Monday, December 6, 2010

Hospitality from the Heart

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Oh my gosh you guys!  Remember how I told you that Lockheart gave me a purse for hosting their contest?  Well, I've only taken her out on the town twice now.  And I've stained her!  The only part that makes it okay is that the stain is from melted butter and marshmallow and it came from a delicious treat that I got to eat.  The other night my friend, Erika, invited me to another friend's house for a little holiday get together that they throw every year.  The event is hosted by a mother and daughter team and they teach simple entertaining ideas and fun craft ideas for Christmas.  

Ginny Lukei and Erin Schofield have been holding these events in their homes for years.  They gather friends and acquaintances and try to show them that entertaining doesn't need to be scary and can, in fact, be fun.  Aside from delicious recipes, they share family stories, testimony of how God has blessed their lives and it was an evening I will always remember.  Ginny and Erin are the type of people that just have the gift of hosting.  You can tell that it comes naturally to them.  The part that is really prompting me to write this post, though, is something Ginny talked about that evening and that is the art of true hospitality.  While some of us fancy ourselves as "entertainers" even we forget what it means to be truly hospitable.  

To start off the night, Ginny shared a few quotes that she had come across during her years of giving her home parties.  Here is the one that really stopped me in my tracks:

"To invite a person into your home is to take charge of his happiness as long as he is under your roof."
-Susan Branch

Whoa.  So often, we get so caught up in the details of what were are doing that we forget what our true role as a hostess should be.  I am totally guilty of this.  Should I be concerned with having the coolest playlist or most unique theme for my get togethers or should I make sure that people feel welcome and comfortable in my home?  And do I immediately jump up right after dinner to clean the dishes so they aren't carried away by ants and I can get to bed, or do I relax with my guests and share as many minutes as I can with them?  I think I am going to start looking at the way I entertain my guests in this new way.  If I am overwhelmed and worked up about having people over, then I'm doing it wrong.  Would the guests even notice if I didn't put out the right cheese knife?  Would they notice if I didn't have the right wine glass?  But would they notice if I was giving their happiness my utmost concern?  You betcha.  So I ask you all to remember that, as we have party after holiday party.  Relax, enjoy and take care of your guest's happiness as if your party depends on it.  

And now on to the good stuff.  These are my favorite desserts of the evening.  Ginny and Erin know the power of a good handout and when I saw something called "Wine Cake" they had my attention.  I tried making a champagne cake long ago to less than pleasant results.  This, on the other hand, is going to be a new Christmas tradition for my family.  It is made with Sherry (not cooking sherry you cheapos, buy some good drinking stuff) and tons of nutmeg.  It's moist and sweet and you feel like you should be eating it at holiday time.  There are tons of different versions of this cake online and it is really easy!  Best made in a bundt pan, I rushed out (well, over to my computer) and bought one (non-teflon) to make this the very next day.  I CAN'T WAIT!  I have not asked Ginny if I can print her recipe (it varies just slightly from some I read online) but if you have tried the other and still want to see if it can be better, email me and I will get her permission to give it to you.

These little bundles of joy are called "Balloon Buns" but Ginny and Erin make them in to Santa's Sacks for Christmas.  Basically, you take a premade biscuit, roll it out, add butter, a marshmallow, cinnamon and sugar and back (p.s. the ribbon is the $1 ribbon from Michaels and totally doesn't melt of catch on fire in the oven).  This is what caused the nasty stain on my new purse.  For a moment, I thought about trying to lick it clean, but I was meeting some new people and thought they might not approve.  Again, lot's of variations online for this recipe.  I actually modified it slightly and made these for my food allergic son on Saturday.  This is the closest thing he has had to a cinnamon roll and he told me they were "gooder than good."  I will be making these again for him (and me) very soon.

Ginny and Erin also made a trifle, some 3 ingredient cookies, those pretzel/rolo melts, and a fruit cobbler.  I loved that there message was it doesn't have to be hard to be good.  Which also came through in the simple crafts they demonstrated.  

I had an amazing time, learned a lot and came away with a new attitude on entertaining.  I am grateful to Erika for bringing me along and for Ginny and Erin for graciously inviting all of us in to their homes for the evening.  I think about what a great example Erin is setting for the 4 daughters she is raising (I KNOW - and she has a son who is 4 weeks old and she looks like she just stepped out of a Banana Republic ad!) and know that they will carry on the tradition of hospitality with heart that they have learned from two amazing hostesses.  

Happy Holidays Ginny and Erin!  

(and I can't tell if my spell check is working or not so I apologize if my poor letter placement has offended anyone).

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