Review Some Feasting Basics

With Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about family get-togethers, gift-giving, and feasting. Here are a few basics you might want to review with the family prior to the holidays:

For children (Yes, trust me, they can do this! It just might take a little practice.):

  • Remain seated at the table until you have been excused. Ask to be excused if necessary.
  • Never complain about any of the food (this goes for adults, too, of course). Instead, be gracious and try everything.
  • Be considerate by remaining quiet, or carrying on pleasant (“inside voice”!) conversation when appropriate. No rowdy behavior at the table!
This is a favorite Norman Rockwell painting that I edited just a bit to show a little of what I'm talking about...

This is a favorite Norman Rockwell painting that I edited just a bit to show a little of what I’m talking about…

For everyone:

  • Your napkin goes in your lap.
  • The salt and pepper always travel as a pair. If one is asked for, both are passed.
  • Be aware of your elbows. Family gatherings often mean tight seating arrangements, so try not to invade your neighbor’s personal space even when cutting into that steak…
  • Always thank the host, the hostess, and compliment the cooks. This makes for positive, uplifting conversation.
  • Wait to start eating until everyone has been served.
  • Try to keep the conversation appropriate to mealtimes (e.g. Avoid disturbing/gross topics, etc.).
  • Being an adult does not win you the right to complain about the food, or be inconsiderate by appearing “picky”. Please don’t ever make a big deal about foods you won’t eat. Be gracious and try everything. It’s simply not that hard.
  • If you or a loved one has food allergies/sensitivities, now is not the time to make a fuss over it. In fact, the topic does not even have to come up at the table. If you’ve brought special food, allow it to be enjoyed, but not as a focal point. It’s just not all about you. It’s about a feast, family time, enjoying the blessings that God has given us.

Casual Fellowship + Food

We enjoyed some fun, relaxing, casual fellowship with dear friends this past weekend. It was a great opportunity to catch up, regroup, and (as always…) eat some amazing food (it’s a great strength of ours). ๐Ÿ™‚

This is something like (if not exactly the recipe) we had the other night. Puff pastry, apple butter, cheddar cheese… So good! Click the image to find the recipe.

Often, a good rule-of-thumb when hosting guests, or bringing food to an event, is not to try new recipes. Go to your tried-and-true stash, and work from that. However, when you’re as close with your guests as we are to these friends, it’s actually the perfect time for creativity. So, we did a mixture of both. Here are some things you would have found in the kitchen:

  • White Chocolate Cherry Cream Cheese Dip + Ritz Crackers
  • Red Current Jelly in Mascarpone + Rosemary Crackers
  • Double Chocolate Cookies (I don’t know what they were, but they were life changing. LOL)
  • White Castles (Hey, they’re quick, easy, ready-to-go, and strangely delicious once in awhile.)
  • Puff Pastry, Filled with Apple Butter and Cheddar Cheese (Delicious.)
  • Salsa + Fresh Cilantro and Chips

Most of these foods you can keep on hand for those last-minute get-togethers. Keep a box of good crackers stashed away, a block of cream cheese in the fridge drawer, and a couple of topping/mix-ins options (pepper jelly is a good one…), and you’re good to go!

What do you like to do for delicious finger foods?


Ladies and Gents Away from Home

This is something that I really need to continue to figure out. My brother and I are often traveling a day, two, three at a time, many hours away from our home. So, how can we be “hospitable”, courteous, polite, etc. while on the road? Here are a few thoughts off the top of my head:

  • Treat your host to supper.

Take the check for the whole table every now and then. Or, if you’re staying in someone’s home, you might (if circumstances are appropriate for this…) even consider preparing them a meal from their own kitchen. Of course, if you do this, you should treat the kitchen with the utmost respect, clean up very thoroughly after yourself, etc. You should also, unless asked to do otherwise, use your own ingredients.

  • ย Anticipate house rules.

You may not be aware of any house rules, but you should assume that there are some. Start here: Shoes off in the house (you can probably figure this one out quickly from observation), no feet on the furniture (coffee tables included!), hats off inside for the gentlemen (this goes without saying), no eating in any room other than the kitchen or dining room, etc.

  • Don’t be nosey.

Just because you’re staying in the house, does not mean you have the right to know all its secrets. Leave diaries, journals, photo books, receipts, and other private items untouched… Unless, of course, they are specifically designated for your enjoyment (as some photo books might be).

(via Pinterest) Catherine Morland, in Northanger Abbey, rifling through her host’s private possessions. Only laundry lists, but nonetheless private. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Don’t touch everything.

It’s a knick-knack. Leave it alone. It’s a lamp, an antique, a collection, a work of art… Fill in the blank. Just leave it alone! You don’t need to touch it, and you may make its owner uncomfortable by doing so. Hands off.

  • Take a hostess gift.

Wine, flowers, bacon (yes, our family has actually shown up at someone’s house with bacon as the hostess gift. It’s legit. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), etc.

Travel Style – Pajamas

Kyle and I are getting ready to hit the road again for a few days. We’ll be staying at our band leader’s house, so it’s like a second home. This makes staying there very easy and stress-free – but doesn’t completely eliminate the need for thinking through what I’ll pack.

I’ll probably pack a couple of bling-y black outfits for on stage, a pair of boots, a pair of stilettos, and all that jazz. That shouldn’t be much different than any other performance.

And, when we’re on the road, I’ll probably be in something comfortable, but stylish enough for shopping, etc. Hopefully, this won’t be a big deal either.

But, what about pajamas? I could pack something that I would only allow myself to wear in my bedroom. Hmm. But, that’s impractical, seeing as I share a bathroom with my brother, and sometimes another band member. Plus, there’s the fact that, after getting back from the gig, I’ll want to shower and change into pajamas… probably awhile before actually going to bed. Yep. I need something decent.

Ever found yourself in such a position? Here’s what I’ve done to solve the conundrum.

Find some comfy “Yoga” pants (I prefer them to be loose-fitting, like the ones shown above, for added modesty.), and pair them with a basic tank top.

Throw a fun tunic or short dress over this, and you’re ready to settle in for the evening – without the necessity of a robe.

At this point, I like to go ahead and take my hair down, too. So, I pack some knit headbands, and voila! My hair is out of the way, with the comfort of being down. When it’s time to hit the sack, I’ll use the headband to tie up my high ponytail for effortless, voluminous hair the next day.

In General…

… Leave a place BETTER than you found it. (Pick up trash, sweep the floor, arrange the throw pillows nicely… Whatever you can do to show you care.)

… Return borrowed items PROMPTLY, and in top-notch condition.

… Treat other people’s houses and property BETTER and with MORE respect even than your own. (Just because you don’t care about wearing shoes in the house, does not mean they don’t care. Just because your couch has had lots of little dirty feet on it does not mean theirs has, etc.)

Fashion Advice for the Traveler

A friend recently linked to this article, written by J. Bryan Lowder, and I found it pretty inspiring. (Click on the image below to read the whole article.)

…Alas, the general lack of respect for travel, itself, as a worthwhile human experience, seems to be the root of this lazy dressing phenomenon. Many of us act as if weโ€™re trying to create a private, instantaneous bridge through folded space-time between our bedrooms and our hotel rooms by flying in our pajamas or busing behind oversized sunglasses; the bad news is, barring a sudden forward leap in technology, wormhole creation is impossible… (Excerpt from J. Bryan Lowder’s article)



As You Wish…

Gratitude is in order, even when someone is performing a task that is in their job description. A secretary, a taxi driver, a cashier, a mother, a pastor… Whoever it is, whatever they do, you can show them your respect and appreciation with a simple, “Thank you”.

Take Westley, for instance. He was the farm hand. It was his job to do the dirty work. But, he deserved respect and gratitude from Buttercup. Needless to say, their relationship really turned a corner when she figured that out. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I found this from Google images. It’s not very high quality, but you get the idea. ๐Ÿ™‚
Westley and Buttercup in The Princess Bride.