Six short years ago, I spent my days promoting other people's businesses and brands. I would spend my nights dreaming of a brand of my own. A brand that would portray an easy, thoughtful, fulfillinig, comfortable, elegant, and creative lifestyle that I had sought to have for myself. A life of easy going entertaining, homecooked dinners, a cozy home and fun weekends of exploration and travel.
At my desk job as an Advertising Executive, I daydreamed of hosting intimate dinner parties, creative baby and bridal showers, festive cocktail events and laidback clambakes. I knew that I had a 'something' share, maybe a style and philosophy for entertaining that others would also find appealing. I began plans for an event planning company that would specialize in designing small to medium-sized events in the homes of my (future) clients. Occasions Entertaining was born.
I spent five years planning and catering events - creating floral arrangements, decorating cupcakes, designing tables settings, selecting linens, choosing menus and cooking for my very special clients.
Every week (sometimes every other day) I was planning or preparing something new - a baby shower then a rehearsal dinner followed by a birthday celebration. I can actually remember driving home from a 500 person cocktail party that I just completed (with my car still full of rentals) thinking about a fire engine birthday cake for a toddlers birthday party I was going to work on the next morning. And... there were always those mornings of getting up at 4:30 a.m. to prepare the monthly breakfast for one of my favorite corporate clients' morning board meetings. It was a very busy and exhausting lifestyle. I loved it. I loved that every single day I was doing something different, being creative and making something.
In 2007, I was asked to be a guest instructor for a cooking class at a gourmet shop called A Thyme for Everything. I taught my class my secrets to hosting a successful cocktail party. We prepared some of my signature menu items that are always big hits at my parties. I also demonstrated easy to assemble floral centerpieces that could be created from grocery store flowers and a table setting that was simple and seasonal. I taught a new class with a new Entertaining Idea every month. Instructing the classes brought an entirely new light to what a career in 'entertaining' could look like. I loved inspiring and teaching others to do the things that brought me so much joy and fulfillment.
At about the same time that I started teaching the classes, I started dating my husband. In fact, it was his Mother who recommended me as a class instructor! Over the last four years we've enjoyed building our life and creating a home. We both thrive on projects and creating - we are constantly dreaming up new pieces of furniture to build, cobblestone patios to construct, and small (or major) modifications we can do that will have big impacts. Some of our favorite times together are waking up on Saturday morning, heading to the coffee shop and then straight to the hardware store to get supplies or inspiration.
Our travels always inspire us - whether it is a favorite new recipe (homemade pasta from our Italian honeymoon), or a design aesthetic for our home from a trip to Aspen or Seaside. Due to a new job opportunity for MIke, we have recently moved from our first home in Fairway, Kansas to Concord, Massachusetts. Our weekends are full of exploring nearby towns, coastlines and islands. We have many new projects planned for our new home - stay tuned!
Today, I have closed the chapter on my event planning business. Instead, I spend my days entertaining for our friends, making our home cozy and traveling with my husband, Mike. Through this blog, I strive to exhilarate my readers by sharing my experiences of living what I feel is a very good and fulfilling life, hoping that it will bring insight and inspiration into the lives of my readers.
My Entertaining Philosophy :
I do not believe that parties are about perfection and fussiness.
"Entertaining at its best is done often, with an effortless and easy style. Entertaining should be fun - for the host and the guests. A party with eleborate decor and fancy food isn't necessarily more fun. In fact, if the hostess is running around the kitchen and not spending any time entertaining, it can feel awkward - like she is torturing herself for the sake of your dinner. It can put a lot of pressure on your guests to feel like they should alieviate your stress. A great party should be easy to host and easy to attend. I always recommend to entertain in a style that is well-suited to your personality. Don't try to be a June Cleaver if your are a clearly a Lucille Ball. Go with what feels good to you - if that is burgers on the grill or a make-it-yourself pizza party - perfect!"
I believe that picking out a menu for entertaining can make or break your party.
"Not only does it wear me out to make several complicated recipes, too many times our tastebuds (and stomachs) can be overwhelmed with too many rich flavors. I like to serve one great show-stopper... a rich blue cheese sauce, a really decadent chocolate soufle, a creamy truffle pasta, or an over-the-top cheesy mac n'cheese. Everything else should be simple. For example, if you are serving a really rich entree, be sure to serve a light (maybe fruit?) dessert. And I hardly ever serve appetizers if I'm serving dinner - it is disheartening to hear that someone is too full for dinner after indulging too much baked brie!"
My style of entertaining is casual and elegant at the same time.
"When I'm throwing a party, I rarely use plastic plates or paper napkins... and that is not to be stuffy or fancy, but because I think food tastes better off of real plates and real utensils. I think people feel more at home when they serve themselves from a big stack of white plates and a soft cotton napkin. I also think it is important to have fresh flowers or herbs on your table. You don't have to have a formal bouquet from the florist - it could be from the grocery store or your backyard - just something alive that is fresh and seasonal in a small vase is perfect. There is something intrinsic about the presence of flowers that make everything seem more special."
I enjoy entertaining all of the time, not just "Special Occasions" and Holidays.
"When people only entertain for special occasions or holidays, they get very nervous to host a party and it can become a very stressful event. Not only are they practically remodeling their home for the occasion, but they end up over spending their budget and running themselves ragged. I like to have a party - whether it is a breakfast or a board game party - at least once every two weeks. It keeps our home feeling open and full of friends... and it keeps me from getting too far behind on housework."
Jenny was raised in the small historic town of Lexington, Missouri where most of her family still lives. She grew up in the country, as her Father is a Farmer. She loved living in the country and hopes to return to the wide open at some point.
Before her entrepreneurial adventures, she attended and graduated from Mizzou's School of Journalism in 2003 and began work as an Advertising Executive.
In 2005, Jenny opened Occasions Entertaining, an event planning company. Through her company she took on rolls of a wedding planner, florist, cupcake specialist, wedding cake designer, and caterer.
In 2007, Jenny began The Bliss List, a wedding vendor guide and blog.
Jenny married Michael Hobick in 2010. Visit her blog to see photos from their wedding in Seaside, Florida and honeymoon in Italy. They currently live in Concord, Mass. and spend their weekends entertaining friends, traveling and working on diy home projects.
Jenny was recently featured on the cover of Her Life Magazine, Lucky Magazine, theMartha Stewart Home Design Blog and Style Me Pretty, among other publications.