Tips for Polite Political Conversation


As published in Azalea Magazine Spring 2016

You have surely heard the old adage to, “never discuss, religion or
politics,” deeming the two topics unfit for polite company.

Well, the times, they are a-changin’. The elections are everywhere,
and talking politics is happening everywhere from boardrooms to family

Here are my tips for polite, constructive political dialogue:

  • Stick to the facts. What are the recent headlines? What is the
    candidate’s stance? What was discussed in the debate?
  • Listen. Don’t monopolize the conversation. Even if you disagree with
    the comments of others, show respect by asking questions. You may be
    surprised to learn something new!
  • Keep it clean. Use your best judgment and keep your interactions
    civil. Don’t allow yourself to get worked up. It is best to remain
    reserved not only with your words but also with your tone of voice and
    body language.
  • Assume nothing. Don’t presume that someone agrees with you–or
    disagrees, for that matter.
  • Have an exit strategy. If you find yourself in a political debate and
    it’s getting heated, you can say, “I guess we just don’t see
    eye-to-eye;” or: “I’ll have to consider that;” and then change the

The principle of etiquette is to treat others with consideration. I
would venture to say that with respect and consideration, even
politics and religion can be topics fit for polite conversation.

Well Appointed Guest Room


As published in Palmetto Magazine Spring/Summer 2016

They flew. They drove. They have arrived. Are you ready?

It is an honor to have guests in your home. Ensure rested friends and pleasant memories with a well-appointed guest room. Consider stocking the following amenities:

  •      Freshly laundered bedding and several pillows

A cozy bed is number one on the guest list!  Opt for white sheets, blankets and quilts. They can be washed and bleached and they look crisp and new.

  •      A place to put clothing and suitcases

Ensure there is an empty drawer and extra set of hangers waiting in your guest room closet.

  •      Towels and washcloths

Having clean towels ready for guests in their room saves them from rooting around the bathroom or having to ask you. Again, I suggest white, as they are easy to launder.

  •      Refreshments

A carafe or bottle of water and glass is a welcome addition to the nightstand.

  •      Alarm Clock

Many of us rely on cell phone alarms, but a clock on the nightstand can be helpful.

  •      Reading Material

Set out an assortment of interesting fiction and nonfiction books, as well as a local paper or pamphlet to highlight nearby activities and attractions.

  •      Fresh Flowers

Snip fresh flowers or greenery from the yard. That little bit of effort will make guests feel wanted.

Get that guest room ready; you never know when guests might be knocking at your front door!



Proper Pasta

slide_435632_5700438_free{Alfred Eisenstaedt via Getty Images}

Spaghetti is among the difficult foods to handle gracefully. The subject is source of international debate. Research the topic and you will find a vast number of “authorities” offering varying views on the proper etiquette. Most agree that cutting the pasta is a huge no-no. But what about the spoon debate?  I’m referring to the practice of employing a large spoon along with fork as a means of transporting spaghetti from the plate to the mouth. Do you use a spoon or don’t you?

I guess this custom can vary depending on what country you are in. Emily Post herself wrote that, ”most restaurants (and hostesses) that feature pasta provide guests with a large spoon as well as the knife and fork. The fork is used to spear a few strands of spaghetti, the tips are placed against the spoon, which is held on its side, in the left havnd, and the fork is twirled, wrapping the spaghetti around itself as it turns. If no spoon is provided, the tips of the fork may be rested against the curve of the plate.” ‘– The New Emily Post’s Etiquette, Elizabeth L. Post, 1975

I might suggest that if you are at a restaurant or someones home, only use a spoon if one is served on the plate with the spaghetti; don’t ask for one. If you’re given a spoon to use, it is perfectly fine for you to use it. Otherwise, pasta should be twirled on the fork against the bottom of the plate.

All that being said, it can be stated unequivocally that Italians, in Italy, do not use a spoon.


Corks: To Sniff Or Not To Sniff?

20160721_083046By: Jaclyn Bressette

Most of you have been in the scenario of ordering a bottle of wine in a restaurant. Typically, the bottle is brought to the table, and then the cork is removed and presented to the person who ordered it. But why? Most people have no clue what’s behind the ritual or what the heck to do with it. So most will stick it up to their noses and take a whiff. New rule: don’t do that, don’t sniff the cork! Honestly, there’s not terribly much that sniffing can tell you other than the obvious…. it smells like cork!

So, here’s the quick history to why this is done in the first place. Everyone knows France to be the producer of FABULOUS wines – especially from the Bordeaux region. Well, some pretty awful people decided they wanted in on the money that these magical wine producers were bringing in without any of the work required to create it. So, they made labels identical to some of the best Châteaus and smacked them on far inferior wines, making tons of money off of the counterfeit bottles. Now, of course this was NOT acceptable to the original wine houses, so they started using special inscriptions on the corks to signify the authenticity of the wine in the bottle. People would be able to know almost immediately when they had a counterfeit bottle of wine versus the real thing. So, the tradition of presenting the cork has remained and is considered more of a formality.

So, what do you do when they hand you a cork? Pick it up and look at it – you want a nice even line all the way around (this indicates a nice tight seal). For older wines, the cork will simply tell you how it’s been stored. You want the cork moist but not squishy of course! So yes, please inspect the cork. Other than that… hang onto it. If it’s a special occasion, I love to write on mine the date and occasion it was consumed before tossing it in my cork jar.

However, IF you are blessed enough in your wine fortune to be holding onto now or ever order a Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, a Château Petrus, a Château Lafite Rothschild, or a Sassicaia (to name only a few of the most counterfeited wines)… PLEASE, I beg of you…. check the cork!!!…among other things.