Nell Hill’s has brought so many great things into my life, including some of the best friends a girl could ever hope for. Among those is my dear friend Marsee. If you’ve been into the store, you might have seen Marsee zipping about like a hummingbird, creating amazing displays. If you’ve seen my books or read my blog or followed my social media, you have gotten to peek inside her impeccably decorated homes. Marsee’s friendship has influenced the way I decorate, how I entertain, and, most of all, how I see the people I love: treasures to be honored and celebrated.
Among those people I treasure is Marsee’s mom, Betty Lou, who is a robust 90-year-old marvel. When Marsee told me her parents were moving, and her mom was feeling a bit blue about all the work and hassle moving entails, I had an idea. I would throw a luncheon for her mom and a few of her friends at my cottage, to get her away from the boxes and mess for a bit and recharge her batteries with the power of friendship.
I go in phases when it comes to entertaining. For weeks, I’ll host a flurry of events at my home. Then, I’ll become a hermit for awhile. Right now, I’m in hostess mania, so I couldn’t wait to have Betty Lou and her bunch for lunch. Fittingly, the whole event came together through a collaboration of some of my dearest friends, from the florals to the food.
We picked an afternoon right before Thanksgiving. That seemed the perfect time to stop and give thanks for the wonderful women in my life, who span the spectrum from 20-something to well into their 90s. My life is much the richer because I have friends of all ages. My older friends have so many pearls of wisdom to share; they have seen so much in their lifetimes and have grown wise.
Normally when I entertain, it’s a photo finish. I have the décor up, table set, food ready seconds before my guests arrive. I’m tired of that heart-pounding, adrenaline-laced feeling. So I prepared my home the night before. In addition to setting the table, I added a few welcoming touches to my fireplace mantel, pictured above.
Years ago, I did grand treatments in my dining room, hanging branches from the chandelier and other feats. While I didn’t want to go that far, I did want a showy statement on the table. Shana, a neighbor of mine who is a florist, stopped by to style these grand bouquets, made with real oak tree branches and bittersweet. I sat and ate pizza out of the delivery box while I marveled at the way she manipulated these big branches until they looked perfect.
The table’s center was the perfect place for this beautiful old scale I found at a little antique store a while back. I put some mini pumpkins on the scales for fun. Then, I finished the look with bouquets of fresh flowers.
Marsee has taught me the fine art of making every guest at your table feel special. It’s the little touches that make all the difference. Like setting the table with your best china and crystal, welcoming each guest to her seat with a personalized place card and menu, playing the guest of honor’s favorite music in the background. This kind of pampering makes you feel a bit like royalty!
Whenever I entertain and want the food to be out-of-this-world delicious, I turn to my friend Tracy, who is a professional chef. Tracy crafted a divine menu that was as delicious as it was beautiful to behold.
The photo above shows the wild rice harvest salad. Tracy came up with this brilliant way to present the salad, with strips of toppings resting on a bed of lettuce, so you could take only the toppings you wanted. The salad was paired with the world’s best tomato basil soup.
Check out the marinated figs on bruschetta. Yum!!
The afternoon ended with this sweet treat. But the sweetest moment of all was lingering with these ladies after lunch, hearing their stories, laughing and relaxing in the comfort of good friends. We all left that afternoon with our batteries recharged, feeling loved and excited to take on life.
When can you do the same? Gather a few friends at your home soon, whether for a meal or just a glass of wine. When we pause and celebrate friendship, our lives are truly rich.
Kim Grossardt saysNovember 26, 2018 at 6:49 am
I am sure this event fed Marsee’s soul as well as her mom. This is a great reminder that the best gift we can give are these precious events/moments.
Sheryl saysNovember 26, 2018 at 8:08 am
So inspiring!! Always enjoy your posts!!
Marilyn Heffron saysNovember 26, 2018 at 3:23 pm
I have known Marsee and Betty for a long time (I don’t want to divulge our ages, but Marsee and I attended kindergarten together). They are two of the sweetest, kindest friends ever. I must say, Betty looks just the same as the last time I saw her-she hasn’t aged a bit. They are the loveliest ladies (inside and out) that you will ever know-what a wonderful honor you gave her. Happy move Betty!
Lenore saysNovember 26, 2018 at 5:51 pm
Beautiful! Recipes please???
Lisa Mercado-Fernandez saysNovember 26, 2018 at 8:41 pm
I love that you did that for Marsee’s mom. I had the honor of speaking to Marsee a few years ago when you did a post on my book. She was a doll! I love her home too. I love you gold dishes, are they antiques or do you sell them in your store?
Sending you much love. Lisa Mercado-Fernandez
Betty S Woods /Betsy saysNovember 26, 2018 at 8:47 pm
Oh Mary Carol, how very special, beautiful and I’m sure delicious was this lovely tea.
Nell Hill’s was my “Therapy” when we lived in Leavenworth for 5 years- 1992-1997 Then to Leawood, KS for 4 years and retiring to Colorado Springs, CO and finally to St. George, Utah. I will never forget how I felt walking through your Atchinson store before any additions -like next door or the bank or the huge building down the block. I was always so excited bringing all our houseguests to experience the fun of gathering unique and special treasures from your store on the corner near the old movie theatre. For 9 years, my therapy was within my reach. Then in Colorado, I brought friends back to Atchinson to experience your exciting stores. You had added the ‘Bank’ with fabric then. Then Southwest Utah -our great desert home- was a little too far to drop in to my favorite shopping place.
Now it is so much fun to follow you in your cottage and your new store in N. Kansas City. Rock On, Mary Carol. Good Job. I cherish my memories of the happy place that you created.
Karen saysNovember 26, 2018 at 10:35 pm
Those pheasant napkins are to die for! Are they vintage or do you sell them?
Pamela saysNovember 27, 2018 at 3:11 am
What a beautiful tribute to your lady friends! So thought fun and caring! I love all items on your table and thank you for sharing!
Ramona Myers saysNovember 27, 2018 at 9:22 pm
Such a lovely luncheon. It was great to see a picture of Betty. I was fortunate to attend church with Betty and Dr. Bean when I lived in Wellington. Such a wonderful family.
Blessings to you,