Sweet Summertime

There are very few things like summertime in the South. Somehow things slow to a snail’s pace and speed up all at once. The air is thick and wet, making even breathing a laborous task. One of my favorite things about it? The random showers. The rain pours in buckets, and the sun still shines brightly through. Most of the time, it lasts for five minutes, max. Each rain drop has the ability of making a splash the size of a grapefruit it seems. The showers usually happen when you least expect it – you may be leaving the grocery store with paper bags that break when wet or you could just as easily be in your swimsuit playing in the pool with your kids.

We just keep umbrellas on us at all times. They’re handy to have to keep away both rain and sun in the Texas heat. A couple of my favorite movies always come to mind when this time of year comes ’round. Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood and To Kill A Mockingbird. To be honest, most Southern movies make me feel at home and are simply good for my soul.

Tomatoes grow best when the air waters them, too, I’ve noticed. The more humid the weather, the more my plant gives. It reminds me of my frist trip to California. We went to a winery, and the lady truly was surprised I was the age I was (yes, I was over 21). She said the humidity keeps skin younger. I have no actual scientific evidence to prove this, but then again, I don’t have any evidence it isn’t true, either. 😉 What are your favorite things about summer? Thank you for reading!

Keep cool with my kids’ favorite sprinkler!

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The Problem With “No Problem”

This is actually a follow up post to one I posted a while back. The premise of the original post was the difference between “you’re welcome” versus “no problem” in response to someone’s thank you. I had someone follow up with an email stating that saying “you’re welcome” sounds too formal to them. However, in a world where everything goes, a little formality isn’t a bad thing, and it’s a mindset I hope to change. That being said, there isn’t actually anything formal about saying “you’re welcome.”

Responding with “no problem” indicates you feel the thanker thought him or herself to be a bother or problem to you. You’re consoling them. This can put the thanker on the defense, wondering if he or she was truly a problem and you’re simply being kind. It’s a negative response. Let’s think of the alternatives: You’re welcome. It was my pleasure. I was happy to do so. These are all responses in the positive form, leaving the thanker with a pleasant memory and experience of the interaction. If you’re in the business world, this is vital. If you are in the social world, it can make or break you.

I speak from experience when I say that people will take you more seriously when you give a more sincere, positive response to their thanks. I hope this summarizes up enough for most readers to understand the importance of a positive response that they will reconsider the passé “no problem.” As always, thank you for reading!

 

Dining Etiquette Q&A – The Charger Plate

Most of the time, my etiquette email, etiquettebyemily@gmail.com, is fairly light on the inbox side. However, a few times throughout the week, I’ll have a reader’s question waiting to be answered. Today is such an occasion!

The charger plate – How do you use it? When do you remove it? Do you eat off of it?

Ok, first things first. You never eat directly off of the charger plate. When you remove it is quite dependent on what course you begin with. The charger may remain in place until the entrée course PLATE is served. If you aren’t changing plates, the charger should be removed. If you are beginning with a fish course that has its own plate, the charger may remain on the table.

Traditionally, the charger dictated the width of a place setting. Since plates were oftentimes dishes up in the kitchen and then brought out, the charger helped the host know where to set the flatware, glassware, etc.

Personal story: The year from Christmas Eve I decided to tackle the Feast of the Seven Fishes. However, after our Candlelight Service, which went nearly an hour and a half, we didn’t have much time to stuff our pieholes (classy, huh?) before heading off to Midnight Mass. Instead of attempting to wash the salad/dessert plates or soup bowls between courses, I decided to serve everything off of the entrée plate – the main plate, that is. Therefore, while my husband was pouring wine, I went ahead and removed the chargers.

In very nice restaurants, they will occasionally remove the charger completely before you begin the meal. That’s perfectly acceptable. The only rule with chargers is they MUST be removed by the time the dinner plate hits the table.

Here is my favorite etiquette expert’s take on formal table settings. I’ve used this guide regularly, and it always comes in handy! http://emilypost.com/advice/formal-place-setting/ Note: For the most formal of meals, salad is served after the main course, so the salad fork is closer to the plate than the dinner fork. Also, in this illustration it is mentioned that the napkin can go under the forks is space is very tight. In her earlier books, this was a major no-no for Mrs. Post.

Thank you for reading!!

 

2017 Announcement #1

Happy New Year! I am so excited about some of the blog changes coming in 2017, and I hope you will be, too!

I feel like I need to make a confession. I am not prim and proper. I simply have a love of all things etiquette. I’m going to take the easy way out and blame it on being a Gemini. 😉 However, to be more authentic, I am adding a series on Everything Emily. I want y’all to see a real life and how etiquette is brought into it. I want to promote etiquette for everyone, and that means showing y’all the times I fail miserably at it. Do I dream of having a perfectly clean house, a guest book ready and waiting by the door and non-sticky kids? You betcha. Do I have any of that? Excuse me while I go laugh for about six hours. Nope. Not even close.

I expect my kids to be polite. I want them to grow up having etiquette as part of their everyday life, but I struggle with the middle ground. I know the implications of not following etiquette too well to just let things always slide. But I also understand the importance of living in the moment. Let me be as clear as I can be. Having kids jump in mud puddle is NOT against etiquette. Co-sleeping, bottle feeding, nursing, cry-it-out – whatever your parenting choice may be – is NOT against etiquette.

Etiquette is simply the bringing together of cultural and societal norms. It varies by region, which is why I state I teach Southern etiquette. It varies by country. I love this so much about etiquette. I don’t want so much sameness in the world that we lose our core values – the same values that make up our etiquette.

If you’re using etiquette to put others down, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re using etiquette to feel superior, you’re doing it wrong. NOTHING about etiquette would ever approve this. Etiquette is about feeling comfortable in any situation, but more than that, etiquette is about making OTHERS feel comfortable in any situation. You may absolutely guide someone if they are breeching etiquette, but if you’re doing it correctly, they’ll never know you did it.

Everything Emily will post weekly. I’m not sure of the day, yet, but I will let y’all know!

Announcement #2 sneak peek. Are y’all following my #southerngracesocialclub? If not, you should. 😉

 

Door Etiquette – Who Opens For Whom?

Etiquette and common courtesies often times go hand-in-hand, and today’s topic of door opening is no exception. If you’re like me, you hear opinions from both sides. Some people argue for chivalry saying it’s kind for men to open doors for women. Some argue against it saying it’s an antiquated way of acting. I’m here to weed out the opinions from true etiquette. 😉

First, if at all possible, etiquette, particularly in the South, leans toward a man opening a door for a woman. It’s not because she isn’t capable. It’s a sign of respect. Just like in introductions, the woman is the “more important” person, the same holds true for door opening. Likewise, a younger man should hold the door open for an older man. However, there’s no sense in racing to the door to accomplish this task. If the woman gets there first, it’s completely ok for her to open the door. If a group of people are exiting a “push” door, and the first person through happens to be a woman, she should hold the door for the others. A respectful man will at least offer to take over the task for her. She may freely decline, if she so chooses.

Secondly, unless there’s a tornado or zombie apocalypse outside, people always exit before people enter. I don’t care if it’s from an elevator or a restaurant. If you are trying to enter a place, ALWAYS wait for those who are trying to immediately exit. There’s practicality behind this, too, particularly in smaller space, such as an elevator. There’s only so much room before it’s physically impossible for one to exit due to crowdedness.

It’s always kind, regardless of gender, to hold the door for the person behind you. In olden days, a man would push a door out and allow the woman through before following her out. If a man’s objective is to be kind and hold the door open, he may follow that suggestion OR he may head out first, holding the door for her exit. The woman may also just walk through, holding the door open behind her for him.

Finally, please say thank you to anyone, male or female, kind enough to hold a door open for you. You’re not accepting a proposal. It’s just a simple, nice gesture, and the world could sure use more simple, nice gestures.

As always, thank you for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts!