Hostess with the Mostess?

So remember my whole carefully pre-planned (plotted?) Valentines Day weekend?  Well, that tricky little bastard called “life” got involved changed things up a bit. But you know what, rolling with the punches is what it’s all about.  I brought out my camera for a bit hoping the night would be “blog-worthy”… and it was. But not in the picture-perfect way I’d hoped.

Saturday night was my little dinner party and sadly three of six guests couldn’t make it due to injury and illness.  A bit of a bummer after already shopping for the evening and not getting a chance to see good friends, but alas, I soldiered on. OK, that’s a bit of a glamorized version. I actually started moping around pretty badly and being all “waaaaaaahhh“, as our friend Brad would say.

Example number one- the chalkboard in our kitchen was soon scrawled with this (which I forgot to wipe off before our realtor had a showing yesterday-ooops):


(what crankypants wrote that?)

Yeah, so as you can see I was in a good mood. So what did I do to remedy that at 4:15 in the afternoon? Open a bottle of cabernet, of course.


( Wine? Check. Blackberry? Check. Ok, let’s cook.)

Mistake numero uno. Warning to others- DO NOT start drinking before attempting to prepare a somewhat complicated dish that involves a lot of chopping and lighting things on fire. DANGER.

My dessert (a very easy and artery clogging Paula Deen creation), an appetizer of crostini with fig, ricotta and prosciutto and a salad of  baby spinach, pear, almonds, shaved parmesan and balsamic vinaigrette came out perfectly.  Granted, that’s probably because they were all prepared while sober.

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(yum. yum. yum.)

The table was set- I busted out my vintage french opaline water goblets for the first time, strung fake pearls from the light fixture, set out the INCREDIBLE centerpiece my girlfriend sent over from the impeccable Winston’s Flowers and added a few funny themed favors to each place setting.  A fire going in the fireplace and things were improving!

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I had my V-day play list on in the kitchen and got going on my boeuf bourguignon.  I wanted to make Julia’s recipe, but heard Ina’s was a bit easier so I went with that. I am admittedly not a great cook, only because I never really do much of it.  I consider making grilled cheese and soup cooking. Turns out, Ina’s was not a whole lot easier, and when I read the instruction to “now light the brandy on fire and stand back” I got a little nervous, despite imbibing in some liquid courage.  I got to chopping the veggies and then the combination of dancing tunes, lots of wine and an ill timed, spine-rattling dog bark lead to the first bloodshed of the night. Knife, meet finger. Ouch.  I bandaged myself up and kept going.  More wine, more dancing, more sauteing and chopping and then BAM. Man down! More blood, more bandaids. WTF?



Feeling like a complete imbecile, I nervously prepared to flambe. I called in the man of the house for this as I was already 0 for 2 in the whole Knife vs. Erin battle and I didn’t really want to scorch off my face at this point. I had guests coming, after all.  Now, I expected a slightly thrilling amount of flames, but not a friggin’ scene from Backdraft in my own kitchen.  Flames literally were licking the ceiling of the kitchen and we both are standing there all, “Is this right?? Is this okay??” and then finally I grab the beef broth I’m supposed to add at SOME point and throw it in (without checking the recipe- the moment called for action not careful measurement). My heart did not stop pounding for about 5 solid minutes.

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(FLAMBE! I missed taking a pic of the full firestorm- clearly I was busy freaking my freak)

After hours of cooking, some improvisation on the recipe- (wait, NOW saute the mushrooms? But I did that an hour ago! God damn it!)-  finally dinner was served, and it came out surprisingly GREAT. We had a really lovely time and went to bed really hideously full and exhausted. The pups were mighty pooped as well- entertaining is their favorite thing to do in the world; “Oh hello new friends, would like to meet my otter? (run back to toy basket) How about my stuffed puppy? (run back to toy basket) Or perhaps rubber pirate chicken? (run, run, tail wag, run)


I can tell you this though, next year all I’m making are reservations. Hope your V-day was fabulous and fire free.


  1. awww, sweet story, nonetheless. And, if I ever throw a Valentine’s day dinner party, I am totally stealing the favors on the plate idea, in total!

  2. Erin – you kill me! You are one funny girl – hilarious! You’re Valentine extravaganza looked lovely – house just beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I’ll give you an idea. We have a Valentine’s Dinner Party every year with the same couples and we are on our 14th year! It’s awesome because you only have to do the “full ON” dinner party prep once every 7 years and you have somewhere to go with your honey every Valentine’s Day. I can’t take credit for coming up with the idea my best friend did but when we started between the 14 of us, we had 1 child. Now we have 17 kids total (dinner party is without kids btw), I just tell you that as an aside. It’s really fun and now you have somewhere to go next Valentine’s with dinner already prepared and not battling the crazy crowds of V Day. Have a great week.

  4. Looks lovely! I think if I were the one viewing your house I’d be too smitten with your perfect style, then seeing that chalkboard would just make me like the house more!

  5. LOLsss!

    Erin… my fingers look just like yours right now… I did a bit of cooking myself and like you, next year I’ll be making reservations. Funny post!!!

  6. I am laughing out loud right now. Not at you, but at the fact that this sounds exactly like something that would happen to me. At least you got a blog post out of the event!

  7. Attagirl! The fun is always on the other side of “Yes” even when all you want to say is no no no no no I am grumpy and this parlay is effed. Everything looked lovely and the puppies crack me up. Ours like to make sure everyone meets their goose and has an opportunity to throw them a ball.

  8. Ok, not only did I prepare a Valentine’s dinner for six, but I also made Ina Garten’s boeuf bouguignon! AND I chopped off the tip of my thumb on a serrated knife! Ok, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but I did lop off a small piece of my fingertip, Weird…

  9. Your crostini looks fabulous and that salad recipe sounds divine. Is that an the aluminum foil store-bought graham cracker crust hiding out around the edges of your pie plate? Eww. A homemade graham cracker crust is easy to make and tastes soooo much better!

  10. You tell such a funny story! I am sure your friends appreciate how special you made their evening : )
    My Valentines dinner with my 5 sweethearts involved high-rising flames as well (fortunately at the hands of a professional chef at a Japanese steak house!) It was a “romantic evening” served family style!

  11. Suggestion from Mom–buy some of those little fingertip condoms to cover the band-aids. Then every time you wash between steps or wipe the mess up, you don’t lose another bandaid and start the bleeding all over again! You are funny…..I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall!!

  12. Vday parties are fun. This was my second year to do one and I have to admit last year was more fun when I did start drinking earlier. Also, don’t let your husband talk you into showing the guests the new home theater and surround sound. I couldn’t get them out of there and some of my food didn’t do so well in the warmer.

  13. I’m glad you made it out alive!!! I’m sure all the hiccups made it an even more memorable evening. That’s so sweet of your puppies to s how off all their toys!

  14. Erin – love your story and ditto on the loving the way you keep things real, but all I want to know is: did you wear that fabulous Rachel Roy dress???

  15. 1) i can’t believe my mom wrote “fingertip condoms” on my blog.
    2) i did not wear the Rachel Roy dress as it felt inappropriately dressy. But I did keep it b/c Andrew said he loved it.
    3) It is a store bought crust. I had to pick and choose what I made from scratch and that was too easy to buy to bother making one.

  16. Not only was our annual dinner party without flames, it was without heat! Our heater went out Saturday so we spent the weekend moving the whole family (dog and two cats) from room to room with a space heater! We spent all day Sunday cooking with spiked coffee (warming from the inside!) and took all our wares to a friend’s home. In the end, it was a wonderful day AND cooking brought the temperature in the house up 6 degrees! We made the butternut squash lasagna I found on your blog…always a hit!

  17. Dear Erin,

    I have to admit, I’ve been anonymously reading your blog for the past six months and have to tell you that you are one of my absolute favorites. I heard about the blog world but really didn’t know what it was all about. So out of sheer boredom one day I began surfing and came upon your blog from another blog I was reading, and I was hooked. I never leave comments on any of the blogs I read so this is my first. I want to THANK YOU for putting me in a better mood. I woke up pissed off and irritable this morning when my lovely son woke me up friggin 5:00 in the morning. Needless to say, I’ve been bit of a grump and haven’t been able to snap out of it until I read your blog. I laughed so loud when I read your chalkboard and my mood lifted instantly. You are truly funny and I always look forward to reading your blog each day. Thank you for being authentic and wish you much success to your business and your awesome blog.

    Warmest regards,

  18. I love this post. You remind me of myself in the cooking department. DISASTER. Seriously, like 1 out of every 5 meals I make is edible. So funny though, and glad everything turned out OK in the end!

  19. OMG Erin! I love your play by play and SO SORRY it was a bust. You are so cute. Forgot to mention I have never done the flambe B…S…. I haven’t made it this winter and completely forgot that step was in the recipe. I use sherry or red wine because we don’t usually have brandy in the bar. Also with all recipes with the exception of baking, leave out what you want, substitute what you want, always trust your own judgement(you know what good food tastes like) and simplify things as you like. Just remember to use the timer so nothing burns. The success of a recipe is usually just about proper salt, pepper and the right amount of olive oil or butter, whatever fat you are using and not forgetting it while you are having fun. Best wishes and Ina’s actually is alot easier than Julia’s, I have made both :o)

  20. one more thing Erin…

    do all baking, chopping onions,garlic, veggies, ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING YOU CAN the day before the part.
    The best thing about a dinner party is people relax and laugh more in your home than they do at a restaurant and everyone loves being in a beautiful and creative home like yours!

  21. oh how i loved this story!! i thought things like that only happened to me … so nice to know i have a kindred spirit all the way across the country. :)

  22. The chalkboard (and the fact that you accidentally left it for potential buyers to read) cracked me up! BTW, would you mind sharing where you got the quilt the dogs were lying on?

  23. Erin that was so funny!! I had the same reaction when I made that same recipe last year. Add brandy, stand back and light the pan…HOLY CRAP!!! Flames almost to the ceiling, ok, that’s better now, I can put it back on the burner…YIKES!! it flamed up again, is it supposed to be burning this much? Where is my fire extinguisher?? It finally burned out, and once everything was cooked in the pan I dumped it all into the crock pot and let it cook all afternoon, it turned out FABULOUS! Too bad your friends missed out, oh well more leftovers for you!

  24. Erin,
    I LOVE your blog. The photo of your sleeping pups is precious. I thought only my dog played “show and tell” with my guests!
    Too funny!!

  25. I am sitting here with tears running down my face. You are so funny. That is about how I cook too. It all looked amazing and I’m sure it was all appreciated. LOVE the glasses. kath

  26. Yikes! The pic with your bloody fingers made me jump IRL! I’m so sorry, hon! I attended a brunch the day after Valentine’s Day where all but two guests bailed. I guess it was one of those weekends. :-(

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