Decision Making and Internal Enslavement: A Metaphor

We talked about the weight—or the perceived lack thereof—of decision making as a slave the other day. 

Mistress pointed out that for many s-types, outsourcing the decision, so to speak, to their left side of the slash counterpart, relieves decision fatigue, anxiety about the consequences of that choice, and the feeling of responsibility.

But for me, it doesn’t, really.  Even if she makes the decision and I have no right to argue—and I don’t—I still feel responsible.  I still feel the need to think my way through the decision as if I was going to make it myself—even if it has to be after the fact. I might not come up with anything more than, “Well, Mistress said so,” or trust in her general judgment, but the thought process is there, seeing if that is the only reason.  I still feel responsible for the outcome, even if my only part in it was the decision, a long time ago, to submit.  I still have that standing at the crossroads feeling. 

She pointed out that this appeared to contradict my usual perspective on internal enslavement.  Usually I said that, at this point and for a long time now, I could not, psychologically, purposefully choose something that violated her will.  But no, this still lined up for me, and I explained it like this: 

So I’m standing at a fork in the road.  One clear, sunny path leads to the obedient action.  The other path—to disobedience—is shrouded in fog.  The clear path is the obvious best choice, the one I normally happily continue down.  But, even just mentally pondering the foggy path, it’s like wandering into that thick fog and constantly getting turned around.  I always end up back where I started like ultimately bouncing off a force field.  If I could see the path clearly, I’d notice that it dead ends in a few feet.  But sometimes I don’t see or remember that it’s a dead end.  But I start to dissociate, and thoughts swirl in that fog, too much to continue down that path.  Because of that guarantee, that the fog is too thick, there isn’t really a path there at all, no matter the apparent intersection.  And so I go wander down the clear path again. 

This made sense to her.  The decision sometimes seemed like it could be mine, regardless of the truth, if I could just get through that fog.  But the fog makes sure there’s nothing for me on the other side of it.  And I normally don’t even notice the foggy path as an option; certainly going down it doesn’t frequently occur to me. 

But, the sheer fogginess of that path, the guarantee of a dead end, scares some people as a description.  I see why. Free will is something a lot of people hold dear enough to never be willing to give up.  I get it.  But I don’t feel scared by it much.  I hold that will dearly, too, and I didn’t hand it over lightly.  But I know whom I gave it to and trust her like I would trust myself.

That’s all I need to know when I’m noticing the fog at the fork in the road. 

Why I Teach (Or, the Biggest “I Told You So” Moment of My Life)

When I was in middle school, I attended one of those gifted kids summer programs that ran for five weeks.  I attended a lot of things like that, and I didn’t realize how important this one could turn out to be at the time.  I loved the program as it was that summer, ending in a big presentation at a local television studio, but it was really just groundwork for when we reunited the next summer—this time, for only a chaotic, jam packed two weeks.  

This time, we were taking the knowledge we’d gained last summer, doing some more research, and creating something more with it: two curriculum plans, same subject, one for first grade, one for third grade.  Complete with writing and illustrating choose your own adventure picture books, writing and recording discs of mnemonic songs to common tunes, creating Jeopardy PowerPoint review games, matching activities to standards and writing lesson plan guides for teachers (the team I was on), and everything else needed that you could think of, we had two weeks to create a ready to go pitch to the local school district to start implementing the curriculum in some local elementary schools (which it eventually was). 

While it sounded impressive for those just on the cusp of teenagehood, I did get a few blank looks when I explained what the subject of the curriculum was.  People tried to be encouraging, but I could see the pause.  Maybe they’d ask a question.  The, but isn’t that a little… basic?  But isn’t that kind of… universal?  But isn’t that, uh… boring? But don’t kids kind of… already know that? 

Still, given what we’d learned that first summer, I was ready to brush those looks aside.  Had ready answers when someone asked. Still, I wondered. 

The subject of the curriculum we designed was the technique and importance of proper handwashing.  The first summer was spent studying epidemics and pandemics of the past and present, the dangers of one in the future, and how they could be prevented.  

Our choose your own adventure books that I’d been copyediting as our district pitch presentation began split at decisions like disinfecting a surface or not disinfecting it, of washing your hands or not, of sharing items when someone was sick—ending in health or flu.  Our songs we sang around the lunch tables because they were permanently embedded in our heads were set to the length of time you should wash your hands for, lyrics like, Around my thumbs and fingers too! to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” (seen anything like that flying around the Internet for adults this year?) 

Yeah, it was 2020 when it turned out a large portion of the adult population didn’t know how to wash their hands.  Guess that curriculum wasn’t so basic after all, huh? After that, no one was going to tell me a curriculum I created was too simple, too basic, too tedious, too universal, too but people already know that. Blogging was one thing, and I loved the material, but teaching had seemed beyond me before.

But I began teaching kink education webinars about my passions in that arena on Zoom while still in quarantine, separated from my normal kink community experience. I still wanted to create plenty of educational core content that was free, accessible, as high quality as I could manage, unique, and out there in the world, now in class form, no longer discouraged by is this just adulting 101? or am I the only one who thinks this matters? 

It’s been better received and grown faster than I ever could have hoped for.  I’ve taken inspiration from my own variety of learning experiences (public school, private school, magnet schools, forms of homeschooling, such summer programs) and other educators (from my family of many traditional teachers to other kink educators).  You can probably see the touch of the standard classroom when I switch from writing on the physical whiteboard to show something on the document camera, or announce, “Okay, pop quiz time!” with a multiple choice pop up.  I like melding those styles a little. 

In December, about a year after I began my webinars, I’ll be teaching my class Schizophrenia in the Scene for the first time, also melding mental health advocacy for a group many hear little about with kink education, both near and dear to me, and splitting any donations with NAMI, hopefully making at least a tiny ripple of a difference.

In the end, knowledge itself is power.  Just like for the kiddos in the choose your own adventure books who got that handwashing lesson (and the kids who got the curriculum those books were a part of), knowledge is there for you to make a change with.  I’d like to put more of that out into the world. 

Class Adaptation: Culinary Services on the Road

This is a written adaptation of my Culinary Services: On the Road class.

Planning

Since travel limits your ability to improvise, thorough planning is essential.  Here’s where to start.

  • Physical resources: what you’ll need to provide the service.
    • Type: items by category. 
      • Appliances—what appliances will you have access to?  A microwave and a mini fridge are common hotel room amenities.  There might be more in other accommodation types, like an Airbnb. What are you bringing with you? Things like a crock pot or waffle iron travel well in many circumstances. 
      • Food.  Your actual ingredients.  Once you have your recipe list, make your ingredient list.
      • Drinks.  Don’t forget the beverages.  At the very least, make sure you’ll have cold, filtered water.  This might not be provided by your venue. 
      • Oils, seasonings, condiments.  Don’t forget these mini ingredients.  At the least, salt and pepper can make almost anything better.  Consider other condiments and oils, too. 
      • Cleaning supplies.  You won’t just be cooking on the road; you’ll be cleaning on the road.  Housekeeping probably won’t cover this in a hotel and might not in other venues.  Remember your dish soap and sponge, and other needs. 
      • Kitchen essentials. Servingware, measuring tools, plates, bowls, cups, silverware, napkins, all that. Poke around your home kitchen.  What needs to come with you or be accounted for? 
    • Where: where do those resources come from? 
      • Provided by the venue?  Are any of these items provided by your accommodations? 
      • Shop? Can you shop when you get there, heading out to a nearby grocery store, convenience store, or restaurant? 
      • Delivery?  Could you have items delivered or shipped to your venue?  Think Instacart, DoorDash, and PostMates.  
      • Bring it with you?  Can you bring the item with you easily? 
  • Restrictions: what might stop you from providing this service in certain ways? 
    • Time.  Time to shop, time to cook, time to clean. Do you have enough of it? Can you plan for this better?
    • Money.  Expensive ingredients, especially if you’re going to a place with higher prices than home, or trying to buy small quantities of things you usually buy in bulk (especially spices).  Can you check out coupons, sales, other options, price comparisons, or bring anything with you?
    • Transportation. Can you get to the stores you need? Can you get a ride, use public transit, walk, bike, or use a cab/rideshare service?  
    • Space.  Do you have the space in your accommodations to cook these dishes? Can you safely repurpose spaces or move things tighter together? Do you have space in your luggage or vehicle to pack?
    • TSA.  Things you can and cannot bring on airlines.  You usually have more wiggle room in your checked baggage.  You could also consider shipping items, or getting them when you get there.
    • Permissions. Any restrictions set by the person you’re serving. Have you communicated about what will allow you to provide the best service?
    • Dietary restrictions.  If you’re providing your own culinary service on the road to help the person you’re serving or yourself adhere to a certain diet, you’ll need to, of course, stick to that diet. There are many resources online for all types of situations.
    • Health. Similar to the above. If you’re doing the cooking yourself for health reasons, that needs to stay in mind. 
  • Other info.  Other knowledge to gather.
    • How many people? How many people are you cooking for each time? Does this change for any meal? 
    • Meal times.  When is food expected to be on the table? 
  • Information on anything you’re not cooking, and options.
    • Restaurants. Are you going out anywhere?  Are there places nearby to your liking (or the liking of the person you’re serving), or plans already made?  Going out with someone you’re visiting, perhaps? Remember reservations. 
    • Room service. Anything you can order from the hotel to the room that’s suitable? 
    • Free breakfast. Many hotel like venues provide a free continental breakfast. Is this suitable, or is there anything provided there you can bring back to the room to be repurposed? 
    • Others cooking.  Especially if you’re visiting someone, they may cook you a meal at some point.  If you’re traveling with another service type or anyone else who’s also doing the cooking, you’ll need to coordinate who’s doing what with them. 
    • Delivery. Any delivery options that are useful?  This could be restaurants or stores. 
    • Snacks. Snacks you can make or buy ahead of time or on site for between meal times. 
  • Make a meal plan and backups.  Things to consider: 
    • Is the meal filling enough?  Just because options are limited doesn’t mean a meal shouldn’t be satisfying.
    • Plans for snacks and drinks. Outside of just meals, remember things to munch on in between, and beverages for meals and outside of them.
    • Plan for leftovers.  Can you reheat them the next night, use them in a different dish, or pack them for lunch? 
    • Make a packing list/prep ahead list/shopping list.  Shopping list for home and when you arrive. Packing list of every single item.  List of foods to prepare ahead of time and then pack. 
    • Check for sales and coupons.  To travel cheaper, keep these in mind both where you’re starting and where you’re going.   
    • Compare shopping options. Compare prices between the venues at home and at your destination, and the prices between those cities in general. 
    • Pick good and few items.  Use as few items as possible without making the same dish over and over again.  Use more versatile cuts of meat, a very basic selection of spices (salt and pepper are really your friends), etc.  And when you do shop, pick quality cuts of meat, pieces of produce, etc. 
    • Make a master plan.  If you repeat this trip often, make a master version of the lists and info above to easily reference next time. 
  • Location alerts.  With your partner’s blessing, especially if they’ll be out and about and you’ll be minding the room, consider setting up location alerts so you’ll know when they’re heading back.  Then, greet them at their car with a fresh beverage, a smile, and anything else they’d like. 

Top Allergens

Top allergens to be aware of in the needs of the person you’re serving and their guests.  There are many other dietary restrictions to be aware of (whether they be moral preference, religious, sensitivity, weight loss, medical need, etc.) but these tend to be the most common, and sometimes dangerous. 

  • Milk.  Note that most of the adult population is lactose intolerant to some extent, though this is different than an actual milk allergy.  A cow milk allergy is, however, one of the most common childhood allergies, though most cases outgrow it.  Many products contain dairy that are not labeled with “milk” as an ingredient, but contain dairy additives, so know what to look for on a label with this allergy and all others.
  • Eggs.  This one is again common in children, though it’s frequently outgrown.  Also, some are allergic to only egg whites or egg yolks, or are okay with cooked eggs in another product (eggs in baked goods, for instance). Be aware of the distinctions.
  • Fish.  Fish is a common and serious allergy, and it also sometimes surfaces later in life, with adult onset. 
  • Crustacean shellfish.  This tends to be a lifelong allergy, and it’s recommended that people with this allergy are also not around the product while it’s cooked. (This is true with some others, too. Bear in mind, especially in small spaces.)
  • Tree nuts.  This is a particularly deadly allergy and a particularly common one, and definitely something to be very aware of. 
  • Peanuts.  Peanut allergies are also particularly dangerous and particularly common.  It is also more common in children.
  • Wheat.  Wheat and gluten are not exactly the same, though the words gluten free and Celiac’s have become more and more common.  Wheat allergies are also more common in children. Note that those with wheat allergies (and others) can have a reaction from cross contamination, not just eating the item directly.  If you cook a regular pancake, and then cook a wheat free pancake in the same pan, the person eating the wheat free pancake can still have an allergic reaction. This is especially a risk with limited resources.
  • Soybeans.  Another common childhood allergy, soy is a common ingredient even where you might not expect it, so read labels carefully. 

Always talk to the person in question about what is okay for them.  

Basics

Basic advice and some safety considerations. 

  • When handling uncooked meats, remember to wear disposable gloves and not cross contaminate. (One more allergy to keep in mind here: latex.) Keep long hair pulled back if possible. 
  • Heat and surfaces.  Remember that you’re improvising a little here, and the surfaces you’re cooking on in a space like a hotel room might not be meant for cooking.  Evaluate surfaces before you do anything on them with heat, and keep an eye on the situation at least the first time.  (Say, if you set a crock pot in use on a counter.) 
  • Bear in mind the rules of the venue.  If you can’t have, say, an open flame, at least make efforts to abide by the rule or break it as safely and non disruptively as possible if truly need be, and be aware of the risks.
  • Outlets.  Use electricity safely, being aware of how much power something needs, how much the outlet is providing, outlets that may be near sources of water, all of those things.  
  • Use knives and cutting boards safely.  Keep your knives clean and sharp, and know how to use one properly, and the type of knife to use for what.  Use separate, clean cutting boards for raw meats (preferably plastic) and for everything else (preferably wood).  Keep wood cutting boards hydrated/oiled. Don’t slack on this just because of travel. 
  • Trust recipes.  There are few “fake recipes” or “alternative ingredient lists” floating around the Internet.  If you’re new, try to trust the recipe first before you make your own modifications.  You’re much more likely to get good results from the method that was tested. 
  • If you do need to substitute items, especially with the restrictions of cooking on the road, do so carefully.  Know what items can be substituted for what (ye olde “baking soda and baking powder are not the same thing”).  Also know if it’s substituted for the exact same measurement or not. (For example, there’s “cup for cup” substitute flour, especially gluten free varieties, but also many that might substitute “a cup and two tablespoons” per cup, say.  Be aware.) 

Temperatures

Nothing ruins even an otherwise perfect trip like food poisoning.  The best way to avoid it: cook everything to proper temperatures.  No slacking just because you’re traveling! Check everything properly with a thermometer.  The USDA recommends minimal internal temperatures of: 

  • Ham/Beef/Veal/Pork/Seafood/Lamb: 145*F/~63*C.  Now, there’s definitely a range here on some things, especially for items like medium rare or rare steaks (and good for you if you’ve done that in a hotel room).  But this is the official recommendation. 
  • All Poultry: 165*F/~74*C.  There isn’t really wiggle room here.  Don’t get salmonella.  You can still cook juicy chicken with an internal temp of way over 165*F.
  • Ground Meat (Non Poultry): 160*F/~71*C.  Grinding up meat redistributes bacteria that is usually surface level, and means it must be cooked to a higher temperature.
  • Final note: don’t forget to pack the thermometer so you can check those temperatures!

Presentation and Service

Mostly aesthetic considerations around mealtime itself. 

  • Make it look like home.  Take the time to customize the space as much as you can.  Bring key parts of the table or room from home where practical.  Tuck venue flyers and leaflets and such into drawers.  Remake the bed the way you would at home, and ask for the extra pillows or whatever touches of comfort are desired.  Make it look a little more like your normal space. 
  • Tidy/restock.  If you’re the one doing housekeeping, tidy up the space yourself, and as housekeeping services are usually the ones restocking amenities, get in touch with them or the front desk for any items you notice are low (towels, soaps, paper goods, etc.)  Empty trash containers into larger bins out of the room where available, and at least create a hamper for used laundry.  Also, still remember tipping customs.
  • Eat at a table.  If at all practical, eat at a table.  Even small hotel rooms usually have a desk and a chair or two.  Even a nightstand and one person sitting on the end of the bed will do. But don’t sit around in chairs or on the bed; create a table just like at home. 
  • On that note, add a tablecloth (easy to pack) and even a centerpiece (flowers or a decorative item provided the venue, perhaps?) if practical.  Even a towel can at least spare you some cleanup hassle. Place cards even for two are at least a cute touch. 
  • Lighting and music.  Experiment with the new space and adjust the lighting to something functional but intimate.  Electric candles or string lights aren’t hard to toss in your bag.  Use your phone or electronic of choice (many rental spaces even have compatible speakers or a TV with a music service) to play some low instrumental music or background noise (fireplace crackling, falling rain, what have you—search for ASMR, white noise, studyscapes, sleep soundtracks). 
  • Remember drinks and condiments.  Both when packing or shopping, and when setting the table.  
  • Getting into plating: use any sauce (you probably have a lot to work with if you’re using something like a crock pot) to create visual texture and interest. Watch the moisture content, and remember you’ll want the most moisture at the bottom of the plate, so on, so that it doesn’t drip down through dryer layers.  Create interest with colors. 
  • You can create height on the plate for an attractive design, stacking items, or, in the case of sliced meats, fanning those slices looks nice, too.  Plate in odd numbers, as this is more eye catching than even numbers.  Three or five slices of meat, not two or four, so on. Eating in the room doesn’t have to make your vacation meals any less Instagram worthy. 
  • Remember “the clock plate”.  Imagine your plate as the face of a clock. This is a principle that says that your protein or entree should be from three to nine, starch from nine to twelve, and veggies from twelve to three.  At the least, putting the protein/main dish closest to the diner is a popular recommendation, though if it’s a protein and one side dish, realistically a lot of people will turn it so the two dishes are at six to twelve and twelve to six.
  • Presenting condiments: ideas for butter.  Even on the road, it can be easy to dress this up a little.  A butter knife drawn along the top of a stick of butter is all you need to create butter curls, and a dasher/melon baller in a tub of whipped butter is all you need to create butter balls. 
  • Even on the road, wherever possible, use real, clean, matching dishes and table linens. 
  • Hug the guest.  Especially in those tight spaces, remember the important part of the “serve from the left, clear from the right” principle: use the hand of the side you’re serving from.  Right side of the guest, serve with your right hand, wrapping around slightly or “hugging” the guest instead of knocking them with your elbow, and vice versa on the left. 
  • If space at all allows, set the table properly. Consult a table setting chart; you can find mine here.

Napkin Folding Guide

The Rosebud

1. Lay napkin face down in front of you.

2. Fold the napkin up in half diagonally. 

3. Point open end away from you. 

4. Fold the right corner up diagonally to meet the top corner. 

5. Repeat on the left.

6. Flip the napkin over, left to right.

7. Fold the lower corner up most of the way.

8. Flip the napkin over, left to right.

9. Curl both sides in, tucking one into the other.

10. Stand up. 

The Envelope

1. Lay napkin face down in front of you.

2. Fold napkin in half downwards.

3. Fold top left corner to center of base.

4. Repeat on the right.

5. Flip left to right. 

6. Fold in corners evenly.  Tuck in menu, card, favor, or whatever is desired. (Bottom will be open.) 

The Cutlery Holder (Good For Smaller Table Settings)

1. Lay napkin face up in front of you.

2. Fold in half upwards.

3. Fold in half to the left.

4. Peel one layer of upper right corner back to lower left corner.

5. Flip over vertically, downward.

6. Fold lower third in.

7. Fold top third in.

8. Orient vertically and insert cutlery/whatever is desired.

Conclusion

So there’s “Culinary Services: On the Road”. I hope it was informative or inspirational.  You can find my top recipes (travel friendly recipes are starred) here.  Safe travels!

Class Adaptation: Anticipatory Service

This is a written adaptation of my Anticipatory Service class.

I like to begin this class with a quote from Gosford Park:

“What gift do you think a good servant has that separates them from the others? It’s the gift of anticipation. (…) I know when they’ll be hungry, and the food is ready. I know when they’ll be tired, and the bed is turned down. I know it before they know it themselves.” 

True words!  But how do you do it?

Learning 

At the core of anticipatory service is education.  You can’t provide a service you don’t know how to do. But where do you start, how do you learn, and what do you do after? 

  • What do they want you to learn? The person you’re serving, that is. Remember one of the golden rules: it’s not service if they don’t want it. Even if it’s useful. Even if they “should” want it. Even if they’ll like it once it’s done. So, ask the person you’re serving where to start. If you’re on your own for the moment, consider asking around and doing some research about what’s “in demand”.
  • Training. What I’m basically counting under this category is instruction by the person you’re serving. This is good for specific preferences and unique services, and hands on/kinesthetic learners. Pretty much any relationship will, formally or informally, include this at some point, even if it’s, “Hey, how do you take your coffee?” 
  • Classes. This can be classes in the kink scene and classes outside of the kink scene (try local businesses, community centers, colleges, the Internet; things aimed at the hospitality, private service, customer service industries, and more). I especially recommend including classes from outside of the kink scene for that professional touch, and classes from within the scene for the customs of those spaces. I’ve attended everything from two hour kink centered webinars to what I’ve done so far of my four hundred hour professional private service course. 
  • Certificates. Certificate courses can be useful both logistically and as starting points for important considerations. This can include first aid and safety trainings, food handler cards, alcohol server cards, and more.
  • Reading. Books and articles, again both kink and vanilla. Good for verbal learners. 
  • Videos and podcasts. Especially if you’re an auditory learner, there’s a lot here. There are many kink oriented podcasts, and videos are often great for step by step visuals and directions. 
  • Practice. Don’t stop after absorbing the information in the above ways. Rattling off how to do something is no use if you can’t actually do it, so put the skill to use, and do it. Many services can be practiced in the vanilla world, too. Even if you’re looking to perfect your cooking for the right Owner one day, you won’t have trouble finding people to give you feedback on free food now. 
  • Take your own notes on whatever you learn. This will give you a quick way to refresh your memory and will be built for you, by you. Make a habit of refreshing yourself on your resource notes on a regular schedule, in case anything new has become applicable or jumps out at you now.

You can find my top recommendations for the above resource types here.

Problem Solving

A major category of anticipatory service is problem solving. Here are some steps: 

  • Notice the sign/problem. Yes, this sounds incredibly obvious. However, this step includes keeping your eyes open, scanning for things to be solved, remembering it, and caring to do something about it. 
  • Look from their perspective. As in, the perspective of the one you’re serving. This problem may not be a problem to you—but you’re not serving you. Do that scanning from the perspective of the person in question. Preference, ability, etc. 
  • Understand the problem. You can’t solve a problem effectively if you don’t know what’s going on. Think who, what, when, where, why, how. What’s the full scope of the problem? What’s causing the problem? How do you fix that? Google is your friend.
  • Solve the problem immediately. If you want this service to stay anticipatory, you have to get on it pretty fast, even if it’s not urgent. An imperfect solution now is better than the “perfect” solution later (that’s probably not coming). 
  • Solve it specifically. One note here: saying, “There is a problem,” and offering to help solve the problem is not solving the problem. If you do need to run the solution by the other party, propose a specific solution, not just the offer to be part of the solution. If you’re in an established service dynamic, that part’s obvious, and if you’re not, that part will be obvious in the specific solution.  
  • Solve it long term/on a recurring basis. Plan to solve this problem each time it comes up, if it’s related to something recurring. Don’t use quick bandaid solutions (except on emergencies while you get something better going); make sure that it’s a long term fix. Don’t just put a bucket under the leak; fix the leak. 
  • Permission issues. Obviously, make sure you have whatever permissions you need to solve the problem before you take action (unless it’s a true emergency). When building protocols, you’ll want to build in emergency exceptions, and take into account which problems you want solved with/without permission, which ones you want solved with/without prior or post event notice, etc. 
  • While solving problems: don’t cause another problem. Keep a wide view of things and make sure that your fix here isn’t taking the bandaid off somewhere else. Don’t schedule a new task to fix something not getting done at a time that now has you pressed for time on another item. Etc. 
  • Prevent the problem. What can you do to keep this problem from happening again, happening elsewhere, etc.? 
  • Check in. Make sure the problem does stay solved in the most effective manner, and isn’t popping up anywhere else. 

Tracking Preferences

In order to provide excellent service, you have to know what excellent service looks like to the person you’re serving. Here are some tips:

  • Ask. Ask before the situation is going to come up, when you think of preferences to ask about, when they ask you for something and you’re not sure how they like it, whenever you’re allowed to: ask. It might not be anticipatory service in the moment, but it’s how you get to do it next time. 
  • Understand the value of knowing why. Obviously, don’t be the two year old asking why why why. Don’t ask “why” to stall or to make them defend the service they requested before you provide it (if you’ve already made that agreement). But, ask why when it helps you provide better service. There’s plenty of room for the useful why in even fairly tight protocol—especially if you ask later, for next time. 
    • An example I give is this: the person you’re serving asks you to pick up some things from the store, making replacements as needed. (Instacart kink?) You go shopping; the store is out of one of the items. They’re not answering their phone. What do you do? Which replacement do you pick? Here, it would be useful to know why they selected their original choice. If it was because it was cheapest, then you’d want to pick the second cheapest item. If it was because of superior quality, then you’d want to pick up the second best item (based on whatever criteria). Different choices made based on different whys.
  • Incorporate those preferences. Once you know of a preference, incorporate that into your systems and actions. Note brands on your master shopping list; stick a note with their coffee order onto your morning checklist that says “fetch coffee”; make a playlist in their genre of choice for use during chauffeur service. 
  • Write it down. Write down notes on the preference itself. Keep organized files. You can organize this by topic (how they take their coffee), person, both, so on. 
  • Study those notes. Especially if they can’t be neatly incorporated into pre existing routines but might come up at random, just make a habit of reading those notes in their entirety. In creative writing, there’s the idea of “visiting with” your work to keep it fresh in your head even if you’re blocked and not writing more: doing research, reading what you’ve already written, doodling a character—just to keep the work “alive” in your head. Honestly, I find a similar concept applicable to tracking preferences. Having read someone’s file recently will keep that information closer to the top of your head.
  • Look for changes. Ask if needed. Your notes are not God; don’t box people into the first preference you noted. Keep an eye out for changes and update accordingly. (Note: you can still keep the notes on former preferences as those are likely to be runner ups or somehow relevant; just title them as such.) 
  • Notice preferences. Short of just asking, the best way to note a preference is repetition. Do they buy the same brands again and again? Consume the same types of media? Order the same thing every time you go out? Wear the same color of clothing every day? Compliment the same service again and again? People are creatures of habit, and habits are telling. 
  • Learn their cues. To get one step ahead on in the moment services like drink refills, you’ll want to learn what they do immediately before a) they do the thing themselves, b) you usually notice the desire, or c) they prompt you to do it. Looking for repetition in that area to learn, and then keeping an eye out for those tells to act on, will keep you ahead of things. Here, I usually screen share some made up examples using characters from my erotica series and point a few things out. 
    • Ezri took another sip of coffee, her gaze lingering on the clear mug as she set it down on the table. Her eyes flicked to Lalia, kneeling nearby, who noticed the nearly empty mug and went to refill it. 
      • Here, we see the point where Lalia notices that Ezri’s drink is getting empty (and does something about it). But if she wanted to catch that sooner, let’s take a step back from that moment: what happened before that? We see gaze lingering on the drink in question, and eyes flicking to her slave, Lalia, two common visual indicators that could easily be tells that a refill is in order. 
    • Jen frowned at her glass that was now mostly ice, tilting it to and fro before setting it nearly out of reach. She stood and retrieved the pitcher from the island.
      • Same thing here. We see Jen take this action (the refill) herself. This wouldn’t happen on Clara’s watch but let’s pretend her slave notices this and wants to have jumped in a moment sooner. So, let’s back up. Right before this, we see frowned at her glass (an expression like something’s wrong with it, or thinking about it) and tilted it to and fro (fidgeting, with the object in question) and setting it nearly out of reach (a weird thing to do with a drink you’re still working on). All potential tells.
    • Ezri looked at Lalia as she set her coffee down, toying with a strand of her hair. She nudged her and indicated the mug, and Lalia picked it up and headed for the kitchen.
      • Man, Clara and Lalia are really off their game today. Anyway, here we see the prompt to get the refill (nudging and indicating the mug being relatively obvious between these two, if not verbal). So, one more time, let’s take one step back: how to get ahead of that prompt. We see Ezri look at Lalia and additionally toy with Lalia’s hair. The extra attention to the person who’s supposed to be serving her would be key tells here, not just flattery.

Service Ideas

How to come up with ideas for services. 

  • Routinely ask. Once again, the power of asking up front. But there’s another word here: routinely. Set a recurring reminder or other schedule to do this on. This is a part of our weekly questionnaire for our weekly check in. 
  • Things that are outsourced. What do they have someone else, like a professional or maybe family, do for them? This might involve having someone come into the house to do it, bringing items or themselves to a place for service, etc. Are these things you can take over and do just as well or better? 
  • Things that are automated. What’s being done by technology? Can you do it just as well or better instead? Think of home automation, dishwashers that might not be thorough, washers and dryers that might be tough on delicate items.
    • Note: on both of the above, there are pros and cons to these as sources of service. It might be that your time is better used elsewhere, or it might be that doing it yourself makes you feel more connected to your service. Keep in mind. 
  • Things they do for themselves. Self explanatory. What tasks do they do for themselves that you can do for them just as well (or better) and they won’t miss? 
  • What frustrates them? Especially look here. What tasks do they complain about, procrastinate on, rush through? 
  • In the moment… what are they about to ask for/what are they about to do? If you know it a moment ahead of time, and you can, go do it for them. We talked about it a bit above, but even if you haven’t been specifically put on that duty, this could create a new service. 
  • Does this recur? If any of the above is something that happens on a recurring basis, communicate with the person you’re serving about it, work it into your systems, and, as we said with problem solving: handle it on that recurring basis. 

Improving Processes 

Look around at the processes already getting things done. How can they be improved? 

  • Can it be done with less:
    • Time?  Done faster? 
    • Money?  Done cheaper? Done yourself? 
    • Other resources?  Driving, supplies, space? 
  • Understand (and adhere to) their priorities. What makes a process better to you might not be what makes it better to them. What do they value? That something is done quicker? Cheaper? Better? Does that change depending on what the thing is? 
  • Can it be more consistent? Consistent processes are a must in any service industry, and being an s-type is no exception. You know exactly what you’re doing; they know exactly what to expect. Can you make this any more consistent? 
  • More convenient?  And what does convenient mean to the person you’re serving? Check in on their ideas of convenience, and see if you can make a process (or the result) more accessible to them. 
  • For a lot of people, one thing that makes things more convenient is kits and stations. This can be anything from the standard play bag you take to parties, a drink station in the kitchen, a first aid/toiletry kit, a bug out bag, a tray that holds items for a specific personal service, so on. Think about organizing these. 
  • Eliminate nuisances and friction points. What tends to get in the way of things going smoothly and pleasantly? (And again: what’s their idea of a nuisance?) Address these things. 
  • Monitor results from the above. Just like problem solving, keep an eye on these processes for further improvement or troubleshooting. 

Unobtrusive Service 

In the moment, ways to keep your service unobtrusive and invisible. 

  • Speak when spoken to/be quiet.  Try to keep your gestures, footsteps, voice, serving: quiet.  Speak only when spoken to/necessary unless you have different protocol, and generally don’t attract too much attention.  We have a protocol that when I’m entering Mistress’ office (as she’s there much of the time and this is by far our most common scenario), I wait in the doorway (a good, unobtrusive spot) quietly until I’m acknowledged, if I want her attention, and I can pass through without that and exit protocols if I don’t make eye contact (more below).
  • Watch the eye contact.  This is as distracting as being spoken to for a lot of people, and tends to indicate that you have something to say.  Try to keep your eyes lowered/on the task at hand.
  • Don’t interrupt physically.  If two people are speaking, don’t get right between them.  If the person you’re serving is working on a task, don’t get between them and the task.  If they’re moving around, don’t get in their way.   
  • Don’t ask if not needed.  If you don’t need to ask if they want the service that comes to mind, don’t. Just do it. Needing to ask could be defined here by protocol or by uncertainty, but if you don’t need to ask, maybe just get to it.

Conclusion

These are my top pieces of advice/starting points for providing good anticipatory service. I hope this inspires! 

Class Adaptation: Drink Services

This is a written adaptation of my Drink Services class.

Routine

These are some ideas for times you can insert drink services into your routine.

  • First thing.  First thing in the morning. This could mean waking the person you’re serving up with a drink, having it waiting for them just before they get up, bringing it to them as soon as they’re awake, or other versions. 
  • Meals.  Serving a specific drink with meals, or a type of meal (breakfast, dinner, etc.), or at least making sure they’re always served water. Or asking for their drink order. 
  • For the road or on arrival.  When they’re entering or leaving the house.  Something to take with them, or something as soon as they settle in at home. This could be having something waiting for them or fetching one as soon as they arrive (especially if their order might change).
  • During personal service.  If you provide any services in the health and beauty categories like running a bath, giving a massage, manicure/pedicure, etc., these are great times to be sure to at least offer a drink as you get going. 
  • Make a habit of asking/refilling their drink. For example, part of our protocol for when I leave Mistress’ presence is that I first ask if there’s anything else I can do to be of service. 99% of the time, if the answer is yes, it’s, “Get me more coffee (or water).” There’s also a refill request button on her pager transmitter (so my pager buzzes and displays the message, “Refresh coffee and water.” 
  • At turndown. If you have any kind of turndown or nightly routine, this is a great place to insert a drink service.  Or, simply put, “last thing”. 

Supplies

General suggestions for things to keep on hand, or ways to approach making your own list. 

  • Think of it like a menu.  Basically, pretend you’re running a restaurant.  What’s the standard menu, the items you can always offer? Think of offering both the basics, and a few house specials/favorites of the household and frequent guests, or a limited time or seasonal offering. 
  • Ice.  So many good uses.  Keep a drink cold, cool a hot drink down a little, water down something strong. Have plenty of it. Themed ice molds or adding food coloring can be fun for an event.  You can also freeze many non water drinks to chill that beverage without watering it down.  (There are also “reusable ice cubes” on the market.)  
  • Appropriate glassware/cups/etc.  Many drinks, especially alcoholic and hot drinks, are associated with a specific type of glassware/cup.  You don’t need to have every kind known to man, but have the ones for the drinks you make most often, a selection you can improvise a little with, and enough for the largest amount of people you might serve at once.  Have the basics at least.  Also, many options can be placed in the freezer to be chilled, keeping drinks colder longer and giving you that translucent effect.  Keep a selection there if you generally have the room, or just place them in a few hours before service. We’ll talk about one more idea for this later. 
  • Keep basic drink accoutrements (and favorites) around.  This can include standard cocktail garnishes, lemon, milk, and sugar for hot drinks, or even whipped cream and marshmallows.
  • Coasters and bar napkins.  There are a million options to protect your tables, but also remember that bar napkins are used to hold drinks as well, even if you’re thinking you don’t care about the ring marks. I like to crochet my own for a personal and environmentally friendly touch. 
  • Straws.  Again, if you’re concerned about the environment, there are reusable options. Even if you’re not a straw fan, they can be important for guests with sensitive teeth, so keep some options around. 
  • Teaspoons/stirrers. Pretty self explanatory.  Keep them handy.
  • Servingware needed.  Any items that come between you making a large batch of a drink and that drink being in a guest’s cup.  Pitchers, ladles, sugar bowls, shakers, whatever it may be. 
  • Openers and corkscrews.  Yeah, don’t be caught without these.  Even if you don’t need one for what you’re planning to serve, having it handy for a guest who brings something is a great idea.
  • Small appliance needs.  Coffee maker and/or grinder, electric kettle, blender, whatever little appliances you need for what you’re making.  One overlooked idea here is the crock pot, which is excellent for keeping drinks warm with little cleanup (especially with those handy liners) and without burning them. 
  • Organize things with signs and stations.  Signs giving a quick overview of what’s at that station, a note that says “please help yourself” (or whatever your policy is), and notes on any useful items that may be stored in the fridge or freezer instead, are often a well appreciated touch.  Especially for guests, if you’re labeling something pretty specific, allergen warnings are (sometimes literal) lifesavers.  In general, stations are useful.  In our house, we have a coffee station and a separate soda station, both in the kitchen area. 
  • Maintain your supplies.  Make sure everything above is kept clean, in good repair, stored properly, etc. 

Matching With Food

There’s a whole art form to matching beverages with food, especially alcohol and hot drinks.  Here are some pointers. 

  • Contrasting and mirroring.  In general, you’ll want the drink to either contrast (be an opposite of) or mirror (have the same qualities as) the food in question.  A lot of this is a matter of opinion; there are times one person would say you should contrast and another would say you should mirror, but at least knowing which one you’re going for is a place to start.  We’ll talk about what qualities can be contrasted or mirrored below.
  • Body. Is the drink/food light, medium, or full bodied?  Think of this kind of like thickness.  Cream versus whole milk versus two percent versus skim, say.  It translates across other food and drinks. 
  • Acidity/Brightness.  Think of words like tart or sour.  Acidity is especially associated with citrus (citric acid).
  • Tannins/Bitterness. Bitterness isn’t always bad, but play with it carefully. This is another area to consider.
  • Sweetness. This is an especially debated point in the contrast or mirror area, especially when it comes to pairing with desserts.  Sweet with sweet may seem like too much, but sweetness can easily overwhelm a lot of subtler flavors. 
  • Umami. Umami doesn’t translate neatly, but it is sometimes associated with dark, earthy, and savory flavors. 
  • Alcohol levels. Consider how strong of an alcoholic drink you’re serving with what foods.  Alcohol can especially make many spices seem hotter, so you might want to use caution in pairing these together. 
  • Pair texture. Pairing carbonated drinks with crunchy foods is a popular example here. 

Presentation

Mostly aesthetic bits to consider in the presentation/serving category.

  • Trays. Look, almost everyone loves trays. They immediately make things seem fancier, and they’re great for grouping small items, like drink accoutrements. Consider using one to serve drinks on or from, and learn to carry one properly. Stick to the person your serving’s preferences when acquiring them (and try thrift stores for cheap finds); personalized ones can be fun, too.
  • Try edible spoons.  Edible spoons are simple, quick, and relatively cheap to make.  Get a spoon shaped baking mold (check Amazon or craft stores; silicone ones are common) and fill the mold with melted chocolate or candy melts (any kind), then freeze, or crushed peppermints, then melt, and let solidify at room temperature.  They can add flavor to a drink as they’re stirred and be consumed by the end!
  • Try rimmed glasses.  Many alcoholic drinks are paired with specific salts or sugars on the rim of the glass.  You can also try dipping in melted chocolate and sprinkles for a dessert oriented touch, whether it’s for a milkshake or milk served with cookies. Stick that version in the freezer for the chilled effect mentioned above and to solidify the chocolate.  (Some people don’t like to feel like they’re chewing chocolate off the glass at the end of their drink, but even just the drink poured over that rim as they sip will add some flavor/aesthetic). 
  • Speak when spoken to/be quiet.  Try to keep your gestures, footsteps, voice, serving: quiet.  Speak only when spoken to/necessary unless you have different protocol, and generally don’t attract too much attention.  We have a protocol that when I’m entering Mistress’ office (as she’s there much of the time and this is by far our most common scenario), I wait in the doorway quietly until I’m acknowledged, if I want her attention, and I can pass through without that and exit protocols if I don’t make eye contact (more below).
  • Watch the eye contact.  This is as distracting as being spoken to for a lot of people, and tends to indicate that you have something to say.  Try to keep your eyes lowered/on the task at hand.
  • Don’t interrupt physically.  If two people are speaking, don’t get right between them.  If the person you’re serving is working on a task, don’t get between them and the task.  If they’re moving around, don’t get in their way.  Certainly don’t set a drink in those places, either.  Set it just to the side.
  • Also, make sure you “hug the guest”.  A part of the serve from the left, clear from the right tradition, the most important part here is that you serve the person with the same hand as the side you’re standing on.  Standing on their left, serve with your left hand, so that it kind of wraps around, not smacking them in the face with your elbow or anything like that.  Same for the right: right side, serve with your right hand. 
  • Don’t ask if not needed.  If you don’t need to ask if they want a refill, a certain accoutrement, a drink at all, which drink, etc., don’t.  Just get it.  This is a part of anticipatory service.  Needing to ask could be defined here by protocol or by uncertainty, but if you don’t need to ask, maybe just get to it. 

Tea Service

Some quick notes on basic tea service.  Note that this is mostly English oriented, and traditions vary greatly between cultures and people. Obviously, serve to the preferences of the one you’re serving. 

  • If you’re stocking tea for general guests or an event, consider offering both caffeine and decaf options.  Even if you don’t believe in decaf, this can be an important health consideration for some people, and many are very sensitive to caffeine. 
  • If you’re selecting a tea menu for an event, consider choosing teas that are brewed in a similar temperature range to make things easier for yourself.
  • How to make a basic pot of tea: 
    • Heat (filtered) water to the correct temperature.  Teas brew at different temperatures; follow the instructions.  If need be, measure how much water you’re using. This part is usually done with a kettle, but in a pinch, there are many options. 
    • Warm the teapot and any cups.  Some fill them with hot water and let them sit, then dump them out; some do a quick rinse.  Either way, warm them.
    • Use one teabag or one tablespoon of loose leaf tea (in a strainer) per cup.  Some add “one for the pot”, or you might like your tea stronger via adding more. (Loose leaf versus teabags is also a huge debate.) 
    • Pour the hot water over your tea. 
    • Steep, covered, for the amount of time determined by the type of tea. 
    • Remove bags/strainer. 
  • When pouring someone a cup of tea, ask about what they’d like to add (so you know if you should be leaving any room for hot water/milk/etc.), then pour, then add those things. 

Alcohol Management 

Things to know for alcohol management.  Laws very greatly by location, but here are some ideas of what to know for where you are. 

  • My first recommendation here is to get your alcohol server card/license.  This should teach you everything below for your area. Here in Nevada, it’s called a TAM (Techniques of Alcohol Management) Card and can be acquired with an online course and in person exam.
  • Know the minimum drinking age (and exceptions around this). For example, some areas allow minors/people under the usual minimum age to drink alcohol at home under parental supervision. Ages for purchasing, selling, possessing, and consuming may be different.  Here, the key age is 21. 
  • Know drinking and driving laws.  There’s likely a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) level restriction on this.  This will affect your household policy for guests as they are leaving. Here, it’s .08%. 
  • Know public intoxication laws.  Again, you might be hosting a public event, or it’s just good to know as guests start to head home. In some places, it’s illegal simply to be intoxicated in public. In others, it’s just noted that public intoxication makes it more likely for you to break other public conduct laws (like public urination). Here, it’s not illegal to be publicly intoxicated. 
  • Know open container laws, both for public spaces and vehicles, for the sake of guests and public events.  This may be based on the type of container, and if it was purchased nearby.  There are a lot of situation based laws on this here.
  • Know how BAC works.  Look up the math, but since you’re unlikely to be doing the math in the moment, just know what level usually looks like what effects.  This’ll inform your household policy on things like when to cut someone off or not let them drive.

Conclusion

While getting someone a drink sounds simple, there can be a lot of things to consider and a lot of ways to spice it up.  I hope you found this educational and/or inspiring.  Stay hydrated!

Class Adaptation: Culinary Services

This is a written adaptation of my Culinary Services class.

Planning 

A lot of the service that comes from the kitchen really happens in the planning.  Things to consider:

  • Meal plans and types. Consider different types of meal plans.  You can have it recur by week, two week cycle, or even by month, and have it repeat categories (chicken, pasta, beef, breakfast for dinner) or specific meals. Or, you can set a plan each week or so.  
  • Menus and balance. Consider each menu (per meal) and be sure to consider the balance and compatibility of sides, drinks, and desserts. This can include flavor profiles, nutrition, and how filling the combination is. 
  • Inventory.  A spreadsheet of what’s in stock in the kitchen (and information such as at what supply level to buy more, how much to buy maximum, etc.) can be a very valuable tool.  It does, however, need to be maintained.  A simple version some people use is a list posted on the fridge of what’s inside, to avoid looking with the door open (wasting cold air) and to remind you to use perishable items. 
  • Shopping and master lists.  The master shopping list is a list of basically everything you buy on any kind of recurring basis.  Add items from your shopping lists and examine what you keep in the house to form the master list.  Divide it by category and arrange it in the physical department order of the store you shop at (or, make multiple copies for different stores).  When making your list for that shopping trip, just run down the master list (and meal plan if needed) in comparison to what you have in stock. This is a good alternative to a traditional inventory. And generally make sure you plan and shop efficiently. 
  • Coupons and sales. Check the mail or the Internet for coupons and sales at applicable stores.  There are extensions that will add coupons automatically online and stores that let you load digital coupons onto your membership card (or by phone number).  Sort physical coupons and don’t forget them when it’s time to shop.  Keep an eye open for sales and promotions in store.
  • Keep a price book to compare the average price for the same item at different stores.  This is best for items you buy a lot of.  What does a gallon of milk cost at each of your top grocery stores?  And be sure to consider price per unit (price per ounce, not box, say).  Buy items where they’re cheapest unless some other factor takes priority.  Buying in bulk if you’ll really use it can save a lot of money. 
  • Pick good items.  Know how to spot a good piece of produce, cut of meat, etc.  Know what the best versions of the items you buy really look like.  Also, prioritizing quality over price for kitchen items in the short term can save you money later when you don’t have to replace it as quickly. 
  • Clear old foods.  Make it part of your routine to clear expired food from the kitchen.  If there are items that are perfectly good but you’re not going to use, especially non perishables, consider donating them.
  • Use leftovers carefully.  Plan to cook dishes that are made in larger quantities when you have more guests.  If there are going to be leftovers, they might make a good lunch as is, or perhaps you can use pieces of them in a new way (shredding leftover chicken to add to chicken soup couldn’t be easier).   
  • Use few ingredients.  Try to use the same few ingredients in a variety of ways, instead of buying a bunch of specialty items (especially perishables) that can only be used for one meal.  Salt and pepper, some flour, vegetable and olive oil will get you pretty far by themselves.  It saves money, simplifies shopping, and makes you have less last minute inventory mishaps.
  • Make meals ahead of time.  Meal prep can save a lot of time in the long run, and is great for the sort of thing you can prep one day, and eat easily all week. Crock pot recipes are good for this, and meal prep is popular for lunches especially.
  • Consider the timing and resources you need for each meal.  Being able to get all the components of the meal on the table on time is a hugely overlooked cooking skill, but it’s extremely important.  Whether it’s multiple courses, an entree and a side dish, or even just the concept of “dinner”, make sure to set your timers, not get too distracted, and keep each dish on track.  When planning, consider your resources.  You probably have a finite amount of oven space (and one temperature you can set it to), and a finite number of burners on the stove, at the least.  Make sure you’re not planning two side dishes that both need radically different oven temps at the same time. 
  • Backup plans.  Have one.  Have three.  There are plenty of nights I get dinner on the table on time and say, “This was dinner plan number four.”  Whether something went bad earlier than expected, someone else used a needed ingredient first, a guest with a dietary restriction RSVPs last minute—have a backup plan.  Or four. 
  • Organize favorite recipes.  Sort them by diet, meal, or main ingredient.  Consider adding any useful information like how many it serves.
  • Organize the kitchen itself.  Keep the kitchen clean and in order, with everything having a proper place that makes sense and is convenient to use. 
  • Replicate favorite recipes.  If the person you’re serving has a favorite order from a restaurant, a beloved grocery store premade item, a long time family recipe, a preferred way of making something—learn how to make that item that way.  There are great knockoff recipes for most restaurant chain menu items and grocery store brands online. 

Food Preservation 

Methods of preserving food to look into if you want to store things longer.

  • Canning.  This is good for sauces, jams and jellies, broths and stocks, things along the liquid lines (and a few others).  It’s relatively simple, and a great way to preserve things you made yourself (and making some of those items is a great way of using up extras and making it to your preferences). 
  • Drying.  This can be used for items like fruit chips, meat jerkies, so on.  You can use a dehydrator or the oven if you do it right.
  • Sealing.  Proper vacuum sealing is relatively simple and a good first step in preserving many items, especially meats.  This goes well with:
  • Freezing.  Many things keep longer simply by sticking it in the freezer, especially if it’s airtight.  Meats, yes, but also made ahead doughs and even already baked goods, and other items. 

Top Allergens

Top allergens to be aware of in the needs of the person you’re serving and their guests.  There are many other dietary restrictions to be aware of (whether they be moral preference, religious, sensitivity, weight loss, medical need, etc.) but these tend to be the most common, and sometimes dangerous. 

  • Milk.  Note that most of the adult population is lactose intolerant to some extent, though this is different than an actual milk allergy.  A cow milk allergy is, however, one of the most common childhood allergies, though most cases outgrow it.  Many products contain dairy that are not labeled with “milk” as an ingredient, but contain dairy additives, so know what to look for on a label with this allergy and all others.
  • Eggs.  This one is again common in children, though it’s frequently outgrown.  Also, some are allergic to only egg whites or egg yolks, or are okay with cooked eggs in another product (eggs in baked goods, for instance). Be aware of the distinctions.
  • Fish.  Fish is a common and serious allergy, and it also sometimes surfaces later in life, with adult onset. 
  • Crustacean shellfish.  This tends to be a lifelong allergy, and it’s recommended that people with this allergy are also not around the product while it’s cooked. (This is true with some others, too. Bear in mind.)
  • Tree nuts.  This is a particularly deadly allergy and a particularly common one, and definitely something to be very aware of. 
  • Peanuts.  Peanut allergies are also particularly dangerous and particularly common.  It is also more common in children.
  • Wheat.  Wheat and gluten are not exactly the same, though the words gluten free and Celiac’s have become more and more common.  Wheat allergies are also more common in children. Note that those with wheat allergies (and others) can have a reaction from cross contamination, not just eating the item directly.  If you cook a regular pancake, and then cook a wheat free pancake in the same pan, the person eating the wheat free pancake can still have an allergic reaction. 
  • Soybeans.  Another common childhood allergy, soy is a common ingredient even where you might not expect it, so read labels carefully. 

Always talk to the person in question about what is okay for them.  

Basics

Some basic recommendations as you get going in culinary service.

  1. Own and maintain proper supplies.  Trying to cook in an understocked kitchen is annoying and can even be dangerous.  Many kitchen items can be found cheap and lightly used.  And once you own items, make sure they’re properly cleaned and maintained.
  2. Use proper safety precautions.  Wear disposable gloves when handling raw meats (and don’t cross contaminate).  (With gloves, mind any latex allergies.) Aprons and oven mitts will help protect you from burns and splashes.  Keeping your hair up if needed keeps hair out of food.
  3. Know how to use a knife and cutting board safely.  Also, keep your knives sharpened, and your wood cutting boards oiled.  Dull knives are actually much more dangerous than sharp knives! Remember to keep raw meat cutting boards separate, and ideally plastic ones.
  4. Trust recipes if you’re new.  There are very few Fake Recipes out there.  There are not many Alternative Ingredient Lists.  Recipes are not usually there to deceive you.  When you’re just starting out, trust recipes.  Follow them carefully, and things much more rarely go wrong. As you learn more cooking principles, you can start to add more of your own style.
  5. On that note, substitute carefully if you do.  Know that some ingredients are not swapped for equal measurements (a cup of regular flour might be substituted with a cup and a quarter of a gluten free flour, etc.)  Know that baking powder and baking soda are not the same thing.  Oils and butters are vastly different.  Know what that substitution does, if you do have to make it.
  6. Learn basic meals first.  Knowing how to make a wide, common breakfast menu of even toast, bagels, pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, so on, is going to be much more useful and versatile than perfecting one or a few recipes that most people can’t pronounce or comprehend.  There’s plenty of time for those more impressive dishes later.  Start with basics and favorites. 

Temperatures

The easiest way to lose a second chance at culinary service: food poisoning.  The best way to avoid it: cook everything to proper temperatures.  Check everything properly with a thermometer.  The USDA recommends minimal internal temperatures of: 

  • Ham/Beef/Veal/Pork/Seafood/Lamb: 145*F/~63*C.  Now, there’s definitely a range here on some things, especially for items like medium rare or rare steaks.  But this is the official recommendation. 
  • All Poultry: 165*F/~74*C.  There isn’t really wiggle room here.  Don’t get salmonella.  You can still cook juicy chicken with an internal temp of way over 165*F.
  • Ground Meat (Non Poultry): 160*F/~71*C.  Grinding up meat redistributes bacteria that is usually surface level, and means it must be cooked to a higher temperature.

Presentation and Service

Largely aesthetic pieces to consider as you get to meal time. 

  • When plating, consider your use of any sauces, as they can add a lot aesthetically and there are a lot of plating methods to choose from.  Keep in mind visual texture (though you’ll want to keep your most moist components at the bottom of the plate, so it doesn’t leak through) as well as color. 
  • Consider adding height to the plate by stacking elements.  Odd numbers of items (three, five, seven, so on) tends to grab visual interest better than even numbers (two, four, six).  If you’re not going for adding height, “fanning” slices of meat is an appealing option. 
  • Keep any garnishes edible to avoid confusion. 
  • Bear in mind the “clock plate”.  This is a common idea that says you should look at your plate like a clock, and place veggies from 12-3, proteins from 3-9, and carbs from 9-12.  At the very least, main dish closest to the diner is practical.
  • Remember to set out drinks and any desired condiments in an attractive manner. 
  • On that note, there’s a lot you can do aesthetically with butter, a common table need.  Consider balls (using a melon baller or dasher to create balls of whipped butter), curls (using a butter knife scraped along the top of a stick of butter), or piped shapes (using softened butter and a frosting piping kit). 
  • Use real, clean, matching dishes and table linens where you can.  Consult a table chart and set the table properly. You can find my chart here.
  • Consider warming or cooling the plates, cups, and bowls you’ll be using.  A chilled glass (just stick it in the freezer a few hours in advance, or always keep a stock ready) looks great and keeps drinks cooler longer.  (You can also dip the rims in melted chocolate, then sprinkles, then freeze, for dessert drinks!  There are other dipping ideas for different drinks, especially alcoholic, too.) A warm plate keeps food hot longer. A cold bowl is much better to serve ice cream in.  Keep it in mind.
  • Consider the whole dining atmosphere, and consider the lighting (functional but cozy is good), and low instrumental music or background noise (one of those crackling fireplace videos is usually popular). 
  • Utilize place cards (hand lettered/personalized is a nice touch) and centerpieces (but make sure people can see across the table).  Flowers (real and fake) and candles (real and electric) are common, but there are all kinds of options.  Think ornaments, string lights, and more. 
  • “Hug the guest”.  When serving, there’s the serve from the left (with your left hand) and clear from the right (with your right hand) principle, but depending on the table layout, this may or may not always be practical.  The most important part is to “hug the guest”, that part about serving with the same hand as the side you’re standing on, to kind of wrap around them and not hit them with your elbow. 

Napkin Folding Guide

The Rosebud

1. Lay napkin face down in front of you.

2. Fold the napkin up in half diagonally. 

3. Point open end away from you. 

4. Fold the right corner up diagonally to meet the top corner. 

5. Repeat on the left.

6. Flip the napkin over, left to right.

7. Fold the lower corner up most of the way.

8. Flip the napkin over, left to right.

9. Curl both sides in, tucking one into the other.

10. Stand up. 

The Envelope

1. Lay napkin face down in front of you.

2. Fold napkin in half downwards.

3. Fold top left corner to center of base.

4. Repeat on the right.

5. Flip left to right. 

6. Fold in corners evenly.  Tuck in menu, card, favor, or whatever is desired. (Bottom will be open.) 

The Cutlery Holder (For Smaller Table Settings)

1. Lay napkin face up in front of you.

2. Fold in half upwards.

3. Fold in half to the left.

4. Peel one layer of upper right corner back to lower left corner.

5. Flip over vertically, downward.

6. Fold lower third in.

7. Fold top third in.

8. Orient vertically and insert cutlery/whatever is desired. 

Conclusion

This has been my overview of culinary service basics and starting points.  It’s a practical and popular service category that has a lot of potential for customization.  I hope this inspires! 

Also, find my top recipes here.

Class Adaptation: Butler’s Books, S-Type Files, and Other Service Records

This is a written adaptation of my Butler’s Books, S-Type Files, and Other Service Records class.

Butler’s Book

The traditional butler’s book is an incredible resource that has all kinds of useful, customized information for management of the household.  Some ideas:  

  • Household guides and info.  Any basic information that helps you run the household. This could be information on how to do laundry or how to make coffee.  Generally things you or the person you’re serving have drafted.  This could also be manuals for appliances and other installations. 
  • The butler’s journal.  Not so much the pour your heart out kind, though that has its own value, but a basic log of household happenings.  This includes outings, visitors, and basically any event you might want a record of in the future.
  • Calendar.  A way to keep track of deadlines, appointments, and anything pretty specifically scheduled. 
  • Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual lists.  And so on.  Lists of recurring household tasks sorted by frequency.  This can include housekeeping and other items.
  • Recurring checklists.  Checklists for recurring activities, whether it be hosting, travel, or spring cleaning. 
  • Waiting on list.  A list of things to keep tabs on.  This could be delegated tasks, IOUs from others, responses to questions, RSVPs, reimbursements, packages and mail, tasks that can’t be completed just yet, and more.
  • Contextual items. Items sorted by context and convenience.  This could be items to pick up from a specific store, or even errands in a specific part of town.  This could also be things to be done when you’re in contact with a certain person, such as returning an item, or having an item returned to you.
  • Miscellaneous to do list.  A place for to do items and reminders that don’t go anywhere else.
  • Inventories.  Inventories of collections, household equipment, valuables, or anything else you want to keep track of.  This is great for creating shopping lists or keeping track of items you lend (such as books). 
  • Master shopping list.  A list of everything you shop for, ordered by store department, so you can easily pull items from this when you go to the store, and then be able to walk around the store in order.  You might have one per store.
  • Menus and meal plans.  Menus for specific meals, or meal plans (or meal plan templates) for the week, month, so on.
  • Favorite recipes.  Sort them by diet, meal, or main ingredient.  Consider adding information like how many it serves.
  • Restock list.  A list of things in the house to be restocked.  This could be things like toilet paper, towels, and soaps in the bathrooms, or oils and spices on the kitchen counter.
  • Budget and finance.  Your budgeting system to track spending and accounts, and plan for the future. 
  • Passwords.  Make sure this is secure.  A password manager such as 1Password can help you keep your accounts secure but convenient.  Make sure the information is written down somewhere, like in a safe, in case of emergency. 
  • Legal paperwork.  Insurance, banking, contractors, power of attorney/advanced health care directive, mortgage or lease paperwork, homestead form, titles, etc. Don’t forget things like birth certificates and social security cards.  Make sure these important papers are safely stowed in a fireproof location.
  • Contracts.  Your dynamic’s agreement, and any others that are relevant, if you’re poly, so on. Any related paperwork, if you have separate rules documents, etc.
  • Master packing list.  A master list to pull from when you’re traveling.  If you have recurring types of trips, you may have a master packing list for each type of trip. 

S-Type File

Things to include in an s-type file.  This might be for the reference of others if you’re seeking, for your own reference purposes, or something you maintain as part of training with a partner. 

  • Hard and soft limits, all safewords, aftercare desires and needs (and notes on providing), consent policies (including approach to CNC).
  • Desires, roles, experience, and training.  What you’re looking for, what specific roles and archetypes you identify with, the experience you’ve had with these things, and any applicable training. 
  • What you’re looking for/attracted to in terms of gender, age, and exclusivity policies.  Note your own here as well.  Consider notes on romantic/sexual/kink orientations. 
  • References/vetting resources, your social media links, information about your health (such as STD screenings, birth control, and anything that may affect the dynamic or play in particular). Basic safety and community factors. Note your community involvement, too.
  • BDSM tests and checklists.  An inventory of “yes, no, maybe so”.  There are a million online.  There’s the most popular “BDSM Test” and others that get into more specific archetypes for different sides of the slash.  Also consider vanilla equivalents like Myers Briggs, or even your Hogwarts house.  Just for fun if nothing else.
  • Learning and writing done.  Include classes you’ve attended, courses you’ve taken, reading you’ve done, video or podcast series you’ve completed, and any relevant written assignments that stand out. Be sure to include certificates, such as for CPR, alcohol management, or food safety. 

Conclusion

Quick note: butler’s book templates for guest entries, gifting, and event debriefs can be found with the class information here.

I hope this gives you some helpful information for getting started!

Class Adaptation: Service Throughout the Day

This is a written adaptation of my Service Throughout the Day class.

This class takes a look at service ideas by time—throughout the day, but also recommended schedules by week, month, quarter, and so on, with some other important reference information thrown in. 

AM

Good morning! This is where it all begins. Morning services: 

  • Make the bed(s).  Yes, they’re just going to get back in it tonight.  No, maybe you don’t get to sleep in it. But consider this: people spend about a third of their life in bed on average. Isn’t it worth it to make it a nice experience for them?  Nicely making the bed is the fastest way to give a neater and more luxurious look to the bedroom and it feels great for them to get into. Don’t skimp on it.  We’ll come back to details in a minute. 
  • Start “Waiting On” tasks.  Whether this is a task you’re delegating, using a machine for, or just need to set a reminder of, look these over and do what you can first thing in the morning, before you end up waiting on the dryer to finish at 10 PM.
  • Wake up the house.  Open blinds, and windows if it’s nice.  Turn on lights.  Spritz an energizing scent. Turn on the white noise or music. Start the fireplace in the right weather. Adjust thermostats. Do a quick morning tidy. Set up for the day. 

Now, about those bed details…

Bed Making Guide

General Notes:

  • Bed linens and such that are properly sized, fit the color scheme, and are in good condition go a long way. 
  • Remember to change/wash the linens regularly (once a week is a popular guideline); watch the care instructions.  
    • Having at least two sets of bed linens can save some headaches.
  • Don’t forget appropriately keeping the bed frame and whatnot neat too.  This might mean dusting, or handling upholstery, or something else.
  • Remember mattress care—rotating, cleaning, etc.
  • Set the tasks mentioned on a repeating schedule.
  • Maybe try a light linen spray once in a while—but remember to check on allergies and sensitivities first.
  • I don’t mention certain pieces below—but if you have a bed skirt, mattress pad, etc., factor them in appropriately.
  • Make sure the piece you’re handling is facing the way it’s supposed to, both in vertical/horizontal orientation and where the patterned side is; a patterned flat sheet, for instance, needs to be put on the bed face down to have the pattern facing up when folded back. Note that the side of the flat sheet with the wider hem should be towards the head of the bed.
  • Customize it!  Make sure you adhere to your partner’s preferences.

Daily: 

  • If the mattress has shifted at all, for those tossers and turners, make sure it’s lined up/back where it’s supposed to be.
  • Fitted sheet: evenly place on the mattress; smooth out.
  • Flat sheet: make hospital corners. Remember to have pattern side facing down, and widest hem at top of bed.
    • There are many great resources on how to make hospital corners online.  A quick Google search should get you to guides for a variety of learning types if you haven’t done it before.
  • Main blanket: evenly lay on top; create hospital corners if desired; smooth out.
  • Fold down the flat sheet and the blanket so the fold lays not quite below where the pillows will be.  Neatly tuck the hem of the flat sheet under the hem of the comforter, or simply smooth out.  (This is really a preference point.)
  • Place any extra blankets, whether another layer altogether, or folded across the foot of the bed, or what have you.
  • Put pillowcases on pillows if need be (tuck excess pillowcase fabric, if any, under the pillow); arrange pillows practically and attractively; try slightly propped up on the headboard.
  • Handle any other pieces needed.  

Meals

Breakfast time (and to be repeated at dinner at least)!  So, services around meals:

  • Maintain menus and meal planning.  This is where meals are born. Consider different types of meal plans.  You can have it recur by week, two week cycle, or even by month, and have it repeat categories (chicken, pasta, beef, breakfast for dinner) or specific meals. Or, you can set a plan each week or so.  Consider each menu (per meal) and be sure to consider the balance and compatibility of sides, drinks, and desserts. 
  • Maintain the master shopping list.  The master shopping list is a list of basically everything you buy on any kind of recurring basis.  Add items from your shopping lists and examine what you keep in the house to form the master list.  Divide it by category and arrange it in the physical department order of the store you shop at (or, make multiple copies for different stores).  When making your list for that shopping trip, just run down the master list (and meal plan if needed) in comparison to what you have in stock. 
  • Manage couponing and sales, and keep a price book.  Check the mail or the Internet for coupons and sales at applicable stores.  There are extensions that will add coupons automatically online and stores that let you load digital coupons onto your membership card (or by phone number).  Sort physical coupons and don’t forget them when it’s time to shop.  Keep track of sales.  Price books compare the average price for the same item at different stores.  And be sure to consider unit costs.  What does a gallon of milk cost at each of your top grocery stores?  Half gallon? Buy items where they’re cheapest unless some other factor takes priority. 
  • Be aware of (and help manage) special diets and allergies. Whether it’s preference, religious, or health condition, be aware of the diets of your household and any guests and know what you can make for them (and how to make it). 
  • When it comes closer to actual meal time, consider warming or cooling the plates, cups, and bowls you’ll be using.  A chilled glass (just stick it in the freezer a few hours in advance, or always keep a stock ready) looks great and keeps drinks cooler longer.  (You can also dip the rims in melted chocolate, then sprinkles, then freeze, for drinks with desserts!) A warm plate keeps food hot longer. A cold bowl is much better to serve ice cream in.  Keep it in mind.
  • Set the table properly.  Consult a table setting chart and bear in mind any preferences of those you’re serving.  Use real, clean, matching dishes and linens.  It’s easy to do and adds a lot of class. Consider stepping up the centerpieces, place cards, condiments, and other accoutrements, too. 
  • Drink services.  Ask if they want to be served hot coffee or tea just to their liking with breakfast, or a favorite nightcap drink after dinner.  At the least, try to give people water with the meal if they don’t have another preference.
  • Clean up the meal.  Clear and crumb the table and change any needed linens.  Do the dishes; clean up the dining and kitchen areas. It’s a part of the meal service just as much as the cooking.  There probably isn’t a “you cook and I clean” balance here. 
  • While you’re cleaning up, be sure to clear out old food from the fridge on a regular basis. 
  • To have to do that less often, look into methods of food preservation, such as canning, drying, freezing, and sealing.  See what you can keep a little longer. 

(I cover a lot of this section in more detail in other classes, if it strikes your interest.)

Daily

Daily tasks.

  • Top service priority: kids, pets, plants, anything living and dependent on you.  See to their needs.
  • Tidy up the house.  This might involve multiple sweeps of the house per day, but try to keep things in general order. Everything should have a place. 
  • Dishes.  Best hand washed and dried right after meals, but if different household members snack throughout the day, they might pile up at other times, too.  Keep an eye on it. 
  • Laundry (and mending/alterations—or at least add it to the pile).  Keep an eye on the supply of clean, needed items daily.  Clothes, yes, but don’t forget bath towels, wash cloths, hand towels, cleaning towels, table linens, and bed linens.  Collecting and sorting, washing, drying, and putting away. 
  • Surfaces.  Wipe down surfaces, either dry, wet, or with cleaner, depending on needs. 
  • Trash.  Take out any near full trash cans, make sure to replace bags, and consider throwing in a dryer sheet under the bag for odor control. 
  • Get the mail, do any needed filing, see to other secretarial tasks.  This might not be quite daily depending on what the inbox looks like, but it should be pretty frequently checked in case of urgent bills or summons. 
  • Home maintenance.  Keep an eye out for any issues as you do other tasks, and solve the minor ones (change a lightbulb) or make plans to handle bigger ones (hiring a contractor). An eye on this keeps things in check before they get worse. 
  • Floors.  Sweep, mop, vacuum, whatever it needs.  (We’ll talk about this below, but remember: do the floors last.) Maybe not daily depending on your exact situation and the floor type, but frequently, and keep an eye on it basically daily. 
  • Restock needed items.  Think vegetable and olive oil and salt and pepper in the kitchen, tissues boxes throughout the house, toilet paper, soap, and fresh towels in bathrooms, etc.  Really minor thing, but big convenience. 
  • Needed outdoor work.  This might involve more plants, the pool, a tidy of the car, so on. 
  • Any requested personal service tasks. Some might recur on other schedules, but be sure to check your list for them daily just like any other task.  One more detailed example below. 

Pedicure Guide

  • Create a soothing environment.  Offer basic selection of drinks, snacks, and/or entertainment.
  • Place towel, then foot bath with hot water (as hot as comfortable) and desired additions.  Essential oils of choice and bubbles make a traditional luxurious touch.  For serious dead skin removal, try a large splash each of vinegar and mouthwash, though beware this might stain skin and the bath. 
  • Soak feet for fifteen to twenty minutes. 
  • Remove dead skin from bottom of feet.  Foot file and pumice stone works best.  You can also remove hairs if desired with method of choice.
  • Use a cuticle pusher to gently clean under nails and push back cuticles, removing loose dead skin around the nail. Apply cuticle oil if desired. 
  • Trim, buff, and file nails. 
  • Dry, then moisturize and massage feet. A gentle pull on toes and circular motions around the ball of the foot tend to be popular.  
  • Remove old polish if needed.  Apply a clear base coat, two coats of desired color, and a clear top coat.  Toe separators work well here, during and for drying. Keep common polish colors on hand. 

PM

Getting sleepy yet?  Services for bedtime:

  • Lay out their clothes for tomorrow, and/or pajamas for the night. If they wear one thing or let you know what to pick out or trust your judgment, this can be a great way to make the morning smoother.
  • Plug in their electronics and set their alarms for the morning. Another great way to make the morning go faster, if they don’t prefer to do it themselves. 
  • Set the house to nighttime mode.  Close those blinds and windows.  Lock up. Turn off or dim lights.  Spritz a calming air freshener. Turn off the white noise or music, or switch it to something for sleep. Shut the fireplace. Do a quick evening tidy. Adjust thermostats. Set up for sleep. 
  • Turn down the bed.  (Remove unneeded pieces, fold top layers to bottom third of bed if desired, fold flat sheet or all layers back to form 90* angle, fluff pillows.  If two people are sleeping in the bed, turn down both sides or fold layers down instead of at angle.) 
  • Put out any desired nighttime drinks or snacks, and activities (book, journal, tablet, so on). 

Weekly

Chores to insert into your daily routine once a week. 

  • Clean appliances. Most can be set to a weekly or so routine. Big and small pieces might need a quick wipedown in between, and a big deep clean once in a while, but a basic weekly cleaning should keep things in order.  Think oven, stove, microwave, fridge, coffee maker, toaster, so on.
  • Clean the bathrooms.  Again, you might do certain things more frequently, but a basic clean of toilets, sinks, mirrors, showers, and tubs once a week or so keeps things in line.
  • Launder linens. Anything on the bed that can be easily washed should be about once a week.  Having an extra set of linens on hand to change to while things are in the wash (or in case of spills, etc.) keeps it simple. But if you don’t air the mattress daily, this is also a great time to help keep it fresh. You can run most pillows through the dryer for a quick fluff. 

Monthly

Once a month items.

  • Change the air filters. Yes, some claim they can last longer, but frequent changes can make a big air quality difference, especially for those with allergies, and it’s a fairly easy task in many homes.
  • This one can vary greatly in timing, but be sure to at least check on basic leather care needs at least monthly.  Guide to basic bootblacking below.

Basic Shoe Shine

  • Unlace boots.
  • Clean item with saddle soap and slightly damp cloth if needed. 
  • Make any needed repairs (clipping loose threads, etc.) 
  • Apply leather conditioner. 
  • Apply layers of polish as needed. 
  • Buff with horsehair brush.
  • Dampen cloth slightly and apply thin layer of polish in circles.  With a slightly damp cotton ball, apply circular shine.  Repeat as needed. 
  • Relace boots in the same pattern as before.
  • Dryer sheets placed in shoes when not in use can keep them smelling fresh, and baby wipes are good for quick wipedowns.

Quarterly

Once every three months. 

  • Rotate the mattress 180*.  Flip it if you can, though fewer mattresses can be flipped these days. Honestly, I’d do it a little early each quarter if you can, to avoid those mountains and valleys that settle in over time.
  • Change toothbrushes (or toothbrush heads). It’s also a great time to do this right after a bout of illness, but at least consider quarterly. 
  • Wash the windows.  You can spot clean in between, but try to wash accessible windows interior and exterior once a quarter.  If you have windows out of reach that look okay, maybe an annual cleaning by a pro is enough.  

General

Here are some ideas on organizing and ordering those tasks.

  • Prioritize appointments, deadlines, and “makes sense” items. Things that happen at a specific time or are due at a specific time take first priority on your list for the day. Also prioritize items that make sense to do with those first items, like errands that are in the same part of town as your appointment, or laundry that can be thrown in with a load you really need to do. 
  • Clean top-down.  Ceiling to floor.  Dust, dirt, and grime follow gravity just like anything else.  If you wipe down the counters after sweeping, you’re going to have to sweep again or face an already dusty floor. 
  • Use daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual lists.  If you have recurring items that are unique to you, sort them by these frequencies and make a plan for them at the beginning of that day, week, month, so on.  Or you can get specific and assign chores to days in the traditional style.  (Laundry on Monday, shopping on Tuesday…) 
  • Use recurring checklists.  For more involved recurring tasks or projects, have a checklist.  Whether it’s hosting a dinner party or overnight company, spring cleaning or travel, if you do it again and again, have a list you can use again and again.  Don’t use precious time to reinvent the wheel at every instance. 

Tools 

Ideas for things to have on hand that help with all of the above.  This is not an exhaustive list but more of a starting place to think about, and a few specific pointers.  There are great lists online for a lot of the ideas posed below. 

  • Safety equipment. Things you need to be safe in your home. This can be anything from security systems to first aid kits to fire extinguishers to extra stores of food and water. What dangers does your home face, and are you ready? And don’t forget your pets!
  • Personal service supplies.  Whether it’s massage, a mani pedi, barbering, or just running a hot bath now and then, keep basic and favorite supplies for the personal services you provide on hand.
  • Cleaning supplies. The things you need for your housekeeping regimen. Remember the chemicals and liquids (safely handled), protective equipment for you (gloves, aprons), rags and towels and sponges, trash bags, big pieces like brooms and mops. 
  • A well stocked kitchen.  Food of course, but also remember drinks, ice, condiments, spices, accoutrements.  Consider food storage (from bags to tupperware), napkins, tablecloths, silverware, glassware, and everything you need to cook (pots, pans, bakeware, utensils) and serve.  Remember measuring pieces (spoons, cups, thermometers) and everything that goes on the table (whether plates or centerpieces). 
  • A good multitool.  Just own one.  No one’s regretted it, and you’re bound to use it.  Always have it on you, if possible. 
  • Trays.  Add a luxurious touch to bringing up a snack or drink, arrange items for a personal service neatly and attractively, or organize small, loose items anywhere in the house. A personalized one (say, monogrammed) makes a cool gift.
  • Laundry and mending supplies.  Laundry detergent, dryer sheets, fabric softener if you use it, bleach, iron.  Own a basic sewing kit, and some spare pieces of items you go through (like the buttons on your uniform shirt, or extra bra straps when you lose a connecter piece). 
  • Office supplies.  The basics.  Be able to send a letter or thank you note. Have some ever useful sticky notes, a filing system, and ways to organize other papers (whether it’s binder and folder supplies or paper clips and staples).  
  • Basic supplies for home maintenance, yardwork (don’t forget the pool), pet care, and your car.  Top pick: spare lightbulbs. 

Conclusion

This class (or adaptation) is meant to be a starting point for service, but be sure to make it your own and suit your own (and your partner’s) needs and wants. I hope it inspires!

Class Adaptation: 24/7 High Protocol Dynamics

This is a written adaptation of my 24/7 High Protocol Dynamics class.

I always begin this class with the example from this post.

I enter Mistress’ office to talk about something.  I wait for her to acknowledge me, silent until she does so, not barging in already talking.  She’s doing something on the computer.  When she does look up a moment later and asks, “What’s up?” I kneel next to her, trying to be graceful about it, lowering to both knees at once without my hands.  There’s a recliner right behind me, but I’m not allowed to sit on the furniture in her presence or to ask to do so; she grants the permission pretty much only for meals.  We’re already talking as I do so, position not noted. 

We talk.  After a while, my legs are going numb.  I’m to hold the specific position until I ask and get permission otherwise (that, I am allowed to ask for).  I’m kneeling, sitting back on my heels, knees apart (big toes crossed, right over left), hands behind my back (hands clasped, thumbs crossed, both right over left), back straight.  Subconscious by now except for straightening my back now and then.  At whatever natural brief lull in the conversation, I ask, “May I stretch?” and she says, “You may,” as almost always.

Usually, permission grants (or denials), are answered with, “Thank you, Mistress,” but for ones that take a matter of seconds to complete, it’s waived, so I shift slightly and the conversation quickly resumes without it that time, though it may be sprinkled elsewhere in the conversation.  Orders, answered with, “Yes, Mistress,” have the same exception built in for practicality. 

When we’re about wrapping up talking, I ask as required to before I ask if I may go, “Anything else I can do?”  

“You may get me coffee.” 

An order (intention, not phrasing, which matters when deciding to respond with the thank you or yes) like that counts as permission to leave, so I don’t ask that part, but I do say, “Yes, Mistress,” stand, again trying to have hands free grace about it, and offer a quick curtsy, the final part of the little leaving ritual, head down, thumbs and forefingers grasping the skirt like hem of my long shirt—which is a uniform, part of the only, really specific outfit I’m allowed to wear, but looks like pretty normal attire—and placing the ball of my right foot behind my left heel for the quick little bob down and up, grab the drink, and exit. 

I bring her the refill—exactly as she likes it—and this time she simply says in acknowledgement, “You may go,” cutting the need to ask about anything else or permission to leave, so I curtsy again as required and exit. 

I bring attention to a few factors here: that just being specific about preferences can create a protocol, the protocols you see are carefully refined for practicality, that there are a lot of little touches of protocol that add up to the big picture.  That there’s a lot of unnoted habit going on here, that it becomes natural, and that there are still huge bits of conversation here.  It’s a dynamic, not a show. 

Then, we move on to some specific categories. 

Uniforms

There’s a lot to consider when choosing an s-type’s uniform. 

There are two categories I get into here. One, how to start thinking of ideas and the general look of a uniform, what to sit down and start writing on paper. How to go from blank page to a concept. Secondly, the nitty gritty practicalities as you start to refine those ideas.

How to Think of It

  • Detail, or level of detail. Here meaning, how specific do you want to get? Are you looking for a true uniform (note the uni, one) or more of a dress code? Think of schools here. Some have uniforms (that classic plaid skirt look you have to buy from a specific retailer, say), while others have a dress code (no spaghetti straps, skirts have to be a certain length). Some have “standard student attire”, somewhere in the middle (a polo shirt in red, white, or black, and bottoms in black or khaki). You can use a hex code or “something blue”. It’s up to you. But an important first step.
  • Are you going to define it in terms of what’s in, or what’s out? In terms of what is allowed, or what isn’t? A dress code might say things like no pants, or it might say only skirts. If something isn’t specified, is it assumed “in” or “out”? For example, if you never mention socks, does that mean socks aren’t to be worn, or that they’re the s-type’s choice?
  • By category. Think of The Sims or dress up games where you choose different outfits. Everyday, pajamas, athletic, formal, swimwear, outerwear—the list goes on.  Start thinking in terms of those categories. Are you only concerned with standard day wear (and maybe night wear) you’ll make exceptions to, or do you want to come up with something for every occasion? 
  • By item. Now think of each item of clothing in those categories you’re concerned with. Socks, undergarments, shirts, pants, shoes, jackets, so on. 
  • Big ideas: what does it represent?  What does this overall uniform mean to you, and why do you want your s-type (or why do you want) to wear one?  What kind of impressions are you trying to evoke with it?
  • Going with that: you can play with gender and role here.  If you’re in a 1950’s household dynamic, maybe you want to play into a vintage femme look.  If you’re going for the Victorian butler, you might go for formal and masculine. If you do any gender play within your dynamic (sissification, etc.) this can be a huge factor here. Also consider your “submissive archetype”—if you’re into age play, maybe you add a bit of childish whimsy (high socks, skirts, pastel colors, fun accessories, pigtails). So on. 
  • In general, consider formality.  The uniform should fit the average situation you find yourselves in and also the level of formality you are trying to evoke. In a high protocol dynamic, even if you’re not going for total formalwear, you might not want cutoff jeans and tank tops and flashy colors. But, if you’re into the idea of your s-type as more of the grunge work servant wearing overly practical attire in contrast to your more formal or business look, that’s another consideration.
  • In general, you should consider the contrast.  What do you wear, typically, and how do you want your s-type’s look to compare? To match a little, to play up dynamic unity? Stark contrast to highlight roles? Consider the choices pointed out above and the ones you make for yourself as well. 
  • Finally here, ownership marks. If your s-type has a collar or other symbol of ownership, do you want it prominently displayed with pride? Or perhaps able to be hidden in public situations if it’s not so vanilla friendly? If you’re moving from one prominent ownership mark to a uniform, consider matching it in color or theme.

Practicalities

A lot of the above is big ideas or places to start.  Now, for the reality checks.

  • Approval. Does your s-type need approval or permission as part of the uniform code, and are you sure they can consistently get it? If they need your approval every morning, what happens if you’re sleeping in and they need to get to work? If they need your permission to take on or off any item of clothing, are they going to constantly text you for permission to take their jacket on and off when the weather shifts? You might grant certain permissions by item or situation. For example, maintaining a vanilla cover.  What if a vanilla family member wants them to try on a gift or insists on lending them their visor on a sunny day, and they can’t exactly excuse themselves to ask you? Approval needs are something that can be extremely fulfilling and extremely easy to run into issues with.  Choose wisely.
  • Is each needed item easy to acquire and maintain? Does it ship quickly and consistently? Is it within your budgets? (And, whose responsibility is it, if you have separate finances?) Is it easy to mend, can it be tailored, is it simple to clean? Or are you (or the s-type) willing to put in the work on the uniform itself? Is it durable?
  • Sizing. Is it available in your s-type’s size, and is it available in say, a size up and a size down from that, especially if it can’t be tailored? What happens if they gain or lose a few pounds—would the uniform have to change?
  • External obligations. The vanilla world. Jobs or other obligations with their own dress codes. Is the uniform suited for these situations, or are those going to be separate categories? Maybe you can pick out undergarments even when they’re going to a job with its own outer uniform. If you want your s-type naked around the house, do they wear “whatever” when your mom drops in, or is there a clothed uniform for that?
  • Features. By this I mostly mean pockets. Consider practical needs like this and if the uniform provides it or how you will work around it.  Is there a waistband things can be clipped to instead, maybe? 
  • Access. Many people on the left side of the slash enjoy easy access to their s-type’s body.  Is the uniform a pain to get on and off? Can you easily slip a hand under their clothes, if that’s desired? If you want better access, consider prioritizing looser items, fewer layers, dresses or skirts, and pull on items without buckles, buttons, clasps, zippers, etc. 
  • Is the outfit generally practical for whatever your s-type does all day? Whether they have a job outside the home or spend their time on your housekeeping, can they move around in their outfit? Walk a decent distance? Get up and down stairs, and in and out of cars? The little things. You most likely shouldn’t prioritize fashion over their duties, especially in a service dynamic. Is it comfortable enough? Maybe this isn’t your first priority, but if they’re going to really wear it 24/7, it should probably be somewhere on the list, at least to the point that it’s not a major distraction. Going with that, is it suited to the weather where you live? Visit? Consider seasonal uniforms or optional layers. 
  • Non-clothing items. Consider what the uniform covers when things start to get iffy on if something’s a clothing item or not. Putting their hair up? Dyeing or cutting it? Makeup? Accessories? Shaving? Length/color of their nails? Medical devices? Other beauty products? Tattoos? Piercings? Basic hygiene? You might consider “visible” modifications, but also other items like no strong scents or use this scent in particular. 

How Mine Works (From Our Contract)

For Hannah’s daily uniform, she will wear her assigned black and red plaid top, black knee socks, black leggings, black bra, black underwear, collar, wedding ring (left ring finger or pinned to her leggings), and watch (pinned to leggings). She will keep her pager clipped to her leggings (she may also keep her phone there if desired; headphones are generally permitted). Shoes, if worn, will be the assigned black boots. She may choose her own jackets and bags. Masks and gloves are permitted as needed. Hannah will sleep naked, except for her collar/leash and wedding ring.

Her clothes should generally look neat, clean, in good repair, and fit well.  She will bathe regularly and shave any body hair each time she showers, keep her bangs at a reasonable length, and keep her nails short.  Kate will inspect Hannah’s job of shaving immediately after each time she showers, in Inspection Position. Her hair will be left down.

Hannah may add, remove, or change out uniform clothing items without prior permission if it is necessary to maintain a vanilla facade.  She will notify Kate of it as soon as reasonable. Hannah will ask Kate’s permission before changing her underwear if she is doing so due to soiling via arousal, or message her a notification of doing so if she is unavailable. Any other visible changes must be approved.

Positions

Things to consider when building a slave position repertoire. 

  • Integration. Most of our slave positions tie into a specific point in our routine. Look at pre-existing rituals you can incorporate positions into. Is there a place where a specific position would be practical? A time they should automatically assume that position? Is there a position the s-type assumes again and again? Codify it.   
  • Detail. Just like with uniforms, what level of detail to you want to get into with your positions? Placement of fingers and toes, or placement of limbs? 
  • Symbolism. Figure out what different positions—and pieces of positions—mean to you, and what you want to evoke with them. Hands clasped behind the back might give a position a more military look, while the wrists crossed might evoke the idea of binding, while others like the palms up look of offering. Kneeling with the knees apart is a look found in Gor and many BDSM spaces, while knees together might evoke more traditional religious symbolism. So on. 
  • Transitions. Getting in and out of those positions gracefully from various starting points. For example, kneeling by lowering to both knees at once without use of the hands. While there may need to be some flexibility here, what are the ideals? 
  • How should the s-type use positions that interact with furniture or items? This could include presenting an object (using both hands is common), or considerations for a position to assume if they are allowed to use furniture.
  • “Positions” that involve motion. This could be a curtsy or bow, the command heel or crawl.  These can have specific steps just as much as any other position. Heel for instance can involve a specific number of steps to the side and behind, and which side that is. 
  • Subtle positions. If you are going to be using these in vanilla situations, perhaps you have some positions that are specific enough to be positions, but not particularly notable. Standing with the hands loosely behind the back or happening to always sit with your legs crossed might fly under the radar in most crowds.
  • Hand/leash signals. Likewise, a subtle, natural looking hand signal instead of a verbal command can be useful in discreet situations. A gesture at the spot next to you on the couch will look like an invitation, not permission to sit.  So on. Even in kink friendly rooms, hand signals can be useful in loud environments or other situations. Leash signals (number or length of tugs, raising/lowering the leash, so on) can also be used for things such as kneel, stand, heel, walk beside me, stop, so on.
  • Practice. Once the s-type has basic comprehension of the basic positions, practicing positions in front of a mirror is extremely valuable. You can catch small visual errors easily and it’s especially useful for the pieces that involve motion—curtsying or kneeling without wobbling, say. Stretching and mindfulness meditation make good warmups for practice. 

Our Positions Section (From Our Contract)

  • General Kneeling Position: kneeling on the floor where directed, knees apart, big toes crossed in back (right over left), hands folded at small of back (right over left, right thumb over left thumb), back straight.
  • Leashing Position: kneeling on the floor at foot of bed, knees apart, big toes crossed in back (right over left), leash across both palms, hands resting on thighs, hair/head out of the way, collar o-ring in front, back straight.
  • Corner Position: standing facing wall, legs together, arms boxed behind back, nose touching wall, back straight, silent and still unless prompted.
  • Inspection Position: nude, standing in front of Kate, legs spread, hands boxed behind back, head/eyes straight, back straight.
  • Waiting Position: standing where directed, legs together, hands folded at small of back, right over left, right thumb over left thumb, back straight, head/eyes down.
  • Presenting Object Position: “General Kneeling Position”, but with object across both palms, hands resting on thighs, head/eyes down.

From Other Parts of The Contract That Address Positions 

  • When in Kate’s presence and not standing, Hannah will assume her General Kneeling Position next to Kate.  She will ask Kate’s permission before changing position on the floor.  She will not sit on the furniture or ask Kate’s permission to, unless directed by Kate.  She will wait behind her chair in her Waiting Position before meals.
  • Bedtime leashing protocols are as follows: if Kate is present, Hannah will ask her permission to remove the leash. If Kate is asleep or out of the house, Hannah may remove the leash if needed, and will re-leash herself upon returning if she does. Leashing or unleashing by Kate will be done in Leashing Position. Hannah will ensure Kate has leashed her before she falls asleep at night or will leash herself if Kate is unavailable. Hannah will sleep on the floor at the foot of the bed.

Visual Reference

Other Protocols 

Other protocols from my dynamic for inspiration. 

  • Location Tracking. I have to notify Mistress if I’m leaving the house. This includes to the mailbox. Anything that goes off our premises.  If I’ve been gone longer than twenty minutes, I have to notify her when I’m on my way back (there’s an exception here for my daily walk).  If I’m going farther than the parks around the corner, I need permission to leave. I am to generally keep her informed of my plans (say, if I’m going out to multiple locations) and allow her to track my location via my phone (exception for daily walk). 
  • Permissions for things that may inconvenience/affect her, big or small. Showering, changing the thermostat setting, inviting people over, getting a job/getting a pet (just not allowed), making a phone call. 
  • Privacy (or lack thereof). I’m not allowed to lock interior doors (I can lock the bathroom if there’s company). I generally have no privacy rights, but that one is actionable on my side.
  • General respect. I am required to speak respectfully and honestly to her at all times, and answer any message, call, or summons as soon as I can. 
  • Speak when spoken to. Kind of. Our protocol that covers this is: When entering Kate’s office, Hannah will wait quietly near the entrance until she is acknowledged. If Hannah enters a space Kate is in and does not make eye contact, it will be assumed that she is passing through, retrieving an object, etc., and will not be counted as “in Kate’s presence” (and thus not requiring waiting/verbal exchange before leaving.) Since she is nearly always in her office, this works for us and looks pretty subtle. 
  • Responses. Hannah will respond to orders with, “Yes, Mistress” and permission or favor grants or denials (including re-statements) with, “Thank you, Mistress,” unless it would be disruptive to the conversation.  Response will be based on intention, not phrasing. (She has a tendency to phrase orders as “you may”.) She will address Kate as Mistress whenever clearly appropriate.

Systems

Useful systems for 24/7 dynamics.

  • Inspections. We have two daily inspections, one around brunch and one around bedtime, both of which confirm that a set of tasks have been completed. This is a good way to maintain headspace and of course, check on any issues (generally none). It’s fairly simple, just a quick few looks at things for her. 
  • Maintenance. We use weekly maintenance discipline for similar headspace purposes. The exact details of it have shifted based on what was needed at the time. Prior versions included things like lines or cornertime, or an emphasis on catharsis.  Currently it looks like this: Every Friday at noon, Maintenance will occur. Maintenance discipline sessions are defined as private and non-sexual. Hannah will fetch the discipline wand and wait in the bedroom with it in Presenting Object position, nude. Kate will give Hannah a spanking with the discipline wand (given over Kate’s knee). Hannah will count some strokes at beginning and end in the format, “One, thank you, Mistress, please may I have another?”
  • Punishment. On the rare occasion an issue does arise (and generally an accident), we have a specific punishment protocol. 
  1. Hannah will be instructed to fetch the discipline wand and go to the bedroom.
  2. Hannah will wait in the Presenting Object position, naked, and presenting the discipline wand until directed otherwise.
  3. Before spanking, Kate will prompt Hannah for why she is being punished.
  4. Kate will spank Hannah with the discipline wand.
  5. Hannah will be sent to the corner for some amount of time after her spanking.
  6. Kate will release Hannah from corner time at the conclusion of her punishment.
  • “Meta Sunday”. Meta Sunday is our weekly check-in where we run through a list of questions to go over logistics like to dos and the calendar and things to discuss, but also “What can I do to make your life easier?” and “How can I be a better slave?”. We discuss the highs and any lows of the previous week, how we’ve felt, what’s been on our minds, and so on. Protocol does not shut off during this time or at any other time, and most of the time our answers are “we’ve already talked about this”, but it’s good to keep an eye on things.
  • Written form for issues. Our contract has a Facing Issues section that reads:

Both agree to raise issues verbally for small issues, and in writing for more involved issues.  The written report will include what happened to trigger the report, how it made the person feel, why they felt that way, what can be done to make it better right now, and what needs to be true for this to not happen again.  The issue will be raised as soon as possible within reason.

Conclusion

There are a lot of ways to make a 24/7 high protocol dynamic work for you, but it does involve a lot of effort and consideration, and I try to present some things to think about here with examples from my own life for adaptation. I hope it provides some inspiration and starting points. 

Recipes

(Class content, now posted here too.)

Entrees

Pot Roast*

Season boneless chuck roast, four to five pounds (salt/pepper/paprika), sear on all sides (optional).  Add water to cover, pound of baby carrots, three to four cups tomato sauce, and simmer in pot on stove or crock pot on high with liner for six to eight hours, stirring now and then.  Serve on top of boiled egg noodles if desired. 

Baked Ziti

Preheat oven 350*F.  Cook and drain one box/a pound of penne pasta.  Brown and crumble one pack hot Italian sausage, add jar (three to four cups) of tomato sauce to heat.  Combine sauce, pasta, and sausage in 9×13 glass pan, and sprinkle on shredded mozzarella till basically covered.  Bake fifteen minutes or so.  Serves up to five or so.  Cut sausage for vegetarian version.

Garlic Chicken

Preheat oven 375*F.  Melt quarter cup butter with about twelve cloves crushed, peeled garlic.  Dip boneless skinless chicken breasts (halved) or thighs into butter/garlic sauce, then coat in even mixture of bread crumbs and grated parmesan (with tablespoon or so garlic powder).  Place coated chicken in greased 9×13 glass baking pan.  Bake for about forty-five minutes or until 165*F in center of chicken.  Serves up to four with two or three pieces of chicken a piece.    

Lemon Chicken

Preheat oven 400*F.  Stir together a half cup flour, two tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning, zest of one lemon, some salt and pepper.  Toss boneless skinless chicken breasts (halved) or thighs in mixture.  Heat some olive oil in an oven proof skillet. Add chicken and brown on both sides.  Add three tablespoons butter, three quarters cup chicken broth, and one sliced lemon.  Bake about twenty minutes or until 165*F in center of chicken. Serves up to about four with two or three pieces of chicken a piece.    

Pork Chops

Season boneless pork chops with salt and pepper, then coat in flour.  Heat oil in skillet, and fry pork chops until brown on both sides, and 145*F or above in their center.  Can easily cook for three to four at once.  Goes well with applesauce. 

Chicken Thighs

Preheat oven to 400*F.  Place bone in skin on chicken thighs in glass baking dish, making sure skin covers meat.  Season with salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme.  Cook for an hour-ish, until 165*F in center of chicken.  Serves about one person per two or three pieces of chicken.

Pan Steaks

Allow steaks to rest at room temperature for thirty to sixty minutes.  Pat dry, season generously with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in skillet on medium-high.  Sear steaks a few minutes on both sides, flip and cook to desired doneness.  Shortly before done, add a few tablespoons of butter, and a few peeled cloves of garlic.  Spoon butter over steaks. 

Stir Fry Style Chicken

Cut boneless skinless chicken breasts into about one inch cubes.  Heat a drizzle of olive oil in wok or skillet on medium high.  Add chicken, season with salt and pepper as desired, cook to 165*F in center of chicken pieces.

Basic Chicken Breast

Flatten boneless skinless chicken breasts and season with salt and pepper as desired; allow to rest at room temperature about thirty minutes.  Heat oil in skillet on medium high heat.  Cook on both sides to 165*F internal temperature.

Pork Roast*

Season boneless pork tenderloin, salt/pepper, sear on all sides (optional).  Add apple juice to cover and one pound of baby carrots.  Simmer in pot on stove or crock pot on high with liner for six to eight hours, stirring now and then.  

Garlic Parmesan Pasta

Cook egg noddles or desired pasta; meanwhile, peel and mince about one head garlic.  Drain pasta.  In empty pot, heat a generous drizzle of olive oil and two or three tablespoons of butter.  Add garlic, cook until beginning to brown, reduce heat, add pasta back in.  Add grated parmesan cheese to taste and stir thoroughly.  Serve with extra parmesan on top. 

Crock Pot Chicken* 

Season boneless, skinless chicken breast (salt/pepper).  Add chicken broth to cover and one pound of baby carrots.  Simmer in crock pot on high with liner for six to eight hours, stirring now and then.

Sides

Mashed Potatoes

Rinse and peel potatoes (Russet, Idaho, that sort; about one or two potatoes per person; add a sweet potato if desired, cut to same size).  Cut into sixths or so.  Place in large pot on stove, well covered with salted water.  Simmer for at least twenty, up to about forty-five minutes.  Drain water.  Add about 1/4 cup (half stick) of butter, cut into tablespoons or so, small splash of milk, and salt.  You can also add minced garlic if desired.  Blend well with hand mixer or potato masher.

Roasted Potatoes

Preheat oven to 500*F.  Rinse about two potatoes per person (Russet, Idaho, golden, red, whatever desired), peel if desired, chop into about one inch pieces. Melt two tablespoons of butter with about two tablespoons of vegetable oil or substitute on stove.  Toss potatoes in mixture, add two teaspoons rosemary and a teaspoon of salt or as desired.  Lay potatoes on baking sheet and put in oven for fifteen minutes.  Flip/rearrange potatoes and put back in for fifteen minutes.  Add one cup of chicken stock and eight or so cloves of peeled, crushed garlic.  Bump up ingredients a bit if cooking for more than about four.  Back in oven for fifteen more minutes or until desired doneness.

Biscuits

Preheat oven 450*F.  Combine nine cups flour, three tablespoons baking powder, three tablespoons sugar, three teaspoons salt, and two and a quarter teaspoons cream of tartar.  Cut in two and a quarter cups of butter.  Make well in center of bowl, add three cups of milk.  Stir.  Turn dough out onto floured surface, knead, roll to about desired thickness with floured rolling pin (about three quarters of an inch), cut with floured biscuit cutter to rounds (about two and a half inches).  Brush with milk, bake until light golden brown, about fifteen minutes.  Freeze leftover rounds until just solid on parchment paper, then store in resealable bag to pop in oven later.   Makes about three dozen. 

Mac and Cheese

Boil salted water.  Add elbow macaroni.  Cook until done, maybe twelve minutes, drain, set aside.  Melt three tablespoons of butter with a splash of milk.  Stir in eight to twelve slices of American cheese if serving one to four, and small handful shredded cheddar.  Add milk or cheese to desired texture, stir until smooth.  Add pasta back in, stir.

Applesauce*

Peel, core, and chop about five pounds of apples.  Add to lined crock pot with large pinch of salt, the juice of one lemon, and one and a half cups water.  Cook in crock pot on high for about three and a half hours, stirring occasionally, or until it reaches desired consistency/taste.

Desserts

Basic Drop Cookies

Preheat oven to 375*F.  Combine two and a quarter cups flour, one teaspoon baking soda, one teaspoon salt, three quarters cup of sugar, three quarters cup of brown sugar, one teaspoon vanilla, one cup softened butter, two eggs, and additions (chocolate chips, M&Ms, peanut butter chips, nuts, white chocolate chips) to taste.  Place balls of dough on lined baking sheets and bake until golden brown, about ten minutes.  Makes about two dozen.  Substitute gluten free flour for gluten free cookies. 

Thumbprint Cookies

Preheat oven to 375*F.  Combine one third cup sugar, half cup brown sugar, one teaspoon baking soda, half teaspoon salt, one and two thirds cup flour, half cup softened butter, three quarters cup creamy peanut butter, one egg, and one teaspoon vanilla.  Roll dough into balls, place spaced out on lined cookie sheet.  Bake until golden brown, about ten minutes.  Press reservoir into center of each cookie.  Add Nutella to reservoir.  Makes about two dozen. 

Shortbread

Preheat oven to 325*F.  Mix one cup powdered sugar, two and two thirds cup of flour, and one cup (two sticks) softened butter.  Lightly grease 9×13 baking pan, cover bottom of pan evenly in dough.  Bake until very lightly brown, toothpick test passed, about twenty minutes.  Cut into rectangles, prick each rectangle twice with fork (4×2 rows of dots).  

Apple Bread

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan.  Mix one third cup brown sugar, one teaspoon cinnamon, two third cup sugar, one and a half cups flour, one and three quarters teaspoons baking powder, half cup butter, two eggs, one and a half teaspoons vanilla, one tablespoon Nutella, half cup milk, and two apples, peeled and chopped into small/desired size pieces.  Pour into loaf pan.  Bake until toothpick test passed, browned, about forty minutes.

Ice Cream Bread

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Soften four cups of desired regular ice cream.  Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.  Stir 3 cups of self rising flour with ice cream.  Pour mixture into loaf pan and smooth out.  Bake about 50 minutes or until done, toothpick test passed.  (Incorporate toppings, mix ins, or serve with ice cream as desired.) 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Preheat oven to 375*F.  Combine one cup Crisco, half cup sugar, one cup brown sugar, two eggs, one cup flour, one teaspoon baking soda, one teaspoon salt, one teaspoon vanilla, two cups oatmeal, and chocolate chips to taste.  Place balls of dough on lined baking sheets and bake until golden brown, about ten minutes.  Makes about two dozen.

Slutty Brownies

Preheat oven to 350*.  Prepare cookie dough recipe or mix of choice.  Prepare brownie batter recipe or mix of choice.  Grease 9×13 inch cake pan and line bottom with cookie dough.  Place whole Double Stuf Oreos over cookie dough in one layer.  Pour brownie batter evenly over top.  Bake for about forty minutes or until toothpick test passed.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.