5/5/09

Leave your Limitations Behind!



Meet my Guest:
Melissa from The Inspired Room

Please welcome my friend, Melissa, as she shares her views on entertaining. Melissa has the inspiring blog, The Inspired Room, and we're both west-coasters! We actually got to meet in Nashville in February, and we even shared a room! Melissa's refreshing outlook on decorating, living a beautiful life, and her honest approach to her entertaining limitations (she doesn't like to cook!), I find so freeing!

Here's Melissa's entertaining story ...

I love decorating and creating ambience in my home. I don't like to cook, but I love fixing up my house and making it a pleasant place for guests to spend time! I wish I was one of those women who is always making something delicious in the kitchen, but working with food just doesn't interest me as much as being creative with my home. I would be happy as a clam if I had a personal chef living with me who would fix our meals!

I really do enjoy the process of creating a pleasant atmosphere in my home -- just like some women enjoy spending time preparing a new recipe!

Does that mean my house is perfect? NO! Come on over and you'll see unpacked moving boxes and half-completed projects. You won't find a perfectly decorated house, fancy dishes, or an impeccably clean house either. But I do love to tidy up my house a little bit, light the candles, clear off my coffee table and make sure that my guests enjoy the experience of being in my home while we connect in conversation.

But, what about the food? I don't want my guests to go away hungry! 

I used to feel very insecure about my lack of cooking skills. I wouldn’t have people over very often due to the stress of worrying about what I would make for dinner! Over the years, I have had to learn to find ways to overcome the fact that cooking is not my thing! I can't use my limitations as an excuse to not have people over.

We all have different things we enjoy doing. And we all have our limitations. We just need to find our own style of entertaining and do what works for us!

In order to open my home to others on a regular basis, I have assembled a few basic recipes that I can make for guests. My meals may not be fancy, they may not be gourmet and they probably won't impress those with culinary skills! And that is O.K. To make it even easier to entertain often, we sometimes set up a taco bar, have ice cream sundaes, or even (gasp!) a Costco meal. And you know what? It is all good!


I have finally made peace with my limitations and am willing to invite guests over even if my cooking skills are somewhat lacking! It isn’t about the food, or the house, and now that I have found my style of entertaining, I can have people over and really enjoy their company!

What are you own limitations in entertaining and what ways can you overcome them?

Oh, Melissa is so authentic and real. I just love this girl!!  Would you take a minute and share your story with us?

38 comments:

abeachcottage said...

mine would be being a non-baker, but that is an easy one with the patisserie by the beach, though at the moment it's a bit heavy on the old pocket

sarah
ABeachCottage

Sandy Toes said...

I love the candle in the teacup...how cute and sweet that is!
sandy toe

Marci said...

True that, sister!

Cherri Engle said...

My hang up has been that I don't have the time to make everything perfect. I work over 50 hours a week at my job and when I get home I am almost brain dead daily. Therefore, I get the urge to 'entertain' at the last minute and then everything seems so overwhelming. However, I have been reading many blogs lately on how to relax and have a 'laid-back' evening at home with friends. If I don't really think about it as fancy, then I can relax and have fun. So what if they don't think I am the best cook ever, the thing is...they are right!!! Thanks for helping me overcome my 'excuses'. I am looking forward to entertaining at my home and feeling great about it being 'simple'. Thanks for the story.

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

I can relate--I've never been big into cooking, either! Luckily for me, my husband loves to cook and bake, or our guests just might go away hungry. ;-)

Nice post, Melissa! (btw, the link from The Inspired Room to this post is broken. Would've told you on your blog, but the comments are closed today.)

Abbie said...

For me it's the "I have three young children" excuse. Because it's more work to get the kids either to bed early (then I lose sleep entertaining) or getting a sitter somewhere else (more cost) or having all the kids of ours and our guests at the house (more distracting). But it IS fun every time we manage.

Living With Lindsay said...

My hang ups are always things such as "I really need a rug in my living room" or "I'm so embarassed that we don't have an entertainment center yet, but we are saving money to buy one" or "my dogs act freaking insane when new people come over."

I have taken the advice found on this blog and invited some new friends to come over for pizza and kiddo playtime in a few weeks. I'm very excited, but I'm having difficulty trying to forget all of my issues. EEK!

Ssrah said...

Mine is a space issue--our house is small, and I can't seat many people at one time. But you know what? When I do have a large-ish party, no one seems to complain. I need to remember that!

A Touch of Country said...

My hang up would be "oh my house is not clean, let me just do this one more thing before they get here!" I am usually done by the time they get here but I barely have time to clean myself up and look presentable!

I am a last minute kind of girl...I push things off till the last minute....I invite people over at the last minute.....I go out on a whim at the last minute....I finish projects at the last minute....well you get the picture!

mary beth said...

Thanks gals for helping all of us with "entertaining issues" work through them, and see that we're not alone! I am slowly working my way out of my shell, and I'm loving it. Im a grandma, I have a lovely house, lots of time, and STILL let myself be intimidated! How foolish is that?? I think I try to make things too special because I love to decorate and I love themes, when I really just need to say, some over after church for ___ and let it be just folks getting together. I love how you are guiding us to keep it simple and RELAX!! Keep up the good work!

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

So Sorry about the broken link from my blog! Lots of people were trying to come over and I blew it!

Thanks to those of you who figure out how to get here from The Inspired Room in spite of my LACK OF BLOGGING skills (that is another post all by itself!).

Thanks Ladies! And thanks for sharing your own hang ups :-)

Chris for Connected at the Crossroads said...

Sandy's wonderful advice about entertaining has helped me overcome my limitations. Now that she's sharing her friend's ideas too, I'm getting even more ideas!One idea I thought of is create a beautiful or interesting focal point that takes the focus off of a less than clean room or house. For example, last Christmas we invited guests over. The bathroom was clean, but our master bedroom on the way to the bathroom wasn't as clean. I put some wrapped Christmas gifts, wrapping paper, tape, and scissors on the bed. That way when they trekked to the bathroom, their eyes wouldn't scan my cluttered corner, but would immediately go to the beautifully wrapped packages on the bed. This also works in other ways. Find something positive for them to focus on - a centerpiece, or even if it's the current book you're reading and start a conversation about that. Hospitality is about warmth and love, not "fancy" and "perfect". See, I'm learning!

Amy @ Designing a Life I Love said...

I blogged my story today, about being a reluctant entertainer. Thanks again for these stories.

I truly am normal. . . who knew!?!?

kirwin said...

The only time we entertain is when it's for one of the kid's birthdays -- then, we only have family over. I'm comfortable making mistakes in front of family, but I feel like it has to be perfect for non-family guests. Sadly, the result is that we don't.

I have wanted to host a tea party for my girlfriends, for ever since I can remember. I have collected the most beautiful mis-matched antique tea cups, and etc...but they've never been used.

Gina said...

What a great reminder-sometimes I feel so paralyzed with what I feel I need to do make things perfect for guests. It's more about being together and enjoying each other's company-it doesn't matter so much what's served or what the house looks like (though I try to clean!) Thanks for sharing Melissa and Sandy!

Pinky said...

First of all I didn't have any trouble with the link from YOUR blog to here.... my problems with entertaining are that I try TOO hard, want everything perfect and make myself alittle crazy sometimes, even to the point of losing sleep! Ay yi yi! However I do REALLY enjoy "doing" my table. I love to "tablescape", and unfortunately sometimes the food is second on my list:(. But in the spring and summer I can always rely on my DH to do something on the grill and I have no problem with the sides. I have someone bring a dessert and we are good to go! This is a great post, I love Melissa's blog and am so glad I now found this one! Pinky

amanda said...

I'm right there with Melissa. I loathe cooking... but I can be inspired to create something when I'm wanting to entertain! My favorite part? Setting the table! Mind you, I still keep it simple... because this isn't an every day occurrence... but I do love to try. :)

Connie said...

I too have entertained more because of Sandy's example and her just do it type of entertaining. I don't enjoy cooking but just do it. Thank goodness for a mom and friends with good recipes that I use when I entertain and everyone thinks I am a great cook. I still lack on the centerpiece and theme dept. but we have a good time and I enjoy people coming over to visit. I like it simple and use pretty paper/plastic plates and cups especially in summer. Thanks Melissa for sharing and love your blog too! Connie

Pam D. said...

I have a different problem then most on here. I am single, and all my friends are married with lots of kids. I always feel like there isn't enough table room and I feel awkward being a single host to so many at a time. If I invite just one family, it can be up to 10 people. They are related, so I feel like if I have one family, I need to schedule another day for the other family. Complicated! Sometimes I just break it into girls only. But then I feel like I am leaving husbands and younger kids out. Also, working full time (which they don't), I am brain dead at the end of a day, so usually I only have them over during Christmas when I'm off. That leaves a lot of other days in the year when I'd love to entertain...but another hampering factor is that no one else seems available to come on spur of the moment since they are so busy, so that means planning way in advance. And even when I do, they usually have something else to run off to. What's a single "girl" to do? :) Actually, I do enjoy cooking, but it's hard to afford for so many as well...

Blushing hostess said...

Well done, though I am admittedly a fierce perfectionist, I appreciate your perspective.

momof3girls said...

Thank you for sharing your story!

I think as hostesses we are often critical of ourselves, too hard, we would never judge or criticize a friend like we do ourselves!

I just love going to friends homes! When we go to a friends house we go to visit, and enjoy being with them. Some of my friends are "Martha's" others are not I usually just enjoy going to their homes because their homes are an extensionn of them.

Myrnie said...

Great post, as always, Melissa :) We moved to the area a year ago, and about 4 months after our move decided we weren't meeting enough people so we started inviting a new family over every week (either from church, work, or the neighborhood.) I end up making either pinto beans, chili, or pizza every time...and I've just had to learn that's OK! The Johnsons don't know I served the Jones the same thing last week, and if anybody asks what they can bring I tell them a salad :) (But, I will admit we mostly invite over "with child" families, so I don't feel quite so self-conscious about the toys on the floor, plastic dishes in the sink, and bike on the deck. Because I know they're not going anywhere!)

Noelle said...

I love to cook. however, with four kids it seems it no longer is a love it is a chore. so i find myself cooking one thing that is really great for a party and then 'fake it' for the rest of the food; costco is amazing for this. and for my house, we've been in school for 12 years so if people don't like my goodwill furniture than they just don't have to sit on it. :) but i do totally stress msyelf over how clean my house is. every room must be spotless. eventhough i know they won't see it. just in case. it's probably trying to make up for my heinous furnishing.

Launi said...

Well--I do love to cook, but my friends an I are very laid back people and so I like to make comfort food type meals that everyone will enjoy. One time we had a beautiful "Breakfast for Supper" where everyone brought their favorite breakfast item. We all hung out in the kitchen preparing our dishes and it was so fun! There was zero pressure because we were all the creators of the meal. Comfortable---that's the key for me.

Imelda@Inspired Simplicity said...

OMGosh this post is so very timely for me...I just hosted to great guests this weekend. Guests who are so close to perfection that I wanted everything to be perfect too for them. I truly love this post...it brought to light my own entertaining "hang ups" (we have pretty much the same entertaining story...I love to decorate and create ambiance but I don't like to cook)and I've realized that at the end of the "hosting" day, it doesn't really matter...all is good...it's all about enjoying the company...over some good Costco stuff (like freshly baked Nestle Toll House cookies:) The more we entertain, the more we feel comfortable with our own entertaining style, and the more we enjoy our company. Thanks!

Kimberpeas said...

What a great post! My problem is the space issue. We don't have a dining room and our drop-leaf table will seat 4, uncomfortably, in the living room once the couch and coffee table are moved. Hubby and I are working on it, though, by creating an outdoor entertaining area on a budget, over the next few months.

I do love to cook and the house is almost always company-ready (it's just the two of us, so it's easy), so we're ready to really start entertaining!

Lynne said...

My issue with entertaining is being too much of a perfectionist. I "obsess" about every detail before a party. My husband always tells me to relax! One thing I gave up is "super cleaning" the house before guests. Honestly, it just gets messy when you have a party, especially with kids. Now I just "super clean" after the party and put my house back in order then.
GREAT POST MELISSA!

Liz said...

A person after my own heart. I have never enjoyed cooking-I do it out of necessity. both of my brothers are better int he kitchen than I am and my mother can make food that is to die for. I just tell everyone that all "cooking" genes missed me.

Betsy said...

Sandy ~ I received my yummy looking appetizer prize today! How fun is that?? Thanks so much! Now I need to entertain! :)

Sandra Schwab said...

Wonderful post, Melissa! Thank you!

I'm not much of a cook either, and I find inviting people to lunch or dinner very stressful. So what I do instead is to invite them to tea. :-) I recently bought the mini tea cake and petit fours moulds from Nordic Ware, which lend a definite wow-factor even to the most simple cake. And what's even better: thanks to their itty-bitty mini size, you can easily stockpile the cakes in the freezer, and get them defrosted within 15 minutes (5 min + 10 min in the oven).

laurie53089 said...

Cleaning is one of my least favorite things to do. I can always find an excuse not to. so entertaining friends brings me to a place where power cleaning is good! Cooking is an okay thing with me. If it's my lady friends my quick and tasty chicken salad is always a winner, even if they've had it before. For us it's not so much about the food but the fellowship and the laughs we enjoy.

Thank you for the teacup idea. I rarely use the little coffee cups that go with my dishes (which by the way used to be my good ones only and now are everyday dishes). I will try votives in them this next time my friends come over.

Kirstin said...

I think my limitation is in the home ambience part of it all. Not my lack of knowing, but my lack of $$$ to do it. yet at the same time, I do what I can with what I have. I have to work on not allowing myself to compare myself with others.

I love having an open home and don't want little insecurities to stop me.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I used to have a beautiful formal dining room that had French doors attached. I loved that room and I could set the table ahead of time and be all ready for company.

Now I have a small home with a tiny "dining room area. It stopped me from having lots of people over at first.

Then last May, we hosted an open house for my son's high school graduation. We bought an extra table for the deck (just a $99.00 set from Menards to go with our other small set) and borrowed a long table from friends.

I don't know why it took me so long to realize I DO have a big dining room... the deck!

gina said...

Hmmm. I don't cook but fortunately my hubs does. I like things fun and casual. I don't have sit down dinners because they intimidate me. Plus with such a range in ages (my girls are 4-14) it's easier to plan little pockets of fun for different aged friends here and there.

nee said...

My husband once invited about a dozen Mexican nationals, who were training at his plant, over for dinner. Only one spoke a little English. We set up a couple of long tables in the driveway and cooked out! It was such a blast and they appreciated visiting a home, with food that was real. They even showed us how they roast corn on the cob and the jalapeno peppers that I had set out on the tables. Fun!

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

Thanks everyone for opening up your hearts and sharing your stories! And thanks to Sandy for encouraging all of us to push past our insecurities to open our homes!

(and thanks for having me here Sandy!)

blessings,
Melissa

Anonymous said...

It helps me to remember to focus on others and not be self concious about myself. When i take my mind off me and what others *may* think and just think of ways to serve my guests and help them feel cared for. I have to many limitations, if i thought about them when askin folks over it would NEVER happen :-)!!tammy

PS~Erin said...

I loved reading this and had to link to it today. http://www.perfectsentiment.blogspot.com/

It's so easy to get wrapped up in it all and this was just such a nice and refreshing reminder.

THanks!