Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sally Belle's Kitchen, a Richmond Tradition, and Why Your Mother Told You To Dress Up When Running Errands


Remember your Mother telling you to always dress up when leaving the house, even if only going to the grocery store? Well, I ran into Sally Belle's Kitchen to grab a boxed lunch, and poof, I'm on the video and voice over. So, one never knows!

SFA Blog: Boxed Lunch: A Portrait of Sally Bell's Kitchen in...: We're just back from Richmond, Virginia, where we celebrated Women at Work in RVA for our annual Summer Symposium . It was an incredib...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What Writing Prefabricated Thank-You Notes and Re-Gifting Gifts Have in Common

Just like re-gifting gifts, prefabricated Thank-You notes are never quite right. At best, the note may be written with a fine pen on fine monogrammed stationery, look and sound perfectly well and appropriate, but the note comes across after reading it as missing a certain something. When handled well with attention paid to all details, the sentiment still may fall short somehow. When not handled well, remembering all details, a prefabricated Thank-You Note is a dead give away. Here is an example:

   Dear Mary and John,
     We are so appreciative that you were able to join us as we celebrated the first day as man and wife. Having family and friends there with us, allowed us to begin our lives together surrounded by generous and caring people. Your thoughtful gift will allow us to display our first moments and remind us of memories as we grow old together.
                                      All the Best,
                                                        Love,
                                                              Jack and Jill

Sounds nice. Thoughtful. Sweet. Heart felt. Lovely. My aftertaste after absorbing the note: A bit gooey, I mean, who expresses sentiment like this to someone they have met once? I had an English Professor in college who said: "Why use a .95 cent word when a .5 cent word will do?" The high flying deep sentiment of this note was the first clue which gave it away as a fake. Here are a few of the other dead give away problems with this note:
  1. We did NOT attend the wedding.
  2. My husband knew of the bride, from a distance, and long ago from her childhood as the niece of his business partner, but had met the groom only once. I had met both the bride and groom only once.
  3. We are at least 1-2 generations older than this couple (myself 23 years older, my husband 36 years older).
  4. The wedding gift was not specifically mentioned.
  5. A use for the wedding gift was not specifically mentioned
So, after reading this note twice, and still agape, I immediately and sadly concluded this note was a prefabricated Thank-You note. We had put thought into giving quite a nice, large sterling silver picture frame to a business partner's niece and not that the money matters, and not that we needed to be thanked, but we had taken time to pick out a classic gift for a young bride to display her wedding photo in, something the couple whom we did not know their taste at all, would have for the balance of their lives, and she had not taken 5 minutes to honestly acknowledge our effort or thank us from her heart.
   She also apparently did not remember that we had not attend her wedding.
   As well, we sent the gift immediately after receiving the invitation, a full 6 weeks before the wedding. Yes, brides do have 6 months after their weddings to complete their Thank-You Notes, but not remembering if someone was at your wedding is a big consequential pit-fall as a result of waiting 3 months to acknowledge the gift. This example is why one should write notes immediately upon receiving gifts to avoid confusion and embarrassment.

Just a little wedding stat for y'all to ponder:
  •  67% of guests invited to a wedding send their gifts immediately. The other 33% wait until the last minute, and most end up taking the gift to the wedding reception.  
So, the moral of the story is: Do not ever re-gift, and do not ever write prefabricated Thank-You Notes, because even if done well with no discernible mistakes, it is never quite right, and you will end up found out, but never told so.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Book Review of "Someone" by Alice McDermott is Like A Black & White Movie For Old Souls

Here is my Book Review of the lovely, quiet novel "Someone" by Alice McDermott, her seventh novel, heavenly and quaint:

Do we want to be someone from somewhere, rather than nobody from nowhere, or, do we simply want to be someone significant to someone else special to us? What if our first love is, in private, cruel? How do we know about someone else's private life behind the bedroom door, the kitchen door, or beyond the iron gate in the alley, and knowing, can we accept their secret and move on?

Someone Alice McDermott's seventh novel, is like a black and white movie for old souls. Her charmingly quiet story begins back when children were paid a penny to promise to say their prayers and women cleaned their windows with vinegar and newspaper. The author gives us intimate glimpses into her characters' souls through their unspoken eye contact with each other, and the smell of their breath next to each other.

Marie knows her mind and is aware of her flawed looks. Her awkwardness explains why she chooses her first love, her first job and remains inside her beloved Brooklyn neighborhood. Marie's strict Irish Catholic mother, controls every daily facet of family existence inside their tiny apartment. Marie's kind, patient father shares an unspoken secret with Marie. Gabe, Marie's brother studies for the priesthood, but is his faith his someone?

So, treat yourself and a special someone to Someone, and enjoy an evening's leisurely read through the author's melodic prose, and contemplate your Someone.  


As a member of their reader's panel, this review was submitted to Real Simple Magazine in July, and is published on p. 38 of their September issue.