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kathleen sharing the essentials http://www.katholeen.com hippy mom advice from a lazy martha stewart type Mon, 05 Feb 2018 22:42:23 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 http://www.katholeen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/cropped-Elongated-Logo-32x32.jpg kathleen sharing the essentials http://www.katholeen.com 32 32 33460350 would you come for dinner? http://www.katholeen.com/cooking/would-you-come-for-dinner/ http://www.katholeen.com/cooking/would-you-come-for-dinner/#comments Sun, 04 Feb 2018 14:31:49 +0000 http://www.katholeen.com/?p=74 I have so many friends that are intimidated by the thought of entertaining.

Maybe they think this:

Maybe they didn’t grow up in a family that did it regularly and easily (thank you Mom!) Maybe they over think it all and get paralyzed. It really can be fun and easy! I’d love to walk you through a lovely grown up fun dinner party and break it down for you without it being formal & scary

End Goal: fun for you and your guests!

A few basic tips first

  • Start small try asking only 4 or 5 people -maybe 2 other couples if you are with a partner or maybe 5 people if you’re single. Don’t stress a lot about the mix – if they are your friends they must be fairly congenial people!
  • Don’t obsess about cleaning and decorating -tidy up and turn the lights down.
  • Do as much as you can ahead and pick some easy tried and true recipes.
  • When people ask what they can bring – a grown up dinner party isn’t a potluck -ask them to just bring themselves ready for a fun evening or at most suggest a bottle of wine.
  • If you work full time (& I do) schedule for a non-work night so you have time to have fun with the whole thing from preparing right through to thanking your guests for coming.

Breaking it down

  • Figure out a menu that you feel comfortable with and can prep ahead as much as possible.
  • Start with a protein and pair it with a couple of sides -keep it to three things to simplify.
  • Next consider a store bought appetizer and dessert that you can plate up but don’t have to make yourself -or work to your own strengths! Make dessert and buy a main course…
  • Think seasonally – heartier in the winter/lighter in the summer and write out a menu list and let that drive the grocery list.
  • While you are grocery shopping buy some fresh flowers for the table.
  • Get out your good china (why not use it?) and put out some candles too.
  • Make your guests feel special with nice touches that you can manage -don’t let this become drudgery and a tiring ordeal. Please yourself too. Making your dinner party a bit dressed up doesn’t mean drop dead formal.

Here’s a recent dinner party we did 

I picked up some pretty flowers at the grocery store -I love flowers and arranging them. I decided to make a centerpiece for the table.

Pro Tip: they can look just as nice plopped in a mason jar or cluster of little glass bottles.

The bowl I wanted to use was too wide so I used a drinking glass inside of it to hold the flowers in shape more easily. I added some greenery first to give a little structure that would support the flowers. I picked a monochromatic palette this time -but color is fun too. Just pick some flowers that will look nice with your table cloth and dishes. I arranged mine into a loose round shape and tucked a little reindeer moss into the bowl around the drinking glass.  Pro Tip: put a couple of flowers in the powder room too.


To set the table I wanted to use my colorful pretty plates. Since they have a such strong pattern I went with white linens and softly colored flowers. This part of making your table lovely and welcoming should be fun. I never worry about the “correct” silverware and what order it’s in -I just put down whatever I think we’ll actually need for the meal.


This time our table just has knives and forks & a dessert fork at the top of the plate. You can also tell I didn’t bother to iron the table cloth – it didn’t bother me and I figured the flowers and plates were pretty enough to distract. Trying to iron a tablecloth would have stressed me out -not one of my skills. Remember -work to your own strengths!

Pro Tip: Check in advance if your guests are vegetarian or have allergies or dietary restrictions and plan accordingly.

On to the food ~ on our dinner menu for six:

Spreads & Crackers / Wine & Cocktails

Grilled Filet Mignon steaks

Buttery Oven Roasted Potatoes with Parsley

Roasted Asparagus & Cherry Tomatoes

Lemon Cake (store bought slipped on to a cake plate)


For the “befores” as we like to call them I bought two kinds of cheese spreads and two kinds of hummus and put them out with some crackers & crisps. I made it look nice by arranging it all in little bowls on a platter -bowls all prepared ahead & refrigerated with plastic wrap and crackers added just before serving. We chilled some wine and put out cocktail makings & had plenty of non-alcoholic choices too (or as we say at our house “we fired up The Poodle Bar”). Casual, good and easy!




Pro Tip: make a time line and work in reverse to plan out when you need to do stuff. Start with what time you want to sit down to dinner and plug in how long to cook things, preheat oven etc prior.

My husband grilled the steaks on the patio, it was a cold day but he’s brave. We took them out of the fridge a few hours before dinner to come to room temperature and seasoned them with salt and pepper. I put a piece of parchment paper over the platter I wanted to serve them on and put the raw meat on the parchment. Put the meat on the grill, throw out the parchment -then put finished meat back on the still clean platter. Steaks should rest about 10 minutes after cooking and this gives you time to pull out all of the sides you have pre-done!

The sides were prepped well in advance of the party and only had to go in the oven. For the Buttery Potatoes I made them that morning but you could even do the day prior. They always get rave reviews when I serve them. Start with Russet Potatoes. Peel and dice them. Cook in salted water until just done and drain. Return them immediately to the still hot pot you just cooked them in and gently toss them to dry them and slightly rough up their surface.



Place them in a casserole/baking dish you can serve them in. Season them with some salt and white pepper. Then pour over a stick of melted butter and mix to coat all of the potatoes. At this point you can cover them and refrigerate them. They need to bake at 375 for about an hour -I pull out of fridge about half hour ahead so I am not putting them into the oven ice cold. Bake them until they are golden and starting to brown on the tips. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley or dill.  No real recipe -but I used about 8 medium russets and one stick of butter. There were some left over after serving 6 for dinner but we were OK with that!


For the other side dish I did oven roasted asparagus and cherry tomatoes. I had it all prepped and ready to go in the oven on a baking tray in advance.


Wash the veggies well and place on a parchment covered baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss gently to coat. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast at 375 for about 25 minutes. Place on a pretty serving platter and it’s ready to go.

The dessert was all made -I just pulled it out and served it.

Since this was a real dinner party -I failed to take photos of the finished food & serving. I was enjoying the evening and my guests! With an easy menu you can spend most of your time with your guests and not slaving away in the kitchen.

Pro Tip: if you feel unsure of yourself practice on your family -they’ll enjoy it!

Let me know if I can help you! I love giving dinner parties and entertaining -so I’m happy to answer any questions or help you plan a menu. Just leave me any questions in the comments.



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looking forward to a colorful weekend & a friday freebie http://www.katholeen.com/art/looking-forward-to-a-colorful-weekend-a-friday-freebie/ http://www.katholeen.com/art/looking-forward-to-a-colorful-weekend-a-friday-freebie/#comments Fri, 26 Jan 2018 17:54:13 +0000 http://www.katholeen.com/?p=53 Happy Fri-Yay everyone ~  Give-a-way at end of post! 

Telecommuting today -which is so wonderful! My kitchen doubles as my office and art studio. So once I am done with my workday today I am looking forward to finding some art time.

Lately I’ve been trying to brush up on my very limited watercolor skills. Giving myself “permission” to ditch perfection and to just enjoy the process has been a lot of fun.

I took a wonderful class years ago with Jane LaFazio , so I looked back and pulled out some pieces left from that and tried to review my own now incomprehensible class notes :::::::sigh:::::: there was use shadows they really pop stuff.

Back then I was working on flowers and still life vignettes and frustrated by my skill level…I have such a different mind set now and it’s really freeing. Art is my therapy, I just want to have fun and play with color.

Here is a couple of old ones from that time:


Lately I have been reveling in color:

And making some cards:

I am obsessed with the little moonlit landscape that was inspired by Melanie April – she’s offering an online class on these and I can’t wait to do it! She calls these little gems “Wonderland Watercolors“. Off to jump into this rabbit hole with her as soon as work is done today!

I am so excited about it being Friday and having some upcoming art time that I would love to snail mail 3 people a handmade watercolor card. First three people to leave me a comment get some love back!

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rainy morning soup making http://www.katholeen.com/cooking/rainy-morning-soup-making/ http://www.katholeen.com/cooking/rainy-morning-soup-making/#comments Tue, 23 Jan 2018 21:39:47 +0000 http://www.katholeen.com/?p=42 It was pouring when I woke up today, but I was just happy to be at home on my river….

After my home morning routine of working for a while early, a long hot shower and a big cup of tea (today with a drop of Thieves oil for immune support) I threw together some easy “what I have around today” soup.

No real recipe – a container of short-cut butternut squash chunks, a sweet potato left in the pantry and a sweet onion – I had some homemade stock in my freezer -but when I don’t -I like this organic bone broth.

I got out a baking sheet and covered it with parchment -if you crumple up parchment and then smooth it out it stays where you want it on your pan!

Rough chop the vegetables toss them in olive oil and season with salt and pepper, roast them at about 375° for about half and hour. Melt your frozen stock in a heavy pan on top the stove (or warm up your boxed stuff).

Once the veggies are roasted and the stock is hot, add the veggies to the stock -I gather them up in the sheet of parchment and dump them in -quick and easy.

I simmer them in the stock for about 20 minutes so they are really soft and then whiz them with my stick blender -I like to leave some texture. Roasting the veggies really makes it delicious! Taste it for seasoning and then YUM you have a wonderful pot of homemade soup………………as Ina would say “How easy is that?”

It really is too! you should try it – let me know if you do and how it turned out.

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do you ever feel stressed? http://www.katholeen.com/essentialoils/do-you-ever-feel-stressed/ http://www.katholeen.com/essentialoils/do-you-ever-feel-stressed/#comments Sun, 21 Jan 2018 20:13:01 +0000 http://www.katholeen.com/?p=35 Some stress is healthy – but chronic stress can wreck havoc on your body. Cortisol levels can really mess with your adrenals and thyroid -causing your whole system to be off. I am not a doctor or health care professional, but I am my own best advocate for my personal health. Shhhh -I am also kind of a science geek so I enjoy doing my own research and digging in when I feel there’s a problem. I was asked by a friend to share what I am doing to support my adrenals & thyroid – so I thought I’d share it here on my blog.

It starts with eating healthy whole foods as much as possible -we do the best we can here -it’s so not perfect. Also reducing your toxic burden helps too -all those synthetic chemicals we are exposed to or apply to ourselves daily. We try in myriad ways to reduce them in our home and lives. Those two steps are big conversations in and of themselves!

I use essential oils daily to support my health and well-being. I make up a mix of my own in a roller bottle that I apply daily. It’s a blend that may support healthy function of your adrenals & thyroid. There are no magic bullets, but I opt to be proactive -plus I think it smells really nice <side benefit>. I roll it on my neck every morning where I have half my thyroid left.

So here is my special recipe for adrenal & thyroid support:

An empty glass roller bottle (I get them on Amazon)

10 Drops each of these Essential Oils:  (I only use Young Living because of this)







Black Pepper

Fill the rest of the bottle up with carrier oil -I like Leven Rose Organic Jojoba (on Amazon too) -but you can use your favorite.

Pop on the roller ball top, shake gently to blend and apply daily.

I find it to be a wonderful support – if you decide to try it let me know what you think!

If you use other oils for this purpose I’d love to hear about what you are using -please comment. We all learn from each other and find what is best for us as individuals.


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hi -thanks for stopping by! http://www.katholeen.com/intro/coming-soon/ http://www.katholeen.com/intro/coming-soon/#respond Tue, 09 Jan 2018 00:08:15 +0000 http://www.katholeen.com/?p=16 Welcome to my little corner of the internet. I’d love to offer you helpful content and serve you! I am a true ambivert (extroverted introvert) so having an online component to my life beyond Mr. Zuckerberg’s kingdoms is something I am working on. I’m not super tech savvy -but I am incredibly visual -so I’ll try to make this pretty.

Why would you want to come visit me here? I am here to share my passions and maybe support you in yours -doesn’t everyone need a hippie godmother in their back pocket as a resource for all sorts of random stuff? Let’s be friends!

I like to make art, make food, make friends, make quilts, teach, write, live on the water, watch nature, grow things, eliminate toxic stuff, use essential oils and share my passions generously.

Here’s a picture of me and my son at the Hirshorn last year for Yayoi Kusama. I generally hate all photos of me but I am seriously working on that this year too -I really like this one!



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