Tuesday, September 10, 2013

BookMarks Festival of Books Author's Party 2013

BookMarks Festival of Books celebrates literacy all year long in the North Carolina triad and culminates with our festival every year on the first Saturday after labor day.  We love our authors and throw down the welcome mat. Each year I host the Authors' dinner with a small cast of talented volunteer friends. My neighbor, Margaret French, who is a talented cook and author of the popular blog, The Right Recipe, is invaluable to me with her experience and timing in the great kitchen dance.

We set up a bar outside by the front door and pre-poured the wines to avoid the beverage bottleneck. My adorable new Wake Forest intern, Julia, was a quick study behind the bar and in the kitchen!

Le Menu
Trader Joe's Kale and Spinach bites (a smash hit)
Trader Joe's Guacamole--delicious!
Pico de Gallo 
 Main Course
Chicken Enchiladas made with fresh tomatillo sauce and chicken thighs--key to moisture retention
Antipasto Platter with tomatoes, cucumber, fresh mozzarella, artichoke hearts, marinated fresh red peppers, grilled eggplant rollatini, fresh chopped basil and heirloom baby tomatoes--topped with my favorite Le Martinique Blue Cheese Vinaigrette
Black Bean Salad and Cold Mexican Rice Salad


Watermelon with fresh squeezed lemon juice and fresh mint

Simple as it is, this dish was a hit! Go heavy on the lemon juice and add lemon garnish. 

We also had delectable Gigi's mini Cupcakes which are so pretty and festive and were rapidly dispatched. 

Tips for Entertaining 
* I am  fearless and rather light hearted about entertaining. I do a better job when I partner up with sharp cooking friends who will help me time loading food in the ovens and watching that nothing gets burned or undercooked. This is especially true for this event as I am hosting strangers. Conversely, if you are a nervous party giver, partner up with a more relaxed friend who will talk you out of worrying that everything has to match. My tables go high and low for big parties-- I think it looks wonderful and makes the guests feel more at home.  I bought these table cloths at World Market and I love them!

*Make the flowers and arrange the tables and furniture for the party the day before. If the season is right, buy your flowers and fresh veggies at your farmers market. You cannot beat the quality and the price. 
*Cater a portion of the party and buy quality frozen appetizers. If you have a Trader Joe's they have fabulous ready made items. Whole Foods makes the enchiladas, rice salad and black bean salad for us and gives us a great rate. Thank you Whole Foods!!

Dahlias, Lisianthus, and Clover Flowers
*I start with the largest flowers to build support for the smaller stems. Remove all the leaves that go under water or take up too much space.
* Glass marbles placed in the bottom of the container help to hold the stems in place. Note to self: order some!! 
*Avoid too much symmetry, let the arrangement look like flowers in nature. We don't do tortured flowers!  
*Make lots of smaller arrangements rather than a few large ones. I like it better, but in the Spring with all the wild branches and blossoms there for the foraging, I might go to crazy town. 
*Carefully save the buds and cut them as long as you can. They add dimension and echo the garden. 

*Collect etched hurricane lanterns. A friend and I purchased 20 together and share them back and forth for big impact inside and out. Make sure they have solid bases to avoid wax spills, fire hazard and to double up as vases for those big branch arrangements. Now... does anyone want to meet our adorable literary guests? There is a reason for this party after all. 

The "Dork Diaries" author Rachel Renée Russell, center, with her daughters Erin, left, and Nikki. There was no missing the endless lines of children all day long waiting to have their books signed. They worked tirelessly throughout the day signing and making little "Dork Diary" doodles for the children. How they all look and seem fresh as daisies in the evening, I do not know. Thank You, Renee  and family for giving our Winston-Salem children such empathy and inspiration! 

August Turak, author of "Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO's Quest for Meaning and Authenticity" hamming it up with his actual brother. By coincidence this book was born over my dinner table with one of his friends and the publisher of Columbia Business School Publishing, Miles Thompson. Read HERE for my discussions of his book comparing Trappist Monks, The Grateful Dead, and Hickory Chair. 

Gluten free guru, Elana Amsterdam author of multiple cookbooks and most recently, "Paleo Cooking: from Elana's Pantry, Gluten--Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free recipes was a delightful guest.  In the background Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire mysteries which currently runs as a television series on A&E, was a fun addition to the group. 

Charlie Lovett, author of critically acclaimed "The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession" relaxes with his wife, Janice. Also of note, BookMarks featured Sheila Bair, former Chairman of the FDIC sponsored by Truliant Federal Credit Union. New York Times best selling author, Deborah Harkness was a popular speaker. Debbie Macomber, also a New York Times best selling author, drew crowds at her signing. With over 170 million copies of her books in print worldwide, she's a romantic fiction rockstar. There were so many more wonderful authors than we can mention here--click HERE to see our 2013 roster. Thank you 2013 authors for being a part of The BookMarks Festival of Books community!

All Photos with the exception of the guest shots
are the courtesy of Margaret French of The Right Recipe

October High Point Furniture Market is coming up!! 
If you are shopping for a special item or want to shop High Point with Liz
contact us: 
Visit our online store for inspiration, we have over 1,800 selections in furniture, lighting and accessory categories, or call for antiques, one of a kind and custom upholstery.  


  1. Liz you are always at your best! Could there be a better dinner party? The guests; an excellent group and also some new books I will read!

    2013 Artist Series

  2. Nice party :) Love the dinner ware too they are just beautiful! The patterns are so striking similar to the bed sheet I got in Singapore :)

  3. Hello Friend!
    when someone has to hold a family gathering, he will make use of the dining room. When a person has family dinners, it will also require the dining room. Lastly, when a romantic evening is being planned for a dear one, the dining room is always found to be in the equation.
    Living Room Furniture

  4. You put me to shame Liz - I get in a tizz with a few friends coming round. What a wonderful meal you provided everyone. I'm inviting myself round for some of that watermelon and mint.

  5. Well decorated rooms and tables.Various dishes looking so yummy.Different salads and watermelon are also fresh n yummy.

  6. Your house looks gorgious my dear friend. This is my ideal type of event, not just a party but interesting and stimulating. Would love to see you in good old NYC!

  7. A very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. gourmet catering sydney


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