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Talk To Me Tuesday - 4 Reluctant Entertainers

I have the next 3 weeks of interviews all lined up and I can't wait to share them with you. I've got some pretty fabulous bloggers who have taken time out of their crazy busy schedules to share a little more of themselves with you. I hope you enjoy the interviews.

Feel free to nominate another blogger for an interview or suggest questions! I only ask that you make sure all nominees have been blogging for at least a year. I'm far from a journalist so I'd love some question suggestions. What else would you like to know?

Today's interview is with Sandy from 4 Reluctant Entertainers. She's completely fabulous with some really great tips that she shares regularly. I hope you're inspired by her and you learn something new from the interview.

1. Would you kindly introduce yourself to our readers?

First of all, thank you Laurie, for the opportunity to talk about my blog!

My name is Sandy, and I’m wife to an amazing man, Paul, the love of my life. I’m the manager of our household, and I’m a carpooling, multi-tasking mom to 2 teens and 1 pre-teen kid (all three of whom play soccer). I guess you could call me a Soccer Mom! I also work from home as a billing specialist. I love my family – we aren’t perfect by any means, and my husband and I constantly have to reel the family back in, with new and creative parenting ideas.

There’s never a dull moment in the Coughlin household. Dinnertime around our table is very precious to us. We are big on “conversation” and interacting a lot at dinnertime – even with our kids’ guests! I love people. I LOVE entertaining! I love sharing hospitality ideas and inspiring others to reach out and give of themselves. For me, it all starts in my home.

2. Who or what was your inspiration to start blogging?

A friend of mine encouraged me to start a blog. Knowing very little about blogging, I forged my way through, after googling “blogger” for information. Believe it or not, I didn’t have a favorite blog at the time and I had no idea that the blog world was so large!

3. How long have you been blogging? Almost 2 years.

4. You have such a fun blog title, is there a story behind it?

My husband and I came up with this title long before I even started a blog. When I started I wanted something that would stick, that would have meaning, and would draw people back for more! For the reluctant entertainer, or even the seasoned hostess – my blog offers something for everyone!

5. Approximately how many visitors do you have on your blog each day?

I’m always amazed at this number. Right now the average is about 700. I just can’t believe that many people come back to see what’s new on RE!

6. What do you think the most rewarding qualities of blogging are?

I’ve met some of the most wonderful bloggers through blogging. Even face to face! A couple of new friends have even come to visit me and my family now. So I would say that networking and friendships are great rewards! I also find it very rewarding to know that I am helping others. I want readers to know that entertaining is accessible. Practicing hospitality should be a way of life, not a chore. And for me, I am always thinking about the things I was taught as a young girl, and how I want to pass those lessons on to my kids! I believe in passing the torch!

7. Conversely, what are the most frustrating aspects of blogging?

Because I also work from home, I find it frustrating to keep my blog totally updated. I never have time to put on the extra “bells and whistles” or play the meme games with other bloggers. It used to bother me, but now I know people come back to visit me because they know what they are going to get - inspiration, ideas, recipes and encouragement. To me, that is more important than a fancy blog!

8. Who is your current blog crush? Be honest, I know you have one. {{wink}}

Doesn’t everyone love the Pioneer Woman? I’d love to meet her, or have a conversation with her. She is so real and funny. And her photography is knock-dead gorgeous. I don’t have time to read or check out her blog very often, but she’s the first that comes to mind.

9. Since your blog is about entertaining, do you feel the need to entertain often to have something to post about, or is this just a natural part of your life?

Great question! Many of my posts are about daily living. I just write about what is happening in our home. After all, don’t we eat 3 meals a day? LOL. So to answer your question – no, we do not do more entertaining since I started my blog. I’m passionate about people and it’s just who we are.

10. What have you done to improve your stats or market your blog this past year?

Crosswalk.com asked me to be a guest contributor, as well as Christian Women Online (CWO). I’m sure both of those venues have brought readers to my site. Other than that, I really think readers come via other blogs and people talking about RE to their friends. They know what they are going to get when they visit.

11. You have come up with your own “Ten Commandments" of entertaining. Can you tell us a little more about them?

When I started my blog, I came up with my own Ten Commandments. Looking back, it was really good for me to do this because it kept me focused and on track with my writing. Since those early posts, I’ve seldom strayed from my mission on my blog. I wrote the Ten C’s because I live by them. And I wanted to come up with something helpful for other women, to help them not lose focus on why we practice hospitality in the first place!

Sandy's Ten Commandments

1 - Hospitality is a Gift
2 - Organize & Plan
3 - Set the Mood & 5 Senses
4 - Fight Perfectionism
5 - Ignite Conversation
6 - Transform with Thrifty Ways
7 - Don't Apologize for Errors
8 - Be Yourself. Don't Compare. Create Style
9 - Learning & Unique Ideas
10 - Expect Life-Changing Impact

12. You also have a talent for getting your children involved in the party prep process. What’s your strategy?

Whoever is around at the time has to pitch in and help. I give my kids jobs and we all work together to cross off the chores and get ready for company. We have definitely taught our kids about the gift of hospitality. They have learned it and we hope they will go on and use it in their lives as they approach adulthood.

13. I’m completely intrigued by your Balcony Girls. Who are they and why did you start the group?

The Balcony Girls are a group of 8 girls that I began to mentor 3 years ago. They are publicly educated girls that come together in my home twice a month to discuss the value of friendships. Through hands-on illustrations, games, role-playing or outings – the girls are learning valuable life lessons that are helping them through the critical pre-teen years.

14. I noticed that your man has published a couple books, have you as well? If not, is that a future goal of yours?

I’ve often thought that a Reluctant Entertainer book could be helpful to many women. So I just keep writing about our daily experiences in our home and try to stay focused on that. We’ll see what the future holds!

There is also a lot of interest from readers in my Balcony Girls group. My husband has written a very popular book called, No More Christian Nice Guy, and we co-authored, Married but Not Engaged.

His most recent book, No More Jellyfish, Chickens or Wimps, is also an excellent resource for raising assertive kids. It also combats what is so prevalent today with kids – that being bullying. My husband’s newest book, Unleashing Courageous Faith will be out in early 2009.

15. Do you have any suggestions for other bloggers or any success secret?

Find out who you are and stick with that theme. Having a mission has kept me on track with my blog, so when readers come back to visit me – they know exactly what they are going to get! My blog is very distinctive, as it emphasizes relationships more than recipes, people more than projects, and kindness more than country living. It urges people to put relationships first above image, teaching them how to make relating easier using their own style and creativity!

I know for me, I want to spend my time wisely when reading blogs, so I work to make my posts of value to all readers.

16. What is your next big goal?

I always had a simple goal, from the very beginning, and that was to write about the experiences in our home and to eventually print them out and give to my children and their spouses. In other words, a book would be great, but if not, I can always bind it up myself for my family. What a gift! To be encouraged to love God and people – and to practice it right in your home -- is what I want to portray to not only my children, but now to RE readers.

17. You have many tips, recipes, and party ideas on your blog. However, can you share a couple of your personal favorites?

So many posts have resonated with readers; it’s hard to keep them straight! One that comes to mind is my “Keeping it Real” post, which talks about my mission for my blog, as well as the topics of perfectionism and the “joy stealer's” that get in the way of entertaining.

The post, “What’s your Challenge" really hit home, where 198 women opened up and shared their struggles with me. I’d also say that my Balcony Girls group has gotten a lot of attention. People are always looking for new ways of sharing!

18. What one piece of advice would you give to reluctant entertainers everywhere in order to motivate them to open their hearts and homes?

Don’t read too many magazines or watch too many TV shows. They are great for creative ideas, but they can also be overwhelming when it comes to standards. They make things look so simple, when in fact, who has ½ a day to put a flower arrangement together for a dinner party? Keep it real. Start simple and plan ahead!

19. If you had a personal motto, what would it be?

Relationships are more important than appearances or things!

My blog is very distinctive, as it emphasizes relationships more than recipes, people more than projects, and kindness more than “country” living. It urges people to put relationships first above image, teaching them how to make relating easier using their own style and creativity!

Thanks Sandy! I'm completely inspired by your blog and these amazing tips. It has really got me thinking about my blogging goals and the direction I want to go as well. You're absolutely right that the relationships we have are important and entertaining is a way we can strengthen them.