Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Paying" Wait People

If we hired a babysitter, we would pay her, right?  (not that I've hired any babysitters for awhile, but I did, back in the day). If we hired someone to clean our house or work in our yard, we would undoubtedly pay them.

What I think some people don't understand is that our so-called "tip" to a wait person at a restaurant is not really an "extra" for "extra service". Maybe there was a time when it was...back when I was a little child, perhaps; I really didn't know enough back then to know. I do know that today it is not something to give them just if we feel like it, if our budget isn't too tight, or if we're in the mood. People who work in restaurants - who have to remember all our requests, who carry hot, heavy plates and trays, who put up with numerous complaints, who work on their feet all day long - are not highly paid individuals.  I once saw the minimum wage for wait people, and I was so shocked! It's way below the regular minimum wage. It's based on the idea that the person will get tips so therefore he or she doesn't need to get paid much by the employer. Crazy concept but it's how it works.

So, if we don't tip, or if we leave some insultingly small amount of money, that person may actually be short on their bills or have trouble buying gas. They might have trouble getting to work. They might have trouble smiling as they serve next time...especially if we come back to their restaurant. 

But what if we're short on our own bills? What if we ourselves have trouble buying gas?  Doesn't that make it okay to not tip - or to only tip a little?  Well, actually, we have other options. We can go to a fasts foods restaurant or to what I call a "deli restaurant" (think Panera Bread, Chipotles, etc.). Or we can go to a buffet, where it might be acceptable to only leave a dollar or two for the person who clears your plates.

Now, on the positive side of the coin, I know a lot of people who are very thoughtful as restaurant customers. For example, if they are going to just have coffee or dessert, they will tip as if they had a meal...because they sat down to a table, the same table someone would have used to have a meal. Likewise, some people, if they spend extra time visiting after the meal, will tip double to make up for the fact that someone else could not use that table (and tip) while they were there.

How much should we tip?  Please don't tip what your parents or grandparents tipped when you were younger. Remember inflation. We have been to a couple restaurants recently that automatically charge an 18% tip for five or more people.  That gave me the idea that we are not too far off when we automatically tip 20%...regardless of service (and if they automatically add the 18%, we "up it" to 20%). If the service was exceptional, we might want to add something to that and give more. And hey, it's an easy number to do (even for this numbers challenged woman). Just figure 10% and double it. But please, don't take that as a maximum, or as the amount for all time. Please do the research yourself, keep up with inflation, and give more if you want.

If we can afford to go out to eat at a restaurant, we can afford to tip. Let's do our duty, first of all, and then sometimes it might even be fun to make up for the people - and yes they do exist - who leave little or no tip. Let's have a fun evening for all.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Choose Your Foods

As I work on preparing the Myers Family Recipes book for publication, I think about nutrition.  This recipe book will be a culmination of 35 years of cooking for my family.  As a young adult, I read a plethora of nutrition books, and I decided on two things: take supplements and eat natural foods. I believe those decisions kept me centered as I watched the nutrition advice pendulum swing this way and that, over the decades.

Butter? Sugar? Eat them. Don't eat them. Substitute for them. Don't substitute for them. For awhile, we used only honey for a sweetener but then we decided to just eat these foods in moderation.

Proteins? Carbohydrates? Fats?  Don't eat too much protein. Eat mostly protein. Eat carbohydrates. Avoid carbohydrates like the plague. Cut fat from your diet. You need fat.  Over most of those years, my primary goal was simply to provide meals comprised of all three of those components and composed of natural ingredients. We ate lean meats, poultry and fish; used low fat dairy products; and ate whole grains, vegetables and fruits; with some pasta and occasional sweets added in.

In the past decade or so, as we dealt with some major stresses piled on like dominoes, I began to veer from that course. I added lots of convenience foods, sought comfort in an abundance of sweets, and indulged my soda addiction (high fructose corn syrup, sugar, or artifical sweetener? I've tried them all). My weight crept higher and higher.

So I began to look at books to help me with my weight, and to study nutrition, once again. But first I sought counseling. And I learned that I need to love myself. I know. Crazy, huh?  I mean, it's not like I was suicidal or  taking drugs or whatever. And I always knew God loves me. But I kind of thought my whole role on earth was to please other people (just try to guess what everyone wants of you). And you should have heard my self-talk! I still catch myself on occasion. I might silently criticize myself in a derogatory or sarcastic way, and then say, "Boy, is your self-talk bad!  What is the matter with you?!"  Oops, I think I should be gentle in correction. Yes, I believe that loving ourselves - which is not the same as being selfish or indulgent, but having a gentle, respectful, nurturing attitude - matters. I believe it matters even in our ability to take steps each day for our physical health.

And I have found that very attitude of self-respect included in some of the recent nutrition books that I have found. The other missing ingredient in my nutritional past was the importance of mono-unsaturated fatty acids, or MUFA's, as some say.  MUFA's, they say, nourish our brains, help us to avoid or lose belly fat, and help our heart health. They come in olive oil, olives, avocados, and some nuts and seeds and fish. And no, we don't now eliminate all other foods from our diets and eat these exclusively. (Heaven help us!). We need them only in small amounts. It's still all about balance.

And so, I want to share with you these titles, my favorites, my new go-to books on nutrition, in case you too might be interested in them.

General Nutrition, Food Choices, and Recipes:
Nutrition Diva’s Secrets for a Healthy Diet, Monica Reinagel, MS, LN, CNS, 2011
(This book takes you through the grocery store and through the day.)

The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great, Pam Anderson, 2008
(Although the very title speaks of losing weight, this book is largely about nutritional balance.)

Brain Health , Weight Loss, and Recipes:
Feed Your Brain, Lose Your Belly, Larry McCleary, MD, 2011
(This explains the science of how MUFA's help your brain and help you to avoid or lose belly fat.)

Flat Belly Diet! Liz Vaccariello, MPH, RD, 2008
(This is the more practical book on MUFA's and how to incorporate them into your diet.)  

Thursday, September 06, 2012

A Review of Little Saint Therese by Cay Gibson

I am feeling very honored by the  review of Little Saint Therese, written by Cay Gibson, author of Catholic Mosaic, Christmas Mosaic, and A Picture Perfect Childhood.

You can read her review of the Little Saint Therese book at her blog, Cajun Cottage Under the Oaks

Thank you so much, Cay!