Friday, June 25, 2010

Six Months Til Christmas

Are you an advance planner? Then maybe today you've noticed we have six months until Christmas. I'm looking forward to it - I love the holidays! I'll put some thought into restocking my gift closet, picking up gifts for friends and family here and there when I find them, and negotiating with family which city we'll spend the holidays in. I will have all my Christmas shopping done by December 1st. My Christmas lights go up on December 1, so I'll be shopping for the special bright LED lights I like over Thanksgiving weekend. But I won't obsess and drive myself crazy planning and obsessing over Christmas. I just am reminding myself today that it's six months away.


  • Wipe down kitchen counters (if needed)

  • Do midweek laundry - a load of whites or towels perhaps?

  • It's summertime. Have you enjoyed a mojito? Fresh squeezed lemonade? Corona with lime? Orange Crush? A fudgesicle?

  • Spend some time thinking about your New Year's resolutions, yearly goals, etc. The year is half over. Have you accomplished what you wanted? Finished projects you started? Achieved goals? Fixed something major in the house? I've cleaned my house totally, but I still have some problem areas on the deck, a broken cupboard door, and a hallway carpet that needs to be replaced.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Party Preparation

You never know when you are going to suddenly have someone over to dinner on one hour's notice.

Last night was a sore test of my hostessing capabilities. I came back on Sunday night after being gone from home for 2 weeks. My teenagers cleaned up after their own messes but didn't do any maintenance cleaning (I wouldn't expect them to). Monday I was out of the house doing errands most of the day. Tuesday I was out of the house dealing with some family issues and doing errands. I stopped at the grocery store, but only briefly. I picked up only butter lettuce, fresh strawberries, fresh corn, artichokes and strawberry ice cream. When I got home at 6pm, I made a simple, healthy dinner for the two of us - fresh corn, salad, and artichoke.

But at 7:30 pm, an old friend (with gourmet tastes) called to see if he could come over for dinner. I hadn't seen him in years. Of course he could come over! I momentarily panicked, looking at my house:

  • Front entry, swept recently

  • Kitchen - disaster zone

  • Front living room - full of shopping bags from my errands on Monday and Tuesday. Horribly messy.

  • Lower living room - Needed vacuuming, decluttering and pillow straightening

  • Downstairs bathroom - I'd left it scrubbed clean, but teenagers aren't able to refill toilet paper rolls or change hand towels to clean ones.

  • Stairways and hallways - Desperately in need of vacuuming

  • Dining table - needed decluttering

  • Outdoor patio table - I'd hosed it off the night before, but needed to Windex it and scrub off a few stains and pick off some melted candle wax

How do you make a gourmet dinner for a treasured old friend when you have basically no fresh produce in the house? I of course gravitated to the old standby - pasta - discovering in the process I had tons of different pastas but only two jars of tomato sauce left. (Adding to grocery list). The butter lettuce I'd just made into salad for dinner was bitter, and I had no tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, or avocado to brighten up the salad.

Fortunately I had pickled mushrooms, gourmet olives, and sugared peanuts I could put out for appetizers, since he arrived hungry.

I served my friend a butter lettuce, crouton, carrot and cranberry raisin salad with crumbled gorgonzola cheese on top. (He graciously ate everything I served). I was glad I had fresh corn, strawberries (with yogurt) and artichoke to serve. But I wished I had bread to make bruschetta (with my jarred Trader Joe's bruschetta mix), mozzarella and tomatoes to make a fresh caprese salad with, more fresh fruit, or time to make a quiche from scratch. I had one hour's notice.

While I was out of town, my teenagers had eaten the freezer's entire Trader Joe's emergency appetizers I keep on hand (mushroom turnovers, spanakopeta, etc). They treated them as meals, not appetizers.. Sigh. So I had to make do.

And everything turned out ok. He brought wine, we ate fresh corn and artichokes, plus pasta, and had fresh strawberries and yogurt for a fresh simple dessert. I just would like to be better prepared, next time, with fresh veggies.

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