January 4, 2009

January 4, 2009

Posted in entertaining, food tagged , , , , , at 11:32 am by allisonwonder

I’m having such a hard time getting used to writing/ typing “2009” instead of “2008”. It always takes me a while to adjust- good thing I don’t write a lot of cheques…

Wehad our company over for supper last night, and (if I may say so), the food was great.  We had Greek-Style Lemon Roast Chicken (recipe courtesy of Kraft Kitchens- bless them!) with rice, spinach “salad” (OK, fresh spinach leaves with dressing, but so good) and home-made bread. It was tasty, but I was mainly pleased with the timing of everything. I never know exactly when AJ will be home from work- if he’s supposed to be done at 5:00, he could be home any time between 5 and 6:15 (and he’d better call if he’s going to be later than that!). The guys came in at 5:55, and supper was ready at 6:10- no cold food last night. Also, I managed to have everything ready at the same time, which has always been a challenge for me. Having a consistent oven makes a big difference- when you know how long the chicken’s going to take to cook, it’s a lot easier to figure out when the rice needs to go on. Hooray for properly-functioning appliances!

I DO need a meat thermometer, though- that would make things easier. I used to have one, but it didn’t last long- I don’t even know how I killed it.

OH- and I was a good girl and did whatever dishes I could while I was working, so doing the plates and pots and stuff afterward wasn’t TOO bad.I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again: it’s a lot easier to get the dishes done when there’s a nice window to look out while you’re doing them, rather than a blank wall. Been there, done thet (twice, actually).

Was the house perfect? Nope. Did P. care? Definitely not.

As an afterthought, I decided to have a look at what Ms. Lillian Eichler of “The New Book of Etiquette” had to say on the subject. Apparently people didn’t have just one or two people over for meals in the ’20s or the ’30s- just dinner parties, luncheons, and tea, any of which could be formal or informal, each with its own rules. The closest thing I found was actually the “Sunday-Night Supper.”    “As a rule there is no maid service, the hostess taking this opportunity to show what she can do in the way of cooking and serving…with modern electrical appliances to help her, the hostess whould be able to entertain eight to ten friends at Sunday-night supper very easily, without scrambling from kitchen to dining room.” Lil, I don’t have ROOM for eight to ten friends, and I get to show off my cooking and serving skills (such as they may be) every damn night. At least the cooking didn’t have to be too fancy- “creamed chicken on toast is an excellent supper dish that can be prepared on a table grill… Some hostesses like to serve waffles for Sunday-night supper…”

I get the idea that maybe this book was written for a class of people I just don’t belong to- or were things just that different back then*? I certainly don’t know anyone who would consider cooking for 8-10 friends a novelty, what with the maid having the night off and all.

*Speaking of “back then,” here’s an interesting blog/ project I’ve just started reading: My Decade Year follows the adventures of a modern woman as she spends 100 days living as a ’50s housewife, 100 days in the 60s, 100 in the 70s and 65 days in the 80s.  It’s been interesting so far…


December 12, 2008

Just in case you’re planning on flying to 1924 this holiday season…

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 10:19 pm by allisonwonder

The New Book of Etiquette doesn’t have a lot of advice on travelling byplane, as “it’s still new enough to be thrilling for most of us!” Still, there must be something we can learn; after all, as Money Grubbing Lawyer* pointed out a few days ago,  flying was (in theory, at least) a far more enjoyable experience in the early days of commercial aviation.  

so, without further ado, Lillian Eichler’s tips for airline travel:

-“On most of the large planes, passengers are given glassine envelopes containing cotton and chewing gum. The  experienced traveler pads his ears with the cotton and chews the gum to adjust his ears and throat to higher altitude. This is one occasion when chewing gum is not frowned upon as a vulgarity!”

-“The cabin of a plane is so small, the passengers in such close proximity, than any attempt to observe social formalities is quite out of the question. Nobody waits to be introduced- everybody talks to everybody else- strangers are drawn to the common thrill of flying.”

-“It is not customary to tip airplane hostesses. However, if a hostess has been especially kind and attentive and the passenger wishes to show his appreciation, he may have a small, impersonal gift such as a box of candy or an interesting new book mailed to her after the trip is over.”

*(for advice on keeping flying in the present more tolerable, read his post. Don’t go expecting Air Canada to hand out glassine envelopes, now.)

November 27, 2008

Gift Giving Advice from 1924

Posted in special occasions tagged , , , , at 1:32 pm by allisonwonder

I just unpacked a great book I’ve had for several years, part of my collection of old… stuff. The New Book of Etiquette by Lillian Eichler isn’t new anymore, but it’s a lot of fun to read if you enjoy seeing how much things have changed in the last 80+ years.

I’m going to post ideas/tips/excerpts from this book on here every once in a while. Most of it’s not advice I’ll be following, but it should be fun.


Christmas is less than a month away (apologies to anyone who hadn’t realized that yet). I’m done shopping for the family in Ontario (I took care of that while we lived there so I wouldn’t have to worry about mailing presents), but I’ve hardly started for AJ and the boys. In the spirit of giving, I’d like to share a few of Ms. Eichler’s thoughts on “Gifts At Christmas Time”

-“For the woman who likes pretty things for her room, we suggest a handsome perfume bottle, a make-up box, a painted glass powder jar… Make your gift suit the person for whom it is intended, add a bit of holly to carry the Christmas spirit, and send it so that it arrives on Christmas morning.”

[Good advice, but I’m pretty sure Canada Post doesn’t deliver on holidays…]

– “Little travelling clocks, bridge sets, tennis rackets, gloves, fitted bags, books, collar boxes, work baskets, powder jars, boudoir dolls, writing sets- all these make fine Christmas gifts…. A backgammon game will not excite the little cousin who goes to business and has no time to learn the game; nor will a book of poetry especially delight the flippant young debutante.”

-“Men are fussy about gifts, as about almost everything else! They like to choose their own ties and gloves. But they appreciate, at Christmas time or birthday time, a handy cigar-lighter, a good book, a pair of cuff links, sensible bedroom slippers.”

There you have it, folks- your gift-giving needs all wrapped up, as it were. Boudoir dolls, collar boxes and powder jars. You can thank me on boxing day, after the flippant young debutante in your life expresses relief at not receiving another book of poetry.

Do you think we’ve lost something in our gift-giving now that we can get so much of what we want cheaply and easily? How often do we find ourselves giving someone another sweater, another dustcatcher for the mantel, another book that he/she doesn’t have, but could easily get for him/herself? It seems to me that people actually enjoyed giving and receiving gifts more when the items were scarcer but more special, and when love and thought went into the giving of one or two items rather than the stress and desperation we so often put into getting the right (excessive) number of gifts for the kids, spending the right amount on friends and family, and chasing down every new, unnecessary whatever that the advertisers decide we need to give someone to prove that we really love them.

I’m just sayin’.