Are We Interesting or Interested?

I was sitting with my mother-in-law one day and we were discussing people in general. She started talking about talents and intelligence, and then she said something that stuck with me. She said “Too many people are trying to impress others, rather than be impressed by others” My mother-in-law doesn’t like to talk about herself. She is a retired teacher. Not just any teacher, an extremely gifted special education teacher. She was recognized for her talents and asked to head the department for the whole state! She made a difference in the lives of thousands of children and their families over her career. But she will rarely talk about her accomplishments. Instead, she’ll spend her time praising what she’s learned from other teachers. When she’s around other people, she’ll brush off her own stories and ask about theirs.

“Too many people are trying to impress others, rather than be impressed by others”.

We as people are so desperate for the attention and approval for other’s that we lose focus on what is important. We think if we can impress others enough, maybe they’ll like us more. I’m not saying don’t ever talk about yourself, your accomplishments, or your dreams. What I am saying is that we have to be careful of where our focus lies. Is our focus to make other people impressed with us? If we are to practice true hospitality, we have to remember that true hospitality happens when our guests leave our home feeling better about themselves, not better about us. If we only seek to impress those around us with the things we’ve acquired, or what we know, we’ll never be effective in loving them or being a blessing to those that we bring into our home.

Proverbs 27:2 Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth–a stranger, not your own lips.

Today’s culture places such a high importance on self, selfies, and self care. While we should certainly be taking care of ourselves, we need to realize that this world doesn’t revolve around us. If you’re reading this, then you’re probably wanting to be a blessing and influence to others. You want to be interested. The following 5 tips helps us understand how we can be more interested in others, instead of interesting for others.

1.) Learn to be a good listener.

A good listener doesn’t listen to respond. They listen to learn. If you want to be a good listener, don’t start thinking about what you’ll say next before the other party has even finished their sentence. Listen to what they’re saying, think about the words and tone they’re using. And remember, not everything requires a comment. Sometimes, listening is your only job.

2.) Reign in the urge to one-up every story you hear.

It could be completely innocent, but resist the urge to tell a similar story after you hear about a situation. Even ones that start off with “that reminds me of…”. It’s ok to do this in moderation (if your motives are pure), but if you do so after everything the other party says, it will seem like you’re trying to one-up them. No one likes someone trying to outdo their every word. Just be aware of the conversation and your own intentions.

3.) Avoid flattery altogether.

Flattery is saying something to someone’s face that you would never say behind their back. If you think their dress is hideous, don’t tell them it’s lovely. If you think they’re dreadfully boring, don’t tell them they’re the most fascinating person you’ve ever met. If you really think that cake tastes appalling, don’t make a big fuss and ask for the recipe. The Bible tells us in Proverbs “Those who flatter their neighbors are spreading nets for their feet.”

4.) Ask open ended questions.

Try to avoid questions that have a one word response. Example: Instead of “Did you like growing up in the country” try something like “Tell me what it was like growing up in the country”. This will promote active conversation, feel less like small talk, and tell the other party that you are genuinely interested in their upbringing.

5.) Pay attention and disregard distractions.

When you are in a conversation with someone, try to eliminate distractions. Don’t focus on what’s going on around you, instead focus on the speaker. And for Heaven’s sake, don’t keep looking at your phone. Things you can do to let your speaker know that you are 100% focused and interested in them: make eye contact, lean in to the conversation, avoid crossing your arms, and use engaging facial expressions.

If we can learn to be interested in others, we will not only have a bigger influence in their lives, but also be a blessing and encouragement to them on their journey. I think it’s so important to question our motives, and re-adjust our focus when entering in to a conversation with others.

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Don’t think this means you can’t ever show off something neat you found, share information you have, or post pictures on social media. Some people will read this and second guess every Instagram picture they’ve ever shared. That’s not what I’m talking about. Below I’ve shared a few things I like to ask myself before I share, whether in person or online.
1.) Is it true? If it’s true, then is it yours to share?
2.) Is it educational, encouraging, or edifying?
3.) Will this improve someone’s day or brighten the world around me?

I would love to hear your thoughts about being interested versus interesting! Leave a comment below or email me here!

 

Paige Baldwin

Tips for Hosting a Backyard BBQ

July is almost here and that means that we are gearing up to celebrate our 243rd birthday as a country. There will be countless parties, picnics, and backyard barbeques administration-america-american-flag-1202723in the works. Today we’ll look at how to host a backyard barbeque with a few helpful tips and tricks.

For backyard party, the easiest way to plan and invite is through Facebook Events. You can create an event, invite guests, and post details in one area. This especially works well if you’re doing a potluck style where everyone invited brings a side dish because everyone can post what they will be bringing. I would recommend sending the invite 2-4 weeks in advance.

The best way to handle food for this type of event is potluck style. The host/hostess provides meat, drinks, and a side dish or two. Every guest that attends brings a side dish or a dessert. Menu options for meat can include burgers, hotdogs, beef brisket, shrimp, sausage kabobs, or steak. Almost anything tastes good grilled so there really isn’t any limitation. Watch grocery ads closely as many markets will have fantastic deals in July. It’s always beneficial to compare pricing for a large party .

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Grocery stores that typically have good summer sales (in St. Louis) include Aldi, Dierburg’s, and Fresh Thyme. When I do my shopping, I usually go to Dierburg’s for meat, Fresh Thyme for produce, and Aldi for everything else. I’ve found the best deals by doing this. You may have different grocery chains where you live, so I encourage you to watch ads and online sales closely.

Side dishes for outdoor events are fun. You want to be sure that whatever you’re sitting out won’t spoil within an hour of being out. Limit dishes with a lot of cream cheese and milk. During the Summer, seasonal dishes full of flavor are going to be magic. Lot’s of fresh ingredients and colorful choices.

Popular BBQ party sides include:
Potato salad
Coleslaw
Veggie skewers
Corn on the cob
Veggie tray
Chips and dip
Caprese skewers
Grilled pineapple and watermelon (see recipe below)

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There are all kinds of smart hacks for keeping bugs out of drinks and food, keeping children occupied, and keeping guests comfortable. Some of my favorite include:

1.) Use cupcake liners upside down over drinks to keep bugs out. Insert a straw straight through the liner to keep drinking.

2.) Use large apothecary jars with lids to hold potato salad, fruit salad, and pasta salads.

3.) Use a garden flag pole and bucket to keep things like sunscreen, bug spray, and extra sunglasses on hand for guests.

4.) Plan a simple scavenger hunt for children to keep them occupied. If you really want to take it up a notch, you can draw and copy “maps” of the back yard and have a treasure or prize at the end.

5.) For super easy clean ups set out a roll of paper towels, a bottle of hand sanitizer, and a tub of baby wipes. This will also minimize indoor traffic.

6.) Use large metal tubs or large planters full of ice to keep canned and bottled beverage cold.

7.) Have a playlist with soft party appropriate music set up and ready to go. My husband and I use Google Play music with our Google home system, but there are many other options.

I’m looking forward to backyard barbeques and parties this Summer. I hope you are too. I’ve created a guide to food amounts for parties, completely free for you! Click the link below to download and use.

How Much Food do I Need for My Party

Happy barbequing!
Paige

 

Grilled Watermelon:

Ingredients:
1/2 Watermelon sliced into triangles

Olive oil of coconut oil for brushing
Juice from 2-3 limes
2 TBS Honey
Sea salt to taste
1/3 cup crushed walnuts
1/4 cup mint leaves

1.) Brush triangles with oil. Grill on hot grill just until charred. Do not overcook.
2.) Drizzle with lime juice and honey, sprinkle with sea salt and walnut, and garnish with mint leaves.
3.) Serve as fresh as possible.

 

 

 

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Why Hospitality and Etiquette?

I was recently asked why I focus on hospitality and etiquette. What do they have in common?

The term etiquette makes a lot of people cringe. The brain automatically goes to stuffy pretentious people, sipping tea with their pinky stuck in the air. Etiquette is simply the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group (Merriam Webster). The truth is you can have etiquette without hospitality. But at that point, etiquette is nothing but behavioral and you run the risk of being labeled as “stuffy”.

Hospitality, however, is relational. And while you can have etiquette without hospitality, baked-beverage-breakfast-2377474I believe it’s harder to show hospitality without certain aspects of etiquette. Hospitality, the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers (Merriam Webster), goes hand in hand with respect and love for one another. I believe that we demonstrate that respect by using etiquette, or good manners.

“Good manners reflect something from the inside. An innate sense of consideration for others and respect for self” (Unknown)

A few weeks ago we looked at 3 different basic groups of etiquette and I explained why I felt that they were important to a hospitality ministry. You can read the first post here, Do Manners Matter? Part 1: Basic Manners.

We show respect and consideration for others when we apply the behavioral aspects of etiquette to our relationships. We change the outcome of an interaction, improve the chances of a good impressions, and increase our potential for influence. Whether with our family, friends, or out in our community, using etiquette shows that we have character. But we must remember that etiquette without a hospitable heart, is nothing more than empty actions.

“Manners are like the shadows of virtues. They are the momentary display of those qualities which our fellow creatures love and respect” (Sydney Smith)

I have a deep desire the change the world. Not only through radical hospitality, but also in seeing those we love pulled in by the way we act and present ourselves. That’s why etiquette is so important to our hospitality ministry. However, as with all things, you must have balance. You should certainly dress up to go to a wedding, but if you wear a cocktail dress to Pizza Hut and try to eat your wings with a fork and knife, you’re just weird. You should learn how to sit and hold yourself for an important meeting, but if you go to a movie with your best friend and spend the entire time sitting on the edge of your seat with your legs bent duchess style, you’re weird. Practicing etiquette is wonderful, but you must learn a good balance and use common sense.

Three important things to remember:

1.) If I feel pretentious and stuffy, then I’m probably coming across pretentious and stuffy.

2.) If all I’m noticing is the bad etiquette of my guest, then I am not being hospitable.

3.) If I graciously open my home, but spend the whole time picking my teeth while on my phone and slurping cola…my guest isn’t going to come back. (This sounds ridiculous, but it happens. My family once went to dinner where the host spent the whole time picking at scalp acne and talking about dog bowel movements.)

A great resource for etiquette is Emily Post’s “Etiquette”. This is one of the books I
recommend for my workshops and classes. Find Emily Post’s Etiquette here

The more we practice hospitality and etiquette, the better and easier it will get!

~Paige

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10 Tips to a Tidy Home

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Opening your home is always less scary when it’s neat and orderly. My stress level is at an all time low when I host right after a deep clean and clutter purge. But let’s be honest, we don’t always have time to do deep cleanings every couple of days for that spotless magazine look. Nor are we meant to. Homes are living spaces, and as such it’s ok to show signs of life and activity. However, having a tidy home improves your mood as well as decreasing your fear of last minute company popping by for a visit.

“A clean house empowers us to be more while doing less to stay ahead of the chaos.” (Love the Home you Have by Melissa Michaels)

Below are my top 10 tips to keeping your home neat and tidy, and therefore always ready for the unexpected.

1.) Open your mail daily and throw spam mail away. Invest in a folder or organizer for important mail, but only after you’ve opened it. Don’t hoard coupons you’ll probably never use. Only save the grocery ads until you’ve made your shopping list for the week. (TIP: Notate the price and location next to the item on your list so you can trash the ads.)

2.) Fold laundry as you pull it out of the dryer. This will keep things neat and organized, while also preventing hard wrinkles from forming.

3.) Start your dishwasher every night and empty it every morning. This keeps clean dishes in your cabinet, and horrid smells out of your kitchen. If there’s not enough for a load, hand wash them and put them away.

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You can find cute baskets ranging in size and color at Target or Amazon

4.) Keep a cute basket in the living room for last minute toys, books, etc. (TIP: Purchase a cute basket for each child to keep by their door. At the end of the day they can use it to collect all of their loose items throughout the house, and carry to their bedrooms easily.) Find my favorite baskets here.

5.) Use a basket or quilt rack to store blankets instead of the back of your sofa. This keep the blankets neat, in one place, and out of the way until needed.

6.) No more than 3 items on each side table. Example: A stack of coasters, a box of tissues, and a candle. A lamp, a remote, and a stack of coasters. A book, a candle, and a stack of coasters. (I really like coasters, and a stack counts as one item.)

7.) Keep a container of Lysol or baby wipes available for quick counter wipe down.

8.) Take your shoes off in your bedroom rather than the living room. Shoe clutter is still clutter. (TIP: Have a small mat or rug in the corner of your entry way if you need quick access to a pair of shoes, or for guests)

9.) Keep a bottle of room/fabric freshener nearby. Things that smell good, appear cleaner. This is especially true if you have animals. Find my favorite freshener here

10.) Make your bed every morning when you get up. A messy bed makes a whole room look messy. And if your bedroom door is open it can ruin even the neatest of homes. Discipline yourself, and make it as soon as you get up. (TIP: the lower the number of decorative pillows on your bed, the higher the probability that your husband will gladly and joyfully make it for you. Decorative pillows are poison to men.)

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Check out my Resources page for a recommended product list on Amazon. These are products that I love and use to help keep clean and organized. (This is just a helpful list. I do not make a commission for sharing these products with you.)

Paige

 

 

This post contains affiliate links. Upon purchase, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

An Inhospitable Marriage

I don’t usually write marriage related material. Having been married just under a year myself, I am no expert and I don’t pretend to be. But, when God lays something so heavy on my heart, I feel I must share it with you. I want to talk about practicing hospitality in our marriage.RobertsBaldwin01268

Hospitality isn’t just for guests or neighbors. Your spouse desperately needs your hospitality. Unfortunately, so many marriages today are inhospitable. Inhospitable is defined as being harsh and difficult to live in. Studies are showing that nearly 50% of marriages are ending in divorce. I have seen many end myself, especially over the past few years. Couple are splitting, and then before papers are even signed, they’re with someone else. It’s a fast run to the next person that can make them happy. Unfortunately, that’s the key to this broken covenant. Everyone is out to be made happy, to feel satisfied, or to get something out of the relationship. If you go into a relationship with high expectations for what your spouse will do for you, it’s going to fail. If you think your spouse is there to make you happy and feel fulfilled, then it will fail. If you think that everything will be easy and all about you, then your marriage will fail. Romance novels, television shows, and Instagram marriages today give us unrealistic and false views on how a marriage works. When our spouse fails to meet our expectations, we respond with anger, hostility, hurtful words, and withdrawal. This creates an inhospitable environment for our relationship and eventually, it will fall apart.

Ways couples create an inhospitable marriage:

marriagequoteforblog1.)  They discuss their spouse’s flaws with others.

2.) They wake up every day asking what their spouse will do for them.

3.) They don’t have open honest discussions.

4.) They constantly complain.

5.) They don’t place a value on a relationship with God.

6.) They deny one another grace to fail.

 

Sometimes, these things happen without us even realizing. We get so busy and caught up with every day life that we lose sight of the importance of how we treat our spouse and marriage. We don’t intend to complain or be selfish, it just happens. Friends, we have to be intentional about our marriage. We can’t afford not to. We have to wake up every day and ask ourselves “am I being hospitable in my marriage?”

Ways to create a hospitable marriage:
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1.) Do not talk bad about your husband. To anyone. Ever.

2.) Every morning ask yourself  “What can I do to be a blessing to my spouse today?”

3.) Talk about the hard things. Have those difficult open and honest conversations.

4.) Every day, write down 3 things to be thankful for regarding your spouse/marriage.

5.) Spend time with God every day. As you draw closer to Him, you will naturally draw closer to your spouse.

6.) Learn to accept , or give, an apology when failure occurs.

 

When you become intentional about practicing hospitality with your spouse, you will notice how much closer you draw to one another.

Romans 12:10  reminds us “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” 

 

Paige

Do Manners Matter? Part 3: Dining Etiquette

Dining etiquette is, by far, my favorite to teach. I especially enjoy teaching young children to set tables correctly. My 6 year nephew recently learned how to position napkins, knives, and forks and it made him so proud to see his work. Some may deem dining etiquette unnecessary, but I wholeheartedly disagree. There are many reasons why I feel the way I do, but I would like to share the top three with you.  silver.jpg

  1. A place for everything and everything in its place. This also applies to setting a table. When we practice discipline in the way we complete a task (such as table setting), we are improving our character. A disciplined character shows that you have self-respect. “Knowledge will give you power, but character respect” –Bruce Lee
  2. We are constantly making impressions. Everything we do, or say, leaves an impression behind for someone else to interpret. When we practice good table manners and dining etiquette, we are leaving behind positive impressions and therefore gaining the respect of those around us. Respect often opens up opportunities that the best education cannot.
  3. Being neat and orderly clears clutter from our minds and lifts our spirits. This leads to a more grateful and satisfying life, which lead to improved health.

The two main tables I set for company are breakfast/brunch and dinner. We’re going to look at these two tables today and talk about proper positioning.

Breakfast/Brunch

Breakfast
Breakfast/Brunch setting includes: Breakfast plate, bread plate, coffee/tea cup and saucer, water glass, juice glass, fork, knife, spoon, teaspoon, and napkin

To set a breakfast table, clean table with washcloth and dry thoroughly. Dress table with tablecloth, placemats, or just a table runner (not pictured). Use your thumb knuckle as a guide to place the edge of you plate 1 in from the edge of the table. To the left of the plate, place your napkin and fork (for breakfast it is acceptable for the napkin to be placed under the fork). To the left of your plate, from the inside out, place your knife (blade in), your table spoon, then your teaspoon. Above the spoons, place your coffee/tea cup and saucer, left to the upper left place your juice glass, then you water glass. (For Brunch, you may add a champagne flute to the upper right of the juice glass.) Finish with placing your bread/muffin plate directly above your fork.

Dinner (Formal)

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Formal dinner setting includes: Dinner plate, salad plate, bread plate, soup bowl, water glass, red wine glass (can be used for non-alcoholic beverage), white wine glass (optional), butter knife, salad fork, dinner fork, knife, teaspoon, soup spoon, napkin, dessert fork, dessert spoon, and place card (not pictured)

To set a formal dinner table, clean table with washcloth and dry thoroughly. Dress table with tablecloth, placemats, or just a table runner (not pictured). Use your thumb knuckle as a guide to place the edge of you plate 1 in from the edge of the table. To the left of the plate, from the inside out, place your dinner fork, your salad fork, and then your napkin. To the left of your plate, from the inside out, place your knife (blade in), your teaspoon, then your soup spoon. Above the spoons, place your wine glasses (white first, then red), then your water glass to the upper left. Lay your dessert fork directly above your dinner plate facing right, then your spoon above facing left. Finish with placing your bread plate directly above your fork with your butter knife laying across the plate. The name/place card should be placed directly above your dessert cutlery.

 

(TIP: A fun way to teach children how to set a table is with their hands. Fork has 4 letter just like Left. Knife has 5 letters just like Right. Also have them make a small “b” and “d” with their thumb, index, and middle fingers. The bread plate goes to the “b” and the drinks go to the “d“.)

 

As a dinner guest in someone’s home, there are a few important etiquette tips to remember:

1.) Do not start eating until everyone has been seated and the host/hostess begins their meal.
2.) Your napkin should be placed in your lap during the meal. It should not touch the table until the meal is finished. When the meal is finished, the napkin should be folded and placed to the left. Not crumpled and thrown just anywhere.
3.) Regarding cutlery, always start with the outside and work your way in.
4.) Chew with your mouth closed.
5.) Unless someone specifically asks for a dish, always pass food from left to right.

 

The more we practice our etiquette skills and table manners, the easier they become. Soon, they’ll become second nature and our efforts can go from remembering our manners, to concentrating on those around us and holding conversations.

“Good manners reflect something from the inside. An innate sense of consideration for others and respect for self” (Unknown)