Snapshot of Americana

I have been gone all day.  I was at church, home long enough to change clothes, at a church function, then at a revised Sunday dinner before discovering a missed phone call and spending an hour on the phone with an old friend.  When I finally got in the house, I checked Facebook and email to catch up.  Upon which, I discovered, the new health care package was passed.

If I were to take this at face value among my Facebook friends, there is an interesting conundrum.  Evidently 2/3 of my vocal (i.e., post all opinions on Facebook) friends think this country is now going straight to hell in a handbasket.  Then there are the few vocals ones that say thank god for finally doing something about health care.

What I find interesting about this ratio is that the majority of my Facebook friends are staunch supporters of health care reform.  They have just remained silent compared to those that are die-hard Republicans and think that supporting health care reform or President Barack Obama is akin to aligning oneself with the devil.  The decry the desecration of the Constitution in the past day, that the national decision makers have forgotten the principles upon which the country was founded, and that we are now, essentially Europe.

Now don’t get me wrong, I haven’t read the news all day.  I just find this humorous.  I disagree with much of those opinions, and the one thing that keeps coming back to me is this:

Founding Fathers never had to deal with HMOs or insurance companies.  They could trade a side of beef or a wheel of cheese for decent medical care.  If you can find a doctor that will work for such wages in today’s economy then please, by all means, let me know.  I’m moving to your town.

Interesting nighttime reading!  Time to check on the news reports and see what all the hooplah is about!

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It’s Irksome!

A friend of mine has two older brothers.  The wives of both are friends of mine as well, one much more so than the other.  I read today on Facebook that J&A are expecting their second child, to go along with an 18 month old they already have.  The expected congratulations were forthcoming, including one from the future grandmother, who wrote, “Wishing you the best for an eazy pregnancy and a healthy baby!”

Eazy.  From a woman who taught high school English for her entire career.

I don’t know why but that irks the tar out of me.  I can handle misspelled words–as we all know the electronic youth of today have no concept of spell-check or constantly use gr8 as an acceptable printing of great.  Usually I just read with no concern.  But for some reason, to have a former English teacher do that bothered me.  Probably because she’s someone who has no problem correcting my speech in normal conversation or critiquing her daughter in public or correcting what she thinks is wrong for anyone.

But for some reason, tonight, when I saw eazy?  Really?  It irked me.

I’m just sayin’.

Bridal Dos and Don’ts, Part 4

Disclaimer: Seriously, this is just stuff I think.  Make your own list!

Final notes

  • Your caterers are waiters and waitresses.  They are usually making about $4/hour for your event.  TIP THEM.  If you tip the manager or the catering director, the odds are that the money will never make it to the staff.  One of the companies that I left a management position in I left for that very reason–the owner got the tip and didn’t share, and it equated to several hundred dollars per event minimum.  That should be split amongst those that actually work the event, and he was pocketing it.  I was taxed for it.  If at all possible, tip the servers the night of the function, as the odds that they will receive the money will go up considerably.  Also tip appropriately.  $100 for a catered event for 250 people means that each worker will get about $7.50.  You do the math.  If you can tip your bartenders separately, that’s even better.  They are second to the bridal bitch in the hardest working people around.
  • If you see the workers drinking, it’s kind of standard.  I don’t drink often, and I never drink at work.  It’s a habit born of having to drive everyone else home.  But chefs are known for their alcohol abuse, and you can bet that when the last guest is gone everyone is popping the bottle open.  If you are in a smaller venue you’ll probably see blatant consummation.
  • Speaking of consummation, don’t consummate the wedding at the reception, wait until the wedding night.  That’s just tacky, y’all.  And most of all, keep an eye on the bridal party.  Those of you who are not marrying for love (and you know who you are) need to be wary.  More than once I have walked in on the groom with someone in a compromising position, and that someone was not the one wearing white that just said “I do”.
  • The day is supposed to be fun.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  So it’s raining, it’s good luck in some cultures.  So the mother of the groom is patting your belly asking about the bun in the oven, and you’ve not even thought about kids.  She’s now your family, and you’ve got to learn to ignore her at some point.  It’s a whole new life baby, get ready for the ride!

That’s it, kiddos.  I could have kept going, but even I am sick of reading this stuff.  What are your tips???

Bridal Dos and Don’ts, Part 3

Disclaimer: Blah blah blah.  Same stuff I’ve said the last two days.

Only one more day after this, I promise!

The reception

  • Have enough food.  Doesn’t have to be steak for everyone, a buffet is fine.  Just have enough.
  • Have appropriate entertainment.  It can be a reception in the church fellowship hall where all are mingling, and that’s fine.  A karaoke machine instead of a band is a hard sell, especially when the bride limits the singers to the bridal party only.  (There were only so many times I could hear Redneck Woman.)  A band is fine, a DJ is fine.  If your guests are mostly over the age of 60, it is a waste of money to have a dance floor.  A string quartet of high school students makes a nice background accompaniment.
  • Take care of rituals early so that your extended guests can leave.  Don’t wait three hours to cut the cake, toss the bouquet, etc.
  • The best man makes a speech.  Maybe the maid of honor.  Not every member of the bridal party and every family member present.
  • Beware the camera-on-every-table trick.  If you do this, you’ll get a ton of photos of the first 90 minutes of the reception and then the film will be gone.  It’s a great idea in theory.  One of the best ways I saw it handled was to have the caterers put cameras on a singular table in shifts every hour or so, so that new cameras would be available for other photos.
  • Be nice to your bartender.  There may not be a tip jar displayed due to company rules, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t take cash.  Also remember that an open bar does not mean that the bartenders are getting tipped.
  • Know when to wrap things up.  Make sure that you have a time table.  Your caterers have been working at least two, sometimes three hours longer than you have been there, and usually they have another hour or so after the last guest leaves.  Not to mention you will also have to pay a fine if you go over in time for your venue rental.

The cake: Continue reading

Bridal Dos and Don’ts, Part 2

Disclaimer: This post is completely opinionated.  It is from my experience as a caterer and ‘bridal bitch’ for more than fifteen years, as well as being in seven weddings as an attendant of some sort.  It is compiled from the conversations employees had in the kitchen during/after events and cracking up over the antics of whatever reception was going on.  It is by no means meant to be a gospel truth, it’s just lessons learned over time!

Continued from yesterday, and to be continued tomorrow!!!

The ceremony

  • Depending on your religion, ethnicity, and personal preference, just about anything goes.  You may have a full homily, you may have written your own vows, you may have  just enough strength to say “I do” and nothing else.  Pre-ceremony music is fine.  Eighteen solos is extensive.  A long-lost tape recording of dad playing the recorder is a bit much.  Just remember your guests.   Communion for 200 takes a lot of time, so have more than one person offering.  A full homily can take awhile, so make sure that you have seats for the wedding party.   Many people may not be of your faith, so a program would be nice explaining traditions such as kneeling, head coverings, etc. Continue reading

Bridal Dos and Don’ts, Part 1

Disclaimer: This post is completely opinionated.  It is from my experience as a caterer and ‘bridal bitch’ for more than fifteen years, as well as being in seven weddings as an attendant of some sort.  It is compiled from the conversations employees had in the kitchen during/after events and cracking up over the antics of whatever reception was going on.  It is by no means meant to be a gospel truth, it’s just lessons learned over time!

So when I started typing, I realized I had a lot to say.  I guess 15 years of working weddings leads to a very opinionated point of view.  So it will probably be 2-3 days worth of postings!

Before the ceremony

  • Arrive with plenty of time to get ready.  Be it at a church or at a venue, give yourself at least two hours to relax and to get dressed with no stress.  Depending on your hair length, you have probably had someone else style your hair ahead of time.  Take care.  Do not wear a pullover shirt, do not ride with the windows down, do not run after your flower girl.  You are already on wedding alert, and cannot mess with the hair because odds are someone there will not be able to fix it.
  • Have a ‘bridal bitch’.  This is a term that we called the head catering employee that was to wait on the bride and make sure all needs are met.  If you are getting married in a church or someplace other than the reception site, ask a friend to do it.  Your Mistress of Ceremonies could, but odds are they are otherwise occupied.  This person should come prepared with the following items: Bottled water, straws, mending kit, tampons, first aid kit (bandaids, peroxide, etc.), several travel packs of tissues, saltines, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, contact/saline solution, bobby pins, hair spray, serious sticky tape, matches, nail polish, washcloth, and straight pins/floral pins/floral tape.  I know, I know, you want to know what all this is for.  I shall explain:

Continue reading

Women in bridal mode can be so catty!

My cousin and her new husband

I used to cater at a local botanical garden, a spot which is very popular for weddings here in town.  And rightly so, it is a beautiful location.  I worked through a change in the catering contract, serving two different employers through many changes in policy and menu.  I loved working at the tea house, as it was a fine dining location with a beautiful landscape and one of the few places in town where you could get a fantastic brunch.  We were only open on Saturday and Sunday from 10-2, and the rest of the weekend I worked weddings that occurred in the garden.  With the main house, a historic manor, a rose garden pavilion (where my best friend got married a few years ago), the tea house, the conservatory, and various spots in the garden for smaller, intimate weddings, trust me–there were plenty that occurred between April-October.  I was the point person on the weddings I worked, which means I was second only to the manager for what happened, who did what, how to get things accomplished, and was the primary (as we called it) bridal bitch, waiting on the bride (and usually the monster-mother-of) hand and foot to make sure that all was perfect on her special day.

I loved my job.  I really did.  Didn’t exactly go to college and graduate school to cut wedding cakes for a living, though, and when I had one Saturday, working from 8am to 2am, and I cut SIX wedding cakes that day, well, I realized I was over it.  Continue reading