Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Birth of "Eats and Beats"

Any of you who host as a hobby know that there's an entertaining itch. However often you get it entirely depends on you, but if you're a host, you do inevitably get it. The first time I got the itch as a married woman was within two weeks of moving into our unfinished townhouse in DC. We hadn't replaced the torn-out carpet of the top floor, our wooden stairs were unfinished and unpainted, nearly all of our belongings were still in boxes, our bed was in the dining room, many of our outlets were without covers, our walls were bare, and our kitchen cabinets had no doors. And, yet, I had the itch. ...as well as a husband that didn't understand what he had agreed to. Easter was approaching and I knew a lot of our friends would be in town at least for the week leading up to the holiday. So, I sent out the invitations and then got to work. I figured out a menu- I believe we had deviled eggs and artichoke dip w/ baguettes as our starters, followed by salad, spiced ham, blue cheese mashed potatoes, and roasted asparagus, and an Easter-themed cupcake swap as a take-home dessert.  I created my shopping and to-do lists and laid out a simple timeline.  For days before the dinner I could be found changing out doorknobs, installing new light fixtures, painting trim that I had missed, and cleaning (and re-cleaning) the floors where dust was settling from all of the remodeling.  The night before the party came, and boxes were still everywhere, including the ones that held all of my kitchen gear.  Oh, and did I mention that our dining room table was up in Maryland?  Are you feeling stressed just reading this?

It gets worse.

Since I was so busy getting the house, kitchen and food ready, I needed Shawn to go up to Maryland to get the table and chairs. But the only person we knew who had a truck we could borrow was in Maryland.  So he had to drive up, pick up the truck, pick up the table set (along with some other furniture we had stored there) drop everything off at the townhouse, go back up to Maryland to give back the truck, get in our car, and drive back down.  Ah... the worst laid plans...  In an effort to be as efficient with this inconvenient trip as possible, Shawn packed the truck pretty tightly. So tightly that the door of the truck bed popped off causing him to lose mid-highway one of our nightstands and his desire to live. That's an exaggeration.  But it was 1 a.m. by the time he managed to return the truck, so he opted to stay up in Maryland for the night. Sensing his frustration, and knowing that it was almost entirely my fault and that I was going to need his help again in the morning, I got to work while he was away. I moved the bed upstairs, assembled the table, set the table (a day-ahead-of-time must when hosting,) and hung pictures on the walls. I wanted to make him feel like his efforts had been worth it. But as hard as I tried, there were still boxes to be moved out of sight and I needed him to pick up the baguettes from the store. Needless to say, he wasn't as enthused as I was with the project, but he stuck by me nonetheless.

Amazingly, the food was coming along on schedule, and, though I was running on little sleep, I was in a sprightly mood. The guests arrived shortly after I began running my playlist. I handed each a glass as they walked in and encouraged them to choose from the selection at the drink station I'd set up. They enjoyed each other's company while sampling the appetizers, and before too long we all moved to the table for the main affair, which was delicious, if I do say so myself. The night continued into one of the most memorable we've ever had with them, culminating in the exchange of warm hugs and some very clever cupcakes.

Pulling this night together was an unusual amount of work because of its timing, and I assure you, hosting does not need to be this stressful. Since then I have learned a lot of valuable lessons.  I enjoy hosting now as much as I did several years ago, but now I know how to do it in a way that makes it much more seamless and doable so that the process of creating the event is as much fun as the event itself.

I've poured over ingredients, table settings, serving dishes, songs, themes, and interviews of my favorite chefs, weeding out what I consider clich├ęd and outdated, appreciating the best that I can find, and creating what I can't find, in hopes that my efforts will result in the most "oooooo's" and "mmmmm's" I can possibly muster out of my guests. Perhaps I shouldn't admit how much of my free time is spent doing this. I do not wish to give anyone the impression that I have perfected the art of hosting. I haven't. But since this is one of my great loves, maybe all my obsessing has resulted in something worth sharing? Either way, here it is. "eats and beats:" a blog of my menus, music, and hosting tips for you to take and make your own so that entertaining can become one of your great loves too.

Welcome, and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. This caused me so much stress, and at the same time made me really laugh.

    ReplyDelete