trapped in the North

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If there’s one thing (most) Southerners are terrified of, it’s winter. Three months of cold temperatures, bitter winds and questionable weather forecasts is no one’s idea of a good time.  Gray and brown take over, as most flowers, plants and other vegetation have died or gone into their “hibernation.” Sometimes the sun doesn’t come out for a week; when it comes back, we’ve forgotten what it was.

And Heaven forbid it snows. What is snow, anyway?

After living in the Great White North, I’ve learned how to deal with winter and how to get through those long, gray days without losing my sanity. I’m no expert, but nine years (ugh) of experience in blizzards, subzero wind chills, icy roads and shoveling driveways has provided me with plenty of insights to share.

Here is my best advice on how to survive winter, straight from a misplaced Southerner.

Invest in a snow blower. My parents never had one for six of our years in Pennsylvania; our neighbors have one, and they graciously clear our driveway when snow strikes. But a few years ago, Mom broke down and bought one of our own. And you know what? We haven’t had a rough winter since. Omen? I’d like to think so.

Don’t buy cheap shovels. They break too easily. No one wants to hear that snap! in the middle of shoveling the driveway. It’s the worst. Shelling out for a sturdier shovel will be worth it later. Buy them early, too. The early bird gets the good shovel.

Don’t leave the house unless you absolutely have to. “I drive good in the snow,” said no Southerner ever. Cabin fever will eventually set in, and you’ll have to make a choice. For me, that choice is easy. As long as it’s cold and/or there’s snow on the ground, I’m staying inside.

Pull out all the thick, soft blankets and keep them within reach. Snow is much nicer when seen from inside, wrapped in a blanket, sipping on hot chocolate (or a Hot Toddy).

Stock up on the essentials well in advance (if possible). Sometimes icky winter weather strikes with little to no warning, and you may not have time to refill your supplies. If you do, though, bread, milk, eggs, peanut butter, soup and non-food items like batteries run out fast. May Publix be ever in your favor.

Check your flashlights and charge your electronics. Put fresh batteries in your flashlights and lanterns, and make sure your cell phones, tablets, etc. are fully charged. Power outages can happen, and they aren’t always resolved quickly. Be prepared.

And most importantly, be careful. I joke about snow and driving and cabin fever, but winter weather makes for treacherous driving and travel conditions. If you feel uneasy about being on the roads, by all means, stay in.

Remember, winter is short. Come March, the grass will be much greener on the other side…literally.

* This might be more applicable to our friends in Maryland and Virginia, where snow is a little more common. 

Kate RobertsonKate Robertson is a features writer for Pretty Southern, a Virginia Tech alumna, and a current graduate student at Elon University in North Carolina. She’s working toward her MA in Interactive Media, and afterwards hopes to further her career as a kick-ass writer.

Originally from Atlanta, Kate enjoys exploring the Piedmont region of North Carolina, especially its wide offerings of wineries. Follow her on Twitter @kate3robertson and check out her blog, A Thought and a Half.

 
 

Gone With the Wind…But Not the Eyebrows

Scarlett O'Hara Eyebrows

When most people think of “Gone With the Wind,” they think of Vivien Leigh’s tiny waist, “I will never go hungry again,” the curtain dress or Clark Gable’s gorgeous self. There are so many moments that have made their marks on our minds.

But when I think of “Gone With the Wind,” the first word that pops into my head is eyebrows. Yes, eyebrows.

In 2009, mere weeks into my life as a full-time journalist, I was assigned to cover the 70th anniversary celebration of the film “Gone With the Wind” on the historic Marietta Square. There would be local politicians breaking the Guinness World Record for the Virginia Reel, dressed in period clothing and taking a break from their usual suits, pearls and ties. There would be GWTW enthusiasts from all over the world, reveling in the nostalgia surrounding them. There would be a giant, 8-feet long, 6-feet tall cake made to look like Scarlett’s home, Tara, which took three people 40 hours to make using 250 pounds of fondant icing. There would be Robert Osborne, host of Turner Classic Movies, sharing the history of the film and introducing some of the stars of the celebration.

Ann Rutherford Vivien Leigh and Evelyn Keyes

Ann Rutherford played an O’Hara girl along with Vivien Leigh and Evelyn Keyes

And there would be Ann Rutherford.

While the name might not be familiar to most – certainly not as familiar as Gable and Leigh – Rutherford did have a speaking role in the film. Rutherford played Carreen O’Hara, Scarlett’s sister, in the film. She also had roles in the classic film “Pride and Prejudice” and as Polly Benedict in the famous Andy Hardy films. While her role in GWTW might have been small, Rutherford knew it was her legacy.

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10 Things I Will Not Miss From My 20s

Editor’s note – this article was contributed by our fabulous blogger Katy Ruth Camp.

My 20s. They were very good to me, but here are 10 things I will not miss from my 20s:

UGA at Oxford.

The ladies from UGA at Oxford – some of my best friends.

1. Not knowing how to cook. Mamacita’s cookbook is now my kitchen treasure and grows everyday with new recipes.
2. Eating Ramen noodles and PB&J sandwiches far more often than the FDA should allow. See number one.
3. Worrying so much about what people think of me and if they like me. I strive to be happy, friendly and positive. I like to be around people who strive to be happy, friendly and positive. If you don’t like me, so be it. Not my problem.
4. Cramming everything I own into 700 square feet of living space and thinking it’s a good idea to cram 20 more people into said 700 square feet for a party.

5. Taking shots out of paper medicine cups. No, sir. You can put that in a glass.

southern girl tube top

Good God! I found a tube/halter top pic!

6. Extreme indecisiveness and constantly second-guessing myself. I am now much closer to knowing who I am and what I want.
7. Tube tops, bootleg jeans and heeled, foam flip flops. Especially together. Just, no.
8. Staying out until 2 a.m. on a work night with friends then getting to work at 8 a.m. the next morning. If one of those is happening, the other definitely is not.
9. Making volunteerism a significant part of my life and becoming less selfish with my time. Still working on that one, but being involved in the community and working for a nonprofit has really helped me to come a long way.
10. Thinking 30 could be considered “old.” I’m not old. If Jennifer Lopez can look that good at 45, then I’m just getting started!
 
 
 
Katy Ruth CampKaty Ruth Camp, Pretty Southern’s college football contributor, was born with football in her blood. The daughter of a longtime high school football coach and UGA football letterman, Katy Ruth was raised in a football home in the small town of Cartersville, Georgia. Katy Ruth graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in journalism and literature and, during that time, she worked as a writer and media assistant for the UGA Athletic Association. After college, she hosted a high school football show for three seasons and won first place from the Georgia Sports Writers Association for football reporting. She has also won state and national awards for business and feature writing. She continues to write on a freelance basis but is also the director of development for The Georgia Ballet and the owner and artist of little crow handmade jewelry. Read more on Pigskin Peaches blog, like them on Facebook, follow on Twitter, and check back weekly on PrettySouthern.com.

Pretty Southern Road Trip

Virginia is for lovers

Virginia is for lovers! Stories from my Pretty Southern road trip.

Dear reader,

Apologies for the brief hiatus. I needed to take a breather and just get out of town. There’s something about Atlanta in the summertime with the city’s haze, mugginess, and omnipresent traffic even if the schools are out, and it’s enough to make a girl downright claustrophobic. I decided to hit the road in honor of my 20-to-infinity birthday (I’ve stopped counting from here on out). Here’s the story of my Pretty Southern road trip.

Gaffney Peach

The Peach in Gaffney, S.C. Where’s Frank Underwood?

I drove a little over 1,100 miles across the South through Georgia, the Carolinas, and southern Virginia. For those of y’all unfamiliar with the route, picture it like this: from Atlanta, hit I-85 North where Georgia’s hills give way to the wide waters of Lake Hartwell and Lake Keowee as your cross into South Carolina. For the next three hours you drive through barren valleys of I-85 dotted with peach trees, pecan farms, and the occasional outlet mall as you head on to Charlotte. After hitting the Queen City, you climb alongside the Appalachian mountains with exits pointing to some of the South’s most prestigious universities – The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Elon University, and yeah that Duke school (sorry Dukies but my father grew up in Chapel Hill – Go Heels!) Just past Raleigh, you start to see towns with names like “Norlina” announcing the border with Virginia. As you get closer to the border, the foothills become lake country and farmland filled with green crops.

This part of the journey was a bit of a homecoming for me. I was born in Virginia. The first 10 years of my life were spent here, and yet I hadn’t been to the great VA in at least five years – back when I was still Lauren Morgan. Roughly 90% of my kin lives in this neck of the woods.

I do firmly believe that Virginia is for lovers. When my grandma says ‘Bless your heart’ she means it with all of hers.

Share the Road Tractor

On Highway 58 there’s tons of these signs reminding you to share the road with the tractors.

My first night of the Pretty Southern road trip was spent at my grandmother’s house in the tiny town of Windsor, Va. It’s in the middle of nowhere along Highway 58 – which is basically the main road linking all the farm towns of southeast Virginia leading to the Atlantic Ocean. You drive through tiny tobacco towns until you finally hit Windsor. Blink and you’ll miss it. There’s maybe a dozen stoplights in the whole town, and that might be a stretch. Her house backs up to the baseball field of Windsor High School. She’s lived there since I was born and has a Southern accent as thick as molasses. Angela Sun pointed out that I say “If I had my druthers” a lot during the work week, and it turns out I have Granma to thank for that. Yes, that’s “Granma” because when she could still drive that’s what was on her license plate.

I spent the Night #1 with Granma and my uncle Jim noshing on a carry out pizza. For Day 2, I woke up at 7 a.m. on the morning of my 20-to-infinity birthday and went for a run in her backyard at the Windsor High School track. We drank coffee while she did a crossword and I read a Pat Conroy novel while movie reruns played in the background. For my birthday lunch, I treated us to Dairy Queen and rewarded myself to an M & M blizzard. Calories don’t count on your birthday. The past few months have been so busy with eating, drinking, and running around Atlanta that it was amazing to spend a few quiet moments with people I love.

That afternoon I said a tearful goodbye and headed west to meet my husband in Danville, Va. Along the way I made a pit stop in the lovely lakeside town of Clarksville. I’d done a bit of research and discovered that Buggs Island was surrounded by a beautiful river flanking beside Highway 58.

Clarksville VA

Who said Big Sky is in Montana? It’s really Clarksville, Va.

After spending some quiet time by the lake, I headed over into downtown Clarksville. I cruised down Main Street – with its antique stores, restaurants, and boutique hotels – then parked my car to do some exploring.

Hall's Gallery of Art Clarksville

Hall’s Gallery of Art in Clarksville.

I saw a sign pointing to “English Gardens”. Growing up in a family of green thumbs, I was brought up to appreciate the beauty of a well-maintained garden. I found this lovely little garden beneath an arbor and white picket fence with an iron marquee advertising artisan jewelry and gifts. Considering I’d already logged over 500 miles, I thought I’d treat myself to a little birthday reward.

Now y’all this is one of my favorite things about the South – you just never know who you’ll meet when you’re on a journey. Once I walked inside, I discovered some of the coolest jewelry I’ve ever seen. Roses, wild flowers, hummingbirds, and other pretty objects were etched into pieces of acrylic. “You can see the artist at work” an elderly gentleman told me, pointing around the corner. Inside a small room, maybe a parlor or study once upon a time, sat the artist, Don Hall. He showed us how he etched into the acrylic with a diamond tipped blade to make careful engravings, which he then fills with special dyes he manufactures himself.

Artwork by Don Hall

A rose and hummingbird etched in acrylic by Don Hall.

Mr. Hall is 90 years old. His accent is the loveliest mix of the Queen’s English and Southern drawl. Mr. Hall spent the formidable years of his life in England moving to Canada in 1947, then to Raleigh, North Carolina in 1953 to work with Westinghouse Electric Corp. Retiring as Senior Mfg. Engineer – Rototics Automation & Mechanization. There he met his wife and love of his life Rebecca, married in 1973. He took early retirement in 1985, bought an RV and took to the Craft and International Jewelry shows with the hand carved Australian Opal and Acrylic art work.

Fast forward to 2014. Don and his wife Rebecca run Hall’s Lakeside Gallery. His artwork is one of a kind. Cast acrylic was developed for windshields used in the bomber airplanes in World War II. After the war, he was looking for a gift for his mother — something incorporating red roses. He was inspired to make her the first piece which he still has today.

Don Hall and sisters

Don Hall and his sisters

Don showed me a china cabinet in his workshop filled with pictures and mementos from his past including photos of him when he was a little boy with his sisters, his war hero days, the fantastic moments from his life with Rebecca. I learned an important lesson that day in his shop – when you find something you love, you never retire from it. At 90, Don still wakes up everyday to come to his gallery and create more art. I shared with him that my husband’s grandfather, also named Don, is turning 90 this August. “Well it must be a good sign,” he smiled.

I would have stayed for hours at the Hall’s gallery but I had to get a move on. After another hour-or-so on Highway 58, I arrived in Danville, Va. I cruised through the downtown historic district scoping out potential places for my birthday dinner. Danville is a neat little town hugged by the Dan River just across the border from North Carolina. I kept my eyes peeled for a liquor store hoping to find something for my birthday toast but I ended up at a Piggly Wiggly. Obviously, there wasn’t much of a wine section and I had to settle for a screw top. That was partly my fault. I knew better and should’ve packed a corkscrew. It’s a road trip essential, right up there with Q-tips, a journal, pen, and proper pillow (you just never know).

I found heaven in this part of the South. It’s called Biscuitville.

Biscuitville

I found foodie heaven in Danville. It’s called Biscuitville.

I finally got to see my husband, as he and his Exomotive team were preparing for the Ultimate Track Car Challenge the next day. By the time the sun went down we were all starving. For my birthday dinner, wouldn’t you know it we ended up at the Olive Garden. I’ve been blessed to eat a lot of amazing meals over the past few months, so I was pretty gung ho for breadsticks, salad and the Tour of Italy. On the way home, I spotted my first Biscuitville. I screamed “Oh my gosh honey! There’s a place called Biscuitville! We are so going there tomorrow morning.”

Day 3 – The next morning I got up early to investigate the biscuit situation. For folks from the metro Atlanta area who are blessed to know Martin’s famous biscuits, imagine if they served a pimento cheese and bacon biscuit. I also met some of the nicest people while waiting in line for biscuits. Talk about Southern hospitality. To the nice folks who own Biscuitville, will y’all please open an Atlanta location? Pretty please?

After picking up biscuits for the crew, I headed out to Virginia International Raceway to see the Exomotive team in action. For those of y’all unfamiliar with the Exomotive Exocets, these bad boys are made in Atlanta – including all of the steel. The boys rocked it that day thanks to awesome engineering and a stellar driver, Zack Skolnick from Driven Steering Wheels.

Exocet by Exomotive

The Exocet by Exomotive. She’s a beauty & a beast!

Day 4 – it was time to finally go home. After logging several hundred miles across four states, I felt like my 20-to-infinity was off on the right start. I cruised down I-85 for the six hours singing Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, The Pistol Annies, pretty much the entire “Nashville” soundtrack, and even a bit of Alan Jackson at the top of my lungs. I met some amazing people, spent time with my loved ones, saw some of the best scenery the South had to offer, watched some spectacular racing, drank about three gallons of sweet tea, and learned about the wonderful pimento cheese & bacon biscuit.

The South is an enchanting place, quite unlike anything in the world. Accents are sweeter, folks are more willing to strike up a conversation, and even share their life story. I do firmly believe Southern hospitality, chivalry, and grace do exist because they are embodied in every decent human being. We just have to be reminded of it, even if it’s by asking a simple question…

Where ya from, honey? Where ya heading to?

July 4th outfit
Lauren Patrick is the editor of Pretty Southern.com, a native Southerner, UGA graduate, and Georgia Bulldogs fan. When she’s not hitting the road exploring the South, y’all can find her writing, wining, and dining in Atlanta. Keep up with her & Pretty Southern on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.