A friendly resource for women who want to lead better lives

Company’s Coming! EEK!

I hate cooking for other people.

I know, this makes me un-girlie, but let me explain.

My 110 year old home has a tiny kitchen, which we will someday renovate; but for now, it is pint sized. Also, I have three large dogs who feel the need to occupy every square inch of the tiny kitchen. Lastly, 99% of the meals I make are for a toddler, which means that perfect desserts and wine pairings are currently outside of my repertoire.

Making soup and cookies in my teeny tiny kitchen.

Making soup and cookies in my teeny tiny kitchen.

You are probably shaking your head because you can make a five-course-meal starring mac ‘n cheese, although your kid probably loves anything more fancy and healthy than mac ‘n cheese. So go ahead, judge away. But, know that I haven’t always been this way.

I love having a house full of people. And, I love doing nice things for people. It’s just that at this point in my life, I don’t feel adequate in the cooking or hosting arenas.

This realization was sad, and a bit embarrassing. I want my home to be warm and inviting, but in telling myself that we’ll get there in a few years, I’ve created the opposite of warm and inviting.

A home is a house that’s lived in. The toys don’t always have to be in place and the food doesn’t have to rival that of a gourmet chef. An authentic person is okay with sharing this reality and a true friend is okay with seeing it.

I love going to a friend’s house when things don’t look perfect. It makes them human and I appreciate that. But, I seriously struggle with anyone seeing my home in less than perfect condition.

In the last few weeks, we have had friends over a handful of times. We have made simple dinners that we would eat regardless of company. And, I didn’t worry too much about the toys that have replaced toddler-height decorations.


Our foyer pre-kids.


Post-kids, the foyer is now a toy car parking lot.

So, I’m trying. I won’t be having Martha Stewart over anytime soon, but if you’re cool with just sharing a meal and playing with toy trucks, my door is now a little more open.

Do you have any tips or cheats to help a girl out? Or, maybe a dinner guest philosophy?

– Mary

4 Responses to “Company’s Coming! EEK!”

  1. oliviascribe

    I like a house that looks and feels like people live there. Homes in magazines and catalogs are beautiful, but rarely warm and inviting. I love a good meal, but much rather have good company and good conversation. BTW, everything I’ve ever had from your kitchen has been delicious, and your home is lovely. My son enjoys the toy parking lot very much too.

  2. Beth H. Tolentino

    Guess what. Nobody cares even a tiny bit about gourmet. Well, a few people do and I am grateful for their skills. But most people just want to be with you and your family. My kitchen is less than a one-butt kitchen; it’s a one-cheek kitchen. The cabinets are 1958 originals. It’s greasy. The rest of the house is dinky. We have soot on our walls and ceilings from two wood-burning fireplaces. We have un-even wood floors with suspicious spots on them. We’ve had graduation celebrations and birthday parties with more than 100 people coming and going throughout the house and yard and more “formal” 12-person sit-downs in our very un-cool eat-in kitchen. All anyone comments on is the warmth and coziness and being together. We haven’t done it at our house, but we even had friends who would call a bunch of people at 4:30 p.m. and say “Bring whatever’s in your fridge and let’s eat.” Such joyous potlucks. Do it!!

    • marylemonwater

      You are right, Beth. I have never thought of your home as dinky or suspicious. It is very warm; and you have lovely get togethers. I need to take a chapter from your book and apply it to my life! šŸ™‚

      • Beth H. Tolentino

        Having gone on the above tirade, I WILL admit that we tend to have people over in the evenings, when “everything” imperfect is not quite so obvious. šŸ™‚ Still, if you try to bamboozle people with love and smiles they tend to overlook your flaws. šŸ™‚ ven Jesus told Martha to stop fussing and sit and enjoy. (Luke 10:38-42) Ha! That’s my sermon for the day.

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