Thursday, October 22, 2009

Face Book's Public Babble and Death Notices


Today while happily tooling around on Facebook, I inadvertently happened upon a comment made to someone else about their friend's father. They wrote that the friend had posted that his father had died, today! Horrible. Sad. A bit shocking.

Oh my goodness. There goes my happy mood. Please do not post any comments on Facebook (or for that matter verbally repeat) anything you would not want the town parrot repeating or the town gossip publishing in the afternoon social pages of the town paper.

Please DO NOT post someone's death on Facebook. Send the intended person a personal, private "message" instead.

Merci beaucoup et Au Revoir, y'all.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Continental vs. American Dining Style

Europeans used to dine just like Americans, eating with their fork in their right hand, until the 1840's.

Then, the British upper classes stopped shifting their forks back to their right hand and just kept their forks in their left hands to dine.

In 1853, a French etiquette book stated that if one wanted to appear fashionable and "In the Know", one should not shift one's fork back into the right hand while dining, thus began the European "Continental" style of eating. Before long, Europeans of all classes started eating in the Continental style.

In many European countries, eating in the American style is still suspect after seven Centuries. Folk Lore states that in the 14th Century, men eating together, (the women ate in the kitchen), used to hide daggers up their sleeves, then stab each other after the meal commenced. Stabbing at the dining table became so wide spread, the King finally put forth a decree stating everyone sitting at the table must have their wrists above the table, so all others may see no one is hiding any daggers up their sleeves.

An American Diplomatic Attache recently went to Germany on business. He ate in the American style with his right hand keeping his left hand in his lap throughout the entire business meal. The Germans at the table thought the American Attache was hiding something. They perceived him as dishonest. The German Host called the American Ambassador to Germany the next morning and told him: "Next time, send an Attache with a bit more style." This Attache thought he was "In the Know", but in fact, he "didn't know what he didn't know."

Both Continental and American styles of dining are correct. Be comfortable with the one you choose and stick to your choice! So, as history clearly states, it was the Europeans who changed styles, not the Americans!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Americans Abroad, Asian Etiquette and Manners

Asians are some of the most adaptable people in the world when it comes to other cultures. They take the rules of etiquette very seriously. When traveling, they do not expect other countries to be just like their country, except a different geographic location. Americans often do expect foreign countries to have the same amenities, customs, dress, behavior, comforts.

It has been said that Americans are ethnocentric. We appear to care nothing about other cultures, and worse, care nothing about learning. We expect other cultures to live just as we do and complain when they do not. The whole point of visiting another culture is to immerse oneself in their way of life, cuisine, traditions, customs, dress, mannerisms. To respect their religion, behavior, and know the rules of etiquette. To fit in.

Today we address Asian culture and offer a few tips for our kind readers. Always look up the weather and religion before traveling so one may pack appropriate clothes. Learn a few key phrases such as your "magic words: please, may I, thank you. The following are a few good to know phrases:
  • Hello, Good Afternoon and Evening is: Ni hao, pronounced "Nee how"
  • Good Morning is: Zao, pronounced "Dzow"
  • Please is: Qung, pronounced "Ching"
  • Thank you is: Xiexie, pronounced "Syeh Syeh"
  • Yes is: Shi, pronounced "Sher"
  • Goodbye is: Zaijian, pronounced "Dzigh-jy-en"

Next, we list a few good to know tips that will help our readers understand the Asian culture in general. Each country will have particular rules, but these are just general, hopefully helpful tips:

  • The Chinese do not "line up." They push in large crowds.
  • Confucianism is not a religion. It is a way of life based on the "Golden Rule." Treat others as you wish to be treated yourself. It also encompasses the idea of the communal rather than personal. The art of living and the good of the group takes precedence over individuality.
  • Buddhism, Islam ism, Taoism, Hinduism and Shinto are other religions in China.
  • Western Handshakes are lighter and less firm. To bow is a respectful gesture.
  • Eye contact in Asia is always short. Looking at someone for too long, or starring is used as punishment by Mothers to their children who are bad.
  • Always accept a business card with both hands, look at it, pause, then put it nicely away in a purse or front jacket pocket. DO NOT put it in your back pocket as this is considered to be an insult.
  • Be reserved in speech, volume of speech, dress and posture.
  • A smile from an Asian may mean anger, fear, humiliation or apology.
  • DO NOT Use any hand gestures. NO "thumbs up." No "O.K." sign with your hand. DO NOT put your hands in your pockets. Keep your hands at your sides instead. NEVER touch anyone on the shoulder, arm or anywhere. DO NOT ever pass an object to a woman unless a close relationship has been established.
  • Eat slowly and mind your intake. Asian dinners often consist of a dozen small courses. Taste all and enjoy.
  • Sauces are for light dipping. Do not fully dunk or saturate your food.
  • The rice bowl is on the LEFT. Rice is eaten with chopsticks. NEVER lick your chopsticks or point them at anyone as Asians consider to to be very rude.
  • The soup bowl is on the RIGHT. The solid morsels are eaten with chopsticks. Noodles are eaten by bringing the bowl to your mouth and slurping the noodles from the chopsticks. Slurping is good. Slurping is a compliment to the chef. The liquid soup is drunk directly from the bowl. Replace the lid on the soup bowl when you are finished. Neatly place your chopsticks on top of the lid, or on the chopstick rest.
  • Asian legend says: if one holds one's chopsticks close to the tips, one will marry someone close to where you live. If one holds one's chopsticks far up, and away from the tips, one will marry someone far away from where you live.
  • Never give a gift, like flowers, in a quantity of 13. Never give a gift of flowers that are white. White flowers are reserved for funerals. The color black is also associated with death. Clocks are associated with death. The numbers 4 and 40 and sets of four are unlucky. Red wrapping is the color of choice for a gift.
  • NEVER give a gift of knives, scissors, or other sharp items, not even with a "lucky penny" attached.
  • ALWAYS ask permission before photographing anyone.
  • ALWAYS show respect for the elderly.

These rules of etiquette are general to Asia. Specific regions have particular rules. Best to check the region you are visiting and check the exact local customs and manners and rules of etiquette. Relax and enjoy!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Handy Household Tips: Eggs, Water, Salt and Dancing

Here are some simple helpful hints for the house:

A Handy Weight: If you ever need to weigh an article down, place a bucket of water on a board over the article. One gallon of water weighs approximately eight pounds.

To Preserve eggs: Believe it or not, if eggs are boiled for one minute, they will keep fresh for one month. Eggs will keep for six months of they are steeped for a little while in sweet oil.

To Easily Shell Boiled Eggs: After boiling the eggs, dip them in cold water. This will keep the eggs a bright color. Roll the egg back and forth between the palms of your hands and you will be able to pull the shell of easily. An egg that has a dip in one end of it larger than your thumb is an old egg. It is not a bad egg, just not so fresh.

To Get a Cake Out of a Pan: after greasing the pan, sprinkle flour over the bottom of the pan, then cut out, fit and place a piece of wax paper on the bottom of the pan. If the cake is in a Bunt pan and you cannot use the wax paper, after taking the cake out of the oven, stand the cake tin on a damp cloth for a minute or two and the cake will come out quite whole.

To stretch eggs: when beating eggs with fork or whisk, add a little water to stretch the eggs. Water will also make the eggs lighter in omelettes and cakes. The addition of water makes the eggs easier to beat.

Many Uses for Salt:

  • Drink a glass of cold water, ten minutes later put a pinch of salt on your tongue, and your headache should be cured.

  • Salt makes your teeth whiter, hardens up your gums and sweetens your breath.

  • Salt added to flower water keeps the flowers fresher longer.

  • New potatoes will scrape much easier if a little salt is dissolved in the water

  • When boiling eggs, sprinkle salt in the boiling water before adding the eggs and the shells will not crack, and the insides will not leak out.

  • Soak your tired feet in salt and water after a long day or a long night of "Dancing With The Stars," and your feet will feel better the next day.

Dance and have fun!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Middle Eastern Manners - Etiquette, Customs, Gestures - Part II

Middle Eastern Manners - Part II

Arab Languages are related to Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac. Thee are dozens of regional dialects. There are 28 letters and the language is written and read right to left and spoken by over 150 million people.
Regional dialects include: Egyptian, Iraqi, Gulf, Levantine.
Family is the foundation of Arab society. Identity is based on heritage of desert, nomadic culture. Arabs have a keen sense of social rank and clan identity.
Names are formed for you by your Patrilineal string. Other than your formal first name given to you by your parents, your name is done already. The structure is: Formal given first name + Abd (servant of), + bin(m) or bint(f), + Father's first name, + Paternal Grandfather's first name, + tribe or region. An example is my name: Katherine Abd bint Bruce Chester Seneca Falls
Honor and Dishonor are very important in Arab culture. "Saving Face" in the group is paramount. A woman's honor is based on her behavior. A man's honor is based on his behavior and the behavior of all of his family members, particularly the female family members. The pressure to restore one's honor when shamed can be enormous. Chastity is directly related to one's honor. Islam and Arab society segregate the sexes from puberty. Covering a woman's body is done out of modesty and is essential. The Qur'an (Koran) says only the hair has to be covered. The "Black Burka" is worn only by family modesty. Men are also required to dress modestly.
Women are limited to one husband. Men may have up to four wives. Arranged marriages exist, but are frowned upon.
Arab Culture dictates that Group Rights trump Individual Rights. Different from most Western Cultures, desert cultures emphasize group survival secondary to the individual comfort. Decisions are made by consensus, and again, different from Western countries, Arab countries prefer consultation with regional neighbors. This fact alone emphasizes the importance of U.S. coalition-building.
In Arab culture, nothing happens unless it is the will of God or as they say: "If God Wills." Negatively speaking, this way of thinking can foster a culture of blamelessness and a reluctance to accept responsibility, and a lack of self-criticism.
Similar to European etiquette, hand gestures to avoid include: pointing with an index finger or pencil and the "OK" or "Thumbs up" hand gestures. Keep your hands out of yor pockets. Also, the left hand is considered unclean as it is used for toileting. Always eat with the right hand. If you steal and are convicted, your right hand will be cut off, thus forcing you to eat with your left hand for the rest of your life, which is considered to be the greatest insult.
When speaking to an Arab: always stand up straight, and stand for all introductions. Keep your hands out of your pockets. Keep the soles of your feet always on the floor. Placing your right hand on your chest at greeting denotes respect and thankfulness. Dressing too casually is considered to be disrespectful.
Arabs care more for sincerity and respect than exact observance of cultural norms. Enjoy time spent with your Arab friends. Be sensitive, but relax. Show your interest in their culture!

*This information is from a seminar I attended at The Protocol School of Washington. This session was taught by Cynthia Rambo, Chief of Protocol, Shaw Air Force Base.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Middle Eastern Cultural Tips and Customs -Part I

There are many definitions for what and where is the Middle East.

  • Arab is not an ethnicity.
  • Arabs represent approximately 18% of Muslims, but their language, culture and religion permeate the Islamic world.
  • The Koran was delivered to Muhammad in Arabic, so speaking Arabic is a foundation and plays a central role in the practice of Islam.
  • Ethnic Arabs originate from the Arabian Gulf region, but the spread of Islam and the Islamic Empire absorbed a host of other ethnic groups.
  • Some of the countries considered to be "Arab" countries are: Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Morocco, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Yeman, Syria, Iraq, Oman, Somalia, Jordan, Western Samara and Mauritania.
  • The Islamic religion is the fastest growing religion in the world: 1-1.4 billion believers which is 20% of the world population. There are 6 million believers in the USA.
  • 90% of the Middle East is Muslim (65% Sunni, 29% Shi'a)

Muhammad was born in 570 A.D. in Mecca and orphaned at a young age and lived with his uncle. He became a caravan merchant and married Khadija, a trader. He received his first revelation in the year 610 A.D. and for 20 years afterwards. He fled to Yathrib in 622 A.D. He returned to Mecca in 630 A.D. and died in 632 A.D. without a successor and was buried in Medina. This is when many splits in the religion happened. Sunnis are those who follow the sunna, or example, of Muhammad. Their leaders are thought to be the "best person" as an example of Muhammad. Shi'a, are those who are the Party of Ali or Shi'at Ali, and believe the succession of leaders should be hereditary, or blood relatives of Muhammad. Many disputes center on the rightful leadership of the community. The Islamic world is 85% Sunni and 15% Shi'a.

The foundations of Islam include the Five Pillars:

  1. Shahada, or Profession of Faith
  2. Salat, or Prayers
  3. Zakat, or Alms Giving
  4. Sawm, orFasting
  5. Hajj, or Pilgramage

Most people are humble and pray when convenient, not necessarily 5 times per day. One must wash one's hands and feet prior to prayer and pray during the washing too. One's head must touch the lowest point on the ground.

Muslims are required to donate 2.5% of their income to the homeless. Also, as a kindness, bring them into their homes for a meal without reservation. There are NO orphanages because the giving capacity of the communities is so very great and the important family structure does not warrant orphanages.

The one thing in common with Islam, Christianity and Judaism is the Universal God. Other similarities with Christianity and Judaism are:

  • Oneness of God
  • Prophets and Divine Revelation
  • Angels
  • Satan
  • Moral responsibility and accountability
  • Judgement Day
  • Eternal reward or Punishment
  • Covenant with God
  • Peace, love and charity

The Muslim religion has no "Pope." There is NO chosen leader for the "lesser Jihed." Osama bin Laden DOES NOT have the support of the Muslim society.

Family is the foundation of Arab society. Extended family is treasured as the obligation for their care runs very deep. Arabs have a keen sense of social rank and clan identity. Familial bonds are much closer, deeper and larger than in typical Western families. Business meetings very often happen in the home surrounded by extended family centered around a large, long meal.

This information was from a seminar I attended at The Protocol School of Washington. This session was taught by Cynthia Rambo, Chief of Protocol , Shaw Airforce Base. Enjoy these tips!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

LTTE - "The Girl Who Would Be Queen" Article, October Issue

Dear Ms. Wintour,
Hallelujah! Rather than reading about some empty life of some untalented, yet famous celebrity, we were treated to a glimpse into a fascinating life of a real woman, who happened to be regal and rather talented.
William Shawcross's excerpt from his book: The Queen Mother, let us peak into the life of a Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon.
From her kindnesses towards the soldiers in WWI as a young fourteen year old girl through her work with the Prime Minister during WWII, Mr. Shawcross revealed The Queen Mother as a woman with a strong work ethic, love of country, family, and duty.
Learning and reading about an historic, interesting, strong, significant woman of substance every month would make a lovely column. Thank you.

Monday, September 28, 2009

LTTE Elle Magazine - A Young Generation of Bad Manners In America

The American media spotlight has moved from older generations of polite, self-sacrificing, respectful people to younger generations of pampered, self-aggrandizing, repugnant people.
Having taught etiquette and manners to young people for the past decade, my students have gone from needing a bit of fine tuning, to needing to learn how to hold a fork, and on up the manners ladder from that basic skill.
Kanye West, sadly, is merely one symptom of the bigger problem facing young Americans today.

The number one rule of etiquette is: "Always make the other person feel special."

Throwing away our manners in order to be heard, seen, understood or to be the center of attention seems to be the new "American Way" for some. Why? Blame fame, Reality TV, stress, The Red Carpet, The Internet, the Bloggers, 24 hour Cable TV, 30 years of prosperity, wealth and opportunity for all. Blame American society in general. How about blaming ourselves?

And to think, some men on the Titanic gave up their seats on the rescue boats sacrificing their own lives to save the lives of others. Then there was World War II. The "Greatest Generation."

Yes, as the Editor stated in the October Issue, Kanye West is in the "freaky" category, but not "genius." More like a rich and rude, arrogant, mean, and now, a famous bully.

I am glad Kanye West was not standing next to me on the Titanic or in a "fox hole." He would have thrown me out and overboard!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ele Magazine "What I Wore" Contest Essay

   At 22 years old, I was the gawkiest, tallest, skinniest, girl in quite a while to have graduated from Sweet Briar College and move to New York City with three suitcases.
   My first job was as a receptionist/order taker/dress model for the designer, Mr. Adolfo, at his couture salon on 57th Street. When Mr. Adolfo had me fitted for my first little black dress, I had no idea what this dress would do for my confidence and come to mean to me in my life and the many years ahead.
   This knee length formal dress had a beautiful black velvet torso with a black tulle ballerina skirt, matching tulle straps and sash, all the tulle demurely dotted with rhinestones like little bright stars in an ethereal night sky.
   Three months later, I was whisked away in a limousine in my new dress to work my first company gala event at Saks Fifth Avenue complete with photographers and a Red Carpet. Oh my! I walked this carpet, but did not really know what it was at the time. It was, after all, 1984. No one clicked my picture and I had never heard of a "Page 6". But no matter. I had on my favorite first formal couture dress.
Christmastime arrived with an invitation to the company Christmas dinner dance at Doubles. I had to scrape up a date, but not a dress! Adolfo chose me for the honor of the first dance. My Mother was so proud.
   At 23, it was time to meet my first boyfriend's entire family. We played touch football just like a Pepsi commercial, although in catching the football, I was bumped into a tree and got a black eye from the football which ended up next to my face. A Black-tie event followed that evening at the Country Club in Tuxedo Park. Nervous and with a black eye, but dressed in my Adolfo dress, I at least, had the confidence I was always appropriately dressed.
   June arrived with the Belmont Ball.  Arranged by Mr. Adolfo, my hostess, C Z. Guest, accompanied my date and me into the Jockey Club for the dance the night before the Belmont Stakes. No worries. Again, always appropriately attired.
  Many charity and social events followed over the years: The Junior League Ball at The Plaza with Peter Duchin, easy. The Intrepid Ball, no problem. The Circle Line "booze cruise," always appropriate. The Colony Club, The University Club, The Williams, Harvard and Yale Clubs. No worries. The Limelight opening and Andy Warhol. Not a care in the world with my best Adolfo dress. Stumbling into the Tumble Inn at 2 a.m, Tunnel, Elaine's, and The 21 Club, always right. Swells, The Surf Club, and Mick Jager showed up! Never an issue.
 Soon followed many weddings of good friends. A Dallas wedding, a South Carolina wedding. A wedding at the New York Saint Ignatius Church and Reception at the St. Regis. The Graycliff in the Bahamas for my 30th birthday, still wearing and able to fit into my beloved dress. This dress was my passport to many years and all types of social soirees without ever feeling out of place.
   At age 26, my Haute Couture dress accompanied me home to Richmond to take care of my ailing father. For the next nine years, it served me well as a "singleton." If the dress became too tight, I quit eating dessert and bread for a while. My bellwether dress.
   As a 35 year old workaholic, I phoned a friend and asked to sit with her and her husband at The Deep Run Hunt Club Hunt Ball. The "horsey set." They sat me next to a man I had seen once before at a club event.
   Traditionally, at any Hunt Ball, a black and white dress is required for women who did hunt that day, and a black dress is required for women who did not hunt that day, so the ladies do not clash with the gentlemen who wear those red "Evening Scarlett" coats. Being that I did not hunt that day, my black Adolfo dress was the perfect Black Tie attire, once again.
   Seven years later, I married the man I was seated next to on that magical, horsey, Haute Couture evening. 
   Soon afterwards, I gave this still wonderful and favorite dress away to a young friend I worked with, hoping it would bring her the confidence, comfort, and happiness it brought me for many, many years.

International Gift Giving Etiquette

Anyone watch the UN speeches given by various foreign leaders this week? Ever think about Corporate gift giving to foreigners? The following is a bit of foreign corporate gift giving tips:

Appropriate Gifts in Arab Countries:

  • Books

  • Gifts for Children

  • "Made in the USA" gifts

  • Gifts for the Office

Inappropriate Gifts in Arab Countries:

  • Liquor

  • Logo items

  • Blue and White gifts

  • Gifts for Spouse

  • Animal products or food as a gift for the first meeting

Appropriate Gifts in Japan

  • US Brand Named items

  • Scotch and Brandy

  • Books

  • Company products

In any Asian country, or from an Asian person, always accept a business card or a gift with both hands. Using both hands shows respect. Regarding a business card: take time to look at the business card. Do not ever stuff it in your back pocket.

Inappropriate Gifts in Japan:

  • Any "Made in Japan" item

  • Anything with the numbers 4 or 9

  • Surprises of any type

  • Humorous or Joke gifts

  • Ribbons and/or Bows

  • Fox, Badger or Wolf

Appropriate Gifts in the USA:

  • Books

  • Pen and Pencil sets

  • Key Chains

  • Umbrellas

  • Paperweights

Inappropriate Gifts in the USA:

  • Expensive items

  • Red Roses to a woman

  • Personal items

  • Liquor to a non-drinker

  • Cash

Always enclose a gift receipt with your gift and have the gift "gift wrapped" if possible.

I do not care what Peggy Post says: NEVER re-gift any gift to anyone for any reason. It is a small world, it is NOT honest and the gift never seems to be quite gift receipt and wrapped by hand usually in a gift bag. No thought and no time put into the gift always comes back on the giver. The recipient always knows. In any re-gifting situation, one is taking many chances. I have a host of re-gifting horror stories to my Halloween blog post, soon!

If one has no money to spend on a personal gift for a good friend, instead of re-gifting, an appropriate, thoughtful card will always do with a kind, well thought out, beautifully written message, or for a wedding, pull a nice sterling cake knife or pretty china plate out of your sideboard in your Dining Room, wrap it up and tell the Bride it is a "family treasure" you want her to have because she is like family to you. I will also address this topic for the holiday season, soon.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Household Tips - Separating Eggs, Cleaning Brass, Headache Cure

Helpful Household Tips

  • A Wet Oven Cloth will save many burnt fingers and hands

  • To Remove Spots of Milk or Tea on a Brass Tray: apply a bit of lemon juice and rinse.

  • For Easy Egg Separating: try breaking the egg into a funnel. The white will go down the funnel and the yoke will stay behind.

  • To Cure a Headache: try 2 cloves in a cup of freshly brewed tea.

  • Natural Tooth Cleaner - salt hardens the gums and makes the teeth white.

  • To Clean Suede Shoes - Black, Brown or Grey suede shoes may be cleaned lightly with fine sand-paper. Rub with firm, even pressure. This will remove dirt, mud and grease.

  • Never Polish Pewter - Never polish pewter, you will ruin its finish. Let pewter remain dull. When it is dirty, wash it with a very soft brush, a tiny amount of gentle soap and warm water. Dry the pewter with a soft cloth.

Be Thrifty, Have Fun and Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An Addendum: Manners Matter To Those In The Know

A poem from my Forget-Me-Not, Forget Me Never book:
If pleasures path you wish to see,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak, of whom you speak,
And when, and how, and where.
Florence Gaynor
June 21, 1906

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Manners Still Matter to Those in the Know

   Yesterday, a reporter at The Richmond Times Dispatch called and asked my opinion about the recent outbursts of Serena Williams, Kanye West and US Representative Joe Wilson. To my surprise, the article was published on the front page of the paper today and is entitled: "Outbursts of the famous: Why so rude?"
   So far this morning, this article has received 43 comments. Many more comments than any of the other articles in the paper combined. Etiquette and manners are always a hot topic, so why do good manners receive no comments and seem to be disappearing in our American society?
   My exact words to this reporter were: "Manners matter to those in the know. Good manners will take one farther than any Ivy League eduction. The knowledge of etiquette and impeccable manners will take one anywhere and everywhere in life."
   I attributed declining civility in American society to a few concurring factors. Twenty-four hour Cable TV, producers wanting 'shock value' and confrontation within their programming to boost ratings, talking heads on all Cable TV shows talking over each other all the time, instant international information on the Internet and in our hand held cell phones, the 40 year disintegration of the American family, religion, education, and discipline in general. Casual lifestyles leading to casual fashion and dress codes, spilling over to casual manners, or no manners at all.
   The behavior of Serena Williams and Kanye West were both wrong and rude. Society will punish them as society sees fit. These days, thanks to the media, they will probably get more press, more TV screen time, and as a result, more fame and probably make more money.
   Regarding US Representative Joe Wilson's behavior: In 1801, Jefferson wrote "Jefferson's Manual of Parliamentary Practice" as a reference on parliamentary protocol. The Senate traditionally has not considered this body of work as its direct authority on parliamentary procedure, as they began amending it in 1828 and did not finish their version until 1977. However, in Congress, according to this manual, one may call the President a "half-baked nit-wit," but may not refer to the President as a "liar" or "hypocrite." Freedom of semantics and hyperbole. Joe Wilson was wrong in using the word "liar" but not wrong in speaking his mind. He should have just used a different word. Interestingly enough, in Great Britain, Parliament openly tolerates constant, brisk verbal outbursts. I mentioned to the reporter, Joe Wilson's outburst was the first (to be televised anyway), but will not be the last.
     America is currently experimenting with many different social and political paths Europeans have been practicing and tolerating for decades. For the past 400 years, America has been its own island of Anglo-Christian Puritan behavior, fighting for what we perceive to be right. Now, we are a multi-cultural society, multi-tasking with multiple perceptions. Hopefully, Americans will grow more tolerant and inclusive in general and less tolerant of bad behaviors as we catch up with all the technology we have invented.
   Instant condemnation and gratification. Instant communication and opinion. Instant fame and fortune. But, instant forgiveness? Instant civility and manners?
   Do not fret dear readers, Americans will tolerate only so much rudeness. The Press is a powerful vehicle of information, but the societal pendulum will eventually swing back. For now, thank goodness, manners still matter to those in the know.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Humble Experience with British Healthcare

In the Summer of 1981, I was a student with The Virginia Program at Oxford. The Renaissance, Shakespeare, Spenser and such. From Sweet Briar College to St. Anne's College at Oxford University, England. Princess Diana was married that summer and I got the education of a lifetime. A structurally different educational system, travel, foreign culture and a peak at what a Government run, National Health Care System looks like. As most of my readers can imagine, any government run anything is neither proficient, nor professional and never even mind half way perfect. I have two stories to share regarding my observations that summer.

First Story:
As 'of age' students, we tended to be the first patrons for a few 'half-pints' a few nights a week across the street at the local pub. We got to know the young couple that had just bought the pub and lived upstairs. The husband bar tended and tended the building maintenance including the flowered window boxes and small garden out front. The wife was the waitress, cooked the buffet meal offered to patrons for dinner and had two small children. They were open 7 days a week.
The wife once told us she once went to the local public Clinic to be seen for a bad flu. This young couple could not afford a private doctor like other business owners and the rich in England. The receptionist told her it wold be a 2 week wait to see the doctor. No doctor, no prescription for medicine. She replied to the receptionist: "In 2 weeks, with the flu, I will either be well or dead." So, she left the public clinic with no help, not even an aspirin and suffered through the flu, working the entire time at the Pub and taking care of the kids. Eventually, she was well. She commented that as soon as she and her husband could afford it, they were going to subscribe to a private GP.

Second Story:
One of my classmates broke her arm and a few of us went with her to the local hospital down the street. I remember the 1/2 day wait in the ER, the over crowded waiting area looked like a third world airport. Everyone sitting on the floor, patients on stretchers in the hallways. The patients also had the old red rubber IV tubing, instead of the modern clear plastic tubing. I noticed the antique radiators with the old lead paint peeling off of them. Then noticed the old thin lead pipes near the ceilings also peeling, probably from The Great War (WWI). No renovations for the last 70 years in this Oxford hospital. Never even mind any modern equipment or conveniences.

One of our rich friends here in the US pays $4,000.00 per year for the privilege of having a private doctor come to his house, 24/7. If America is going to decide to enter into a 2 tiered health care system, you are going to get the health care you can afford. Private doctors for the rich and public clinics for everyone else. Does America really want to enter into this new age of health care?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Better Butter Tips

  • Have y'all ever heard the saying: "Barbara Streisand's nails are like butter?" Well, if you rub butter on your nail beds, they will be softer. Butter may be used as ointment for: sore lips, chapped hands, cuts and bruises. After the first application of the butter, the bruise should fade.
  • To Sweeten Rancid Butter: Melt and skim the butter. Put a piece of toast into the melted butter. In a few minutes, the butter will loose its offensive taste and smell and can be left to get firm again.
  • To Renew The Life of Ferns: Carefully remove from cache-pot. Place a few drops of Caster Oil at the roots, then set the fern in a pail of water all night. Replant. After a week or so, the fern should sprout new shoots.
  • Frying Hint: When frying fat has got slightly burnt, place a raw, peeled potato into the pan for a few minutes and then remove it. This act should remove all trace of burning.
  • When a saucepan boils dry and burns: it can be saved by putting a piece of butter the size of a walnut in the pan, allow it to melt, then pour in the hot water.
  • Cooking Hint: If if puddings, meats, tarts and cakes are covered with butter paper, they will not be burnt in the oven.
  • To Beat Butter and Sugar: Where a recipe requires the beating of butter and sugar to a cream, briefly place these ingredients in a double boiler until partly blended. Do not break the butter. Then, mix together as required.

Enjoy your salted and unsalted butter!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The White Dinner Jacket, Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, and The Golden Rule

We are attending a 6:00 p.m. wedding on September 5th, before Labor Day. The informal, modern invitation does not address dress at all. The wedding ceremony and reception are both in a botanical garden. Richmond, Virginia typically has an 86% humidity rate and is 98 degrees during the day, and 76 degrees at night with no breeze. More humid and hotter than most tropical climates, yet Richmond is extremely traditional, conservative, and corporately conformist.
That being said, I had a question from a friend about wearing a White Dinner Jacket to the wedding. The question was at what time is it acceptable to wear a formal tuxedo (white or black dinner jacket). The answer is 6:00 pm, but the issue of the white or ivory dinner jacket vs. the black dinner jacket is a horse of a different color! Never even mind the shawl collar.
The Golden Rule is: He who has the most gold rules. Rules change because the families with the gold change. Customs change. Society changes. I referred to the Internet and 5 different books in my etiquette library, one as far back as 1938 and here are a few results:
  • From: "Etiquette" by, Emily Post (1938) "White Dinner Coat - Intended only for hot weather, it should be double-breasted so as to avoid waistcoat; trousers, shirt, tie, socks, and shoes: same as dinner coat (all white articles of clothing must be immaculate and perfectly ironed). White Mess Jacket - Trousers: Black, Waistcoat: White (kummerbund not in as good taste, but black one permissible if necessary). Other details same as for white dinner coat."
  • From: The Black Tie Guide on the Internet. "The white jacket variation of black tie began in the early 1930's as a way for well-heeled vacationers to dress formally in the tropical heat...However, without a proper understanding of its form and function, the white dinner jacket easily becomes a flashy gimmick....The white dinner jacket's origin on cruises and at tropical resorts speaks to its specific role as a casual alternative to traditional black tie. This less formal status limits its appropriateness to celebrity events and hot weather climates."
  • From: The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette (1978). Under "Informal Evening for the Groom, White or Black (preferably) dinner jacket, single- or double-breasted black vest or cummerbund. For male guests: a dark business suit."
  • From: EtiquetteNow: Wedding Etiquette Expert, Rebecca Black, on the Internet. "Question: Is it appropriate to wear a white dinner jacket as a groom in a 4 pm wedding in a tropical environment where the reception will run into the evening? Answer: Dear When to Wear a White/Ivory Dinner Jacket, Yes, the tux is evening formal attire. However, 4pm is close enough in my book. I don't think anyone will fault you on this."

Clearly from researching and reading from different sources written in different decades, my experience tells me:

In conservative Richmond, Virginia, if one has to ask around if one should wear a particular style or not, it is probably best to defer to the more known, traditional, conformist style.

Perfectly appropriate is for this male guest to call his very good friend, the Father of the Bride, and ask him what he is wearing and what other male guests may be wearing, then make his decision.

Always safer to be better dressed than less dressed.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Fallible Fall Season Finger Bowl Faux Pas

With Fall, approaches the season of company award dinners, school functions, rehearsal dinners and weddings. Who knew October is now the most popular month of the year to get married. You may have occasion to see finger bowls every week. You may only see one finger bowl in your life.
So, don't get flustered over the idea of the finger bowl and let yourself get carried away with the blowing Fall foliage. Settle in and feast your eyes on these few simple tips on how to manipulate the Finger Bowl:

  • Do Not drink from your finger bowl. We all know this, n'est-ce pas?
  • Do use one hand at a time. Demurely, place the fingers only in the bowl, slowly remove, then dab onto one's napkin in one's lap.
  • Do remove the bowl with BOTH HANDS when finished and move the bowl to the top left of your place, signalling to the server you are done. Sometimes, finger bowls come with their own plate, but mostly, these days, they come on top of a dessert plate.
  • Do make sure to remove the paper doily or linen doily accompanying the bowl if on top of a dessert plate so the server may then place the dessert onto your dessert plate.
  • Do silently through example and eye contact help a dinner partner to the left or right of you in the manipulation of their finger bowl if need be.
Many years ago at my first job at Adolfo, during my first formal dinner function at a Christmas Party at the exclusive Doubles Club in New York City, I was faced with the dreaded finger bowl. I knew what it was. I knew enough not to drink from my finger bowl, but I did not know quite what to do with my finger bowl when finished. A very nice lady to my left silently helped me throgh the manipulation of my finger bowl. How nice was she! I have often thought of her and have always been greatful for her kindness shown to me as a young adult.

Enjoy the Fall, all its functions and fear not the finger bowl.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Have Americans Misplaced Our Manners on the Red Carpet?

Today, I was in a bookstore placing an order. I handed the clerk my business card with my information. Delighted, she said: "Oh, you teach etiquette and manners. I collect old etiquette books. I have an Emily Post book from 1933." Then she posed the question: "What are your thoughts about modern manners and their place in our American society today?" My answer to her was previously thought out and may seem surprising to some, but not totally out of sorts.
Let's face it, once deficits are realized, inflation sets in, interest rates go up and taxes go back up to their 1978 levels, Americans may again remember what is important in life. With all our success, American manners have gotten off track during the last few decades and generations.
Yes, having money will afford you opportunities and may take you places, but good manners will open all doors for you and take you everywhere. Treating other people as you would wish to be treated opens your soul and heart to those little miracles in life that occur every day. "Making the other person feel special always", should still be the golden rule of behavior. Just watch a few old black and white movies from "The Greatest Generation."
America has not lost its' soul. They have just misplaced it somewhere on the "Red Carpet." Maybe we will go back to having 3 generations living in the same house as did my grand-parents and great-grandparents. Much can be learned from the older, wiser generations. We do not really want to all live like the editor of a fashion magazine, and we should not need frightfully expensive designer bags and sunglasses to feel important, needed and loved.
Practice good manners and surprisingly, the results will have nothing to do with a fancy purse or a fashion runway.

Success in Business

Just heard an old expression from a 1941 movie:

Success in business is 50% hard work and 50% what type of cigar you smoke.

This saying still holds true today, n'est-ce pas? The unspoken and unwritten are still important.

Remember, this is why when interviewing, in addition to the company you are interviewing with liking you, more importantly, you must like them.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Just a Quick Poem From My Book

Good thoughts for today... and to all... have a fun rest of the summer at the beach... dig those cool bathing suits from 1907!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

True One Line Joke: "What other people think of me is none of my business."

It is said that 50% of any joke we may tell others about ourselves is the truth. Sometimes, I think it's more like 80%.
The truth is, the only thing we can control is ourselves. One cannot control other people or live others' lives for them. One should not worry, either, about problems one cannot control.
I have thankfully reached the age where I do not want to control other people. It is quite enough to just to live my own life. What other people may think of me is their business and/or their problem.
Try it! This way of thinking is quite liberating! Be free and be happy with yourself, your own opinions and your own life.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Money and Time Saving Household Tips

Here are a few tips to save a few pennies and a few minutes:

  • To Clean a Copper Kettle: cut a lemon in half dipped in salt and rub it over the surface of the metal, washing afterwards with warm water to prevent the acid of the lemon from eating too much into the metal.
  • To Make Mint Sauce from your Garden Mint: sprinkle the mint leaves with granulated sugar before chopping. You will be delighted with the result.
  • To Clean Brass Candlesticks: wash the candlestick in hot, soapy water, making sure to remove all candle grease spots. Use your fingernails lightly or a soft cloth so as not to scratch the candlestick. Thoroughly dry with a soft cloth, clean with a metal polish, and polish well with a soft cloth. Next, smear the candlestick with a very thin coating of Vaseline. This keeps the candlestick bright for several weeks and future grease spots can be removed easier.
  • To Keep Cheese Fresh: after opening, keep a cube of sugar next to the cheese inside it's container. The sugar will inhibit the mildew from growing and keep your cheese fresher, longer.
  • To freshen up more than day old donuts: place them in the toaster oven and heat for a minute or two at about 150 degrees.
  • To Remove Onion Smell from your hands: after peeling or cutting onions, rub your hands with celery to get rid of the odour.
  • To Avoid Lumps in Salt: keep a bean or two in the salt shaker. The beans absorb all moisture.

Conserve your time and conserve energy and enjoy!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

LTTE Reaction to "Miss Porter's" Article in Vanity Fair, July, 2009 Issue

Letter To The Editor:

As a bright, but very tall and skinny, shy child with ADHD in the 1960's, like Tatum Bass, I was unfairly and relentlessly picked on, badgered and bullied at an exclusive private Episcopalian girl's school for no other reason than our family did not fit the mold.
We were Yankee transplants into a unique Southern society of First Families of Virginia, known locally as the FFV's. These families traced their lineages back as much as 13 generations, from the 7 Presidents of Virginia to King Carter and Mary Randolph. One basically has to be born into this society to truly fit the mold.
My grades went from straight A's in Primer to straight D's by 5th Grade, when my parents wisely pulled me out. I had stopped talking, and was the most mortally unhappy ten year old child. By the grace of God, I eventually thrived at another girl's High School and women's College. Single and professionally successful, spent the bulk of my 20's and 30's trying to fit back into the social mold in which I perceived I had failed.
It was not until I was married at 41 that I figured out life on the fringe, rather than inside the fishbowl, is so much more fulfilling, interesting and fun for me.
If one's family fits the mold, I am sure it is lovely to grow up with all that structure, security and social connections from the "1/2 of the 1 percent," but the pinnacle of perfection Miss Porter's pushes does not guarantee success, happiness or respect in life.
Hopefully, Miss Bass and her family will eventually accept her experience at Miss Porter's as a lucky lesson , learn from it, and move on.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Book Recommendation: How To Be A Gentleman by, John Bridges

My Nephew, Chase, is thirteen. He is on Facebook and has his first girlfriend. Ah...young love. A few years ago, geeky Aunt Kathy gave him a book on how to be a gentleman. As usual, I was too organized and jumping the gun a bit, or so both his mother and I thought.
Turns out, Chase has read the entire book. While driving him to summer camp last week, he stated a few pointers he would not be using until he turns 21, but he had found the majority of the book useful. Yes, he is in a gifted school and reads at a 10th grade level, but he's only 13. It is definitely a different thirteen than way back when.
Chase then commented on one pointer from the book. He said when young men go to parties and receive "Hello Air Kisses" from young women on the cheek, they should not wipe off the lipstick (possibly insulting the "Air Kiss" giver) but wear it as a badge of honor (of sorts). Then, other young women will notice it and wipe it off, thus, gaining double attention.
If I do say so myself, I am so proud of my brilliant, diplomatic, cleaver Nephew although he does need to work on his table manners even if he is a "lefty."
Photo: Chase at The Jefferson Hotel

Yeah, No. Actually, It's All About, Like...You Know What?

Yeah, no. Actually, it's all about, like, your speech. Has anyone listened to a news anchor person lately? Never even mind the Today Show. Is anyone else tired and sick of listening to this popular "Valley Girl" speak of the new Millennium? What can anyone do about it?
Do the producers listen to their anchors? Do people even listen to themselves? What about the screen writers? Commercials. If the media personalities do not stop writing scripts and talking like this, in this age of automatic technology and instant messages, how are we ever going to stop it? Are our brains on automatic pilot also?
Trends come and go. Habits die hard. Unfortunately, Valley Girls live on.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Unspoken, unwritten rules. Perceptions and Intetions.

My Father used to say: "The higher one climbs on the Corporate ladder, the more acceptance becomes about the way one's hair is parted."
One can behave with the proper manners and know all the rules of etiquette, and still not fit the mold. Fitting the mold is unspoken and unwritten, just like the part in one's hair.
Mannerisms, habits, aura, body language, any childhood lessons and training, sidebar comments, off the cuff conversation, family history and upbringing all add up to complete the whole person.
So, when you interview for a job, join a club, or begin dating someone seriously, you are being perceived and judged. First impressions will get your foot in the door if your impression is favorable, but what about your staying power. Longevity and upward mobility within the organization you join is when the "parting of the hair" counts. Some people say perception is everything. But what about intent? The way one is perceived is not always the way one intended to be perceived.
Corporations, private clubs, community organizations, relationships, marriage. Life is full of change. With change comes new circumstances, new relationships, new perceptions by others.
When you interview for a job, start a new relationship or school, join a new club or organization, be sure you like the entity you are joining. Yes, they must like you and perceive you as fitting into their mold to accept you, but you also must like them. Know for yourself when you are a good fit. Hopefully, you will have the confidence and self knowledge too know you will be a good fit, just as you know you part your hair the way they do.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ten Household Time and Money Saving Tips

Here are 10 tips to save on time and money for busy households. Y'all enjoy!
  1. When in a hurry preparing dinner, before placing the potatoes in the water, cut them lengthwise instead of across. They will be ready in less time. Also, boiling potatoes is inexpensive. Extra potato leftovers can be smashed and shaped into fried potato pancakes for weekend breakfast.
  2. Try sweeping wooden stairs with a soft, medium sized paintbrush. It will get into the corners and in between the rails easily. Hopefully, you will notice a big difference.
  3. To quickly and easily pare young potatoes and carrots, soak them in cold water for 15 minutes then brush heartily with a stiff scrubbing brush. This method removes the skin and prevents one's hands from becoming stained.
  4. To remove paint stains from window-panes, rub with the edge of a pencil eraser or penny.
  5. My mother has always cleaned her windows with a window cleaner and a soft cloth, polished with newspaper. This method helps the windows retain their luster for a long while.
  6. To clean the interior of a burnt aluminium saucepan or pot, fill the pot with water, add an onion and bring to a boil. The burnt matter will rise to the top leaving your pot clean and bright once again.
  7. To make fresh summer mint sauce, pick off mint leaves and wash, then sprinkle sugar over the mint before chopping and crushing. Enjoy!
  8. To clean cut glass or crystal bowls or decanters, clean with small pieces of peeled potato and equal parts of water and vinegar. Shake or stir for a few minutes.
  9. Keep garden flowers fresh in a vase with salt added to lukewarm water.
  10. A teaspoon of lemon juice will often relieve a headache. My Great-grandmother also drank a cup of a mixture of lemon juice added to hot water every morning. It is allegedly good for one's complexion.

Save your money and time and enjoy the summer!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Addendum: Men Only need 5 Pieces of Jewelry

It was pointed out to me by a very dear friend from College on Facebook, I forgot to mention the men and their jewelry needs from my Blog entitled: "One Only Needs 10 Pieces of Jewelry" dated June 20, 2009. Well, I do not know Men's Haberdashery as well as women's fashion, so more comments are welcome, please!

Men only need 4-6 Pieces of Jewelry

  1. A thin dress watch with a leather or gross grain strap.
  2. A Rolex
  3. A gold family crest ring worn on the right pinkie finger.
  4. A sterling St. Christopher medal necklace worn with a thin sterling link chain.
  5. Dog Tags if Military.
  6. A thin gold or platinum wedding ring with Jeffersonian beading if married or civilly joined together.

Remember, simpler is always better. Coco Chanel was right when she stated: Take 1 accessory off before leaving the house."

Friday, July 3, 2009

1922 letter from Rockville, MO to Greeley, CO

An excerpt from a letter written from my Great-grandmother Poague to my Grandfather Poague, age 19. My Grandfather left his home, school, family and farm at 12 yrs. old in Rockville, Missouri to go help his elder grandparents run their farm in Greeley Colorado which was typical for the time. Enjoy your read into a way of life in an America of the past...or is it...or will it go back to a simpler life as time marches on in our "New" economy?

Rockville, Missouri
June 25, 1922
Dear Son,
I received your letter yesterday. Was glad to hear from you and that you are well. We are all well here, but it seems like we are so tired all the time. We have been getting up at 4:30am for a long time and that is hard on anyone.
People are rushing the men for coal now as threshing will commence this coming week. I think our wheat is pretty good, but the oats are poor. We will put it in the barn for feed.
Father says if you want to go to the Teacher's College this summer, he will send you $100 of your money right away and will try to pay you the money your Grandmother Hannah owes you in the Fall. You must be very careful, though, to not spend it for anything you don't have to buy, for when it is gone, you will be out of money. Will it cover your tuition cost and your expenses? Maybe you need it worse right now than you will later?
You ought not let your Grandma Poague wash for you if she is not able. I am afraid she will over do herself.
Dr. Gray's folks went on a trip out that way and Mrs. Gray sad they intended going to Greeley. Did you see them?
It is awful hot and dry here now. We are needing rain. We are short of water here at the house. Only some in the drinking water well. I am frying chicken for dinner. I wish you were here to eat some.
Mr. Jones of Kansas City, left his bird dog here for us to keep. There has been a party of K.C. people down at the place, but they are gone now.
I am glad you have so many nice places to go there in Greeley, and can go. We sure don't see much here. I would like to see something of interest sometimes. I wish we could make enough money to do some other way. Maybe we can yet. Write as soon as you get this letter.
Well, I will send the money to the Clinton Bank.
p.s. I am glad that you were not tempted to give up your schooling now in order to make money. You were just right in that decision.
Love always, Mama

Happy July 4th America!

Have a joyous July 4th and enjoy!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

One Only Needs 10 Pieces of Jewelry

Classic jewelry is like a wardrobe. Whether it be fabulously faux, gorgeously authentic or heirloom family pieces, the following 10 pieces of jewelry will carry you through weddings, funerals, cocktail parties, baby showers, soccer games, birthday parties and even a barbecue:
  1. One pearl necklace
  2. One pearl bracelet
  3. One pair of pearl earrings
  4. One pair of silver hoop earrings
  5. One silver cuff bracelet
  6. One pair of diamond stud earrings
  7. One diamond Broach
  8. One Black Jet Necklace
  9. One gold Bracelet
  10. One gold necklace

Today's column topic is inspired by a good friend who possesses only a few, yet fabulous pieces of classic, show stopping jewelry we all love to drool over every time we see her at any occasion! With a few tips, you too can be like her.

The design and style of these pieces are up to you. Art Deco, Jackie O., Art Neauveau, Paloma Picasso, faux or fabulous. Do your homework and prioritize as per your own likes, dislikes and lifestyle.

Generally, larger pieces of jewelry are worn as one ages, after 40. For example, a graduated single strand of pearls is usually a young woman's piece of jewelry. A triple stranded pearl bracelet or necklace with a diamond clasp while ageless and classically beautiful is usually worn after the age of 40. Diamonds (other than one's engagement ring) can now be worn before 6pm and diamonds are now acceptable under 40 years of age.

Nice faux pieces of jewelry can be found in vintage shops and at estate sales. Older classic pieces even if out of style now, do not fret, will always eventually come back around in style.

If one is fortunate enough to have any family pieces of jewelry, or talented enough to make one's own costume jewelry, it is always a good conversation starter and fills one with confidence to wear a piece to any outing. And one can wear these little treasures over and over again, because, who doesn't want to admire classic, drop dead gorgeous jewelry!

The first piece of authentic jewelry I bought at 21 years old to begin my jewelry wardrobe was a 35" single strand of Jet Black beads at Bloomingdales. Last year at 47 years old, I had the strand made into a 16" style double strand with a simple gold clasp. Clasps can range from simple gold plated or sterling silver, to ornate semi-precious stones or diamonds. All personal preference.

Start your jewelry wardrobe today and enjoy updating your old pieces and collecting new finds.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Don't Twitter your Own Facebook Out of a Job.

Today, I heard that one Fortune 500 company now requires its applicants to write their Facebook password on their company applications. Surprising? Also, I keep reading stories about people babbling along on Twitter, thinking no one else is paying attention, and getting in trouble either personally or professionally .
So, for these Twittering twerps and public babblers on Walls, I have a few questions: Would you attend a cocktail party with a Mr. Microphone and broadcast every word you say? Would you include wild partying photographs in your resume? The next time you dine in a restaurant, look around. Notice table manners. You will be able to tell who has been places, and who has not.
For some reason, some people think they are so insignificant, no one else is paying attention. For some other reason, other people think New Yorkers never listen while reading their papers on the subway because they have seen it all. Just a hint to all y'all out there: we're paying attention.
Do not ever say anything that you would not want the town gossip repeating. Do not ever write anything you do not want published in the local newspaper. The Internet and cell phones are public domain. Things you say in real life matter as well. If you never say anything negative or cryptic to give the skeptics fodder, no one will be able to honestly publicly criticize you. Those in the know, know. Pay Attention, please.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Greatest Unintended Consequence of All: Freedom and Eventual Democracy!

When will these old, outdated Dictators learn. Governments cannot indefinitely legislate morality or control minds. Neither did it work for the US Government during Prohibition in the 1920's, nor will it work for the Iranian Government during this age of technology and Twitter.
Gone are the days of total control by men over the masses. The Internet enables the young population of Iran to inquire and inspire others to unite against government corruption and control and move towards freedom.
For those who have never known the concept of freedom, it must have been hard to conceptualize life with it, but the Iranian citizens have had a taste and glimpse of Western freedoms through technology. They can read about freedom on the Internet and speak about it on Twitter.
The old totalitarian regimes of yesteryear best get ready for a new generation of tech savvy, informed minds. This emerging generation of young people possess the skills to search for themselves the rules of etiquette and protocol in a free government, the manners of a civilized society, freedom of religion and acceptable behavior within family life and love.
Knowledge is still power, but technology has emerged as a window of hope towards freedom for all souls when a controlling government slams their doors on free speech and freedoms.
Sign petitions for the UN and keep the dialogue streaming towards a free and fair Iran for all.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Vegetable Gardens Are Very "In Vogue"

Have you planted your vegetable garden yet?
Growing lettuce, cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, hot, red, green and butter peppers, and cherry tomatoes are easy and quick to grow and will save on your grocery bill all summer long.
Lettuce will start growing in the early Spring, and on into the Fall and early winter. After harvesting your lettuce, soak it in cold salt water, then rinse. Dry the lettuce thoroughly and place in large Zip lock plastic bags with paper towels layered throughout. Replace wet paper towels with new, dry paper towels as you use up the vegetable. This will keep the lettuce (and most other vegetables and some fruit) longer. I also use paper towels with onions, grapes, carrots, and mushrooms.
Butter peppers go well with tuna fish for lunch. Save your bacon grease all year long for Fried Green Tomatoes. Melons are good for breakfast and go well with prosciutto ham for a healthy hors-d'oeuvre. Tomatoes are good any time loosely chopped with a dollop of mayonnaise on top and fresh ground pepper. Enjoy!

Recipe for: Fried Green Tomatoes

1 Medium green tomato (per person)
2 eggs, beaten
White Cornmeal
Bacon grease drippings
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

Slice tomatoes 1/4 inch thick. Season with salt and pepper. Dip in eggs, then in cornmeal. Season again with salt and pepper. In large iron skillet, heat up enough bacon grease to cover bottom of pan. Fry tomatoes until lightly browned on both sides. Dry on paper towels until warm, then eat and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

International Travel Tips for the Summer Vacation Season

Bonjour! Ca va? When traveling through domestic or foreign lands this summer, remember to be a good traveler. The following tips will help you and your family travel well, travel safely and get the maximum benefit out of all your planning.
  • Do go to the local library or book store and check out or purchase a simple paperback book on your travel destination. Research it on the Internet. Do your homework. Learn a bit about the local population, religion, language, customs, cuisine, lay out of the land, hotels, restaurants, museums and historic points of interest.
  • Do dress up just a bit when traveling. Some people today look as if they are cleaning out their garage. Comfort is nice, but not that comfortable. One never knows where one will end up. My husband and I happened upon the 21 Club while walking through New York City with another couple. We all decided to go in for lunch. My husband had on jeans, thus denied entry. The only item on the 21 Club's dress code was "No Jeans." Embarrassing. If only my husband had worn khaki pants. He wears khaki pants now and forever more. Comfortable enough.
  • If in Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America or the Middle East, Do not wear jeans, shorts, sweat clothes or tennis shoes. Also, gentlemen: do not wear shorts to dinner. Traditionally, gentlemen wear long pants to dinner. Europeans dislike the American casual "look" of jeans, shorts, sweat clothes and tennis shoes. Also, you will stand out as an "Ugly American" tourist. A great way to get ripped-off or robbed.
  • Do immerse yourself in the local culture. Local cuisine, local haunts. You can eat at Fast Food restaurants when you get home. Safely walk or drive around. Check out the side streets, not just the main tourist traffic areas.
  • Do think of traveling as a fun discovery adventure. Your visited foreign land is not and will not be like America. Do Not expect a foreign country to be like home.
  • If in a foreign land, Do learn your magic words in the local language. Please, Thank You, May I, No Sir, Yes Mam, and a few phrases regarding restrooms, transportation, hotels, Hospital and menus in English, etc, will be useful and appreciated by the locals.
  • Do learn the local customs regarding tipping and tip well (20%). My husband and I were on the Island of St. Barth's at a very fine French restaurant and heard a couple from Texas ask the waiter if the tip was included. The waiter answered "No." At the bottom of the menu, it clearly stated in French: "Service Compris." This means the tip IS included. That waiter was very dishonest and that poor couple was probably broke the next day after paying for an expensive meal and then leaving a tip on top of their "Service Compris." If only one of them had known a few phrases in French.
  • Do speak softly. Americans are known for being too loud.
  • Do walk like you know where you are going. Wandering around with a map in your hands looking up will target you as a tourist. Sit down at a cafe and have a cup of coffee, enjoy your surroundings and look at your map.
  • Do try to blend in with the local citizens.
  • Do put your wallet into your front pants pocket or pinned to your unmentionables, or inside your shoe. My husband puts 2 rubber bands around his wallet and puts his wallet inside his front pocket.
  • Use an inexpensive travel wallet. Only put in your travel wallet the documents you need for travel. Take only 1 credit card. Leave at home all your wallet photos and documents you do not need. Thus, if you do have your wallet stolen, you will not loose everything.
  • Do Not wear a fanny pack. You may as well just put a sign on yourself saying: "I am a tourist. Rip me off and rob me."
  • Only pack for 6 days wherever you are going and for ever how long you are gone. You can always hand wash items yourself, or send out for laundry/dry cleaning.
  • Do pick either a brown/cream OR black/jewel tone wardrobe and stick with it. Two pair of shoes will do. Ladies: one kitten heel and one loafer. One sweater or Jacket. One medium all purpose purse will do for travel items only (maps, comb, pen, first aid). Remember, keep your money separately from your purse and "on your person."
  • Only travel with jewelry you can afford emotionally and fiscally to loose. Always keep any jewelry on your person.
  • Check out the opening counter hours of the local airport. My husband and I usually check in and check our luggage in after Breakfast on our return travel day. Then we have the rest of the day to relax before our flight and do not have to lug around and worry about our heavy luggage.

Be aware, do your due diligence and enjoy your travels. Bon Voyage, a bientot et Au Revoir, y'all!!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Appropriate Party Gift Giving Ideas

The warm Summer Party Season is here! The following is a list of appropriate and inappropriate gifts:

Appropriate gift giving:

  • An interesting, nice bottle of wine, champagne or liquor, maybe with an appropriate, theme or cute label. Lots of wines available with fun labels to choose from (over $9.99, yet under $20.00, please)
  • One thoughtful hardback book or a small basket of fun summer paperback books you know the recipient will enjoy
  • A decorative yet functional handleded umbrella
  • A set of lovely linen hand towels. Antique linen hand towels are inexpensive and have hand monogramming. Look for them all year at yard sales, estate sales and antique shows. Save them in your gift drawer, then pull out when needed.
  • Local, Regional or State gifts such as "Virginia Peanuts," "Wisconsin Cheese" or "California Wine"
  • An appropriate magazine subscription for one year
  • A homemade loaf of banana bread, rum cake, homemade cookies or family specialty recipe
  • A bunch of flowers from the Hot House, or picked from your garden in a decorative vase with a bow, or a small plant
  • A gourmet box of fine chocolates
  • Gifts for children

Inappropriate gifts include:

  • To arrive empty handed. Entertaining is very expensive, time consuming and challenging for the Host and Hostess. Be a good guest. Show some modicum of appreciation. Offer to help with the drinks, hang up coats, park cars, greet guests, do the dishes or clean up. Good guests are invited back time and again.
  • I disagree with Peggy Post. Unless one is upfront with the recipient, any "re-gifting" is thoughtless, rude and socially precarious for the giver because there is always that chance you will get found out somehow, someway. It is a smaller world than you may think. The recipient always inately knows because the gift is "dishonest," never quite exactly appropriate and is not from your heart. Plus, there is never a gift receipt enclosed and the "re-gift" always comes in a decorative gift bag with no box, or a box with old tape, old tissue paper, etc. I was a Bridal Consultant for 12 years and have a book's worth of horror stories not to be believed. A topic for a whole other blog discussion.
  • Knives or scissors (even if attached with a shiny penny, risky depending on the recipient's depth of superstitions).
  • Any alochol for a non-drinking household
  • Cash or a check
  • Junk gifts or cheap, old bargain basement wine or baked goods from the local supermarket everyone knows is on sale and the expiration date is about to expire.
Gift giving is NOT about having or spending money. If you are inbetween jobs, or just do not have any extra cash to spend, a simple card with a note of thanks will do. The card may be store bought or handmade. Gift giving is NOT obligatory, but one should show some sort of gesture of appreciation. Make and take time out to think about your gift you are giving. It is a reflection on you. Make it a nice reflection. The thought does count and does matter. Being thoughtful is not expensive, it just takes time.

Helpful Household Hints For The Summer - Bees, Mice and Men

To get rid of a hive of bees, very carefully (or professionally), place moth balls around and in their dwelling. Bees hate the smell of mothballs and they will leave. Also, any hive of "Robber Bees" will not come around afterwards to steel the remaining honey because the mothball smell lasts for many weeks.
To rid your house of mice, sprinkle peppermint oil or essence of peppermint around their dwellings. Mice dislike the smell of peppermint and will go away. Or you could get a cat!
For your Man's morning shave, fill a thermos with boiling water each night. The next morning the water will be surprisingly still quite hot for shaving.
Have a cool day!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A List one Dozen of Life's Lessons to Live By

Last week, I read a list of 45 life lessons a 90 year old woman from Ohio posted. I liked her list so much, I came up with my own list:
  1. Forgive everyone and everything always. Then forget it and move on. In 100 years, no one will remember or care!
  2. If others place judgement on you personally, simply say: "Only my God may judge me personally." Bullies who judge others usually are telling on themselves anyway and putting their fears and unhappiness onto you.
  3. No time for regret if you try your heartfelt best. Accept your life as it comes, get through the day, and move on.
  4. No time in life for hating anyone for any reason. Hating is a big waste of your valuable time.Their unhappiness is their own problem. Chances are, it is probably worse to be them than to talk about them. Don't waste anger and time talking about them either. It will exhaust you and your spirit.
  5. Do Not compare your life to others' lives. There will always be someone seemingly richer and seemingly happier. Your life is your own truth. If you don't like your own life, take little steps ahead daily and work hard to change it.
  6. Make peace with your past and move on. Talking and re-living the past every day will screw up your present life and future life.
  7. You do not have to win every argument each and every time. Agree to disagree. Agreeing to disagree shows respect for the other person.
  8. Save 10% of all and any money you receive. Save 10% of allowance as a child, Save 10% of all cash gifts given to you, Save 10% of every paycheck. Find and open up a "Free Checking" account at a young age and keep this account open forever. No need to tell anyone about it, ever. This money will be for you and you only. Money is independence, and having independence is having freedom.
  9. Use your fine wedding china, fancy linens, crystal stemware and flat silver. You cannot take it with you or send it ahead. Enjoy it and your memories of good times using it!
  10. Your job is not who you are. Your job is what you do. You can get another job next month. You can make more money next month. Your family is more important than your job. You cannot get another family next month, and the elder members of your family may not be there next month.
  11. Go through your closet twice a year and donate to a thrift shop, give away to a charity, or sell to a vintage shop all the clothing you have not worn at all, touched, or even thought about in the last 5 years. My entire closet, save evening gowns, is one pole no longer than the length of both my arms stretched out from my sides. Purchase only 2 complete outfits twice a year. Purchase the best you can afford and try to buy on Sale at 50% off, or more. July and January sales are the best! Pay cash for as much as you can. Do not invest in separates. The colors will never match up, especially Navy and Black. Purchase the entire outfit. If you cannot fit into your clothes, eat smaller portions and skip desserts and bread until you can fit back into your clothes again.
  12. Doing one nice thing by yourself, for yourself every day matters. One small piece of dark, organic chocolate; one decaf coffee after dinner, one chapter in a book; soaking in a 15 minute bath; reading a magazine; a 30 minute workout or walk, a 20 minute cat nap, 30 minutes of yard work or watching 30 minutes of sports. Take care of your emotional and physical health because no one else will.

Remember, you teach others how to treat you. Be good to yourself and others always. Enjoy your life because no one else will enjoy your life for you.