Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gluten Free Cooks.....

Anyone out there who is a Gluten free cook for the little ones, I would love to start a weekly Co op to share our snacks. We could each make something, ie muffins, cookies, etc and meet once a week to divide up. That way we only need to cook one thing per week and we would have a good variety for the kiddos. Let me know if you are interested. Limited to Mesa, Chandler , Gilbert area where we can meet somewhere central. I can provide recipes if needed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's The Most Wonderful Time...of The Year!

It is that time of year, the time of year where I think about one of my favorite commercials, you know....the Staples one. The one where the dad is pushing the shopping cart with the music blaring in the background "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.". He is loading his cart with school supplies, dancing in the isles, the kids behind him with glum looks of school days. Boy how I can relate. If you are one of those moms dreading sending your children back to school, waiting anxiously for their return each day,missing their daily company, I am not one of you. Me....well , let's just say.... kids....don't let the door hit you in the butt. This mama is ready for a little ME time! If you need to know the reasons, here is my top ten list of why I am glad the school days are ahead:

1: Lunch time will be just that, ONE lunch time, not five different lunch times occurring exactly one right after another precisely when the previous lunch was just cleaned up.
2. I also will only be eating one lunch, not 5 thus (Hopefully) loosing the few extra pounds I gained this summer with all the food
we had around here.
3. I will save at least $100 per week on gas for not being the taxi to all 5 every single minute of the day at their beck and call. I will reserve my strength and gas for the after school hours.

4. I may be able to actually sit down during the day other than the times I am in my car or in the bathroom.
5. Less kids, less laundry due to the fact that if they are at school, they cannot change their clothes 5 times per day.

6. Once I clean the house in the morning, it will actually stay clean for a few hours. Can't wait!
7. Only one little person home to yell "Mom!" like it was a cuss word and he can't talk yet so I'm home free. (although I would love to
hear him yell anything)
8. My gym time will not be interrupted by the fact that said child has something much more important to do like going to the mall which means I must change my gym clothes for my taxi driver clothes. No more workout excuses.
9. I may actually have time to cross something off my to do list instead of just adding something.
10. I have 2.5 hours per day totally by myself
unless I choose otherwise. Yipee!

Don't be mistaken, I love my little monkeys, we have had a great summer.'s just that I have loved them a whole lot these last few months and I am ready to let someone else love them for a few hours which will make me love them even more when they walk through the door. My husba
nd says I am dreaming, that at the end of the year I am always excited for summer thinking it will be more relaxing than the hectic school year. Maybe so, but let me dream a little!

Anyways, for the question of the day..... WHAT DO I PUT IN THEIR SCHOOL LUNCHES????? Here you go in a nut shell.

Usually a sandwich on whole wheat with nitrite free lunch meat and spinach leaves. way better than lettuce. Then, a fruit or veggie. Some good chips like the natural line of lays or Sunchips, etc. A treat usually something home baked or a good cookie or snack from Nature Valley. Sometimes I put in chips and salsa or homemade yogurt with granola or some mini muffins. Sometimes I go a little crazy and give them a Zebra Cake or something horrible like that. Field Trips they always get to pick out what they want. I let them buy once or twice a week but they usually pick the salads. Crazy kids. We decide together what they will buy at the beginning of the week so they don't pick the popcorn shrimp or something in that genre. So, lunches are pretty simple. Nothing blue, nothing bright green, no lunchables or PB and J crustables. Homemade and preservative free. A little sugar, a little salt. They get enough treats at school so I want them to get some nutrition from me. I am sure the teachers appreciate keeping the sugar high down a bit.

So, happy school days ahead to you all. Let me know if you have any first day of school traditions or special things you do for your lunches. Share your ideas. I will miss them a bit, at least my daughter. I do look forward to seeing them after school. I do love them but I am ready to have a little peace. Are you with me? Who is ready for a celebratory breakfast come August 6th???

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Super simple, super yummy....

I have not done too well at my goal of one new recipe a week ,since summer has been so busy but I have vowed to start anew. Here is one I just tried out from a great blog called My Kitchen Cafe. You can link to it from the Sister's Cafe site , also one of my favorites. I would make about every recipe on each of those blogs. Tonight's recipe was so easy and so yummy. It was a bit spicy so I think for any of you with mild tongues, go easy on the glaze or reduce the red pepper flakes in the glaze by half. The recipe is called "Sticky Coconut Chicken" and I won't retype it so just check out her site. I used chicken tenderloins instead of thighs and added some coconut milk to my rice also like she recommended. I baked a sweet potato then fried it a bit in some butter. I grilled some fresh pineapple with a little brown sugar and tossed the Parisenne salad from Costco. I marinated the chicken for about 5 hours which I would really recommend. When it came time to putting this together, the prep time was nothing. Great Sunday dinner. Try it out. I would order this from a restaurant menu. I can't wait to try the other recipes from these blogs. I will let you know my favorites. Try some out and let me know! Go crazy!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

One Year Older and Wiser too.......

I have now officially entered my 36th year and I contemplate what I have learned at this point in my life. As a young girl, I always wanted to be in my thirties. I always felt older and wanted to be taken seriously. Now, at 36, I am taken seriously as I always wished and now I often wish to go back to the days of being the young girl...longing for the days when you laughed until you cried, when you only had boys to worry about instead of kids. No, I don't really want to be a teenager again but why do we always want to get to another point in time? Why don't we just always enjoy where we are and what we are learning now? To relish in the simple act of life itself and living in the moment, not longing for the moments to come or the moments that have passed. So, I reflect ....what has my 36 years taught me has my 36 years on this planet made me older and wiser? What do I know now that I didn't know then?????
1: You don't ever think your butt or thighs look good in the present, it is only looking at yourself in the previous years that you can appreciate how you looked then. At 13 and 102 pounds, I had a smokin hot bod and I thought I was FAT???Gees....if I only I could go back and appreciate it then. What I wouldn't do to have THOSE legs now! I am sure that at 50 I will look at my pictures now and think the same thing. I must start to appreciate the body I have now and stop looking at the 20 somethings in the gym longing to have those buns. No......I will not have the 20 year old body again. Lesson learned: Move on. Get over it. I am not 20.
2: The people that I admire the most are not the ones who look the best or wear the best jeans, they are those who remember others, who take the time to make time for those around them and are not so self absorbed in themselves. They are the most beautiful. They are the ones who I want to be like. Lesson learned: A girl is cute in designer jeans, but a woman is most beautiful when she wears them while bringing dinner to a neighbor.
3: Motherhood is a whole lot harder than I ever thought when I was the young woman dreaming about those sweet little babies I would someday hold alongside my perfect prince charming. However, I also never thought that sitting all night in the ER holding those little babies with pure exhaustion and worry could end up being the most tender moments with them, that being woken up at 1:06 am with two children simultaneously throwing up on their carpets crying for mom would be one of the moments I would remember as realizing that yes, I am the mom. I am the one that they want over anyone else and somehow I feel honored to clean up their puke. It is those moments that seem so hard that you can feel the most loved.
Lesson learned: Motherhood is a badge of honor and is made more precious by the most trying times in life. Relish in the every moment. Appreciate it all.
4. It is important to put yourself first on the list. Get up, get dressed, make yourself pretty. When you feel good, you have more to give. If we always take care of everyone else before our selves, all the time, we can crack. Lesson learned: Enjoy a good piece of chocolate cake , buy a cute new shirt and go to the bathroom by yourselves without the two year old banging on the door now and then. Sanity.
5. Yes, it is true, children do grow up so fast. You never think they will when you stay up all night with the newborns, but you blink and they are starting their first day of high school. Where did time go? Why did I want them to grow up? You get so excited to be able to sleep through the night again only to get teenagers who keep you up to all hours of the night. Lesson learned: Sleep is overrated. Hold on to them every minute because the minutes are going to be gone and you miss the nights that you sat up with them instead of getting the good night sleep that you longed for.
There are so many more lesson's that I have learned in life, those are just a few. I look forward to the lesson's that I have yet to learn in my life and appreciate the one's I have learned so far. Yes, each year I do get older and wiser too. I don't appreciate the new wrinkles I am getting or the fact that I had to color my hair again today after just three weeks because of all the gray hairs I have, but....I do appreciate the fact that those gray hairs have been earned from the trials in my life that I have overcome and triumphed over. Life is tough but in my 36 years, life has given me so many wonderful memories and experiences. For all of you who have been apart of that, I thank you for being in my life. Here's to another great year!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bar Keepers friend indeed!

A friend introduced me to this cleaner a few years ago and I have been loyal ever since but I am even more impressed with it today. This little gem comes in a powder or liquid form and can clean the shower like no body's business. I have one of those tubs with the texture at the bottom. I hate the man who designed those little grooves, I say "man" because surely no woman ever created those hard to reach pits. But, this powder with the help of a scrub brush gets the job done proper. I tried about every other cleaner out there on the market and thought my tub would never see the glistening shade of white again that I longed for. This works. It gets the blue ribbon from me. Today I used it on my chrome faucets. I didn't think you could use it on these without scratching them so I never tried. My chrome was looking bad, so bad in fact that I had my husband go out and buy me new faucets. After finding out that he could not match up the new faucets he bought with the current plumbing, he told me I should just try to clean the old ones. I pulled out my Bar Keepers Friend and walla! They look brand new with little effort and no scratches! I love you my little gold can. It also works great on toilets where the calcified water stains build up and on glass top stoves. I don't know who this bar keeper is, but this is MY friend in deed. Try it out for that "new" shower look! You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

"Bin" Crazy......

There is absolutely nothing fancy to this bit of organization, but I guess that is why I love it so much. Since I am a freezing guru and have a bit of a love affair with storage bins, I combined the two loves. I love these cheap little plastic bins to organize my frozen goods. I have them in both freezers and have the bins organized with different groups. ie, in the kitchen freezer, I have one that has my frozen fruit for the smoothies and one with nuts and other baking goods like the chocolate chips for easy access. Outside I have one for cheeses, one for meats, etc. It is so nice to know where everything is so I don't have to dig around in my big freezer. I also like to be able to see when I am running low on certain items. I also love the square ziplock reusable containers in all sizes. They stack much better than the round and use up space better. There you have it, a little more of my cheap and no frill organization tips that always make me wonder once again, why didn't I do this earlier!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Kids classes in Queen Creek.....

For those of you living in the Queen Creek area, My cousin Ashley is starting a cooking class for little cooks. Here is the info if you are interested.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The garden bounty.....

I must say, my garden has produced a mighty fine crop this year along with a stellar production from my fruit trees. However, this means that I must process the bounty which means a few late nights. My little gardeners brought me in this little harvest which is only a very small percent of what I have harvested and have still to harvest. Along with several batches of delicious salsa and fresh marinara sauce, I am doing what I do best with these little beauties and freezing my crops. I am a professional freezer and if I ever lost power, I would cry. I have loads of fresh jam, preserves and other hand made items that represent a whole lot of my time in my freezer outside. I check my freezer every night before I go to bed to make sure no little person left the door unsealed. A little neurotic but I have learned from experience. So, tonight's fun project is to peel, seed and quarter these guys so I can freeze them into cute little containers for future uses in a variety of dishes. You can also can them but this tastes better. It's a good idea to do both in case you do loose power. This is just easier. Here are the simple steps:
Peel the tomatoes, either using a hot water bath on the stove then submerse them in cold water or peel by hand. I usually just peel them by hand because by the time I get to them, they are a little ripe. Then, quarter them and scoop out the seeds with your thumbs. Real easy. Put them in a pot with a little salt and simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool then put in containers to freeze. I like the smaller containers about the size of a can of tomatoes so I can use them when a recipe calls for one can. Season if you want.
I also have a ton on basil that I make into pesto and freeze. This is so yummy on pasta, pizza's and meats. Here is my recipe. It freezes for several months.
1 C. fresh basil leaves
1 big clove minced garlic
1/4 C. pine nuts
1/2 t. salt
1/2 C. Olive oil
1/2 C. parmesan cheese, grated not powdered.
Combine all in food processor or blender until mostly smooth, not pureed.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

If you know one child with Autism.....You know one child with Autism.

I have had a nagging thought to write about my personal experience with Autism, but keep putting it off because it is so personal. You see, as the saying goes, If you know one child with Autism, you know one child with Autism. In a nut shell, Autism is just a label, a label that means that they don't know what is wrong exactly, just that the brain doesn't work right. There is no blood test that says, "yep, he has autism!" It is a term created in the last several years to diagnose something that isn't in the books. Because of this , there are so many differing opinions on what to do to help these little ones and how to stop if from happening. Each child presents a different case. Each one has difficulties in different areas. It is a lesson in patience , trial and error that helps you understand what your little ones need. I know that many of you have a child with Autism and if not, you probably know someone who does. I want to write a little about what I have learned, about what everyone needs to know that will help in all cases and why I feel that Autism has been a profound blessing in my life.
I have told a bit about my sweet little Tate on my post "My Life" and other posts so sorry if I get redundant. I will try not to repeat too much, but I need to give a little detail so you can see where my journey has started. At about a year to 16 months Tate started to get really angry, really unhappy and he stopped progressing. He started lining up toys non stop and had to have routines. I really suspected that something was wrong as he wasn't walking or talking. Of course Dr.'s told me that I was just a neurotic mom but mom's know. My suspicions were confirmed in April of 2007. I started researching everything I could. It is such a different world and everything I was reading was talking about the traits of the Autistic child but not much about their world. What was Tate feeling? I was truly blessed to experience a little of what he must feel like during this month of his diagnosis. I was going through a home remodel for the whole month where my house daily was filled with every toxin available from wood glue, cement dust and paint fumes. Now add total stress from Tate and no sleep whats over and I started to go nuts. Really. I thought I was loosing it and I guess I did. I could not focus, I could not feel; like my senses were numb. I had anxiety, I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep. I had to pinch my self to feel like I was in my body. I constantly felt like I was floating. Through eliminating toxins I was able to clean out my body and to regain the mind I had before. It was a miserable and frightening experience most things, there is a purpose. It dawned on me that my little precious Tate felt the same way. His body was under attack from toxins and chemical imbalances that made him feel the same way. I knew how scared and miserable I felt and did not want my little guy to feel that way in his life. I would now pour my time to help figure out how to get him out of this world that he was trapped in.
Now to present time. I sit in the waiting room at his daily therapy sessions. I watch most of the kids come out of the rooms to their moms with glassy eyes and no eye contact. The therapist grabs their hand and turns their head and tells them to look at mom and say "Hi mom." The children will respond in robot fashion "say hi mom". They are not really there. They are trapped. They go to therapy and learn to spit out repetitive phrases but they cannot think beyond this. This is where I need to interject my thoughts. My little Tate comes out laughing, running to me with perfect eye contact, with a big hug and eager to tell me all that he did. He cannot form the words yet, but he is there. There is no mistake about that. He is now part of the world. He has no problems with sensory issues or stimming, he is there. He loves life, he is happy. This has been a long process to get him there as he once was the glassy eyed kid. But, here is the difference and my testimony; you cannot put a band aid on autism with therapy and make the child be cured. You need to go to the root and fix the problem. You need to look inside. You need to understand what went wrong. If your goal is to get a repetitive phrase out of your child, then therapy will be the only thing you need.Therapy is wonderful and necessary but cannot be the only thing you do. If you want your child to feel good, to really mean it when he says "mommy, I love you" without any prompting, you need to do the work. Yes, it is really hard. Yes, I have many many days that I want to throw in the towel but then I remember how I felt. I remember that I never want him to feel that way. I don't care if he is ever "normal", I just want him to love life like I do and not to be held back from anything that he wants to do.
How? You MUST start with nutrition. I will be happy to help anyone with this if you email me because it would take way to long to post. I have my little guy on a gluten and dairy free diet which has worked miracles. But, there is so much more. You have to get them the good things too not just avoid the bad things. I know so many who say they have tried the diet for a month and didn't see a difference but you need to give it a good six months. The body needs to be cleaned out and this can take a long time. The stomach needs to be healed. I had Tate tested for allergies and he was allergic to all kinds of wacky things. I eliminated everything and later could add a few back in. I have him on B12 shots and enzymes from the help of a great Dr. Now, I know many of you have older children with Autism and I know a strict diet is impossible at this stage. I worry about that when Tate is older as every year it gets harder. But, you can start with getting rid of the junk. NO food dyes, nothing artificial, low sugar, etc. It will help. If you don't clean out their body, they cannot feel good, they cannot function right. Get a Dr. that will support you with this. Yes, it is very expensive. We can only do what we can but we must try and we cannot give up. Remember, these little ones are born fine, autism is something that happens to them. It can be reversed if you catch it early and do everything you can. I would love to help anyone. I have great recipes and know where you can go to get gluten free foods. Please feel free to email me with a number if you want. I do not judge anyone as I know that our learning process takes time. We are all in different places and have different struggles. I hope that we can all be non judgemental especially to the mothers who have autistic children. I used to look at moms in the stores with children screaming uncontrollably like crazy monkeys and think, why can't she deal with them? When I had Tate and he would get into one of these tirades, I felt ashamed that I did not give those mother's slack for their trials, for the chance that maybe they had a child too with autism that could not simply be calmed. I have a favorite bumper sticker that reads, "My child has autism.....what the heck is wrong with yours." I wish sometimes I could post this on my forehead for those days where I look like the out of control mom with the out of control child. If they only knew. Those days are getting few and far between for me now. I still have plenty of bad days but there are now more good. I am so blessed to have caught this early as digression gets worse with a later diagnosis. I wish I started the diet when my first mommy instincts kicked in. It is all worth the hard work. Pay now or pay for the rest of your life. In the end, I still feel that Autism has been truly a blessing in my life. Tate is a special spirit that didn't need to be tested like we did on this earth. I am the one that needed to be tested. I hope and pray that I can pass the test with flying colors. I want Tate to know that I did everything I could for him. I love him to pieces. He is my little angel. Even at the end of the really hard days, I still wouldn't change anything. he has taught me and my family more that any one else. That is my two cents....maybe a little more. Sorry for the deep thoughts that never end but this is for those who asked.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Preparing Wisely Discount.....

My friends at Preparing Wisely are offering a discount to anyone mentioning my blog at their store. You can click on their link to the right for their info. They are offering 20% off on backpacks and 10% off on all non food merchandise except for food rotation systems. There is no limit on quantity but only limited to stock on hand. This offer is good until the end of the month. Check them out. They have cookbooks, hand grinders, storage containers and much more.

Thanks Tracey!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Get on the Fresh & Easy Bandwagon.....Please!

I just returned from another fabulous trip to the Fresh & Easy and had to blog before I even put my goods away. For those of you who are not privy to living by a Fresh & Easy, I am sorry. For those of you who are....start shopping there. They are an answer to prayers. Why? Well, for one thing, their Fresh & Easy name brand products , which are most of their items are all natural products and largely organic. (At least all that I have seen). Second, they taste really good and Third, the prices are as good if not cheaper than the name brand products. I love the fact that I can go into the store and trust the products. I have tasted the Hoisin Sauce, Barbecue sauce, Terriyaki Sauce, Bruschetta, and Balsamic dressings just to name a few and I actually prefer these to any other I have tried. Their Organic juices taste like you just squeezed them yourself. Their whipping cream is only cream, no diglicyerides and they have great nitrite free lunch meats and mayo that has only real ingredients, no dairy. I love their corn chips that are also organic and their crackers.

Now for the fun little game I play, Half Price Dinner. As I have talked about before, the store marks down their items half price when it comes close to their expiration date. Since a large majority of their items are fresh items, many will be marked half off daily. I love to come in and put together a dinner based upon what I can get for half off. Tonight's menu: Fresh Bruschetta ($1.40) on a toasted Baguette ($.60) , Romaine lettuce (.70 for two hearts) with Cesar Dressing ($1.50) Fresh peaches perfectly ripe ( 4 for 1.20) and Citrus herbed chicken ($4.50 for whole chicken) . Not only will this feed us tonight, there will be some left for lunch tomorrow.This puts dinner and lunch for the whole family of 7 for under $10. Beat that for a full nutritious meal. I also got a whole bag of clementines, 5 lbs of them for $3! I know I get excited over the little things, but I am truly in love with this little store and sure hope that it catches on. Their other products are cheap also. I bought an 8 pack of Bounty paper towels for $6 , cheaper than Walmart, oh, and since the self scanner didn't pick up the right price, they gave them to me for free!

So, if you don't have dinner plans, go stop in the store and see what half price dinner you can put together. Let me know how it goes and what products you have tried and loved.

Bon Appetite!!

* I also was at Costco today and they have 40 gallon buckets of wheat for $27 all ready sealed in the container, not my favorite brand but would due in a pinch or for those who just want to stock up now without any effort. They are also carrying Coleman all natural hot dogs , three packs for $8.99. They usually run for about $5 each in the stores. I buy these and they taste great. No nitrites or fillers. I am sure they won't carry these long so stock up if you are a hot dog family.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Little Chefs.....

We had our last cooking class this past Monday and I think it was my favorite. We had a tea party theme and that is always a hit. We worked on party foods and our table manners. The girls were great and such fun to work with. These classes made me really understand that girls can cook at an early age, we just need to teach them. They just need the basics to begin. We focused on how to read recipes. We first worked on reading the recipes from beginning to end before starting and what all the little abbreviations mean; T., Tbl., t., tsp., etc..... They learned how to measure exactly and how it should look when it is done. I really did these for my daughter so I would be motivated to teach her to make more than cinnamon toast. She has done great and has started making delicious things in our kitchen all by herself. I am so pleased and wish I had started this earlier! Now, she is excited to cook ....oh, how lucky her husband will be. So, mommies.....get out the cookbooks and put your little cooks to work. Next Mother's Day you may just get more than oatmeal and orange juice!
Here are a couple of our recipes we made for our tea party.........
Chocolate Zucchini Mini Muffins
1/2 C. melted butter
1/2 C. Oil
1 3/4 C. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C. Buttermilk
2 C. grated zucchini, small grater
2 1/2 C. Whole Wheat flour
1/2 t. salt
4 T. cocoa powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cinnamon
2 C. chocolate chips, divided
Mix all dry ingredients except for chocolate chips. Add wet ingredients. Stir in 1 C. chocolate chips. Pour in mini muffin cups. Top with last cup of chips. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes. You can also bake this in a 9X13 pan or regular muffins. Bake at 325 for 9X13. This makes a lot and they freeze great!
Dilly Chicken Salad Sandwiches
1 1/2 C. finely chopped cooked chicken
1/2 C. finely chopped celery
1/4 C. grated carrot
2 T. finely chopped onion
1 t. Dried dill
2 T. mayo
2 T. sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Add more sour cream if needed. Chill. Serve on rolls.
Thanks girls for a great time! Keep cooking!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Teaching Table Etiquette.....

First of all, I have to say welcome back! I have had a great vacation and really could use one more but we have things to do so I will just have to hang in there this last month. I was contemplating ending my blog career but over my break, I had so many great emails thanking me for this blog and the information shared that I decided that as long as I have ideas, I will put them out there. It is a good motivation for me to learn more and research and to also receive good ideas from you other talented moms out there. Thanks for the I go.

I am getting ready for my last summer cooking class with my little chefs and we are ending the class with an etiquette lesson. This I feel is a lost art these days and I will do my best to teach my kids, especially the boys so they can help carry on the tradition. I was blessed to be taught manners as a child through teen elect classes and from my grandparents who would take me out to nice restaurants. They would make sure I followed all the rules. I remember one night in particular when my Grandpa Carl took me out to Black Angus for steak. He taught me how to properly cut the steak with a knife and would not let me leave until I did it right. When I first started dating, I would critique the boys I was dating to see if they followed the rules. Very few got them right. I was for some reason very hooked on how to butter a roll correctly. No one ever got this right. (For those wondering, you break off a small piece at a time and butter it.) It is rare anymore to see any of the rules of dining followed. I am adamant that my children chew with their mouths full, keep elbows off the table and use correct cutting technics. They do a pretty good job of this but often I hear a complaint about why we need to do this at home. I respond that not only is it a form of respect for me and our home, that also if they practice the rules here, they will use the rules elsewhere.

For FHE we will be learning how to properly set the table. For those of you also wanting to have this lesson, here is an easy way to remember it.....

Think of the word "forks". Starting with the left hand side, "F" for fork goes first, "O" is for the round plate, drop the "R", "K" is for the knife and "S" is for the spoon. Now, make a "B" with the left hand and a "D" with the right hand. The "B" is for the bread plate at the top left and the "D" is for the drink on the top right.

A couple more rules: The knife blade always points to the plate. The napkin goes along side the forks or on the plate. If you are setting two forks, the taller fork goes next to the plate.

I hope my children are showing off their skills at their friends home. To me it is a show of respect for those who have prepared the meals for us and for those who we are in company with. I think very few are taught this anymore. Now, pass it on!