Table this discussion: Salt and pepper’s here!

When it comes to dining, there are of course scores of rules designed to keep things civilized and to make life easier on those who are gathered around the table. One of the first things we remember learning as a wee tot was not to “divorce the salt and pepper.” It’s easy to remember and it prevents losing track of one or the other among the rest of the tableware.

That said, we are big fans of Fiesta and with its bright colors, it’s nearly impossible to miss. Check out these cute little green shakers ($14. 99 on the Dinnerware USA website:

Photo courtesy Dinnerware USA

We own a vintage set, but ours don’t match, because we are cheeky. Or because someone divorced the salt and pepper. Sigh.

So, from our table to yours, cheers!

M

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Wealth and prepdom: If you’ve got it, don’t flaunt it

Today marks the release of “True Prep,” by Lisa Birnbach and Chip Kidd, which is the long-awaiting follow-up to “The Official Preppy Handbook,” (well-worn copies of which many of you likely still cherish own).

Our copy of the book arrived a few days ago and we spent all weekend pouring through it. The section devoted to etiquette is delightful, as expected, and it reinforces our beliefs that a thank you card is always appropriate, overt displays of wealth are TTFW and when in doubt, proceed with restraint (a more detailed post on the etiquette portion to come).

Meanwhile, further reinforcing our beliefs on the latter was David Brooks’ column in today’s New York Times, entitled, “The Gospel of Wealth.” Here is an excerpt:

“The United States once had a Gospel of Wealth: a code of restraint shaped by everybody from Jonathan Edwards to Benjamin Franklin to Andrew Carnegie. The code was designed to help the nation cope with its own affluence. It eroded, and over the next few years, it will be redefined.”

We sincerely hope Mr. Brooks is correct in his predictions and that if anything good can come of America’s financial woes, it might be that we get over the compulsion to show and tell anyone and everyone how much money we have or want them to think we have in our bank accounts.

In other “True Prep” news, Birnbach launched the book with an appearance on the Today show this morning and amid a media blitz. Visit the Preppy Princess blog for an excellent synopsis of all things “True Prep,” and Birnbach, including a links list of the Today show segment and myriad articles about the book.  Note that you can order a copy of the book, $13.95 (as of the date of this post), through the Preppy Princess online store by clicking here

Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday and stay tuned for a giveaway of “True Prep,” after we finish taking notes!

Cheers!

M

Do you have questions for “True Prep” author Lisa Birnbach and designer Chip Kidd?

Happy Friday everyone! Some of us are gearing up for the three-day Labor Day weekend and the rest of us are doing our best to keep the grumbling to a minimum, because we have to work. Either way, we hope you find a way to enjoy yourself.

We apologize for abandoning you several days this week, but as you may have seen on Facebook and Twitter, we’ve been hatching plans for the coming months.  

On Oct. 18, join us in Austin, Texas for the Texas Book Festival, where we’ll be moderating the author session for “True Prep.”

Written by Lisa Birnbach and designer Chip Kidd, this new book is a sequel to “The Official Preppy Handbook,” or the book that launched a million pairs of Sperry Top-Sider’s, and will let us in on what Muffy has been up to all these years. We’ll be interviewing Birnbach and Kidd during the session, so if you have questions you’d like for us to ask, shoot them to us here, via Facebook, Twitter or at charmfinder@gmail.com. We hope to see you at the festival!

We’ll have more on the book as soon as we get it into our hot little hands (we are awaiting it from the publisher). Preppies know a little something about manners and we are looking forward to reminding ourselves of the proper etiquette for sailing, cocktail hour and volunteering at Mummy’s favorite charity.

Until then, have a great weekend!

Cheers!

M

In celebration of Women’s Equality Day

Today is Women’s Equality Day, so we are making but a quick post referring you to our post last week about women’s suffrage (which includes links to the Women’s League of Voters). You see, Aug. 18 commemorated Tennessee becoming the 36th and deciding state to ratify the 19th amendment, which would give women the right to vote.

On Aug. 26, 1920,  the Nineteenth Amendment became law, granting women their right to vote in the fall elections, including in the Presidential election. So today, Aug. 26, we celebrate women’s equality. Yay women! 

Now, don’t forget to exercise your right to vote. Oh and don’t forget that just because you work, play and vote with the big boys, doesn’t mean you can stop behaving like a lady.

Cheers!

M

Lunch and munch

Today, like most days, we brought our lunch to the office. Brown-bagging it is easier on our wallets and our waistlines, so we are all for it. Plus, it gives us an excuse to purchase loads of cute lunch bags. Exhibit A: 

Image courtesy Built NY

 

These are by Built and can be purchased here and at loads of retail department stores. Also, Muffy Martini featured the cutest monogrammed lunch bag on her blog yesterday. We are dying for it!  

We suggest you also pack a real cloth napkin and keep a place setting and a set of flatware in your desk, so that even if you have to eat lunch at your desk (sigh), you can at least do it in style. 

Finally, if you share an office, be considerate to your office-mates by either keeping stinky foods to a minimum, taking them to the break room or asking those in the room if they mind your twice a week date with Starkist. 

Most importantly, be sure to clean up before and after yourself, so that if you eat at your desk or a shared desk, you aren’t spreading bacteria and germs. Also, dispose of that tuna can or other “fragrant” trash in a can in the break room or otherwise away from the office area to avoid smelly garbage. 

Bon appetit! 

M

Tuesday turnaround

Happy Tuesday readers! Today, we decided to turn things around and ask you about your top etiquette pet peeves. From people eating with their mouths open and oversharing to bad hygiene and bad FB habits, let’s gab about what makes you gasp. For example, people who drink too much and behave badly. Exhibit A:  

Image courtesy AMC Mad Men

Mad Men’s Don Draper is smart, charming, elegant and mysterious, but we all know when he drinks too much, he is a naughty boy. OK, he’s bad with or without the booze, but you get our meaning.

So, post your comments here, on Facebook or Twitter or shoot us an e-mail at charmfinder@gmail.com and tell us what offends you or what society could do to re-find its style, sophistication and respectability.

Cheers!

M

Links we love

We’ve been meaning for some time now to tell you about a few of our favorite online haunts. So, when a friend recently asked for a list, we thought we might use the opportunity to multi-task a bit. That said, we’ve had linkage posted at the bottom right of the blog since its inception, so for those of you who have already seen it, please accept our apologies.

This list includes blogs, websites and print publications from the areas of style, travel, design, etiquette and all around lifestyle-type of content.  It is in no particular order, so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings:

A Life Obscura: A fun and informative blog about travel, life, experiences, people and things written by a dear friend.

All Things Austin Design: This is the design blog of a former colleague and fellow writer in Austin. She knows her stuff and keeps it fresh, funny and fairly local. The design scene in Austin is hoppin’ so if you like design, check it out.  

Daddy Likey: A hilarious fashion blog. You will likey.

Garden & Gun (Think of it as the”Vanity Fair of the South”): You can thank me later.

Ivy Style: Intelligent, informative and lots of good eye candy.

Mad Men Unbuttoned: Because one night a week isn’t enough Draper or Holloway (Harris) for any of us.

Melanie Spencer Words and Pictures: In case you want to look at my fabulous photography.

Muffy Martini: Because we like martinis.

Preppy Princess: We’ve been reading Preppy Princess for years. She keeps us informed about all things pink and green (especially as it relates to Lilly Pulitzer) and all things preppy and for that, we love her (and her little dog, Silly Tilly too!). The Princess also has an online boutique at www.preppyprincess.com.

Social Primer: Manners, Conversation, Style and Handling Your Liquor — what’s not to like? All from the male perspective. This is also a good place to find a few select stationery (swoon) items and things with monograms (be still our hearts).  

Social Q’s (New York Times): This is another long-time favorite, written with style, wit and taste by Philip Galanes.

Town & Country: An absolute must in everyone’s periodicals library. Unfortunately, the website leaves a lot to be desired, but we are purists and prefer print, so no harm, no foul.

Thanks to all of the above for entertaining and educating us. Please check the links list often, because we update and add to it whenever we discover something fun and fabulous. Also, send us your fave links. We love to share!

Cheers!

M

Napkin 101

Normally, we try to avoid manual labor on Sunday, but yesterday we were overcome with the urge to iron the linen napkins and tea towels. Perhaps because they had just been laundered and were looking pitifully wrinkled in a pile on the dining room table, begging to be starched and pressed. We obliged and are feeling quite pleased with ourselves.

Voila!

Freshly starched and pressed linen napkins and tea towels

Much better. Now we can rest easy. What do napkins have to do with etiquette? Well, there are a few rules of thumb regarding napkins that we thought we’d review.

Do

Fold your napkin and half with the fold toward you on your lap upon sitting down to a meal.

Leave it on your chair (not on the table or on your plate) if you have to excuse yourself from the table, then place it back in your lap upon your return.

Place it unfolded, but not wadded up next to your plate or in front of you on the table when you are finished dining.

Place it unfolded on your lap during afternoon tea, during a shower or another type of gathering with heavy hors d’oeuvres served buffet style or where you’ll be seated in a living room or away from a dining table.

Don’t

Put it on the table until you are finished with your meal.

Throw it on your plate.

Wad it up.

Tuck it into your shirt.

There you have it, Napkin 101. Bon apetit!

Cheers!

M

Reader question: Re-finding the tea ceremony

A good friend and very lady like individual recently inquired:

“When ordering hot tea, do you leave the tea bag in your cup or can you/should you put it on the side of your cup? I don’t like my tea to steep to a point that it’s too strong, so I pull it out. But then, I had extra water, so I put it back in and poured more water to create more tea.”

To answer her question we said:

If the cup is already filled with hot water, put the bag in right away (pointers for it served with a pot and a bag below). Allow it to steep for about five minutes or less, depending on your preferred strength. Remove the bag with your spoon and hold it over the cup to drain it and then lay the bag to rest on your saucer. If the tea is served in a mug without a saucer, ask for a small dish. If the server brings a pot of hot water, drop the tea bag in and wait for it to steep. Leave the bag in the pot after you’ve poured your cup. 

Tea should be fun and relaxing, so most importantly, enjoy it. That said, two more quick “don’ts”:

Don’t wind the string around the bag while it’s on your spoon and squeeze it.

Don’t pick up the bag by its string and shake it.

As usual, we wouldn’t deny you any of the above while in the privacy of  your own home, but do refrain while at the restaurant, tea room or in someone else’s living room.

Cheers!

M