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From VIP entrances in Versace to service entrances in my apron

  • Julie Anne Rhodes

Children and Social Circuit Etiquette

My friends all adore my daughter, because Tatjana has remarkable manners for a young woman in this day and age. When she was little, our family motto was “have daughter, have nanny, will travel”, and we did take Tatjana with us everywhere.

Arriving at Nick’s birthday bash, 1991

Nick and I are both extremely social creatures, so we taught her proper etiquette right from the start. There is nothing more obnoxious than an unruly, spoilt brat.

The social whirlwind of the holidays is nearly upon us. Nannies and babysitters might once have been the norm, but in this economy, more and more people are taking their children with them when they go out. I think this is one of the few benefits of the economy. It’s important for children to learn to socialize from an early age, and the more time families spend together, the better.

Nick, Tatjana, and Julie Anne Rhodes at the Antony Price Fashion Show, 1989

If however, the invitation is not clear about whether “das kinder” would be welcome, it might be a good idea to check with your host first. There are people that do not find children as enchanting as you and I do; or they may have homes that are far from childproof with expensive breakables, and accident prone zones. Unless you are willing to spring for childcare, politely decline those invitations. You’re asking for trouble if you ignore the circumstances.

Monsters and bouncy castle at Normandie Keith’s

Ask if there will be other children of similar ages, and what if any arrangements have been made to entertain them? If the answer is none, but your children are still welcome, be sure to arrive prepared. Bored children tend to mutate into naughty little monsters. Bring books, art supplies (do keep an eagle eye out that your little lovelies do not decide to redecorate your hosts’ house), and age appropriate toys. iPads seems to miraculously entertain both children and adults of all ages for hours on end.

Pool time for the bigger kids at Normandie Keith’s

Just like you would not arrive at a black tie event wearing jeans, make sure your children are dressed appropriately for the occasion as well. Hungry children make for grumpy whiners, which puts a damper on your fun as well as theirs. You can kill two birds with one stone by bringing a hostess gift of something kid-friendly to eat like a lasagna or cottage pie. That way you guarantee there is something your children will eat, under the guise of lending a helping hand to your host (make sure you make enough to serve the other guests too).

Tatjana, Sean Borg, and Julie Anne Rhodes

Involve your children in the discussion as much as possible so they learn to converse easily with others. The art of repartee is a much less daunting lesson when they are learning by your example. Once they tire of the adults (and they will), suggest they make your host a drawing in thanks for having you, sit quietly in a corner and read, or play with their toys. Do not under any circumstances let young children run wild and completely unattended. It is bad form on your part as a guest, highly annoying to the other guests, could be dangerous, and you will be missing a golden opportunity to train your children in proper manners. Be a parent, and discipline when necessary.

When all else fails, a little bribe such as “if you behave, I’ll let you stay up an extra half hour past bedtime” used to work a treat with Tatjana. Just be sure you are in control of any negotiations – you don’t want to raise little terrorists; and under no circumstances do you carry through with that reward if they have not lived entirely up to their end of the bargain.

Tatjana and Julie Anne Rhodes at Amanda Eliasch’s Christmas party

It is our job to be our children’s parents, not their friends. If you succeed, the most enjoyable friendship will follow naturally. There is no one on the planet I would rather hang out with than my daughter, Tatjana. This white meat lasagna would be right up her alley!

Jewels White Meat Lasagna

Servings: 6


1 tablespoon olive oil 1 pound spicy Italian turkey sausage, casings removed 3/4 pound lean ground turkey 1 onion, finely chopped 3 cloves of garlic 1 28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed with the back of a spoon 1 can tomato paste 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce 1/2 cup water 1 tablespoon sugar 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped 2 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped, divided 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds salt and pepper to taste 12 no-boil lasagna noodles 12 ounces ricotta cheese 4 ounces goats cheese 1 egg 1 pound mozzarella, shredded 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated


1). Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2). Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, brown the turkey sausage and ground turkey, breaking apart with the back of a wooden spoon, and stirring to cook evenly. Remove to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

3). Add onions to the poultry drippings, and cook until softened, 8 minutes. Add garlic, stir until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add San Marzano tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and sugar, stir, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add turkey and sausage back to the sauce, basil, 1 tablespoon parsley, oregano, fennel, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

4). Mix ricotta, goats cheese, egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and remaining tablespoon of parsley in a large mixing bowl; set aside.

5). Assemble in a 9×13 inch baking dish sprayed with olive oil. Spread 1 cup sauce evenly over the bottom, arrange half of the no-boil noodles lengthwise over the top, spread 1/2 of the ricotta mixture evenly over the lasagna, and sprinkle with 1/3 of the mozzarella and Parmesan. Repeat with a second layer, then top with the rest of the sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan.

6). Cover carefully so foil does not touch the cheese, and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, and continue to bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until top is bubbly and beginning to go golden brown around the edges. Cool 10 – 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Serving Suggestions: Serve with a mixed green salad, roasted or marinated vegetables, and garlic bread.


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