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Inside The Home  
Be The Best Host On The Block
By Plow & Hearth
2/21/2013 3:00:00 PM

You put clean sheets on the guest bed and stocked up the pantry – now the guests are about to arrive, and it’s time to show you’re the host with the most! Keep these tips in mind to ensure your overnight guests enjoy their stay.

The Visit

To ensure everything goes smoothly and everyone has a relaxed and happy time, keep a few things in mind:

• Always make sure your guests know what’s expected of them. Be considerate but clear about what areas are off limits, designated eating areas, and mealtimes. Flexibility is fine, but guests will appreciate knowing the rules of the house ahead of time.

• When gathering for a meal, be clear about where everyone is to sit. Place cards put out in advance are helpful, or just direct everyone (do it before you serve the meal so people aren’t milling around in confusion). Keep parents next to small children so they can help them if necessary. Always serve guests first.

• Give your guests an idea of what time you generally get up in the morning and, if planning a sit-down breakfast, what time you expect to eat. Make sure to leave out the fixings for coffee and tea in case your guests get up before you. (Tip: have non-caloric sweetener on hand as well as sugar or honey.)

• Give your full attention to your guests. Don’t take phone calls that can wait or engage in activities that exclude others (reading, watching TV, projects).

• If your guests are bringing children with them, it’s a good idea to set aside an area just for them. If it’s in an area apart from where the adults are gathering, a TV with videos is fine. In any case, have items ready that the kids can entertain themselves with, such as toys, games, puzzles, or crayons and paper (no paints or other messy items!). Outdoor games are good, too, if the weather permits and you live in a safe area.

• Have activities in mind, but be open and flexible to changes. Company comes first, so never say, “Now we’re going to do such and such;” instead, ask your guests, “Would you like to…?”


Be clear ahead of time when the visit is to end. If your guests need to leave at a certain time, be cognizant of that when planning meals or other activities on that day.

As they are leaving, show your guests to the door, thank them individually for coming, and express how much you loved having them. If they brought gifts, thank them again for the gift as they leave. Follow this up a few days later with a quick, informal note (handwritten is good, but an email is also fine) thanking them again for coming, and telling them how glad you were to see them.

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Categories: Inside The Home


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The Olla: A Brief History

Olla (Spanish, pronounced “oh-ya”) jars have been around since ancient times. Made of unglazed ceramic, ollas traditionally have short, narrow necks with wider bodies, and are made in a variety of shapes. They have been used for thousands of years for cooking, storage, and plant irrigation.

When used to irrigate plants, an olla is buried neck-deep in the ground near a plant’s roots, with the opening of the olla extended above the soil so that it can be filled with water periodically. The porous walls of the unglazed pottery allow the water to seep through gradually, constantly and consistently hydrating the plants without overwatering them – and without wasting precious water to evaporation or runoff.

The use of ollas for irrigation was introduced to the American Southwest by Spanish conquistadors during Colonial times, becoming very common among Native American tribes and Hispanic settlers. Though the technique gave way to more modern methods of irrigation some time ago, its superior efficiency, coupled with its simplicity, has caused it to make a comeback. Though the technique has changed little since its introduction, today’s ollas are usually capped off, making them even more water-efficient.

Perfect for home gardens, Ollas are a super-easy, eco-friendly, less time-consuming way to water annuals, perennials, herbs, vegetables and plants of all kinds in dry, sandy soil, very hot or drought-prone areas, raised beds, and even pots, planters and hanging baskets. Fill the olla before you leave on a short vacation to enjoy worry-free watering – and a smaller water bill!

How it Works:

Water is pulled directly through the terra-cotta!

Read more about Ollas on our blog.

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