in partnership
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Cortney Anderson-Sanford is a Seattle based Etiquette Expert and Graciousness Whisperer (Credit: Food Network)

Ask An Expert: Etiquette in the time of COVID-19

Due to the current health crisis, we find ourselves facing etiquette challenges that didn't exist until a few months ago. So what's well intentioned person to do? Ask a pro, of course! Refined caught up [virtually] with Cortney Anderson-Sanford, a Seattle based etiquette expert and graciousness whisperer to get her advice on how to be polite during these awkward times.

Seattle Refined: Can you help us navigate manners and etiquette in the time of COVID 19?
Cortney Anderson-Sanford: I have this here (puts mask on) and look what this does - it blocks our conversation right?

It can be tough to convey your feelings when your face is covered. How do we show people we are the same warm wonderful people that we were before this happened when you can’t see our face?
Keep smiling and keep staying open. You should never have your hands in your pockets and be closed in. Open body style, and open eyes and open face. Your eyes show and people can tell if you’re smiling.

We find ourselves in some awkward moments these how do you politely ask a stranger to put a mask on?
If someone is coming into your home it’s your prerogative to ask for a mask. I have hand sanitizer by the door and some disposable masks that people can put on if they’re coming to my home. But in a store, don’t walk around and tell people to wear masks and get all grumpy if people aren’t! They may have asthma or claustrophobia. There may be some reason why another person is not wearing a mask. You can wear a mask and you can use hand sanitizer and keep yourself safe.

Something I know that I’ve found kind of awkward lately is I go to shake someone's hand - and then I pull it back because I realize no one wants to shake hands right now!
We can’t shake hands and even the elbow bump is off limits. I’ve seen people doing that - but that’s not 6 feet. That’s not distancing. Just say ‘Hey I’d love to shake your hand right now but I’m practicing physical distancing not social distancing’. Notice the play on words. I’m physical distancing and at some point in the future I’d love to shake your hand.

If you hear that someone is ill [with COVID-19] or has a family member that’s ill, what are some ways to reach out and show that you care?
Contact is key right now. We are physically distanced but not socially distanced. Give contact. Give your thoughts, and be sincere. Open up your email with 'I hope everyone in your world is doing well and doing OK'. In person say 'Be Well, Stay Well'. But if it’s someone that's close to you, absolutely send texts, emails, drop off a bouquet of flowers or my favorite is 'Friendship Bread' [recipe below] that I like to drop off a baked good at someone’s house.

What is Friendship Bread?
Friendship Bread - It starts with a sweet starter. Then you grow this starter and make this sweet cinnamon-y bread and hand it out to your breads with a little bit of the starter so you keep spreading love which I really like.

I can’t let you go without talking about you and Martha Stewart. Give us the scoop on what the show is you were on and what that experience was like for you?
I was on ‘Bakeaway Camp with Martha Stewart’. It was on the Food Network, and the premise of the show is to put six campers that have to show their baking skills. And there are camp counselors that help you through that, and then the very larger than life Martha Stewart is our camp director.It was a phenomenal experience I was happy to come back to Magnolia and Seattle.

Recipe: 'Friendship Bread' courtesy Cortney Anderson-Sanford

(This recipe makes 2 loaves)


  • 1 cup Amish Friendship Bread Starter (recipe below)
  • 3 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup milk (room temperature)
  • 1 3/4 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 2 cups Unbleached Flour
  • 1 small box vanilla instant pudding
  • 1 cup chopped toasted nuts (optional)
  • 1 cup Raisins (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 325 F (165 C)
  2. In a small bowl combine 3/4 of a cup of the sugar with 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon.
  3. Grease two large two 8-by-4-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pans and dust with HALF of the sugar mixture and set both aside. I put parchment in the bottom of my loaf pans before I grease and sugar them.
  4. In a glass or plastic bowl whisk together oil, starter mixture, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract; set aside.
  5. In a large bowl mix together flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, salt, baking soda, baking powder, pudding, and nuts, if desired.
  6. Gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and then divide batter equally between two pans. This will be similar in consistency to thick pancake batter.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture on the top.
  8. Bake 45 to 60 minutes, or until the bread loosens evenly from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.
  9. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes, then run a knife around edges before turning out on to cooling rack.
  10. Enjoy!

Friendship Bread Starter Recipe


  • 2 1/2 tsps. active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
  • 1/4 cup warm water 110 F
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup room temperature milk 110 F


  1. In a small glass or plastic bowl, dissolve yeast in water with a 1/4 of a teaspoon of the sugar. Let stand 10 minutes, or until the yeast begins to bubble just to make sure that the yeast is active and ready to party.
  2. Mix milk into the yeast mixture and set aside.
  3. In a separate large NON-metal bowl (metal will react with the starter and make things get a little funky) whisk together the flour and remaining sugar.
  4. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and stir in the yeasty milk mixture until well combined.
  5. Cover loosely with cheesecloth or a clean flour sack, and let it stand at room temperature and wait for the funk to happen and things get bubbly.

Pro Tips from Cortney

"I like to store my starter in a BPA free plastic zippered freezer bag. You just have to make sure to let the gas out every day as your starter is growing and bubbling. I use a permanent marking pen to mark out days one through ten so that I can cross off where I am at in the starter party."

Congratulations you have just begun Day 1 of a 10-day starter. For the next 10 days you get to have a new friend in your house, please feel free to name them. This year I have named my starter “Fred”.