Parisienne Farmgirl Entertains

Jul 7, 2011 | Parisienne Farmgirl Entertains | 23 comments

We recently had a friend of Joel’s and his fiancé over for dinner.

We have gone thru quite an entertaining famine around here…
Aside from my girls’ birthdays  I have taken little opportunity to set a table, create a menu, decant a bottle of wine…
I guess you go thru seasons like that with babies, small children and a hubby who works evenings but I sure have missed it.
For a creative type you always wonder how many stops to pull out, at least I do when I don’t really know the person.  I think maybe it comes from a bit of insecurity that took root as a young bride years ago… We had some friends of Joel’s over for dinner, it was such a cozy night, I set my table as best I could with what little we had and lit a TON of candles.  I was so proud to be entertaining.  The friend made a crack that when they pulled up he thought we were celebrating Hanukkah.  

I was young.  Maybe 20/21.

The guys’ comments hurt.  It hurt that my new husband didn’t say something to take me off the hook like, “Didn’t she do a great job?”
Funny little things stick with you don’t they?
You know how it is if you are “one of those people” – the one your friends tease as Martha Stewart or even worse, Susie Homemaker (I find that so offensive)… and I guess since then I have always felt a little weird about wanting to express myself when entertaining.  I love it, it thrills me, but it’s never been without a bit of insecurity.

 Those details that are SO fun… are they going to be considered as “showing off” or over the top… will they go un-noticed?  Because, really, as an old friend and I once discussed, it’s those details that show our affection and love for the people we are serving and entertaining.  It’s our way of saying,
“I’m so happy you are here.  Please, sit down, experience, relax and enjoy.”

So, this recent dinner party,  it was a weeknight and I held it in a little bit…
I didn’t write up a menu on my favorite little menu papers or on the blackboard, I didn’t use fancy paper for my place cards – I kept it simple – having a little fun with pretty edible flowers on the salads, a simple bouquet from the late spring garden and themed items from around the house… it was a wonderful night.  The meal came out perfectly, the conversation flowed and it was great to get my feet wet again.

This evenings menu…
My “signature” Pork Loin with Gorgonzola sauce (thank you Sarah for the inspiration!) semi-crisp “haricot verts”, salad from the garden with chive flowers and johnny jump ups, homemade vinaigrette, biscuits with herbs de provence and my Blackberry/Grapefruit with Sauternes cake to be featured in Fifi’s new book next fall!

Oh!  How I have missed having guests.

I have an invitation out for a Potager luncheon with some French friends of ours and my dear friend Molly.  Years ago we would all meet every Saturday morning for “French Class” …no matter how late we had been out dancing the night before I could always spring out of bed with excitement for French class!- but families grow, people move away (even if it’s just twenty miles) and times change.  A decade sure can fly by.   I am really looking forward to entertaining out on the flagstone, with the fountain, the shade of the apple trees and the clucking of the chickens in the background.

My wheels are spinning!

So, “Parisienne Farmgirl Entertains” will be a new feature around here.  Challenging myself creatively, keeping my heart soft towards others (I can let life get me down/stressed and it ends up that having people over sounds like more of a burden than fun…), friends stay and some come and go… but I don’t ever want to go thru an entertaining desert again!

How about you?
Is it time to make a hot pot of coffee and open your home?


  1. claudia b

    So charming!!! I love entertaining – and yeah, I love pulling out the stops for my guests. I recently made a set of 16 napkins because I couldn’t find the right color I wanted.

  2. à la parisienne

    Funny how chandeliers seem to attract ornaments hanging from ribbon. Just this past spring I finally removed all of the vintage silver ornaments from our diningroom chandy that were originally put there two years prior as Christmas décor! I just had to laugh that I’m not the only one that does that.

    My French-speaking friend, Brenda, and her husband are about the only friends that we have that would eat anything interesting (she’s actually the first person who ever inspired me to cook French cuisine). Most of my friends have very picky eaters for husbands which makes it very difficult for me to even want to invite them over. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes just don’t make me giddy. So, yes, I’ve been in an entertaining desert as well. Peut-être, je téléphonerai Brenda…on peut dîner, on peut parler français…


  3. Joannah

    I’ve never done much entertaining here because I don’t have a dining room. When Michael was here, I was hopeful that we’d be able to buy a home with a dining room and have family and friend over now and then. Now, I’m lucky to put something in the microwave most nights. Little babies seem to have a knack for being needy when it’s time to eat! I will boast that I made a delicious “Kitchen Clambake” for my family on the Fourth. It was doable because my sister held the baby, and I had the luxury of cooking in my mom’s kitchen.

    I’d love to be a guest in your home! You set such a lovely table and are obviously such a wonderful cook! It would be delightful, I’m sure!

  4. Tamra

    I too miss entertaining. Since moving to “the Barn” 5 years ago it’s only been in the last year that I was able to unpack the good stuff and have people over. But with the outside still in a total mess (scaffolding still up outside, sigh) and no landscaping I’ve yet to any other entertaining than my immediate family.

    Your table looked lovely, I’m sure the food was fabulous and yes you are right, it’s a way of saying “I’m so glad you’re here”.

    Looking forward to more of this series!

  5. tracybradford

    Yep! I intentionally took a break when we first moved back to the states. 18 months of entertaining overnight guest for about 85% of the time was enough, and I needed a break! But, just this past week, I’ve been baking like Betty Crocker and cooking up a storm. Dinner for 20 last Tuesday, and individual families here and there in between!

    The best inspirtation that I’ve found was As Always, Julia, a book that documents the letters between Julia Child and Avis DeVoto (her East coast penpal). Super inspiring (just like your blog)! There is a fabulous line from Julia about serving the meal with a smile, no matter what happened in the kitchen (even if the cat fell into the stew!)

    Thanks for this great reminder. I love the way you think and really appreciate the way you share.

    Now, we are off to Louisiana for some great cajun food. Beignets, here we come!

  6. Mandy

    ohhhhhkaaaayyyy. i am so trying to give myself over to this. it’s just so stinkin’ hard with 4 lil ones underfoot and an ‘imperfect’ home. i always want to entertain…then i feel too overwhelmed with making it just right and i give up. i’ll be looking forward to this:) and i guess i’m strange, i love it when i get called Susie Homemaker! i wear the label with pride:D!

  7. Karena

    Your table looks just gorgeous!! The menu, yum would love your recipe for the pork loin!

    Art by Karena

  8. Heather B

    I do love to ‘entertain’, too, although a don’t enjoy a lot of attention on myself. Unfortunately, I married into a family that doesn’t appreciate any of it. Neither does my husband! My sails have all been deflated these past 15 years. For my twins first birthday I made a giant meal for family with 2 homemade muffalettas, an olive bar, fresh fruit, and other various things. My husband told me it was all ridiculous and his family ate very little of it all. And even for dinners, my husband says that he is just as happy eating Hamburger Helper as anything else I get “crazy at making”. And I won’t even discuss our first Easter.

    On a side note, any advice for feeling comfortable in my efforts and perhaps making them all appreciate what I do for meals?

  9. Stephanie

    This resonated with me. I think as a young bride, I was fearless with entertaining and so excited to get to do such a grown up thing. Fast forward 16 years later and I’ve slacked off after being burned a few times by comments of guests for dinner or poor behavior by guests at a party and a girl can get cynical. I miss it actually and need to start entertaining again. I’m excited for your posts about this.

    (I think I need a new guest list 🙂 )

  10. Oie

    oh how I love pretty tablescapes! I’m with you on the entertaining front. I always try something new and experiment with guests. But you’re right babies and little one make it difficult to carry it out at times! However there are alot of pretty tablescapes in my imagination that I will try one day!!
    p.s. Husbands will do that to you!! He probably didn’t even notice the comment let alone the way it affected you. Sometimes you need a big sledge hammer – or a firm kick under the table!

  11. Kate

    I really like to entertain, however I too have the problem of people either thinking I’ve gone to too much trouble or am showing off. Which I’m not. I always thought you were supposed to be warm, welcoming and make effort for your guests. They think I’m doing something over the top, but I’ve tried explaining that my husband is used to the same treatment!

    However, I really do need to worry less about my house and more about my hospitality and just invite people over for coffee and dessert more often. It would save a ton of money since we’re always going out for that!

  12. kathi @ traybella

    love your post today. so glad to see that i’m not alone on this topic. love, love, love to entertain and like you have some hesitation as to how far to go as far as decorating for the event. i’ve been known to rearrange my enitre main living area…for a dinner party. just have learned to invite those that know i’m a wee bit crazy and do appreciate the effort that goes into entertaining. for those that need to ask “does martha live here?” read the rock by the front step…it says “martha doesn’t live here”. cheers! to entertaining, beautiful tablescapes and to the women who can pull this off for their beautiful friends that can appreciate it.

  13. Kate

    And I too hate Susie Homemaker… quite possibly because it’s often said to me by my mother as in “oh, isn’t that cute?”

  14. Jacque Ferreira

    Wonderful candid inspiration! I have had many large events at my home with friends and business mixed and that is fun… but I miss the smaller intimate type of entertaining like you wrote about. I have been wanting to do the same… thank you for such a nice inspiring post ~ Jacque

  15. Mari

    Angela, again, your styling and food choices make me want to cry. I’d give my right pinkie to be invited to one of your soirees. 🙂 Just keep doing what you do, those in the know appreciate it and know it comes from the heart. 🙂

    Heather B! Your post breaks my heart…. but I know people are hard to change so maybe you just have to reframe your direction. If they aren’t “fancy” eaters and don’t appreciate the nicer things you do, then keep it gorgeously simple and throw in those loving touches where/when you can. (Though homemade muffelettas sounds divine, can I have one? ) I actually appreciate that I don’t have to stress myself out doing more work than is necessary sometimes. 🙂 Example, a simple grilled tri-tip with a salt and pepper crust for those that like it simple, then a beautiful sauce on the side for those that want to start to get “fancy”. Angela’s biscuits w/ herbs sound like a winner on both sides too. Does that make sense? Just throwing it out there. 🙂

  16. RobinfromCA

    Your table is wonderful and your love of entertaining is to be envied by so many! Keep up the good work and don’t let those who don’t appreciate take away your enjoyment! Go forth and conquer! Can’t wait to see what the future holds!

  17. Blondie's Journal

    I feel a lot like Stephanie…I used to entertain like crazy with babies crawling around at my feet. I had to retain part of “Me” and a grown up life. I’ve been in a slump of late and notice that I worry more when I have parties. I guess I have to get back into the waters instead of just dipping my toes in!

    Your table looked lovely!


  18. Meredith

    Such rich colors–just lovely!

    I feel the same reluctance and force myself to do less after a friend confessed she felt like she couldn’t have me over without fresh flowers and something home baked. Of course I wanted to cry because sharing my garden and my kitchen with friends is (for me) the fun, creative part of entertaining!

  19. africanaussie

    I love what you did to the cloth! and your plates match everything so well – it looks lovely. I too used to do a lot of entertaining, but married into a family that is just not that comfortable with it. Every now and then I will insist we entertain and then go all out – a curry evening for instance with all the Indian style decorations. that keeps me going for a while.

  20. Kristie

    Your table looks so lovely, and how lucky your guest were to have you entertain! I have yet to entertain a dinner though I’ve semi hosted a lunch, but made it a potluck where my friend brought a dish as well. I can’t wait to see what you have in store to inspire me! Perhaps in your new feature you can also list the recipes for the items you make? I do love a good new recipe. 🙂

  21. Jenny

    Everything looks simply gorgeous and delicious….show your entertaining/hospitality gifts with no pause…they are most certainly a gift from God and if I ever had the pleasure to be a recipient of your hospitality, I tell you, they would bring tears to my eyes. I myself have random flair for such things but a couple of Christmases ago I pulled out all the stops and had a Ladies appreciation afternoon Christmas tea, and where I did enjoy the oooh and ahhhs, what cheered me best was having a group of women I dearly love about me, enjoying each other, the food and encouraging each other….Be blessed Angela!

  22. My Casa Bella

    Table looks beautiful. I remember my FIRST dinner party. I was still at home, dating my now husband, I was 18 years old, made lasagna, spinach salad, garlic bread and a dessert. I was so excited, my mother helped very little because I told her I wanted to do it myself. We had 6 people altogether. Everything went well, my mom was proud and my boyfriend was impressed, BUT, the couple we had over evidently were not as much. The wife told my boyfriend, that next time I make a spinach salad, I should remove the stems she found it unappealing! I was so mad, and my mother wanted to ring her neck when I told her. That was 18 years ago and my hubby and I still remember that stupid comment, when I make a spinach salad my hubby will tease me about removing the stems…lol

  23. Barbara

    I had to post before I even finished reading your entire piece. I get the Martha, Ina, Suzy comment all the time and it REALLY irks me! I usually say, “Yes, I taught her everything she knows!”. But that does not make me feel any better. Way to totally trvialize my creativity, desire to genuinely please my friends and guests, let alone all my hard work. Sorry for the rant… Sigh. Love your creativity and thank you for sharing it with us.


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