7 Ways to Decorate with Natural Elements


african-violetsThinking of decorating, one’s mind may jump immediately to fabrics and furniture. However, there are so many natural elements that can bring the outdoors indoors to create harmony.

1. Flowers

Cut flowers can brighten up any space, but don’t overlook the color and drama in flowering plants, such as orchids or African violets. Use your imagination when choosing a flowerpot; just about anything can be repurposed as a planter.

2. Plants

Add color and healthy elements to a room with plants. Group them together using a same-color or same-varietal theme for instant impact.

3. Seashells

Recall your summer vacation with a bowlful of seashells. But don’t stop there, use them to frame a mirror, set them in concrete, or accent a lamp with them. Repeat the theme in your table settings.

4. Food

Food items like a big jar of lemons or limes can serve as a colorful centerpiece. Try any colorful fruit or vegetable, like artichokes, red, yellow and green peppers, or oranges, perhaps.

5. Wood

Reclaim old wood and turn it into wonderful home features, furniture and accents. Driftwood and branches also add interesting architectural elements to your home decor.

6. Stone

stones-accenting-candlesMany homes are built of stone, or include stone fireplaces. Think of new ways to incorporate stone into your decorating as with a water features, a mosaic garden pathway or in vases to hold cut flowers. Polished stone can be used for countertops and furniture surfaces.

7. Found Objects

Nature provides us with a plethora of treasures that can add interest to our decorating. Collect bird nests or egg shells, line a planter with natural moss, arrange several sets of deer antlers, or incorporate pictures of nature in your artwork, pillows or fabrics.

 

 

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Pinky Up or Pinky Down When Drinking Tea?


The Queen enjoys a good cup of tea.

Miss Meredith Sweetpea was invited to partake in a lovely tea last week where the subject arose of whether or not it is proper to raise the pinky when raising the teacup to one’s lips.

Heavens, do people still think that “pinky up” is the proper way to drink tea?

 

Those in attendance were divided as to the correct answer, with each believing their method to be right. This called for an exploration of how to properly drink tea.

The Proper Way to Hold a Teacup

pinky-up-tea-drinking

Pinky up? Wrong!

The proper etiquette for holding the teacup is to pinch the handle of the cup between the thumb and the index finger if the handle is small, or pinching the same two fingers together through the handle.  The finger should not hook through the handle to raise the cup.

The handle should rest on the third finger, using the pinky beneath the cup to stabilize it, or using the 3 open fingers under the handle pressed against the cup to balance it, with the fingers curving back toward the wrist. Never should the pinky be raised.

hooking-finger-through-teacup

Hooking through the handle? Wrong!

In fact, it is considered rude to stick out the pinky, in addition to looking ridiculous. The practice originated from those wishing to elevate their status, however, it is ultimately taken as a symbol of elitism. In social settings, lifting the pinky will surely identify you as unsophisticated rather than what you intended it to mean.

Adding Milk and Sugar to Tea

If you wish to add milk to your tea to lighten or cool it, add the milk after the tea is poured into the cup. If you add it before the tea, you will not be able to tell how much is needed.

When stirring tea, use a back and forth swish of the spoon rather than a circular motion. And never clink the spoon against the side of the teacup to shake off any remaining drops. Simply place the spoon on the saucer behind the teacup.

If you are standing and drinking tea, hold the saucer with one hand as you drink with the other. Look down at your cup while you drink, and not at the others in the room. This will help prevent you from spilling your tea down the front of your frock or necktie.

Need a New Royal Doulton Tea Set?

If you need a new tea set, consider the lovely Royal Albert New Country Roses tea service from Royal Doulton, and its matching cups and saucers.

Royal_Doulton_new_country_roses_cups_saucers

Am I the Granddaughter of King Henry VIII? | Meredith Sweetpea


Henry_Carey_King_Henry_VIII_comparison

L: Henry Carey; R: King Henry VIII; Middle: mashup of the two. The resemblance is uncanny. Could he be King Henry VIII’s son?

When Miss Meredith Sweetpea read the best-selling historical novel “The Other Boleyn Girl” she was captivated by the story, and read the entire book in one sitting. Have you read it?

The story, written by British historian Philippa Gregory, tells the tale of Mary Boleyn, Anne Boleyn’s older sister, who had a long-term affair with, and two children by, King Henry VIII prior to his meeting and subsequently marrying Anne. It is told from Mary’s point of view, beginning with Mary at the naive age of 14.

This book penetrated my mind, and for years, lingered with a familiarity unclaimed by any other novel.

Years later, I began to research my genealogy, and was shocked and pleasantly surprised to find out that I am the 18th great-granddaughter of Mary Boleyn through each of these two children supposedly conceived through King Henry VIII: Catherine and Henry Carey (Mary was married to William Carey).

Are these the children of King Henry VIII?

Although it has never been proven that these two are the children of King Henry VIII, nor were they ever acknowledged or legitimized by the regent, there are a number of indicators that they may be. For one, it is said that Henry closely resembled King Henry.

  • William Carey was given a number of royal grants between 1522 and 1526, which generally indicate a reward.
  • Henry claimed in 1533 that he was “Our Sovereign Lord the King’s Son.”
  • Anne Boleyn became Henry’s ward after the death of Mary’s husband William Carey.
  • Henry VIII admitted to his affair with Mary, which he probably would not have done had he not issued children with her.
  • Both children were born during the time of the affair.
  • Elizabeth I (Anne Boleyn’s daughter) loved the Carey children and bestowed favors upon them. Henry was knighted by her and made Bason Hunsdon. Elizabeth also visited him on his deathbed and gave him the patent and robes of the Earldom of Wiltshire. Henry’s son, Robert, received Queen Elizabeth I’s ring from her hand upon her death.
  • Catherine Carey was Queen Elizabeth I’s most senior lady-in-waiting, and was buried at Royal expense and given a prominent memorial when she died.

It is rumored that King Henry VIII may have acknowledged these children, but he had already taken in HenryFitzhugh as his legitimate child. He was the child of an affair with Bessie Blount.

The_Other_Boleyn_GirlIt is exciting to know that I am the descendant of this woman who so captivated me through her story, and believe that I am the 18th great-granddaughter of King Henry VIII. Perhaps there is something in our DNA that recognizes those who came and went long before us, and left their mark upon our futures.

–facts excerpted from The Anne Boleyn Files

 

How Do I Address a Former President?


President_Barack-Obama

Photo by Pete Souza

In the United States, when one leaves an office where they have had a title, such as President of the United States, it often becomes a protocol dilemma on how to refer to them afterwards. Should you still address him (or her) as Mr. President?

The rules of protocol say no.

The rule is that only one living person may hold the title of President at any one time.

While a sitting president should be addressed as Mr. President during their tenure in office, once they leave office, they should correctly be referred to by the title they held previously. For example, President George Washington was referred to as “General Washington” once he retired. President James Monroe was referred to as “Colonel Monroe.”

A deceased President, however, may be referred to using the title “President” before their name, as in “President Washington lived at Mount Vernon.”

This said, many former (and living) Presidents today are addressed as merely that: “Former President,” followed by their name. If, however you are formally addressing them, as in a written correspondence, it is never incorrect to use “Mr.” before their name.

Befuddled by the Flatware at a Formal Dinner?


formal-place-setting-silverwareMiss Meredith Sweetpea loves to attend a formal dinner. All the courses, with their delightful tastes, are just a pleasure to enjoy.

Attending a formal dinner, however, can befuddle some who are not familiar with the array of flatware (a.k.a. silverware) that is set upon the table. Often you’ll see a variety of forks, knives and spoons set beside and above the plate setting, along with a number of drinking glasses.

According to Miss Manners Judith Martin, when it comes to silverware,”Ten would be the maximum number of complements that could be on the table at the same time: a seafood (or cocktail) fork (nestling in the soup spoon); the soup spoon; sets of forks and knives for three courses (usually fish, meat, and salad and/or cheese; if more are needed for additional courses, they should be brought in separately); and a dessert spoon and fork above the plate.”

“A teaspoon has no place at a formal table because tea and coffee are not served during the meal; after-dinner coffee, formally served in a drawing room in a demi-tasse cup, requires the small spoon. If people do wish to drink coffee at the table, for example, the appropriate spoon should be put on the saucer.”

Which Utensil Do I Use for Which Course?

As a rule, silverware should be used from the outside in. In other words, the pieces farthest away from the plate on either side of it should be used first. After each course in a formal dinner, the used silverware should be placed upon the plate to be taken away, leaving the next set of flatware available on the outside of the serving plate. Soup spoons are often served on the plate with the soup, a butter knife usually rests on your bread plate to the left of your forks, and dessert utensils are generally placed above the plate and should remain there until the dessert arrives.

Follow the Host

If you are still befuddled by the array of flatware, the simple rule is to watch the host and do what he or she does.

–excerpted from “Miss Manners’ Guide for the Turn-of-the-Millennium,” by Judith Martin.

 

 

Gratitude is Like a Magnet | Manners Quotes


cup-of-tea
“Gratitude is like a magnet; the more grateful you are,
the more you will receive and be grateful for.”

–Iyanla Vanzant

Expressing Gratitude | Meredith Sweetpea


Growing up, I don’t remember being forced to write thank you notes, but I did anyway. Now, as an adult, Miss Meredith Sweetpea finds that it is more important than ever to graciously express gratitude.

Showing that you are grateful for something you’ve received, or a kindness or gift someone has bestowed upon you, can often be a several-step process.

Say Thank You

First, say “thank you” immediately upon receiving a gift. I have unfortunately witnessed people who, upon receiving a gift, state, “Thanks, but I don’t need this or want this. You’ll have to take it back.” Instead, they should have graciously accepted the gift for the gesture for which it was intended–to honor the recipient, perhaps for a birthday, holiday or special occasion. Simply said, a heartfelt “thank you” will honor the giver who took their time and effort to arrange a special treat just for you. You can always do with the gift what you want later on (donate it or regift it if you don’t want it, or use it or display it proudly.)

Send a Handwritten Note

A handwritten note does NOT mean an email or text–yes, even in today’s electronic times. It means writing words of gratitude on a piece of paper or card and putting it into an envelope that is mailed to the giver’s address, preferably their home address. I recently heard from someone who received a handwritten thank you note who said, “I was so surprised to receive a real letter in the mail. I so rarely get anything that’s not a bill or a solicitation anymore. It was so exciting!” This little gesture can mean so much to the person who took the time to arrange for your gift or service, and is a reminder they will often keep, display, and read again and again.

Tell Others

Spread even more love by telling the recipient later on how much you’re enjoying the gift and how you are using it. Also, glowingly tell others about the gift you received. Even if the gift-giver never hears you telling others, the pleasure you feel from recounting how you received this gift will bring you renewed joy each time you tell it.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Television personality and media mogul Oprah Winfrey swears that her gratitude journal has changed her outlook on life. Writing in it each evening, she recaps the things that happened during her day for which she is grateful. Singer/songwriter Willie Nelson said, “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”

Keep your own gratitude journal and list at least 3 things each evening. At first, you may find it a struggle to find things to write. It is OK to put down things like, “I’m grateful because I felt energized today,” or “I’m grateful to receive a paycheck today.”

As time passes, you will start to notice more and more little things, and you will actually begin to change your mindset from feeling overwhelmed by life’s daily challenges to recognizing life’s little joys. Your entries might change to, “I’m grateful for the bird song I heard when I awoke this morning,” or “I’m grateful that the clerk at the grocery store complimented me on my new necklace.” Be open to whatever highlight enters your consciousness, from world events to the tiniest little spark in your daily life. Make these points the grace notes to the symphony of your day.

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