Bon Voyage

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Travel is no longer the “big deal” that it once was.  Whether for pleasure or business it seems everyone is always on the go somewhere.  Even for us, we travel as much as our time and bank account will allow.

Royal-Caribbean-Enchantment-of-the-Seas | ohfiddledeedee_edited-1

We live in a wonderful world filled with many glorious things to see and do! 

Cienfuegos-Airport | ohfiddledeedee

Sadly, with vacationing and travel becoming such a common affair, general etiquette has become much less common.  

It is nothing to be nearly knocked-over in the airport, screamed at by an unhappy traveller, run-off the road by an angry driver, or appalled by the dress (or lack there of) from others.  As Audley, Bradley and I  begin to pack for a family adventure this fall break weekend, I have really been occupied with issues concerning proper manners in an airport, flying, and driving in an area in which we are unfamiliar.

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While etiquette seems to be a thing of years past, It is something I have been passionate about my entire life and always want my family to practice, even as they are growing up and moving on into their own adult lives.

First, when traveling, be patient and be prepared.  Pushing, shoving, screaming, and muttering curse words for small children to hear are not going to keep flights on time or make the lines shorter.  Since 2001 security in airports has become extremely tight and getting through check-point lines can often seem like a lifetime.  Save your self the heartache of rushing to your flight or sitting in rush hour traffic and plan ahead.  Try to be at the airport at least an hour and a half for domestic flights and two and half hours early for an international flight.  You will still have a wait of some sort, but you shouldn’t have to run to catch your flight!  When we travel by car we do our best to remember time zone changes and leave an extra hour time in hopes of avoiding rush hour traffic or other delays.  Accept your delays with grace and tact.  Impatience will not change a thing.

 

Second, be understanding and tolerant.  It is not the poor girl who is checking boarding passes fault that the flight is late, nor is it security’s fault that a hundred people showed up at once to go through the lines.  And understand, if YOU change your flight after arriving at the airport to avoid delays YOU are risking the loss of your luggage.  Also, while traveling, realize that things are not going to be as they are at home.  Just traveling within your home country you will find so many cultural differences, so don’t you know another country will be a whole new experience!  Be open to these differences and try not to offend anyone by snarling your nose.  Try something new, go with the flow, and you might find something that you love!

Businesspeople Walking Through Airport with Luggage

Third, take care of your health.  If you feel a cold coming on a couple of days before a trip, take proper care of it, don’t assume it’ll just go away.  Would you want to sit next to someone who is coughing, sneezing, and blowing their nose an entire flight?  Also, be sure to get shots you might need before going.  If you take prescriptions, be sure to have them filled and then pack them so that you are not spending time you could be having fun calling pharmacies and doctors trying to get what you need.  Rest to the best of your ability before and during your trip as well.  Improper sleep contributes to feeling bad and colds which you do not want on a trip!

Fourth, please get dressed, and have a little class when doing so.  I do not want to see your boobies or your bum.  I have my own and know what they look like.  I have a teenage son who doesn’t need any encouragement to think impure thoughts and an overly opinionated husband who will judge your character based on your dress.  Bathing suit tops are for the beach and halter tops are perfect when you are in your own yard, not for riding in an airplane.  Have respect for the people around you and cover up.   Also remember, lounging pants are found in the pajama department for a reason.  Sleep in them, don’t wear them in public.  When traveling it is important to dress attractively and comfortably.  Slacks, jeans, flowing skirts, cotton tops, sandals, or tennis shoes work great for travel.

It is OK to dress as if you care about who you are.

Dressed-To-Travel | ohfiddledeedee

It also speaks volumes to those sitting around you.

 

And finally, have A LOT of respect for everyone you come into contact with.  Say “excuse me” or apologize  sincerely when you bump into someone or have your belongings in their way.  Keep your personal items to a minimum so that it is easier for you to get around, avoiding awkward situations.  Plan ahead; have your boarding passes, passport, driving directions, hotel reservations, etc., on hand for easy access.  Don’t hold up the security line by packing everything you own into a carry-on despite FAA regulations (no liquid over 3 ounces, must be in clear bottles, etc…) or wearing shoes that take a lot of time to remove.  Make sure you have information available regarding liquid prescriptions on hand if asked.

You don’t like unnecessary delays, so assume others feel the same.

Bon-Voyage | ohfiddledeedee

Oh yeah, keep your voice down when talking on the phone or to a traveling companion.  No one really cares about Joe-Bob and Flossie’s marital issues or LouAnn’s broken pinky toe.  And don’t assume everyone you sit next to wants to have a conversation.

When I (or anyone else) put headphones on upon boarding, it means, I am shutting everyone & everything out.

My kids (now more of adults) have always been full of life.  All four are such social butterflies, loving to chat with adults as well as their peers, and we constantly reminded them that not everyone has their passion for living when we travelled with them.  They get excited about being with people and enjoying all they can bring to life.  If you have children, please keep them occupied.  Don’t let them annoy other people by running around, pushing on seats, or tugging on them in restaurants, in flight or while you are delayed at a rest stop or airport!

Whether in a car or on an airplane, I have always allowed our kids to carry backpacks filled with activity books, reading material or a couple (not the whole toy box) of small toys to keep them from being bored.  As they get older iPods and tablets are fabulous for entertaining kids and teenagers alike.  They were also taught to sit down and behave, not to bother others.  Not everyone likes children and especially other people who aren’t family’s children.  You will find you are happier because your children are behaving and others around you will appreciate it as well.

And ask my kids.  We have turned around, canceled several trips, and left restaurants due to misbehaving. Sometime’s it’s the only thing to do to show respect to other’s around us and teach a lesson.

It also made our kids better people and more aware that they are NOT the center of the universe.

Passport-to-Travel | ohfiddledeedee

And just a note, If you are traveling in a foreign country, learn some basic phrases in their language.  The people there will appreciate you so much more for doing so, even if you mess it up a little!

There is much to do before we leave for our extended weekend, but I think we are off to a great start!  

How do you travel with your family and what are some basic courtesies that you extend?  If you travel often, you know that we need more and more people extending courtesies!

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Pay It Forward

When we moved to South Carolina several months back, we had several interesting experiences with people as we settled in.

On one hand we had a neighbor who spray painted the property lines so my roses would not even hang over, and on the other we had a stay-at-home mom of three little boys who made homemade bread and brought it to welcome us to the neighborhood.

 

The latter was such a wonderful feeling that truly eased my mind over this big decision we had made in our lives!  Knowing how I felt (five and half hours away from all family, trying to figure out where I belonged), when one of Audley’s co-workers moved his family down from Philly, I knew I needed to pay forward the kindness extended to us.

What does every family need when moving into a new home?

Supper!

I decided to fix a lasagna with salad (including dressing) and bread to carry over fully prepared so all they had to do was take a break from unpacking and enjoy supper together.

I love this lasagna recipe that I inherited from my mother.  She made it when I was growing up and it has always been a hit with my own children.

Savory Lasagna

1 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 pound mild Italian sausage, ground
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
4 6 oz. cans tomato paste
2 cups diced tomatoes
1 16 oz. cup of skim cottage cheese
1 cup Grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons parsley
1 Tablespoon basil
1 Tablespoon oregano
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 box lasagna noodles
16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

Prepare your lasagna noodles according to package directions and drain.  At the same time, combine the ground beef and Italian sausage in a skillet with the garlic and salt.  Brown the meat, drain it, and pour in a mixing bowl.  Add the tomato paste, diced tomatoes and oregano to the cooked meats and set aside.

In another mixing bowl, mix together the cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil and eggs.

Using a 9×13 pan, spread about 3/4 cups of the meat and tomato mixture across the bottom of the pan (this will help keep the noodles from sticking to the pan).  It doesn’t have to cover the whole pan, just give a base.

Add a layer of noodles on top of the meat, another layer of the meat mixture and a layer of the cottage cheese mixture.  Repeat the process a second time.  After you have put the last of your cottage cheese on, add one more layer of noodles (you will have three divisions of noodles total, two of the filling), then top with the shredded mozzarella cheese.

Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees about 15 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake another 10-15 minutes until bubbly and heated through.

This is a great recipe for preparing in advance and freezing, or just cooking later in the day.  If you do either of these, (thawing out the lasagna first in the refrigerator works best) cook about 45 minutes (possibly longer) in order for it to heat through.  I have never cooked it frozen, but I would say close to an hour and a half (covered with foil).
Just check on it as it is cooking!!


TIPS FOR PREPARING SUPPER FOR A NEW NEIGHBOR:

**Make it easy.  Chose a filling one pan meal like lasagna, spaghetti pie or a casserole.

**Pick something that is popular with most everyone in the general public.  Deciding to experiment on the neighbors is probably not a good idea!

**Carry everything over in pans/bowls that can be trashed.  Someone who has just moved in has enough to organize without having to wash dishes as well.

**Unless you are helping unpack or clean your new neighbor’s house, don’t hang around expecting an invite to supper.  Seriously, if you fixed your favorite dish to carry over, fix extras to share with your own family and let your neighbors enjoy a peaceful supper.  Being a mooch the first time you meet them will make a bigger impression than the food you carried over.  There will be plenty of time to get to know them in the upcoming weeks!

** Carry a little welcome gift.  Leave them your phone numbers so that they have at least one person to contact for questions and help.

When I carried supper over, I also carried a little welcome basket.  Since they have moved to the South from the Philly area, I decided to give them a Southern welcome by gifting Mason jars and sweet tea.

I also included chocolate chip cookies (with the South Carolina Palmetto) for their children.

It brought quite a laugh which is a great way to break the ice!

Linking up with Foodie Friday this week;  drop in at Designs By Gollum for more savory treats!

 

Be Our Guest

With crisp, clean linens on the beds, fluffy new towels in the bathrooms, fresh flowers scattered throughout the house, and scented candles lit to create ambiance, Audley and I welcome our first weekend guests (besides my parents) to our new home over the weekend.
I never thought having company would make me feel so nervous, but overnight guests can do that to you!  I wanted everything to be just perfect as well as warm and inviting.
**Making overnight guests feel special and welcome is so important.  You don’t want to make anyone feel like they are burdening you!
We wanted to share some of our new life with our friends, so I had activities planned in advance for all of us to enjoy like a baseball game and a stroll through the park in Greenville.  These were things we could do without getting exhausted and crabby with each other because we were so tired!  We couldn’t have ordered a better weekend for having friends from “home” up.  Sunny and warm, but not hot.  Flowers bursting with bloom, everything so green and lush.  To me that is perfect.
**Schedule and plan activities based on your company’s tastes.  If they aren’t sports fans, baseball isn’t going to appeal to them.
I also planned all of our meals out in advance so that I was not spending the entire weekend in the kitchen, but rather spend the time with our friends.
Breakfast is one of my favorite meals to prepare, although I often despise getting up so early to cook! It’s easy to plan in advance when you know your guest’s likes and dislikes.  For our weekend breakfast, I went simple:  fresh fruit, pound cake, mixed berry muffins, and (for those who like something hot) crisp bacon.
**When planning meals for overnight company, be sure to find out any dietary restrictions, allergies or serious dislikes in advance.
I set a simple little buffet complete with milk and juice so that everyone could casually eat as they got up.
**Casual can still be pretty.
The muffins were a real hit and were snacked on throughout the day as well.  I love this easy recipe for moist & flavorful muffins that has become a favorite here.
Mixed Berry Muffins
(adapted from Taste of Home)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cups sugar
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1 cup sour cream
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups freshly, chopped berries (I used strawberry & raspberry)
In a large bowl, mix together your dry ingredients and set aside.  In another bowl stir together you egg, sour cream, butter and vanilla.  Add the wet ingredients to your flour mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula until just combined.
In a muffin pan lined with cupcake liners, spoon some of the mixture into each cup.  Place in the oven that  has been preheated to 350 degrees.  Bake 15-20 minutes until done throughout.
So, so delicious!
You can also substitute the berries for other delightful treats such as chocolate chips, bananas and walnuts, apples with a teaspoon and a half of cinnamon; just use your imagination!
Our weekend was wonderful and I hated to see our friends leave Sunday afternoon.  But, the best part of having great friends is you never say “good-bye”, but “see you soon!”
By tomorrow I hope to be nearly finished with out little garden area.  Later this week I want to share a little of our area that we have been able to enjoy.  I am also heading out of town to the National Cornbread Festival sponsored by Lodge Manufacturing in South Pittsburg, Tennessee (my adopted hometown).  You can read about last year’s adventure here.  Blogger and cookbook author Christy Jordan of Southern Plate will be one of the judges.  I look forward to meeting her.  
 
When I return I am planning on doing a giveaway that includes a Lodge skillet!  
 
I hope you’ll stop back by!

{Meet} The Neighbors

Sometimes I think common courtesies have totally disappeared from our society.  More often than not, I feel like we live in the most selfish culture in the world.  For example, last week, I had a flat tire on the interstate about 10:00 at night with my son with me.  Stranded on the side of the road, not one single person even stopped to help, much less even move over to keep from blowing us off the road as people sped by in their cars!  Fortunately, Audley was behind me, and though I knew he was taking care of things,  he was gone 45 minutes!  If you have never been stranded on the interstate late at night, it can be quite  scary!
As if that little instance didn’t bother me enough, we pulled into our driveway over the weekend to find our neighbor spray painting the property line.  It seems my pretty little pussy willow tree Audley planted had crossed over the boundary (part of it was on our side!) and he didn’t like it.
{Talk about petty!}
I guess my point is that it often seems so many people are scared or even don’t care anymore about feelings or emotions of others around them.  No one communicates, they just react, or even ignore those around them.  It is quite discouraging, especially when you are trying to teach your own children to put others first.
There is a ray of sunshine amid the clouds.  Between these two events, one of our new neighbors walked over with her little boy to bring a loaf of fresh banana-nut bread to welcome us to the neighborhood and introduce herself.
It truly made my whole day and warmed my heart!
But it also got me to thinking; would I do the same for someone else?  I would like to think so!
In Alabama my nearest neighbors were my in-laws and a pasture of cattle.  I always noticed when new cows were added to the pasture, so surely I would become acquainted with our neighborhood well enough to know when someone new moves in.  Kind of like “Wisteria Lane” without the drama!
In a era of self gratitude, what is acceptable when meeting new neighbors?  
*This is the one time it is perfectly acceptable to venture out of your comfort zone and take a stroll next door to meet your newest neighbor without calling first.  The whole idea is just to say hello and welcome them to the neighborhood.
*Perhaps you have noticed your neighbor likes to walk their dog the same time every day, or work in the yard.  Maybe you have seen that they leave to pick their children from school the same time everyday.  Use that time for a quick hello.
*Don’t wait until the dinner hour approaches to pop in, and certainly don’t make it a long visit!
Meeting new people can be awkward sometimes.  There is not really a specific time frame for meeting a new neighbor, but if you have acknowledged them with a nod or slight wave on several occasions, you really ought to take five minutes to introduce yourself.  Sharing a written list of area highlights or great places to shop would be a most welcoming gesture.  While an offer to babysit may not be as acceptable since you are obviously unknown, offering to help move furniture or haul off empty boxes would be a huge help to those just moving in.  If you would like to welcome a neighbor with a gift, a loaf of homemade bread, a candle, wreath for the door, even a six-pack of pansies go a long way to making someone feel at ease.
 What ever you do,  don’t spend your visit badmouthing other neighbors or putting down the neighborhood.  Moving is stressful enough without creating the feeling that someone may have made a huge mistake in your choice!
 
Besides, gossiping does not make anyone look good.
Whether you have lived in your neighborhood for a while or are new, there are common courtesies that will make us all good neighbors.
*Say hello or wave to your neighbors whenever you see them.  A smile and wave can go a long way to brightening a dreary day.
*When you have time, stop and talk.  There is no better way to get to know someone than to stop and talk! It doesn’t have to be a long chat.  If you want to visit longer, plan a lunch.
*Call ahead before visiting.  Make sure it’s a good time to stop by.  Once friendships are established, this may change to a more casual drop-in, but as you are first getting to know people, always call first.
*Don’t make your visit an all-day affair or sit around and wait on an invite to dinner.  We all have things to do, even if it is just folding clothes.  There is a time to linger and a time to be brief.  Know those times wisely.
*Don’t take advantage of a neighbor’s generosity.  If they offer to help with something, it is fine to accept, but don’t abuse the offer.
*Honor your neighbor’s privacy and property.  Clean up after you dog if he visits their yard and don’t cut through yards to get somewhere else.
*Keep your yard looking nice.  In an area with manicured yards, an unkept one will stick out like a black-eye.
*Most of all, say thank you.  No one likes to feel unappreciated, ever.  And if a neighbor is willing to do something for you, be sure to return the favor.

{Several of these ideas have been adapted from Emily Post’s Etiquette, 2011}

 Who knows, maybe if we all try to be good neighbors, stopping to help someone will seem more the norm and less the trouble.
I am working on a post this week to help you with stocking your pantry, and I have a fabulous recipe for a a refreshing strawberry pie I can’t wait to share!  I hope you will stop back by to check it all out!