Strega Nona Entertaining: Conjuring Creative Fun

From recipes to rituals, I will kindly divine the perfect celebration for you!

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Honoring Mothers

Besides honoring our own moms this Sunday, there’s a mother goddess who could use a nod from us as well. Holding an "afternoon tea” for all of the beloved mothers in your life: friends whose parenting skills you admire, grandmothers, yourself – could be just the appropriate way to embrace the feminine energies flowing full-force right about now.

Since most consider it a luxury to sleep in, honor that too and shoot for a mid-day brunch. Hosting it yourself skips over-priced restaurants with long wait lines and gives your highly-regarded female friends a break with having to lift a finger. Have a variety of teas available to choose from, caffeinated and herbal. Make it a fancy affair with a tea service, if you have access to one, cream, honey, sugar cubes, and lemon slices. I would stop short of requiring people to dress up, however. In fact, encouraging slouchy sweats, comfy yoga pants, and hide-in hoodies should really be the order of the day.

If you do have some British blood in your family tree, by all means, embrace that. Set out a collection of small plates filled with cucumber finger sandwiches, assorted cookies and mini scones, and seasonal and organic fresh fruit. Play some Mozart in the background to set the mood and create a stimulating backdrop for intriguing conversation.

If weather permits, take it out to the patio. Regardless, have several vases of colorful fresh-picked flowers set out to welcome your guests. Gift everyone with a sachet of real lavender to take home and put in a dresser drawer or under a pillow. Before departing, let everyone there know how much they mean to you and how blessed you are to have them in your life. This is a feel-good day that should be about nurturing – for yourself and for others. Even if you are not a mother in this lifetime, that doesn’t mean you can’t practice some of those caring skills on your long-neglected you.

32 thin slices peeled English (hothouse) cucumber
4 tablespoons Neufchâtel cheese, at room temperature
8 thin slices white sandwich bread
1/2 cup watercress leaves (or assorted fresh local microgreens)
1/2 cup radishes, sliced thin
coarse salt
     To make the cucumber-watercress sandwiches, using paper towels, pat the cut surfaces of the cucumber slices to remove any excess   
moisture. Lightly spread cheese on one side of bread slice. Scatter the watercress leaves evenly over all of the spread bread slices. Layer the cucumber slices over the watercress leaves on 4 of the bread slices. Top the cucumber with some of the radishes and a pinch of salt. Top with the remaining 4 bread slices, cheese side down.
     (Recipe adapted from Steve Siegelman, "Williams-Sonoma Entertaining"

Photo by Stuart Miles from


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Colleen DuVall has written articles, plays, short films, and a novel. Most recently, her work has been featured in her new blog, Off The Beaten Path for the Shepherd Express online (, and the Wisconsin Life radio show for WPR. She recently adopted a little grey and white cat named Tessa, after beloved 22-year-old Bootise passed on.


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