Real Simple’s 15 Minutes and You’re Done


I was asked several months ago if I would be one of the presenters for Real Simple Magazine’s 10th Anniversary Celebration that was held in Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Station last week.  The concept was for each presenter to provide “various tips and tricks for people to simplify their lives” and and it was titled “15 minutes and You’re Done”.  I was in rather rarefied company; everyone from Norma Kamali to David Burke demonstrated how easily they could pretty much do anything.

My inclusion in this struck me as pretty hilarious, considering I specialize in making things complicated personally and working on things that are absurdly complicated professionally, but how could i refuse – really?

It turned out to be a very good exercise in distilling the essence of home entertaining for a specific audience.  I offered my ideas on what to have as your “par stock” or basics at hand, if you decide at 4 in the afternoon that you’d like to have some guests for dinner or drinks at 7 that night.  The list follows, now maybe I might consider using it…


*a floral knife- there is no substitute for this dangerously sharp implement (this way you can pick up flowers from the corner market on the way home and arrange them sort of  artfully)

*a selection of vases

*a table runner and or placemats (saves the pain of ironing a cloth as the doorbell is ringing)

*a lucite pitcher and glasses- festive and unbreakable, really useful if you have outdoor space- we like this one

*ingredients for a Sangria (no recipe necessary just  taste and test-lemonade, white wine, juice, fruit, whatever)

*some good quality frozen hors d’oeuvres

*an assortment of candles- both LED and wax

*a programmed iPod on the ready

I’m curious, what items do you keep on hand in case you want to entertain? (Lingerie is not an acceptable response, by the way.)



David Burke on the BIG stage

David Burke on the BIG stage

Lea and I posing before the crowd surrounds us

Lea and I posing before the crowd surrounds us


All photos taken by our amazing blog designer and chronicler, Bridget Williams,