Beverages, Formalities, Tales from the White House

Approaching the Glass

My first few weeks as White House Social Secretary were pretty overwhelming.  It wasn’t simply that there were so many people to meet and things to learn; there were events almost every day, and the next day, and the next week, and the next month.   It was like jumping onto a racing treadmill, catching the pace, and then speeding up as fast as the machine would go.  And, of course, there is the WH way of doing things: after decades […]

Fall, Flowers, Summer

Heavenly Hydrangeas

My friend, Susie Poneman, owns and manages a floral design studio in the Washington, DC area called Heavenly Hydrangeas.  Her business grew from a love of entertaining and gardening; in fact, she has over 100 of the flowers in her home garden and took the name of her business from her own heavenly hydrangeas.  Since 2005, when a donation of flower arrangements to a charity auction received such rave reviews she was encouraged to begin her business, she and her team of […]

Salad with lamb and figs
Entrees, Food, Gluten-Free, Summer

Ottolenghi Lamb and Fig Salad

My husband really hates to exercise.  In fact, he prefers not to break a sweat under any circumstances, and if possible, to avoid exercising outdoors at all times.  If I can persuade him to take a walk with me, we have a negotiation over the route: he will walk if we stay on the sidewalks, but if I suggest we go through the woods in Dumbarton Oaks Park, he’s out.  These are the minor quirks of a long-married couple, but […]

Wine bottle with red and white note
Etiquette, Formalities

Hostess Gifts

It’s not the thought that counts; it’s how thoughtful the thought is… The other day I was wrapping a few hostess gifts and thinking they needed a little pizzazz.  They were perfectly acceptable gifts, but it’s not enough for me to give a gift; Ineed to see that the giftee really, really likes it. There’s no pleasure in giving something that elicits a meh. Gift-giving can be a source of anxiety in modern life.  Too many people confuse the cost […]