Posts Tagged ‘Entertaining’

I remember the Valentine’s Day cards of the 50’s – the ones we exchanged in grammar school (that’s what we called elementary school).  They were mostly funny, sweet, and complete with  sugary clichés.  The Valentine cards shown here are older and speak to a slightly different take on expressing affection.  Can you imagine the phone calls you’d get if you sent your child to school with these today?

Not your average Vegan Valentine!


Ain't Love Swell?

"Muddy Waters"

Vintage Violent Valentine

Chesterfields no less!

Fuzzy Worms?

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There are so many reasons to celebrate – of course if you listen to the news or read it online you might wonder whether you should party hard or not. How confusing!  “…the national debt is skyrocketing mortgage rates are at all time lows…unrest in the Middle East continues….President O’Bama announces troop withdrawl in Afghanistan…the polar ice cap is melting…scientists have cloned a sheep…and on and on and on and on.

I have a better idea!  Let’s  just celebrate!!! I found this vintage Hors D’oeuvre cookbook from 1981, written by two women from Santa Maria, CA.  The title caught my eye, Company’s Coming. I thumbed through it and fairly quickly determined there was hardly a recipe in there that I might make.  But then I noticed the first chapter was titled Planning It and as I began to read I found myself smiling and nodding –  this is great!

To quote the authors; ” We believe in entertaining 52 weeks of the year with a few days off  in between for getting back into shape, working, and planning the next party…”   “Our motto – ‘Any excuse for a party is a good one’ – is demonstrated by the following list of ideas for giving an hors d’oeuvre party’ .”

According to my calculations we are in the 9th week of the year.  The cookbook lists a reason for celebrating each week and as I read through the list, I realized a couple of holidays and celebrations have been moved around.  For instance, Super Bowl Sunday now takes place in February and not January and the Oscars have been pushed back too.  However, I would like to keep to their schedule so if along the way you notice the dates are off a bit you’ll know why.

Here are their first 9 weeks of ideas and hey, the way I look at it, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t play catch-up!

  1. WACKO – (Willey’s Annual Convention of Krackpots in Orcutt) – Happy New Year!
  2. NEW YEAR’S DAY – Recovered from last night in time to watch parade and get our second wind for the Bowl games.
  3. BREAKING NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS – Ours never last any longer than this.
  4. P.O.P. – “Pity Old Pop” for now he has to figure out how to pay all those holiday bills.
  5. SUPERBOWL – We decorate the house with our favorite team’s colors
  6. HOBO – Since we are so poor, we eat out of tin cans and drink from Mason jars.  Dressing the part is always fun.
  7. GROUND HOG DAY – Whether we see our shadows or not, it’s another excuse to party.
  8. PRESIDENTS – Everyone gets in the act.  We come as our favorite President or First Lady and try to guess who’s who.
  9. VALENTINE’S DAY – It’s a real romantic night…Keep an eye on your spouse!
  10. 50’S – Dust off the old 45’s and your records too!

So now you have many reasons to celebrate and as you can see, the party doesn’t have to be BIG, or elaborate – maybe just another couple or a few friends over.  Time to put JOY back in our lives – CELEBRATE!

The 50’s will be easy for me – I might just rock and roll to a few tunes with Peter in our living room.  And those of you who know us, know that we definitely have the 45’s and the record player aka turntable to play them on.  Probably also those clever little yellow discs.

yellow disks, 45 rpm records

45 RPM Record Disks


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Central Park,snow day,

Big Dog Little Dog

photo by Murray Head

duck feathers, Central Park

Just Ducky

photo by Murray Head

red dress, only in New York, red lady, new york crazy, mystic

I Hear Voices

photo by Murray Head

stop light, New York city, Fifth Ave, Stop hand


photo by Murray Head

cross country skiers, Central Park, New York city

Who Needs Snow?

photo by Murray Head

American Heart Month, Valentine’s Day – RED is everywhere!

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Because it’s almost Valentine’s Day and what could be more appropriate than the RED the universal color for a heart!  Not to mention that February is American Heart Month so for the next couple of weeks, you can expect RED to be popping up here and there.


new york city melting pot, Asian boy,

All Wrapped Up in RED love

Photo by Murray Head

Salvation army singer, New York city, Christmas in New York

Singing for Salvation

Photo by Murray Head


red berries, bird in Central Park

Berry Good


photo by Murray Head

bleached blonde, black dress, red lipstick

Red is the Color of My True Love's Lips

photo by Murray Head


cardinal, sparrows, Central Park,winter birds

Standing Out in the Crowd

Photo by Murray Head


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As you who have been reading faithfully know, my daughter Chiara, (apple of my eye and direct fall from the tree) threw NOT ONE BUT TWO fabulous parties in ONE day and night.  She outdid herself and of course along the way exhausted herself.  The previous blogs talk about the extensive planning, listing, ordering, directing, setting up, picking up, and overall GC . In case you’re wondering what a GC is, that’s the person in charge of the whole development project.  She’s the one who imagines, plans, orders, directs and sub-contracts EVERYTHING.   I give you this prologue because amongst the party-giving, entertaining and cooking women I know, we all have the same complaint:  Our husbands are guests at their own parties!!

My husband, Peter is not only a guest at our parties, he’s practically a guest in our home as well.  Brought up as the first-born in dare I say a Jewish family although it is exactly the same for those first-born males in an Italian family (believe I know!), Peter sees every task in the household as someone else’s,  not sure who he thinks the someone else is….   Well apparently Tom, Chiara’s husband falls into the same category.  What happened on P-Day (Saturday) pretty much exemplifies what I’m saying;  Chiara is up with the baby early and trying to get out to get a last-minute manicure BEFORE more of the delivery people show up with ice, cakes, cupcakes, balloons and MORE… Tom, on the other hand says,”Can’t your Mom (that’s Gigi/me) watch Finley so I can go out for a run”?  I’m not going to retell the rest of what verbally transpired because I’m trying to keep my PG rating and it was tough enough to do so given the Latex,Leather and Lace blog!  Well you get the picture and I’m sure many of you have similar tales (and by the way, you can send them to me to be printed here)!!  This article appeared in the New York Times in 1996 – I cut it out then because, well you know why and since that was over 14 years ago, things haven’t really changed much.  Enjoy!

When a Husband Is a Guest At His Own Dinner Party

Published: April 3, 1996

I HAVE always admired those masterly men who know how to be the host of a dinner party. They stock the bar, fix the drinks, pass the hors d’oeuvres, advise their wives on the entree, perhaps even drift into the kitchen to casually assemble a trademark salad or to flambe a dessert.

My husband, Jay, isn’t anything like that.

He has come a long way since the night, early in our courtship, when he cooked dinner for me by spearing two frankfurters with a fork and singeing them over an open gas flame in his sublet kitchen. Now, he can make pancakes and birthday cakes and a few family specialties.

But when we have guests, Jay’s specialty is acting like a guest at his own party. He exclaims over the hors d’oeuvres, because he had nothing to do with their preparation and hasn’t seen them before. Ditto for the main course. He is usually so deep in conversation that I commandeer a male guest to open and pour the wine. Jay keeps his end of the table enthralled during dinner so that I feel guilty about interrupting him to ask for help in clearing the table and so do it myself. By the end of the party, after we have said good night to our guests, I’m exhausted and Jay is still sparkling.

“I had a great time,” he declares with genuine satisfaction. “Why don’t we give more parties?”

Even at moments like that, I am more amused than angry. He’s not really a shirker, I tell myself. This tendency to be a guest at his own parties is a minor flaw, like his inexplicable cravings for cherry Jello or his passion for “Star Trek” and other science fiction.

For a long time, I thought I had the only husband who was a guest at his own parties. Then a couple of years ago, an older couple invited us to a summer party on the patio, a farewell for a mutual friend to be transferred overseas. The nominal host sat on his hands for four hours, regaling guests with his own experiences abroad, most of them either instructive or amusing, while his wife kept the party going. She prepared the coals, scurried back and forth to the kitchen to freshen drinks, grilled the butterflied leg of lamb and fetched the ratatouille.

A telling moment came, I thought, as the salad course appeared and the host discovered there was something crucial missing.

“Dear, you forgot the dressing,” he called to his wife, who somewhat sullenly returned to the kitchen.

By dessert, she was steaming. The other women and I were taking turns helping her clear each course, and as I walked into the kitchen with a tray full of coffee cups, she was loading the dishwasher for the second time. And she was muttering curses I hadn’t heard since I worked in a print shop.

A month later, we heard that our host and hostess had separated, and that she was filing for divorce. I asked my husband, “Do you suppose being a guest at your own parties is grounds for divorce?”

“That’s not funny,” Jay said.

It’s not that serious for us, not yet anyway. Maybe that’s because we can sometimes afford to invite guests to restaurants, maybe because our daughter Kate loves parties and willingly lends a hand, maybe because, after almost 29 years of marriage, I have learned to accept Jay as he is, a nice guy who will never tend bar or assemble hors d’oeuvres.

I no longer consult him on party menus. His suggestions are — how shall I say this? — predictable. As I pore over cookbooks, looking for an alternative to the spinach soup and chicken marbella I have prepared at least a hundred times, he always says to me: “Why don’t we just have your lasagna? Everybody loves your lasagna.” I do make lasagna for the kids, but I haven’t fixed it for guests since graduate school, when we often invited 50 people to our one-bedroom apartment and never kept track of how many showed up.

And I don’t discuss dessert with him, either. “You can’t beat really good vanilla ice cream,” he says. “Doll it up with berries or sauce if you have to.” I maintain my Zen-like silence.

Of course, I don’t want him to feel left out entirely. So, at our last party, where as usual I cooked, set the table and cleared every course for 10 adults and four children, I made it clear that I wanted him to clean up.

Two guests, both old friends of mine, stayed and chatted with me as I propped my feet on a chair and leisurely ate a leftover dessert.Meanwhile, Jay stacked plates in the dishwasher, tackled a mountain of dirty pots and pans and emptied ashtrays. He washed the silver by hand. He spotcleaned the tablecloth with Spray ‘n’ Wash. By 1:30 A.M., when the last guests finally headed for the door, Jay looked uncharacteristically cranky.

“I had a great time!” I exclaimed. “Why don’t we give more parties?

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