When my blogger friends came to dinner in my home last night, Harry and David made my life much easier in preparing the meal, with their varieties of yummy relishes and chutneys, and easy ways of making entertaining more do-able.

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But … last night was like a dream.

My husband and I hosted in our backyard some of our favorite food bloggers, who came to town for a Harry and David blogging event. You may have read my post, here, on how our fears of entertaining can really rob us of some amazing experiences in life.

I’m glad I didn’t let them get in my way, because when we say NO we really miss out.

Last night, I’m glad I said YES.

It was surreal, actually, when Paul drove up with a suburban full of my friends who live all over the USA! Blogging has really changed my life.

(Maria, Rebecca, Amy, Jenna, Heidi, Jessica, Lori, me, Kristen, Rachel, and Bridget)

These women are all passionate about food, writing, photography, their families … life! That is what I love about them, and I know they cook and entertain well, so it was a wee bit intimidating for me.

This is where Minor and Jeannie come in.

(Minor and Jeannie plating the salads, with Heidi from Foodie Crush)

For Christmas this last year Jeannie gave me the “gift of time.”

A gift with no monetary value, but offering her and Minor’s services to our family in the way of “serving” at a dinner party. That they’d come and be our sous chefs, help prepare, serve, and … clean up! They did a fantastic job.

One of my favorite parts of entertaining is the “after dinner” glow. When we just sit around and talk. This time Minor and Jeannie joined in. Minor was the first cardiologist to start practicing in the Rogue Valley. Jeannie has traveled to over 100 countries, and shared her love of Brazil.

It was very cool for my friends to meet them.

And to meet my family, who made this evening a joint effort in all the work they did around the house to prepare. You know how it is when you host an event, it’s not like drop-in-guests, you actually get projects and things you’ve been neglecting to get done – done! And I can’t say enough about my husband, he is the ultimate handy-man, picked up all the bloggers, makes sure the music is just right, turns on all the party lights, keeps an eye on our doggie, Haggis, makes sure everyone has drinks, strikes up interesting conversation … he really helps keep the night flowing! Thank you, Paulie! :)

So where does the easy entertaining come in? Harry and David made my life much easier for this dinner, and I’ll be sharing some yummy recipes with you later, but to start off, with the weather being a crazy hot here in Southern Oregon, I served 2 fresh platters of fruit and veggies.

The bloggers oohed and awed over the Peach Relish with Candied Ginger. Delicious on a bite of cracker with goat cheese – and then plop on top a big fat blackberry. Yum!

After we went on a little garden tour, we started off gathering on our back patio.

(I love this picture, with Josh from Two Peas and Their Pod in the background, reading to their little pea, Caleb. Too sweet!)

Enjoyed good food, wine (H&D carries outstanding local wines!), and each other, before heading over to the table for dinner.

There were more surprises at dinner, but we’ll save those for later.

And what’s with those gorgeous red tomatoes hanging from the trellis?

How did I tie this theme in with the table setting (again, easy entertaining!)?

Stay tune for all the details … drop cloths, grasses, Dollar Tree, tomatoes, napkin swags … easy!

After my husband and I dropped the bloggers off at their hotel, we came home and walked out onto the back patio. The candles were still burning, the music lightly playing, but everyone was gone …

I had to pinch myself this morning … was it for real, or was it a dream?

Here’s another lesson I learned about easy entertaining. If you have kids, you’ll appreciate this post.

(A portion of the meal and wine was provided by Harry and David. Most photos in this post were taken by my daughter, Abby.)