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Monday, August 9, 2010

THE RELUCTANT ENTERTAINER by Sandy Coughlin - Book Review

Wow, what a beautiful book! This hard-cover book by Sandy Coughlin is "every woman's guide to simple and gracious hospitality." It is about "real entertaining for real people." Sandy, who has a blog by the same name, "The Reluctant Entertainer", has written a very practical guide, in order to "help women break free of the anxieties that keep them from opening their homes. Emphasizing the forgotten goal of entertaining-connecting deeply with others-she shows how women can use the gifts and talents God gave them to reach out in love." (from back cover) In her book, Sandy includes chapters on real entertaining for real people, joy busters and joy building, overcoming pitfalls of perfectionism, discovering your inner Martha, engaging the five senses, the heart of hospitality:conversation, more than dinner parties:deeper connections, and from reluctant to gracious living. Sandy also includes a section on how to organize your pantry, and a host of mouth-watering recipes. The book is lavishly illustrated with full-color photos. Sandy includes quotations from such well-known authors as Chuck Swindoll, Elizabeth Schaeffer, Beth Moore, Henri Nouwen, Joyce Landorf Heatherley, Liz Curtis Higgs, and her husband, Paul Coughlin.
What comes through loud and clear is the message that hospitality is not about me, but rather, a way to show love to others and make them feel 'at home.' It is not about perfectionism, but rather, a striving for excellence. One of my favorite concepts is expressed so beautifuly by Sandy. "Food brings us to the table, but it is grace, the soft golden butter on the warm bread of the common life, that makes us want to stay there."
This is a book to be savored, read cover to cover, and then kept within arm's reach for referral. I HIGHLY recommend this lovely book!

Check out Sandy's website at http://reluctantentertainer.com/, follow her on Twitter, join her Facebook page and sign up to receive her blog posts via email.

Below is a post from Sandy's blog:
Hello, my name is Sandy Coughlin and welcome to my blog, Reluctant Entertainer!
Pull up a chair and sit back and enjoy some daily inspiration, casual, simple savvy entertaining ideas, and ways to reach out and grow your hospitality.
I’m often asked: Why a blog and now a book on the lost art of hospitality? And my answer is this: Because a growing number of people across the world are realizing that something deep is missing in their lives. And that something is connection to others, often through the blessing of hospitality.

Hospitality can be a blessing to both the hostess and her guests, but for many women today, it simply doesn’t happen. Feelings and beliefs of inadequacy, unrealistic expectations, fear of failure, and a lack of time all conspire to steal the joy that comes from opening one’s home and sharing fellowship with others.
Here at RE, I often share my entertaining stories, little tidbits about my family, what’s growing in the garden or cooking on the stove, bargains and thrifting ideas, along with recipes and posts that encourage readers to put image and perfectionism aside in order to live a more authentic and connected life with others.

Why did I start my blog, Reluctant Entertainer?
My husband and I came up with this title for this blog years ago, before I even thought about blogging. We were puzzled about why people are so reluctant to entertain and invite people into their homes. It then took some courage to start my blog, Reluctant Entertainer, in 2006, as I started sharing my life and entertaining stories with others. I’m so glad that I did.

I’m also asked, “Why do I include my family so much in the blog and book?”
Because we are a normal family and we live in a normal home (noisy, cluttery, dusty, dishes in the sink, and incredibly active), which most people can relate to. I am married to the best husband in the world, Paul, who’s also a stellar, witty, fun and brilliant father to our 3 teenagers. Yes, 3 teenagers and 3 animals – 2 kitties (Filly & Hobbes) and 1 Cairn Terrier (Haggis McStitch), with personality with a Capital P! (For more information on my husband, author and sought-after men’s speaker Paul Coughlin, please click here.)
In our home hospitality is a group effort. It’s not just about me and it often takes all-hands-on-deck to pull us all together. And it’s around our dinner table is where we often have some of our best conversations about life and what it means for be truly hospitable to others. (Christmas 2009)

I’m also asked where do I get my photography?
All of my pictures and stories on RE are from real life, taken by us or people we know. My philosophy is that when I write about true-life happenings, it’s important that I capture the moment with true-life photography. In other words, if I write about a dinner party, the pictures will reflect that party. What you see is what you get. I never use stock photography and all photos on RE are taken with a Nikon D70.

Another common question is, “Why do I use a dollar store goblet as your icon?”

Years ago I stocked up on beautiful glasses from the Dollar Store. As I started writing about dinner parties, I realized that this “icon” portrays a great message. It says that dinner parties are attainable, they are affordable, and that they can be beautiful even when on a budget.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available now at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group."

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