Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reluctant Entertainer

Okay, so I'm not really a reluctant entertainer.  I mean, that's why we went through a major renovation---because I wanted to bring people together in my our home.  It seems I entertain a lot, I would just like to do it with a little more "pretty" and maybe a little less fear of the cooking part.  When I cook for people, I always feel stressed.  I'm not a natural cook, it's labor intensive for me.  I always have great intentions, but something usually goes awry.  Good thing I have good friends with a sense of humor.  For the last year and a half, I have been reading Sandy Coughlin's blog which addresses all these fears and more and she just published her first book called The Reluctant Entertainer 
Photo courtesy of Amazon.com
.  I am soooo looking forward to my copy arriving in the mail this week.  Go to The Inspired Room  to enter to win your own copy with  bonus prizes.  Sandy has a gift for entertaining, but she doesn't do it Martha Stewart style in all it's perfection.  Oh, no.  Sandy has a relaxed attitude about it and says if we want to entertain people in your home, just do it for pete's sake and stop focusing on the "why nots".  She is planned and organized, but she's not going to worry about mistakes, flops, or perfection.  That's my kind of entertaining because, as I've said, there's always something.

This past week, I invited a few friends over for dinner.  A "few" equaled about 35 people.  We have wonderful friends from the Dominican Republic who are visiting the U.S. for the very first time (getting that Visa was a looooong time in coming).  Our little church helped them build a church in a barrio outside the city of Santiago and we have also built a mission house there.  It's a wonderful relationship which has resulted in several mission trips in the last three years.  We love them.  Like a lot.  Anyway, we wanted to have them in for dinner.  One thing led to another and I just started inviting anyone who'd ever gone on one of the mission trips, or been interested, or happened to pass by me at any given moment.
I pondered what to make for dinner, then I thought "I know.  I'll make spaghetti!  That's easy and won't require a lot of work."  Oh, boy, was I ever wrong.  Making spaghetti for six people is a lot different than making spaghetti for a huge crowd, especially when plans go awry and one doesn't make it ahead of time like she planned.  Of course not.  Without boring you with the details, I left the shopping and cooking until the day of.  Yes.  The day of.  But see, I think I must just love a challenge, because I often break one of Sandy's cardinal rules---cook something you've cooked before, don't try out a new recipe on company.  Yeah, Sandy, whatever...maybe I'll never learn.  Because spaghetti is one of my spousal units favorite meals, I make it a lot.  No sweat, right?

Anyway, I start the sauce around 1:30 in the afternoon.  Company's coming at 6:30, so piece of cake.  Why do I keep telling myself this?  IT NEVER HAPPENS THAT WAY!!!!!  At 2:00 p.m. I realize I need to call in the troops.  In this case, "the troops" equaled my daughter, Jordan, and my little friend, Clella.  Clella is an 84 yr old woman with the stamina of the Energizer Bunny who is our church's go-to cook when we have gatherings.
Is she not the cutest thing?  And she brought some of her famous homemade wine, her "best yet".
Thank the good Lord, she answered her phone and was at my house in 15 minutes.  I COULD NOT have managed without their help.  Despite the gallons of water I spilled all over my new hardwood floor, despite the fact that I still had to clean the garage and set up tables, despite the fact that I still had some last minute cleaning to do in the bathroom, despite the fact that our dog, Swayze, jumped up in excitement to see Clella and ripped the paper-thin skin on her arm, despite the fact that Jim was sitting at the repair shop waiting for the van's window to be fixed, despite the fact that I forgot to buy the plastic ware, despite the fact that I almost lost it on several occasions and despite so much more, we got 'er done.  Without a hitch---bwahahahahahahahahah!

And, literally, throughout the whole time, I was taking Sandy's name in vain.  I think her little ears might have been burning on Tuesday afternoon.  I was also hearing her little voice in my head saying, "It will all work out, Jan," which is what kept me from going all the way over the deep end.

Thank you, Heather & Jeff, for doing ALL those dishes while Jordan & Matt look on.
So, anyway, Miss Sandy, thank you for the encouragement and thank you for coming out with that little book.  I'm so excited to get a copy and if I win another, I will just gift someone with it. 
Jordan brings out the bubbles!
Jairo tells Steve and Pedrito a story.