Cook, Live

Never Too Late: Entertaining

Hi. My name is Kelly, and I am a reluctant entertainer.

When I moved into my first apartment as a post-graduate 14 years ago, I had a lot of girlfriends who were single or young-married with or without kids. I would have them over occasionally, and it wasn’t a big deal that my apartment was on the small side. As I got older, I busied myself with my job as a teacher, and I spent a lot of time volunteering at church. I still had the same group of friends, but most of them bought houses and had a couple of kids. Some of them moved away for seminary, new jobs, or a fresh start in a new place. I stayed in my apartment, grading papers, and fretting about church stuff. Gradually, I stopped having friends over because I was embarrassed that I was still single, still living in a one-bedroom apartment, still had post-graduate furniture.

Two years ago, the summer I turned 39, I bought a two-bedroom condo not far from my old apartment. I had watched enough HGTV to know exactly what I wanted in my new home: wide-planked, hand-scraped hardwood floors, crown moulding, neutral paint, and a new sink and granite countertops in the kitchen (I did go with an undermount, white, porcelain sink instead of a stainless steel or farm sink – I’m such a rebel!)

I needed furniture for my new living and dining rooms, and I was so fortunate to move in July in Houston when all the furniture places were having buy one, get one free and save more than 60% sales. Some nice, really high-quality furniture stores. {Wait, did I just say “fortunate to move in July in Houston”???} I bought many fabulous pieces I wouldn’t have bought otherwise, and I just love them.

I had a few people over at first. My realtor/friend, Cathy, and her family. My mom, aunt, and uncle. Our pastor and his wife. Some other friends from church. But entertaining happened infrequently and didn’t really feel a part of my everyday lifestyle. I showed off all the things I had done to the space, waved off the second bedroom “it will be an office someday”, and dreamed of putting up curtains in my master bedroom to complete the look.

Then last summer, my mom and I went to Seattle for 5 weeks while we waited for my sister to deliver her baby (11 days past her due date!), school started, I went to Paris for a week in October, and then we found out Mom was sick at Thanksgiving. Just as I had  begun to put some finishing touches on my home in preparation to do more entertaining in 2010, we found out how very sick Mom was, and I essentially moved in with her at her townhouse (which is not far from my condo.)

In May, I vacated my mom’s guest bedroom and now I am dedicating myself to “finishing” the condo. And I don’t mean “finishing” as in “Martha Stewart’s head would start spinning” finishing, but pulling things a little more together so that I can invite friends into a welcoming, calm, relaxing home – just like the ones to which I have been invited over the years.

The menu will be simple – I’ll pick up some chicken kabobs and Greek salad from Zoe’s or we’ll order  a pizza. Blackberry/peach cobbler from Tres Market for dessert (with Bluebell Homemade Vanilla, natch). I have come to grips with the fact that I don’t relish cooking, and it doesn’t make sense for me to make myself crazy trying to pull together a meal or appetizers from scratch. It works much better for me to buy something good at one of the many great restaurants and foodie places (like Central Market and Rice Epicurean) nearby and just get on with it.

One of the blogs I read regularly is Reluctant Entertainer. Sandy emphasizes connection over perfection when entertaining, something I forgot along the way. I wanted to be proud of my home when people came over, and when I didn’t feel good about it, I just stopped entertaining, missing countless opportunities to forge important connections with the people I love. Sandy has written a book, and it’s available for pre-order. I can’t wait to get it – it’s the perfect resource for someone like me who wants to fill her home with laughter and great conversations with wonderful friends but is intimidated by putting it all together.



{Just had a flash of insight: I remember my parents having dinner parties when I was a child. It was such a production: whom to invite, what to serve, how to arrange the flowers. My mom kept a log (knowing Mom, I’m pretty sure she still has it!) of each event so she would be sure to vary the guest list and the menu. Cleaning the house and making sure it was “guest-worthy” was of utmost importance. They had lovely dinners with fantastic friends, and I have good memories of sitting around the table in the formal dining room and talking way past my bedtime and then trying to stay up to watch Johnny Carson or Saturday Night Live while the grown-ups drank coffee and probably smoked cigarettes. My mom made sure everything was perfect, but I think it took a lot out of her in the process.}

Sandy is giving away five copies of her new book over at Nester’s place. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment about what dish you are “known for.” I wrote about sausage dip:

Judy’s Easy New Year’s Eve Sausage Dip

1 roll of Jimmy Dean sausage (regular – I think it’s a pound, but I’m not sure)
1 brick of cream cheese (the real stuff, not light or low-fat)
1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes, medium spice – OMG, did you know you could get this on Amazon???)

1. brown and drain meat (break it up like hamburger meat)
2. put cream cheese and Rotel in crock pot
3. add browned meat
4. heat on low

Serve with King size or Scoop style Fritos.

This recipe is easy to double or even triple for large crowds. It is simple, and everyone LOVES it. It is also great for breakfast the next day. Seriously.

Maybe I’ll win a book! Just in case, I’m pre-ordering it from Amazon. Book or no book, I’m continuing my quest for guests. I’m going for one event per month for the rest of the year.

I’m hoping for a perfect 100% success rate!

{Linking to Melissa’s Inspired By party this week.}

3 thoughts on “Never Too Late: Entertaining

  1. I think that’s great! I read that when you entertain, you are giving to your friends.
    P.S. I resisted the stainless steel sink suggestion –I am a porcelain girl too!

  2. OK…I don’t entertain much either…

    But…that being said. Your friends that are married wtih or without kids would love an excuse for “girls night out” at Kelly’s place! We can all bring something and call it a party1 🙂

    1. Hmmm…maybe September? I would say August, but maybe that’s a little hectic with kids going back to school. Or maybe we could do it the last week of August as a little “thank goodness they’re out of our hair and into yours” party, huh? Y’all bring the wine/liquor!

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