Modern Manners

Over the years we evolve and change. Customs fall by the wayside and new ones emerge.  However, etiquette and manners is the backbone of a polite and happy society. Here’s a guide on how to be on your best behavior in the modern age.

Cell Phones

Nothing is more irritating than trying to have a conversation with someone who is on their phone. Whether you are texting or reading email, it’s just rude. Keep your phone out of sight when you are with someone. If you must check it, say, “Please excuse me, I need to see if I’ve received an important message.” Once you’ve checked it, put it away.

Baby Showers

It used to be that a shower was held for the first child in a family only. This is one tradition that has evolved. “Sprinkles” have arisen. While you might think that this is in bad taste, it’s actually not – if it’s done correctly. For starters, Sprinkle invitations should never contain a gift registry. You should actually not expect a gift at all if this is not your first baby shower. It’s not the responsibility of everyone you know to purchase all of the things your children need. This includes the cute little poems that try to get people to bring a book or a package of diapers. If you’ve already had a baby shower and received gifts, you’re done. Any shower or sprinkle after the fact may be thrown simply in celebration of the baby to come. That said, it’s actually alright to register for gifts. Tell the people who are in charge of your RSVP’s where you are registered, and if anyone asks when they RSVP, the women in charge can let them know. Also give these women an idea of what you need beforehand if you aren’t registering, so that if anyone asks what they can bring, they can get an idea. It’s alright to receive gifts at a sprinkle and many people will bring one. But it’s just in bad taste to expect it or to ask for it.

There’s an exception to this rule as well. If it’s been a long time since you’ve had your first child or if the new baby is from a new relationship, that changes things a bit. It’s more acceptable if there is a large age gap (as you will most likely have gotten rid of your baby items over the years). It’s also more acceptable if you are in a different relationship – your spouse/partner will have friends and family who will want to celebrate the baby with you as well.

The bottom line is this. All babies are a blessing, and it’s perfectly acceptable to want to celebrate each one of them with a party. But it’s in extremely bad taste to expect or request gifts every time. As stated, be prepared for those who want to get something for you, but don’t force that on anyone.

Thank You!

Thank you notes are still very much in style. If you have received a gift for a shower, wedding, anniversary, birthday, engagement, etc. then you should absolutely send a thank you note. Hand-written and sincere is best.

Bridal Showers

Bridal showers are the perfect occasion to celebrate the start of a new life. It’s perfectly acceptable to register for gifts and to include that registry information in the invitation. People know that bridal showers will include gift-giving and are happy to celebrate with you! However, your registry information is not to be included in your wedding invitation. Again, asking for a gift at your wedding is tacky. Leave the registries standing throughout the time frame of your wedding (anyone invited to your shower will know they are there). If you have a wedding website (I highly recommend this, it helps cut the clutter of your invitation and can include directions, dress code, etc.) the website should be referenced in your invitation. It is perfectly fine to list your registries on the website as well. You want the information to be available to your guests should they wish to purchase a gift, but including it in the invitation is wrong.

Common Courtesy

Walk out into the world and you will see that most people still have common courtesy. They will hold the door for you. They will let you out in traffic. They will pick something up for you if you drop it. Pay attention and don’t take any of this for granted. If someone does something to help you, say “Thank you!” If they let you into their lane our out into traffic, smile and wave. If you don’t have the courtesy to do that, in case no one else has the heart to tell you, you’re an asshole.

That said, don’t be afraid to help someone else and be the one to let them out into traffic. Hold the door for them. Offer to assist someone in need. That’s a world we all want to live in.

Respecting Culture in Gift Giving and Celebration

In the modern world when the internet – and all of the world’s knowledge – is literally at our fingertips, there is no reason to be ignorant when it comes to culture. If you are invited to a party for someone who is of a different culture from yours, it is acceptable to follow American tradition – but it’s also good to look into their culture. For example, I was invited, years ago, to the baby shower of a Chinese couple. The Chinese hold baby celebrations after the baby has been born. I wanted our gift to be meaningful, so I took the time to research their culture and incorporate that with our gift. This adds a special touch and shows that you truly care.

Telephone Courtesy

It would appear that the practice of ending a telephone call without saying “goodbye” has become a practice. This is rude and unacceptable. A conversation hasn’t ended until both people have said, “bye” – to hang up prior to this is thoughtless and is certainly bad manners.

When Visiting

When entering someone’s home, you should ask if your shoes should be removed. The bacteria and filth present on shoes is disgusting. It’s not only a health hazard for babies and small children who spend their time on the floor, it is also damaging to carpets and rugs. When visiting a home, be prepared to remove your shoes. If you don’t want to be barefoot, it’s acceptable to bring a pair of socks or slippers to wear.

When Invited

When you have been invited to a party, it is nice to bring a gift. If the party is for a child’s birthday, a gift should be purchased unless the parents have specifically stated that there should be no gifts. It is acceptable to bring a gift to an engagement party, a birthday party, an anniversary party, a housewarming party, and to dinner parties. There is a plethora of information out there on gift ideas for these occasions. But you should never be forced or required to bring a gift to any celebration. A celebration is just that – a gathering to celebrate something. The gift is truly the presence of the people there. Not the presents that they bring.

The bottom line of etiquette and manners is much like the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Be respectful. Give the people you are with your full attention. Don’t expect exorbitant or excessive gifts from people. Be kind and courteous. Our actions affect the people around us everywhere, every day. Make them good, kind, thoughtful actions – and that sentiment and will spread.

 

Living With Dishidrotic Eczema

Years ago I awoke one morning to find tiny, clear, itchy blisters on a few of my fingers. Thinking it was poison ivy, I scratched them open, poured rubbing alcohol on it, and moved on with my life. (I was in my 20’s, what can I say?) Time went on and it happened again. This time I was pretty sure I hadn’t been in the woods or anywhere poison ivy would be, but I handled it the same way. The third time, it was in the dead of winter. I knew for a fact it couldn’t be poison ivy. And when I thought about it, I have never had poison ivy in my entire life.

Years went by and I would occasionally have these little outbreaks of the blisters on my fingers. They were typically in-between my fingers. I searched online for an answer but found nothing. Eventually, I discovered an article on Dishidrotic Eczema. And I finally knew what was wrong with me. Here are signs of it, as listed on the website of the National Eczema Association:

Symptoms of dyshidrotic eczema include:

  • Deep-set blisters on the edges of the fingers, toes, palms and soles of the feet
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Flaking
  • Scaly, cracked skin
  • Pain

This particular form of eczema appears a tiny blisters which are extremely itchy. If you scratch them to relieve the itch, however, they not only get even itchier, but they spread. Super awesome, right? The skin can also thicken over time from all of the irritation, which – you guessed it – just makes the problem worse.

I eventually went to my doctor and he confirmed that it was, indeed, Dishidrotic Eczema. And so, finally having named the beast, I worked to find an answer. It has no cure, and it’s also not contagious, so don’t worry about spreading it to others. But since there is no cure, that means you have to just work to maintain it and keep it at bay. Several things can cause an outbreak. For me, stress is the biggest cause. Another is heat. The third biggest cause for me is water. A lot of handwashing will cause an outbreak. Just another hilarious joke on me from the universe since I also have OCD and – yes, you guessed it, wash my hands a lot. Let me list some things that can cause outbreaks for you here, which I also snagged from the website of the National Eczema Association. You can read more on there website here: https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/types-of-eczema/dyshidrotic-eczema/

Common triggers for dyshidrotic eczema:

  • Stress
  • Pollen
  • Moist hands and feet from excessive sweating or prolonged contact with water
  • Nickel in everyday objects such as jewelry, keys, cell phones, eyeglass frames, stainless steel items, and metal buttons, snaps and zippers
  • Nickel in foods such as cocoa, chocolate, soy beans, oatmeal, nuts, almonds, fresh and dried legumes, and canned foods
  • Cobalt in everyday objects such as cobalt-blue colored dishware, paints and varnishes; certain medical equipment; jewelry; and in metal snaps, buttons and zippers
  • Cobalt in foods such as clams, fish, leafy green vegetables, liver, milk, nuts, oysters, and red meat
  • Chromium salts used in the manufacturing of cement, mortar, leather, paints and anticorrosives

So how do I live with it every day? Some days it’s just not there. These are days when my outbreak triggers are at bay. When they aren’t? Things can get bad really quickly for me, especially in times of high stress. I’ve had a couple of outbreaks that spread all over my hands and up my arms, almost to my elbows. The upside? If I’m not managing my stressors, my eczema lets me know it immediately. So I’m just taking that as a signal my body is sending me to get things back on track.

The best way to manage it is to avoid your triggers once you know what they are. But we don’t live in a perfect world, so outbreaks will happen. Here are the products I use to deal with it. (All of the links below contain my Amazon affiliate link).

GREEN GOO                                                                                                                                             Find it here:  https://amzn.to/2zdoaCc

Green Goo is a salve that I use for anything from mosquito bites (I’m allergic, so when they bite me I get these massive, itchy welts on my skin), to sunburn. It also helps with my eczema. When I feel itchy between my fingers and I know something is starting to flare up, I grab this and put it on the area to stop the itching.

ALOE VERA GEL                                                                                                                                    Find it here:  https://amzn.to/2MUKIJS

Aloe Vera is incredibly soothing for the skin. This one is the one I use, but I’d imagine any would do the trick. It’s great for soothing irritation and it can help with the itching as well.

FIRST AID BEAUTY ULTRA REPAIR CREAM                                                                                   Find it here: https://amzn.to/2tVRF6n

Another hilarious aspect to this whole thing is that they recommend using creams and lotion to keep this eczema at bay. But for me, most creams and lotions actually aggravate the condition. This is the one cream I’ve found that doesn’t. I actually used it for awhile before reading it and seeing that it states right on it that it helps with eczema.

CLOBETASOL PROPIONATE CREAM

This cream is prescription strength and it’s a corticosteroid. Mine is prescribed by my doctor. I save this for the times when an outbreak is simply out of my control. It handles it quickly and gets things back in check. I use it very sparingly, as a little bit goes a long way. But I try to avoid using it a lot and use the first three things I listed more often.

Hopefully this has helped you. I wish I’d stumbled upon a blog like this years ago when I was wondering what in the hell was wrong with me. Have you found other ways of dealing with your dishidrotic eczema? If so, comment below!

 

Getting Your Dog From A Breeder Isn’t A Bad Thing – It Can Actually Help Rescues More Than Adopting A Stray

Adopt Don’t Shop is a little saying that has been pounded into the heads of everyone I know. People don’t want to encourage puppy mills, and they want homes for abandoned dogs all across the country. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But discouraging people from going to breeders is actually contributing to the problem in a couple of ways.

Now, before you light your torches and come after me, know this. I have personally rescued many animals in my lifetime from the Humane Society, the local dog pound, the side of the road, and strays. As a matter of fact, I’ve adopted 7 cats and given them a loving home until they passed. 2 are still with me today. I’ve also adopted 5 dogs. One of them is still with me, the others have passed. So don’t think I’m against adopting. But there are issues here that people need to know about, because, like with everything in life, there is always more to the story. Here are two huge reasons some people shouldn’t rescue.

First, many families want puppies. If you go to a responsible breeder, you know EXACTLY what kind of  a dog you are getting. This easily solves the problem of all of the dogs being dumped at the Humane Society and pound because the dog – got bigger/had more energy/didn’t fit some other imagined ideal – than the owner was expecting.

Second, Adopt Don’t Shop has created the most insane business venture you can imagine. “Rescue” dogs are actually being shipped into the country. And it’s big business. And you should be incredibly concerned. Many of the dogs coming in are bringing disease with them. See more in this article from NPR:

https://www.npr.org/2015/01/01/374257591/with-rescue-dogs-in-demand-more-shelters-look-far-afield-for-fido

Or this more recent article from The Washington Post:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/investigations/dog-auction-rescue-groups-donations/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.49118b3a1915

And there’s also no shame in wanting, in loving, a specific breed of dog. My rescues have all been incredible mutts and I wouldn’t have them any other way. But that doesn’t mean that bred dogs aren’t amazing as well. All animals are incredible. And society shaming breeders and the people who want bred dogs is just ridiculous. It’s time that it stops.

Puppy Mills are obviously a serious issue. But all breeders are certainly not puppy mills. It’s your responsibility to find a reputable, reliable, responsible breeder. And they absolutely exist. I happen to know one. And that’s where I just got my dog.

A few years ago my husband and I went to dinner at a local restaurant and ended up being seated at the bar because it was too crowded. We were sat beside a couple who we immediately began talking to. They bred German Shepherds. One of my all-time favorite dog breeds. Talking to them was amazing. This woman, named Jean, flew dogs in from all over the world. Russia, Germany, etc. These dogs placed first place in competitions worldwide. They were the best of the best. Her passion, love and excitement were incredible to see. When I told her I’d always rescued and spoke of our current dogs, Bruno and Brautigan, she stopped me. She said, “Brautigan?” (Lots of people need me to repeat his name because they’ve never heard it.) So I said yes, that he was named after an author. She said, “Yeah, Richard Brautigan. My first dog’s name was Brautigan.” Let me tell you, I about fell off my chair. NO ONE knows who Richard Brautigan is, let alone names their dog after him. It was kizmit. We connected on Facebook so that I could see pictures of her Shepherds and so that, maybe someday, I could get one.

A couple of years went by and then, as you know, last October we had to put my beloved to sleep. His name was Bruno. He was actually rescued by a couple who would go to pounds, pull dogs off the kill list, fully vet and test them, and then find them homes. He was the world’s biggest baby and the love of my life. You can look a few blogs back to read all about him. Putting him down was so hard on me, and I really had a tough time getting over it. I still miss him, I think I always will.

But a few months ago my husband and I started to consider getting another dog. I contacted Jean and we discussed options. We didn’t think we wanted a puppy because I wasn’t ready to deal with a puppy as well as 3 kids under 5. So I went out to Jean’s house to meet some dogs. She introduced me to a couple of dogs, and then I met Queenie.

Jean opened the door and Queenie ran over to me, jumped up, and then snuggled me. It was love at first sight. A couple of months went by and we decided to get her. Queenie will be 5 next week, so she still has energy to play with the kids, but she is out of that destructive puppy faze. We introduced her to Brautigan. The first time didn’t go so well (I love Brautigan, but he’s kind of an asshole.) So I studied how to introduce a new dog, followed the steps, and the second time was the charm! They’ve been perfect!

Queenie is definitely my dog. She is always at my side. She is so loving and sweet and gentle, you would think she was raised with my children. When children walk into the room, she excitedly greets them with a gentle kiss. Their loud antics and wildness don’t bother her. She isn’t fazed by our cats. She behaves as though she was trained by me. When I take her out with me, like to PetSmart, she walks right beside me, and when I stop to look at something, she sits by me. When we walk, she is gentle on her lead. She is the perfect dog. And until she was here, I don’t think I realized just how much I was missing my Bruno. Queenie has filled a place in my heart and has made me feel complete and happy and content. She is an incredible specimen to behold. She is beautiful, elegant, and perfect. She is obviously bred from the best in the world. Her name suits her perfectly. She is, indeed, a Queen. But breeding aside, I have found my new best friend. And while I would have gone to the mat in the past to state that rescue dogs were the best dogs, what I’ve learned is that bred dogs are also the best dogs. And whether you get one from the shelter or a breeder, you can count on having a best friend for life.

 

 

Why I Don’t Like Blue Apron

My last blog was on my time spent trying out the home-order meal prep kits from Hello Fresh. I wanted to see what else was out there though, so once I canceled my Hello Fresh, I chose to try Blue Apron. With Hello Fresh, I planned to try it once and quit. But I liked it so much that I ended up ordering it for a month! With Blue Apron, I only ordered once, and I canceled. Let me tell you why.

Since I had been getting Hello Fresh already, I had something to compare Blue Apron to. Let me start with the packaging. Blue Apron’s food all comes thrown together in a box. You have to go through it all and figure out which items go with each recipe. With Hello Fresh, each recipe was separated in its own bag. You literally just had to grab the (well-labeled bag) and get the stuff out. It took one minute versus several minutes scanning the Blue Apron recipe for ingredients, and then picking through everything to find them.

The second issue I have is a MAJOR issue for me. Blue Apron’s foods had NO EXPIRATION DATES. None of the foods let me know how long they’d be good for! EVERY item from Hello Fresh had a date on it. I’m comfortable with that because I’m getting several meals. It’s not like I’m cooking all of them in a day. I get them on Saturday. I need to know on Thursday if the food is still good.

This last issue moves over into the meat category. The meats also didn’t have an expiration date. They simply said (very small on the back) to use or freeze immediately. What am I supposed to do with that? I can pull frozen meat out of my freezer right freaking now. The point of ordering this is for the simplicity. Unfortunately, I didn’t see those teeny instructions on the fish and chicken, and was unable to use either. I called them and the woman said that they needed to have been used or frozen right away and instructed me to throw them out. That was NEVER the case with anything I ordered from Hello Fresh. Their foods are all guaranteed to be good for 6 days after receipt and if they won’t be good that long, they put a big, noticeable sticker on it letting you know that you should cook that meal first.

The only thing that Blue Apron had going for it was the fact that the one thing I was able to cook (sans the fish) was pretty tasty. But so was everything I got from Hello Fresh.

In all, I wasn’t happy with the packaging, the lack of dating on the food, and the fact that half the food was wasted because it wasn’t made easily and clearly known that the food needed to be frozen. That’s like throwing money in the trash – something that really, really irritates me. If I ever decide to afford home order meal kits again, I’d never consider Blue Apron again.

What You Need To Know About HelloFresh

I started seeing ads and videos for HelloFresh awhile ago. We also get coupons for it in our FabFitFun boxes on occasion. I ignored it all because I assumed it would be super expensive. Then I decided to use one of my coupons and give it a try.

There is one solid reason for me deciding to do this. I can’t cook. I mean, I can, but I’m intimidated by cookbooks because there is so much I don’t know. I would have to google so much about following the recipe that I never bothered. HelloFresh is not what I would consider cheap, but it is affordable for us for a short time. We chose the Family plan, and it was $104 per week for 3 meals for 4 people, so 12 meals total. That’s not bad really, it’s actually less than the cost of going out for us. But the joy of going out is no cleanup!

The real reason I ordered is because I’m using them as a cooking class. They send everything, including detailed instructions with pictures. And this is cheaper than cooking classes, so I’m in.

Here’s what is most important to me though, and what I want you to know. We had been getting them for a few weeks when our latest delivery never showed up. I went on the FedEx website and it was delayed (by FedEx). The box took an extra 3 days to get to us, and when it finally arrived (after sitting in hot areas for 5 days) it was rotting and disgusting. The fault for this lies entirely on FedEx – a company I wouldn’t ship with ever again if I had the option, but that’s a story for another day. I called HelloFresh to let them know what happened and they were so incredibly apologetic (again, not even their fault) and immediately refunded me the cost of the box. The next day I received an email that they were sending a replacement box at no charge. So we got an entire free box, even though it was not at all their fault that this happened. Everyone I spoke to was awesome! They have the best customer service out there, and that’s something that I want the world to know. It means a lot to me that there are companies who truly care about us and our business, and are willing to go the extra mile for their clients and customers!

As far as the service and food go, everything we’ve received was easy to make and DELICIOUS. I’m so happy with it. I had planned to try it for a few weeks and cancel, because we really can’t afford it all of the time. But since they were so nice, I’m going to keep it going for a little while longer. Another great thing about the service is that you can pause it, skip weeks, etc. You aren’t locked into anything and can cancel anytime. I love you HelloFresh. Thanks for teaching me how to cook for my family!

Here are some of the dishes I’ve cooked up so far, in case you’re interested. Thanks for reading, and if you want to try HelloFresh, I highly recommend it! Here’s my link if you want to try it out!

https://www.hellofresh.com?c=MEGANGETT&utm_source=raf-share&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=clipboard

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Pork Carnitas Tacos with Cheese, Onion, and a Lime Crema
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Cranberry Apple Pork Chops with Roasted Baby Carrots and Herbed Potatoes
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Pesto Chicken with Potatoes and Green Salad
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Cauliflower Mac-N-Cheese with Pancetta, Cavatappi and Scallions
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Provencal Herbed Chicken with Burst Tomatoes and Cheesy Pesto Orzo

The Mila Vincent Brush Cleaner REVIEW!

Hey guys! I’ve been looking at brush cleaners for awhile now. I’ve tried using wipes and sprays, but they just don’t get my brushes completely clean. So I ended up deciding on this one. It was on Amazon for only $19.99, which was the cheapest I’ve seen one of these. I was a little afraid that it might not work well, but I didn’t want to pay a fortune. I’ll post pictures and a video of us using it so you can see it in action! If you want to get your own, here’s the link! (This is not a paid promotion, I paid for this item myself. The link below is my affiliate link.)

Brush Cleaner on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2JmLHEs

 

 

Some tips I have are that if the device doesn’t seem to be spinning evenly or quickly, try pulling the brush out of the silicone cover just a little bit. If the brush is too close to the top, sometimes it seems to throw it off. In addition, some of my brushes were so dirty that I had to clean them a couple of times.

In all, I give this a 10/10! It did an awesome job cleaning all of my brushes. It was super easy to use and the silicone pieces fit all of my varied brush sizes. Some of them I had to force in, but the silicone stretched to accommodate all the sizes easily.

I used hot water and Dawn dishsoap (the green antibacterial version).

See it in action below! Thanks for reading!

Sprucing Up Your Porch

As the cool weather begins to subside – finally! – as is typical for me, I start getting giddy about outdoor things. Like making my yard look cute, planting flowers and plants, and dressing up our outdoor living areas, namely, our porches. It’s so easy to give your porch a whole new look without spending a ton of money. We already had a table and a couple of chairs out there, so I added a few little decorations.

The first thing I did was to remove an old rug that was out there. It looked really dirty and dingy, and I decided that I’d rather just see the wood. The next thing I did was spend a few bucks on these items:

I picked this lantern up at TJ Maxx. That candle was in my FabFitFun Box!

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Then I went to Ragon House and got this sign ($6.00) and the lanterns, ($16 and $14):

I threw a couple of throw pillows out there, and – voila!

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My point is this, you don’t need to spend a bunch of money to improve your space! I already had the lantern, candle and pillows. I just moved them out to the porch. And the sign and lanterns cost around $30 total! If you don’t have the money to redo, then just renew! Move some of your items around to different rooms to get a whole new feel from the things you already own. And a little paint goes a LONG way. I have transformed chairs, lamps and furniture with a can of spray paint (super cheap!) or a gallon of paint! It’s Spring, so if you’re feeling like a fresh start, get creative!

April 2018 Subscriptions! FabFitFun, Boxycharm and Ipsy!

Hey guys! I’ll put links below if you want to join any of these subs!

My #FabFitFunPartner Link! Use the code SUNSHINE to receive $10 off your first box here: https://t.fabfitfun.com/aff_c?offer_id=13&aff_id=11190

 

Join Boxy here: https://www.boxycharm.com/refer/Megan-KEMVLZMF

 

Join Ipsy here: https://www.ipsy.com/new?cid=ppage_ref&sid=link&refer=14mf50

Kitchen Renovation!

Hey guys! This is the first in my Our Home series, where I show you before and after videos and pictures of rooms in our home that we have redone! We do all of the work ourselves and it’s such a joy!

Here are some “before” pictures, watch the video for the “after” video and to hear why we chose the things we did!