How to Be a Good Conversationalist


good-conversationist-between-womenMiss Meredith Sweetpea has noticed a dearth of good conversation lately. It seems people are mostly interested in themselves or have no idea what to talk about–which doesn’t make the best conversation or the best conversational partner. It is becoming increasingly difficult to enjoy social situations when people just don’t know how to have a good conversation any more.

In social groups, put away the cell phones and actually take the time to speak with–and take interest in–others in the room.

Want to be a better conversationalist?
Use these conversation tips:

DO pack away the cell phone. Unless you’re expecting a major call, turn off your cell phone so you won’t be distracted by its ringing, beeping or vibrations. This will enable you to concentrate on your conversation. If you are expecting a call, inform the other person before you begin your conversation and warn them that you might have to step away if the call comes in. Do not take other calls.

DO share the conversation equally. You don’t want to hog the conversation talking all about yourself. Nothing is more boring to the other person than your monologue. Instead, ask sincere questions.

DO look for ways to show interest in the other person. Listen for conversation points the other person is making that allow room for additional questions. If the women you’re speaking with starts talking about a play she saw recently, ask questions about that topic like “Where did you see it?” “Would you recommend it?” “What did you like most about it?”

DON’T steal the story. Unfortunately, one person’s topic often sets off a trigger to the listener, who switches the topic to their own experience. Taking the theater example, the first woman might say that she just saw an interesting play. The wrong thing to do is say, “Well, I just saw an interesting play too…” and go on talking about your own experience. After you explore the other person’s subject, you may be able to add your own experiences at the end. Never try to “one-up” the other person’s story. This makes them feel trampled upon.

Related: Someone Stole My Story!

DO try to find a common interest topic. Talk about something you learned at the event, compliment someone’s apparel or accessories, or ask if the other person has had an interesting vacation this year. Don’t start with the boring questions of, “So what do YOU do?” or “Do you have kids?”

DON’T use social time to unload all your troubles, your family’s troubles, your work troubles, or any troubles. Avoid the “taboo” topics of politics, religion and money. Keep the conversation light and interesting. First of all, people you don’t know well don’t care about your troubles, and second, it is a real downer to focus on negative things. You’ll find your conversation partner looking around the room for an escape!

DO keep your focus on your partner. Make eye contact and smile. Angle your body to face the other person as you speak and listen. Don’t scan the room during the conversation looking for something better or fidget while the other person is talking.

Related: 10 Ways to Start and Maintain a Conversation

DO enjoy the conversation. Laugh. Show interest. Engage in verbal interplay. Let your personality shine.

The best conversations leave you thinking about them for days to come. The worst just want to make you run. Which kind of conversationalist do you want to be?

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Arriving Late Was a Way of Saying… | Meredith Sweetpea | Manners Quotes


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“Arriving late was a way of saying that your own time was more valuable
than the time of the person who waited for you.”

–Karen Joy Fowler, The Jane Austen Book Club

Collecting Teacups


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One of Meredith Sweetpea’s favorites. Purchased in Ireland.

Miss Meredith Sweetpea loves collecting tea cups. There are so many pretty patterns, shapes and colors. That’s why she was thrilled to see an article titled “Tea Cups: From Pretty to Practical”  in one of her favorite magazines: Tea Time.

In the piece, the author talks about why teacups are “beloved collectibles,” and the evolution of the teacup from its roots in China through Europe and beyond.

Did you ever wonder how porcelain cups came into being? Or why milk is added to tea? You’ll have to read the article to find out.

One fun fact: “During both world wars, teacups helped denote status, as officers sipped from china, and enlisted troops drank from metal or tin cups.”

Tips on Collecting Teacups

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Another of Meredith Sweetpea’s teacups. This one from a complete tea set found at a thrift store!

Beginning in about the early 19th century, ladies began collecting teacups. They enjoyed the various hand-painted images and put them on display in their homes. When displaying teacups, always match the teacup and saucer together. Never stack them together, as this can cause chipping of their delicate rims. Do not put gold or metal-trimmed teacups into the dishwasher or microwave. Hand wash them if possible and dry with a soft cloth.

Read more tips for collecting teacups.

If you are lucky, you’ve been handed down a teacup or two, perhaps from your grandmother or great-grandmother, who also treasured it. This creates a very personal connection between generations.

Miss Meredith Sweetpea loves nothing better than a pretty tea set in which to serve her friends afternoon tea. And she adores all the delightful recipes found in Tea Time magazine.

Share Pictures of Your Favorite Teacups

Do you have pictures of your favorite teacups you can share?

 

Meredith Sweetpea Cited in Nationally-Trending Article on Fascinators


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Getty Images

Miss Meredith Sweetpea was pleased to have been cited in a nationally-trending article on May 16, 2018 titled: “Royal Wedding: What is a fascinator and where can I get one?” by Debbie Lord, Cox Media Group. In the article, Lord refers to the rules for wearing fascinators as posted in our own extremely-popular blog post titled: “How to Wear a Fascinator.”

As any good royal watcher knows, hats or fascinators are required headwear at any royal wedding in England. This gives us many opportunities to view the stunning fashions that will appear in the wedding venue and among the many people hoping to catch a glimpse of the royal couple.

Fascinators can be worn during the wedding ceremony since they are small enough not to impair the view of people sitting behind. Weating a large hat would be impolite. Fascinators can also be worn the entire day, both inside and out, as they are part of the entire outfit.

Fascinators are generally about four to five inches across at the base, and are either attached to a headband or a hair clip of some sort, and perched atop the head.  A headband itself is not considered an appropriate head covering. A hat would cover the entire head.

Why Do Royals Wear Hats and Fascinators for Formal Occasions?

“When it comes to a special occasion in British society, the special occasion is not complete without a hat,” said Hilary Alexander, fashion director at The Daily Telegraph. No formal attire is complete without a hat, no matter whether you are a royal or a member of the public.

black-fascinatorAccording to the BBC, it is part of royal protocol to wear a hat to all official occasions.

Need a lovely fascinator?

Browse through hundreds of fascinator styles here.

 

 

British Royal Wedding Required Traditions


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photo by JANE BARLOW/AFP/Getty Images

With all the buzz about England’s next Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle, Miss Meredith Sweetpea’s mind has turned to romance. There are so many things to consider when planning a wedding. Especially so when marrying into the royal family.

In British tradition, there are a number of age-old royal wedding requirements.

  • The monarch must permit the marriage in writing for the six heirs closest in line to the throne.
  • A formal engagement announcement must be made by Kensington Palace, followed by a public photo session and joint interview. Prince Harry and Ms. Markle posed for the press in the Sunken Gardens at Kensington Palace.
  • The king or queen is the Head of the Protestant Anglican Church of England, therefore they and anyone they marry must be a member of the Church of England or they will lose the right to the throne. Ms. Markle will be baptized into the Church of England prior to the wedding.
  • Royal brides must wear a white gown, and customary lace, ever since Queen Victoria wore a white gown at her wedding to Prince Albert in 1840.
  • Royal grooms must wear a military uniform. Prince Albert was the one to start this trend.
  • In Queen Victoria’s bridal bouquet was a sprig of myrtle, expected to harbinger love and good fortune int he marriage. Victoria received the myrtle bush from Albert’s grandmother and planted it on the Isle of Wight. Sprigs of myrtle have been provided from this bush for royal weddings ever since.
  • The bride must wear a tiara. Princess Diana wore a Spencer family tiara for her wedding to Prince Charles. Catherine Middleton borrowed the Cartier “Halo” tiara that was originally given by King George VI to his wife, Queen Elizabeth, then given to Princess Elizabeth on her 18th birthday.
  • The bride’s wedding band must be made from the gold taken from a specific mine in Wales.
  • The bride must lay her wedding bouquet at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior after the ceremony. Every royal bride has done so since the former Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon following her wedding to Prince Albert.
  • There are generally two receptions: one between 11 am and noon with a lunch or brunch, and another in the evening with dinner and dancing.
  • No shellfish can be served at a royal wedding. Or garlic.
  • The wedding cakes must include a fruitcake.

–Excerpted from The Knot, “Will Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Break Any of These Royal Wedding Traditions?” by Maggie Seaver.

Wedding Omens and Predictions


Queenb-Victoria-Orange-BlossomsFor centuries, people declared that there were omens that could predict weddings and happy marriages. Here are some of the ones the Victorians believed, and some we still believe today:

You (or someone you know) will be married soon when:

  • A chicken enters your house with a straw in i ts mouth, which it leaves behind.
  • A mockingbird flies over your house.
  • A white dove comes near your house.
  • A spider descends from the ceiling and “dances” up and down.
  • A cow moos at night.

Your marriage will be happy if:

  • You feed a cat at of one of your old shoes just before you marry.
  • A cat sneezes in front of the (or your) bride on the day before the wedding.
  • Either party dreams about the wedding day.
  • You marry in June.
  • Your wedding ceremony lasts between a half hour and an hour (the rising hand of the clock denotes rising fortune.)
  • You marry in the afternoon.
  • You marry on a beautiful day.
  • A ray of sunshine falls on you as you leave the church.
  • It snows on your wedding day.
  • You see a lamb or dove on the way to the church.
  • A flock of white birds flies directly over you on the way to the wedding.
  • You carry bread in your pocket and throw it away on your wedding day.
  • A spider crawls on the wedding dress just before the ceremony.
  • The bride wears earrings during the ceremony.
  • The bridge has her hair done and veil put on by a happily-married woman.
  • A new dime is placed in the bride’s left shoe just before she walks down the aisle.
  • Orange blossoms are used in the wedding decorations.
  • You carry a pinch of salt to the church.
  • The bridegroom carries a horseshoe in his pocket during the ceremony.
  • The bride cries on her wedding day.
  • You both step into, and out of, the church on your right foot first.

There are also don’ts that you should heed:

  • Don’t get married to someone born in the same month as you.
  • Dont’t get married on your birthday.
  • Don’t get married during Lent.
  • Don’t postpone your wedding.
  • Don’t let the groom see the bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony.
  • Don’t let the bride wear pearls (each pearl represents a tear).
  • Don’t get married in a church with bats (if it flies over you, it will bring bad luck.)
  • Finally, don’t believe everything you read!

Whew, with all of these things to worry about, it’s a wonder people get married at all!

–Excerpted from “Everything Romantic: A Book for Lovers” by Michael Newman

Cooking From Scratch is an Art Form


bacon-and-cheddar-savory-scones

Savory Scones

When I tell people I cook everything from scratch, I get one of three responses: “Good for you,” “I don’t cook,” and “Why?”

Which begs me to think, “Have we truly lost the art form of creating a delicious meal?”

“Cooking can be an act of love and delight, or it can be yet another exercise in racing through life on automatic pilot–never stopping for a moment to notice, feel, or taste. Cooking performed as an act of love brings us renewed energy and vigor-cooking performed on auto pilot is draining.

When we dook in a hands-on, no-rush style, we are forced to stop, taste, feel, smell, see, and experience our food. Isn’t this what life is all about? Isn’t this what is missing from a harried life?”     –excerpted from The Simple Living Guide, by Janet Luhrs

Cooking meals, and living simply, can take some planning ahead. But all you need are simple ingredients stored in your pantry. Friends of mine enjoy it when we get hungry and I announce that we are going to play “Refrigerator Roulette.” We open the pantry wide and see what ingredients we have and put together the most scrumptious meal! They can’t believe it. We might have crepes with strawberries and chocolate syrup, green beans with toasted almonds, or tuna salad at a moment’s notice. With the addition of fresh ingredients, there is a plethora of possibilities from the most basic of pantry-stocked essentials.

Contrast this with pulling out a cardboard-like toaster pizza or microwaving a canned soup. Meredith Sweetpea believes there is no comparison.

Eating well, especially with natural foods may also take a bit of adjustment. The flavors can be much more subdued, and there is a noticeable lack of salt found in processed foods. On the other hand, you will enjoy the delectable aromas that arise from natural cooking, and as your taste buds adjust, you will begin to notice that processed foods just don’t taste good. You will start to appreciate the aromas, tastes and colors of chemical- and preservative-free food and drinks.

Make your own salad dressings; it only takes a minute. Squeeze lemons for lemonade. Prep a chicken dish for tossing into the oven before dinnertime. Serve a lovely meats and cheese platter. Grow your own herbs and vegetables. The possibilities are endless, and the health benefits are plentiful.

What fun it is to get into the kitchen and use cooking as an expression of both art and love. And what can be more romantic than cooking together? Or more rewarding than involving the kids?

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