Thursday, August 3, 2017

A New Tea Etiquette Book

My newest children's book in the 
Wallflowers and Wildflowers 
series continues with 
"Betty Learns Tea Manners with the Wallflowers and Wildflowers"
Follow Betty, as she learns all about proper afternoon tea manners with the help of the Wallflowers, the Wildflowers and the rest of the family, pets and animals at the Martin family home in San Dimas, California. It is 1922 and little Betty has five cats at the Martin House: the Wallflowers (Daisy and Violet), who live with the family, sheltered inside the cozy home. The Wildflowers (Aster, Johnny Jump-Up, and Sweet William), all outdoor kitties living in the barn and yard, enjoying the birds and butterflies. The Wallflowers and Wildflowers are an enthusiastic group, willing to teach each other how to conduct themselves, and the good manners needed for different environments. Most of all, they teach each other how to best enjoy themselves while using the new manners they learn, with the help of Rags, the loyal family dog. 

I've included some proper tea etiquette for the parents, too!

The art of Christie Shinn, of HoraTora Studios, captures some of the very real animals and characters in this series!

Lovable, and Helpful, Rags the Dog

Rags in 1916, San Dimas
"A book written for children and animal lovers of all ages. Little Betty grew up to become Betty Graber of the historic Graber Olive House in Ontario, California. She told her son, Clifford and daughter in-law, Maura, about her childhood cats a few weeks before her passing in September of 2014. This book is lovingly dedicated to Betty."

Available now at The Graber Olive House  and on

Monday, February 6, 2017

Etiquette Classes at Graber Olive House

Team games, role playing and  prizes are used to develop vital social skills to fit into the world of today and tomorrow.
Our newest, ongoing etiquette courses, are starting again at the historic Graber Olive House
on February 12th!

Mixed-age, youth classes, ages 7 and up are from 12:30 to 2:30

Teen etiquette classes for ages 13 and up, are  from 3:00 to 5:00  

An $85.00 student fee will include foods to practice the dining skills taught each week, along with all necessary learning materials.

 Pre-registration is a must! 
Call 800 891-RSVP or 909 923-5650 
for registration and payment information.
We are pleased to introduce our new instructor, Barbara Becka
Our 3, two-hour session etiquette courses cover...

• Basic Manners
• Introductions & Responses
• Dining Skills & Table Manners
(foods to practice)
• Manners for Home & Abroad 
• Cultural Diversity
• Respect for Others
• Deflecting Peer Pressure
• Writing Notes of Thanks
• Making Eye Contact
• Developing Great Posture
• Good Grooming
• Tech and Social Media Etiquette
• Texts & Cell Phone Etiquette
• Video Gaming Manners & More! 

The Graber Olive House is located at 315 East Fourth Street, Ontario, California 909 983-1761

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Etiquette and "Owning It"

A vintage picture of a 1960s high school boys' gym class in the La Habra High School pool. 

When I was a new freshman in high school, my English class was given an assignment. Each of us had to write our memoirs. We were pretty young to be writing autobiographical works of our lives up until our freshman high school year, but I suspect our teacher wanted to see how well we wrote, while at the same time learning about each one of us. We were told we had to include three major occurrences in our lives that had affected us deeply, up until that point in time. Fairly easy, I thought. I loved to write and as a typical naval-gazing, self-absorbed teenaged girl, what better subject than to write about but myself?

I knew immediately which life-jolting event was to be the first I would write about and how screwed up I had been for several years that followed. I wrote about the swimming class my mother had enrolled me in at the age of five. My older brother and sister were enrolled as well, but they were in a different class for their age group. The summer classes were at the La Habra High School pool. I lasted through less than one and a half classes.

The first class was spent holding on to the side of the pool, kicking our legs and blowing bubbles into the water, with all of the moms looking on. I was more fixated on the girl next to me in class, whose bathing cap had what appeared to be a rubber ducky of some kind, attached to the top of the cap. I wasn't sure if it was the dorkiest thing I had ever seen, or the coolest. We only had plain, white bathing caps. They were tight, they pinched, and to this day, I remember how they smelled.
My mom never ordered anything this cool looking for herself.
On the second day of swim class, we were lined up alphabetically and told to "jump into the pool." Wait... What? I didn't know how to swim yet, and I knew better at five years of age than to jump into a pool on my own. No way! I froze. My instructors, a young man and young woman, gave me the order a second time, by shouting, "Jump into the pool!" I heard a whistle. I started to cry and shake. The next thing I knew, the female instructor had picked me up and thrown me into the pool. 

I don't remember how I got out of that pool, but it was incredibly fast. I remember the crying, the panicking, the embarrassment of that swim class fail, but more than that, I remember being called "Chicken of the Sea" by my family for the next several years, until I taught myself how to swim in 5th grade. And there I sat, nearly ten years later, while my freshman English teacher quietly proof read my paper. 

My teacher had stopped making comments on how well a sentence worked, or how one may have been written better. She clammed up when she read of my harrowing experience as a small child, being carelessly tossed into the shallow end of that high school pool. The simple fact that her facial expression had suddenly become one of such concern and shock, validated everything I had felt until the day I taught myself to swim.

Then, she looked up at me and asked, "How old are you now? What summer was this?" I told her I was turning 15 in a few months and didn't realize I needed to put dates in the paper, but she stopped me and said, "I am so sorry. I am pretty sure I am the woman that threw you into the pool. I really am just so sorry." 

Floored by her declaration and apology, I think I mumbled something like, "Oh. Um... Wow. That's okay..." Then she explained how she and another English teacher at my school had taught summer swim classes for extra money during college, years before the high school we were sitting in was built. "She taught the older students that summer. I was with the younger students."
I didn't shake the "Chicken of the Sea" nickname my siblings and cousins had given me until 1991. My husband and I had brought back amazing videotape of our nearly 1,000 foot dive down the Cayman Wall in a tiny research submarine, and photos from Stingray City. Swimming with black tipped reef sharks the summer before, wasn't quite enough to lose that nickname of shame, but the submarine was enough.
I told my mother about it that evening while she was making dinner, and she told me that a few years earlier, my older siblings had figured out that the English teacher both of them had during their sophomore years was also their swim teacher. "So you got the woman who threw you kicking and screaming into that pool, huh?" 

Yes I did. And I got a very sincere apology and admittance of guilt from her, too. Two things I had never received from an adult before. I was used to receiving excuses, not apologies, from adults. So yes, I still remember being thrown into the pool, and I don't recommend it as a teaching method. What I do recommend, however, is owning up to one's mistakes. The way my freshman English teacher owned up to hers. With sincerity, honesty, and humility. 

My English teacher didn't have to do anything, but give me tips on my writing. I would have never known her secret. I could have even made my English grade an easy A, by throwing guilt her way, all freshman year long. But I wasn't made like that and neither was she. 

To this day, her honesty and sincerity have stuck with me as testament to the proper way of dealing with our own mistakes, big and small. It is refreshing to remember her candor, after  years of watching our politicians and world leaders, on all sides of the aisles, throw accusations around at one another like spoiled toddlers, rarely admitting mistakes and misdeeds. 

With my English teacher's confession and subsequent apology in mind, I have a few etiquette tips for "owning" one's mistakes, misdeeds, faux pas, and fibs.

Some polite way ways of owning up to one's mistakes, missteps, flat-out lies or social blunders:
  1. Admitting the lie by saying something along the lines of, "I am sorry. I was not truthful." or "I knew what I was saying was a lie and I take full responsibility. I am sorry. Please forgive me." or even, "I'm so sorry. I should have told you the truth."
  2. Never shooting the messenger, even if the messenger is there only to reveal your blunder, mistake, misstep, or lie.
  3. Never drawing attention to other people's mistakes or blunders. Acknowledging your own mistake or blunder, and adding a sincere apology, helps put you in a better light.
Some impolite ways of owning up to one's mistakes, and worst reactions to missteps, flat-out lies or blunders:
  1. Trying to get out of a lie by saying something along the lines of, "I misspoke." or "I misunderstood what I was saying." or even, "I should have been more careful with my words."
  2. Quibbling over one's definition of a simple word like "is."
  3. Drawing attention to other people's mistakes or blunders, without even acknowledging your own mistake or blunder.
  4. Completely ignoring the issue, people hurt or those affected by your actions. 
Many people are still trying to come up with their New Year's resolutions for 2017. I am recommending "Owning it" be on the top of the politicians' lists!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Mixing Etiquette with Humor

Evidently the photographer was still hanging around when Shelley Winters showed up at the police station to claim her man.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have a slew of etiquette books. I have old, collectable books, vintage books, antiquarian books, and even a few new ones hanging around. My favorites are the vintage etiquette books. I especially love any original tomes by Amy Vanderbilt, Letitia Baldrige and Miss Manners. Those are true gems.

Every once in awhile, I come across an article or blog post referencing new manners or the "new etiquette" for modern living. In reality, the manners and etiquette needed aren't new, but how we spend our daily lives is changing at such a rapid pace, the "old etiquette" just needs a bit of tweaking to adapt. In some cases, the old etiquette still fits just fine.

Anyone who knows me well, also knows I edit and moderate the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia blog. Whenever I am looking for new things to post, or reading submitted articles, I find things that are well written, funny and honestly helpful with regard to "new etiquette." This one is a gem! In our celebrity obsessed culture, this plea for new etiquette, from 1957, was a refreshing reminder of just how innocent the 1950s seemed.

New Book Needed

"MY GOOD deed for this day is a gratis presentation of a million dollar idea to Amy Vanderbilt and her host of imitators. The etiquette authorities, in their eagerness to transform us into a nation of Fauntleroys and Miss Prisses have somehow overlooked a virgin territory ripe for their ministrations. The ladies have prescribed the ground rules for every social contingency (rum apple bobbing to zebra hunting), but they have let their public down woefully on a 'Book of Etiquette As She Is Practiced in Hollywood.'

THERE IS a crying well, maybe, a screaming need for such a tome. Such a volume, if written by Mme. Fearless Fairless, would clear up the justifiable confusions that assail the civilian or non-Hollywood mind when Miss Shelley Winters (the inflammable Bernhardt of the screen), and her fiance, Anthony Franciosa, who is incadescent on his own, became entangled with (1) a news photographer and (2) with the law. The nuances of Hollywood social usage and the delicate shadings of custom in the cinema capital are splendidly illustrated by this fracas and also the necessity of a book that will explain these tribal taboos to outlanders.

TO BEGIN WITH Miss Winters and Franciosa have made no secret of their betrothal in any Broadway or theatre gossip column which would print the word. Nor has the phrase "Festively Top Secret" been stamped on the news that they would be wedded once the fiance was divorced by his wife. Furthermore, Miss Winters has never shown any more repugnance to being photographed by the press than, say, Jayne Mansfield. So when Miss Winters and her fiance went publicly and together to the Superior Court Building in Los Angeles to make an open and public bid on a home in Beverly Hills, a news photographer started to take a routine picture of the pair.

THIS IS WHERE the plot thickens and confusion reigns for us barbarians beyond the hills of Hollywood. The attempt to take a picture of Miss Winters and Franciosa together obviously fractured a strictly cinema social taboo. It caused Franciosa to fall upon the photographer and aim a placekick at his groin. And caused the law to jail Franciosa. "We can't have our pictures taken! He is still getting a divorce!" screamed Miss Winters. "He doesn’t want to be photographed because he doesn't want any scandal!” Sure enough, Franciosa was getting a divorce, on that very day. (Or rather, his wife received such a decree in Reno.)

ANYWAY, there you have the epitome of the delicate social usages that make Hollywood a trap for the unwary and a book of etiquette a necessity. Apparently, one of the basic rules says that if one is engaged to a man in the process of getting a divorce, it is all right to say it in print but not in pictures. That would constitute scandal. Of course, any book of etiquette is one-tenth politesse and nine-tenths anthropology. So my nominee as the author to tackle Hollywood's etiquette problems is Anthropologist Margaret Mead. Her study of the natives of Samoa made her world famous and ought to prepare her handsomely for research among the Holly-woodenheads." — Inez Robb for The Dessert Sun, May 4, 1957

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is generally annoyed by pleas for "new etiquette." Oh yes, and she edits the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia blog that you can read

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Restaurant Table Manners and Tykes

When these rules were first written...

Cellphones in restaurants? "Hang on... Grandma's talking." "Yes, Grandma? What? It's not good manners to talk on my cellphone in the restaurant? Okay. I'll just text instead."

This was not only inconceivable, but unthinkable...

Friday, March 25, 2016

Etiquette and No Chicken Salad, Please

Unless, of course, the Cesar Salad is better!

When I saw the advertisement above for the first time, featuring a newly published, two-volume book of etiquette from the early 1900s, I smiled. I often use a story that involves my grandmother and chicken salad when talking about restaurant etiquette with my students. I share the story with kids, young adults and adults alike. I use it to illustrate a point about good manners when invited out to eat, and how to look for cues and clues of what to do in different situations when one is a guest.

Years ago my mother called to say that my grandmother, her mother, wanted to take all of the ladies in the family to lunch in celebration of the upcoming Mother's Day. When I was growing up, we frequently had seasonal "Ladies' Lunches" at one of my aunts' homes, or in our home. I even hosted a few after getting married and starting my new family. This was the first time a restaurant was suggested, and my mother said that grandma was insisting on paying for everyone's lunch.

My grandmother was on a fixed income after my grandfather passed away. It was very small, so I immediately questioned the generous offer.  My mother told me that she and her sisters had both pointed that fact out to their mother, but grandma was insistent. She also chose the restaurant she wanted to take us to, and it was not known for its low prices.

When we arrived at the restaurant and were seated at our table, we were handed our menus. Within a nano-second, one of our party (either oblivious to grandma's financial situation or just sharing her enthusiasm for her favorite dish) said, "Ooooh.... they have the best prime rib here!" while opening her menu. 

Before I could nudge her under the table and give her a look usually reserved for my children and students, my grandmother quickly closed her menu, the faux leather menu holder practically snapping everyone to attention. "I think we should all have the Chicken Salad," she said. The guest itching for the prime rib seemed to deflate right before my eyes and closed her menu along with everyone else at the table. Everyone at the table except for me.
Third from right, standing next to my grandmother, in a 1980 snap after one of our seasonal lunches.
I was never a fan of Chicken Salad, but I certainly knew a cue from a hostess when I heard one.  I just happened to have the menu open to the page with the featured luncheon salads. I quickly looked down at the price of the Chicken Salad. Way back then it was $6.95, so I needed to work within that "price point." I spotted a Cesar Salad for $5.95, and said, "You know... I think I'd like the Cesar Salad instead. As I recall it is fairly good here." 

Grandma's eyes got big and looking a bit ruffled, she quickly reopened her menu. She spotted the salad's lower price, and said very enthusiastically, "That is a good choice!" Everyone else was reopening their menus, and perusing the salads, while I quietly closed mine.

The luncheon turned out to be a fun affair, with all of us enjoying our salads and chatting away about how we needed to get together more often. I am not sure how many in our party wound up with the suggested Chicken Salad, but the bill was rather low and we convinced grandma to at least allow us to each chip in a small amount for the tip. There was also a surprise dessert that arrived at the table for each of us. No one confessed to ordering it, but I have always had my suspicions.

We haven't had a "Ladies Luncheon" in several years now, what with grandma gone since 1999, all of us spread out in several states, and some of us younger ladies even becoming grandmas ourselves. I will always have sweet memories of the luncheons though, and even have a great instructional tale for my etiquette students and future generations to learn from, about reading and following a host's or hostess' cues.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Outlander Etiquette and Dress

The bergère hat (also known as a Shepherdess hat) and the ornate dress, are pretty much on target for Louis XV's reign, but a lady never held hands or linked arms with a gentleman. The women’s skirts were so wide, she was to place her hand on top of the gentleman’s bent arm as they strolled through the gardens and chambers of Versailles.

With excitement building for the upcoming new season of Outlander, as with other well done period dramas, I will try not to kill the enjoyment of watching the storyline by fussing over historical inaccuracies I catch in dialogue, wardrobe, or the odd blooper every now and then. 

For one thing, I know it drives my husband nuts. For another, the crews and casts do work very hard to make such shows look so very good. However, I cannot help but notice little details. I spotted the first error in my recent copy of Entertainment Weekly, and the new season hasn't even started. I am hoping the etiquette blooper above is simply a one-off, from a publicity photo shoot – a photographer thought it would look better for them to link arms, or ??? I will most likely never know. So from this point on, I will simply try to ignore anything that rudely jumps out at me and keep my popcorn consumption to a minimum.

Clothing and Etiquette at Versailles:

When Louis XIV came to the throne in 1643, the fashion capital of the world wasn’t Paris, but Madrid. Taste tends to follow power, and for the past two centuries or so Spain had been enjoying its Golden Age, amassing a vast global empire that fueled a booming domestic economy. Spanish style was tight and rigid—both physically and figuratively—and predominantly black. Not only was black considered to be sober and dignified by the staunchly Catholic Habsburg monarchy, but high-quality black dye was extremely expensive, and the Spanish flaunted their wealth by using as much of it as possible. They advertised their imperial ambitions, as well, for Spain imported logwood—a key dyestuff—from its colonies in modern-day Mexico. While Spain’s explorers and armies conquered the New World, her fashions conquered the old one, and Spanish style was adopted at courts throughout Europe.

At Versailles, a strict code of court dress and etiquette ensured a steady market for French-made clothing and jewelry. Louis has been accused of trying to control his nobles by forcing them to bankrupt themselves on French fashions, but, in fact, he often underwrote these expenses, believing that luxury was necessary not only to the economic health of the country but to the prestige and very survival of the monarchy. France soon became the dominant political and economic power in Europe, and French fashion began to eclipse Spanish fashion from Italy to the Netherlands. French was the new black.

A lady of Versailles never held hands or linked arms with a gentleman. It was in very bad taste and nearly impossible because a woman’s skirts were so wide. She was to place her hand on top of the gentleman’s bent arm as they strolled through the gardens and chambers of Versailles. Ladies were only allowed to touch their fingertips with the men.
— Sources - Atlantic Monthly and Etiquipedia Etiquette Encyclopedia