Thursday, August 11, 2011


Good morning! I will present my normal Things I am loving Thursday post and house updates tomorrow since I will be returning home later tonight (not by choice but necessity)!

In the meantime...... I was so excited to bring you this amazing interview with PhyIlis Hoffman! I had ordered Southern Lady Gracious Tables and literally fell in love with every single page (doesn't happen very often) I have since given this book twice as a gift. Then I found out about Southern Lady Gracious Spaces, her newest book,  filled with devine pictures and insider tips on how to create beautiful tablescapes, vignettes and table settings both indoors and out.There is no doubt that Phyllis Hoffman, is a legend in publishing with too many successful magazines, publications and books to name, but her latest books have really knocked it out of the park. I say this in part because I have southern roots myself, but mostly because I love love love beautiful things, elegant entertaining and creating a tasteful and refined feeling home.
And any chance for me to gain some insight and insiders tips from an entertaining guru like Phyllis I make sure I am standing at attention to take in every word. I had mentioned her book by chance,  on one of my Things I am loving Thursday posts because I was that excited over it and got a message from her thanking me for the mention.(imagine how over the moon I was to know she read my blog)!!!!  Well,  one thing led to another and she so graciously accepted my invitation to do an interview! Party like a rock star.....yep, I landed a great one! In addition to her interview, she has so generously donated 2 signed books, one of each of her amazing new books!! This will become one of those "go to" books we all cherish and uphold, I assure you. Click here to go to Amazon to purchase.

To be eligible to win, all you have to do is leave a comment here today about how you like to entertain and I will announce the two lucky winners on Friday's post! (if you sign in as anonymous or with just a name you must include an email address)

 Good luck and hope you enjoy what Phyllis has to say, truly a wealth of information and a well stocked vault of tantalizing tips, excellent advice and more than a few helpful hints. Enjoy and Phyllis, many thanks again for participating!! It was truly an honor to have you here today and I just know everyone is going to savor reading all about you as much as I have!

Phyllis you are a legend in the publishing world and your empire centers around fine southern living and gracious entertaining. How did you come to create Hoffman media? The first magazine we ever published was Just CrossStitch…..a counted-cross stitch magazine for consumers that contained charts, stitch instructions, and news of the great products in the needlework industry. From that we have added one magazine at a time. Now we have 11 !

I just love one of your newest books, Southern Lady Gracious Tables, and am wondering what inspired you to write it? I think time spent around the table, enjoying wonderful food in a beautiful setting is a very important time. I love collecting place settings, especially those that belonged to my family. I have a passion for blue and white and as you can imagine, I have been given fabulous blue and white dishes! My mom always had great flower arrangements that she did from her garden. So I have been inspired by a beautiful table setting my whole life. The book was created to inspire women to use the dishes they have and make every meal special.

What do you think it is about the South and how they have managed to cherish and uphold the traditions in entertaining for which they are famous? I think that it is the traditions that make the South. It’s funny how we always return to the things that are familiar. Traditions vary between families, but the return to traditional events and celebrations are what define us southerners! We are all taught from the beginning of our lives just exactly how things should be done……and we just carry on, generation after generation.

What's your most favorite tradition?  My most favorite tradition is decorating my house for Christmas. And within that is putting out the hand-painted nativity that my Mom made for me. She hand-painted each piece. Dad made the cattle stall from tiny branches. I just love it. When Neal and I married a year-and-a half ago, we had a Christmas stocking personalized with each child’s name on it that hung on the mantle. We stood by the tree and the room was lit with candlelight. So hanging the stockings has become a new tradition that is so meaningful.

Do you have a favorite holiday or time of year and why? Christmas!! We were married on December 23 and so it is magical in many ways. I love to play Christmas music on the piano, my second CD that I recorded with the Nashville Strings is the Magic of Christmas. I always wanted to be a Christmas Bride and Neal made my dreams come true! Our tree was decorated with Tartan Plaid bows and ornaments. We had cream roses placed in the branches for the ceremony. It was just perfect! So I love Christmas…

Being an entertainer extraordinaire, give our readers two or three tips to help set a beautiful and Southern lady worthy table.  
         Love the reference to "building a wardrobe for the table"…….If someone is to invest in one or two entertaining pieces, whether it be china, silver, serving pieces, linens which do you think they should start with? I would invest in a set of monogrammed napkins that you love. I prefer white with a blue monogram to use with my blue and white china. And if you are just beginning, invest in a nice set of white china or dishes. Food looks great on white and white will go with anything.

What's your feeling on mixing and matching new pieces and old family heirloom type pieces? I love to mix and match. Old is beautiful when mixed with new as long as the styles are similar. I love it when I set every place with a different china pattern. Guests love it!

You are throwing a summer party with no budget,  what would your "dream theme" be? I would have a Party with the Royals…I think a grand ball would be wonderful. Outside in a cool, formal garden, with tiny lights, grand floral arrangements and fabulous food. I think this is every girls dream!!

What is your favorite flower to use when creating centerpieces? My new favorite flower changes hourly…..right now I am in love with hydrangeas in all the various shades of blue. They look stunning in a blue and white containers. They also pull apart into small bunches of flowers that can be used in small vases at each place setting.

Should a hostess always assign seats for a dinner party or allow guests to choose the seats themselves? I usually don’t assign seats. I like for my guest to make themselves at home and choose. Sometimes people will ask me where to sit, and then I will say “why don’t you sit here…”. Now if I have a cleaver place card I will definitely use them. That is fun creating unusual place settings!

Any southern dish that you think the whole world should know about? Cheese and garlic biscuits…..enough said. Just add a teaspoon of minced garlic and ½ cup of cheddar cheese to your biscuit dough and bake as usual. Your guests will be addicted!

Tell me what’s on your plate for the ultimate dinner menu........ One of my favorite menus: stuffed pork tenderloin with a mustard pecan sauce, pineapple casserole, green beans with garlic and bacon, beer rolls, and molten lava cakes for dessert. This is my most requested meal from family and friends.
What are one or two current trends in entertaining? I think the strongest trend in entertaining is casual gatherings with a theme. People are shying away from formal dinners and opting for casual table settings and relaxed events. Another strong trend is outdoor entertaining. I love the entertain on the terrace in the fall when it is just beginning to be cool in the evenings. We also have breakfast on the screened in porch when it is cool.

Why do you think beautiful formal dinner parties are not as "in vogue" as they once were? (which on a side note, I still love doing and will never stop)    I think formal parties frighten many hostesses. Formal dinner parties have been perceived as executing formal rituals rather than setting a formal table. Formal tables are stunning. I love the glimmer of candlelight on the silver and crystal. I love hosting them. The more you do, the easier they are. I think it is all about planning. Once the food has been planned, the china pieces needed are next, then the centerpiece and linens.

What is a great hostess gift?  I love taking simple things as hostess gifts. Leather journals, candles in a festive color for the hostess to use later, flowers from my garden in a fun vase, and beautiful soaps. Many people make a mistake by taking food expecting it to be served at the party. Please don’t do this unless you are asked to bring a dish. Your hostess has already planned the food for the event. I take something personal.

You are able to have any two people in the world over for dinner this weekend. Who are the lucky two getting to sit at your table?  I would love to have Prince and Princess of Cambridge: Williams and Catherine. I find them the most refreshing, stylish, delightful couple in the news today. I would love to ask about their entertaining and parties at their home. I think her style is elegant and she is destined to be a style icon for centuries. They are so in love and the bubble with happiness. That is the kind of people I love to be with….people that brighten your day!

Who is your ultimate design/entertaining icon?  Carolyne Roehm. Period. I love everything she does from the way she dresses to her exquisitely decorated home. When she wrote “Passion for Blue and White”, she exceeded all expectations at that point. I would love for her to be a part of one of our magazines….in fact I wish we could start a magazine called Carolyne! When she authored the Notebook series, which celebrates the seasons, I would read and re-read those for hours. She is really my icon. I hope to meet her someday. It would be a privilege to have tea with her…….just once would be a dream.

Thanks you Phyllis once again.....I will cherish this interview as my own personal "how to" from the ultimate Southern hostess. I so appreciate you taking the time to do this interview and generously donating two books that will go to two lucky winners who no doubt will enjoy the books as I have. Hope everyone has an enchanting day!