The Civilized Minute

a minute of manners and musings

Category Archives: General

tips for the tipsy

*This is a post I wrote after a porch party last spring. Today’s weather seemed to call for it. Enjoy!

I love all things tipsy.  Not that kind of tipsy. Well, maybe, sometimes, that kind of tipsy.  This is the tipsy I love:  the way a person tips his head toward a friend when they first meet; beautiful edibles offered from a tray as it is tipped in my direction so I can taste something new; the way a new bottle of wine tips sideways in an icy container as it chills; the way the clock tips the day from business to pleasure.  And, I love to tip my glass with friends.  I’ll bet if you stopped to think, you would realize you like getting tipsy, too, but in different ways.

Conducting oneself with grace and ease during these times of tipsy, however, seems to be a lost art.  We’ve all seen it.  Someone holding a glass of wine in one hand and texting with the other.  Someone taking a few nuts from a bowl using their fingers fresh from running them through their hair.  The wallflower who looks and acts miserable.  Then, of course, there is the old fashioned definition of tipsy that always brings obnoxious and embarrassing scenes one hopes never find their way to places like Facebook and Twitter.

So, here are some etiquette tips for the new ways of getting tipsy.

Hosts:

Whether you are planning a full-out event or simply a backyard get-together, relax.  Old etiquette rules would have you wound tight over a few weeds in the beds or not enough linen cocktail napkins.  New etiquette is less about the rules and more about enjoying life in a way that allows you to put your best foot forward. 

  • Where food is concerned, less is more.  Resist the urge to fill up empty space on a table with bowls and saucers of hard to eat and unhealthy fares.  Choose 2 or 3 interesting and tasty treats and be done.  This approach lets you spend less time in the kitchen and more time ensuring your guests are comfortable and enjoying themselves.  Remember, it’s not about the stuff, it’s about enjoying the company. 
  • When you are deciding on what kind of drink to offer, go simple and have fun with it.  You don’t have to wait for a life-changing event to occur before you break out the bubbly.  Have fun with what you serve and how you serve it.  As a break from the expected, use stemless wine glasses to serve sparkling white wine rather than champagne flutes and ice down the bottles in a small planter.  This casual approach makes it easier for new guests to unwind while they meet new friends. Worried this would be viewed as a breach of entertaining etiquette?  Remember, the basis of displaying nice manners is to act in a way that makes yourself look good and others feel comfortable.  Think about it…wouldn’t it be easier to handle a stemless glass rather than a flute while you also juggle a nibble?
  • Reach deep into your address book when coming up with a list of guests.  Bring in new and interesting acquaintances you know would like to meet new people. And,
  • Make sure you are up on your introduction skills.  Use first and last names and offer a tidbit of information on each person so easy conversation will follow.

 

Guests:

It’s easy to forget that guests have responsibilities, too.  The burden of a great gathering does not rest solely on the shoulders of the hosts.  Guests should arrive with no expectations of pretension, glamour and glitz.  People are different today versus 3 years ago.  Recent events have taught us to value what is real in life and to appreciate the unexpected.  While you may be tempted to pass judgment on a host’s decision to use paper products or to serve only beer and assorted nuts rather than an elaborate spread, – gasp! – realize that you may be the one who is outdated.  You didn’t hear about this new ale brewed in your hometown? Maybe you weren’t listening when someone said the pecans were gathered in the host’s backyard and toasted just for tonight’s guests.   Be appreciative when you are offered an evening of dialed back formality and enjoy something new.  

  • Offer a toast to your hosts to show appreciation for bringing friends together.  Nothing formal; keep it light.  Just remember to clink with the bottom of the glass so you won’t swap germs.
  • Casual doesn’t mean your manners don’t have to make an appearance.  Appetizers and finger-foods should be taken with a napkin in hand – no eating directly from the tray. Certainly don’t over-indulge since you likely were not invited to be the evening’s entertainment.  If you contributed a food item or bottle of wine, don’t take home the leftovers.  Those are for the hosts.
  • Offer the hosts a hand and replenish food or drink when you notice something is running low. They will appreciate the hand!
  • Mingle.  Your shyness could be misinterpreted to mean you are not enjoying yourself and that is offensive to those who invited you.

Now, gather up some friends and find new ways to get tipsy – nicely.

Try this recipe when you want something tasty to eat, quick to prepare and easy to eat.

Prosciutto Pear Cups

Thinly sliced prosciutto, cut in 4” square pieces to line the cups of a mini-muffin pan

Fresh pear, diced

Goat cheese

Honey

Line mini-muffin pan cups with prosciutto, bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until crispy.  Prosciutto will pop out of the pan shaped as little cups.  Stack diced pear and a dollop of goat cheese inside the cup.  Drizzle with honey.  Serve with Pearly Bay Celebration.

 

 

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what’s new, cupcake?

There has been a book fair at my children’s school over the last few days. And, let me just say… It would help me out a lot if the book fair would sell only books. No erasers shaped like ice cream cones. No 36″ pencils in a flourescent yellow. No little spiral bound notepads with patterned paper. Books. The kind you read.

Naturally, Emma found a book on cupcakes that she couldn’t live without. It’s called What’s New, Cupcake? by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson.

The cupcake creations are unreal. The creativity and planning that must have gone into these cupcakes….it’s admirable, actually. The book breaks down every step and shows every tool used to create everything from a golf course to these cute little ducks (you can thank a doughnut hole for that cute little head). It made me think about the tools we use and the steps we take in the hope that we are creating the person we truly want to be.

Do your clothes flatter you and give you confidence? Do your friends bring out your best? Does your attitude inspire others or turn them away? What are you reading right now? Is it food for the brain or junk?

It’s ok if you’ve veered off course a tad. Just make some small adjustments.

Go on, Cupcake. Change things up a little bit.

what's new, cupcake?

There has been a book fair at my children’s school over the last few days. And, let me just say… It would help me out a lot if the book fair would sell only books. No erasers shaped like ice cream cones. No 36″ pencils in a flourescent yellow. No little spiral bound notepads with patterned paper. Books. The kind you read.

Naturally, Emma found a book on cupcakes that she couldn’t live without. It’s called What’s New, Cupcake? by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson.

The cupcake creations are unreal. The creativity and planning that must have gone into these cupcakes….it’s admirable, actually. The book breaks down every step and shows every tool used to create everything from a golf course to these cute little ducks (you can thank a doughnut hole for that cute little head). It made me think about the tools we use and the steps we take in the hope that we are creating the person we truly want to be.

Do your clothes flatter you and give you confidence? Do your friends bring out your best? Does your attitude inspire others or turn them away? What are you reading right now? Is it food for the brain or junk?

It’s ok if you’ve veered off course a tad. Just make some small adjustments.

Go on, Cupcake. Change things up a little bit.

3 ingredients

All it takes is 3 ingredients. Dump these 3 into a slow cooker, wait 8-10 hours and you’ve got the ground floor for tonight’s dinner. Are you getting this?  You put 3 ingredients in the pot, go about your business and come back to find the prize.

You know I’m going to twist this into a civility thing, so here it is: There are also 3 ingredients in order to make your attempts at civility worthwhile.

Discretion

Compassion

Patience

You dump these 3 into your pot of business deals and relationships, let it stew there for a while because people have to know you’re genuine. Come back later and you’ll discover you’ve built the ground floor for success and happiness.  

Discretion

Compassion

Patience

Or, a 3-4 lb. Boston Butt, a jar of BBQ sauce and a can of Coke cooked on Low for 8-10 hours.

It’s really just whatever you’re into.

Honesty? Not always.

This may come as a shock to some, but honesty is not always what people want or need to hear.

From you.

You heard me.

It’s your not plight in life to make sure people know your innermost thoughts. It’s not your place to “offer advice” to your co-worker on her hairstyle or clothes choices or, heaven forbid, husband choices.

Honesty has been a hot topic over the last couple of weeks. I’ve seen some online conversations about it and someone posted a question about honesty on my Facebook wall. Here is the question and my response:

Question: Dear Kate T. Lewis…[Let me just interrupt for a second. Feel free to call me Kate. You don’t have to say the T.  I know it can be confusing. An interviewer once referred to me as KT throughout an entire TV segment. I’ve often wondered if she thought I was rapper.] I have a question for you to ponder… listening to a popular radio program yesterday they were asking the question, should you give your friends/family unsolicated criticism especially about the way they look or are dressed? (ie… your dress is just a little too tight, or that hair style you’re going for isn’t working for you) I give it to my husband often, but he never gives it to me — so I ask… should we keep our thoughts to ourselves and let those dear to us look bad, or should we intervene?

AnswerI would ask you this: Does the person dear to you “look bad” because it’s your opinion that what she is wearing isn’t becoming? Or, do they “look bad” because they are struggling with something and it’s affecting their appearance? If your sister shows up at a family dinner looking rumpled and unclean, it’s your duty as someone who cares for her to find out if she’s ok. That’s a very different conversation than if you were to approach her with “your hair looks terrible and you need to iron your shirt.” Rather than unsolicited criticism, that’s inquiring about her well-being. If you are bothered by someone’s appearance because you would simply choose something different…well…there are some things that are none of your business. Great question!!

Got it? Good.

excuse me, ma’am. you have a shotgun shell on your wall.

Around the turn of the new year, I sat in on a Twitter chat hosted by the editor of The Daily Basics. She is so very bright and comes up with the greatest topics to mull over. On that day, she posed this question: What are your decorating goals for the year?

Admittedly, I wasn’t so turned on…at first. Decorating goals for the year? That’s my sister Nan’s department. She’s the decorating guru.  But, the more I thought about what I really want my house to be like has more to do with the feel than the look.

My response to the question at hand was this: This year, I want to decorate with things that are meaningful to my family…reminders of happy days, achievements, people we care about. Hopefully, people who come visit us will feel the love jumping off the walls (although I could see where one might confuse the love with the deer), relax and enjoy being in our home. But there is also this: when you surround yourself with objects that promote and inspire your very own goodness, you’ll have more goodness to share. This makes it good all the way around.

So, I just finished my first little decorating project – and I mean little. A few Saturdays ago, we visited my parents in South Georgia. It was a crisp and beautiful Saturday, so we decided to shoot skeet. Emma, Ben, Darrell, my Dad and I shot and laughed and teased each other and then we did it all again on Sunday. It was the most perfect day I’ve had in a long time (bruised shoulder and cheek aside). When we finished, I gathered up all the spent shotgun shells and brought them home. I dumped the shells in a shadow box, framed a few of my favorite pics from the day and voila!

 

 

Just for the record, those elk antlers do not hold a special place in my heart.

excuse me, ma'am. you have a shotgun shell on your wall.

Around the turn of the new year, I sat in on a Twitter chat hosted by the editor of The Daily Basics. She is so very bright and comes up with the greatest topics to mull over. On that day, she posed this question: What are your decorating goals for the year?

Admittedly, I wasn’t so turned on…at first. Decorating goals for the year? That’s my sister Nan’s department. She’s the decorating guru.  But, the more I thought about what I really want my house to be like has more to do with the feel than the look.

My response to the question at hand was this: This year, I want to decorate with things that are meaningful to my family…reminders of happy days, achievements, people we care about. Hopefully, people who come visit us will feel the love jumping off the walls (although I could see where one might confuse the love with the deer), relax and enjoy being in our home. But there is also this: when you surround yourself with objects that promote and inspire your very own goodness, you’ll have more goodness to share. This makes it good all the way around.

So, I just finished my first little decorating project – and I mean little. A few Saturdays ago, we visited my parents in South Georgia. It was a crisp and beautiful Saturday, so we decided to shoot skeet. Emma, Ben, Darrell, my Dad and I shot and laughed and teased each other and then we did it all again on Sunday. It was the most perfect day I’ve had in a long time (bruised shoulder and cheek aside). When we finished, I gathered up all the spent shotgun shells and brought them home. I dumped the shells in a shadow box, framed a few of my favorite pics from the day and voila!

 

 

Just for the record, those elk antlers do not hold a special place in my heart.

per emma & ben

This morning over breakfast, I asked Emma and Ben what I should blog about. They both said I should use this great spring weather and the blooming flowers.

hmmm….

“But, what’s the point?” I asked them. “What do you mean, What’s the point?” Ben asked.

Sigh. Twice, for good measure. Clearly they are only into this blogging business for the pictures. Or, what they can complain about since on Friday, Ben said to me, “I thought I told you not to put me in your blog anymore, Mom. Anybody in the whole world can see it.” First of all, I had to talk to him about how young people talk to adults, because he wasn’t doing it right. Secondly, I had to tell him how I have better judgment than to put something compromising about my own child on the world wide web.  It’s not like I put his mug up with a For Sale sign over his head.

………

Sorry. I’m back. My mind wandered.   

So, I explained to them that with each post, I use an everyday home or work situation and look for something useful in it. A lesson. A nugget of truth.

After a few seconds of putting way more cinnamon roll than is necessary in his mouth, Ben said, “Don’t smell all the flowers.”  Emma looked at me nodding her agreement.

Thanks, kids, I’ll take it from here….

They’re right. Not everything that looks good  – is good. There are bright shining objects that get our attention and draw us in. And, there are smooth-talking people that say everything we want to hear. But, it’s up to us to determine if we should actually walk up and take a sniff. So, we’re back to using good judgment. Using discretion and showing integrity. The flowers in your career that you should smell every chance you get are the opportunities to meet new people, to learn new things and to share your knowledge. Focus on what is productive and right. Not just what appears most appealing at the time.

So, thank you, Emma and Ben for pointing us in the right direction.

(See? I do put nice things on this blog about y’all!)

cowboy cool

It’s Friday and I’ve got a little something for you to think about. Other than how sore this guy must have been the next morning.

 

Try not to run through your day like a bull coming out of the chute…aimless and throwing people to the side.

 

Be calm, take in your environment, think through your next move, value people around you so you can learn from them, be considerate, be encouraging, be courteous even when you don’t feel like it.

Just be nice. Be cool.

 

Be Cowboy Cool.

And Have a GREAT weekend!

buzzword: civility

‘Civility’ is quite the buzzword these days.

Yesterday, the University of Arizona announced the creation of the National Institute for Civil Discourse.  With former Presidents Bush and Clinton serving as co-chairs, this new organization is generally geared toward political impoliteness. Oprah, apparently, is preparing to air an entire show on civility. The Today Show, just a few months ago, aired segments on civility that spanned 3 days. Yesterday, I posted a piece on a friend’s blog about childrens’ manners because she had reached her boiling point over the incivility at her child’s Atlanta school.

And all this? It’s just information. Information we ALL already know. America is rude. Our children are rude. It raises our stress level. And it’s bad for our health and it’s bad for our future. I’ll bet very few of you who follow this blog have learned anything you didn’t know before. We all KNOW how to be civil.

But, KNOWING is a far cry from DOING. And, talking about it is a far cry from promoting it, pushing it. You see, ‘promote’ is a verb. That’s an action word.

I wish Oprah would call up Nike and tell them she needs to borrow ‘Just Do It’ so she can work the Oprah-effect on this problem. I don’t know exactly how she gets people to take action on what she says, but I hope whatever segment she is working on has a lot of verbs in it.

Wonder if she’s thought of that….

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