Family Matters

I’ve been writing on this gluten-free blog for nearly a year now, and I find myself wanting to write more and more about life in general, and family in particular. Although I began this blog intending it to be a resource for other gluten-free people, I think it is probably OK to talk about my life as well. There are a number of blogs which do this successfully, notably Gluten-free girl and Gluten-free Goddess.

BUT there may be no interest from the gluten-free people about my family life, having twins, or whatever else I want to talk about. So I’ll post these updates on my main blog but will categorise them as “Family Matters”. In time, if there is enough interest, I might branch out into a second blog. No doubt in the geek test, that is a question that will replace the number of email addresses you have – how many blogs do you write?

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Reflections on manners

Call me old-fashioned, but I am a stickler for manners. I’m firmly of the belief that manners aren’t a nice thing to have, but a non-negotiable necessity. I spend a lot of time using manners myself and insisting that my children use manners every single day. At the most basic level, I believe that saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are vital, no matter who you are talking to. Manners should be just more than please and thank you. Manners are responding appropriately when you are given a gift. I always sent thank you notes; now I tend to send thank you emails. Good manners mean not saying “oh I’ve already got one of those” on receipt of a gift; they mean making your bed or asking if you should strip the sheets when you stay at someone’s house ; they mean thanking the maker of a meal for their effort and offering to help with the clean up; good manners mean taking your glass or plate to the kitchen bench when you are at someone else’s house and finding a time which suits them for you to shower in the morning.

Good manners extend further though, and in the 10 months I’ve been writing this blog, I have observed a correlation between the manners shown by the various proprietors/ managers of eating establishments and the quality of their establishment. I always make a point of emailing a cafe or restaurant (or shop!) when I post a review of a venue or product. I do this, because I consider it good manners to inform the subject of my comments if I am commenting in a public forum. Those places that I enjoyed or thought highly of have all made a point of responding, even if it is just to say thank you, as Galbraith’s did this week. The best of the responses have been where the review I have done HASN’T been as positive, but the manager or proprietor has taken the time to respond.

It seems to me that the better the establishment, in my terms of service, food quality, gluten-free labelling and options, are the ones most likely to respond to a review, be it good, bad or indifferent. Those places which are not so good don’t even bother to acknowledge that you’ve taken the time to review them and don’t have the courtesy to reply to your email with a simple thank you. This is not totally true – there have been a couple of very good places which haven’t responded, and a couple of not-so-good places which have. But in the main, it seems to me that I am more drawn to those places where manners are displayed. Maybe I’m not the only old-fashioned one.

Of teapots and friendship

Tetsubin Tea Pot

I am a tea drinker. I love tea. I love the act of making tea and I love the taste of tea. I love the sociability of drinking a cup of tea. I love teapots. On our recent trip to the US, we stopped by a tea store in a mall in Pittsburgh and they had the most beautiful teapots. Cast iron, pottery and also lots of small and beautiful cups. I lusted after those teapots. I wanted those teapots. My fingers were itching to pick up, pay the exorbitant price for and take away one of those teapots. I even bought some extremely expensive white Earl Grey tea to taste. But I resisted the teapots themselves.

The next day, we were visiting our friends Marcy and Jim. Everyone else drank coffee. Jim offered me a cup of tea, and went to get his teapot off the sideboard. When he brought it back to the kitchen, lo and behold, it was the very teapot I had been coveting.

The teapot's best side!

Jim made a real ceremony of making my tea. He warmed the teapot, warmed my cup, used a very nice leaf tea and made me a delicious cup of tea. As my covetousness reached new levels, he suggested we check Amazon and indeed, the price was significantly less. The cast iron teapots were the ones I loved the most, and the price was reasonable, but we decided the weight of getting a teapot back to New Zealand made it an unfeasible purchase.

It was my birthday yesterday. My lovely husband produced a brown box from Amazon, and you guessed it, there was a teapot inside. The very teapot that I had loved.

So now, I have a beautiful teapot. It not only looks lovely, but it pours very nicely – an important feature in a teapot – and makes a wonderful cup of tea. Every time I use the teapot, it is like I am back in Marcy and Jim’s kitchen, watching Jim making me tea and listening to Marcy talk in the next room.

Summer teapot - bottlebrush in the background

And this afternoon, I found a further link with my teapot and my US trip as I tried to take a photo of the teapot for this post. My teapot went up on a post, went on the fort, sat in front of the blueberry tree and so on as I attempted to emulate the photographic genius of my friend Rhonda. As I was flitting around taking photos, I could just about feel Rhonda looking over my shoulder offering suggestions. I was going to put just the one photo in my post, but decided I liked all of these. And I’m sure you all want to see my wonderful gift, even though it is not in the slightest related to being gluten-free!

This is the best kind of present in my eyes – one which is beautiful, functional, desired and has strong emotional connections which generate wonderful memories every time it is used.