She’s alive!

Boy, I stink at this whole blogging thing these days. I would apologize and feel bad about it, except that I don’t, so I won’t. There’s so many exciting things going on with life at the moment. If only I could tell you everything, but some things will have to wait. So I’ll just wink at you through my computer instead.
In the meantime I’ll post a picture from my last dinner party – this was my second annual Easter lunch. Last year we had about 20 people, this year we upped it to 30. I’m not sure if that means next year I should plan for 40, but if that happens I think we’re going to have to add another wing to the house, or serve meals in the bathroom, because this year I had folks squished into every spare nook and cranny of my house I could possibly find. And I loved it.
I’m already gearing up for my next party – a wedding shower brunch for a dear friend. Oh the possibilities! Of course, that’s not until June, so just this past week I started getting the itch to have some of my Sunday School girls over for a big spaghetti dinner on my back porch in the next week or two. Maybe that will hold me over…

Fun with a photo booth

I think I’m going to declare 2009 to be the Summer of the Weddings. I’m not complaining… weddings are a great excuse to see old friends, eat a free meal, and dance the night away. Last night we went to yet another one… this may be one of the coolest weddings I’ve ever been to.
First, they had a photo booth.

Then, they had ice cream… and homemade chocolate cream pie. Even chocolate chip cookies.

And finally… there was two-stepping. My night was complete.
Congrats Katie & Justin! May God bless your new marriage, and thanks for a fantastic party!

The Luncheon

Today I had 17 people over for Easter lunch. It was a blast! One of my joys in life is throwing parties. It’s right up there with Christmas and getting a tax refund.
I did my best to decorate in Martha Stewart style… check out the floral centerpieces… I made them myself (total cost for four of them… less than $20)…

Everybody brought a dish… I’ve never seen so much food in one place. It was a regular feast.

It was such a good day… I am so blessed to have the best family in the whole world, and some pretty cool friends that sometimes feel like they’re part of my family. 

Happy Easter, and praise Jesus for all that this day means. 

Cookin’, and hangin’, and wishin’, and dreamin’

I have so much in my head that’s just begging to spill out onto the page, but it will have to wait. I’ve got somewhere between 15-20 people coming to my house for Easter lunch on Sunday, and I’ve got tons to do to get ready for it! I absolutely LOVE hosting people at my house, and can’t WAIT to have everybody here together. Most of the people, besides my immediate family, are other single people from church whose families are out of town and needed some place to go. It has become a tradition to host at least one random person at our family holidays, but this year is definitely a new record! I figure, the more, the merrier! I’m so happy to have friends take part in a special celebration. Plus, I like an excuse to cook for hungry people.

And in true Bethe-the-overachiever form, I am determined to have a well-decorated dinner party! So my good friend is coming over to help me hang curtains on Saturday (the ones that have sat in a box since they arrived in early January), I need to plant some spring flowers in my garden, and I need to figure out how I’m going to seat 15-20 people in my rather small dining room. I have purchased perfectly color-coordinated placemats and napkins for the occasion, and even found some of my discontinued dishes on E-Bay so that I could increase my collection from 9 to 15. I’m not sure what the other 5 people will eat off of, maybe a paper towel or something. I’ll be sure to buy the 2-ply just in case.
In other news, I found out that my research article is going to be published next month in a major academic journal! We got the official approval this week, and while you normally have to wait months to see your work in print, ours just fell into place and it worked out that it’s coming out in the very next edition! Ten months and 28 pages later, I think it just might be worth it! My professors are happy to have a student get published, I got a free trip to Miami out of it, and I learned a thing or two along the way. Of course, the next time I get published, I’d prefer to actually get PAID for my work. But that’s the beauty of academia. 

Weekend Wrap-Up

I’ve had such a good weekend. Friday night I got a pedicure with my sister and another friend, and then the three of us, plus one more, met up for a quiet dinner. It was so nice… just laid back, lot’s of laughing, comfortable shoes… I love nights like that. The pedicure place used a chocolate exfoliator thing on my legs… you haven’t lived until you’ve had a stranger rub chocolate on your legs as you sit in a massage chair sipping a cappuccino. Hmmm… that sounds a bit racier than it really was. After the pedicure, I felt like a new woman. A new woman with dark purple toenails… again. The edginess is back. And maybe here to stay.

Then Saturday I spent the whole day cooking and cleaning to prepare for a shower I hosted tonight for sister Lindsay (the one getting married). I absolutely love the preparation that goes into throwing a party. I like the cleaning up afterward part a lot less. Saturday night I turned my iPod on “shuffle” (yes, the iPod magically works again), and cooked for hours. I cooked for the party, and also made Christmas goodies for some of my favorite coworkers. Since they put up with me for another year (almost five, actually), I figure they deserve some baked goods.

I did such a good job of preparing yesterday that today I was able to sneak in a quick nap after church. A nap on a party day is so very rare, and it was just the thing I needed to keep me going through the party. The party went fantastically well, many of my sister’s bridesmaids, old roommates, and friends from childhood came by, along with some of her new family members. It’s weird to see that my sister is going to have NEW family members… new sisters-in-law. Part of me finds the whole situation a bit strange, but I’m thankful that these new family members seem to be strong Christian women who treat her well, so I guess it’s okay to share her a little.

So it was a good weekend. I got to spend quality time with friends and family, got rubbed down with chocolate, danced in my kitchen and ate large quantities of cake. Yes, it was a very good weekend.

Fruit pizza disaster

I’m trying my darndest to make a fruit pizza for a dinner party tonight, but in this battle of the wills, it looks like the fruit pizza may win! Is it bad if I just stop at the convenience store and bring a couple of boxes of Milk Duds instead of a home-made dessert?

I feel so defeated… time to go back to battle.

Painting party

My ever-growing home-improvement project continues. Yesterday two very sweet guys came over and helped me paint 64 feet of dental crown molding. The “dental” part of the crown molding meant we had to paint the intricate pieces with a TINY paint brush. It added about three hours to an otherwise simple project, but doing it with other people made it fun (and I learned all sorts of interesting “guy opinions” on various topics). As a thank-you, I treated them to Sonic milk shakes and a home-cooked dinner. I figure I came out ahead.

This afternoon I’m changing gears and will become a lean, mean cooking machine. I’m hosting our family’s Easter Lunch tomorrow after church, and I’m very excited. I had to resist the urge to go buy more dishes and decorations for my 10 guests (because all of my money has gone toward stone and crown molding), but I think it will still be nice with what I have. I’ll crank up my music, put on my cute-and-frilly apron (hand-made by sister Sarah!) and cook for the next few hours. I’ll feel just like Martha Stuart (except the vegetables for my vegetable casserole came from the frozen section of Target instead of from my organic beet farm in the backyard). Okay, maybe I’m more like Rachel Ray. Whatever. It will still be fun!

Mess Hall Cook

I love to throw parties. I just love having people over, whether it’s two people or 75 (like my Christmas party). I love cooking for and getting to hang out with people I like in a comfortable, laid-back setting like my house.

A few weeks ago I got the grand idea to cook dinner for a bunch of my friends and have a game night. At first, I figured it might be 10. Or 15. It ended up being 25. That’s a lot of food!

When I went to Target Friday night around 9:00 and bought FIVE packages of chicken, FIVE bags of chips, FIVE packages of rice, TEN avocados, FIVE bags of salad and a gazillion other groceries (you get the picture)… the people at Target thought I was nuts. And I had a new appreciation for those ladies who have ten kids and have to cook for them every night. I just couldn’t do it. All these years of living on my own, I couldn’t imagine cooking for that many people on a regular basis. Or doing their laundry.

But one night was fun.

I served four big casseroles of my favorite King Ranch Chicken, plus all the sides, home-made guacamole, and dessert. It was so much fun preparing everything Friday night and Saturday morning, and when my friends started showing up (and kept showing up… even more than I had originally planned for) it was so much fun to serve them and then play games with them. My new motto… feed ’em then beat ’em!