BY JANET MANDELSTAM
Lynn Wilson knows firsthand the stresses that military families face — transfers every three years, no friends at the new post, deployments, separations.
So in her 38 years as an Army wife, the Bloomington native made it her mission, “to get the families in my husband, Bob’s, unit together, to build a bond among them.” She did it by hosting theme parties tied to the seasons. “Nothing brings people together better than a good party,” Lynn says.
Now that the Wilsons have retired — Bob as a lieutenant general — Lynn’s collected plans and recipes for 24 of those parties have been published in a book titled At Ease: A Salute to Creative Entertaining (Favorite Recipes Press).
The book is divided into months, with two parties for each month. “I think of the time of year and do one party for couples and one for a girl get-together,” Lynn says. From a New Year’s brunch to a December holiday party, the book includes plans and recipes for the Kentucky Derby (mint juleps and country ham), Flag Day (barbequed ribs and deviled eggs), and a special occasion fall dinner of beef tenderloin and flaming baked Alaska.
Most of the recipes can be prepared ahead of time. Lynn explains why that’s important to her: “At my first party I was still in the kitchen in my pajamas when the first guests arrived.”
Each party has a theme, an idea for a creative invitation, decorating suggestions, a planned activity, menu, and recipes. “Everything is just a suggestion,” she says, “but I want people to be excited about my parties before they get there.”
Lynn was born into a military family in Bloomington, spent her first 12 years as an “Army brat”and returned to attend Bloomington High School, where she met Bob. They married after graduating from Indiana University and began their military life together with postings in Egypt, Germany, Hawaii, and bases across the continental U.S.
At Ease was written with the military in mind, but the parties, “translate well into civilian life,” she says. One dollar from the sale of every book is donated to military family charities. At Ease: A Salute to Creative Entertaining is for sale in Bloomington at Goods for Cooks. *