Please, No More Lobster!

Lobster was once so prolific in Cape Cod that the colonists actually used them primarily as fertilizer for their crops or as bait for their fish hooks. As sustenance, lobster was little more than “poverty food,” fit only for feeding indentured servants, slaves, children or cows. In Massachusetts, the servants finally rebelled and won an amendment to their contracts. They would no longer be “forced” to eat lobster more than three times a week. And if you are worried about boiling lobsters alive, a lobster has a brain the size of a grasshopper’s, so it is surmised that they do not feel pain as we “humans” do.

How About A Holiday Tea?

Want to get together with friends for the holidays but don’t want the fuss and expense of a party? A Holiday Tea Party is the perfect answer.

You do not need expensive china and all the trimmings. Go as simple or as elaborate as you feel moved. A great conversation starter would be using mugs collected from your travels over the years. Or, a Tea Party is a great excuse for the ultimate “girl party” with hats, gloves, bangles and bling, just a few of my favorite things.

If you are new to Tea Parties, you can stay with tea bags. I recommend taking a peek at the Mighty Leaf Tea Company where you can buy superior teas in biodegradable tea bags.

Customarily tea is served with finger sandwiches; yes you may eat with your fingers. Cucumber or egg sandwiches are easy and inexpensive. For a slightly richer flavor, add smoke salmon sandwiches. Finger sandwiches are optional if your goal is a quick and easy tea.

Sweets satisfy and supply a cure for the afternoon slump. Scones are traditionally served and really are fabulous served from the oven with butter and jam. You can bake your own, check out “Favorite Scones” at or buy some at your local bakery. A few rich cookies and you are set!

There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea. –Henry James

10 Tips for Holiday Hosting

1.)  Email or call guests with event reminders 24-48 hours before your event. The most interesting people have overflowing schedules and even the best intentions sometimes get trumped by the crisis of the moment.


2.)  Have all food prepared ahead of time so you are free to greet guests at the door and mingle.


3.)  Always have plenty of food in case something turns out badly. Don’t panic if something goes awry. If you can laugh, your guests will laugh as well.


4.)  Create within yourself a festive mood that will be caught by your guests.


5.)  Introduce guests to one another giving a choice morsel of common interest information as a conversation starter.


6.)  Keep the food and refreshments flowing. If serving alcohol, be aware of consumption and serve food in a timely manner to keep guests from overindulging while waiting.


7.)  Consider hiring a couple high school teens to circulate hors d’ouevres, serve dinner, and wash dishes. However, no bar tending duties please.


8.)  Do not stay with one guest too long, mingle to make sure everyone is engaged. As a host, your job is to make sure everyone is enjoying the party.


9.)  If children are coming, have kid friendly food and an activity planned.


10.) At the end of the evening, make sure every guest arrives safely to their car.


 Happy Holiday Entertaining!  Charm is the quality in others that makes us more satisfied with ourselves. –Henri-Frederic Amiel


Who pays the bill? Restaurant etiquette.

The other day I enjoyed a fabulous breakfast with Brad Montgomery, yes Corporate Humorist, Strategist, & Funny-ist ( Anyway, everything was going splendidly until the check arrived. If you pardon the expression, all he** broke loose. I wanted to pay for breakfast. But he would not let me! Can you imagine that!?! The fight continued until we realized the breakfast was complementary. At which point I allowed his male ego to take credit for breakfast.


No, I'll pay the bill!


Have you found yourself in this uncomfortable situation? Did you handle it any better than I? I have done pretty much everything wrong at some point along my journey through life. So save some humiliation and learn from me.


So who should pay the check? Tradition dictates that the one who did the inviting typically pays for the meal. Ok, mistake number one, Brad invited me; I really should not have tried to upstage him. Pardon the pun. Going Dutch has become very popular these days. However, “going Dutch” is bad form on such occasions as a romantic date or a business lunch. In either situation there should be no confusion as to who is the host and therefore who is paying for the meal. The suave host can make arrangements prior to the meal with the server to handle the check out of sight, therefore eliminating the discomfort most people feel when the check arrives.


So what is the etiquette for “going Dutch”? It is acceptable for non-intimate friends to divvy up the check or split it evenly. This works well if everyone ordered similar meals and drinks. However, if you ordered a salad and ice tea, and one your dining partners, who ordered lobster and Dom Perignon, suggests you “just split the check,” what should you do? When the check comes, only offer to pay your portion. Here is my suggestion, “Ok, my salad and ice tea came to $13 and here is an extra $3 for the tip.” You were generous on the tip and if your dining partner is truly your friend, they should be happy to cover their own extravagance. If they insist on splitting the check evenly, you have just learned a great deal about this person. It is at this point you must make a decision on your future relationship with this person. Oh bother.


What happens if the check arrives and everyone ignores it because there is no clear host? Take the initiative. Just because you are the first to touch the bill does not mean you have to pay for the entire bill. Begin with friendly banter on how to divvy up the bill. Recently I was at a very nice dinner where we split the check evenly between diners. However, a few people were very stingy with their tips. Upon leaving I simply shook our servers hand with a folded $20 in my hand and said “thank you”. No one but the appreciative server and I were the wiser. There was no need to shame my dining partners and NO reason to short the server for her hard work. This is imperative for a restaurant you frequent, especially if it is a restaurant where you conduct business meals.


On the subject of the business lunch, you must read:  Breaking Bread for Better Business Please learn from my mistakes and always Consider Etiquette!Check out Brad, you will be glad you did!

Etiquette Evolves

Etiquette changes over time. It evolves. With the invention of the fork to the internet, etiquette has had to adapt. New rules have been created for civilized ways to act in situations ranging from golf etiquette to funeral etiquette. Because of this, etiquette is not an exact science. What rules work for one community may be slightly different for another. Think in terms of accents. When you travel around the country you will notice a Southern drawl in Texas and a completely different accent in New York. Of course here in California we do not have an accent. While people are speaking essentially the same language, there are noticeable differences. 


Etiquette changes from country to county, town to town and even house to house. For example, my father was from Illinois, went to college in California marrying my mother and settling in California. About Junior high I began running around with bare feet as all my young friends. This was driving my father insane. I could not believe it was such a big deal. He felt you were “low class” if you did not wear shoes at all times, even in the house. My mother, a native Californian tried to explain the rules were different in California since we lived so close to the beach. Walking bare foot was completely acceptable. For my father, the concept had roots in the fact if you didn’t wear shoes; it was because you could not afford shoes. Etiquette rules can change from house to house. I wore shoes in the house to appease my father.


Then I met Marc, my future husband and he takes me to his parent’s house. New rule, Marc’s father found it disrespectful to wear your shoes in the house. I often wore black pants with black dress boots. My outfit always matched down to the tiniest details, with exception of my socks. Since my socks were covered by black dress boots, I never thought about the color or style of my socks. I found it very embarrassing to go to dinner or a party at Marc’s parent’s house elegantly dressed with white sport socks on my feet and my pants dragging along. I finally learned and bought black socks, not that I always remembered to wear them and it didn’t help the hemline of my pants.  


Another rule that differed greatly with my “two dads” was the dropping in of guests. My father and his friends would have ‘come as you are parties.” We would call someone semi late at night and whatever they were wearing they had to show up in. One time someone was in the bathtub and we made and exception. We would have desert, coffee and laughs. My father was a very gregarious guy and loved company; we always had people in and out of our house and dropped in on our friends often.  My father-in-law saw it as very disrespectful for anyone to “drop-in.” I know there are a lot of you out there who feel the same way. Now that I have small children and homeschool (my children are almost  always home), I can see his point. It is about impossible to keep the house tidy to the point of company. Although I must say my in-laws house had the non-lived in look.  


Moral of the story: Know the rules of your workplace, your clients and perspective in-laws.



By Patricia McGerr

When I sailed to Kiniwata, an island in the Pacific, I took along a notebook. After I got back it was filled with descriptions of flora and fauna, native customs and costume. But the only note that still interests me is the one that says: “Johnny Lingo gave eight cows to Sarita’s father.” And I don’t need to have it in writing. I’m reminded of it every time I see a woman belittling her husband or a wife withering under her husband’s scorn. I want to say to them, “You should know why Johnny Lingo paid eight cows for his wife.”

Johnny Lingo wasn’t exactly his name. But that’s what Shenkin, the manager of the guest house on Kiniwata, called him. Shenkin was from Chicago and had a habit of Americanizing the names of the islanders. But Johnny was mentioned by many people in many connections. If I wanted to spend a few days on the neighboring island of Nurabandi, Johnny Lingo would put me up. If I wanted to fish he could show me where the biting was best. If it was pearls I sought, he would bring the best buys. The people of Kiniwata all spoke highly of Johnny Lingo. Yet when they spoke they smiled, and the smiles were slightly mocking.

“Get Johnny Lingo to help you find what you want and let him do the bargaining,” advised Shenkin. “Johnny knows how to make a deal.” “Johnny Lingo! A boy seated nearby hooted the name and rocked with laughter. “What goes on?” I demanded. “everybody tells me to get in touch with Johnny Lingo and then breaks up. Let me in on the joke.” “Oh, the people like to laugh,” Shenkin said, shruggingly. “Johnny’s the brightest, the strongest young man in the islands, And for his age, the richest.” “But if he’s all you say, what is there to laugh about?” “Only one thing. Five months ago, at fall festival, Johnny came to Kiniwata and found himself a wife. He paid her father eight cows!

I knew enough about island customs to be impressed. Two or three cows would buy a fair-to-middling wife, four or five a highly satisfactory one. “Good Lord!” I said, “Eight cows! She must have beauty that takes your breath away.” “She’s not ugly,” he conceded, and smiled a little. “But the kindest could only call Sarita plain. Sam Karoo, her father, was afraid she’d be left on his hands.” “But then he got eight cows for her? Isn’t that extraordinary?” “Never been paid before.” “Yet you call Johnny’s wife plain?” “I said it would be kindness to call her plain. She was skinny. She walked with her shoulders hunched and her head ducked. She was scared of her own shadow.” “Well,” I said, “I guess there’s just no accounting for love.” “True enough,” agreed the man. “And that’s why the villagers grin when they talk about Johnny. They get special satisfaction from the fact that the sharpest trader in the islands was bested by dull old Sam Karoo.” “But how?” “No one knows and everyone wonders. All the cousins were urging Sam to ask for three cows and hold out for two until he was sure Johnny’d pay only one. Then Johnny came to Sam Karoo and said, ‘Father of Sarita, I offer eight cows for your daughter.’” “Eight cows,” I murmured. “I’d like to meet this Johnny Lingo.” “And I wanted fish. I wanted pearls. So the next afternoon I beached my boat at Nurabandi. And I noticed as I asked directions to Johnny’s house that his name brought no sly smile to the lips of his fellow Nurabandians. And when I met the slim, serious young man, when he welcomed me with grace to his home, I was glad that from his own people he had respect unmingled with mockery.

We sat in his house and talked. Then he asked, “You come here from Kiniwata?” “Yes.” “They speak of me on that island?” “They say there’s nothing I might want they you can’t help me get.” He smiled gently. “My wife is from Kiniwata.” “Yes, I know.” “They speak of her?” “A little.” “What do they say?” “Why, just…” The question caught me off balance. “They told me you were married at festival time.” “Nothing more?” The curve of his eyebrows told me he knew there had to be more. They also say the marriage settlement was eight cows.” I paused. “They wonder why.” “They ask that?” His eyes lightened with pleasure. “Everyone in Kiniwata knows about the eight cows?” I nodded. “And in Nurabandi everyone knows it too.” His chest expanded with satisfaction. “Always and forever, when they speak of marriage settlements, it will be remembered that Johnny Lingo paid eight cows for Sarita.” So that’s the answer, I thought: vanity.

And then I saw her. I watched her enter the room to place flowers on the table. She stood still a moment to smile at the young man beside me. Then she went swiftly out again. She was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. The lift of her shoulders, the tilt of her chin the sparkle of her eyes all spelled a pride to which no one could deny her the right. I turned back to Johnny Lingo and found him looking at me. “You admire her?” he murmured. “She…she’s glorious. But she’s not Sarita from Kiniwata,” I said.

“There’s only one Sarita. Perhaps she does not look the way they say she looked in Kiniwata.” “She doesn’t. I heard she was homely. They all make fun of you because you let yourself be cheated by Sam Karoo.” “You think eight cows were too many?” A smile slid over his lips. “No. But how can she be so different?” “Do you ever think,” he asked, “what it must mean to a woman to know that her husband has settled on the lowest price for which she can be bought? And then later, when the women talk, they boast of what their husbands paid for them. One says four cows, another maybe six. How does she feel, the woman who was sold for one or two?” This could not happen to my Sarita.” “Then you did this just to make your wife happy?” “I wanted Sarita to be happy, yes. But I wanted more than that. You say she is different This is true. Many things can change a woman. Things that happen inside, things that happen outside. But the thing that matters most is what she thinks about herself. In Kiniwata, Sarita believed she was worth nothing. Now she knows she is worth more than any other woman in the islands.” “Then you wanted -” “I wanted to marry Sarita. I loved her and no other woman.” “But —” I was close to understanding. “But,” he finished softly, “I wanted an eight-cow wife.”


Did Donald Trump Get This One Wrong?

Republished with permission.

April 8, 2008

by Glenn Shepard

Recently on the season finale of the celebrity edition of “The Apprentice”, I watched Donald Trump struggle as he had to choose between country music superstar Trace Atkins and Piers Morgan.

Trace is laid back, and one of the most likable people you’ll ever meet.

At the other extreme is tabloid editor and talent show judge Piers, who’s brash, ruthless, and made lots of enemies.

Trump referred to the two as Good versus Evil, but chose Piers (“Evil”) anyway. Survey results on NBC’s website showed that 59% of the general public thought Trump chose the wrong person.

Click here to play video

Trace’s fellow contestants also  thought he should have won. Actress Marilu Henner said she would follow him anywhere . That’s called leadership. Even hard driving KISS front man Gene Simmons told Trump that Trace should win.

But Trump made the right decision because the goal of the contest was to raise as much money as possible for charity. No one came close to the amount Piers raised for his charity, The Center for the Intrepid. It was like a ball game, where all that counts in the end is the score.

What was confusing and frustrating for so many fans of The Apprentice was that in previous seasons, the contestants were competing for a job with Donald Trump’s organization.

Had Trace and Piers been competing for a job, Trace would have won for the same reason high maintenance employees should not be tolerated.

High productivity and outstanding job performance do not make a good employee.

A good employee must be good at executing their duties, AND behave (i.e. play nicely with the other children).

Any employee or manager who burns bridges in business the way Piers did may bring in great numbers at first, but that victory will be worthless when he or she runs off all their employees or coworkers.

If you’ve got an employee who’s good at what they do, but is a pot stirrer like Piers, you  have a good worker. But you do not have a good employee.

Good managers don’t tolerate bad behavior.

Styles of Eating

American Style of Eating

In the American Style of eating, often referred to as zigzag style, you hold the knife in your right hand and the fork in your left hand while to cutting your food. Once the bite of food is cut, the knife is placed, blade to the inside, along the top of the plate. The fork is switched to your right hand, so you can spear the bite of food and mastication ensues. The left hand is placed on the lap, out of sight, until needed for the next cut. A left hand, arm or dare I say elbow on the table marks one as improperly trained. The crossing over of the fork from the left to the right hand has the added benefit of slowing people down at meal time.

Why so Americans Eat That Way?

The American way or “zigzag way” of eating was the original method of eating in France and England before 1732. Before the invention of the fork, people ate with their hands, spoons and speared food with the tip of their knife. In fact, the knife was popular way to bring food to yourself for there you would pick up the food with your hands or bring it to your mouth with your knife in your right hand. With the invention of the fork there was the problem of how to eat with your right hand. Since cutting was done with the right hand, not knowing what else to do, the knife would be set down, fork transferred to right hand so eating could continue.

It wasn’t until the early 19th century that forks were a common item in American households. At the first Thanksgiving dinner in 1621, the Pilgrims were most likely eating their turkey on the points of their knives, aided by the occasional spoon.

The etiquette “revolution” began during the reign of King Louis the 14th of France. Etiquette separated the noblemen form the common people. In 1732 a nobleman in King Louis 15 m’s court decided that the noblemen should eat differently than the common people and he came up with the Continental style of eating. The Continental style of eating soon swept through Europe.

When America was settled in the 1700’s, the settlers wanted nothing to do with the King and they continued the practice the older zigzag style of eating, rejecting the new popular style.

Continental Style of Eating

In the Continental Style of eating, you keep your fork in your left hand and the knife in your right hand after cutting your food. When conveying food to your mouth with the fork still in your left hand, the last half of the tines of the fork are kept parallel with the table. The knife remains in your right hand and may be subtly be used to push items onto your fork.

Both utensils are kept in your hands with the tines pointed down throughout the entire eating process. If you take a drink, you do not just put your knife down, you put both utensils down into the resting position: cross the fork over the knife.