This Pageant Family Really Blew It

boy_cryingMiss Meredith Sweetpea was sitting at a Little Miss and Mister pageant at the local county fair recently behind a family whose son was entered in the age 2-4 category. The family was intently watching, and of course, cheering on their young entry.

When the finalists names were announced, this boy was not among those on the list, and apart from the obvious disappointment any family feels when their own precious child is not deemed “most precious of all,” this family had a different reaction.

The father snatched up the two-year-old boy, stood up, and announced to the family (and all those around him) that he was leaving. He said, “Why should we sit here and watch other people’s children win?” And he encouraged the family to leave with him, right in the middle (and within sight) of the judging for the four finalists.

Of course, Miss Meredith Sweetpea was shocked. What happened to the spirit of competition? Do athletes stomp off the field when only one of them wins a relay, for example? No, they generally support the other players and congratulate the winner. It’s all in the name of “good sportsmanship.”

Let’s Support Good Sportsmanship

In good sportsmanship, the teammates, opponents, and officials treat each other with respect. They encourage and support each other as athletes, or in this case, contestants.

One of the brilliant things I witnessed when working with girls in the Miss America Pageant system was their ability to support, respect and honor each other throughout the pageant process. There may have been a few tears now and again when one was not chosen for a coveted title, but that girl always recovered and and offered a heartfelt and sincere congratulations to the winner.

Pageants are not the place to air your grievances or to create a scene when you or your child didn’t win. Their loss should have been accepted with grace and dignity. This family should have stayed to watch just who won, and offered their congratulations to the winning family. Who knows, they may have learned just why this child won and theirs didn’t so they could do better next year.

Children learn from their parents how to behave, so it worries me how this young child will grow up.


Gratitude is Like a Magnet | Manners Quotes

“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.

A Meredith Sweetpea Visit to Glenfiddich Farm Cookery School

meredith-sweetpea-chef-olwen-woodier-glenfiddich-cookery-school-virginiaFood is certainly one of the joys of life, and what better way to enjoy food than to learn from a professional. Miss Meredith Sweetpea had the pleasure of attending a cooking class at the Glenfiddich Farm Cookery School this past week. Located on a lovely acreage in Loudoun County, Virginia are the gardens from which chef Olwen Woodier selects her fresh produce for the menus she so lovingly prepares. The gardens are filled with vegetables, fruits and herbs to delight any palate.

The Glenfiddich Farm Cookery School was started in February 2005 in a stone-walled 1840s home that was formerly a dairy. The rustic elements of exposed beams and stone only add to the allure of the large, modern kitchen where Olwen conducts her classes many a Wednesday morning. The farm was originally called Gobblers Knob after the multitude of resident wild turkeys, then later was renamed Glenfiddich Farm (Celtic for “Valley of the Deer”) to celebrate the many local deer.

meredith-sweetpea-Glenfiddich-Cookery-Class-mealThis day, I, along with 3 other ladies, prepared a feast consisting of:

  • Potato spinach gnocchi with prosciutto, parsley and parmesan
  • Cucumber tomato gazpacho
  • Sauteed shrimp
  • Eggplant tomato caprese salad with red pepper basil pesto
  • Strawberry fool with homemade waffle cone accompaniments

It was quite the treat to gather the fresh herbs from the garden, and tour through the maze of plantings in Olwen’s backyard. The beautiful landscaping was accented throughout by flowers, birdhouses and sculptures to form a refreshing retreat. And there were baskets of fresh produce and eggs awaiting us in the kitchen. Olwen makes it a point to cook organically whenever possible, so freshness was abundant.

Each month, Glenfiddich features different menus, based around what is in season, and special classes can be held by request.


Order Olwen’s cookbooks!

Olwen Woodier is also a cookbook author, with award-winning cookbooks including:

Prior to running the Cookery, Olwen was a publicist and journalist, with hundreds of articles featured in national and regional magazines and newspapers including Woman’s Day, Gourmet, Family Circle, National Geographic Traveler and The New York Times.

If you are ever visiting Virginia and want a real taste of our Commonwealth, plan to take a cooking class at the Glenfiddich Farm.meredith-sweetpea-Glenfiddich-Farm-VA

Order Olwen Woodier’s Cookbooks for Yourself!

–Photography by Linda Barrett



From Her Majesty’s Jewel Box Blog | Meredith Sweetpea

Miss Meredith Sweetpea has been following a blog called “From Her Majesty’s Jewel Box” for a while now and truly enjoys viewing the various jewels worn by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duchess of Cornwall that are posted regularly.

In her blog, the self-pronounced “one snarky magpie American” attempts to chronicle the jewels worn by the royals on their daily engagements. The posts give a brief history of the jewels and links to other events where the jewels can be seen.

There are also sections within the blog where readers can view the jewels by category, like “Tiaras & Crowns,” “Brooches: Ornamental,” and “Orders & Regalia.”

It has been great fun to check on the latest activities of the Queen as well as view the various jewelry she wears that often honors the occasion. For instance, at a recent Ceremony of the Keys event, during her annual week of Scottish engagements, Queen Elizabeth II wore the Royal Regiment of Scotland Badge, the appropriate military badge.

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

Some jewels make more frequent appearances than others, lending one to believe that the Queen may have favorites among the bunch. She is most often seen wearing Queen Mary’s Button Earrings and a Three Strand Pearl Necklace, for example.

The Most Famous Tiara: The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland

One of the Queen’s favorite tiaras is the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, which was presented to Elizabeth in 1947 as a wedding present from her grandmother, Queen Mary. It was her first tiara and is one of her most recognizable pieces due to its widespread use on British currency and coinage.

For a fun look at the Queen’s jewels, take a look at this blog. Wait, you might want to don your own tiara first.

A True Gentleman Is… | Meredith Sweetpea | Manners Quotes


“A true gentleman is one that apologizes anyways, even though he has not offended a lady intentionally.
He is in a class all of his own because he knows the value of a woman’s heart.”

–Shannon L. Alder

Fabulous Fascinators of the Royal Ascot Races

ascot-hatHere is a video showcasing some of the fabulous hats and fascinators seen at the Royal Ascot Races in England. Enjoy!

Hats of Ascot video

The Royal Ascot Races begin today, June 20, 2017 through June 24th and attract the finest racehorses from around the world. But some people think the real spectacle is the fashion — the fabulous hats and outfits worn by the spectators.

Ascot Even Has a Dress Code for Hats and Fascinators

The Ascot races website lists a Dress Code for what to wear in the Royal Enclosure, the Queen Anne and Village Enclosures, and the Windsor Enclosure. If you’re lucky enough to be in the Royal Enclosure, the dress code cites that “Hats should be worn; however, a headpiece which has a solid base of 4 inches (10 cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat. Fascinators are not permitted; neither are headpieces which do not have a solid base covering a sufficient area of the head (4 inches/10 cm).”

Miss Meredith Sweetpea wishes she could be there to witness the delightful garden of hats herself. Send us pictures of yourself attending Ascot in your hat!

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