Mind Your Manners! A Quick Guide to Table Manners

The bird is cooked, the hostess took her apron off, and you're finally allowed near the perfectly set dinner table. There are flowers, and candles, and tablescapes, and cloth napkins. And more than one fork... Let's refresh our table manners:

1. Find your designated seat and sit down. If there are placecards, do not rearrange – your location has been carefully thought out. Unfold the napkin and put it on your lap. Keep your hands off the table and don't touch anything until everyone else is seated.

Lost and not found

I have these tiny little Tweezerman tweezers that are the best in the world. They're black, sharpened to a razor edge, and very small. That razor edge is very important: bad-quality tweezers can make or break an eyebrow and my brows are my signature. Three days ago, the little tweezers went completely, and suddenly, MIA.

I turned the house upside down. I even cleaned out all the drawers in my bathroom cabinets, still no tweezers. I searched with a flashlight. I tried the random search approach: suddenly start looking for the item while doing something else in order to have a fresh perspective. I decided to buy a replacement, this time in red, in attempt to make the lost pair appear. The replacement has been sitting in their blue glass cup for two days, yet the old ones have not made a comeback. I checked under the bed tonight. Nothing.

I'm thinking that perhaps I need a new strategy. Maybe if I offer a reward, a lunch at Stake-n-Shake, my in-house detective will find it. Those eyes don't usually miss anything. I'll try that tomorrow. We have a whole day to hunt. A small prayer to St. Anthony wouldn't hurt either at this point... Where on Earth could a pair of tweezers go?

12 Movies of Christmas

There are certain movies that always put me in a holiday spirit. Oh, reflect how I feel about the holidays at that particular moment. Below is my list of 12 go-to holiday movies to help you survive the season.

12 Movies of Christmas
(and when to watch)

1. The Holiday
start your season with love and hope

2. Bridget Jones Diary

3. Love Actually
skip the Laura Linney parts

4. Christmas with the Cranks
 a Black Friday must, especially if you work retail

5. Home Alone

6. Die Hard
while wrapping presents
quote John McClane every time you manage to wrap a toy without setting it off

7. Lethal Weapon
for another round of present wrapping

8. The Polar Express
for the kids to watch while you hide yourself 
in the basement watching #7-8  and wrapping presents

9. Christmas Vacation
watch on Christmas Eve after the family party  

10. Christmas Story
catch on Christmas Day on TBS, they play it on a loop

11. Keeping up Appearances Christmas Special, The QEII
watch when you get tired of #10

12. When Harry Met Sally
for New Year's Eve

Of Mice and Women


            “Hey, can you come downstairs for a sec? I think I heard something in the kitchen and it’s that season again,” Terry whispered to me in the hallway when I came out of Danny’s room.
            “Really? Where?” I asked.
            “By the sink.”
            “But everything stuffed with steel wool and they can’t eat through steel wool.” We quietly crept downstairs and then stopped in the dimly-lit kitchen listening. Nothing. “Did you check?”
            “Well, flip the lights on at least,” I said before tapping my fingers on the sink cabinet door. Still nothing. Terry held back, this was my territory. I waited a bit then flung the cabinet open and peeked inside. “I don’t see anything.”
            “Well, I heard something.”
            “I don’t see any evidence, and there is usually evidence.” I pulled out the garbage can and stuck my head inside for a closer look. “They’d have to be nuts to try and eat their way in here.”
            “Maybe it was nothing then.”
            “Do you want me to set the trap? I can set the trap.”
I didn’t. We have no peanut butter and I couldn’t find my mouse traps. Plus, I’m pretty sure that at this point the neighborhood mice are genetically preprogrammed not to enter our house.

The magic of fall.

There is an explosion of color in our back yard right now. And inside, the whole house is glowing orange because of the trees reflecting color through the windows. This is the magic of fall. 

I have a love and hate relationship with these trees. In the spring, they produce so many seeds (helicopters) that I spend the rest of the summer pulling clumps of baby maples from every crevice. At some point we had a maple forest growing in our gutters. I curse the trees every May as I get bombarded in the face by flying seeds every time the wind blows ever so gently. When it gusts, you have to run and hide inside to avoid being attacked by thousands of tiny little maple missiles. 

In the summer they provide much needed shade in the back yard and, after spending an hour to pry the tiny sprouted maples from the floorboards of our deck, quite soothing with the gentle rustle of their leaves. Although the branches are so low that Terry can't even mow under them. But that's not a problem since maple leaves leach a chemical that kills pretty much everything under the crown. So there isn't that much grass under there anyway.

I once read that the rootball of a maple tree is twice the width of the crown. I got two, really close together. I guess digging for an inground pool is out of the question. 

In winter, they're at their best covered in snow. The bark turns black when wet and is rather striking against the white sparkly snow. In winter, we check for unwanted nests (of the buzzing stinging variety), but we have been lucky so far, no residents. I am sure that my Orkin man is really happy that we haven't found anything as well, because I doubt he wants to climb up a tree to remove the pests. 

In the fall, the trees explode with color. After all, these are Autumn Blaze maples. They start at the top, turning deep burgundy. I gotten into the habit of checking the trees late August for first signs of fall. The burgundy slowly creeps down as the temperatures drop until one morning you come downstairs, open the kitchen window blinds, and get hit in the face by the explosion of every shade from yellow to deep red. This fiery display lasts for about a week. Then the leaves drop practically overnight, and our (and our neighbors) property is covered in leaves ankle deep. Since the trees are three stories tall, the leaves are the size of my hand. When we bought the house the trees were 2/3 of their current size. The leaves make their way to the front of the house and pile heavily under the fountain grass and the rose bushes. By the time I get to cleaning them out of the spring, they're compost. 

Every year I hope that the color show will last until Danny's birthday party. And every year they drop completely bare the week before. This year they turned late, so maybe there is still hope. Although I am starting to see nakedness at the top.