Q. I remember watching my grandmother writing a note one day to a female school friend of hers when I was in school. She had a piece of lined tablet paper behind the note paper and she had darkened the lines on it so she could somewhat see the lines through onto the note paper.
I asked her why she did it, and she said she had a problem writing in a straight line. So I asked her why she didn't use paper with lines already on it. She told me it wasn't proper to use note paper with lines already on it.
That answer didn't satisfy an inquisitive little girl, so I asked her why. She said it wasn't "ladylike," and that's what her mother and grandmother had told her. "Ladylike" was a word I heard from her many times thereafter regarding how I sat, acted in front of adults, etc., but that is not what my question is about.
I must have inherited my grand- mother's problem of not being able to write in a straight line. Since I still like to write personal notes to friends and family, I do see some pretty notepaper in the stores with light lines already printed on the paper. I have been tempted to buy it because it would be much easier for me to write in a straight line. Is it still an etiquette rule that personal notes should be written on unlined notepaper, or has that changed?
A. "The Social Thing in Good Society" by Florence Howe Hall (copyright 1902) was written with "It is the Correct Thing" on each left page, and "It is Not the Correct Thing" on each right page. She says: "It is not the Correct Thing to use ruled notepaper. ..."
Although, lined notepaper may be available for purchase, it is still not the preferred, proper notepaper for writing personal notes. It is wonderful, however, that you are continuing to follow the "ladylike" example your grand mother provided for you. Thank you for sharing your story, your question and for continuing to handwrite personal notes.
Q. I'm having a luncheon in combination with a baby shower for a friend. It will be just our close girlfriend group of about eight women. I want to make some of the new popular mini pudding-type desserts. I have several types of small clear cordial crystal glasses, but I have only eight of a kind. Some are footed and some aren't.
Since they provide such small amounts, I think I need at least eight of each kind. My question is: Is it proper to use some footed cordials, some small stemmed wine glasses and some small cylinder type glasses? I don't want it to look like a hodgepodge. Also, do I serve each one separately or bring a tray to the table and let each person select which one she would like to try?
A. Yes, these mini-desserts are very popular, not only as desserts but also as apertifs often served during cocktail time or following dinner.
Using a variety of styles of serving vessels is a great idea, and one that provides a wonderful and exciting "presentation."
After clearing the luncheon plates, place a small, doilied plate and small teaspoon or demitasse spoon in front of each guest.
For the actual dessert serving, I suggest you use a separate doilied silver or china or crystal tray or a pedestal cake stand that will easily hold eight of each separate recipe. You could also add a folded place card with the name of the specific dessert on each serving piece. Place all serving pieces on your table at the same time and allow your guests to make their individual selections.
Have another serving tray ready in the kitchen with extras of each recipe to allow your guests to try other recipes. You can use any number of different serving glasses for this additional tray as long as you can easily identify the different recipes. What a fun luncheon!
Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Pat Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427.