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.

On Service Settings and Headspace

My service research brought me to Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service in April 2019, and parts of the book have stuck with me ever since.  Basically the manifesto of customer service at Disney, it has many points that can be applied elsewhere, and that was what I was hoping for as a service slave going into reading it.

One such point was this: setting changes expectations.

The manifestation of this belief at Disney resorts is obvious.  Almost anyone who’s ever just realized they stepped over the border between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland could tell you that a different set of things now seems appropriate or out of place.  Disney’s underground tunnels to keep cast members in costume from going through the lands where they don’t belong—no Buzz Lightyear in Frontierland—are somewhat legendary.

It’s about more than theme, though.  It can also mean convenience, organization, flow, cleanliness, formality.  Things placed without thought can mean they are inconvenient to find.  Lights on and doors open in certain rooms and halls can guide guests to where they should be.  A cluttered and slovenly front entry makes a certain impression.  A well set table can give an air of formality.  Even virtual spaces aren’t immune to the need for a good setting.

I think about this frequently when I’m serving brunch.  Here, brunch is supposed to be light and simple.  The big question almost every day is, “Toast or bagel?” and it’s usually served with something on the side along the lines of strawberries, homemade applesauce, or bacon.  Really nothing complicated.  Something that could easily be eaten at one’s whim on the couch, at the kitchen island, at a desk in front of a computer.

But that’s not where we eat brunch—we have brunch at the long dining table, covered in a clean tablecloth, bathed in morning sunlight from the windows, with fresh flowers perched in the middle.  Everything is served on real dishes, table set properly, with napkins I crocheted myself.  Every morning, at 9:30, excepting conflicting circumstances, with conversation as the main entertainment.

This makes some toast and bagels feel a lot more significant.

Even time can be a part of setting—the consistency of meal times can add a bit of ritual.

Recently someone mentioned being charmed by the fact that we always had a bouquet on the table, citing that it was something she did only for special occasions, and it felt like adding a special touch to the everyday.

All of these are pieces of setting and atmosphere.

To keep a good environment for service, I try to keep things clean, organized, intuitive, and err on the formal side.

To keep things convenient, we have clearly labeled stations.  In the kitchen, one for coffee, tea, cocoa, and general hot drinks, and one for soda, with straws and napkins.  A guest manual in the living room, with local recommendations and a guide to household features.  A box of first aid supplies and toiletries in the guest bathroom.  

Maintaining this environment means it sets the expectations for me, for Mistress, for guests.  Our friends, kinky and otherwise, know what to expect when they get here.  Mistress knows what the brunch table is going to look like.  I know what my standards are to maintain.  And with the expectations of environment change the expectations of service—lackluster service in a sparkling environment wouldn’t be the expectation and would be even more out of place.  

In a well maintained environment, it is easier to feel that need to maintain other standards as well.  

There’s also something to be said for the headspace of the actual tasks of maintaining that setting.  Cleanup from brunch sometimes includes changing the tablecloth and pruning the bouquet, and those tasks themselves are a reminder of the setting.

It feels different to kneel at the end of an unmade bed than it does to kneel at the end of one carefully made with hospital corners and fluffed pillows, and it feels different to know that you made it that way yourself.  It makes keeping your posture just so a little more intuitive.

I think Be Our Guest was right—setting does change service expectations—and it might be an underestimated headspace game changer. 

Service Is an Ephemeral Art

Service is an ephemeral art.

I was thinking this recently as I realized exactly how much of my job is doing the same thing over and over again.  Not so much one special project so much as do the dishes, every day.  Do the laundry, every day.  Cook brunch and dinner, every day.  Make the bed, every day.  When there are more dishes or more laundry, do them again.  When it’s nine-thirty or six again, cook again.  When someone gets in the bed and out again, make it again.  So on.

The effects disappear quickly and that is why the service here is really doing it every day, not once.  I’ve talked about the real burden of little tasks being that they add up and that they recur—and it’s true.  In the end, they add up to quite a bit to be allowed to take off an M-type’s plate.

As an example, Mistress likes to cook.  She doesn’t like to cook to have dinner on the table at six every day, but she likes to cook.  So I have dinner on the table at six every day, because I am more comfortable with those routines.  And she gets to have the energy to cook when inspiration strikes.

The book Cooked by Michael Pollan talks about the idea that when something is mandatory, it’s work, and when something is an option, it’s leisure—that the distinction is not innate to the task itself.  So when you had to hunt your own food, cook your own food, so on—it was work.  In a world of pre-packaged meat and even frozen dinners, those become leisure activities. 

So for me, cooking (having dinner on the table at six) is work.  Required.  Not because I live in a dimension without frozen dinners, or because I don’t enjoy it (I usually do enjoy it), but because it’s a requirement that Mistress set.  For her, cooking is leisure—something she doesn’t have to do, but sometimes does.  And when I bake cookies from scratch in the middle of the afternoon without being ordered to, it’s leisure, and my job is to shift as many things as I can from being work for her to being potential leisure.

And in that example, it’s easy to tell when the leisure task is done.  A once off meal you were just inspired to make, once eaten, is done.  The work version of a meal being on the table at a certain time is also kind of done when eaten, but it’s only done until you need to start the next meal, which might vary based on what you’re making or how far ahead you’re prepping, and that feeling of being done is a lot more ephemeral, a lot more caveats of for today or for this meal

Meanwhile, I was reading Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing, and it mentioned the Manifesto for Maintenance Art.  I looked it up, and noticed a quote:

“—after the revolution, who’s going to pick up the garbage on Monday morning?”

It speaks to a very real thing: that to change the world, you need the basics taken care of.  That to keep that change made to the world while it keeps going even further, someone needs to maintain it. 

And this makes that maintenance a world changing thing in itself, because it enables that change.

It enables leisure activities instead of work, and world changing instead of world maintenance. Because world changing might happen at once—but world maintenance happens every day, or else that maintained state fades away—an ephemeral way of being.

I find it very satisfying to be that enabling support.

It does mean, however, that your work never really feels done, because it’s only done until a point where it is undone that could come at any moment, especially when it’s domestic and thus you live surrounded by potential tasks.

On the other hand, it can be nice to always be able to find something useful to do.  There isn’t room for terrible boredom or feeling unhelpful.  The reason the effects disappear quickly is because the service is engrained in a person’s life that is an aggregate of all of those quick little tidbits—and the privilege of making all of that flow smoothly is something to be valued.

Invisible Anticipatory Service, Setting Your Own Recurring Tasks, and Some Advice

Recently I proposed extending our meal plan, currently based around dinner, to include a light brunch.

Like dinner, on the dining table at the same time daily (9:30 AM instead of 6 PM).

I came up with this independently, though when Mistress approved, she said she’d been thinking of dictating something similar in the future anyway, once she thought of the way to do a brunch plan.

After a day or two, she mentioned my proposing of it as, “Anticipatory service on a new level,” being anticipatory setting of a new recurring task rather than taking a single action.

I thought about that distinction and said I might do more of that behind the scenes than she realizes, but that I got the idea.

“Do you like that most of your work goes unnoticed?” 

“Yes, Mistress,” I smiled.  

And I do—I hold that good service—in most of the types I provide—should be unnoticed.  Not that it’s always bad to be noticed, but that the point is to quietly handle and prevent problems and smooth out friction points, thus sparing the annoyance of noticing the problem.  To be noticed, much of the time, means that something went wrong or didn’t get done.  Of course, sometimes it just means a touch was appreciated or something was done especially well.

I found a quote recently while reading Butlers & Household Managers, 21st Century Professionals that says: “A butler exists essentially to smooth the lives of his or her employer and/or family by taking over many household and personal functions they would otherwise have to perform themselves, thus freeing them up for more worthwhile pursuits.” 

Slaves, too, I think.

Which means you don’t want your M-type still paying attention to those things in just a different way—managing you—but to take them off their plate altogether.

And the very reason a lot of those little tasks are nuisances to be delegated is frequently that they are recurring.  It’s not arduous to do some things once.  But those little things add up, day in and day out.  Restocking items, cooking, cleaning, making coffee, mending clothes.

So those problems can get solved sooner by a slave—but ideally, also solved for the long term.  

This requires the room in a dynamic to do these things, the right permissions—but assuming those are in place if this is desired, it also requires a few skills.

Mostly, routine observation.  To get ahead of a problem you have to notice it before it happens and before the M-type notices.  It might not even be a problem to you if you were acting only for yourself, so you have to look from their perspective as well (and maybe know them better than they know them).  An eye for detail, the memory to do something with that information, the system to keep it in long term.

Then, effective problem solving.  Something to keep in mind—it helps to have a willingness to implement an imperfect solution sooner rather than an obsession with the perfect solution that will come late or never.

For example, the brunch idea I mentioned above.  I had the idea, and pretty much immediately came up with an approximate time, made a list of recipes, printed off new meal planning templates, etc.  Ready to go to pitch the idea, knowing there might need to be modifications in the future or unknown problems might be found early on, but it was worth a go (and it solved the problem long term—it wasn’t “making brunch that day”).

Mistress, as said, had noticed the same need for a brunch meal plan, but was waiting for the exactly right idea, which in the meantime, meant no order given to handle brunch.

Which worked out perfectly fine since this time I got ahead of it.  If both of us had been doing that, however—no brunch.  Problem/need still in place until Mistress came up with something, and thus no anticipatory service happening. 

One other thing to keep in mind—saying, “There is a problem,” is not problem solving.  That’s an observation, and possibly not a new one.  Offering to help doesn’t really add much to it since that’s your job and is just another form of observation.

So, a piece of advice: offer help specifically.

Avoid lines like, “What can I do?” or, “I’m here if you want anything.”  This still leaves problem noticing and problem solving and then communicating that on the other party, and if an M-type had an answer to something like that, they could and likely would say it regardless of your asking.

Instead, offer something specific they might not have thought of.  Come equipped with both the notice of a problem and a proposed plan to solve it (long term).  When someone’s just having a rough day, offer a specific drink or meal or helpful task rather than, “Whatever you want”. 

It leads to less looping conversations of bringing things back into being noticed, and to more potential action of getting things solved for the long run.

Which is, here at least, the overall goal. 

Balancing Control and Decision-Making as a Service

I’ve touched on the spectrum between control-oriented and service-oriented dynamics before.  Dynamics based at their core in the active exertion of power, authority, and structure, enforcing rules, protocols, and routines, versus dynamics based on the idea of being useful, helpful, and completing tasks, chores, and assignments.   

There is no reason a dynamic can’t include all of those things—I know mine does—though it’s a useful distinction when talking about M/s philosophy and can have an influence on how some things get implemented.  And some dynamics do skew a lot more one way or the other.

However, there are some trade-offs to be made that fall under this spectrum, and here is a big one I see:

Decision-making.

A lot of s-types talk about wanting their M-type to decide everything for them.  Everything.  What they eat, when they eat it.  What they wear.  When they wake up, when they go to bed.

And a lot of s-types (including a lot of overlap) talk about wanting to be as useful as possible for their M-type.  Cooking, cleaning, managing a calendar, doing the shopping, making travel arrangements.

A lot of this is compatible, especially given just a little bit of compromise.  Say, I wear a uniform, and that doesn’t stop me from cooking dinner.  Now, if Mistress had wanted my uniform to be something too impractical to have me cook in, there would’ve had to be a trade-off.  But we went with something simple I can wear equally to volunteer at the library, go to my mom’s house, or attend a munch or play party.  That little line about keeping it neat means general permission to wear an apron when cooking, though.

But some parts of this are not necessarily going to be compatible.  It is unlikely you will give up all decision-making and remain equally useful, or that keeping the power to make too many decisions will give much of a feeling of being controlled.

The service of meal planning is not going to be compatible with very tight control over someone’s diet.  The secretarial task of making appointments is not going to happen easily with the s-type never being allowed to speak for their or the M-type’s time.  The s-type managing the shopping is not going to be any more convenient than the M-type doing it themselves with purchase-by-purchase financial control.

Now, there are still some things in between.

I do meal planning as a service, but there are loose limits on what I can do, like keeping dinner healthy, homemade, and protein-based most of the time.  I have to have it on the table at six o’clock and be waiting behind my chair in a specific position, the table settings have to be done a certain way, and the kitchen has to be cleaned right after for evening inspection.  But at the end of the day, I chose what we ate.  And for Mistress, not having to do the meal planning, shopping list-making, cooking, and associated tasks herself is well worth giving me the choice of what we eat.  Of course, she retains the power to tell me to change it if she wants to.

Besides the feeling of looser control, there can be other complications in handing some decision-making back to the s-type.  In a lot of the examples I gave, the M-type basically wants the decision made by the s-type to be the same decision they would have made themselves, or at least within certain guidelines (making that appointment at a time that works for them, for example), simply so they don’t have to make that phone call, that trip to the store, that meal plan, moreso than they want to hand off the decision itself.

This means the s-type has to learn what those preferences and guidelines are.  They might even be things the M-type doesn’t consciously know, themselves, to teach.  Things will be learned along the way by trial and error and observation and so on.

However, this learning process can lead to another trade-off:

The question of why.

There are a lot of mixed feelings out there about s-types asking why.  On the one hand, there’s the belief that the s-type should never ask why, that they just need to follow orders and the reasoning behind it is irrelevant because, “My M-type said so,” is a good enough reason to just do it.  And, if that’s the dynamic agreed to, so be it.  However, that may be best suited for the control-oriented.

Even in some very low protocol and loosely-structured service-oriented power dynamics, certain whys would be out of place.  The whys that aren’t a genuine question of trying to understand, but a way to argue, a way to say, “Convince me,” a way to stall, an opportunity to find a flaw in that reasoning, something that gives the implication that you won’t do the task without knowing why.

Those aren’t the whys I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the whys that become a practical matter to know when the M-type isn’t going to be constantly available in the future.  The whys that would let the s-type make smart substitutions or changes in a pinch, knowing the spirit of the law instead of looking at the suddenly unhelpful letter of it.  The way that a general knowledge of cooking will help you successfully swap an ingredient in a recipe when the last of something runs out, cut a step you correctly recognize as not necessary, or change a temperature and cook time to a different equivalent when dinner guests are stuck in traffic.  Rather than fail to realize that baking soda and baking powder are not the same thing, or that turning the oven that low will not get that meat up to temperature in the right amount of time, or anything else the recipe itself might not tell you how to modify in a conundrum.

Saying, “Always buy this specific brand of disinfectant spray,” is fine and good and if you want the s-type to unquestioningly buy that brand, then that can give you that control-oriented rush.

But… what about when you’re out of that spray, and you need more, and the store is out?

If your s-type has to call you to ask what to do now, that can continue that little control rush of thinking about your s-type running down the specific shopping list and be a nice call to get.

But it is probably an inconvenience if what you wanted was to be able to deeply focus on another task while your s-type was making the list and out taking care of the shopping to give you that free time as a service, with only that one item or a few others specifically dictated.

So in the case of the latter, knowing the why might be useful to avoid that phone call.

Do you buy that brand because it’s the cheapest?  Because it’s one whose ingredients don’t irritate an allergy you have?  Because it cleans the best?  Because it comes in the easiest spray bottle?  Because it’s the only one available in that bulk size? 

Each of those whys quite possibly leads to an entirely different substitution. 

The spirit there might be, “It’s not your place to just ask why, but it is your place to provide the best service possible.” 

A lack of that why shouldn’t impede quickly doing the task with a smile.  Sometimes the why is going to be just momentary, or far less urgent than the task itself, or evident later, or simply not shared or shared right then.  And a negative answer to, “May I know why?” is still to be accepted.  But to prevent the question at all rules out the sometimes practical nature of it.

Yet, allowing it regularly may feel like a lot of freedom for the control-oriented.  

That’s a trade-off.  

And of course there’s an in-between.  Carefully sharing that why only when it is practical, rather than getting into the habit of always answering.  Perhaps changing whether or not asking is allowed between time periods or protocol levels.  Allowing the question only once the task is complete.  So on.  This can get you that balance between the joy of control and the practicality of service, the balance between decisions as a form of power and decisions as a form of service.  

I know I’m allowed to ask why for practicality (not for any of the disingenuous reasons I mentioned above), and sometimes I hear a useful-for-the-future why to note, and sometimes I hear, “Because I said so.”

Sometimes whys get figured out almost accidentally over time, or with a little bit more discussion.  My main kneeling position has my hands placed behind my back.  I wouldn’t really feel the need for a why on that since it isn’t really something I might face a conundrum on, but a surface why of, “It looks more submissive to me,” became, “It implies physical [and emotional] openness and availability to me rather than defensiveness,” in a relatively short philosophical conversation.

In situations like that, finding them out can be fun for the psychology-minded in addition to practical, though that’s just a bonus.

In the end, what’s important for M-types is not sabotaging your own priorities in the name of avoiding any trade-offs at all.  If you’d miss that rush of control more than you mind getting that phone call, you can trade off that practical knowledge for that emotional benefit.  If you’d mind the interruption more than you’d mind handing off that decision, you can trade off that bit of in-the-moment power for the concrete benefit.  There might be compromises to be made, but they’re still yours to make.

My Style of Entertaining, and Where I Got It From

Recently, Mistress and I attended one of my family’s gatherings.

As I watched my cousin, one of the hosts, cook entirely too much delicious food, and the other host, her husband, diligently clean up a step behind her, I thought about my own style of entertaining and where I get it from.

Other than the aforementioned couple, it was mostly my great-aunt or her daughter who hosted family gatherings as I was growing up.  There was also always entirely too much delicious food from that part of the family, though it happened more in courses—light appetizers in wicker baskets scattered around before you sat down to salad and soup, then a course offering the option of many tempting entrees and sides, usually very drawn out before the cleaning up started, people wandering around, leading into the placement of assorted light desserts.

At my cousin’s house, however, it was more like a constant wandering, and many light and heavier appetizers on the large kitchen island, then a large variety of appealing entrees, sides, and heavier desserts added to that island, much closer together in time.  Cleanup got done as it was needed, closely following whatever was getting cooked up at the time.

Aside from family gatherings, the parties I went to during my more formative years that I remember best were the parties thrown by the very wealthy families of kids I went to middle school with for the first two years.  As someone new to that private school and there on scholarships, it was like a whole new world.

These were parties of hundreds of people of varying relation in fancy but uncomfortable looking clothes, with very loud music from a DJ and elaborate but dim lighting, sitting down at round tables so big you could barely read the place card of the person across from you, the table covered in fine linens, and waiters bringing delicately plated food you had ordered on your RSVP card so long ago you forgot what you ordered or what the options even were.  People gave speeches and after dinner, there were activities and lots of dancing.

I think of what I’m like as a host now and can see bits of all of those hosts in me.  I hosted a weekly event at home with Mistress for almost a year and a half, having rarely less than six and rarely more than twelve people over for food, chitchat with kinky company, and occasional play or swimming.  In that event, I can see bits of all of the above events.

I always erred on the side of too much food, and my skills at cleaning and cooking at the same time improved over time, though there was always more cleanup to do after all was done (and cleaning up before people even arrived).  I tended to have the “light appetizers scattered around in cute baskets” style (cut down later on due to the unhealthy tendencies of those “appetizers”). Then there would be a more buffet style entree serving later (as cooking finished), with maybe a light side or two, usually fairly closely followed by a dessert.  People were free to wander around with their food.

Though some of the formality of the large parties appeals to me, I would rather fall on the guests being comfortable side of it, like my family.  We never had a dress code of any sort for guests (and clothes sometimes came off anyway), though I’d be in my uniform. We tried to keep the sensory experience of the house calmer, focused on interaction with the other people, not the environment, since that’s what they were there for.

Food was customizable with request, and I often felt out people on the general food options as little as a day in advance.  

I liked a more personalized feel.  There’s the great service of going to a famed five-star restaurant, and there’s the great service of going to the mom and pop cafe you frequent.  The five-star restaurant might have dishes with names in the romance languages, but the mom and pop cafe knows you want extra potatoes and no whipped cream on your drink.  I liked the latter style.

Yes, the brand name store-bought cookies look pretty in the package and have a health code stamp on them, but you don’t get to smell them while they’re in the oven, or see the cloud of flour dust as flour gets added to the bowl, or taste test any of the cookie dough.  Personally, I valued the way the kitchen got crowded as the cookie dough got closer to taste-test ready or as the oven timer got closer to zero, more than I valued a pretty package.  (People descended upon the cookies before they were nearly cooled enough to think about presentation, anyway.)

A main hosting priority for me was also to make everything as intuitive and easy as possible.  I labeled things.  I laid things out in advance.  I didn’t blast music so loud people couldn’t hear each other, or dim the lights so low they couldn’t see each other.  I tried to offer options on things that would work for everyone, and let people choose for themselves.  Fancy was cool, but I didn’t want it at the cost of confused guests who felt shoved into a box. 

If it wouldn’t disrupt the guest experience, I still liked keeping things nicer; even just using real, non-disposable silverware, plates, napkins, and bowls for the occasion easily gave it a more upscale feel.  (Hosting a lot, you have to start to think about your environmental impact anyway.)

Personally, I had a great guest experience at the house of my cousin and her husband recently, and I have had many great experiences with them and with the other hosts of my family, and many of those massive parties of kids at school were a blast, too.  People can definitely enjoy more than one kind of event.

It was interesting to think back on those experiences and how they formed my general hosting style and values—and thinking deeper into different types.

Some Services S-Types Can Offer

Cleaning

  • Make beds.
  • Collect and take out trash and recycling, manage containers for them, and handle trash and recycling services.
  • Collect, wash, dry, put away, and care for dishes.
  • Disinfect surfaces.
  • Wash mirrors and windows.
  • Clean appliances.
  • Clean toilets, showers, and baths.
  • Manage clutter, tidy up, and organize things.
  • Clean, vacuum, sweep, and mop floors.

Home Maintenance/Repair

  • Fix and install light bulbs and fixtures.
  • Paint walls and hang wallpaper.
  • Fix and install plumbing-related things.
  • Change air filters.
  • Rotate mattresses.
  • Fix and install appliances.
  • Fix, assemble, and make furniture.
  • Do construction, plumbing, and electrical jobs.
  • Handle working with tradesmen.

Plants/Outdoor

  • Plant, grow, and maintain a lawn.
  • Plant and grow any other desired plants.
  • Clear trash and blockages from exterior areas.
  • Weed an area.
  • Prune plants.
  • Maintain a pool.
  • Arrange and maintain bouquets and floral arrangements.

Laundry/Sewing/Needlework

  • Collect, sort, wash, dry, and put away laundry.
  • Iron.
  • Remove stains.
  • Mend clothes.
  • Tailor clothes.
  • Design and sew, knit, and crochet projects.
  • Do embroidery and applique.

Culinary

  • Cook everyday and fancier foods for whatever number of people is required.
  • Bake.
  • Create nice food and drink presentation.
  • Serve food and drink gracefully.
  • Make coffee, tea, and cocoa.
  • Set the table for various situations; fold napkins.
  • Match alcohol and make alcoholic drinks.
  • Check expiration dates and clear out old food.
  • Put together menus, meal plan, keep food inventory, and make shopping lists.
  • Warm or cool plates, cups, and bowls.
  • Handle special diets.
  • Handle food preservation.

Recreation

  • Pack, especially for air travel.
  • Plan for and use public transportation.
  • Handle arrangements for lodging, meals, and transportation.
  • Find desired shops and services.
  • Navigate with a map or GPS.
  • Handle passport, currency, language, cultural, and legal issues.
  • Handle entertainment, visiting tourist destinations, and going to events.
  • Maintain a valid driver’s license and safe driving skills; drive.
  • Maintain a car: change oil, get fuel, check fluids, change wiper blades, check tire pressure, and change tires.
  • Host events and guests, including overnight.
  • Film and photograph requested occasions.

Secretarial

  • Handle and answer electronic written communications, calls, mail, papers, and visitors; take messages.
  • Proofread, edit, format, and provide feedback on various projects.
  • Keep a calendar and manage scheduling.
  • Keep records.
  • Type up or scan physical notes and records.
  • Assist with gifting.
  • Shop online and in-store.
  • Manage groceries and basic items.
  • Manage couponing, sale-finding, item comparing, and negotiating.
  • Do product and store research.
  • Handle paperwork and related items.
  • Give reminders.
  • Give tech support.
  • Design websites.
  • Research assigned topics and share a report.
  • Set up electronics.
  • Budget, track spending, and handle taxes.

Health/Beauty

  • Give massages.
  • Lay out desired outfits in advance.
  • Give manicures and pedicures.
  • Help with bathing; run a bath.
  • Wash, dry, brush, style, and cut hair; barber.
  • Help with shaving, waxing, and plucking.
  • Do makeup.
  • Maintain certification/skills in first aid and CPR.
  • Handle medications.
  • Take vitals.
  • Do caretaking for illness, disability, and injury.

Animals

  • Feed animals and make sure they have water.
  • Train animals.
  • Clean animal habitats and bathrooms.
  • Provide animal health care.
  • Groom animals.
  • Exercise, walk, and play with animals.

Other

  • Assist with moving (business, home, etc.)
  • Create requested art or decor.
  • Keep anything desired well stocked.
  • Assist with “prepping” (food/water/survival gear storage, etc.)
  • Child care (a list unto itself).
  • Homeschooling or tutoring.
  • AM and PM routines such as closing/opening or locking/unlocking windows and doors, closing/opening blinds, turndown service, and shutting/turning on lights.

Learning in Anticipatory Service, and Some Advice

There’s a lot of learning involved in service, and especially in anticipatory service.

There’s learning the M-type’s preferences and priorities. All of them. Even the ones they’re not consciously aware of, or don’t think to communicate. And learning them to a point where remembering them is automatic. And knowing and understanding the “why” if it matters. And incorporating them whenever possible. And… sometimes preferences and priorities change.

There’s thoroughly learning the “technical skills” you might not have yet. Cleaning, cooking, errands, laundry, yard work, travel, secretarial, personal care. And fine tuning those skills based on those preferences.

There’s (in anticipatory service) learning about their subconscious and sometimes nigh invisible cues. An extra split second of looking at a cup when it’s nearing empty. A ghost of a smile that indicates they like what you just did. It’s knowing what they want that they might not even know they want (at least yet). And those cues can also change. It’s knowing them and their boundaries well enough to know what kind of anticipatory service is acceptable and desirable.

In anticipatory service, my goal is to do the things that Mistress wants before she calls, “Slave!” from across the house.

So how do I determine what those things are in an anticipatory style?

1. Do things they’re going to ask for, before they ask. For example: fix problems. Big problems might be more involved, but there are plenty of small “problems” that can be solved immediately. Like the toilet paper roll ran out, or there’s a spill in the kitchen. Try to address things like that right away, and try to figure out how to prevent future problems or make them easier to solve when they come up (store extra toilet paper in the bathroom, have a towel ready in the kitchen). Basically, don’t wait for them to remind you to treat something as necessary. You can see their glass of water is almost empty or that you’re missing a needed event supply without them saying anything—fill the glass now, acquire the supply now.

2. Do (or offer to do) things they might not think to ask for at all. Regularly think of what you could be doing to make their life easier that they might not think of. It could be a once-off task or a new standing order. If it can reasonably just be done, then you can just do it before they get to it. If you think you should talk to them about it first, then do that. Think of things around holidays (wrapping?), trips (packing?), and things like that. Look at what seems to give them stress or frustration or disruption. If there’s a repeating task you see them getting distracted from more important things by, offer to handle it on the same schedule.

3. Improve their processes and environments. Make things a little more convenient or a little prettier in some way (and, note what they think makes something more convenient or pretty). Organize things around the house. Eliminate nuisances. Do minor redecorating. Get related supplies in one place. Improve the lighting. Automate things.

4. Devote yourself, on your own, to learning those “technical skills”, keeping track of those preferences, and doing your own self-improvement (growth cannot be overstated).

Anticipatory service is a lot of learning, a lot of work—and one of my favorite things.