Mar 022010

I’m not done!

I received an email a few weeks ago from a reader who wanted to vent and thought this blog would be a good place to express his frustration. I was happy to receive his email and upon reading his email, I could not agree more with his annoyance.

He was frustrated that when he goes out to dinner his plate is cleared while other people at the table are still eating. That in fact it is quite rude to clear a plate while others are still eating.  It makes for an awkward eating environment, forcing people to think they either ate to fast, or ate too slow, and should be rushed. My other personnel frustration is when a plate is taken away from you and you haven’t finished eating!  I thought, I would write about it more for food for thought and then look at how to let people know you are in fact finished. Also different cultures have different ways of letting you know when they are done.  Please let me know of any other specific cultural tradition and if you have a frustration like this to vent. I would love to hear.

I know there are many times, I take a break while I am eating. Please see the illustration below showing how your fork and knife should be place to indicate that you are not done yet. Knife and fork are criss-crossed at 8 and 4 if your plate is a clock face.



Okay now I am done. Knife should be placed turned inward and the fork is resting next to it. Using the analogy of the plate being the face of a clock, knife and fork are resting at 5 in the direction of 11. In British culture the fork is face up.



Most importantly plates should not be cleared until everyone has finished.

Asian Cultures

When eating food served in bowl with a lid, replace the lid on the bowl when you have finished.

When you have finished your meal, place your chopsticks on the chopstick rest when provided as they were when you started. If there is no rest make one with the chopstick wrapper.

Illustration Credit: Ask and about Clothes

Nov 182007


When I was a child, I use to enter the County Fair. One of the categories I would enter in was Table Setting. I remember practicing my table at home and my mother telling me that I had my forks and knives backwards. I proceeded to be the precocious little girl I was sometimes and told her it was my vision and this is how I liked. Needless to say, the judges did not agree with me.

Table Setting can be fun and can tie everything together. This is also something that can be done in advance.

With the Holiday Season upon us here are a few helpful Reminders

Forks on the Left and in order of use- farthest left first to use
Napkins on the Left and Left of the Fork or can be in the center where the plate will go.
Butter Plate- is on the top left of the plate with the butter knife across the top of the plate blade towards the user and handle on right. (Remember the trick B & D)

Knives on the Right in order of use- farthest right first to use
Spoons are to the right of knives the right right of the knives.
Glasses – above the knives

Above the Plate
Dessert Spoon and Fork can be placed above the Plate. The Spoon facing left and the Fork facing right.
Place Cards – are either on the napkin if it is in the center or above the place plate.

 Posted by at 8:32 pm
Apr 112007


Spring time is here or should I say the calendar indicates that it’s Spring! One thing I love about Spring is flowers; ever since I was a little girl flowers have always been my favorite thing. They just make me happy. Flowers are one of the most common hostess gifts given and for a good reason. The price points range, enabling anyone to purchase, and above all else, who does not like to receive them? But how about taking it one step further?

My mother’s favorite hostess gifts to both give and receive are flowers. But she says the nicest thing is to receive them a day before or morning of an event. This way everyone can enjoy them and if she is having a dinner party, she won’t be arranging the flowers while getting the roast out of the oven. My sister’s fiancé did this on his first trip out West to visit my parents- I heard about the orchid for the next week and how thoughtful and wonderful he is. (The extra effort went a very long way)

Sure there is always 1-800 Flowers, but there are many other routes to go- find a hotel you might like, based on aesthetics, in the area and see who they use or recommend. Also you can call/ visit the website of Bbrooks Fine Flowers which has a partnership with all the leading florists in the nation. This way you can locate the best in the area. Hopefully, this is just helpful information since there are always occassions when flowers are the perfect gift.

 Posted by at 6:02 pm
Mar 122007


Some people have a sweet tooth some prefer salt – I enjoy both. Without any influence, I would lean towards the sweet side but having been raised with a mother who loves salt on almost anything it was only natural that I would also develop a healthy affinity towards salt as well. Sources say that there are over 14,000 different uses for salt- it’s pretty amazing all that salt can do! I thought I’d relay a few salty facts:Salt brings out the flavor in food.
That being said, it is considered a great insult to Salt your food before tasting it-
This implies that you do not trust that the chef knows what they are doing.
Boiling water with Salt- water boils at a higher temperature
Poaching eggs with Salt helps set the egg white
Spilling Red wine Salt the spot right away and will prevent from staining.
Prevent Browning of apples, pears, and potatoes drop in cold lightly Salted water.
Rubbing Salt will remove tea or coffee stains from a cup
Extinguishing a grease fires toss Salt on it, this will smother flames.
Don’t use water will only splatter the burning grease
Salt acts as an excellent cleaning agent
Salt Will restore whiteness in bathtubs
Destroys moths and drives away ants
Mouth wash, throat gargle, and eye wash
My favorite Equal parts of Olive Oil and Salt makes great facial scrub!

 Posted by at 8:33 pm
Oct 232006

It is getting colder which mean soup season is back again. Here are a few reminders next time you have a bowl of soup in front of you.

  • Do not blow on the soup
  • Do not put the entire spoon in your mouth, slip it from the side
  • The spoon is filled by moving the spoon away, but in eastern culturesit is the opposite with the spoon being filled with a movement towards you.
  • Bring the spoon up to your mouth, don’t have your head over the bowl.
  • Tip the bowl away from you when trying to get the last couple of spoonfuls
  • If it is a two handled soup bowl it is okay to pick it up and sip from the bowl or use a spoon.
  • Leave the soup spoon on the soup plate when done not in the bowl.
 Posted by at 5:52 pm
Sep 082006

Bread and Butter, a few do’s and dont’s:

  • Do take enough butter for your entire piece of bread .
  • Don’t keep taking more butter from the communal butter dish with each bite.
  • Don’t butter the entire piece of bread- just enough for your current bite.
  • Lastly, bread should be only be torn into three pieces.
 Posted by at 5:55 pm
Aug 042006

It is hard to believe that cell phones have not been around forever. I try and remember what life was like without one and it is just too hard to imagine. Although, there have not been any real social guidelines set to follow. As a result, everyone has just developed their own. I will admit I am trying to get better

I am curious what everyone thinks?

When is it really appropriate to pick up when you are with other people?

Should you pick it up and say you can’t talk and call back later?

Do missed calls without messages require a call back?

Can you ever leave your phone on the table during dinner?

Use in Public? Walking down the street versus on a bus?

Let me know what rules you follow with your cell..lets save all texting comments for another time that is another subject matter!

 Posted by at 5:57 pm
Jul 242006

I am always out and about. One thing I always notice is when someone gives a good introduction or, also, when a poor one is given. Even worse is when there is no introduction at all. Here are just a few things to remember next time:

  • The younger person is always introduced to the older.
  • At a smaller dinner party it is still polite for the host/hostess to rise when someone new comes as well as for a man to rise for a woman entering the room.
  • Firm hand shakes are key- two to three seconds long. A lifeless one is telling to some, it is thought that a handshake matches your character.
  • At a party it is better to introduce yourself than to stand in a corner by yourself.
  • If called the wrong name, don’t take it as a slight, but correct the person right away.
  • If you can’t remember someone’s name that you have met a group of times, either you can bluff your way through it or swallow your pride, and let them you know you are having a brain freeze.
  • There are always the times where you meet someone for the 20th time, it is okay to say “Yes, we met before at…”
  • Introduce with first and last names although today there are so many informal acquaintances that unfortunately you may not know the last name. I wish I did this more but am in the habit of not, I can think of one person I know who does this and I always appreciate it and take notice of it.
  • It is polite to give formal introduction of Mr/Mrs to someone’s parents or similar age gap. Let them decide to have you call them by their first name
  • It is always nice to introduce with a little information about the person, but use discretion.

There are many more items but these are just a few to think about.

 Posted by at 5:58 pm
Jun 022006

Recently, my grandmother passed away; before she died I was fortunate enough to spend some time with her.

There were a few things she said to me about our generation and waning manners: #1 opening of doors for women has gone to the way side and #2 she was saddened by the fact that it is no longer instinctual to say: “yes ma’am” and “no sir.”

These are just some thoughtful ideas to remember for the future. I wish I had more time to spend with her; she was a wealth of knowledge with one of the most incredible minds I have ever encountered.

 Posted by at 6:01 pm
Jun 012006

I just recently learned this trick to always remember which is the bread dish and which is your drink. For some people it is just instinctual which to choose, but at a crowded table there is sometimes confusion. So to avoid an embarrassing situation, just think “b” and “d.”

Your left hand makes the “b” and your right hand makes the “d.” The bread plate is always on your left and the drink is always on your right! Thank you Evan…can’t tell to how many people I’ve relayed this trick!!

 Posted by at 6:03 pm