Posts

Showing posts from October, 2011

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 31

Image
When I started this journey of 31 Days of Hospitality I really had no clue what I was getting into.  Sure, I was going to blog about this one topic for a whole month.  No problem.  Well, it really was noproblem but it was challenging and I had never blogged everyday for a whole month before.  There were days when I thought I was at the end and could do no more on this subject.  Then something would come to my mind out of the blue that I hadn't thought of before.  i really had to think outside the box some days.  Around day 18 or so my sister emailed me some ideas just in case I didn't have a topic for each day.  Well, as a matter of fact, I didn't.  And that was the boost I needed to finish.  I actually still have a few more days I could blog on this subject.  But I won't. :)

I hope everyone has enjoyed the topic and maybe come away with some new ideas.  I appreciated all the comments that I have gotten.  I look forward to doing this again but I am glad it's 11 mo…

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 30-Getting Ready for the Holidays...

Image
Halloween is tomorrow.  Then we will head into Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah & Kwanzaa.  The prime entertaining season.  I am sure we all take on too much during this time of year. Baking, cooking, shopping, wrapping, cards, shipping, volunteering, shopping, traveling, more shopping.  And entertaining.  ON TOP OF WHAT WE DO EVERYDAY to keep things humming along: cleaning, cooking, laundry, working, volunteering.  You get the idea.  We are stretched t h i n during the holiday season.  I don't know about you but the entertaining part is my favorite.  What's a girl to do?

We all know the answer is to say 'no' more often, right?  Easier said than done for sure.  But every year, right about this time, I vow to have things run smoother and calmer than last year.  As I was hauling my supply of Christmas wrapping paper through Target yesterday I was getting some looks.  I know what they were thinking, 'Lady, here we are dragging our kids through the store looking …

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 29-The Party's in the Kitchen...

Image
It seems like just about every party ends up in the kitchen.  Big or small, it doesn't seem to matter.  Should it?  Does it matter to you?  Sometimes it's hard to steer the guests to another room.  Sometimes it's downright impossible.  If you want to get the group to mingle with your other rooms, try these ideas:
Move the drinks out of the kitchen.  Try to set up a 'drink station' in another room.  We have a wet bar in our living room area.  This is a perfect place for us to set up drinks.  You can also set up a drink station on a table in the living room or great room- just remove your usual decor from that table and set the drinks up there.  You can even add a small card table to a corner and make that your drink area.  Likewise, you can take it all outside.  Move the food out of the kitchen. Same idea as moving the drinks out.  Be creative - look at your space and see how you can accommodate the food with the tables you already have.  I actually love the idea of…

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 28-Quiet Inspiration

Image






A little quiet inspiration for your Friday.

More of my 31 Days posts can be found here.  Other bloggers are also taking part in this series.  They can be found here.

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 27-Relaxing

Image
As I was looking at the other 31 Dayers posts last night I came upon one of Melissa's posts that I really enjoyed.  We are all giving tips, advice, inspiration, etc on a certain topic for 31 days.  A whole month.  That's a long time.  A long time to write on one topic and a long time to read the same topic.  Melissa talks about how overwhelming her 31 Days of holiday inspiration might be.  Lots of  to-do's to consider during the month.  She suggested that her readers take a break.  Disconnect.  Relax.  Read a book.  Savor this fall season.  So, being the copy cat that I am, I am suggesting the same.  In the blink of an eye we will all be running around trying to get a thousand things done for Thanksgiving and Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and New Years. It's time to enjoy what's left of fall.  Read.  Drink tea.  Play with your kids.  Spend time with your husband.  Take in a movie.  Jump in the leaves.  You get the idea.

Tomorrow my husband & I are going t…

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 26- When you're too tired to cook...

Image
Sometimes the last thing you feel like doing is entertaining.  Sometimes it doesn't matter, you have to put on your happy face and serve up some dinner!  Spur of the moment guests drop by.  Your husband calls to say he's bringing a client home (does this only happen on TV?)  You had a busy, crazy day but it's your night to host Bunco.  It happens to all of us at some time.  Being prepared for anything can help keep the chaos at bay. Let's look at these 3 scenarios:

A spur of the moment guest drops by:  Since we are a family of 3 we always have leftovers.  Which means there is always enough for an extra person or 2.  If that's not the case at your house and you've started dinner when your guest arrives, you need to add to your menu.  It's not always easy to thaw an extra piece of chicken or fish.  But if you keep some frozen veggies on hand you can pull out a bag and add another veggie.  Same with a box of rice.  Make your salad a bit bigger. For your meat I …

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 25-Invitations

Image
Invitations are my favorite part of throwing a party.  There are so many options out there.  I LOVE the idea above for a cookie swap (from Tiny Prints). 
 This Holiday Party invite (also from Tiny Prints) is really fun, too.
When doing your invites there is some important info you don't want to leave out: Type of party & who it's for.  For a Christmas or Holiday Party it's pretty cut and dry.  For a birthday choose something like: Hailey's 3rd Birthday Party!  Again, pretty simple.  Just make sure your guests know what they are invited to.Date & Time.  I like to add the day (as above) as well as the calendar date.  For a child's party I always include a begin and end time.  If you don't people will linger - this may include little people whose parent has dropped them off - you need to know when they will return!  For an adult party in the evening I usually don't put an end time.  Most people (at least those in my age group) will start departing around…

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 24-Traditions

Image
Image Donna Hay
 Traditions are important.  They make people feel comfortable.  With the holiday season around the corner many of us will be partaking in decades old family traditions.  From what we serve at Thanksgiving to where we spend New Year's Day, traditions are often what makes the holiday the holiday.

When my husband and I got married I added his Thanksgiving food tradition - yams (from a can) with marshmallows - to my family's traditional Thanksgiving fare.  The year I made homemade cranberry sauce (it was good), my dad asked where the cranberry sauce was, 'the kind with the lines'.  Traditionally, we served Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce & I tried to change that.  As good as that homemade sauce was, it wasn't our tradition.

On Christmas Eve we have the tradition of opening one gift.  Only one.  No more, no less.  Since my husband's family does Secret Santa on Christmas Eve we have the one gift picked out for us: it's our Secret Santa gift.

While …

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 23-No Children...

Image
Some events you will host and some you be invited to will be ones that are 'adult only'.  Living in a time when (in my opinion) children are taken just about anywhere without regard to appropriateness,  you are bound to offend someone when your event is deemed 'adults only'.

Our wedding was adults only.  My husband & I both liked the idea and since we weren't having a flower girl or ring bearer it seemed appropriate.  I thought we would get some grief from some of this (12) siblings but they loved the idea of a 'date night'; an excuse to get a sitter.

There was a little to do when my husband's cousin tried to bring his (toddler) children to the reception. They didn't bring them to the wedding ceremony but tried to sneak them into the reception. Because we wouldn't notice the only two little people at all...  One of these children was the same one that almost knocked over the tall lit candle sconces my sister-in-law had at the end of the pew…

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 22- Books

Image
I feel that a lot of inspiration can be found in books.  I wanted to share three of my favorites with you.  The first one is an oldie but goodie.  First published in 1982, Entertaining by Martha Stewart is one of my favorites and one of my first entertaining books.  Twenty-nine years later it is still relevant.  One of the first chapters called Entertaining with Style covers everything from making guests comfortable and creating an ambiance to setting the table and making food look beautiful.  She has menus and ideas for a cocktail party, Thanksgiving for eight and much more.  I find this a lovely shower gift for the bride who wants to entertain.

Frugal Luxuries by Tracey McBride is kind of like a manual for me.  I have post it notes on quite a few pages.  The idea of the book is that you can live and eat well without spending a fortune.  And this includes entertaining and hospitality.  One of my favorite sections is called A Harvest Calendar which lists by month when each fruit, veget…

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 21-Signature Drinks

Image
If you entertain alot (and even if you don't) it's fun to have a 'signature drink'.  I never had one until I was in a Bunco group and the hostess was to provide the drinks.  Most of my friends had fun things like margaritas & martinis when they hosted our group.  Since wine is really our signature drink I had to find something for Bunco that was a little more signature-y.  Once again, allrecipes.com came to the rescue.  That's where I found the Red Rooster.

Red Rooster

Makes 1 serving

1 cup ice cubes
2 fl oz vodka
4 fl oz cranberry juice
1/2 fl oz orange juice

Fill a tall glass with ice, pour in vodka & cranberry juice.  Top with orange juice.  Stir.

I have also quadrupled this and put it in a pitcher.  To share, not just for me!

Emeril Lagasse also makes a slushy version of the Red Rooster.  I haven't made it but it looks yummy too.

Do you have a signature drink?

You can find my 31 Days posts here.

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 20-Thank You Notes...

Image
Image Crane
  Thank You Notes.  When you are on the receiving end of hospitality, whether as a guest for the weekend or just for dinner, a thank you note is a must.  I am a stickler on this one.  A hostess gift does not take the place of a note.  A phone call is nice but it is not a thank you note.  An email is also not a thank you note.  Either is a (gasp) text.  In my opinion, a gesture of hospitality requires a thank you note.  Hand written.  On stationery.  Nothing else will do.

What you write your note on is personal.  Monogrammed or personalized stationery is always appropriate.  A thank you card from Hallmark is fine as long as you add a personal note of thanks along with the pre-written message.  The idea of the thank you note is to extend  gratitude to your host/hostess for taking the time to invite you into his or her home.  It should be heartfelt and sincere.

Image Crane

As a parent, one of the most important things we can do is teach our children to be gracious.  Teaching th…

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 19-Breakfast for your guests...

Image
A few years, right before Christmas, I was watching Good Morning America when Ina Garten made her Sticky Buns.  I got the recipe from the GMA website and those sticky buns have been my 'go to' recipe for holiday breakfasts as well as when we have guests.  I usually make them 5-6 times a year-they're a special recipe here @ September Acres.  We could eat them every week but then they wouldn't be special.  You can find the recipe here.  You won't regret making them!


Do you have a special recipe you make for your overnight guests?

If you've missed any of my 31 Days of Hospitality posts you can find them here.  The rest of the 31 Dayers can be found here.

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 18-Who Invited You?

Image
I'm sure we've all encountered it:  the uninvited guest.  The only way the gracious hostess can handle this (in my opinion) is to smile and nod and welcome the uninvited guest into your home.  After all, in most cases the uninvited guest was brought to your soiree by one of your friends.  They most likely have no clue you have no clue they are coming, right?

For this reason, I always make sure I have prepared a little extra food and provided a little extra drink.  On top of that you can usually count on one of the guests you planned on having at your event being unable to come at the last minute.  So, in theory, you should always have a little extra for those uninvited guests.

How do you handle the uninvited guest?

My other 31 Days posts can be found here.  The other 31 Dayers can be found here.

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 17 - Accidents Happen...

Image
Every once in a while accidents happen while we are entertaining.  A broken wine glass or dish or a spill.  I would be lying if I said these accidents are avoidable.  They aren't.  If you entertain you will, at some time, encounter some breakage or something involving the carpet cleaner. 

My first bit of advice for any hostess is to put away anything you would be devastated to lose.  Everything else is fair game.  That's it. 

Once you have put all your valuables in a safe place think about how you would handle a breakage.  Remember, you are a gracious hostess and should act as such.  None of our friends will intentionally break or damage our 'stuff'.  Smile, say 'it's okay, it was an accident', clean up any glass quickly and worry about the rest later.  We never want our guests to feel bad or as if we are mad at them for any type of accident.

Have you had any damages to deal with as a hostess?  How did you handle them?

My other 31 days posts can be found

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 16-Hostess Gifts...

Image
Sometimes we are on the other side of hospitality.  We are the guests, the visitors, the recipients of a gracious deed.  When I am invited to someone's home for a weekend or just for dinner I like to bring a hostess gift.  

While I try to tailor the gift to the hostess (or host) there are some universally accepted (and welcomed) gifts.  In no particular order:
Wine - my number one, all time favorite gift to take to a hostess (and receive as well!).  Unless she is not a wine drinker.Liquor - we are not liquor drinkers so we seldom give this but if I know that my hostess loves something special and is not a wine drinker I will venture over to the liquor area.Home baked goodies - I love to share some good cookies or a cake.  This pumpkin cake would be especially nice during the fall season.Candles - Most people I know like candles and a seasonal scent is usually a welcome treat.Flowers or a plant- unless allergies are an issue I love this idea.These are usually 'safe' gifts …

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 15-The Symbol of Hospitality...

Image
I guess we all know that the pineapple is the symbol of hospitality.  But have you ever wondered how that came to be?  This is what I've found out:

In 1493 Columbus brought a pineapple back to Renaissance Europe from the Caribbean Island of Guadalupe.  At this time Europe was largely devoid of sweet foods, including fresh fruit.  The pineapple became popular over the years.  In the 1600's, King Charles posed for an official portrait receiving a pineapple as a gift.

In Colonial America hostesses would set out a pineapple on their dining tables when they had visitors.  The pineapple would become dessert at the end of an evening.   Often colonial grocers would rent pineapples to hostesses desperate to make an impression on their guests and appear to be of a higher financial status than they were.  After the pineapple was returned to the grocer it would be sold to a more affluent customer who could afford to buy and eat the pineapple.  Regardless of social and economic status, v…

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 14-Pumpkin Cake

Image
So much of hospitality revolves around food, doesn't it?  So I thought I should share this pumpkin cake recipe that I recently made.  It is delish and without frosting it can also be called pumpkin bread!
I found the recipe at allrecipes.com.  I am a huge fan of this website.  I have made quite a few things from recipes I have found there and have yet to be disappointed.
(just a note on this cake:I reduced the sugar from 2 1/2 cups (yikes, that's a lot of sugar!)of white sugar to about 3/4 cup of white & 3/4 cup of brown. Tastes great- and not too sweet.)

This cake/bread is perfect to serve during coffee with friends, take to a potluck or new neighbor or even decorate like the above photo (from allrecipes.com) to take to a Halloween party.  It's really tasty!


If you've missed any of my 31 Days posts you can find them here.  The other really cool 31 Days participants are found here.

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 13- Southern Hospitality...

Image
Southern Hospitality.  Just the sound of it is nice.  It conjures up visions of men holding doors for ladies, people smiling and saying 'hi' on the sidewalk, men giving up their seat on the bus for ladies and welcoming new neighbors to the neighborhood.  Just all around being polite and friendly.

After living in the south for much of my life, I guess I just took that all for granted.  Moving to the Southwest was a real culture shock - and not just the summer heat!  I'm not sure if it's because most Arizonans moved here from somewhere else - being the 48th state admitted to the union means most of us aren't 'natives'.  Since it's kind of a 'melting pot' there's no southern hospitality, Yankee ingenuity, Midwest values; just lots of everything from everywhere. 

No one's grandma has lived her for all of her 90 years (at least not in our town).  An 'old' house was built in the '60's, not 1910.  There's not that same his…

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 12-Favorite Things...

Image
On Day 6 of the 31 Days of Hospitality I talked about overnight guests.  I mentioned the things that help make your guests feel at home.  I thought that today I would mention some of my favorites.  I am not getting a thing for mentioning these products, they're just faves of mine and when I find something I love I like to share.


Towels: Royal Velvet are my faves.  I prefer white towels but I know everyone has an opinion on colors.  For wash cloths I do like something darker since they usually get dirtier; taking off makeup and such things.  I remember reading years ago that Martha Stewart gets dark wash cloths and has them embroidered with the word 'makeup' so guests know to use those clothes for makeup and they're easier to keep looking clean than white.


Sheets:  I love the Pottery Barn Essentials line.  The prices are reasonable for good quality.  300 thread count sheets that are comfy.  Again I prefer white but they are available in a few other colors.
 Soap:  I love

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 11 - Quotes

Image
I love quotes.  Quotes about anything.  A few quotes about hospitality caught my eye.
For 't is always fair weather When good fellows get together With a stein on the table and a good song ringing clear. Richard Hovey ~ Let me live in my house by the side of the road, And be a friend to man.
Sam Walter Foss ~ When friends are at your hearth side met,  Sweet courtesy has done its most    If you have made each guest forget      That he himself is not the host.  
 Thomas Bailey Aldrich Quotes ~ - Image Better Homes and Gardens
If you have missed any of my 31 Days series you can find the posts here. Meet the other 31 Dayers here.

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 10 - Come on in...

Image
Yesterday, I talked about the outdoor entry way.  It's definitely the first impression that someone gets of your home.  An extension of your outdoor entry would be your indoor entry, or foyer.

foyer:  an entrance hall or vestibule in a private house

I'm going out on a limb and saying that most of us don't have foyers like this:
 But more like this one below.  You will notice one thing they have in common is that they are neat and inviting.  Very welcoming to guests.  The perfect place to receive those guests.
Part of hospitality is feeling welcome in someones home.  A clean, tidy foyer is much more welcoming then one that is cluttered with shoes, backpacks, shoes, toys, shoes, etc.  Something we struggle with here is shoes (if you didn't notice!).  People kick off their shoes at the front door and there they stay.  Usually until Debra moves them.  If you are visiting someones home the last thing you want to greet you is a pair of shoes for every family member.

Make your …

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 9 - A welcoming entry...

Image
As guests approach your entry way are they welcomed with an inviting sight or one that's a little 'blah' or messy?  I'm sure we've all been guilty of a messy entry way every now and then.  I know I have!  Fall is always a fun time to spruce up your entry way.  Mums are in abundance.  So are pumpkins.  Trick or Treaters will be coming around soon.  So will Thanksgiving guests.


After sweeping up around the entry way I brought out some of my Halloween goodies.  The chalkboard rocks fill an empty pot for now.  I hope to get some more mums- there were only 2 of the rust colored mums when I was shopping the other day so I think the rocks will work until I get more.

The most important thing to make your entryway welcoming is to make sure it's clean.  Sweep often.  Anything else just makes it special:
A wreath on your door.Potted plants.  A 'welcome' sign.Keep the size of your entry way in mind.  Don't go crazy buying things that are too big (or too small) …

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 8 - Compassionate Hospitality

Image
As I was doing research about hospitality and the bible, I came across an interesting phrase: compassionate hospitality.  A combination of the definitions of the two words, compassionate hospitality goes a bit beyond opening our homes to friends.  It is more focused on helping others than on entertaining others .  It is extending hospitality in a variety of ways. A few examples from the bible include:

The Jews came to comfort Martha and Mary after Lazarus' death (John 11:19)
Shobi, Machir and Barzillai brought couches, coverlets, basins and earthenware as well as food to   David and his people while they were in exile (2 Sam 17:27-29)
 Pharoah's daughter adopted baby Moses (Exod 2:6-10)
Job's friends journeyed to give him sympathy and comfort after his misfortune (Job 2:11-13)

How can you practice compassionate hospitality?
Taking meals to a friend or acquaintance who is ill, recovering from surgery, just had a baby, etc.Providing clothing and household goods to someone who ha…

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 7 - No guest room? No Problem

Image
Yesterday I talked about overnight guestsHolly had a question about how to make an office with an air mattress and inviting guest retreat.

We all can't have that dedicated guest room.  What a luxury.  When we bought our house it was just my husband and me - and 4 bedrooms.  Plenty of room for a guest room and it was nice.  Then the guest room became a nursery and we had that, a master, a game room and and office.  At that point we moved the bed into the office.  Looking back I am not sure how we accomplished that.  But I know we didn't have as much stuff then so we had the room. Now the bed is in the shed and in it's place is 2 bookcases and scrapbooking cubbies.  What about our guests, you ask?  The guests now reside in the playroom (used to be a game room) on an air mattress.  How do we make that comfy?

The principles are the same as when you have a dedicated guest room.  Clean sheets, clean towels, blankets, toiletry basket.  When using an office as your guest room t…

31 Days of Hospitality: Day 6 - Overnight guests

Image
Most of us have overnight guests once in a while.  And most of us have been an overnight guest our share of times.  When entertaining overnight guests I like to make them feel at home. To accomplish this I try to think of things that make me feel at home.  I don't get all crazy and think I need to have them feel as though they're at the Palazzo or something with robes and a mini bar but I want them to feel comfy. 

Image Coastal Living

Here's what I do: Clean sheets.  I know we all think that's an obvious one.  Let me tell you a little story.  My family and I traveled to an unnamed destination to stay with unnamed people several years ago. Our hosts apparently purchased new sheets for the bed we were sleeping on - a nice gesture - but failed to wash them before putting them on the bed.  So for more than a few days we slept on these unwashed, chemically smelling sheets.  I didn't have the heart to say anything and never had an opportunity to sneak the sheets into the…