Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Miracle of the Week in the Country

   Last Saturday night, my husband and I took our cocktails, got in the car and drove out into the middle of our field to look at the full moon, blasting Bruce Springstein "The Boss," of course! According to the weather man, the moon was 30% brighter and 16% larger than usual. Still about the size of my thumb nail though.
   Fun and simple way to spend a Saturday night. Somtimes "simpler is better" and more fun! How do you spend your leisure time?   Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Smarmy" Entitlement Genration Behavior Of The Day

   Today at Whole Foods, using my 3 recyclable bags, my seemingly happy, chatty, preppy cashier asked me if I wanted to donate my .15 cents credit towards their "So-in-so" charity. I replied: "Sure." She then proceeded to hand me 3 porous, wooden chips to place into a designated charity bin. I guess the management came up with this procedure for the customers so they feel better about spending their whole paycheck at Whole Foods. Anyway, I nicely explained to the cashier I had just gotten over a cold and did not want to transmit germs to anyone, and invited her to take the chips over to the charity bin. Her expression changed to a disgusted
look and she slammed the chips down into a bowl on top of her register and made a "tisk" sound with her mouth. I thanked her and walked away.
   30 years ago when I was starting out in retail, if I glanced at a customer the wrong way or breathed on a customer the wrong way, I would have been fired on the spot for insubordination. I realize every generation thinks the younger generations are ruder than they were,but it seems like we have now entered into a society of incivility. Being civil costs nothing. Incivility used to cost your business millions. Now, I guess we all just put up with incivility, but it sure takes the fun out of the day sometimes!

Country Miracle Of The Day

Today on the way home from three grocery stores, I saw one of Dr. Caravati's cows poking his head through the barbed wire fence eating the green grass on the other side. Why? Because the cow could and haven't y'all heard...the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence! Miracles happen every day, but they happen fast. Take a second to notice your miracle and smile!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Life at the Top of the Crystal Tabletop

The 'Golden Rule' of Etiquette is: "He who has the most gold rules." Rules change as society changes, but those in the know, always know!
As a Registered Bridal Consultant for a dozen years, I saw many permanent changes in the way people use their tableware. In today's column, we are addressing stemware and its usages.
Before 1911, there were no Federal taxes. Definitely an industrial age of opulence. Tiffany & Company capitalized on the 1000 new, New York millionaire capitalists by coming out with at least 99 different utensils for 99 different foods and drinks. Water glasses, wine clarets, iced tea glasses, port glasses, cocktail glasses, fruit cocktail glasses, high ball glasses, double old fashioned glasses, champagne saucers, finger bowls and plate, etc. Basically, Tiffany & Co. fueled for their own benefit, this age of opulence by creating new rules of etiquette for daily, albeit, fancy living, for those who could afford that life at the top of the crystal tabletop.
Thank goodness those days are over, as now, one does not have to have money to have manners. Who has the desire (never mind money) to acquire all those 99 items and who can clean it all and keep it all up anyway. The old opulent, yet strict Victorian rules for stemware no longer apply.
Brides and 'Singletons' now use what used to be the water goblet for the wine goblet. Iced tea glasses are now used for the water glass, so guests do not run out of water so quickly at the table. Or, the iced tea glass can be used for dessert parfait or pudding!
Very few families can afford domestic help any longer, so the hostess has been forced to be creative in trying to make her duties easier. She too, wants to partially enjoy her party when entertaining. Neither wine clarets nor port wine glasses are used much any longer.
One can also wash crystal in the dishwasher! No hand washing needed! Don't fret, it will not break. Load your crystal into the dishwasher gently and laterally. Do not crowd your crystal. Run a few loads if needed. Use your gentle cycle only and NO heat dry. Only use the air dry cycle. Use only 1 teaspoon of PLAIN detergent. Never use lemon detergent on anything other than pots and pans. Crystal and china have a glaze on them and the acid from the lemon will eat off this glaze over time and dull and fade your crystal and china. Yes, plain detergent is hard to find, but dig for it in the supermarket or special order it at the customer service desk of your local market.
So, be creative, enjoy your crystal, then wash it in the dishwasher!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bread & Butter Plate vs. Drink Glasses - On Which Side of The Plate Do They Belong?

How often at a fine restaurant or crowded dinner party has the person next to you eaten your bread? What should you do? Where does your Bread & Butter Plate go anyway? Confused? Not unusual at all! Don't fret. Here's the solution to the Bread & Butter Plate vs. the Drink Glass dilemma forever.

Remember at camp when you used to play "World War I Flying Ace?" Take your fingers and place the tip of your "pointer finger" (first finger) to the tip of your thumb. Line up all your other fingers behind your first finger making a lower case "b" with your left hand and a lower case "d" with your right hand. Touch your fingers together to make a "bd" shape: "b"read on the left, "d"rink on the right. You can do this in your lap at the table. You can do this on a plane. In a restaurant while in Spain.

A piece of the key to the place setting universe is solved!

p.s. WWI Flying Ace is "bd" upside down with your fingers under your chin and the "bd" around your eyes like goggles!!

p.p.s. If the person seated next to you eats your bread, say nothing and have some bread when you get home!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Formal and Informal China - Who Wants It Anymore?

Freshman year at college, a new friend on my hall asked me what china pattern I had chosen. At first, I didn't know exactly what she was talking about, then I figured out she must be referring to the formal china my Mother used in the Dining Room for Sunday Brunch, Thanksgiving, Christmas and guests.

My friend had already decided china in general was a priority in her life and that she wanted to make an investment in fine and every day china. So, when the time arises, a few burning questions are: As a young singleton or bride, do you want formal and/or informal china?

How many of each of the different matching pieces do you need? Do you like your serving pieces to also match your pattern or should they be a different pattern altogether that compliments your pattern? Do you entertain often or not at all? Are you rough on china or do you have butter fingers? These are practical and pertinent questions each bride or singleton should ask herself or himself.

Traditionally, wedding guests once gave place settings (dinner plate, salad plate, bread & butter plate, cup and saucer) as a gift. Then, place settings became prohibitive in price. So, giving a dinner plate, or salad plate became de rigueur. Now, the unfortunate trend is to give a "unique" gift. A bride once said to me she can remember that her Aunt gave her a dinner plate as well as some other gift she may not want as well. As a Registered Bridal Representative, I can say with 12 years of experience; brides just want their china!

Back to my friend Freshman year in college; she had already and smartly picked out her formal and informal china. One can give a piece of china for any type of gift including Christmas and Birthdays. Easy gift giving 101!!

My college friend had also considered condition, shape, and how the china would "wear" in her mind and in the dishwasher. She had considered the colors and style of each of the formal and informal china patterns as she was going to match her dining room decorating with her formal fine china and her kitchen decorating with her every day kitchen dishes. Even if you never marry, you may still want a set of china once you are out of school and have your own place!

My Freshman year friend, wisely weighed her decisions, and smartly picked out her formal and informal china patterns. One can give a piece of china for any type of gift including Christmas, Hanukkah and Birthdays. Easy "Gift Giving 101"!

So, figure out your china priorities and enjoy!