Comments : 23

Hello, hope everyone had a pleasant Memorial Day weekend. Hard to believe its the unofficial start of summer, this is going to be a strange one with still many things here in NY closed own and restrictions in place. But I will make the most of it and know one thing, there are plenty of alfresco meals in my future this summer, one thing I can do.

I started the Entertaining Diaries because a lot of you seemed to enjoy the topic and always have lots of questions. So I started this series and decided to focus on one topic each time in addition to answering your questions. I love entertaining and though I am indeed quite rusty, with the Pandemic…..I still have it in me and cannot wait to rev up my engines yet again.

Today I am choosing to talk about al fresco dining and entertaining friends and family in the great outdoors. After all the season is here! So,  here are my thoughts on the matter as well as a few tried and true recipe ideas interspersed with your questions from the last post.


I first decide on a color theme or just a general theme…whether it’s my favorite color combination of blue/green or maybe I am center it around flowers (like peony season) or lemons:) I will figure out how many we will be, normally for dinner no more than 8-10 so we can all sit at one table.

In this case I had gone to a peony farm so they instantly set the theme! What’s not to love! If I buy flowers a few days early, which was the case here, I will put them in the refrigerator I keep in the garage (just like what florists do)!

If I have a beautiful tablecloth, I love the tone it sets otherwise will opt for pretty table linens. Or as I did below I used a simple white tablecloth and allowed the flowers to take center stage:)

I use my melamine a lot for outdoor dining but on occasion will bring out a more casual china. An example would be this birthday dinner I threw for my husband a few summers ago. Because it was his birthday I brought out china, just to make it feel a little “fancier”, thankfully we had a gorgeous day.

We will often grill for outdoor meals. It is just a perfect and relatively easy way to insure a flavorful and enjoyable meal. We started with wine and cocktails and I had shrimp cocktail and a beautiful cheese board with brushetta for about an hour until we moved onto dinner. In this case here is what was on the simple but tasty menu-


This Greek orzo salad is SO good. Evey time I make it, I wonder why I am not making it weekly. Pairs so nicely with everything from fish to chicken to steak. Even alone it is heavenly and refrigerated as a leftover…sometimes even better the next day!

6 large basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups cooked, hot orzo*
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup chopped roasted peppers**
1/2 cup sliced Kalamata olives
8 ounces sheep feta, cut in ½-inch cubes
1 cupt Italian parsley
* Be sure to salt your cooking water for best flavor. See How To Cook Perfect Pasta.**This equals 1 ½–2 peppers. Buy roasted peppers in a jar at most major supermarkets


I love making a charcuterie board. You can recreate something new every time and never have the same one twice. There can be something for everyone, if someone doesn’t like meat, then use more nuts, cheeses and dried fruits.

Love them on wood boards but truth is you can get creative and use a number of platters/trays you might already own as the base. These are always crowd pleasers and are often part of my alfresco entertaining. Best part is there is no waste as you can just put any leftover in small baggies for snacking the next day.


When eating outdoors, you want everyone to feel comfortable and at ease. Just by the nature of being outdoors, it is more causal. I will be sure to give my pillows a nice “plump up”, wipe down all the tables, sometimes put small vases of a few flowers just for an extra touch and always like to have candles.

Candles set a tone and as the sun is setting, the flicker of candles sets a beautiful tone. And do not forget about musing! We love Bossa Nova and great jazz..sets a beautiful tone.

I love ginger jars out on a patio, it just elevates the entire vibe. They are a lot more resilient that you would think, mine have withstood snowstorms!

So, here are some of your questions-


And that is a wrap for this edition of Entertaining Diaries. Now it’s your chance to ask any question you may have or suggest a new topic for my next post on entertaining. Always love and greatly value your feedback. Appreciate you stopping in, love hearing from you and how you like to approach alfresco entertaining. I am all ears:) Until next time…..

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Victoria Taylert on

Oh Tina, you hit it out of the park! You’ve made a beautiful presentation, and your advice is so informative. Have you considered publishing this in book form? I know how busy you are, but of you can do this in a blog, you can put out a book. I’ve referred this site to so many of my friends and I know they would benefit from your information in book form. Something to think about? I absolutely love your approach to entertaining!

Caroline on

Love everything you do !! Your house is gorgeous too!!

Marilyn the Nurse on

Loved all that you talked about, I think you should consider writing a book about your entertainment guides and suggestions an skill. They are all so terrific. Do more of these Diaries when you can. We all love them!

Kathy on

Great post!

franki parde on

Party on!! franki

Roxanne on

So much fun to read. Thank you, Tina. Question? You recommend so many books, many of which I have purchased for myself and as gifts, are you considering writing and publishing a book? Entertaining Diaries would be a best seller!

Roxanne on

I did not read comments before I posted! Great minds think alike! We’d all love you to publish a book, Tina!

Susan Kayden on

Love this post! So much great advice and inspiration! I’m saving this one for sure to keep as a reference. Tina, if you are thinking of writing a book (please?!) on home entertaining, I’ll be first in line to buy it for myself and everyone on my Christmas list!

Jacqueline on

Love this post. Everything about your suggested menu is so cohesive. I live in the South, so it can begin to get very muggy here, very quick. That seems to be my battle!

Peggy Wilkins on

As a vegan, (or plant-based foods only), I just wanted to explain that being vegan means no animal products whatsoever. Almost all recipes can be “veganized” with a few tweaks. If you are looking to entertain,but may have a vegan(s) at your party, there is so much more to this than a salad. Pastas are great (with veggies), whole grains, Indian food (most of which are vegan), Mexican food (offer vegan cheese such as Follow Your Heart). If you decide to make a salad for your vegan friends,they’ll appreciate something like this: Spring mix, drained can of chickpeas, olives, tomatoes, mushrooms, thinly sliced carrots. The chickpeas are the protein and they are oh,so healthy! 😀

Mona on

I concur with other comments suggesting publishing your own book. Would be fabulous with your home and all of your beautiful things!

Cindy J on

You gave so much energy! You have some of my favs for dishes too. I Ike Spode ‘s Woodland Botanical It was short lived pattern I got a complete set from Canada and of course made in England. Do you have a trusted housekeeper or live in person? It appears always photo ready.
Happy Tuesday

Peggy Huffman on

Love your outdoor patio furniture. Looking for same look for cottage, but with blue cushions. Where should I look?

Suzanne on

Loved everything. Thanks for sharing. I think a book is a great idea!!

Frannie B on

Add Kir and Kir Royale to your predinner cocktail list. Always a hit. Kir . 1/4 oz. (creme de cassis) and a dry white wine are easy to have ready for guests as they arrive. Kir Royale uses champagne (or even Prosecco) in place of the dry white wine. There are several other variations as well. Have found that the men enjoy this as much as the ladies. Add the Creme d Cassis to wine or champagne classes ahead of time and add the wine or champagne as guests arrive. Hand them a glass to enjoy as they mix and mingle before dinner. Have also found that dried fruit and olives are enjoyed with the mix on a charcuterie board. Thanks for your informative post.

Alice Genzlinger on

Love all your entertaining ideas. Greek Orzo Salad will be on my menu tonight. Thanks.

Linda Primeaux on

Hi Miss Tina, thank you for another informative post. Learning graciousness is always an art, and you have mastered it. I look forward to your next post. Thank you from one Southern Lady to another (on your East coast). Miss Linda

Deanna on

My dream is to watch one of your parties come to life. How you go through your day starting with first thing in the morning all the way to when the final guests leave.

Jeanne on

How do you take care of your outdoor furniture? Do you cover the furniture daily or move all the cushions inside?

Peggy Thal on

Just simply lovely! ❤️

Marcia on

After having had my own home for nearly sixty years, I have collected a lot of china. My late husband was in Europe for a few years immediately after WWII and during that time was friends with the Schumann family of Bavaria. The Schumanns were very generous to my late husband and sent him home with many crates of their beautiful china. In addition to all my other china, English, French and German, Schumann China has a special place in my heart.

Elizabeth Horne on

would you be willing to share the name and manufacturer of you patio furniture?

Charlotte Jackson on

I Loved The Setting Reminds Of Palmer Park Here In Detroit….The Flowers Pink My Favoriite Color….I Am A Collector ….I Love Tablescaping …I ve Done A Lot Of Charitable Events In The Detroit Area…..I Do Face Book Sometime

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