Monday, April 14, 2008

Nights at the Round Table

Entertaining is something I love to do. Over the years I've served dinner to family, friends and clergy in California, Louisiana, Texas and Colorado. I've collected up dishes, serving pieces and flatware to enhance most any celebration. I'm versatile in indoor or outdoor events as well as tackling small, intimate gatherings or larger shindigs. I entertain with tea parties, ice cream socials, barbeques or holiday dinners.

To pick up hints on entertaining in the best way possible, I have become a fan of author, Sally Quinn. Her biography on books tells us that she "was for many years a political reporter for The Washington Post, famous for her coverage of the social scene as well as national politics...her husband, Ben Bradlee, the former executive editor of The Washington Post."

The most recent book of Sally's that I have read inspired me to rethink my dinner table. When the children were young, I had a rather large table with two leaves that easily sat 8 to 10 people. When all the children had left home, I thought I'd be down-sizing so I passed the table on. I didn't realize I would still he hosting a growing family, only now one including in-laws of the children, grandchildren, college friends and other visitors.

At my last large holiday meal my guests were seated at two smaller tables put end to end. The table looked beautiful but it definitely hampered the conversation between everyone. Waving down the long table was the only way to connect with those at the far end.

Sally's book "The Party, a Guide to Adventurous Entertaining" had a paragraph that inspired me. It said "A five-foot round table is a good size because you can put four people or twelve at it. Twelve is a little tight, but I find people have a good time when they're jammed in together." And on another page: "The rounder and more generous a table, the better time guests generally have." And yet on another page: "Round tables are best for conversation. That's just a fact. Even with twelve people you can have a group conversation with a round table."

After reading this, I got it in my head that I "needed" to find a round table! Preferably one that was five-feet across. I already had a smaller round table and loved it but it wasn't round after I put a leaf in it. After starting my search for the perfect table, I found one that was intriguing. It was in a decorator store with a rather high price tag. What I liked about it was that it had leaves that attached to the edges of the table, thus maintaining its round shape when it was enlarged. What I didn't like was the heavy, strange base and the soft wood that would chip easily. I even brought my husband, Rex, to the store to show him what I had found. It was close to what I wanted but this wasn't it.

Since another holiday was nearing, Rex and I were prompted to do a serious search for a larger table. A round table was my preference but it appeared that the need outweighed the availability. We considered a number of rectangular tables with leaves, almost buying one that luckily was out of stock. After a day of searching, we had one more stop to make.

We had looked in lovely, pricey stores but our final stop was at a consignment store in a new shopping mall. Immediately we felt hopeful as we wandered around the showroom. There were a few table sets all reasonably priced and worth considering. As we made a complete circle through the building we spotted what we wanted in the front corner of the store.

Our table had been waiting for us! There sat a 72 inch round, wooden table with drop down sides and a green wooden base. As we marvelled at how perfect this table was, another couple noticed it and indicated interest until they saw that we had dibs on it first. So, with our new-found prize, we were additionally excited to find that with the drop down sides, it would fit in the back of our SUV which saved a hefty delivery charge. As I waited for Rex to back the SUV up to the door, a lady who worked at the store came over to visit. She told me how she wanted this table and she even went home and measured her dining room to see if it would fit. Lucky for us, her dining room was too small!

A few days after bringing the table home, we had our first holiday dinner. We had 10 people and it was delightful having everyone sitting around the new table. I used colorful, round placemats and tulips in a vase in the center which all added beautiful, vibrant color. It was a joyful time.

There is definitely something special about being able to see and visit with everyone I am hosting. We had a second dinner with another mix of 10 people about a week later. Again, the smiling faces across the large, round table were delightful. I had achieved my dream.

The table sits quietly most of the time with one leaf dropped down, thereby making room to push the table against the dining room wall. The base has movable legs that fold up when a side is dropped. I was told that the table is a replica of an antique style. I sometimes wonder who had the foresight to own this unique table before us and why they were willing to give it up. However, it's found it's place in our home and it feels like it was always meant to be ours. A round table is welcoming and I hope all family, friends and clergy we entertain feel this warmth and welcoming in our home.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Will I Be On TV Next?

Today I was in a commercial shoot. I even had a line to say. Who would have ever guessed I would do such daring things?

So you recognize the commercial when it comes on, I will give some background so you'll know to look for me.

Having been a Slim Body Coach round winner, I am sometimes invited to step in front of a camera to tape an advertisement for the company, GNS. Today about 30 women were gathered in front of the GNS building and an actress played the part of the interviewer, ala "Good Morning America" style where all the people are outside waving at the cameras, etc.

I was directed to stand center front with a gathering of other women on either side. These ladies had been specially chosen because they fit the demographics that the commercial was aimed at. All of us in the front row would be interviewed by the actress.

When the camera started to roll, we had a number of takes. The actress needed to change from a teleprompter to cue cards because of the morning sun. It was chilly outside so between takes we all crowded into the building for a brief warm-up. Once we were actually recording, things went fast. We became a crowd of enthusiastic, animated women cheering, clapping and chatting with each other like we were all best friends. Our hair was whipping in the wind and our noses and cheeks were becoming pink with the chilly Colorado weather, but we were having lots of fun. At the appropriate time, the actress turned to me and asked my name. That's when I was to deliver my line "I'm Rita Pilger and I lost 63 pounds with Slim Seduction and I'm here to get more." The actress then moved down the line of ladies and asked them why they wanted to try Slim Seduction. They were told to make up their own lines. I was happy that I had been told what to say so I didn't have to ad lib. After all, I don't claim "actress"as one of my talents.

With the completion of the final take, the group of ladies was re-arranged so that those in back could be taped closer up. Then we were finished. Inside the office once again, everyone was given a $50 check for their efforts and a free bottle of Slim Seduction. It was a successful video shoot! Now we watch for the premier. I hope I won't be too embarrassed

The Lady Who Fell Down in Church

Easter Vigil Mass was a very special event this year. My future daughter-in-law became Catholic. It's been a long-time dream for her and her excitement spilled out on the whole family.

Since my husband, Rex, was one of the Deacons participating in the Mass we had arrived early at the church. A few families were already there claiming the coveted front rows and aisle seats. By the front doors a woman in the vestibule was handing out candles to the congregation as they arrived. I knew the church would be filling up fast so I took my candle and scanned the darkened church to see where I might find a row for our family.

As I entered the church, I decided to head off to the left side where there were some seats available and the third row was still empty. Glancing that way, I was briefly distracted. But then, my attention was suddenly jarred back to the present, when there was a large "splat" right in front of me. To my horror, in front of where I had just stood, was sprawled a lady on the floor. Her legs were spread, despite her lovely skirt; shoes were kicked off in various directions, and her glasses had skidded across the aisle; her purse all but dumped on the floor.

I don't know how long she had been there but three men came running to her aid out of nowhere. They bent down and asked "are you all right"??

I looked at them and said "I'm fine and I didn't even break my candle". They helped me up, and I gathered my shoes as one of the men handed my glasses to me. I stooped over to pick up my scattered shoes and said "I think I'll just go over here (to the pew) and regroup" as I pointed in the direction of a dark, nearby seat.

In the pew, I put on both shoes, my glasses, rearranged my purse and straightened up my rumpled clothing. With great humility and wounded pride, I pulled up what dignity remained and again slowly stood up from the pew. I quickly looked around to see if anyone else had witnessed the deacon's wife falling flat on her face in her Easter finery! Only one lady that I recognized was looking my way, so I was hopeful that this event would be quickly forgotten. I shrugged and smiled in her direction, thinking it would reassure her that I was uninjured.

As I gracefully glided into my chosen pew, third row from the front, I was surprised to see the lights in the church come on. Usually everything stays dark until the procession of the Easter candle. I was grateful that lights were now on as it would help others to see their way into the church, but I did wonder if my episode had contributed to the lights.

Mass was lovely and I was thrilled with the surprise to hear my husband chanting as he carried in the Easter candle "Christ Our Light". He hadn't been scheduled to do that but then I had not planned on tripping and falling either. Upon returning home, late that night, I queried my husband if he had heard about the lady who had fallen down in church before mass started. He said that an usher came into the sacristy and mentioned something about it, suggesting that a light should be turned on. I asked Rex if he heard anything about "who" the lady was that had fallen down. To my great relief he hadn't heard, reassuring me that I hadn't become the talk of the sacristy that night! Then, I enlightened Rex and first received his concern for my physical well-being before we both broke out in hysterical laughter!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I Give Today an "A"

It's been a glorious day! I rejoice in what blessings were mine!

My first joyful event was my 3 1/2 pound loss this week. It's been a long time in coming I'd like to think "the tide has turned". I'm determined to reach my "keeping off pounds" status again soon! I'm inspired now!

Today I also "scored" a free bag of fresh green peppers. I made some stuffed peppers for dinner and they turned out yummy. I don't remember the last time I made them but now I wonder why I don't cook them more often. They were that good!

I was scheduled to work tonight from 4:30 to 9:00. The evening shift usually has 2 of us but I was on my own tonight. It is first week of the racquetball league so I anticipated a busy night. I was pleasantly surprised to see the rush came in spurts so I had breathing time here and there.
As things quieted down I was lamenting that I hadn't had my daily "grandma fix". Since my new granddaughter is only 1 day shy of being two weeks old, our cuddle time is most important to me. As I muddled over this missed opportunity of the day, the door opened and my spirit soared as my daughter came in, carrying my dear little love! She is truly beautiful and I slipped into ecstasy as I held that little baby .girl in my arms

The joy of a newborn is like no other and when that newborn is my grandchild, I'm truly in touch with heaven on earth. I remember the high I had with each of my five children and now my grandchildren are continuing this thrill in my life.

To close out this awesome day, a spring snow storm is in the making. It's raining now and by morning I will be waking up to a winter wonderland. I always delight to see such beauty out my window as the Colorado snow has a way of sticking to the trees, bushes and grass in such a breath-taking display of beauty.

Day is done so I bid you a very good night!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bored? Blog! Be Happy!

So, tonight while sitting with my laptop on my lap (well, duh), I realized I was in need of procurring some other interests in my life besides the same ole, same ole. My email inbox was empty, there were no posts on the forum I moderate and I had searched MySpace, Classmates, QueenPower, EbayExpress, Amazon, various Google searches, until I was bored silly. It was with this humble beginning that I decided I needed to launch my Traveling Tea Lady blog.

The name "Traveling Tea Lady" is a warm and comfortable friend from a brief, pricey home-based business I was inspired to start and close down a few years back. I still believe in what it was meant to be, only I havent' figured out how to manage it. That whole story will come sometime later. So with a name, a blog site and occassional time to write, I here-by start my blogging career.

I have lots to write. So I don't forget some of my stories I will start listing them here for reference:

"Being in Love" by a new Grandma"

The Big Round Table

Amazing Mom that I am...