The last several months have been a little stressful for us with all the trips to the hospital, the invasive tests and surgery.  Hubby has been a true prince throughout it ALL!  When I went for the original test before the Big “C” diagnosis, the facility was an hour away and it was a routine test that was going to be followed up by a doctor at a later date so I went by myself.  As with so many things in life, routine turned into something else.  Halfway through the test I was introduced to a new doctor who observed the remainder of the test with a few technical requests to the technician and then he sat me down and proceeded to tell me I had cancer and that my care was being transferred to an oncologist.  I had a mammogram scheduled for an hour later and had to sit and wait for that having heard the worst possible news I could have been given.  I then had to drive an hour home and tell hubby the worst possible news I could.  He took it like a trooper and has been my hero ever since, well even more so than he was before.
Since December 28th I have been a prisoner of my disease.  The best positive advice I have given myself is the I AM NOT MY DISEASE and I will not quit living life.  I still haven’t been released to “normal” life, but as long as someone else drives I can start to get out a bit more.  So, hubby and I are reinstating a ‘date night’ into our life starting with tonight.

I loved getting out more than I will ever be able to describe.  I just about live in flip flops, Levis and comfy t-shirts, but being able to get dressed up, put on some make up every now and then is awesome. My question is, what has happened to the world while I was away?  

We drove to the theater district and parked.  It was almost too easy.  We chose a little romantic Italian restaurant for dinner ~ you know tablecloths and cloth napkins, quiet and subdued lighting type of place where we had a great meal, but sat just across from us was a father and daughter waiting for 3 others in their party.  Daughter was hyper and all over the place, spilling drinks and let’s not forget her flashing roller shoes.  Dad was loudly on his cell phone and ignoring the daughter ~ need I say more?
We then walked to the theater where we sat out front and waited a while, people watching.  I was appalled by the people coming to the theater in ragged clothes that I wouldn’t be seen  in weeding my garden or painting the house.  Does no one take any pride in their appearance anymore?  When the ushers are wearing tuxedos, doesn’t it seem only prudent that you should be wearing something nicer than holey jeans and t-shirts with inappropriate sayings on them?
These are just my observations, but personally I’m sick of casual grunge!  Despite all this date night was a success and has be reinstated in our life to help give up perspective!


Earlier this week a family member was “hurt” because her grandfather had not acknowledged her high school graduation.  She just graduated about 2 weeks ago, quite late and at an unusual time.  She did not send out announcements, but made an “announcement” on facebook that most family members never even saw.  A niece mentioned to her that it was her responsibility to contact grandpa and that facebook was NOT the place to make that statement and expect recognition from everyone and that she should have sent out announcements or that the very least made personal phone calls.  The grand daughter disagreed. 
I openly admit that I’m old school.  I do expect an announcement and/or invitation to arrive in my mail box for things like high school graduations, weddings, showers and such.  I also expect a thank you card for the gifts sent for these events.  After all, it is common courtesy and also a good way to stay in touch with family and friends.   
EVERYONE loves getting snail mail – especially happy news snail mail!  

Ironically, I received a Dear Abby email a few days later that addresses this very subject and is perfect timing for the upcoming holiday season. 

DEAR ABBY: At Christmas, “Santa” always fills my children’s stockings with a mix of fun, edible and practical items. A few years ago, when my oldest child was beginning to write, my husband and I started the tradition of tucking packets of thank-you cards into their stockings.

We explained that Santa must have given them the cards so they would have stationery to write thank-you notes to family and friends for the gifts they had received. The cards are a wonderful reminder to my children that they need to express their gratitude to those who have spent time and money to buy and send them a gift. Usually there are cards left over to cover thank-you notes at birthday time as well.

Unfortunately, these days, not enough people — even adults — take the time to write a note of appreciation for presents they are given. I believe parents should encourage children to do this as soon as they are able to understand the concept. I hope my husband and I are instilling a lifelong habit in our children. Abby, can you help get the point across? — THANKFUL MOM IN BRUNSWICK, MAINE

DEAR THANKFUL MOM: Gladly. You are teaching your children an important lesson. It’s a formality that started being ignored decades ago. Then, as years passed, it was a custom that was not just ignored, but many people forgot it existed. The result was that parents who hadn’t been taught the social niceties did not teach them to their children.

When I publish letters about thank-you notes, I invariably receive an avalanche of letters and e-mails from readers complaining that they are hurt and offended because they don’t receive thank-you notes. Some individuals use texts and e-mails to acknowledge gifts. However, for most people a handwritten note is much more memorable. Thanking someone for a gift, an invitation to a party or a kind deed in writing is important.
While composing a letter may always be a chore to some people, there are occasions when the written message is the only proper means of communication. It shows effort, and can become a keepsake. For those people who have difficulty expressing their thoughts, my booklet “How to Write Letters for All Occasions” covers a few basic rules for acknowledging gifts, expressing sympathy and accepting or declining an invitation. It can be ordered by sending your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds), to Dear Abby — Letters Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price. Not everyone can write letters that are literary masterpieces, but for anyone who wonders how to put in writing a brief, charming thank-you note, a letter expressing congratulations, a love letter — or one that announces a broken engagement — my booklet will serve as a guide to those who have put off writing because they didn’t know what to say, how to say it, or even how to begin.

Because the season for exchanging gifts is nearly here, “Thankful Mom,” your letter is an important and timely one.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

©2009 Universal Press Syndicate


I thought I’d stray from the food issues this week a little bit and bring up another subject – etiquette and manners, values and beliefs as well as demeanor.

At the risk of sounding “old fashioned” I have to ask, do you care how you present yourself to the world?  Personally I prefer NOT to look like an idiot to the masses. Of course this is just my opinion, but I believe the world can be a kinder, better place.  I’m a huge believer in positive attitude and that the positive attitude you have will create a happy life, if only you allow it to.

All families have words and issues sometimes.  These are some of my favorite TV families that had issues at times, but presented a cohesive family unit without profanity, sexual innuendo every other word and action or cattiness.  They were wholesome and taught their children the value of manners, etiquette, kindness, fairness, right from wrong, respect for their elders and how to live by setting an example.

One of the things that irks me most is that kids today, girls in particular, don’t seem to care how they present themselves to the world.  Just a couple of examples would be how they dress.  Now, I’m not a prude by any means, but if I were even 5-10 pounds over weight I would not be wearing a skin tight tank top in public allowing the rolls of fat the “hang” out with my bra straps and thong showing.  I also know that tattoos are “IN”, but  think about it girls, where it is now isn’t where it will be after a kid or two or gravity catches up with you in 20 years. Are you someday going to want to wear that strapless wedding dress?  Do you really want that skull and cross bones in your wedding pictures?  As for the boys, no one wants to see your boxer shorts, really we don’t.  I find nothing funnier than watching you walk down the street constantly pulling your pants up so you don’t trip.  They invented belts and buying correct sizes for just for that reason.
Next would be their speech.  Hey even I cuss sometimes, we all do in certain instances, usually anger.  But, using the “F” word in their everyday conversations in loud voices is just plain vulgar.  It doesn’t make them tough, smart or cool looking.  Using it in print on social networks is just stupid!  Do they not realize what the permanency of looking like an idiot, a gossiper or back stabber on social networking sites can do to them, their families or their futures.  
I recently read about a girl who was whining about how she hated her job on facebook.  Her superiors read about it too.  Then they fired her.  Now before you say they didn’t have the right, think about it.  What she did was bad PR for her employer in a public forum. Then there are the job candidates who are never even hired because HR researched them on social networks and just didn’t think they would be good representatives of their company based on how they carry themselves in public.  I also read a “friends” rants and raves on facebook about a customer and it didn’t take much of an imagination to know who she was “hypothetically” talking about.  I remember reading a story about an insurance agent who was fired after discussing a case in an elevator.  She didn’t use names, but she did happen to describe the exact symptoms of another passenger on the elevator.  That passenger filed a complaint with the insurance company and the agent was let go.  There is a sense of privacy that no longer exists in today’s world.  We all need to be responsible for our words and expressions, freedom or not to say them or express them.
I’ve also read about potential college candidates whose college applications were declined because of their “my space” pages or “facebook” entries.  You can talk about freedom of speech or freedom of expression, but have we as a society taken it a bit too far?  I do believe you can get your opinion across without using obscenities every other word.  I just did.
I’m all for teaching kids right from wrong, good from bad, how to be independent and think for themselves, but I’m also all about teaching them when they should be kind, thoughtful, generous, helpful and when to hold back a bit and show compassion and understanding. 

It’s not always all about us as individuals.  In fact, most of the time it isn’t, but much of today’s generation truly seems to be a “ME” group with an inflated sense of entitlement, a serious lack of manners or a sense of etiquette and a lack of compassion.  Being conservative in our thoughts and actions is a way to protect what’s right about our families, our life and our communities.

My nephew asked me the other day if I thought I was June Cleaver or something.  Now being called June Cleaver does not offend me, I just say thank you and politely walk away. And you know what?  My nephew thanked me for that home cooked meal, clean laundry and knowing just how to help him.  You know, the “June Cleaver” kind of stuff. LOL

This concludes my soapbox and brings me to my fun news. 

The Revival of Common Courtesy & Personal Service

I think it is time to revive “The Revival of Common Courtesy”. I know the world is changing, but I don’t necessarily believe it to be for the better. Let me tell you about a transaction that happened to me recently at the local Coffee House and Cafe, the only coffee house in town, and you be the judge. Let me tell you no matter how much I want a specialty coffee, I will NEVER set foot in there again, which is sad as it was one of the few cleaner places in town, but the lack of health department code enforcement is a different post altogether.

We recently had our big, once a year festival in town for Humungus Fungus. It features mushrooms, city wide rummage and sidewalk sales, a parade and street dance and many other activities. Humungus Fungus is a pretty big deal for this little town. After many hours of rummage saling, we decided to treat ourselves to lunch so we went to The Coffee House & Cafe. Lunch was okay and we left to continue with the rummage sales. Later that afternoon while I was balancing my account I saw that they had triple charged (3 pending transactions for the exact amount at the exact same time) my account. Their credit card machine is in the back room so I can not say what actually happened. I called them up and spoke with the manager/owner and she flat out denied it and said it was ‘my problem’ because she only had 1 transaction slip and didn’t know how to fix it. Here is where the personal service should have kicked in. I would have accepted her telling me that she didn’t know how to fix it, but would look into it and get back to me, BUT to tell me they didn’t do it when it is so blatantly there in black & white and that it’s not their problem when they are the merchant and I get a bit peeved! I called my bank and was told it had to be released by the merchant. So I gave her over the weekend for the issue to be resolved. Late Monday I went in with a print out of the account to speak with her as it had not been resolved. I asked her if she would look into it and she said she didn’t know how. I asked her to call the 800 number on her machine or her bank and she flatly refused. When I asked her how she planned to resolve this issue she told me not to get snotty because this wasn’t her problem and she worked her butt off there for absolutely nothing. I’m sorry, but you don’t get to cause a problem and then play martyr! I have filed a dispute and am writing a letter to the city council as well as the better business bureau, but am afraid it will fall upon deaf ears as so many things do these days. It seems strange to me that so many people are so willing to accept the lack of courtesy being provided by so many businesses. I for one will not and will boycott said business as well as spread the word. As far as I’m concerned businesses like that should be put out of business if they are not willing to provide the most basic of common courtesy. I’m a BIG believer in positive attitude, etiquette and good manners. Attitude is everything and hers SUCKED. You shouldn’t be in business if you are not willing to cater to customers ESPECIALLY when you made the error!

Ironically I recently learned that the business owner who didn’t know who to call or how to fix it worked for a local bank for a long time. Scary isn’t it?

TRAVEL and the ART of Tipping

Traveling is stressful enough in today’s world without enduring delays, crowds, lines, security check points, etc… So, why add to it? One of the easiest things you can do is to prepare in ADVANCE by making reservations for flights, hotels, rental cars, etc… DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE! In today’s world there is a ton of competition for your business as well as many discount business available to you.

Remember one thing though, many times you get what you pay for, so don’t be bashful when making reservations. Ask for names and confirmation numbers. TAKE NOTES! If you have a problem don’t accept a NO answer from a clerk who doesn’t have the authority to give you the YES answer to begin with. Ask for a supervisor. But do this in a pleasant and business like manner. Always be polite! I have a nephew who recently purchased first class airline tickets for his family of four. He purchased the tickets online with a credit card. When they were checking in at the airport he was informed that they had sold 3 of his First class tickets and that 3 of his party would be in coach. Besides himself, it was his wife, a toddler and a nursing baby. They had purchased the first class tickets to allow for the extra space and ease of traveling with the children. He was informed by the counter clerk that an online ticket is NOT guaranteed even when paid for immediately by credit card and in advance. Long story short, he asked for her supervisor and escalated the issue to the appropriate level. He did NOT fly off the handle (I’m so proud of you Ryan), but dealt with the issue in a business like and professional manner all the while being polite to the employees. He told me he was trying to set a good example for the toddler too which is sooooo important to remember. How many times have we all seen that person making a scene? Do they get their way? Probably NOT!

So remember to make your travel plans in advance, take notes, names and confirmation numbers. If you have ANY doubts, call and confirm a day or so before the travel date.

Tipping is a very social custom in our society and it is an expression of gratitude for a service provided. This includes bars & restaurants, salons, taxis, delivery personnel, skycaps, doormen, bellboys, hotel maids, valets and any other situation where your gut tells you you should be tipping. Tipping on cruises is a requirement on most cruise lines. The amount you tip will vary depending on your cruise line and the length of your cruise. Cruise lines usually publish a suggested guideline for tipping. If you are new to cruising please be aware that tipping helps the service personnel make a decent wage. Their overall wage is usually a small stipend only. Many times gratuities are automatically charged to your shipboard account. Check with the individual cruiseline to locate their policies.

I worked in the fine dining industry for a number of years and can attest that tipping is truly based on service. It is definitely NOT okay NOT to leave a tip. It is okay to leave a tip compensatory with the level of service. Remember also though that you need to communicate if there is a problem. Slighting your server of a decent tip because there was a problem with the food that the cook prepared is NOT okay. Give your server the opportunity to correct any problem. Tipping in a restaurant depends on several things: the quality of the restaurant (fine dining usually receives a higher amount 20-25% whereas casual dining is 10-15%), the amount of the bill (base your tip on the pre-tax amount), and the quality of service. Remember that your server will be required to report a minimum of 8% to the government on your check so if you stiff them you are basically taking the money right out of their pocket for your meal. Now that is not to say that you MUST tip the full amount for poor service. There are two tips that truly make an impression on servers; the large tip with a penny on top and the tip that is just a penny. The large tip with a penny on top means EXCELLENT service whereas just a penny means that you were NOT satisfied with the server. Remember though it is your responsibility to convey your dissatisfaction and give them the opportunity to make you happy before you do that.

So the thought/question I leave you with for today is, Do you prepare in advance for traveling? Do you communicate well when there is a problem? What can you do to make your travel and tipping easier for you?

Does anyone remember Emily Post? or is common courtesy not so common anymore?

A friend of mine emailed this to me today: “Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right. Forget about the one’s who don’t. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it. Friends are like balloons; once you let them go, you can’t get them back. So I’m gonna tie you to my heart so I never lose you.”

It really made me tie together several thoughts I’d been having lately.

When I was a little girl I was taught (as most of us were) to say please, thank you, you’re welcome, may I? (which is truly different than can I?), excuse or pardon me, etc… I was forced to sit and write letters and thank you notes to grandparents and aunts and uncles for gifts they had sent because it was the thought that mattered and we needed to let them know that we felt blessed because they wanted to give to us… I was taught children had to be polite and courteous to their elders…

My father once told me as a teenager that it was okay for me to ‘debate’, but not to argue with an elder and that I better have my facts straight before I get too deep into the ‘debate’.

He also taught me that if you have something negative to say, you should always start with a positive so you don’t put the other person on the defensive before they hear what you actually have to say. He was also known for saying, “You can’t have a battle of wits with an unarmed person.” which became one of my personal favorites as I grew up and met more and more people.
So, here’s my question, if we were all taught this, why isn’t it being passed on to the next generation? Or am I just having that battle of wits with unarmed people.

There are a couple of family members (who shall remain nameless) who seem to be under the impression that what they believe, what they want and what they say is more important than anyone else’s thoughts, beliefs, wants & needs. Their ‘silver spoon’ sense of entitlement has been the subject of many a conversation at our house. These family members are the same ones that we never receive a phone call, card, gift or thank you note from for ANY event in our lives. Not to mention they feel it is okay to complain about their gift and or request a certain item in advance for their ‘day’. I have threatened more than once to send them each a copy of Emily Post with the necessary passages highlighted. My hubby always talks me out of it. Thank God for Fedex. At least I can track and know the packages get there. Is it too much to expect that they at least let me know the package arrived or at least appear to appreciate the time, thought and effort it took to pick out the gift that best fits them?

All of this reminds me of a Bill Cosby quote, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone.” that pretty much says it all!

I believe the next time a ‘gift’ event rolls around that I will send a donation in their name to my favorite charity and ‘kill 2 birds with 1 stone’. At least the charity and I will both be pleased. Does anyone out there agree with me?


So I was working on catching up on email this morning and found a blog comment from someone I didn’t know.

Well curiosity killed this cat and I had to go check out her blog to see what she liked. It’s great. She touches on some great common everyday issues and I left her this comment.

“I SOOOOOOOO agree with you. Where were the parents raising some of these people in the public? Have they ever heard of common courtesy or Emily Post? I was raised to smile and acknowledge everyone politely. I also managed a restaurant hostesses and server staff for many years and ALWAYS taught them that the customer really did come first ~ DO NOT walk by someone without at least saying “hello” or “someone will be right with you”. Some of my servers used to complain about tips not being what they should be and their customers were ‘difficult’ and I always told them that their service probably wasn’t what it should have been to earn a better tip. I’d ask them what they did to make their customers meal a more enjoyable experience so they would be less ‘difficult’. The servers that took that as a challenge and changed their attitudes became better servers and made more money and they (servers AND customers) were happy. I believe in Pay it Forward, starting with a smile and acknowledgment. So today I’m acknowledging you and hoping the next person you encounter smiles and at leasts says hello.”

I repost it on my blog to remind us all that we are all in this together. Be kind and courteous to everyone. Maybe they’re grumpy, but maybe you can make it better for them by just being NICE. Despite the consensus of many today, NICE MATTERS. It will make your day and theirs and you’ll feel a whole lot better!!