Lest We Forget

This Remembrance Day Canada Bereft, part of the Vimy Memorial, reminds us of the sacrifices that have been made for freedom.


Gazing down onto the tomb of The Unknown Soldier.

You’ll always be my hero Dad. Miss you.

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Backwards Dinner

For several years I have wanted to create a backwards dinner for my visiting nieces and nephews. That is, a main course that looks like dessert, and dessert that looks like a main course. Channelling my inner child?

I’ve put it off for a few reasons.:

It requires thought and effort.

What if the children thought it was silly.

What if it looked more like a dog’s dinner than a backwards dinner.

Well, this was the year. If I postponed much longer this visiting crew might consider themselves too old to engage in such silliness. Their aunt and uncle would, of course, never be too old for such silliness.

They immediately agreed to having dessert first. Even their dad didn’t take much convincing. It seems everyone is happy with relaxed summer dining.

Here’s the menu:


various tarts (mini quiche)


Frosted cupcakes

Frosted cupcakes

cupcakes with frosting (meatloaf made in muffin tins with whipped sweet potato frosting)

Ice cream with sprinkles

Ice cream with sprinkles

ice cream with sprinkles (whipped potatoes with peas sprinkled throughout)

caramel sauce (gravy)

Jelly Bellys

Jelly Bellys

Jelly Belly beans (bean salad with added rectangles of red, green, yellow, and orange peppers)





sliders (half of a two-bite brownie between vanilla wafers, icing condiments)



pizza (almond cream cheese on cookie base, circles of fruit, warm strawberry jam glaze)




The hors d’oeures were met with strange looks.

The main course was greeted with exclamations, the three and a half year old indignantly declaring “Not i cream!”

Dessert was eagerly anticipated and speculation began on what it could be.

Was it a success? Yes.

Will I do it again? Yes.

Was it silly? Yes.

Was it a fun, animated meal that family will remember? Yes.

Let us know if you’ve ever created a meal like this. What did you serve? How did you make it? And I’m sure you had as much fun being silly as I did. If you haven’t, I hope I have inspired you to try it. Be silly!

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Flip-Flops Are Not Shoes

detail of a businessman wearing flip-flops

When giving Business Etiquette workshops I’m often asked to touch on the topic of attire. I have a quick list of things that a professional would and wouldn’t wear. When I mention flip-flops (when I was growing up we called them thongs, but that has an entirely different meaning now!) I brace myself.

I simply state that flip-flops are not shoes. They are not part of professional attire unless one works at the beach or at public showers. Usually one person in each session crosses their arms, stares at me, and defiantly states that they have always worn flip-flops and will always wear them. Their body language tells me they won’t hear anything else I have to say on the matter.

After the sessions I usually have some less vocal participants stay behind to thank me for mentioning the inappropriateness of flip-flops in the workplace. They find them noisy and unprofessional in appearance. Some go as far as to say they are unsafe.

If your workplace has a dress code and states no flip-flops, then that is it. They are not part or your work wardrobe.

If your workplace doesn’t have a dress code then the decision is yours. It’s up to you. What impression do you want to make?

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Tipping. Do You Have To?

On a recent vacation in Central America we returned to our hotel just as a large group was checking in. I overheard a woman loudly proclaim, “I don’t tip anyone. They get paid for what they do.”

Wince. The ugly tourist strikes again.

I regularly present Business and Dining Etiquette workshops to newcomers to Canada. When talking about dining in a restaurant I always mention tipping. Someone in the group usually asks if they really have to tip. Of course there isn’t a law regarding tipping, but after I explain the reasons, I ask if any of their children are planning on part-time restaurant jobs during the summer. Once people, or their children, have been in the service industry they understand how tipping truly works.

This is not a blog post on who and how much to tip. That information is readily available. It is simply a statement that tipping is part of our culture and becoming part of many cultures.

  • In the service industry tips are assumed as part of earnings and salaries reflect this fact. The low hourly wage might shock some, especially tourists to other countries.

  • Tips are frequently shared among staff. Snubbing a slow waiter likely means depriving several others of anticipated income.

  • When travelling or dining out, be prepared to tip. Budget for it.

To the loud tourist in Central America, the tip you denied the porter was a fraction of the cost of your fancy umbrella drink. A small gesture on your part could make a significant difference in the life of someone else.

How to avoid being the ugly tourist?

  • Be aware. Know who and how much to tip before travelling.

  • Be prepared. Have small bills in your wallet ready to give.

  • Be sensitive. Give sincerely and discretely without being patronizing.

  • Be generous. Yes, you really do have much more than most of the world.

    bills ready to give

    bills ready to give

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Every Day Is a Special Day

Last week I was setting the table in preparation for my book club dinner. A spring dining table called for my mother’s silver flatware. She knew how much I loved handling the silver knives and forks as a child so passed them on to me.

I haven’t used them in a while so was struck again by the cartoon message she had tucked away in the corner of the box.silverware cartoon

It reminded me of a blog post I wrote five years ago, Use the Good Dishes. Now, because of a yellowed cartoon I’m adding, use the good flatware too. Every day is a special day. Thanks for the reminder, Mum.

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Asian woman taking self portrait selfie photo on Europe travel.I’m going to come right out and say it: I think selfies are silly. There. I said it out loud.

I feel justified in saying it after Prince Harry told a group of admiring onlookers in Australia “…selfies are bad. Just take a normal photograph.” So, the dashing prince said what a lot of us have always thought.

  • Offer to take a photo for a stranger in front of that famous monument. They’ll likely offer to do the same for you.

  • Many museums and galleries have banned the taking of selfies, especially the use of selfie sticks. Think about it.

  • Distorted selfie faces are an insult to true photography. With that expensive phone or camera don’t you expect a quality photo?

  • Do you really want to appear that self-absorbed?

  • Your friends aren’t anxiously awaiting another fish face of you.

I concede, there may be the odd time when a taking a selfie is justified:

  • You’ve just made it to the North Pole and there isn’t anyone else to take your photograph leaning against the red and white striped pole.

  • You really want a lopsided photo of the Acropolis with your distorted head and massive hands in the foreground.

I could go on with the justification examples, but you get the picture.

I doubt the selfie phase will completely pass but it is diminishing. That’s something to smile about.

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Ten Reasons I Love My Friends

Many of us have a handful of people in our lives who are dear to us. They make us smile, let us cry, and give us a virtual slap when we need it.

Like most of you, mine is comprised of friends and family. Some are miles and oceans away. Here’s why I love them:

  1. They talk rather than text. Real conversations. No embarrassment if it’s been a while.

  2. They appreciate our differences as well as our similarities.

  3. They listen.Best friends - kitten and small fluffy dog looking sideways - co

  4. If they judge me they keep it to themselves.

  5. They seem happy to see or hear from me.

  6. They celebrate my successes.

  7. They grieve with me.

  8. They share. No secret family recipes.

  9. They remember.

  10. They tolerate my character flaws.

I hope I give them some of what they give to me.

I thank them.

Share what friendship means to you.

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