Dinner Party Therapy

First of all, thanks for sending me so many sweet birthday messages– I actually had a very good one! Here’s what I did:

In an all-out effort to reclaim my life after spending WAY TOO MANY WEEKS recovering from the Mysterious Back Injury From Hell that sidelined me, I hatched a plot to invite some of my bloggy friends over for a lovely dinner party. I figured if I could pull that off, it would be a true indicator that I had indeed gotten my mojo back. I enlisted the help of my girls by telling them that, “Really, all I want for my birthday is for you guys to help me get ready for the dinner party, so that I won’t, you know, risk re-injuring myself…

And yes, I may or may not have added a fake demi-fainting spell to that statement for added impact.

The final guest list included Elizabeth/Busymom, Jamie/BlondeMomBlog, Lindsay/SuburbanTurmoil, and Malia/JustMalia. I pored over my recipes and chose some never-fail favorites: flank steak with coffee/peppercorn marinade, potato-fennel gratin, oven roasted asparagus, mixed spring greens with pear, gorgonzola and walnuts and individual strawberry shortcake trifles.

Doesn’t that sound impressive?!!!!!

{OK, who am I kidding, it’s just meat, potatoes, veggie and salad. However, I did get fancy-schmancy and crammed er, served the strawberry shortcake in some goblets I got at Old Time Pottery last year, so voila– “trifles”!}

As usual, I used the dinner party as an excuse to get some stuff done around here that was way overdue, like shampooing the carpet and weeding the front landscaping. I didn’t do it, of course– Charlotte did the rug cleaning and I brought back the ever-popular Armando to do the weeding. Madi pitched in and did her part too, by scrubbing down all of the cushions on the outdoor furniture so it really was a family affair. By the time 7:00 Monday night rolled around, the house was spit-polished, (which is another way of saying ‘all unsightly clutter was hidden in closets’), the candles were lit, fresh flowers abounded and dinner was prepped and ready to rock. As usual, I was too busy living my life to photo-document it, but Madi did manage to grab a couple of shots, thank goodness. Here’s Charlotte acting as my sous chef, preparing the asparagus, with Phoebe hoping against hope that she will drop something.. And no, I am not wearing athletic socks, apparently my feet really are that zombie-white. Which is kinda creepy.

As soon as the guests arrived, these bowls were full of cucumber salsa and these glasses had fresh blackberry mojitos in them– oh yes!

The table was set…

The deck was hosed down and swept clean of dog toys and dead leaves…

The flowers were pruned and watered… (And yes, these innocent-looking plants are the very ones I was potting back in May when my back viciously turned on me. I’m still holding a wee bit of a grudge.)

Even the sunflowers that sprout up every year from the seeds that fall from the bird feeder cooperated and decided to all bloom at once–

Here’s a quick shot Madi took of the relaxing-on-the-deck portion of the evening. Malia hadn’t arrived just yet and yes, the mojitos were just a good as they look.

What I DON’T have pictured, of course, is what happened right before that photo: the sight of me glancing at the clock and gasping, then madly dashing into the bathroom to run a wet washcloth around the back of my sweaty neck and under my pits and brush my hair and stick my make-up bag under the bed… so that by the time my eagerly-anticipated guests arrived, the girls and I had created the illusion that we live like this all the time and I throw these elegant little soirees together at the drop of a hat because I’m all organized and gracious and Martha-Stewart-y like that.

I don’t think they bought it, but they were nice enough to not snicker audibly when I airily waved my hand at their compliments and said, “Oh, it was nothing, really…”

The bottom line is that I had The. Best. Time. Ever.

I just love these bloggers. They were perfect guests and we all relaxed and laughed and ate good food and sat around and talked until almost 11:30. I hated to see them go and I am already planning the next one! My after-party glow lasted all the way through the dishes, and when I finally fell into bed I was tired, yes, but I had a smile on my face you would have had to sandblast off of me. I cannot thank my friends enough for coming, and my girls for helping me pull it off– and of course YOU GUYS for tolerating this endless nattering on about it!  Honestly, the whole thing did me a world of good. You know, I really don’t mind getting older– like I have a choice– but I really, really hated having my body freak out on me and being flat on my back for weeks and unable to do even the smallest things for myself. And just one small dinner party helped make me feel normal and capable and back to my old self– which apparently was even more important than I realized.

So, yeah– Happy Birthday to me!

20 Responses

  1. Busymom

    Best. Party. Ever. Don’t let her fool you, the food was amazing.

    But? I can’t quite see the greens and flags in the yard…

  2. tori

    Busymom- I am trying to keep that part of our world a secret because the possibility exists that we might want to open a theme park back there.
    It happens.

  3. bettyrwoodward

    So glad you had a good time. Everything looked amazing. I am deeply envious!

  4. LindaB

    Looks GREAT! You could put your tablescape on “Tablescape Thursday”——very pretty! I’m glad you’ve reentered the land of the living. Can’t imagine how bummed being confined to bed that long would feel.

    I wanna hear more about Armando.

  5. gracelynn

    So glad that you had an incredible birthday. You deserve it, my precious sister – after all you went through with that back. Believe me, I understand that all too well!
    ROTFL Believe me, my mom tries to pull off that never-lived-in look all the time and I have a sneaky feeling I’ll be getting the “this place needs to be spit-shined” talking to sometime tonight considering we have a family reunion Saturday here. One problem – I can’t lift right now thanks to – you got it – my back. So I guess my brother will be getting the “you-better-get-in-there-and-help-your-sister” sermon. We just shut the doors to our bedrooms – that way they cannot enter the real world LOLOL. Not without our permission anyhow.
    I LOVE that dining room! WOW! If I ever get a place of my own, I’ll have to get you and the girls to come and help me decorate. LOL

  6. Tweets that mention » Dinner Party Therapy | babybloomr -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Donna Patterson, Tori Taff. Tori Taff said: Best. Birthday. Ever. http://babybloomr.com/2010/06/23/dinner-party-therapy/ […]

  7. MostlySunny

    By all means HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!! Sounds like a wonderful evening just thrown together! Everything looked amazing…as did you. So glad you are back on your feet — literally.

  8. auburn60

    Everything looks great but the BEST PART is that you were able to do all that. A few weeks ago I would never have thought your back would allow it. Yay!

    So….would that cucumber salsa be from the same recipe you promised us back a while ago?

  9. LindaB

    Was that a gardenia I saw? I LOVE THEM! I’m pretty sure that is what Heaven will smell like. My wedding bouquet was made of gardenias. I’ve had no luck in growing them though.

  10. MostlySunny

    Tori – I just read your article in Homecoming Magazine featuring Janet Paschal (“everybody’s favorite girl next door”. Yes, my husband says “Everybody loves Janet. Why wouldn’t you?”). Great article! Good job!

    LindaB – I LOVE GARDENIAS TOO! My favorite, along with white tulips.

    Tori – I have those exact yellowy-white petunias on my deck, too (Lowe’s?). They are beautiful! Your deck is so inviting. Is that your vegetable garden way back out there? My mouth is watering for just picked tomatoes and cucumbers. MMMMMM!

  11. Phyllis R

    Glad you had a good birthday and dinner party. The table setting was beautiful. Love the black and white dishes!

  12. Linda

    So glad you had such a fun birthday, and that you’re up and moving again. Your table and flowers were beau-ti-ful!! Everything, simply gorgeous! I know a wonderful time was had by all.

  13. rachelbaker

    Right, that’s it, one day I’m coming to your house! When Jon and Russ went out for a meal he told him we could all come and visit … any time. (Don’t worry its not likely to happen, its a very long way :-)).

    I’m so pleased you had a good birthday, and even more pleased that you feel like yourself again.

  14. jonny

    Thanks for sharing, and good to read and see all those good/nice things = )

  15. justmalia

    I still find myself giggling, three days later, over all the funny things that happened that evening. It happens.

    Also still kicking myself for having stuffed myself at my father-in-law’s birthday party prior coming to your place. I was certain I would be arriving in time for just dessert! Next time, I’m arriving hungry!!

    It was a perfect evening, with wonderful company and lasting memories. Thank you, again!

  16. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Oh my goodness, I can’t believe that I missed your birthday on Monday, June 21 when it is on my calendar, for goodness sake. But, knowing you, you are still celebrating, so Happy Birthday sweet Tori!

    It is wonderful seeing you up and about….having a birthday dinner party. And, your table looks beautiful in the midst of your pretty flowers and your scrumpuous menu.

    Along with music of every kind, your part of Tennessee must be home to blogers of every kind. And, a blonde who knows how to party.

    Belated birthday wishes, my dearest Tori.

  17. blondemomblog

    You are an AMAZING hostess and I am so tickled you invited me. Everything was fabulous and I am still thinking ’bout those Mojitos. The company was fantastic and the laughs were plentiful. Also? I love your deck. If you find me out there one morning drinking my coffee well you know…I’m just a deck stalker.

    Lots of love to you during your birthday week fab mama!!!!!

  18. Lisa Strickland

    Just beautiful Tori! So glad you were able to enjoy your day with your girls and your friends. What a special day!!! You deserve every moment.Thanks for sharing so much of your life. Such a blessing, you are! Much love to you, sweet friend!

  19. Lisa Strickland

    I must confess, I do agree with Blondemom. Would love to have a deck like that. Awesome! Such a homelike, cushiony, peaceable place. Goes right along with your loveable, warming family…ok, I must hush, or ya may find me knocking on ur door one of these days(LOL jk)…would be a sweet get a way from the “boot camp of life” as stated by Mark.

    Loved the blog you had on GC, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Life sure gets hard, things may look bad, but God see’s my end and in that I will trust!

    Blessings hun and thanks for all you do. You bless me!

  20. Bodacious Blackberry Mojitos

    […] cooler or margaritas but I remembered the amazing blackberry mojitos I’d had two years ago at my friend Tori’s […]

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