Introduction | Excerpt from Entertaining at Home:
As a child, while most of my friends played with dolls, or pretended to be teachers, I hosted imaginary dinner parties in my parents’ dining room. Apple juice with a touch of Sprite became Champagne, while chopped black olives served in crystal bowls doubled as caviar. If I was feeling particularly extravagant, I would layer Cool Whip over Jell-O in shallow wine glasses. Being alone in the sunlit room, admiring my creations and staring at a china closet full of treasures, filled me with a sense of pride and endless possibilities.
I especially loved holiday meals. For Thanksgiving, I would always insist that my family members wear their “fancy” clothes for dinner—my younger sisters rolled their eyes. And at Christmastime, I was all about red velvet dresses for the girls—Pappagallo, Laura Ashley, Jessica McClintock—and if a dress had a large lace collar, so much the better.
I was fortunate to grow up in a household that loved hosting family and friends. From baby showers and movie nights to Sunday lunches with the preacher, my mom and dad would invite everyone and anyone into our home. Their celebrations were never pretentious, and they always adopted a more-the-merrier philosophy. An extra plate could easily be added to any table.
In my early twenties, I met my mentor, Elizabeth Shouse. Walking into her home for the first time was otherworldly. I had never witnessed such beauty or opulence, not to mention her spectacular collection of china, silver, and crystal. A massive antique Baccarat chandelier, suspended high above the mahogany table, cast color around the room. Deep pink, raw silk drapes mirrored the color of Mottahedeh Tobacco Leaf plates on display in the china cabinet and pale pink hand-blown stemware. I quickly went from babysitter to Elizabeth’s girl Friday. From polishing silver and peeling shrimp to setting the table and pouring wine, I loved it all.
It was also during this time that I learned to cook. Each weekend I would go to the library and checkout every Junior League cookbook I could get me hands on. I worked my way through them, eventually graduating to cookbooks by Lee Bailey and Chuck Williams. However, while there was an abundance of cookbooks, entertaining books were lacking. The few that did exist became regular reading. I would photocopy every page and create large binders filled with notes.
Around the same period, I discovered Bon Appétit and became obsessed with the magazine’s “Entertaining with Style” feature, produced by Bettie Bearden Pardee. I savored every word and clipped my favorite columns. Recently I came across a notebook filled with my handwritten notes and an outline for an entertaining book. Even though a dream, at twenty-one years old, I could have scarcely imagined that one day I would write my own tome.
Throughout the years I have been lucky to glean wisdom and inspiration from many talented people. However, this is not meant to be a volume on how to entertain properly, but rather a glimpse of real people at home nurturing friends and family. It is my hope that it is as much aspirational as it is inspirational. Ronda Carman
RULES: I will feature a Rizzoli book over the next 7 days. At the end of 7 days we will giveaway the books to a lucky winner! Simply leave a comment. It could be why you would love to have these books, or what you are reading right now to ease your mind. You can comment each day, and I hope you do, let’s all stay connected. And share with the link with a friend.
I would love to have this entertaining book to inspire my extended family entertaining.
Stay safe Claudia!
I would love books on entertaining and on decorating hand setting up festive tables. We entertain a lot because my husbands job calls for it, but I’m not a creative person. I would love to learn more so I can change up my tables for entertainment and get out of the same old, same old routine. ?
Thanks April!! Please be well and safe xo
I live for beauty! I try to bring beauty into everything I do or make. I believe it is my destiny to share beauty with my family and friends.
I love that Daphne!
I use to enjoy Junior League cookbooks , too!
Love my Jr League cookbooks!
I would love to have any of these books! Hopefully we will be moving to a new house in June and these books would be a great inspiration for decorating and entertaining!
A new house will give you something to look forward to during this time. Stay well and safe! x
I have always enjoyed making your soup recipes. Glad that you are back, I use to read your blog interviews from way back when you lived overseas. I also happen to enjoy any Jr. League cookbooks.
Helen, thank you so much!! And for coming back! Ronda xx
I enjoy using all of my Jr. League cookbooks, too! I have quite a few from different Louisiana leagues, like Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Covington, Monroe, plus Jackson, Mississippi, too!
I would love to have this book! I can always use a little more self confidence when entertaining. I also love beautiful books, and this one looks beautiful! Books just take your mind to a different place for a while, especially during these trying times. Stay safe!
Yes, thank goodness for books!
I am a Blue and White Girl! Love entertaining and entertaining books! Martha
I love beautiful tables, and I love delectable meals– You have put the two together, and the photos are spectacular! I’d love to see more!
I have loved to cook and entertain for more years than I want to acknowledge. I would love to add this boo to my small colleection
Is this where I sign up for the book give away? The pictures are absolutely breathtaking! I’d LOVE to have a copy!
I love to cook and set a beautiful table for special occasions. I have over 400 cookbooks and a lot of Junior League cookbooks, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Regional cookbooks just to name a few. I would love to have this book. I read cookbooks, garden books, etc. before I go to bed at night instead of novels.
What a beautiful book and beautiful subject matter to help us through our time as we “shelter at home”. Inspirational!
Looks like a wonderful book. I hope Scotland is featured somehow.