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 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:

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: 

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.