Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Animal Table Manners - Hilarious Christmas "Le Holiday Feast" Video !

Animal Table manners?? ...Hmmmm... Hey, they're Dogs, and then there's THE CAT !!

 Enjoy your Christmas meal at the big table with the big people, and don't forget to put forward your best table manners!

Enjoy, and remember to donate to your local animal shelter :))

Watch 13 Shelter Dogs And A Cat Take Part In A Hilarious Holiday Feast - Most Watched Today

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Have You Been a Good Holiday Guest This Weekend? Have You Done Your Guest Duties?

Have you been a good Thanksgiving Holiday weekend guest this weekend? Even if you are visiting your parents or a sibling, have you made your bed every morning? Have you offered to help the Hostess with the dishes, or with other chores? Have you brought a thoughtful house gift? Have you thanked everyone for a delightful time? Did you even realize guests have duties??

The following are a few ideas for all guests:

  • Bring a small, thoughtful house gift like a bottle of wine, or a Rum Cake or yummy cookies. 
  • Offer to help the Hostess, or just be self directed and start drying the dishes or taking out the trash.
  • Look around the house and find something to compliment the Host and Hostess on and mean it. 
  • Contribute to and keep your table conversation positive. Do not talk about religion or politics.
  • Make your bed each morning and upon leaving. 
  • Keep your room and bathroom picked up and neat. Clean up after yourself.
  • Y'all know the old saying about house guests and fish...after 3 days.....
  • Write a hand written Thank You note within 24 hours to your Host once you arrive back home. 
Be a good house guest by earning your keep and you will be invited back.

Don't be a good house guest and you'll get nothing next year but excuses:

"Sorry, we're going out of town this Holiday Season, maybe we'll see you around."

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Table Manners from 0-10 in 60 Seconds

  Thanksgiving Table Manners from 0-10 in 60 Seconds 

 0.   Smile, greet everyone, then offer to help the Hostess.

 1.   Sit up straight in your chair and treat it like a church pew, not like a Lazy Boy chair.

 2.   Don't touch anything until the Host/Hostess sit down and place their napkins in their laps.

 3.   Have an age appropriate Grace or Blessing memorized and ready to go, just in case.

 4.   Place a dollop of all food offered on your plate whether you like it or not, and pass all dishes to the left with enthusiasm and a thank you.

 5.   Please, May I ask you to use your magic words often. Thank you! 

 6.   Fill your fork only 1/2 full (your fork is not a shovel) and raise it nicely to your mouth.

 7   Quietly say: "Please excuse me" if you must leave the table and place your napkin on your chair, the international signal for "I will return, do not take my plate."

 8.   Pace yourself with the rest of the table and pace yourself with the conversation as well.

 9.   Compliment and Toast the cook(s) and mean it with applause!

 10. Warmly thank the Host/Hostess for their hospitality, delicious food and lovely evening, then write a hand written "Thank You" note as soon as you arrive home.

 Be thankful, be with friends and family, be happy, be relaxed and be enjoying your Thanksgiving Day!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Civilizations and Civilians are All Chasing Immortality

In Emily St. John Mandel's creative, fast paced and futuristic novel, "Station Eleven," Arthur Leander, a 51 year old, thrice married, infamous Shakespearean actor, collapses and dies on stage while performing King Lear. Jeevan Chaudnary, a directionless journalist/paparazzo rushes to the stage to help Arthur, while little Kirsten Raymonde, holding two comic books given to her by Arthur, looks on, frightened, from a stage wing.

Weeks later, an airborne invulnerable flu virus, wipes out 99.99% of the earth's population. Twenty years later, living on or off the grid is irrelevant. No electricity. No working cell phones. No available Internet. Gasoline is long gone. Ammunition is scarce. Canned goods are no longer. Small groups of survivors live in big box retail buildings and airports.

Clark Thompson, Arthur's old friend, stranded in an airport, starts an impromptu collection of old world items which eventually becomes the "Museum of Civilization." An adult Kirsten Raymonde, ironically becomes a Shakespearean actress with the "Traveling Symphony." Miranda, Arthur's first wife, a workaholic for Neptune Logistics, travels with Arthur's clouded glass paperweight. All the characters Emily St. John Mandel creates are connected to the iconic actor, Arthur Leander.

Grab your roll away suitcase, bottled water, compass, and pocket knife. Better know how to hunt and build a fire. Take the back roads and stay away from the cities. Rumor has it that a marauding, powerful prophet and his posse, are seeking to re-populate the earth. Tyler, son of Arthur and Elizabeth, (Arthur's second wife), is spewing scripture from The Book of Revelations. He is bullying and kidnapping people he chooses into joining his settlement, and killing those that threaten his idea of immortality.

Mandel's interesting theme of fragility and immortality remind the reader of the frailty of civilization, and illustrates each individual character's search for life's happy purpose and their quest for their own individual idea of immortal life through legacy. She gives us one common denomination in both the pre and post-pandemic societies that make life enjoyable: the ethereal, immortal plays and sonnets of Shakespeare, who himself, ironically, lived in a post-pandemic Renaissance civilization after the Black Death.

As a member of their Reader's Panel, read my review of Emily St. John Mandel's novel  "Station Eleven" (shortened for space) in the 2014 September Issue of Real Simple Magazine, page 39.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Wedding Invitation Is Not a Traditional Paper Invitation, It's an iPad!

   It's official y'all. The paper page has turned, or shall I say, the traditional paper wedding invitation page. It's not 1952 any longer. The little hometown girl is no longer marrying the little hometown boy, and registering their fine china pattern at the local bridal registry shop around the corner. No longer need we call the hometown Mother-of-the-Bride on her land line to ask her where the happy couple is registered.

   This week, Keyshawn Johnson announced the wedding to his long time girlfriend and now fiancee, Jennifer Conrad, with a pre-programmed iPad sent to each wedding guest. Included on the iPad was an index listing all events such as brunches and pool parties, a photo gallery, guestbook, gift registry and a countdown to the big day. On your new iPad, you can conveniently click onto the wedding registry link, order and ship your gift right then and there. No fuss, no bother.

   The guests, of course, adore this new creative (albeit extravagant) wedding invitation. After all, this is Mr. Johnson's second marriage. He plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, they live together and have two children. So, I guess the gig is up. No old fashioned wedding jitters here! At least they are getting married!

   My Mother always said: "Never say never, dear," and I thought I would never say something like this, coming from an extremely conservative, traditional town where I still hand write at least one wedding response every Summer, but, I like this modern, ecological, efficient, convenient way of being invited to a wedding.

   What do y'all think???


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pretty Paper For Your Thoughts on a Hand Written R.s.v.p.

It happens every Summer. The inevitable invitation which must be responded to...in writing! Yikes, you say. Oh no, I don't know how to write a written response. Well, don't fret, dear reader. Once you know how to do so, you'll never forget how to do, and you may put your mind at ease.

The following is, in general, the basic format, wording and layout acceptance and regret for a party, dinner, or wedding:

Mr. and Mrs. James Smith
accept with pleasure
the kind invitation of
Mr. and Mrs. John Carpenter
for Saturday, the fourth of July
at seven o'clock


Mr. and Mrs. James Smith
regret they are unable to accept
Mr. and Mrs. John Carpenter's
kind invitation for
Saturday, the fourth of July
at seven o'clock

So, there we are, just the basics. Variations of this format may be looked up in any complete book of etiquette. Be sure to use quality note paper (can be plain ecru which is not expensive) and use a fine tip, black ink pen. Best wishes and happy writing:))

Friday, May 16, 2014

It's Expensive to be Rich 'Darlings' but Costly To Be Poor

Learning It's expensive to be rich, but costly to be poor, petite little Malka Trevowsky, a Russian Jewish immigrant, rises to become America's favorite Italian Catholic Mother and TV personality, the quintessential queen of ice cream, Lillian Dunkle.

Too young to work, Malka's unhappy Mother, shuts six year old Malka and her Sister Flora out of their one room tenement every morning telling them not to return until they have money. Soon, Malka's n'er do well Father abandons the family of six. Searching for him, Malka steps off a street corner, and the greatest opportunity of her life, through tragedy, emerges.

A born businesswoman, exhibiting all the strong personality traits of an entrepreneur, Malka methodically plods along, working to be the first with the most of the best, in the cut throat ice cream industry. She utilizes her frugal, creative resourcefulness learned in childhood to build her ice cream empire, one penny, one paper cone, and one 3.5 ounce ice cream scoop at a time.

Told from the elderly voice of Mrs. Lillian Dunkle, Susan Jane Gilman's fictional novel reads like an historic biography. Her detailed portrayal of tragic, despondent family members and chaotic family life inside the diseased, dirty, segregated tenements of the Lower East Side of New York City during the early 1900's, is not a typical portrayal.

Late in life, Lillian Dunkle's large ego, which ironically makes her successful, skews her sense of reality and she lands in serious trouble with the law. Yet, as compared with her childhood, the prospect of prison with one's own bed and three squares a day, seems like a piece of cake with ice cream!

Read my review in the June Issue of Real Simple Magazine, p. 28 and enjoy!!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

How to Take "Elevenses" Tea

So, most of us know the Queen and the British take Afternoon Tea at 4:00 p.m. Those that are aware of this tradition, are as well familiar with the delectable menu of delicious scones, clotted cream and yummy jams. However, have y'all heard of "Elevenses?"

As a student at St. Anne's College, Oxford, I experienced my first "Elevenses" on our first morning of class. After our 2 hour lecture and discussion, our Professor announced at 10:30 a.m., we were all to adjourn to the house next door. We were all ushered into an ivy covered, brick house with a charming great room. There within these old walls, was a simple setting of tea cups, tea pots and cozies, and what the Brits refer to as "crackers", or what Americans call cookies. Couches, coffee tables and conversation abound. Yea!

So, for the next half hour, students and faculty alike were sipping tea and munching, mulling around  and chatting about, having a wonderful time having Elevenses. What a nice way to get to know our professors personally. What an unofficial opportune opportunity as students to practice our conversational skills with adults. As well, what a great way for those students 'in the know' to show off a bit of 'where with all' about taking tea, such as, how to 'Play Mother' whilst holding a conversation, and after a few days, remembering how others take their tea!

So, here are a few simple tips on how to have "Elevenses:"
  • If you volunteer to "Play Mother," know well how to pour a "cuppa." Pour the cup 3/4 full, leaving room for milk and room to avoid spillage. Then ask: "With sugar, milk, or lemon?"If "Plain" is responded, it is not necessary to place a teaspoon on the saucer.
  • Add the sugar first, then add milk if milk is taken. Never use cream as it disguises the flavor of the tea.
  • Add the sugar first, then the slice, not wedge, of lemon. No need to squeeze the lemon, as it will dissipate naturally, therefore no risk of squirting your neighbor in their eye with the acidic lemon!
  • Unless, and even if you are 6 years old, please do not add lemon to tea with milk, as it will curdle the milk.
  • When stirring the mixture, try not to clink and clank your teaspoon against the cup.  
  • Place your teaspoon on the back of the saucer. 
  • Place any food on a separate plate, not on your saucer.
  • The word napkin, which is derived from the French word "naperon," means "little tablecloth." Please blot the corners of your mouth with your napkin, do not wipe your mouth.
  • Remember, pinch the handle of your tea cup, and know that pinkies are passé!
  • Always introduce yourself if no one introduces you. New friends to be met!
  • When finished with your tea and crackers, place your used plates on a side table, never onto the serving table.
Enjoy your Elevenses and cheers!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Is High Tea Higher in Societal Rank than Afternoon Tea?

Every time the topic of having tea pops up, then comes the inevitable question:

 "Are you going to have High Tea?"

So, here we go. The unspoken, intimation of the question is as follows:

Is 'High Tea' higher in stature, formality and societal rank than Afternoon Tea? 

The sad answer, dear reader, is unfortunately a "No."

High Tea was originally served on high tables at 5:00 pm for the working classes, mostly the miners up from the mines, who had not eaten anything all day. High Tea is a heavy meal consisting of hot meats and savory fishes, with vegetables and breads.

Afternoon Tea, dating back to the 1800's, is the familiar, quintessential British tradition served mid-afternoon consisting of a light three step menu first of cucumber and salmon sandwiches, followed by scones with jam and clotted cream, then finally cakes, chocolates and sweets. Sometimes champagne is included!

Then comes the question about how to eat the scone. Keeping with the Christian tradition of "breaking bread," the scone (and for that matter all breads) should be "broken" not cut. Each bite of bread should then be further broken and individually buttered or in this case spread with the clotted cream, then the jam on top. This order assures one the jam will not spill out all over the place as the jam is thinner and more malleable than the clotted cream. Less of a mess.

Breaking off each bite of scone, then spreading each piece individually with clotted cream then jam is more laborious, but neater to eat than spreading the whole of the broken half of scone with clotted cream and jam, then trying to maneuver a lady-like bite out of the whole mountain-like huge pile of decorated scone. Again, less of a mess to maneuver and consume.

After you pour your tea into your china tea cup or mug, add the sugar first if you take sugar, then add your milk if you take milk. This way, the sugar will dissipate easier in the hotter liquid. Never use cream in your tea as it is too rich and disguises the flavor of the tea. Never add lemon to your tea if you have milk, as the lemon will curdle the milk. Honey is a nice alternative to sugar and milk.

Pinch the handles of your china tea cup. Never put your fingers through the handle as a finger may get stuck! Putting your pinkie finger out is also passé! No need. Try to not "clink" your teaspoon inside your teacup whilst stirring your tea and please place the teaspoon behind your teacup solidly on the saucer.

Take your time, and enjoy the experience of having your tea, whether Afternoon Tea or High Tea. Cheers!  


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Modern Media Savvy Teenagers and Their Manners Today

Tired of telling your modern, sophisticated, multi-cultural, multi-media connected, multi-tasking teenagers to do the same things your Mother nagged you to do 40 years ago, like sit up straight and stop fidgeting, or clean your room?
Now, there are the new nags. Worn out warning your teenagers to put down their iPhones and stop texting, stop playing with their iPads and pay attention, or pull those iPod ear plugs out of their ears and listen?
Turns out, your teenagers are listening and paying attention :))

According to a Stage of Life.com study, teenagers are extremely optimistic about their life and optimistic about society and the world in general. Here are listed some of the statistics:
  • 97% of teens learn their manners at home.
  • 92% of teens say social media contributes to our now less civil society.
  • 91% of teens say civility, manners (our behavior) and etiquette (the rules) are "important" in their lives.
  • 87.6% of teens feel they have the power to make a difference in the world.
  • 87% of teens say they personally practice civility, good manners and polished etiquette either "all" or "most" of the time.
  • 80.6% of teens are optimistic or "hopeful" about the future year rather than "fearful."   
  • 75% of teens think about the state of our world either "always" or "often."
  • 62% of teens feel as though chivalry is still alive and well in society.
Since the Mall is a teenager's world, High School and College students say the following about uncivil behavior:
  • 47% witness uncivil behavior from classmates.
  • 27% witness uncivil behavior in public places (The Mall).
  • 6% witness uncivil behavior at home. 
At the Mall, the behaviors that bother teens the most is:
  • 38.9% of teens do not like seeing others being rude to service workers (waiters, cashiers, etc.).
  • 18.9% of teens do not like to hear others cursing. 
A mannerly measure of Teenager's extracurricular behavior:
  • 70% of teens learn positive behaviors at their place of Worship.
  • 65% of teens see bad behavior in school.
  • 61.5% of teens see bad behavior through friends.
  • 43% of teens said Clubs and Sports had a positive influence on their behavior.
Teenagers in general said family lifestyle during their upbringing was the single greatest influence in their lives, and had the single greatest impact on their behavior. 

Teenagers really do want and appreciate discipline, and the majority of my students enjoy learning new life skills giving them confidence for what is an increasingly smaller and more competitive world.

*Statistics are from the Stage of Life website regarding High School and College students and  "Teenage" Stage of Life. See: www.stageoflife.com.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Candle Wax on Your Candlesticks? Here's a Removal Trick To Try.

Had a dinner party for your Book Club lately? Or maybe, you are still cleaning up from the Holidays.

Here's a quick tip for removing candle wax from your sterling silver or silver plate candlesticks.

 Place the candlesticks in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour. Not too long. Once cold, scrape off the wax WITH YOUR FINGER NAILS WRAPPED IN A SOFT CLOTH. 

NEVER scrape silver candlesticks, or any other silver items with a knife or sharp object.

Voila! Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hiked Up In Your Big Girl Heels, Learn How To Avoid Falling, Stumbling, or Tripping At The Oscars, or The Prom.

Last Sunday night, the talented, 23 year old Oscar winning actress, Jennifer Lawrence, stumbled getting out of her limo, then tripped on the Red Carpet at The Oscars, yet again! Last year, she fell walking up the stairs accepting her Academy Award, in front of all her peers... and 3/4 of a Billion people. Oh my!

Thankfully each time, Miss Lawrence simply laughed it off and kept on going which was exactly what she should have done. However, what should she do before her next formal event when she has to show up in more strikingly high stiletto shoes?

Jennifer Lawrence is adorable. Her fashion sense is impeccable. She is statuesque and holds herself so well. Head held high, her back is straight and her shoulders are square, but clearly, she cannot walk in high heels. Maybe she has not had much experience walking hiked up in the big girl shoes, and gorgeous Couture gowns. What to do? Practice, practice, practice.

So, take a few minimum tips from this 52 year old who has been on a Red Carpet, although it was 30 years ago, for work, and no one took my picture.

Before any event, wearing your dress and shoes, practice walking up and down your hall and turning. Practice walking up and down your stairs and turning to wave. Practice sitting down in a low, soft chair and getting up.

Also, simply sit down on your hard, tall Dining Room chair with your dress to make sure your neckline and any side slits, leg slits, or cut outs, are appropriately placed. Did you realize a leg slit 3" above your knee, when sitting, will inch way up your thigh? Just be sure to beware.

Be sure, as well, to have on the appropriate undergarments. Get professional help from a Personal Shopper or a Lingerie Department Manager. Nothing worse than pantie lines and pieces of body parts  showing that need not show.

Have a friend take a photo of you from the front and back to see how the fabric photographs, how your outfit in general looks, and that from all views, you are seamless and flawless! You will feel better and more confident.

Put on any jewelry too, as sometimes bracelets catch and ruin certain fabrics, and necklaces and drop earrings can catch on your hair or neckline.

Practice getting in and out of a car. Scoot to the end of the seat and with knees together, pivot. Put both feet on the ground, and slowly stand, minding your neckline as you bend your head down, NOT your body, to avoid hitting the rim of the car door.

Practice, practice and practice, and you too, whether it be for the Oscars, or merely the Prom, may be on a Red Carpet one day!

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Bread and Butter Letter of Downton

During the finale of Downton Abbey last week, Lord Grantham mentioned he had received a "Bread and Butter Letter" from a guest from a past house party. Sounds charming, doesn't it? In his tone, Lord Grantham intimated this letter, an expected social formality, was boringly obligatory, like bread with dinner, but would have been missed if it had not been on the table. What is a "Bread and Butter Letter" and where did this expression come from?

To begin, the "Bread and Butter Letter" is simply a simple, and commonly written, thank you note for hospitality. It is written to the Host and Hostess to thank them for a special dinner, evening or weekend at their home. Maybe you attended one of those those famous Edwardian country "Weekend Shooting Parties" we've seen on Downton Abbey!

The humble "Bread and Butter Letter" like any other Thank-You note, is always hand written within 24 hours, or as my Grand Mother would say: "Before you go to bed." The note is immediately put in the mail. Snail mail, not E-mail. E-mail is not acceptable. Not even an E-mail saying a proper paper B&B note is on the way.

Don't forget to spread on your buttery bread letter, how delicious the food tasted, how lovely the view from the back lawn looked, and any other special details you participated in, such as a card game, a service or a celebration. Be sure to include how you were honored to be included, and how much you value the friendship and kind generosity of your hosts.  

This basic social formality is also referenced in the 1926 British book: "Lady Troubridge's Book of Etiquette."

In closing, remember to break your bread over your Bread and Butter Plate in order to avoid crumbs all over the table, then butter your bread one piece at a time. Eat and enjoy!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Book: Visible City, is a Sparkling Stained-glass Jewel of a Story

Tova Mervis, author of "Visible City" fluidly vacillates like a kaleidoscope between her myriad of characters, painting their true life portraits, and masterfully piecing together their pasts, present fears, needs, and future hopes, like an opalescent John LaFarge stained-glass window. With the change of daylight, the characters morph from the red hot glow of the Noon sun to the cool blue hue of the full moon.

Unfulfilled Nina leers out her Living Room window looking at other people's lives.

Jeremy works late at a job he hates, but in the evenings, scavenges the underground "Ghost Subways" for lost treasures.

Leon, a lonely psychiatrist, longingly gazes at Nina in a coffee shop, as her children run around yelling and screaming despite a sign asking: "Children of All Ages Are Reminded to Use Their Inside Voices."

Claudia spends her time researching John LaFarge stained-bless windows, yet screams out her own window at the construction workers below.

Emma, Claudia's daughter, fears she will end up like her Mother.

Perfect Wendy, whose mother was a screamer, is scared she cannot control her children, and is scared they will discover her secret unhappiness as a 'Stay-at-home-Mom.'

Like an antique stained-glass window, Tova Mervis shows us what happens when marriages gather dust; careers show cracks and fissures, and what transpires when we want to use our outside voices. We can't always be stuck inside the metal constraints of life. Sometimes we need to find out what makes our hearts glow.

This review is posted on line with Real Simple Magazine at: www.realsimple.com/work-life/entertainment/best-books-2014-00100000117742/page7.html 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Time to Turn", in Dinner Party Conversation on Downton

On Downton Abbey last week while at the dinner table, Edith's new beau, Michael Gregson, Editor of The Sketch, said: "Time to turn." Did anyone catch that? Did y'all get what he meant? Did y'all realize dinner conversation has but two sides: left and right.

The old tradition is, in the middle of the meal one must "turn" if one has been chattering away with only one guest on one side. Simply very politely say to the person with whom you are in conversation  you would love to continue your conversation later, but that you must not ignore the other person on your other side, and nicely excuse yourself.

Nothing worse than to be at a dinner party and you are completely ignored, and besides, leaders always make others feel special!

So, enjoy a nice dinner, and enjoy your "turn."

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Top Lady Behind the Green Baize Door at Downton

In Edwardian England, the Green Baize Door, a thick woollen cloth used on tables and doors, of the grand Manor Houses of the day, separated the paid staff from the family members of the house.

From the 1860's until WWI, around 1.5 million paid career servants served as the largest single occupation in England. To be a member of The Servant Class was considered by the mostly poor, rural society of the day, to be quite dignified as a profession, and a good opportunity for a young person with no opportunity, or no family, to be gainfully employed.

As a paid servant, the room and board was free, one received a small salary and retirement, (although the average  annual salary was about half the cost of one fancy meal of the landed gentry class), one had the chance to meet, and possibly marry a peer, and one had the opportunity to learn the etiquette and manners of the day, and many marketable skills. If successful within this life of servitude, with time, one could move up within the hierarchy of paid servants. The positions towards the top of the hierarchy for women included Housekeeper, Nanny, Governess, and the number one position was the Lady's Maid because in this position, one was the closest person in proximity to the Lady of the Manor House.  

Behind the Green Baize Door last Sunday night we discovered Lady Grantham's long time Lady's Maid, O'Brien, suddenly and stealthily departed Downton to work for another Lady in Scotland. O'Brien met her new employer while she was traveling with her present employer, Cora, Lady Grantham of Downton Abbey. O'Brien's reason for leaving Downton had to do with hair.

The distinguishing quality which separated a Lady's Maid from a House Maid in Edwardian England, and up until the beginning of WWII, was the ability of the Lady's Maid to style hair. Her talent as a hairdresser, which required a course of study and training, assured her employer she could keep up with the latest trends and ever changing hair fashions of the day, and this special skill more than justified her keep. The Lady's Maid also had to be quite proficient as a seamstress, able to sew, mend, alter and refurbish the Lady's wardrobe which saved on the dressmaker's bill. The Lady's Maid as well accompanied the Lady on all her travels, and was responsible for taking care of the Lady's jewels.

So, if one chose to live within this old world order, the Lady's Maid position was the job to have had.