I didn't grow up in an environment where one entertained. I hosted my first party ever back in 2003: a party to celebrate our newly purchased house. There were a few more there, and after we moved to a much bigger home, I began to entertain semi-often. I cannot call myself an extraordinary hostess, but I've learned to enjoy planning unusual occasions, arranging decorations, and creating interesting menus. My Anti-Valentine Play-Reading Party was a huge success, but I guess I outdid myself when I hosted my brother's wedding and reception for over 40 people. It was semi-casual (for a wedding), but it was a nice affair. Last year, when we house-sat a townhouse for friends who went to Puerto Rico for a year (just because!), I had to scale down the entertaining. Other than my son's birthday party, when I squeezed 15 additional people into my living area, I limited myself to no more than three guests.
Now, there is parking, there is plenty of space for entertaining, and I am looking forward to having many a nice party.
So, last week, I thought I would have a few guests:
Friday: one of my girlfriends, who was to bring her twins to play with the Boy.
Saturday: two friends from good old Austin College.
Sunday: the Son of Country Kitty, who grew up here and who I've decided to adopt as my slightly younger brother.
My dear friend from the old neighborhood came over with her kids. I gave her a tour of the house before we decided to settle in the sun-room. My son and the twins were upstairs in the "playroom"... which is really a nice den area that has been co-opted by tons of Legos, an old wooden farm, eighteen thousand construction trucks, and three bookshelves full of books. There is an area for adults to sit, and frankly, with a window unit in that area, it is pleasant. But three kids spreading out allows little room for two adult women who want to catch up on
gossip what's been going on in our lives.
Maybe forty-five minutes later, my husband wandered in and said he'd just had to go upstairs and break up a fight. Huh? We'd heard nothing. Apparently, my son had pitched a fit because I wouldn't let him have his cow-popper (which may be one of the most evil gifts he's ever received), so he went up to the playroom and slammed his door repeatedly.
Sunroom= cannot hear the rest of the house. Now I know, and I suspect I'll be spending more time there....
Wine Friend came over with College Friend from Austin. She has twins also, but they were back in Texas. We were going to grill burgers, drink wine, and play a board game or two after the Boy was in bed.
Before dinner, I gave College Friend a tour, and took her to see the garden...which needed to have its paths mowed. Oops. So, the garden tour was us walking along the perimeter of the fence, and me pointing and saying stupid things like, "And there are my tomatoes. I really need to harvest. And there are my butternut squashes. I don't know when I get to harvest those." And so on.
I offered up some appetizers: a cream-cheese dip whose recipe I'd altered because of allergies. That came out great. The home-canned salsa...not so much. I hadn't sampled this year's batch yet. L-A-M-E. My jalapenos were not particularly strong this year, and my tiny little tomatoes dictated that I puree them rather than chop. Wine Friend and I dug through my (organized, thank you very much) spice cabinet and added about a million powders and seasonings in an attempt to make the salsa acceptable.
Hamburgers for dinner. Great. The meal went nicely (and the wine flowed). After the meal, we cleaned up a bit and that is when we were supposed to decide on games... except we didn't. We wound up with a fire pit in the front yard (but not where you could actually see the stars), cigars and more wine, and (I am blushing to admit this) the hostess falling asleep on the couch in the sun-room. Games were out of my head until the next day. Embarrassing.
I had promised ribs and home-made ice cream to CK's son. I struggled to finish thawing the ribs before the time I had to start cooking them. I succeeded, and they were amazing, if I may brag a bit.
However... the ice-cream. See, July 4 dinner here at the farm, I was supposed to make ice-cream. I had my machine, my special vanilla, the sugar, and left the whole milk and heavy cream at home. We used the 2% milk on hand, and attempted to experiment by adding whipped butter to thicken it. Butter-chunk ice-dream is dreadful. Period. So, I promised CK's Son that I would provide good ice cream this time, ha ha.
I had the ingredients on hand this time. However, I had not remembered to put my ice-cream basin in the freezer until the previous day. And I couldn't find the recipe book anywhere. Still we made a game attempt...which didn't work, because 24-hours is NOT enough to freeze the basin. I had to offer chocolate instead.
But, we did play two rounds of croquet, and had a blast. There were bugs, a storm was forming north of us...and passing north of us, and someone far off was firing off a bazooka or something. It could have just been an elephant gun. My husband thought it was probably someone sighting in their rifle for hunting season (which opens next weekend!). Then the guys sat in the breakfast/morning room and did some computer thing. I understood the following phrases: signal strength, wi-fi, passwords, router. I did the dishes.
After a bit, it was time for the Boy to go to bed. We were heading upstairs, and thanking CK's Son for visiting, when the Boy suddenly stops and announces that there is a mouse on the stairs.
Here are the reasons it couldn't have been a mouse. One, the stairs were totally dark, and how could he possibly see a mouse? Two, mice run away from humans. Three, why on earth would a mouse be hanging around on the stairs anyway?
We called for light. It was mouse. It was cute and furry and too small to jump up from the stair. He looked as though he was thinking about nesting in my silk dressing gown. CK's Son trapped it in a plastic storage container (which has been sterilized since). The Husband took it outside to dispose of it. CK's Son left, I read to the Boy, and we all settled down.
I wondered how the Husband "disposed" of the mouse. I mean, Katt is a terrible cat, in that she doesn't hunt. I didn't think he'd taken it out and shot it since I'd heard no gunshot, and plus it was only slightly larger than my thumb.
Me: So, what did you do with it?
Him: I disposed of it.
Me: Did you kill it?
Him: No, I took it out into the field.
Me: You just let it go?
Him: Sort of.
Me: What does that mean?
Him: (sheepishly) I threw him.
Me: Did you pick him up by the tail or something?
Him: (even more sheepishly) I just threw him from the container.
Me: (laughing at image of the flying mouse)
I liked having my friends over, because I invited them.
The mouse? So not invited.