Archive for June, 2010

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!

You knew it was coming… “Awkward Family Photos”!

Well, after sharing the joys of Cake Wrecks and People of Walmart,  it’s time to move on to my personal favorite, Awkward Family Photos!

Honestly? I have been known to start clicking on this site and then look up and discover I have lost an hour of my life I will never get back. And it’s totally worth it. Like the other sites, this one features real photos sent in by readers– because you can’t make this stuff up. A lot of them are centered around themes like Christmas card photos, birthdays, weddings, reunions, etc. You know, all of the occasions that loving families get together and thoroughly embarrass themselves. So without further ado, here is a little sampling of the wonder and the goodness that is Awkward Family Photos…

We’ll start with one that I particularly love because I happen to also have two teenagers, and I am currently adjusting to the fact that Madi recently colored her hair to a startling (to me at least) shade of  black. Yes, she is almost 18 years old and it is her hair, and yes, it is demi-permanent and according to the box will supposedly fade away after 63 washes (not that I’m counting), but still. It is an adjustment. Perhaps someday she will look back on photos of this time in her life with the same fond nostalgia that I’m sure these young men have experienced. (Check out the mom’s expression– it says “Yes, I know they look ridiculous, but they’re my sons, whaddya gonna do?”)

**As a child I totally remember a few uncomfortable moments like these, where my entire head would disappear while being hugged by sweet ladies of the church.

**Don’t you wonder what the angelic one did right before the picture was taken? Ah, the joys of brotherhood…

**I don’t know what to say about this one. Except maybe, “Ewwwww.”

**Here’s what the person who sent this one in had to say about it:

“My younger brother in his ‘awkward yet fabulous’ phase. Please note the following: 1. Western-style shirt with Christmas-star-snowflake ornament…. 2. One exposed skate (just to prove that you’re wearing skates?). 3. Indestructible plastic-frame glasses because, of course, the parents were worried about their child breaking the stylish/expensive ones. 4. Gold lamé fabric bringing out the most unsympathetic tones in the ginger kid’s skin and hair.”

**No, this is NOT Momma Lloyd. (But she would totally do this.)

**This is actually kind of ingenious and I wish I’d thought of it.

**Just…. WHY?

**Thank God someone had a camera handy.

**I love this one! A lovely old-fashioned photo and then, years later, the story behind the picture. It is entitled “Fifty Cents.”

The Awkward Family Photo Grandparents return to talk about one of their first dates and the price you pay for getting fresh.

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