Martha Stewart says I'm a thoughtful hostess

Entertaining is an intimidating word.

When I read it, I think of this:

formal place setting holly

And her:

martha stewart profile pic

But I'm not exactly wearing a blazer over here, nor do I have a hair stylist or a make-up artist or a mansion or an afternoon without a child in my arms.

In fact, the real truth is that I am usually scrambling at the last minute before guests arrive - hair up, flip flops on, a baby on my hip (or on my back), a preschooler "helping" me set the table with strawberry street dishes and sippy cups.

But you know what? That is okay.

I have been to pretty, pretty dinner parties before and the atmosphere has been cold despite all of the pomp and pageantry.

Likewise, I have eaten scrambled eggs on paper plates and felt totally at ease.

The heart matters more than anything. That warm smile. The glittering eyes. The encouraging words. The laughter. The life. The pulse of real friendship and genuine concern that throbs in a house where love is evident.

As such, I try not to stress too much about the details when guests come over. We plan simple meals - that usually involve the grill:

  • Barbecue chicken
  • Thai Curry chicken
  • Soy & Brown Sugar Salmon
  • Beef Kabobs with blue cheese dressing

And we use these excellent tools to make the process even easier...:

thermapen by thermoworks meat thermometerThermapen ($74) by ThermoWorks

Available in 9 different colors, the Thermapen is a five-star rated meat thermometer. The fold-away probe reads temperatures in less than 4 seconds (instantly, really). We appreciate the fact that the device is compact and that the display screen is easy-to-read. With the Thermapen, we never worry about undercooked or overcooked meats.

Here's a little temperature "cheat sheet" for your reference:

thermapen by thermoworks

fruit skewer super skewer grill time llcSuper Skewers by Grill Time, LLC

Grill Time creates a variety of skewers for beef, poultry, veggies, and fruit. All of the skewers are non-stick and stainless steel. You can get short skewers or long ones, thicker ones or thinner ones. In fact, you can even have custom skewers designed to your specifications. Our favorite ones were the fruit skewers (even for beef kabobs!) because they are the perfect size for an individual serving and they're super easy to "thread."

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I should close by saying that I do TRY to make my home cozy, clean, and pleasing to the eye - even if I can't set out matchy-matchy placemats and place cards (aren't place cards kind of old-fashioned anyway?). Apparently, I'm doing okay, though, because I just took the "What Kind of Hostess Are You?" quiz on marthastewart.com and...my "result" said: "You are undoubtedly a thoughtful hostess." And we all know those quizzes are exceptionally accurate. Right?!?

YOUR TURN: How often do you entertain?

WIN IT! One winner will receive a Thermapen ($74) by ThermoWorks and four skewers of choice from Grill Time, LLC. A second winner will receive four skewers of choice from Grill Time, LLC. To enter, leave any topic-related comment on this post prior to Sunday, September 27th at 11:59 p.m. (Don’t forget to follow the rules…all generic comments like “Enter me!,” “Love it,” and “Cool stuff!” will be disqualified.).

*UPDATE* The winner of the Thermapen and 4 skewers is #22 Kalani. The winner of the 4 skewers is #43 Pamela Callahan. Congratulations!

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161 comments on “Martha Stewart says I'm a thoughtful hostess”

  1. I haven't made kabobs in so long. I might have to make some this week on the grill! I used to make some really good ones with chicken, lemon, rosemary, potatoes and olive oil.

  2. We love to grill. Usually when we do a lot of the kids friends show up. We grill extra food all the time because we know it will get eaten.

  3. The quiz said I was thoughtful, but I think I'm more on the edge, teetering more toward casual. Am I supposed to buy a toothbrush and cosmetics for all my guests? Maybe I should take up a hobby and embroider personalized hand towels for them, as well! lol There's welcoming, and then there's the extreme, and some of that Martha-inspired stuff is NOT okay and borders on creepy. Just MHO.

  4. BBQ is a big tradition in our household. My father was a master BBQ man and he passed that along to me before he passed away. I hope to pass it along to my kids. A funny family tradition to be sure!

  5. I hate dinner parties that are cold and stuffy. It feels so uncomfortable! I would much prefer that my guests be comfortable and at home enjoying themselves. If that makes me unsophisticated then I'm fine with that!

  6. I entertain by enlisting my friends' help. We do a lot of barbecues and potlucks. This minimizes the amount of work the hostess needs to do and, besides, being with friends is the most important thing. Everything else is gravy!

  7. Since we moved to Arizona we bbq a lot more. The weather here is nice year round so there isn't a time when we can't utilize the bbq. It's a really nice way to cook meals for the family.

  8. Well, for all the major holidays and all the family get togethers, so it seems like very often because we have family come a lot.

  9. Now that my parents are living in the same town as us, we get together for dinner a couple of times a month. Its nice to have a casual dinner with the family on a regular basis.

  10. We entertain about every 6-8 weeks. We have such a terribly busy schedule. In the summer we do have cookouts about every other weekend

  11. we have a few family barbeques in the summer and we make big dinners for easter,christmas and thanksgiving.just the thought of it though gives me anxiety because i am uaually running around like a chicken with his head chopped off :(

  12. My grill cooking is hit or miss; generally because of my admitted inability to determine whether the grilled meat is done. It's a running joke that all my meat dishes are either underdone or way overdone.

    I still try, though!

  13. I usually entertain half a dozen times a year. With a large great,kitchen, breakfast room area I can entertain quite a few. With a large deck, two grills and a smoker, I have been known to have as many as 35 on the deck for dinner, mostly for great eats like ribs or Beaufort stew. as a single personI enjoy cooking for a crowd and have learned to do it for anywhere from 8 to 200 people (yeppers very large parties at my house). The key is getting it all organized and knowing how and getting things to "be done" at the right time.

  14. I feel you! I have a one and three year old and at nap time I sit down with Martha Stewart Living and live vicariously through the pages. I love my babies dearly, but a little mental vaca is nice!

  15. I entertain atleast 2 times a weeks and I almost always do my cooking on the grill so this would be a GREAT prize to win.
    titletowntreasures(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

  16. We entertain very spontaniously and erratically- could be every day, could be not for weeks at a time. Hehe apparently I am thoughtful as well. Who knew? ;)

  17. We don't entertain very frequently but we usually do at least several times per year. We often do quite casual also but I do like to make some yummy food to go with good times. These would be great. Thanks!

  18. Since we moved to a really rural area, we don't entertain as much as we used to do. We do, from time to time, set up a little party for "just us," with tons of food (think: not having to cook until the leftovers run out in two weeks), special decorations and a bit of a dress up. While we do miss seeing our old friends as often as we used to see them, we enjoy our "just us" parties a lot!

  19. We love entertaining but grilling chicken or steak never really happens because hubby and I are both terrible at telling when it's done, so we have to cut into it to check. So it usually ends up okay, but isn't as pretty!

  20. My husband has assembled an outdoor kitchen with a great grill, smoker, high heat burners, a giant gas fired walk and many other boy toys. We eat most of our dinners on our patio from May through October and love to entertain there as well! We have an outdoor stereo and the flowers are so beautiful. Sometimes we schedule a barbecue breakfast before a road trip and we hold our annual luau every August for friends, business associates and neighbors! My husband likes to cook by touch and color but I would feel safer if he used a thermometer! We also love to do kabobs especially when our garden veggies are ripe as they are now!

  21. Lately we don't entertain much because money is so tight. But a few times through the summer we had some BBQ Potlucks grilling what everyone brought and really enjoyed ourselves.

  22. We cook out every Sunday with the next door neighbors for football. We switch back and forth between houses every weekend. I've always eaten well done steak. My wife and my buddy's wife like it rare. I always over cook theirs she says. I totally need to start using something like this.

  23. We don't entertain very often at our place, but we often help out at my mom's. She's got a lot more space than we do so it makes sense to do everything there :)

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

  24. We don't do much entertaining anymore, but my kids do come over for dinner often. I always cook abig dinner for birthdays, and of course Thanksgiving. It's fun having them over as "guests" now that they're grown up!

  25. Due to health reasons, I never entertain and rarely cook. I'm usually too tired and when I do try, I always have a hard time cooking it to proper temperature (even with several not-so-good thermometers.) But I love cooking shows and cook books, especially all the Cooks Illustrated shows. Almost every show they use the Thermapen. They also have rated it as their favorite thermometer for years. I'd think cooking with the Thermapen would make meals fool proof. Thanks for your blog!

  26. With both of us working full time, and 2 small kids in school, we unfortunately don't have a lot of time to entertain during the school year. We do have informal get togethers a lot during the summer though, when life is a whole lot less stressful. Thanks for the great giveaway.

  27. I need a good thermometer. I made BBQ chicken last night and I think it was giving me false readings! It would say it hit temperature but then I pull it and other smaller pieces hadn't. It was so annoying!

  28. We love making city chicken, so these skewers will really come in handy. I have been looking for a reliable thermometer. I've had quite a few electronic ones (I favor getting one of those) but they are either awkward or they break fairly quickly. Thanks for this contest. I'll have to check out this line.

  29. I have had a couple of different thermometers and none of them have been digital. I imagine that they are a bit more accurate.

  30. We have company a lot...I'd say on average once a week. Usually very casual, and I had to laugh at your comment about scrambled eggs on a paperplate, because I've served similar, lol. :)

  31. We don't really entertain.....
    I am kind of a hermit {sad but true} and I have very few friends, and no family, in this area. Sometimes, during this season we have people over during the holidays. But, Martha approved, I am not! However, we do LOVE to Grill! These look like excellent grilling tools. One of my FAV grill entrees is kabobs, too, so this would be perfect.

  32. We invited friends or family members over to out house for dinner about three times a month. We are also known for having big thanksgiving dinners and a cinco de mayo party.

  33. We have people over at least once a month. Most times my husband grills some food and I make some awesome apps and dessert. We sit around outside and chat and sometimes have a bonfire. I love summer.

  34. yes, our bbq is the tool of choice when we host guests. it's very fast and easy, gives us more time to focus on our company and the food is always great!

  35. We entertain on weekends (usually it's just us and our kiddos coming to visit) but we always try to do it up right and make everyone feel good.

  36. I entertain on the weekends for my Husbands clients, we mostly BBQ as we live in sunny So Cal. we evern BBQ for guests on Christmas day, last year I did a BBQ brunch Quiche, BBQ steak & salad & mamosa I did real good as a hostess for 20 people.

  37. I love to entertain, but you don't often see me doing it Martha-style. The parties around here are very scaled down. 3 kids. 'Nuff said.

  38. Oh wow, these sound great. I'm not usually the person to host guests, but I do want to have more get togethers. I had a small baby shower/hang out for a friend the other week and it was fun though.

  39. We don't entertain often. When we do have company for dinner, we usually grill. I do the planning, and my husband cooks.

  40. JeansandTs@hotmail.com
    I think those fruit skewers are the perfect size(9 1/2")! I can see me grilling for my family with those. Nice to see that they don't rust. I had to toss out my long handled skewers because of rust. The meat thermometer is nice, too. I hate that raw chicken comes from the grill too often!

  41. We entertain at least 2 or 3 times a month. I used to be so intimidated by just the thought of having people over, but now I've really relaxed. I figure these are my friends. They either love me for who I am, or I guess there's more crab dip for the rest of us.

  42. One of my biggest fears when entertaining is accidently serving raw meat. I'm not exactly the master chef. I never thought of getting one of these, I guess I just like to torture myself. :)

  43. I love grilling. Summer, Winter, never matters what the weather is like. I have always wanted to get a digital thermometer for grilling

    jason(at)allworldautomotive(dot)com

  44. I wish I could entertain more, but our finances and small house make it an unusual activity. We host pretty good birthday parties but that's as afar as we've gotten. I would really like to win this thermometer since I am always unsure when I make chicken about whether it safely completely cooked or not.

  45. I have been dying for a Thermapen but the cost has prohibited us. Alton Brown (Good eats) uses it and I LOVE him.

    For right now my hubby is more of the entertainer then I am. I'm always on baby duty so I do the small stuff.

    We 100% prefer the laid back, heartwarming kind of gathering.

  46. we don't entertain much since we moved away from family, but we usually grill at least three times a week. love grilled chicken. my hubby always complains that i sometimes don't cook it well enough so this would be great

  47. The grill is definitely the way to go. Everyone relaxes, and I find that it gives my husband a way to "bond" with other guys he hasn't met before. (insert caveman grunt here)

  48. I only entertain every couple months. I've really got to start having friends over more often, especially the ones in our own neighborhood with kids the same age.

  49. I rarely entertain -- don't really like to have to make small talk. My kids invite people over all the time so its mostly entertaining the kids sometimes the parents too but nowadays they just drop the kids off and go have some fun on their own.

  50. We rarely entertain, I'm not sure why. Maybe because all of our friends have young children and it's easier to just head to the park! This would be fun, I would love to give the skewers to my inlaws, they would LOVE THEM!!!! Thanks Stephanie.

  51. We are starting a 1st Saturday dinner group. There has been some discussion about picking a different country each time and each couple would bring a dish.

  52. Martha says that I'm a thoughtful hostess too. We do our best to make people feel comfortable and relaxed in our home - I enjoy formal entertaining for special events on occasion - but it's too much work for this stage of my life and I find that casual dinner parties are usually more enjoyable.

  53. I do a lot of chicken on the grill and often overcook it because I'm afraid of undercooking it. It turns out dryer than it needs to be. I'd love to take it off the grill at just the right temperature. Thanks!

  54. My boyfriend and I entertain quite frequently (especially during football season). He is always in charge of the grill while I do all of the indoor cooking. These products would be a great gift for him!

  55. We normally entertain at least once a week. My husband's very close friend is single and doesn't know how to cook, so we have volunteered to cook for him. One of our favorite things to do is to grill!

  56. I'm definitely no Martha Stewart, but I do enjoy having friends over every now and again. We usually go potluck style -- my friends are all great cooks and we love to try each other's food.

  57. I LOVE to entertain! I do it less often these days because I'm focused on other little things (like 10 tiny toes, and 10 curious fingers...). If I keep my entertaining to occasional, then I can motivate myself, have the time (and energy), and pull everything together as I would like. Better to do a few parties well vs. a lot not well and under total mayhem circumstances.

  58. Honestly, we almost NEVER entertain. We are more of a "to ourselves" family, but that said, we do go all out when our family comes to visit. Granted, they come once or twice a year, MAYBE. But, we do lots of bbqing on our own. Our favorite is the soy/brown sugar or soy/maple syrup salmon. YUM YUM! I have a cheap meat thermometer, but would LOVE a good one!

  59. Oh, this is exciting! We recently got a charcoal grill, and are looking forward to having some backyard barbecues. I love entertaining, but take a casual approach to it.

  60. Entertaining is definitely not my favorite word. It's filled with so much pressure! I prefer to "hang out" with friends/couples. Simply using the different term makes me feel like I'm under so much less pressure for dinner/dessert

  61. The temperature markings on our old stove's knobs have worn away. This prize is sorely needed. Please accept my entry. Thank you.

  62. I like to entertain by hosting tailgate parties for hockey games. A grill is a must whether we do veggie skewers, marinated chicken, asparagus or just hamburgers and hotdogs.

  63. We don't get to entertain as often as we used to due to the fact we have a one year old. It is so much work around dinner time because that is also her I am tired and need to have a bath, stories, and milk for bed time. We tend to BBQ as well because it requires less attention and less clean up. We do have close friends over often because we don't feel like we have to put on a big show. We can just make more of what we would normally be serving and they are happy to be included.

  64. I guess I am thoughtful too, I think most party guests are not expecting Martha and are merely happy to have someone who is taking the time to be social.

  65. I used to entertain several times a month. Last year, our home flooded with Hurricane Ike and we lived in transitional housing until last month. I have finally gotten everything unpacked in our new home and am looking forward to entertaining more frequently again.

  66. I entertain sporadically - it comes in spurts. One thing I love to do is cook, though, so even if I'm going to someone else's home, I do bring one of my creations along. I could really use this ThermaPen, as DH (from NE) LOVES his steak!

  67. We love to cook on the grill, so this thermometer would come in handy. I am always afraid I am undercooking something! I am no way near Martha Stewart, but I have fun!

  68. Our summer started off mild with practically non-stop rain for over a month. Then, we finally got hit with the heat and humidity. This is the time of year that I do not like to have to put the stove or oven on; because, even with the air-conditioning running, the temperature in the house starts to go up everytime I cook something. So, during these times, I prefer to cook out on our grill which can do everything our stove and oven can do.

  69. I'm definitely not Martha Stewart. I like things simple. We do like to grill out and would love to have the thermometer and the skewers.

  70. We try to entertain often. Altho... we don't really consider it entertaining. We like to consider it meal sharing. I love the concepts that the Mennonite Central Committee put forth about food and fellowship (check out their cookbook - More With Less). Through various times of our lives, we have probably had people over for dinner 4-5 nights of the week (that was at the peak!). Friends who need comfort, friends who are struggling to put meals on their own tables, single friends... etc. We really love it. And we don't do anything fancy... just invite them into our lives around the table. I love it. Can't wait to be able to do it again once we get settled!!!

  71. we don't entertain too often since my husband is a little reluctant. We did have a great bbq last month so I plan on slowing enetrtaining more. Next month I will try and get him excited to have people over

  72. I entertain less often than I'd like, but part of that is that while I can always tell when meats are cooked as I like them, I can't judge as easily when they are done as others enjoy them best.

  73. we end up entertaing our friends and family alot. mostly because we are always willing to cook up a good meal!! and they love our cooking and us.

  74. we end up entertaining mre than planned but our friends are great because sometimes they are last minute come on over and they know we live, love and laugh in our home- and yes there are piles but we cherish our friends and want their bellies to be full and to us all that matters is whats in the heart, not what matching dishes you have.

  75. I don't entertain all that much. I probably have people over for either lunch or dinner about once a month. And like you, it's nothing really fancy. I like to do BBQ or I'll do meatballs (in a crockpot) or cold cut sandwiches. I agree that it's more about the company than the food and decor!

  76. Every weekend, I always have company: I have 5 daughters, 16 Grandcildren and three Greatgrandchildren with another expected in late October!Whew! How I entertain depends on the weather- Cookouts are my brood's favorite.

  77. I've been married for 18 years and for most of that time yearned to "entertain." I dreamed about menus and guests lists. We just never could really afford it. Now that we have a little more money to play with, we've had people over and I've found out I really don't like it! I really prefer my husband and kids to a houseful of people any time!

  78. We seem to be unable to do much entertaining with our busy schedules. Once every few months is the best we can manage.

  79. I love to entertain. I do it a lot more in the summer with the counselors, but love to have people over. I am not a fancy entertainer, just love the company!

  80. I don't entertain too much, except for a couple parties a year. I don't consider family and good friends "entertaining" really, and that makes up most of our guests. I totally want one of those meat thermometers!

  81. I couldn't agree more! We are so casual in everything and generally feel far more at ease that way.

    As for the Thermapen, that is on my husband's ultimate wish list. He wants one soooooo bad. Maybe someday when we're out of school if I don't win it here.

  82. I am a very nervous hostess to say the least! You are probably a very relaxed hostess. I find myself feeling that I have to refresh drinks, check on my guests, etc. Most likely, I am making myself and them nervous wrecks! Even if it is family, I am the same way. Maybe, it is because my parents weren't big on parties. Please enter me in your marvelous contest. My husband would really love the
    Thermapen and/or skewers!
    Many thanks.....Cindi

  83. I would imagine that you are a very thoughtful hostess!
    I have guests over with some regularity, but it's generally very relaxed. When I do a party, I love to decorate and make everything nice, but all of that stuff has to be super easy. Something about doing it with an almost 2 year old makes fussy impossible.

  84. Our little one is our entertainment! Actually, we really don't do it a lot however we have very informal gatherings and it's so much fun because we just get together and have a good time. This would be perfect for some awesome cook-outs though!

  85. We don't entertain enough... I know this & it's something we do more of now that our little one is older but still usually just playdate stuff- even that is a stretch for us. By the way- Absolutely have been drooling over a digital thermometer!

  86. Over this past summer, we started making kabobs on the grill and they've been such a hit with our family. I love the idea of the fruit kabobs. These skewers are so nice looking and we could also use a meat thermometer. Thanks for this great giveaway.

  87. We try to entertain at last once a month. But, we tend to do more in the winter. I think it is great for the kids to see other people come into our home and be good hosts to them.

  88. We like to do multi-family barbeque parties where everyone brings a dish and their kids and the house is loud and filled with joy. We then throw some meat (or veggie burgers for our vegetarian friends) on the grill, hang out and enjoy each other's company. By the end of the night, we're all exhausted and filled with delicious food and the kids sleep well because they've had fun running around all evening with their friends.

  89. Ok, that Thermapen is seriously legit! I use one on a daily basis at work, and it is BY FAR the number one item I'd like to sneak home with me! I need one!! And those skewers...it would positively be the summer of my deception if I could cook with those next summer!
    I entertain frequently, but THE event that my friends and family look forward to each year is my Annual Christmas Cookie and Ornament Exchange! Each guest brings 6 DOZEN cookies and a wrapped ornament...last year, there were over 1500 cookies in my home at one time! I donate platters each year to the Women's Shelter and my local drop-off site, St. Vincent de Paul!

  90. I used to entertain a lot before we had kids but for some reason we haven't done it nearly as much since then. But I do still enjoy throwing a party!

  91. We "host" people once a week at our house which is nice because I don't feel pressure to provide all the food. We don't have people over for dinner as much as I would like but when we do, I enjoy going all out with a home-cooked meal. One of our fun summer gatherings this summer was to host a kabob party where everyone brought brought their favorite skewered item to place on the grill and share (veggies, beef, chicken, and even fruit). Considering the blackened steak kabobs, the Thermapen would have come in handy!

  92. Since moving to Washington we have done very little entertaining. If we did, I wouldn't choose BBQ-my husband always over cooks or leaves raw anything on the grill. This thermometer would be a godsend and allow me to entertain once more.

  93. We entertain a lot especially around the holidays. I would like to know what I'm serving is done all the way through, and this would be an awesome prize to win!

  94. We don't entertain all that often, but my husband and I are determined to do more. He loves to grill and also bought a smoker recently. It's so easy to do a large cut of meat in there that I think most of our entertaining will be of the casual, outdoor kind.

  95. My husband loves to grill and we just did cabobs last week, the kids loved them, it was such a huge hit. Finding little things for the kids to all do together makes entertaining friends all the better.

  96. The super skewers are really a cool idea....I never knew you could get skewers different sizes and the idea of different sizes depending on what you are grilling is a great idea!

  97. We entertain friends and their families every so often, and I agree with you; you do the best you can to make things look presentable, but more important is setting a welcoming, loving, and friendly atmosphere. I'd much rather go to a place where it's okay if my kids say or do something...well, kiddish...than a place that looks like the cover of a magazine but leaves no room for laughs, a few spills, and relaxation.

  98. We seldom entertain since I work on the weekends. I am also tending to an ill dad, so my entertaining fun is limited, but when we do, we enjoy it.

  99. we "entertain" quite frequently. Because we are a family of 5 we usually make larger size meals. so we just make a little more and invite some friends or another family over for a meal. we also love hosting our small group in our home. excellent opportunity to spoil them with fun and yummy snacks. And those games nights i was talking about...we usually have those at our house. My husband loves whipping up a good guacamole or some other fun dip to go with chips and we pig out.

  100. We try to have a family over once a week. After my second was born, we are hit and miss on making that goal. My husband has been on vacation so we have had a lot of people over the past two weeks. Twice this week we had families over last minute. We decided to just make what we had planned for us, and then the other family brought what they had planned to make for their family. The pot luck idea worked well. The both nights we tried to play Settlers of Catan- Cities and Knights with the kids running around having fun.

  101. I entertain once a week. Friends take turns at different houses every week. It does get difficult to think of things to prepare, but we all have fun, this weekend I just did a chicken casserole with roasted veggies on the side. There have been times when they have watched a disaster happen in my kitchen, like creme brulee's catching on fire. there is never a dull moment.

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