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October 17, 2011

Entertaining clients is a vital part of relationship building. It is a way to deepen or solidify relationships.

The holidays are a perfect time to show clients how much you value their business. It also gives you the opportunity to touch customers, one more time, who you want to do business with or increase business with before the year-ends.

Follow these simple rules to leave a lasting impression on your customers.

"Adding The Polish That Builds Profits" by Lydia Ramsey

Deciding where to entertain your client(s):

  • Listen to clients for hints on favorite restaurants, sports, foods or interests.
  • Know time constraints of client(s).
  • Choose a convenient location for your client(s).
  • Choose places that are conducive to conversation and have good service and food.
  • Entertaining clients in you home:
July 13, 2011
I've managed to accumulate quite a collection of trays in different shapes, styles, sizes, and materials.  Some trays are a nod to another day, when life and every meal was considered a formal affair and others are more modern. When you look up the definition of "tray" in the dictionary it is defined as "an open, variously shaped receptacle of wood, metal or other material with a flat bottom and a low rim for holding, carrying or exhibiting articles."  Serving something to someone on a tray versus just handing it to them brings smiles from the person being served and says to them "I'm special".  It is an easy extra step step that elevates an experience.  True story - a teenage girl was visiting our home on a cold wintry day.  I brought her a steaming cup of hot chocolate with a napkin and spoon on a silver tray.  She got the biggest smile on her face and as she was leaving turned to me and said,  "I never realized what a poor hostess I was to my friends."  Amazing, the power of serving a simple cup of hot chocolate on a tray!        Here are some ideas to help you make the most of the trays you already own. The list could go on and on, but this should give you a healthy jump start. 
June 20, 2011
This is our last installment of "A Plate for All Seasons" before we switch to other items in my 'filled beyond capacity' china closet.  An amethyst ceramic plate provides the perfect springboard to create tablescapes for fall, spring and Thanksgiving.  Our vignette for fall uses amethyst and green with touches of orange. Kiwis add a touch of whimsy to the centerpiece.  Lilac linen place mats and a white plate with flowers in shades of amethyst, burgandy and green provide a nice complement to the deep amethyst plate.  A centerpiece filled with spring flowers completes  the perfect setting for a luncheon or dinner party to celebrate the end of winter.  A Thanksgiving table starts with a deep hay colored linen tablecloth and a purple runner with gold highlights.  Purple cabbages filled with russet colored flowers and jeweled gourds placed on the table pull the elements together.

May 23, 2011
Last month we started selecting plates that have the versatility to be used for every season.  This month we move from the contemporary to the more traditional.  I discovered these cream colored ceramic chargers and dinner plates at Home Goods about 4 years ago.  They have become one of my 'go to' plates when I need to pull a quick tablescape together.  The neutral color and interesting shape makes them easy to team with just about anything in my china closet.    

April 22, 2011

I am a firm believer in getting a lot of "mileage" out of the pieces I purchase.  Buying plates that can be used for any season give me the flexibility to create many looks to fit any occasion. Selecting plates that can be mixed and matched with items I already own, allow for versatility to create tablescapes for all the seasons.  When choosing a basic plate consider your style, color scheme and china pieces and linens you currently have.  Don't forget about special pieces inherited from our mothers, grandmothers and aunts.  Often they can be paired with more contemporary items to create an eclectic table that will delight your guests.  In our first example we use a square, black matte, contemporary plate.         

March 17, 2011

The quest goes on ....

Most of us have a variety of baskets in different shapes and sizes.  We buy them and receive them as gifts filled with flowers and food.  I have them on shelves and hanging on the walls of my china closet.  One rectangular basket inspired centerpiece ideas and a number of uses.

  • Bread basket:  line with a decorative towel, fill with a selection of breads and place on a buffet table 
  • Towels:  use to hold individual hand towels for a party
  • Silverware:  wrap utensils in napkins and place in the basket on your buffet table or side board  
  • Chips:  a great piece to hold chips, nacho, popcorn etc.   
  • Pine cones:  fill with interesting pine cones in different shapes and sizes for the holidays
February 16, 2011

Debra's Quest for the Number 3 - Well my walk-in china closet has reached CRISIS proportions. I am embarrassed to admit the floor is even stacked with dishes, making it next to impossible to enter.  When I mentioned to my husband that I was thinking of sharing a picture of the china closet with all of you, he was horrified!  So no picture everyone.


It has gotten so bad my husband, patient man that he is, told me if I don't have a place for it before I buy it, nothing new comes into the house.  There is no space and I have run out of creative solutions - rolling racks, stacked crates, cupboards stacked like jigsaw puzzles. 

May 10, 2010
I have lived in Chicago for over 30 years and this is the first real Spring I can remember.  April is usually cold and wet which means nobody even thinks about gardening and actually planting until the end of May.Thrilled to share that my garden is planted and arugula, mesclun, beets and onions are already starting peek through the soil.  Irises, clematis, dianthus, purple sage and yarrow are blooming and half my pots are planted with geraniums and petunias.  Being ahead of schedule frees me up to start planning my summer parties so guests can enjoy the 300 feet of climbing roses in our back yard.Our first party is scheduled for June 5th.  I'm thinking Chilled Corn & Sun-Dried Tomato Chowder, Arugula, Smoked Trout, Roasted Beets and Caramelized Cashews with Ginger Chile Dressing, Grilled Sea Bass with Mango-Roasted Red Pepper Relish and Fresh Fruit with Mascarpone and White Chocolate Dip or Strawberries and Peaches with Balsamic Zabaglione.Mix the menu with a warm summer breeze, the scent of roses in the air, stars in the sky and music wafting through the air ... the setting for a perfect summer evening!     Well I'm off to start planning for the next June soiree.Debra   
December 14, 2009
Imagine 17 'foodies' in the kitchen, with a master chef, in this case, Steve Chiapetti, for 4 hours.  Steve entertained us, educated us and delighted our palates! We began with a cranberry mimosa before entering the kitchen, followed by the popping of a cork on a VERY large  bottle of Tattinger, as we all settled in for our Sunday feast.  The meal began with the sampling of a dense banana cake as Steve started sharing the culinary journey he was about to take our taste buds on.  Next Bananas Foster French Toast, crispy and moist with just the right amount of sweetness followed by light and fluffy Pancakes made with buttermilk and sour cream topped with a fresh berry compote. By now Steve definitely had our attention as you heard oohs and aahs from around the table.  We finished the breakfast portion of our culinary journey with THE best Eggs Benedict I have ever had with homemade gravlax.  As we transitioned to the more savory, Steve shared a sour cream coffee cake (a recipe handed down by his grandmother) and strips of bacon 'painted' with maple syrup and baked in the oven. 
July 24, 2009
Yes we all know men and women think differently - that we are wired differently.  Many books have been written about the topic over the last 20 years.  Yet everyday, whether at work or home, some instance pulls me up short and reminds me just how different we are!  The perspectives we use to resolve a problem, set our priorities or in this case, 'Tale of the Stuffed Tomatoes', evaluate whether a recipe is a 'keeper'. Almost every week I test recipes for  My husband always acts as my 'guinea pig", along with a select group of friends on occasion. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and soft breezes filled the house with wonderful garden scents. My husband was out working in the yard as I prepared the week's selected recipes.  In this case Red Leaf Lettuce with Grapes, Blue Cheese, Pecans and Balsamic Vinaigrette and Summer Stuffed Tomatoes.  Every 10 minutes or so he would poke his head in the window and ask "When is dinner going to be ready?  The smells coming out of the kitchen are amazing!"
July 16, 2009
Hard to believe that it is mid July already.  It's been a busy summer.  As always, we are working hard for our members.   Check out :
  • Launch of our 'Healthy Eating Series' by Chef Kendra Peterson of Drizzle Kitchen
  • The start of our 'Kids Party Series' by Sue Kirchner of The Chocolate Cake Club beginning October 2009
  • Additions to our 'Newlywed Menu Series' by Chefs Sara Corpening Whiteford & Mary Corpening Barber authors of 'Cocktail Food' & 'Smoothies & Wraps'
  • Members are taking advantage of the 'Entertaining Hotline' to write in with entertaining dilemmas
  • Updates to Speaking Engagements, Magazine Articles & TV Appearances by clicking on 'In the News' located on our home page
Plus we are already experimenting, hunting for and creating wonderful ideas to share with you for the 2009 holiday season!   

July 16, 2009

July 6, 2009
July 6, 2009 was asked to contribute to  See us featured the week of July 6th.  The theme - 'Outdoor Party Decor'.  For more tips on outdoor entertaining, check out our section on 'The Perfect Picnic' & 'Picnic Foods'.   
  • General Tips
  • Creature Comforts 
  • Selecting Food
  • Beverages
  • Entertainment (Kids & Adults)
  • Setting the Stage
  • Ideas
  • Finishing Touches
  • Picnic Foods 
Plus our section dedicated to 'Outdoor Entertaining', 12 tablescape ideas, over 50+ centerpiece ideas and 78 summer recipes with fresh ideas added weekly!   
June 23, 2009

Every year my husband and I plan a party in the backyard when our 300 feet of climbing roses are in full bloom. Over the years the party has ranged from small and intimate to larger affairs for up to 100.

The menu was planned, the garden weeded, the lawn mowed and an outdoor tablescape designed. As Friday dawned the skies turned an ominous shade of gray, the clouds gathered and then the rains or should I say the monsoons came!

Well, so much for an evening under the stars amid walls of climbing roses. I quickly had to restage the party inside & hope for a brief interlude of 'no rain' so we could barbecue the prawns and baby lamb chops.

Our guests arrived with a sense of adventure and parked their 'arks' outside. Cocktail hour stretched from one hour to almost 3 hours (Thank goodness I planned heavy appetizers.) while we waited for a brief respite from the rain so we could cook the main course. Oh, did I forget to mention we also had a brief power failure too! (Thank goodness for my love affair with candles.)

February 3, 2009

Legends abound surrounding the history of Valentine's Day and its patron saint, St. Valentine. According to legend the holiday began as an ancient Roman festival of Lupercalis/Lupercalia, a fertility celebration commemorated on February 15. Lupercalia was considered a pagan holiday and as Christianity came to dominance in Europe the festival became a Christian feast day for the Roman martyr Saint Valentine.

About Saint Valentine. Saint Valentine was a priest during third century Rome. The story goes that Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men because he decided single men made better soldiers. Valentine defied Claudius and performed marriages for young lovers in secret. When Claudius found out he was put to death.

Another legend believes Valentine sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself while in prison. Apparently he fell in love with the jailor's daughter, who visited him during his confinement. He wrote her a letter, before his death, signed 'From your Valentine', an expression we still use today.

January 6, 2009

Well it’s that time of year again – the setting of our New Year’s resolutions. I can’t help but think of the one I make myself every year. "Slow down. Take time to enjoy the beauty of life -- my home, friends, family and hobbies." Like everyone, some years I do better than others!

This year, New Year’s resolutions seem to carry even more importance, given everything that is going on in the world. I think it has forced all of us to step back and reassess our priorities, how we spend our time, our money.

Many of us have responded with fewer dinners out, paired back vacations and "Do I really need another pair of shoes?"

Both my parent’s and in-laws experienced the great depression. I can’t say they suffered because of it. They are/were tough, grounded and seem to always find the right balance between enjoying life and excess.

August 25, 2008

We’ve been very busy this summer enhancing for you and future members.

Above and beyond our weekly additions:

  • New wines
  • Summer menus
  • Party Tip resources
  • Toasts & Sparkling Conversation: Table Topic Cards
  • Party Ideas: “The Girl’s Night Out Box of Questions"
  • Time Savers: Lentil Salad with Black Bean Salsa
  • Outdoor Entertaining: Colorful Collection of Coated Table Linens
  • Recent Discoveries: A reasonably priced Pinot Noir from Oregon
  • Linens: a new resource for sophisticated table mats to create a modern alternative in tabletop dressing
  • Party Ideas: a new twist on M & M’s
  • In the News
  • Customer Testimonials: Check out what members are saying about
  • Non-member Registration for our “What’s Ahead" newsletter
  • Purchase Gift Certificates: members can now log-in, click on Membership, click on Purchase Gift Certificates and bypass the registration process.

Under Development:

  • Flower Arranging Video
  • Resources for Party Invitations
July 21, 2008

My husband and I are in the process of remodeling our home. We are in to month ten and becoming quite cranky. If we’re lucky, our house may be back together by the holidays.

You may ask why I am sharing this with you. Remodeling, usually involves “editing" the possessions we’ve accumulated along the way, and I’ve found with that process comes some surprises.

Many years ago my mother gave me her old Universal Sewing machine. My grandmother gave it to her over 60 years ago. I’ve used it to make stuffed animals for the children I babysat for in high school, my first, and last, blouse and a set of balloon drapes for the kitchen of the first home my husband and I bought.

Our remodel project has displaced this ancient sewing machine, which still works like a charm, by the way and prompted a conversation as well as a reaction that took me totally by surprise. As my husband and I were trying to decide where the sewing machine would now “live’ he asked me if I had an emotional attachment to it.

June 23, 2008

I don’t know of a single woman who doesn’t have “the little black dress" that can be pulled out at a moments notice and accessorized or the “power suit" she reserves for an important meeting or appointment. When she dons either one, she knows she looks like a million bucks and enters a room confident, ready to take on the world.

“The Little Black Dress" principle can be applied to entertaining. After years of entertaining I have a fool proof menu and Tablescape for each season. It creates a totally stress free environment for me because I already know it will taste and look great. Everything comes together quickly, remember, I’ve done it before! No concerns about how a new recipe will turn out or whether the dishes I bought will work with the tablecloth and flowers selected. is all about saving you time and giving you the resources, tips and ideas you need to entertain in a stress free environment with grace and style.

June 16, 2008

Check out our “Sophisticated Summer Barbecue for 6 or 8", under Spring/Summer Menus. While somewhat time consuming, it is well worth the effort if you are hosting a special event. A number of the dishes or components of the dishes can be made in advance.

I’ve made this menu on two separate occasions – Mother’s Day and a Summer Garden Party. On the first occasion my nine year nephew turned to me and said “Aunt Dee Dee this is awesome!" The first reaction, guests had, as I started serving food at the Summer Garden Party was, “Who is going to eat all this food!" As everyone started eating and smiles appeared on their faces, I new my guests were in a “happy place". The issue of too much food seems to have been quickly forgotten as I cleared away the empty platters of food.

June 9, 2008

Members, has been asked to contribute articles to “Chicago Home Improvement Magazine". So, if you live in the Chicago area, look for articles from in the coming year. was also featured in the Sunday, May 25, 2008 Business Section of the Daily Herald, a Chicago newspaper.

Our Press Release, announcing the official launch of was noted in a number of publications.


  • Wall Street Journal Market Watch
  • Houston Chronicle
  • Yahoo Finance
  • ABC News, Channel 8, Lincoln, Nebraska
  • KRON4 Bay Area News Station, San Francisco
  • ABC News, KAIT8, Jonesboro, Arkansas
  •, Chicago
  • PC

We will be adding a new section to titled, “In the News". Visit this section to find out about speaking engagements, seminars, classes; magazine and newspaper articles or radio and TV appearances.

A note to those of you, who have yet to join the community. We will be adding an option for you to sign-up and receive our monthly “What’s Ahead" e-mail.

June 2, 2008

Members, in addition to the weekly ideas added to Memorable, we’ve also added two new Spring/Summer Menus for you to enjoy: “Summer Barbecue for 6 or 8" and “Summer Picnic".

You will also find several new wines under “Recent Discoveries" and new resources noted on the home page of “Party Ideas" for imaginative gift bags and sophisticated and stylish party favors.

“What’s Ahead" gives you a three-month preview of upcoming additions to your entertaining community,

Write in and let me know what’s on your mind!

Our goal: To be a comprehensive resource that gives you all the tools you need to create Memorable Entertaining experiences in your home.

Our promise: We will strive to continually grow and change our web home for you, in ways that are meaningful and add value.

The result: Guests who wait in anticipation for your next invitation!

May 19, 2008

It’s that time of year when we start thinking about barbecued ribs, roasted corn on the cob and a heaping serving of our favorite potato salad, which started me thinking about the very first time I had barbecue. An experience I remember for a number of reasons.

My mother was born and raised in the South. So every Christmas and summer vacation was spent in Birmingham, Alabama with my aunt, uncle and cousins.

One relative, fondly referred to as “Big Nick," was known for his cooking, but especially his barbecued ribs. “Big Nick’s" barbecue was a custom built behemoth, fashioned from concrete blocks and produced some of the most awesome barbecue you’ve ever tasted.

I was all of about 7 or 8 years old when I tasted “Big Nick’s" barbecued ribs. All I can tell you is I don’t think I even chewed. I inhaled!!! They were the best things I had ever tasted.

May 12, 2008

I come from a long line of hostesses.

My grandmother was known for throwing parties that lasted for three days! I remember my aunt throwing an engagement party for her son when I was in grade school. It was around the time the “twist” was all the rage (I am dating myself). I remember thinking grown-ups were really crazy people as they all ran in to my aunt’s bathroom to grab towels to wrap around their hips so they could “twist”. My mother could pull a party together on a moments notice, which was lucky for her because she never knew when my father would be bringing someone home for dinner! In fact, after my first dance recital, my father was so proud he invited the whole audience to our house. My parents arrived home, mom was ready to go to bed and dad suggested, “Honey, you might want to wait a little bit.” About that time cars started showing up in our driveway. Mom started pulling food out of the cupboards. The party lasted until the wee hours of the morning.

May 5, 2008

Personally it is dangerous for me to walk into any store carrying china, crystal or linens. Basically, anything that involves the table! It never fails, something catches my attention, inspiration strikes and before you know it I’m filling up the shopping cart. This can happen while strolling the aisles at Home Goods, TJ Maxx, Crate & Barrel or Tiffany’s and everything in between. I have a walk-in china closet and rolling racks full of goodies to prove it. Fortunate for me – unfortunate for my husband who struggles finding places to store it all!

As I write this diary entry I recall a friend who received an invitation titled “Save the China Party". Concerned that is was a party to raise money for children in China she accepted the invitation. Upon arriving at the party she learned the hostess was moving and her husband told her that any piece of china she didn’t use before they moved she had to give away. Thus a “Save the China Party" to rescue her every piece of china!

April 28, 2008

Mothers are pretty amazing. They always seem to know when you need a word of encouragement, a hug, pampering, a taste of your favorite foods or a sympathetic ear. They are tireless in giving of themselves. And no matter how old you are, you are always their child.

My own mother never ceases to amaze me. She knows, even if I don’t say a word, when I am upset or worried. It must be something that mothers are born with or kicks in when they first hold you -- that extra special “Mother Radar".

My mother is stunning. At 82 people still stop her to tell her how lovely she looks. The consummate hostess, warm, understanding, absolutely fierce in protecting and defending her children, these are memories I will always hold in my heart.

As Mother’s Day approaches and I reminisce, what gives me pause is that even after 52 years I learn new things about my mother. Which makes me ask the question, “How well do we really know our mothers?"

April 9, 2008

Welcome to the first entry of "Debra's Diary."  "Debra's Diary" is the forum (on-line blog) for you, our entertaining community to share thoughts and ideas.

As I pondered what my first message to all of you should be, my thoughts kept coming back to how came to be.

The seeds for Memorable Entertaining were probably planted in my mind from childhood. Because of my Greek heritage, food always figured prominently in my life. Cooking together and discussing recipes were part of family life growing up.

My grandfather, aunts and uncles owned restaurants around the U.S. (big surprise). I was known for filling the coffee milk pitchers, helping at the cash register and (I hate to admit) occasionally entertaining customers with my amateur song-and-dance routines. Combine this with a Southern mother known for her gracious entertaining, and voila. Memorable Entertaining was destined to be.

It took 32 years in corporate America and a milestone birthday to finally ask myself, "What do I love doing?" and to embrace the answer: entertaining and helping others successfully entertain.